Guest Blogger- King: The Story of a Deaf Dog

11 May

 Briana Wedel is a friend of mine from my hometown in Minnesota.  She has since moved to Texas but we keep in touch mainly through our posts about Pitbulls. Being in Texas Brianna sees and is involved in a very different world of animal rescue.  The shelters are often bursting at the seams, spay/neuter programs are nothing like they are here in MN, and Pitbulls often don’t make it out of shelters. I asked her if she’d ever like to write for my blog and she took me up on it!  She recently rescued a deaf dog and I’m so happy that she is sharing her story.  Deaf dogs are so wonderful and need all the promotion they can get!

Briana

My name is Briana Wedel and I’m here to share about deaf dogs. To start it all off I grew up in Minnesota around my aunt’s pit bull mixes and American Staffordshire Terriers. As kids my three older siblings and I loved going to my aunt’s home for visits because she always had anywhere from three to six dogs at any given point. It was so much fun, and that was when my love for this group and breed of dogs began.

Although I always wanted a dog throughout my college years, I waited until the time was right. I moved to Texas after college and started fostering cats for Animal Allies of Texas. Eventually, I found and adopted my first rescue dog through Animal Allies, when a pregnant AmStaff came into our rescue and later birthed twelve puppies, one of those being my Griffey.

Griffey

Griffey

My fiancé and I had Griffey for about a year when we were on vacation out of the country and a friend had shared a photo on Facebook of a deaf dog named King. He was at a shelter outside of Dallas. King’s scenario made me sensitive to his situation because he had a striking resemblance in markings and color to our Griffey. Not only that, King was labeled as “code red”.  This means once the shelter fills to capacity, he can and will be euthanized at any point. His code red status was due to how long he’d been at the shelter, which was most likely influenced by his being deaf and being a pit bull. Luckily for me, it didn’t take too much arm-twisting to get my fiancé on board with a second dog in our apartment.

King

Multiple people helped me extract King that very day from the shelter even though we were out of country!  Then another friend provided a temporarily foster home until we got back into the US (about five days later). We picked him and Griffey up the same day upon our arrival, we did their introductions, etc. I decided I needed to equip myself with some knowledge on how to be a deaf-dog owner. I got some helpful links and learning tools from another deaf dog owner, and became a fan of Deaf Dogs Rock (Facebook). We added King to our family in September of 2014 and the last eight months have been marvelous.

King and Griffey

King and Griffey

King and Griffey bonded immediately. I never knew I could find such a perfect pair of adult dogs. King is mellow, gentle and attached, Griffey is the complete opposite, but they balance each other out superbly. Training King has been “normal” considering his being deaf. We use treats and positive reinforcement when working on fun tricks and we completed his training on how to sit and lay down, which he already partially knew. Now he knows shake, good boy, and no-no, also!

The most common question that people ask me is ‘How do you get his attention?’ It’s not often that King is not nearby one of us, maybe this is why they often call deaf dogs “Velcro dogs”, because they like to be attached, but when it’s needed he does respond to floor vibrations and physical taps. We do not allow King to be off leash outside of fenced in areas, but I have read that vibration collars are very helpful, although shock-collars are not condoned. All in all, deaf dogs are not all that different. So, if you are looking for one of the best cuddle companions then adopt a deaf dog, you will not be disappointed.

King 2

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The One That Got Away

8 Apr

One year ago I was 3 months pregnant.  My husband and I had also recently had a stretch of foster dogs who were all around 1.5 years old.  As far as I’m concerned a 1.5 year old, untrained dog, is just about the hardest foster dog.  You don’t know their history. You don’t know if they are misbehaving or if they simply don’t know better.  They have SO MUCH ENERGY.  Let me stress this again.  1.5 year old dogs have a LOT of energy!!  Especially pitbull-type dogs because they are an active breed. So, we took a mini-foster-break until we could get a foster puppy.  Puppies are not especially relaxing either, but they have their pro’s.  Mainly the fact that they are just so stinking cute.

Enter Rory. A tan, wrinkly-faced, wiggly-bottomed, puppy with oversized feet and a couple of adorably-white toes.

Rory.

The day we picked him up.

The day we picked him up.

Rory was beautiful, handsome, precious. I could go on and on.  Just look at him. He’s one adorable dog.  He also reminded me of my first-true-dog love, Hartley.

So cute.

So cute.

The first night we had Rory we had him in a crate in the room next to ours.  He cried ALL night long.  My husband and I took turns sleeping on the floor next to the crate.  My dog Chase occasionally got up, walked over to Rory’s kennel and nudged it.  I don’t know if he was offering sympathy or telling him to be quiet so he could sleep.  It was a long night.  We were clearly delirious from listening to the whining and from lack of sleep, because not once did it occur to us to move the crate in to our bedroom.  When our brain faculties returned to us the next day we tried this, and it worked like a charm.  Rory wanted to be near us.

Rory was a people dog.   He like Mylo and Chase, but his strongest desire was to be near his people.  When I let him out of his crate when I got home he would quickly potty, and then cling to my leg.  If I walked he walked as close to me as possible. He begged, with the cutest face and wagging tail, to be pet. He simply wanted to be adored.  He would eventually go play with the dogs, but he needed me first.

Rory was also a quick learner.  Because he wanted attention SO bad he was initially a jumper.  He learned that I wouldn’t pet him if he was jumping so as I walked around he scooted along on his butt trying to stay attached to my leg.  How cute?

Pet me please?!

Pet me please?!

Rory became very happy in our little family and I fell in love. Chase and Mylo liked him. Gene liked him. He was perfect.

Rory and Mylo

Rory and Mylo

Rory and Chase

Rory and Chase

The only thing that wasn’t perfect was that we had a baby on the way. Three dogs is always hard, and three dogs and a baby? I didn’t think we could do it.  We wouldn’t even all fit in a vehicle together.  How would I walk all three and push a stroller? Our house is so small, there wouldn’t be room for everyone.

I also struggled with the fact that Rory was SUCH a people dog.  Would he do better as the only dog in the house? He would certainly get more attention. Even before the baby, with three dogs, there was always a struggle for attention.

I knew that I couldn’t be a very good foster parent for Rory.  I wanted him too bad.  Even if, rationally, I knew that we couldn’t keep him, I wouldn’t ever think another family was good enough for him.

So, I made the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking decision to give him to another foster family.

I cried the entire 2.5 hour drive to drop him off with his new foster mom.  I remember my husband asking me “Do you really love the dog this much, or are these pregnancy hormone related tears?”   I wasn’t sure. I knew that Rory was perfect.  You don’t come across such a wonderful dog very often.  But I was pretty sure we were doing the right thing for everyone.

Last day with Rory

Last day with Rory

Rory’s new foster family also fell in love with him, and considered adopting him, but ended up letting him go to a wonderful couple who had no other dogs.

I’m happy he was adopted. And I hope he has an amazing life.  But I don’t think I’ll ever stop being sad that we couldn’t keep him.

Try to explain “fostering” to a dog..

11 Mar

This morning my phone alerted me that my “Timehop” for the day was ready. For those of you that don’t know, Timehop is an app that shows you what you did on this exact date over the past years.  It shows you pictures you may have taken, posts to Facebook, ect.  As I scrolled through I came to this post from three years ago: “Having a really hard time with Reds adoption :(.  We were his first home, and he loves it here.  I feel like to him we will always be the people that gave him up.  Unfortunately dogs don’t understand fostering.  Sometimes it’s hard to see how great it is because I feel like they think I’m abandoning them.”

This post hits me so hard.  I haven’t had a foster in months, but I don’t easily forget the punch in the gut I feet every time my foster’s get adopted.  Getting adopted is great news for them! It shouldn’t be so sad.. but it is!

This dog, Red, or Reddie, was a Redboned Coonhound (this was before I started fostering primarily Pitbulls).  He was part of an animal hoarding situation, and we were his first indoor home.  We walked him through going up and down stairs, getting on furniture and taught him how to cuddle with people.  He immediately became attached to my dogs because that was all he had ever known.  Someday I will have to give more details about Red and his adoption, but today I just want to give a voice to the struggle that is fostering.

People always say that the hardest part of fostering is giving up the animal.  That may be true, but for me MOST of the time (I say most because I do have one story to tell about a dog I almost couldn’t give up) it isn’t actually that I can’t live without the dog and that I’ll miss them SO much.. it’s that I feel like the dog must feel abandoned and disowned.  Here they are bonding with my family, getting used to my house and my routine; becoming comfortable.  And I kick them out.  It always feels like kicking them out, even though we’ve taken time and care to find great homes.  Wont they wonder why they weren’t good enough to be part of our family?

I don’t know if you ever get over that feeling.

A time out, with so many thoughts.

20 Jan

I have been on a fostering break for quite a while, which has in turn led to a break in blogging about fostering.  However, I have recently been overwhelmed with new Facebook likes and page views in spite of my absence.  This makes my heart so happy.  While I am here, taking a break, all of you are out there educating yourself on the cause. Participating. Sharing information.

I got pregnant with my first child this time last year
and since then I did have another foster or two (stories for another day) but after falling head over heals in love with a puppy named Rory,

How could you not fall in love with him?

How could you not fall in love with him?

I knew that my pregnant self could not handle giving up dogs.  I managed to hand Rory off to another foster family, but not without a lot of tears and a very concerned husband.

Him: “Do you really love the dog this much or is just the pregnancy emotions??”

Me: (Hysterical) “I really love the dog this much!!! But we just can’t keep a third dog with a baby on the way!!” (Envision waterfalls of tears).
Family of 5
Since then our family of four has become a family of five and we have embarked on many new adventures.   For example: teaching Chase not to sit on the baby..
Baby and Chase

While I’ve been on a blogging hiatus there have been so many things I’ve wanted to write about, but I haven’t been able to take the time to sit down and put words on (metaphorical) paper.

Thank you to everyone that has “liked” my page recently.  It has made me remember how much I love writing and that I miss putting my thoughts about pitbulls out there (in the internet universe).

Baby Sonja - 8 days old.

Baby Sonja – 8 days old.

 

 

 

 

Life.. and Fosters.

16 Jun

The only thing that can keep me from writing about my precious pups and my wonderful foster dog??

Life with my precious dogs and my wonderful foster dog.

My fantastic pups.  Big, medium, small.

My fantastic pups. Big, medium, small.

Life sure manages to get in the way sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade the last few months for anything.

I’ve recently gotten a new job, been working on home improvement projects and, as always, spending tons of quality time with my pups.

We’ve spent a lot of time hiking, swimming, and enjoying some quality games of fetch now that the snow has FINALLY melted up here in the Northland.

Finally a hike with no snow.

Finally a hike with no snow.

Could she look any happier?

Could she look any happier?

Another reason I haven’t been writing?

I’ve been feeling like a foster failure. Not a foster failure that ends up adopting their foster dog.. A foster failure that has had the most adorable puppy for 5 months and hasn’t been able to get her adopted.

Not even close. Mocha hasn’t had ONE application in for her.

Mocha has been hoping and praying for a family of her own, and I haven’t found her one. I KNOW that this should have given me MORE of a reason to write. I needed to get her out there. I needed to get her shared. I needed to tell her story every day and get people to fall in love with her like I have.

But I ran out of words.

Over the past couple of months Mocha has continued to love life at Casa de Foster. She has grown into a lovely young lady. Every day that I look at her I wonder “How do I still have her?” She stayed at one of my friend’s house for a couple of days and behaved like a
complete dream. She had an accident and needed stitches in her leg a couple of weeks ago and made everyone at the vet clinic fall in love with her. She charms everyone she meets, and yet she had no one interested in her.

Sliced her leg open right to the bone!

Sliced her leg open right to the bone!

She wasn't a huge fan of the cone of shame.

She wasn’t a huge fan of the cone of shame.

Every time I snuggle up with her I feel like I’ve let her down.

So snuggly.

So snuggly.

As much I don’t want to admit it, I’m afraid that maybe the longer I had her the less I actively tried to find her a home.

I’m not proud of it. But life distracted me from being the best foster that I could be. I gave her a loving home, and kept her happy and active. But that’s not always enough.

I’m SOOOOO happy to announce, however, that Mocha has FINALLY had her FIRST meet and greet in the 5 months that she’s been with me. And I REALLY think it went well!

Can everyone keep their fingers crossed for my number one gal?

mocha

Stay tuned!

From Mocha to you.

19 Apr

mocha1My name is Mocha.
Sometimes they call me Miss Mocha or Mocha-moo.
I am what you’d call a Pocket-Pittie.
All the wonderful characteristics of a Pitbull type dog,
packed into a compact lap-dog size.

Many things in life make me happy.
I like to run and chase,
play tug-o-war and chew on bones.
I like to bounce and bound as fast as I can
whether it’s through snow or mud or just on grass.

I love rubs on my head
and kisses on my nose.
I’ll snuggle up real nice,
especially if you let me sleep in bed!

When I want your attention I’ll roll on to my back.
I don’t think you’ll resist my little pink belly.

My name is Mocha
and I’m looking for a family.
I’ve never had one before
even though I’ve hoped and wished and begged and prayed.

I’m wishing for a family that will provide me my tasty treats,
and all the snuggling I can take.
I’d like a family that wants to play,
and I pray for a family that will keep me forever.

If you take me home
and make me your own
I promise to always provide you with kisses.

Kisses for when you get home,
and kisses for when you’re sad.
Kisses when you’re happy,
and even if you’re mad.

I promise to be silly when you need to laugh,
and snuggly when you need to cry.

If you promise to take me for walks,
I will in turn promise to show you where all the good smells are.

If you make me yours I promise to be on my best behavior,
except if maybe I forget.

I promise I’ll try not to chew on things that aren’t mine,
no matter how yummy they taste.

I promise all this
and so much more.

But most of all,
I promise to love you.
All of the time.
Even if you’re mad at me,
or when you’re not home.
I promise to love you when you’ve made a mistake,
and I promise to love you no matter what you’re wearing.

I will love you unconditionally,
for the rest of my life.

Will you make my dreams come true?

Two and a Half Months

31 Mar

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There comes a time for every foster parent when your foster has been with you for long enough that giving them to another family seems impossible. It may be a different length of time with every foster, and it may be different for every foster parent, but never-the-less it almost always happens. We have had dear, sweet Mocha for 2 1/2 months now. She was about 6 months old when we got her so she is now fast approaching adulthood. Mocha hasn’t had a real family her entire puppy life. She has been cared for, fed, played with, and snuggled with.. but she hasn’t had a real family to call her own.

Cozy.

Cozy.

With some of my fosters I have reached the point of “difficult to imagine giving you to another home” sooner, but with Mocha it really hit me at about 2 months.

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I think it took a little longer with Mocha because I find it slightly easier to foster puppies. They are so young and will adjust so fast. I know that when I DO give them up they will get to spend the entire rest of their lives with their forever families and I know that they will TRULY be a part of someone’s family.

But now Mocha has lived an incredibly large portion of her life with us and she’s almost an adult. She’s happy. She’s learned the ways of our household, she loves having two big brothers to wrestle with and pick on. We have spent time with her teaching her manners and how to be a good house dog and throughout this time she has grown attached to Gene-dad and Chelsea-mom.

Playing tug with big brother Chase

Playing tug with big brother Chase

People always think that the hardest part of fostering will be giving up the dog. In most ways this is completely true (unless you consider the war on dog hair in the house harder..) but for me it’s a little different. It’s not so much that I can’t see MYSELF without my foster dog.. but instead that I feel like a terrible person forcing THEM to leave us. After two and a half months you’ve obviously bonded with this four-legged bundle of love, but YOU have been aware that they aren’t going to be a permanent member of the family. The dog has no idea.

Part of the family.

Part of the family.

Mocha doesn’t know that she won’t be here forever. She doesn’t know that we’re essentially trying to get rid of her. She can’t understand the phrase “it has to be done in order to help others.” All SHE knows is that she’s currently happy and loved, and she loves being here. It’s THIS feeling that makes it so hard for me to imagine the day that Mocha gets adopted.

Snuggling with Mylo-brother.

Snuggling with Mylo-brother.

And on that note, I can’t believe we still have Mocha. She’s the perfect little pocket-pittie. She’s a big dog wrapped up in a compact package. She’s potty trained, crate trained, sleeps all through the night, has decent manners and learns quickly. It pains me that she’s not spending these months with her forever family. They could be taking her to training classes and working on her leash skills with long walks in this beautiful spring weather. They could be creating a routine for her and telling her every day that she’s their beloved pet. Instead Gene-dad, Mylo-brother and Chase-brother are spending these incredibly important adolescent months with her. We’re happy to have her, but I’m sad that her eventual forever family is missing out on it.

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If you’re interested in adopting Mocha check out her petfinder page here.

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