Snort! Snort!

Let me start by apologizing that it’s been so long since I’ve posted. We had a string of “difficult” foster dogs (for various reasons) and then took a little break. Bill has earned his nickname “Ole’ Grumpy Bill” by either completely ignoring or snapping at all the recent male foster dogs we’ve had, so we’ve asked the rescue to only send us females. It’s a bit of a concession, and I love them all, but it’s Bill’s house, and we need to be fair to him.

Well, with the latest foster dog, Sophia, I can tell you the wait for a female was worth it! Sophia spent the last seven years of her life sitting in a chicken wire cage, making puppies for pet stores. The poor girl looks like a pregnant little cow with udders that hang so low, and we just discovered a mammary tumor. However, Sophia doesn’t let that stop her. In fact, she just took a sip of water and then darted out of the room, happily snorting all the way. Turns out she got the snack out of the Kong.

These mill mommas are so resilient. It just blows my mind! I could easily believe that Sophia had been someone’s family pet because she is so well socialized and has taken well to potty training. In the video below, I’ve got a diaper on her because she marked a little when she first got her, but I don’t think she’s marking anymore – at least I haven’t found anything. She’s been hiking off leash with us, following right along with Bill, and she’s starting to learn her name and some commands. She knows “Come,” and she’s always excited to run back to me for some love. The only thing I have to watch is that sometimes she’ll follow the people we pass. Many of our fosters do that. Bill does it, too, with joggers. Sometimes they get a little freaked out, but one look at his happily bobbing head, and they see that he’s just happy to go with someone who is moving faster than me.

I feel privileged to care for these mill mommas, who have faced so much adversity and somehow still manage to love and trust. I’m sure we’ll find her the perfect family soon, but in the meantime, I’ll learn all I can from her.


Foster Dog #40: Duke

I can’t believe we’re already at foster dog #40. We’ve been fostering for about three years, so I guess we average helping a little more than one foster dog a month find a new home. I don’t usually see fostering as difficult, but lately we’ve had a string of dog-aggressive dogs, and for our lifestyle, this is the most difficult.

A dog-aggressive dog is one who, for whatever reason, gets his or her panties in a bunch when he or she sees another dog. Some dogs are leash-aggressive, meaning they only get upset around other dogs when on leash. This reaction is understandable because the leashed dog may feel trapped and may not be able to properly greet other dogs (this is a great reason to never tether a dog outside). Other dogs for whatever reason choose to attack first and ask questions later when they see another dog, while others still are very unpredictable – fine with other dogs for a while and then suddenly not-so-fine.

My current foster dog falls into the third category. One second he’s fine, and the next he’s on the attack. For example, Bill just hopped off the couch – not even anywhere near where Duke was standing – and Duke went after him. However, at the step to come inside from the yard, Duke walked in past Bill without any reaction. Very weird.

In all fairness, I can’t blame Duke for any discomfort on his part. He lived with the same owner for nearly seven years, and when she died, the family left him in the apartment alone for A WEEK, only bringing food once a day and not giving him potty breaks. Duke is a very clean, social dog, so this must have been hell for him. Duke landed at a rescue, where he was neutered and fostered for a few weeks. Apparently he was living with several other dogs and only had problems with one, but so far I’ve yet to see him find a dog he likes. Anyway, Duke got transferred to Boston Terrier rescue and subsequently to my home, one state away. It’s been a rough month for Duke, to say the least.

The second day we had him, my parents stopped by. He was doing fine with Bill until the doorbell sounded. I opened the door, Duke went after Bill, and when I reached in to break it up, well, let’s just say my hand was in the wrong place. This is the first time I’ve been bit in three years and 40 dogs, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. Man, did that hurt, though, and I’ve been incapacitated all weekend. The first 24 hours I had to take painkillers, and it hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep! It’s starting to heal, but we’re still watching it for infection.

Nevertheless, Duke is a very sweet dog when other dogs aren’t around, and he loves cats. (Luckily my one cat doesn’t mind his “love.”) My husband has really taken a liking to Duke, and they play with toys together often. Duke walks well on a leash and likes to cuddle. He rolls around on his back and burrows under the covers, making us laugh.

Bill has been at “Camp Grandparents” for the past two days, but he’s coming home today. I’ve got an intricate array of baby gates set up around the house to keep everyone safe and sane. Hopefully the rest of Duke’s stay will be uneventful.

Olive Having Fosters In The House

We’re back in action! Now that things have finally settled down after a wonderful trip to Vegas for the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets conference, we’re ready to foster more dogs.

If you’re new to this blog, check out Bill’s story (he’s my foster-turned-forever Boston Terrier who inspired me to get involved with animal welfare) to get a background on how we became foster parents and ended up starting Happy Tails Books. It’s a pretty crazy story. Most relevant to this blog, is that since we adopted Bill, our 2nd foster, we’ve had 29 more foster dogs through our home. And this week we got a new one.

Olive - MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue Foster Dog #32
Olive - MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue Foster Dog #32

Olive languished in a puppy mill for the first five years of her life. After the mill was raided by the ASPCA (I think) back in March, Olive came into foster care with MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. I’m pretty sure she actually had a litter in foster care before she was spayed, but I’m not positive. All I know is that her nipples are huge, and this poor little girl has probably had at least seven or eight litters in her life. She’s only about 14 pounds – being a puppy mill breeder must have just been awful for her. (Honestly, who wouldn’t life in a chicken-wire cage be awful for, though?) Oh, and by the way, she needed an eye removed because of an unattended injury.

Olive was adopted out and returned. She went to someone with no other pets, and it turned out another dog was important for Olive’s well-being. Then she was shipped to a family in Colorado from her foster home in Nebraska, which is when I got involved. That family, actually good friends of ours, was concerned with Olive’s initial behavior. Olive and Lucy, another one of my previous foster dogs, didn’t exactly hit it off, and Olive bit my friend when he tried to take a toy away from her. Because they have a small child, they were very concerned about the biting, so I offered to foster her and help them find a different dog.

Olive came to our house and thrived. Her and Bill had a great time together, and Dylan (my husband) and I just loved her. She’s sweet, funny (especially when she pulls herself across the floor on her belly like a sand shark), and pretty easy to hang out with.

After a few days, my friends though they might like to give it one more try. We had a play date, and it went much better. I think that when they met Olive the first time, she was really stressed out from having been in a car for eight hours, and then their dog Lucy overwhelmed her with her “butt-spin-attack” play technique. This time around, with Bill as the referee, the girls actually romped and played for a while. Nobody got bit, and my friends were convinced she could be a good fit. I’ll find out tomorrow if they were right…stay tuned!

The Easiest Goodbye

People often ask me if its hard to say goodbye to foster dogs. Sometimes it is very difficult, like in the case of Camille, who was a sweet, potty-trained dog that Bill adored. Other times the parting is much easier because a)I found the dog annoying for whatever reason, c) Bill and the dog didn’t really hit it off, or c)the dog seems so happy to be going along to his or her new parents.

The latter is the case with Charlie, a rescue return who I only had for a few days. Charlie was adopted out to an elderly man, and within a year, the man felt he could no longer care for Charlie. (I wasn’t the one who facilitated this adoption, but lesson learned – young, energetic foster dogs should not go to elderly people. There are plenty of older dogs needing homes who would have been a better fit.)

Bill didn’t like Charlie because Charlie, like JayJay before him, made crazy growling noises while playing. Although Charlie is fairly dog-aggressive, Bill was the aggressor in our home this time! I had to break them up multiple times.

Even if Bill doesn’t like Charlie, we do. He’s potty trained, smart, and loving toward people. I was contacted by a man who had never had a dog before but felt he was ready for one now. He seemed like the perfect fit for Charlie, since he lives in an apartment, has no other dogs, and would be walking Charlie on a leash, so after a home inspection, this man was approved and ready to pick Charlie up.

We met last night, and Charlie jumped into his lap and licked his face immediately. After filling out the adoption contract, all he did was stand up, start walking, and say, “Charlie, come.” Side by side, no leash necessary (we were in a large, safe field), Charlie and his new dog walked into the sunset, got in the car, and drove off to their new life together. It couldn’t have been a more peaceful and happy transition.

In the Nick of Time

Oh my has it been a week! Lovely Layla was adopted by a single mom with a six-year-old. She loves children so it was a good fit. The only concern is that she wasn’t a fan of pottying on a leash, and her new family doesn’t have much of a yard. Nevertheless, I hear she’s getting the hang of it.

So I engaged in the cardinal sin a few weeks ago of scrolling through even though I wasn’t looking for a dog. I just wanted to see how many Boston Terriers were around but not in MidAmerica Boston Terrier’s care. Well…I came across a little black dog, said to be a Boston Terrier-mix, named Emily. The write-up said that her time was limited so call soon. That was on a Friday. On Monday I was still thinking about her, so I wrote the shelter in Garden City, KS, where she was living, to suggest that if her situation really became an emergency I could try and get her into foster care.

The shelter wrote me back within five minutes to let me know they were about to euthanize her! Apparently she had been at the shelter since she was eight weeks old (she was now four months old) and her time had run out. I think the reason nobody wanted her was because she was black – the terrible “Black Dog Syndrome,” which I knew nothing about before we wrote our book about Labs. It turns out that black dogs often get passed by in shelters because of the dim lighting – they are hard to see and sometimes come off as mean or scary. So sad!

Anyway, I told the shelter I would figure something out. My rescue wouldn’t take her because she was already 25 lbs. – clearly not a Boston Terrier. The shelter said she was part Pit, but the Pit rescues said no way. I was stuck, until I remembered my friend Ashley had said she would take a foster for me if I ever had an emergency. Well, this was an emergency, so I called Ashley who said yes just a little too quickly. What was up? She had lost her Boston Terrier a few months earlier, and her elderly Pit Bull, Eli, needed a friend. Just the day before she had been talking with the neighbors about getting a dog, so she said she’d be happy to take Emily in (Note: Eli-Emily…pretty close in names!)

I paid for Emily to get spayed and updated on her shots, the kind woman at the shelter, Danna, paid Emily’s “bail,” and a Emily was sent to Colorado on a transport. Danna was concerned because she said Emily was a crazy puppy, but I assured her that we know all puppies are! Though I bit my nails for a few days, it turned out to be a match made in heaven. Ashley and Emily (now Emma) became instant pals, and Emma’s presence has really perked Eli up. She’s a sweet dog with a friendly demeanor and I know that she’s found her forever home. Whew!