Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Hound Like No Other

We picked up our new foster today. His name is Harris and he is really something else. He has demodex mange and an injured paw, but don't tell him that because he's a laid back, happy guy who doesn't have a care in the world. Harris came to us from South Carolina, like most of our other foster dogs. I don't know what his story is, but I would guess his last owner didn't provide basic care, hence the mange and the fact that he is bit skinny. But enough about that, Harris isn't bothered by his past so let's move on.

Harris is snugly, huggy, and just wants love. He's a sleeper too. I think he just began his 7th or 8th nap since lunch time. And he's not picky about where he sleeps. The yard, couch, dog bed, or floor all suit him just fine. This is a dog who likes to relax.

Harris is hound/shepherd mix, with a decidedly orange-brown-black coat. He'd make a good mascot for the Flyers, actually. When his fur grows back, he will be quite a handsome guy. He'll also make a good family dog. He's lively but not rambunctious and he wants to please. All he needs is love...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Black Dogs - 3rd one is Chance

Anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for black dogs. I have always liked labs and border collies, and not long after we adopted Pepper my brother told me about a phenomenon known as "black dog syndrome". What is it? In short, it means that black dogs are the hardest color dogs to get adopted and end up being the most euthanized color dog in shelters. No one can say exactly why; some theories are that people think black dogs are vicious, people think black dogs are bad luck just like black cats, or black dogs don't photograph well because shelters are poorly lit. It could just be that black is most common color for dogs, therefore it stands to reason that more black dogs don't make it because of the sheer numbers. Whatever the reason, it is heart breaking.

A few months after we adopted Pepper I went in search of a friend for her - a black friend. I found shelter on the web site of rural, high kill shelter (the same shelter Pepper came from). His picture was not stunning, and he really didn't look like the kind of dog that would catch your eye. He was just one of a dozen or so black dogs that would be put down if no one adopted them. He looked silly and sweet, and I had to have him. I'm pretty sure Di thought I had lost my mind, but she's good at humoring me, so we made arrangements to adopt him. Shadow has turned out to be the most loving, lovable, respectful, and obedient  dog. We aren't sure of his pedigree, definitely lab and "something Asian", according to our vet. Whatever he is, he is fabulous!

And here we are: 1 year after adopting Pepper, 9 months after adopting Shadow, and 10 foster dogs later, we are adopting another dog. No, not keeping one of our foster's, as many have expected. I went back to the same rural, high kill shelter and stumbled on what I hope is the perfect dog for us. Of course, he's black. He appears to be a border collie/newfie mix - which is a best guess, of course. He is also heart worm positive (hence my rant about people not taking care of their pets in an earlier blog). Since he has heart worm, we have to wait another 6 weeks or so to adopt him. He is a bit of a looker, so I think if we hadn't picked him someone else would have - and I can't wait to me him! Right now his name is Asia, but I think we will be changing it to Chance, since we are taking a chance that he will fit with our pack and get along with our cats. I'm sure we'll be fine. If we can break Shadow of chasing cats, we can we break any dog :)

So Chance will make 3, and then we done adopting, but not fostering. I have come to the conclusion that, as long as you have a fenced yard, it doesn't matter if you have 2, 3, or 4 dogs. If you have to walk more than 2, best to bring a friend. My back can attest to that. Look for more about Chance (or whatever we decide to name him) in the future.

So, would you adopt a black dog? If you have never considered it, please do. Our rescue currently has several black lab pups that need homes. They are sweet dogs that aren't vicious, they aren't bad luck, and they need homes. They offer unconditional love and lots of happy tail wags - and who doesn't want that? Check them out at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Have you ever considered fostering a rescued dog?

As I look over the chaos that is our family room - dogs chewing on bones, wrestling, licking my face, stealing my shoes - I wonder, why don't more people sign up for this? I get to have all this fun for free, in fact I even get free food if I want it (for the dogs, of course). I get to go outside at o'dark thirty and follow dogs around picking up dog poop when it's so cold I can barely feel my fingers (can wait for that snow to come over night tonight!) I get to teach basic dog manners too - did you know that it IS possible to say "off!" 20 times in one minute? Try it sometime, see if you can get all 20 in in 60 seconds. Does it get any better than this?

We've had counter surfers, crate barkers, hungry dogs who can jump as high as I am tall. We've had criers, good balls who act like Muppet's, and long haired dogs that we had to blow dry - and we've only been at this for 5 months! Think of the fun you could have!

We've also had dogs who melt in your arms and sleep like babies because they finally feel safe. We've had dogs who want nothing more than to snuggle in your lap and just be. Dogs who have given gentle, respectful kisses, as if they are saying thank you for a little love and some food. Dogs who want nothing more than a good walk on a sunny day, ears back and tail wagging the whole time, happy just to be alive. That's one of the best parts of fostering. I truly believe that our dogs - fosters and family dogs - wake up every morning the happiest dogs in the world - happy to be here another day. We could all learn a lot from dogs.

Have you ever considering being a part of this? Taking in a foster dog takes less work than you think, and while you think you will get to attached to them, consider this: being a foster home for dogs means you get a new dog every few weeks - or less! Really fun stuff. Couple that with knowing that for every dog you foster you save at least 2 lives - the one of the foster and the one of the dog who got a spot in the shelter because there was 1 more free spot. That's a two-fur if there ever was one!

Please consider fostering a dog in need - it will change the dog's life, and yours.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our new foster - and I question I just cannot answer....

We picked up our newest foster today, a 5 year old spaniel mix named Gerty. She's a little dog without the little dog attitude - which is good because the yipping and yapping of typical little dogs makes me crazy. This dog has a great personality - she's submissive and playful with our dogs, comes when called, and isn't driving cats crazy - a win across the board. And now the question I just cannot answer....

What the hell is wrong with people? This dog was rescued off death row in a shelter down south - she is one of many dogs on many death rows in many shelters. These dogs are discarded at these shelters with seemingly no regard for what will happen to them. How can 1 person, let alone hundreds of people do this every day? On top of this, can someone explain to me how so many dogs end up with heart worm in these same shelters? I understand climate and humidity and how mosquito's transmit the disease...yada yada yada. How do so many people do absolutely nothing to prevent this? Lunacy.

The next time you or someone you know is considering getting a dog, rescue a shelter dog. They are wonderful animals and they deserve a chance to live a happy life. Trust me, we have 2 shelter dogs and have fostered many others - and not a bad apple in the bunch!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another good dog day

Today my mom's cousin (from here on known as my Aunt - I never could figure out the whole cousin, 2nd cousin, etc. thing) took home her new dog, Duchess. We took Duchess in as our foster 2 weeks ago - first known as Mikey then Minnie when it became clear he was a she :) Aside from a little growling at our 2 dogs, she was a laid back, easy going dog. I knew my Aunt had been thinking of getting a dog, so I gave her a call and told her about the future Duchess. An adoption app and a couple hundred bucks later, and Duchess had a new name and a new mom.

When my Aunt came to pick Duchess up today I couldn't help but smile watching her with her new dog. My Aunt will always have a special place in my heart because she was one of my mom's closest friends and cousins. And they resemble each other - which right after my mom's death made me sad, now it makes me smile. Not quite as good as having my mom back, but heartening just the same. As my Aunt put on Duchess' new collar and leash, giving her loving pets and smiles, I realized that one of the things I love the most about fostering is watching normally mature, reserved adults become kids again, kids getting their first dog. I love it. I have decided that my goal in life is to find a job where I get paid to do nice things for people, things that make people feel good about themselves and the world, things that people appreciate it and will never forget. Any career suggestions?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Foster dogs - never ending amusement

A little over a year ago I a made a comment to good friend about "not getting crazy dog people". She reminded me of this comment last week, after I told her all about our current foster dog. We enjoyed a good laugh about how my partner and I had gone from being "cat people" to "crazy dog people who also have 2 cats". I still can't quite explain how it happened, but that's what we are.

A year ago, almost to the day, we decided it was time to adopt a dog. My partner said she wanted a border collie, the next day I found one on Two days after that, we brought her home. The whole process moved so fast no one had time to rethink or change her mind - thankfully. We adopted a lovable, spirited border collie/lab named Pepper, and our lives have never been the same. She is amazing. Unconditional love at its best. And then came Shadow.

Shadow is a lab mix. Mixed with what? Good question. The most frequent guesses are Shar pe, Akita, chow, pit, and my personal favorite: pot belly pig (I think this is the most likely, given his love of eating, sniffing the ground in the back yard, and slightly overweight stature). Shadow is the sweetest, most submissive dog ever - except when other dogs ogle his food. But that's a whole other story.

Five months after we adopted Shadow I began thinking of getting a third dog. The family who had fostered  Pepper and Shadow suggested we foster rescued dogs rather than adopt a third. We decided to give it a try. It has been the most amazing, at time frustrating and challenging, and overall rewarding experience we have ever had.

Now in our fifth month of being foster moms, we have it down to a science - pretty much. We currently have two guest dogs in our house. Duchess (who was first named Mikey, then Minnie when we realized he was a she), is a sweetheart. She is more a people dog than a dog dog, but tolerates, even enjoys, our pack. She is being adopted by my mom's cousin this weekend. They are a perfect match. Duchess likes human companionship, shorter walks, and delicious treats. Her new mom will provide all that with endless love and attention. Perfect together.

We also have a foster dog, Evan, with us who needs to find his forever home. Evan is a good, plain and simple. He is floppy like a Muppet, loves people, likes to play with our dogs, and would prefer not to sleep in his crate. He jumps up, to hand you his paws. He would rather be pet than eat or pee or anything else. He aims to please, and when he snuggles into your lap he does just that.

The one thing all of our foster dogs (I think the running total since October is 8 but they all tend to run together after a while....) and our dogs is: how in the world could anyone dump them at a shelter. I will never understand this one. Beautiful, lovable dogs, dumped. Granted, all of them are far from perfect. We have had ball obsessors, shoe eaters, pillow eaters, pee-ers, jumpers, even one pooper - but none that ever deserved to end up on death row. Ever. Thankfully, the people who have the thankless job of running the shelter agree that no dog should end up there, so they do their best to save each one. And as long as their are wonderful people like this who try to save one dog at a time, we will too. Thank you for all you do - wherever and whoever you are. You keep it up, and we will too.