Friday, June 1, 2012

My Ziggy Rant

As most of you know, I’ve been fostering Ziggy for two and a half years now. It is more due to a feeling of responsibility (I chose to pull him from the shelter where he was going to be euthanized as a puppy, so I am responsible for his life) than it is because I like having him here. In fact, most people know I would gladly give Ziggy to anyone who would take care of him. I’ve even been known to offer cash rewards to people to take him. Everyone thinks that I love him and I do, but many people also think I’m happy that he’s with me. I’m not. I try so hard to get him a home because he doesn’t fit here and it’s not fair to him or to me that he’s been here for two years. So today, I’m going to not worry about who might read this or what they might think; I’m just going to take this opportunity to whine and feel sorry for myself. I try not to do that often, but after the news from the vet a few days ago, I just can’t help myself.
Puppy Ziggy
For the past two years, I’ve tried to do what the experts suggest when it comes to getting a dog adopted. I’ve promoted Ziggy at every turn, even creating and maintaining his website and Facebook page, and buying him business cards to advertise around town. I’ve tried to stay positive and share all the good things about Ziggy. I’ve tried to make him more adoptable through basic training, working with various professional trainers, earning his CGC, learning tricks, and participating in dog sports. I’ve been honest with potential adopters about his issues, but I haven’t dwelt on them excessively. I know this is true because I constantly hear “I can’t believe he’s not adopted yet” – mostly from people who don’t know him well. I just want to shout “Then you take him!!” But I know they have other dogs, or cats, or children, or breed restrictions, like most of the rest of the world. The truth is, as much as I want him to be, Ziggy is not really adoptable. And since I’m tired of always talking about the good side of Ziggy, today I’m going to break all the rules and tell you about the bad side of Ziggy, and about the reasons that he isn’t adopted yet, and probably never will be.

Basic Hurdles
1. Ziggy is a pit bull – the breed is banned many places.
2. Ziggy is deaf – this makes it more challenging to communicate with him.
3. Ziggy needs to be only pet – most experienced owners have other pets.
4. Ziggy needs an experienced owner due to his behavior issues (see below).
5. Ziggy needs a home with no children – he is not child friendly.

Behavior Issues
1. Ziggy guards food, water, bones, and toys from others. With training, he no longer guards from me, but still guards from all dogs and cats.
2. Ziggy is mouthy, especially when excited. He knows better with me, but sometimes with new people he forgets and tries to grab their hands.
3. Ziggy is a counter surfer. No matter how much we work on this, he still steals food off of countertops whenever he can.
4. Ziggy is demanding. He barks loudly in an attempt to get his way.
5. Ziggy is chewy. He has to stay crated to keep him from chewing furniture, shoes, boxes, TV remotes, or whatever else he can get his mouth on.

Not to mention his drinking problems.

Medical Issues
1. Ziggy has food allergies – he is allergic to almost everything under the sun (and probably a few things in outer space too).
2. Ziggy has grass allergies – he gets red and itchy after lying in the grass, walking on grass, or looking at grass.

"Where's my benadryl?"
And this week at the vet I found out that Ziggy also has a bad knee joint which has ended his agility classes. And when the vet told me that he should avoid stairs and that he needed to be on a glucosamine supplement for the rest of his life, she was really confused when I started laughing hysterically. Because glucosamine supplements aren’t expensive, but it was just one more thing that Ziggy had wrong with him – one more thing that would make him harder to adopt.

My options have not changed. I can keep trying to find him a home, or I can have him euthanized. Please don’t judge me for whatever I decide unless you take Ziggy yourself! Some of you, especially those who rescue, will see the wisdom in giving up and having him euthanized, not only for my own sanity, but also so I can save many, many other dogs in his place. I have other dogs, and I have cats, and he lives in a crate most of his life because he can’t be out around the other animals. It’s not much of a life, and with such a slim chance of him ever being adopted, it’s not much of a future. But those of you who love Ziggy, don’t worry, I’m not at that point yet. I think of that option almost every time I think of Ziggy, which is often, but the truth is I do love him, and I don’t think he is suffering, so I’m not ready or willing to make that decision. I’ll keep doing what I can to make his life happy, and even if he can no longer go on bike rides with me or do agility, we’ll find other ways to spend time together. In the past I’ve contacted many sanctuaries about Ziggy, with no luck, and no other foster home or rescue group has been able or willing to take Ziggy either. So for now I’ll keep trying to find him a home, and keep sharing all the positive things about Ziggy. But I’ll let you in on an inside joke (is it an inside joke if the only person who knows it is me?) Every time I see “Ziggy-the-adoptable-dog” on Facebook, my mind always changes it to “Ziggy-the-unadoptable-dog”. For some reason, that makes me smile.

Please pray harder, Ziggy!


Frankie Furter and Ernie said...

I KNOW how badly Ziggy needs his own home... remember I (Frankie Furter) am the one who asked Santa Paws fur a HOME FUR ZIGGY.

I HOPE that you will pawticipate in Corbin's I want to be a Pitt Bull thingy on Monday 4th of June.. Maybe THAT would HELP to get word out all over the world.

Don't lose hope.

Cupcake said...

You have done SO much for Ziggy. I know it is a very difficult situation.

Ashton Keenan said...

Poor Ziggy... And poor you too Laurie... :( I know Ziggy didn't ask to be like this.... And I know you most certainly had no idea what you were getting in too, nor did you ask fr this to happen but we all know you did take Ziggy because of the kindness in your heart. Whatever decision you make regarding ziggys life, I know I will stand behind you 100%. I'll keep networking him... Maybe it'll help.

Anonymous said...

I admire your honesty so much. I know you will do what's right for Ziggy no matter what.

H Ski said...

You have the right to vent and post the bad things about Ziggy, just as often as you post the good. I can only imagine how hard and how much work you have to put in to keep going with him. Do what you have to do and what is right for you, the other fosters, and ziggy. No matter what we will still be here to support you.

Harper said...

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings. Oftentimes, it's easy to put up a facade on blogs and be a "selective" blogger, sharing only the good. It's a breath of fresh air to read about others' experiences, as I can relate to a lot of Ziggy's drawbacks, having fostered dogs with many of the same issues: mouthiness, resource guarding.. and even our own pittie has (or had) bad knees! She had surgery for her luxating patella and takes joint pills every day for arthritis, even at the ripe young age of 3. No matter your decision regarding Ziggy's future, you have given him so many chances and a good life.

Anonymous said...

So with the possibility of being put down in Ziggy's future, I wonder why the end of the activities he loves. I'm not criticizing, you have done way more for Ziggy than most people (yes, including me) would have done. But, considering it is looking more and more like he will not find a suitable home why not let him live to his fullest until he may have to be put down to save him from misery rather than constrain him to keep his knee healthy and still face the possibility of euthanasia for a lack of home and/or resources? It's something to think about. Not that you don't already have a lot to think about, but sometimes seeing things from a different perspective helps us to see them more clearly.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for honestly sharing the occasional reality of this work. As a foster home we've been in a similar situation. We ultimately came to the conclusion that we ARE here to work with dogs (especially those on "red alert" at the shelter) to get them adopted and we are NOT a long-term care facility. You have gone far above and beyond the call of duty. I genuinely cannot imagine having to make that decision with a dog you've raised from a puppy for two and a half years. Good luck to you both.

Blueberry's human said...

No one would criticize or judge you if you have to make the decision to have Ziggy euthanized. You have certainly gone above and beyond what most rescues, let alone most dog owners would do.

I know it cannot be an easy decision. I guess I am hopeful for him finding his forever home - it is not easy to own a dog with Ziggy's unique characteristics - but not impossible. I still stand by my statement that I cannot believe he hasn't found his forever home yet. Whoever adopts him will definitely know what they are getting into as you have been very forthright with his quirks. Not all rescues are as honest and open about the dogs they try to place.

Thank you for hanging in there as long as you have and for however much longer you are able. Thank you for being honest and entertaining us with Ziggy stories that may have made you want to pull your hair out - but somehow you still managed to put a positive, funny spin on things. I know being a dog foster mom is not easy - I did it for a short time (I emailed you a while ago about some of my challenges) and have the highest respect for you that you have been doing it for so long and remain a great example to anyone that decides to foster.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Laurie...I wish there were words to tell you how much I admire you and how SURE I am there's a special place in Heaven for you. You have done more for Ziggy than likely anyone else on the planet would have. If it weren't for you, I'm afraid Ziggy would've been at the Bridge a long time ago. He was very lucky the day you rescued him and if nothing else, you have certainly learned a lot from him.

You KNOW I will support you whole-heartedly, no matter what decision you ultimately make for him. And always know that I'm here if you want to talk or vent.

Hugs to you!

Mary Lou said...

Have you tried Best Friends in Kanab Utah--they are really excellent - maybe they have someone in your area that can help with placing him. Just a thought
And, as a footnote we have a rescued Pit Bull with epilepsy-and a urination problem-on medication for both-she is between 3-5 years old and a love

volunteer4paws said...

You know - after being a foster/transport coordinator for some rescues in the past few years, I got fed up seeing them turn away unadoptable dogs like Ziggy. I thought - leave the adoptable ones at the shelter and take the harder cases!

But I see the reality of it now, trying to find a rescue for a stubborn, dog & cat aggressive adult hound that is very hard to train - she's unadoptable by most standards. Its unfair to assume a foster home could hold onto her forever. And this is what I even fear, now that I'm running a foster program for my shelter - sticking a home with a dog no one will ever want. It's a hard thing. I don't know what i would even do in your shoes.

Major props to you for holding out this long for Ziggy - and doing so much more than most would do for him. As much as I hope he gets adopted, I also hope you find peace of mind with whatever decisions you might have to make. You are his hero, no mistake about that.

Erin T said...

Ugh I so feel your pain, and commend you greatly for sticking with him for sooooo long. Especially on top of all your other dogs! I know what its like to have a foster who needs to be a only dog, while not having the extensive behavioral issues, she was very aggressive with my dogs and it was a long three months. I've also been in situations where though a sweet dog, was just to hard to place because of all his issues, he did wind up being put down after all was said and done, because there was no perfect home for him. It was soo tough.

Hugs to you!

Anonymous said...

Poor Ziggy, and poor you too.

Sounds like Ziggy and you need Cesar Milan. He was recently in Singapore and he actually helped a shelter dog come out of his kennel for the first time in 7 years! The dog went on to have a swim and a walk on leash. Something the shelter people could not do at all as that dog would turn aggressive whenever they tried to coax him out of his kennel.

I wonder if they could use Ziggy's case for their TV show.

Good luck to both of you. I think your sanity needs it and Ziggy's life depends on it (and your sanity, I guess).

Last note, it is not a criticism, but sometimes, when a dog like Ziggy gets crated up for too long and too often, they have a lot of penned up energy and may become anti-social and territorial. Woe if you crate him up and woe if you don't right? I am also wondering if you can maybe fence up some area in your garden just for Ziggy. Kind of like a walk-in crate where he may have his own little area to run and stretch out a little. Of course you would need to build something with shelter in case of rain. Maybe this will help Ziggy a bit better compared to being locked up in a smaller crate with only turning space or jusst enough for him to take a couple of steps.

Nadine, Chewy and Lilibell said...

It's going to take a really special person to adopt Ziggy, and I'm praying that that person is out there and just hasn't found their way to Ziggy yet. But, if it does come down to that other option, please have peace of mind that you gave him the BEST years of his life.

hero said...

There would be someone out there for Ziggy... in the meantime, you're such an angel for putting up with him. Hope all ends well.

Licks, hero

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I've just discovered how difficut fostering can be, not just on the human foster parents but also existing pets.

Honestly, I would keep trying to find another rescue that will take him, one with an experienced foster home with no or minimal pets. I would also contact Best Friend's Animal Sanctuary as a last ditch effort, even though they are far from you.

Big hugs. I think sometimes if we change our thoughts, it can help us cope. For now, take it one day at a time, and try to see Ziggy as a teacher - he's in your life for a reason.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes that is difficult decision that needs to be made and I think over all many people understand that it is necessary in certain instances, though always unfortunate. Despite all the tribulations I would like to say Thank You for doing your best for him.

LP said...

I think you are an amazing person who rises to the challenge of fostering over and over again. I work full time , have six animals of my own and foster two sickly senior cats and I feel overwhelmed at times so I cannot imagine your daily existence with all your gang and Ziggy to contend with as well. I read the comment from Anonymous and it was food for thought for me. Why not continue to allow him to expend energy by running next to you when you bike, do agility etc. despite his bum knee. It will allow him to tire himself out while making him more manageable for you.Kenneling him all the time is as you mentioned , a restriction on the quality of his life and probably does add to his behavioural issues since he is isolated from the others and not able to run around and tire himself out. There is no judgement here whatsoever. I completely understand that if you didn't crate him , other fosters would be in jeopardy and your home would be a skeleton of what it used to be. It's a hard case with unclear answers and you HAVE tried very hard to make it all right for Ziggy.
You are in our thoughts-especially when you are having those really tough days.We would stand by you in any decision you made.

LP and the critters in The Cottage xo

Hannah said...

Laurie, I ... I don't have words to tell you how much your bravery and honesty inspires me. I know how hard this post must have been to write, but I can't imagine how much harder it must be to LIVE this post on a daily basis. Like it or not, dog rescue is about *helping* dogs, and I understand your concern that you're reaching the intersection where helping Ziggy means hurting other dogs' chances. My heart goes out to you.

Sara said...

Everything you do is amazing. Stay strong. You are an amazing person for fostering ANY animals and especially for fostering animals like Ziggy. Best of luck to you...I have told everyone I know about this pup.

If you do have to make a difficult decision, given all that you have done, it is the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Kudos for you for trying and lasting so long with Ziggy... I know your frustrations. I would take Ziggy in a heartbeat BUT I too have a white pittie whom I personally rescued that has food and "air" allergies of all types just like Ziggy, Plus now mine has developed dry eye and needs two different drops 3 times a day. He's also aggressive with other animals AND people aggressive from his past abuse so we live with baby gates all over our house. ... I'm holding out hope for Ziggy and praying for your sanity. With love, from Milo in Pittsburgh, PA

Paul De Leo said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm new to fostering and hope to someday start a rescue, pulling animals from shelters that would otherwise be killed. I never considered the possibility that I could put myself into a difficult situation like you're facing with Ziggy. I'll be mindful of that when the time comes, which will probably enable me to get more rescues adopted.

Thanks for for your compassion and determination to do all that you do!

Anonymous said...

Those of us that have the absolute pleasure of knowing you get to see how much you've thrown your heart and very soul into Ziggy, and can maybe glimpse, even just a little, at how hard that thought must be. You are such an awesome person for everything you do, even if just for Ziggy alone. To say that you've done that while constantly fostering 7+ other dogs is absolutely awe inspiring, especially considering that you still give each of those 7+ others such attention and love while dealing with a case like Ziggy.
We've seen you revel in his triumphs and seen how you still pull through and smile and help him harder when his shortcomings surface.
I for one can say that I am so thankful to have met you and will stand by you no matter what choice you come to, as I know that all of us around here will. If it comes to it, too, know that any of us would give our right arm just to be able to be there for you to support you.
Much love always, Laurie, and know that no matter what the choice you make, it will be the right one. ♥