Archive | October, 2012

Just some foster humor :)

27 Oct

The crazy life of a dog foster:

Some of the delightful situations that occur at my house.

 

Chase, my 80 pound pitbull mix occasionally gets jealous of the fosters (who are we kidding, ALWAYS gets jealous) and frequently sits on their heads.

If Chase is not sitting on a foster dog’s head he sits on the couch opposite of me, stares at me and sighs repeatedly.

Very few of my fosters were potty trained coming in to my house.  Waking up to my husband who has just stepped in poo is a real treat.  (Why doesn’t he look where he’s going?!)

I have started keeping a collection of dog hair.  Not because I WANT to be a collector, but because if I want to do anything with my life other than vacuum 24-7 it’s necessary to ignore the hair and watch as the clumps begin to sprout heads and legs.  I’m pretty sure I’m growing new dogs in the corners of my house. They will come alive at some point, I’m sure.   

Getting pizza delivered to our house has become a comedy routine (for people watching, not for me).  First, three dogs begin barking, growling and howling.  They then head to the front door at 40 mph knocking over anything in their paths (people included).  I try to tell Mr. Pizza Delivery Boy through the door (and the barking) that it will be “JUST A MINUTE!!” I shove random dogs in miscellaneous kennels trying to remember that Mylo goes in the top one, the foster has to go BACK to their crate in the living room, and Chase’s door has to be COMPLETELY shut.  THEN I get to open the door and collect my pizza, which is inevitably cold.  I also get laughed at by Mr. Pizza Delivery Boy.

When you have three dogs it is “100% guaranteed or your money back” (you won’t get any money though- this is animal rescue silly) that they will never agree on whether they want to be inside or outside.  One dog will ask to go outside, so I shuffle all three outside.  5 seconds later (usually right when I get back to my comfy spot on the couch) one of the dogs that DIDN’T want to go outside will start barking.  The dog that doesn’t want to be outside right NOW, will want to be outside in 20 minutes.  They all rotate being the jerk that didn’t pee when they were outside 20 minutes ago, so it never ends.

Once we sit down on the couch we need to be prepared to have no use of our arms.

Make sure NEVER TO BUMP THE LEASHES, unless you are prepared to take a walk, and if YOU can leash-walk three large dogs at one time I would like to borrow your spare arm and your automatic brakes, please.

My dogs created a new rule: “If the foster chewed on it we get to too!”

Occasionally a foster dog learns how to get on the bed (this involves using a bench as a stair, which is surprisingly hard for dogs to figure out).  This is “time to find it a new home”-The husband.

Our vocabulary seems to only include the phrases: “Get down.” “Go outside?” “Go potty.” “Down.  Down.  DOWN!!.” “Sit.  Longer than that.”  “You want to eat?” “Don’t sit on him/her!” “Mylo, chill.”  “Chase, stop being jealous.”  

Saying Goodbye Hank, Hello new family!

23 Oct

Last Sunday Hank and I took a road trip to Minneapolis to meet with 3 potential adoptive families.  Hank was excited and behaved amazing all day. As usual, everyone fell in love with him.

After a lot of discussion we decided that one of the applicants and her dog would make a really good family for Hank.  When she heard the news she sounded like she won the lottery.

Tuckered out in the car.

This left me making the drive home, with Hank curled up in my front seat, trying to accept that he’d be leaving me soon.  It hit me like a cannonball to the stomach.  He was going to be leaving me INCREDIBLY soon.  In a matter of DAYS.  Hank’s new mom had some paperwork to complete, but pending final approval she could take him as soon as possible.

Hank remained quite clueless, as dogs do, to the fact that he was getting a REAL forever home soon and therefore was unaware that he would be saying good-bye to our little family.   I, however, was well aware that I would soon be entrusting my baby to a new owner. I knew I should be happy, this is the goal of every foster parent, but I couldn’t be.  I had to accept that now it was too late to change my mind and keep him even if I wanted to.  He couldn’t be mine.  I worked on preparing myself for what I had to do. I tried to spend quality time with him and I attempted to soak up his contagious cheerfulness while I still had him, but it made me so sad. All of my insecurities and doubts played over and over in my head. What if he’s not happy there?  What if she doesn’t love him as much as I do?  What if he feels betrayed, abandoned and sad?  What if he gets injured, sick, or stolen?  I would soon have NO control over the rest of his life.  That’s a hard thing to accept when you love someone so much.

The days passed and soon it was Wednesday. On this day Hank’s new mom was approved for the Foster-to-Adopt program.

(When adopting from MN Pitbull Rescue adoptive families must first enter in to a foster agreement with the dog and attend 6 weeks of training courses.  After these courses the family can then choose to adopt or decide that the dog is not a good fit for them.  This foster-to-adopt program makes it possible for the rescue to watch the new family with the dog for an extended period of time before entrusting the rest of the dog’s life to them.  Learn more at www.mnpitbull.com.)

Knowing that people from the rescue would continue to see Hank for at least 6 weeks helped to ease my fears.  A little.

It was arranged for Hank and I to meet his new owner on Friday night.

I tried to tell Hank about his new owner.  I told him why I picked her and why I liked her and her dog so much.  I told him that I would always love him and that he would LOVE his new home.  I told him not to be nervous and not to worry about me; that I’d always remember him, but that he mustn’t be sad about not being with me anymore.  THIS is what he’s living for now, his new FOREVER home.

I said goodbye to Hank Friday night at 8 pm.  He went happily off with his new mom.  I endured a long drive home with teary eyes and a paradoxically broken, yet happy, heart.

Saying goodbye to my baby.

Hank is now enjoying his new life.  I don’t know if he misses me or not, but I know that even if he does he will quickly forget about his foster family and fall deeply in love with his new mom and his new sister.

Hanks new mom!!

I’m very happy that Hank got his “furever” home.  It’s every dog’s ultimate wish, and since it couldn’t be me I’m extremely happy with our choice.  And yet:

Hank,

Every night I lay in bed thinking about you curled up on the couch.  You should be there, but you aren’t.

I wait for the sound of your feet when I wake up and they never come.

I see pictures of your cute face and it brings tears to my eyes.

I miss you every second of every day.

Despite how much I miss him, and will continue to miss him, I feel SO lucky because his new mom sends me lots of updates and pictures.  I know how well he’s been doing since he left me and that makes it all worth it.

Hank and Diamond.

She says that Hank LOVES his new sister, Diamond, and that they sleep together every night.  Hank has a new cat sibling, and even met the horses this weekend.  Everyone at the farm already loves him, and his new mom says she can’t believe how well he’s fitting in already. He is a spoiled pup with his own new collars and leashes.  He has toys and dog beds all over the house and he gets to snuggle with his new mom and sister. As a foster mom you can’t hope for much more than that!

This is truly a wonderful ending to Hank and my story, and a beautiful new beginning for Hank and his new family’s story.  I will always remember Hank as my first Pitbull foster.  I will remember how he stole my heart and that he was one of the best dogs ever.

And now I can say that he is FINALLY someone’s beloved pet.

Hanks new family.

Congratulations Hank, there is no dog that deserves it more than you.  I hope to see you again, but if not I hope you have the best life ever.  You earned it.

Why I Won’t Foster Fail

15 Oct

For those of you that don’t know, a foster failure is a foster family that ends up adopting their foster.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing.  That dog ends up with a great home.  But what about the next dog they may have fostered?

There are many reasons why I won’t let myself foster fail.

Its true, I have ended up letting go of fantastic dogs, and I’m sure I will be forced to let go of many more who I have fallen for in the future.  I hear all the time, “oh, Chelsea, you love that dog, why don’t you keep him/her? They love you and you love them”, but I can’t do it.  Take a second to think about what would happen if everyone foster failed. There would be no fosters left.

Me saying goodbye to foster “Gunner”

Reddie, my foster coon-hound was rescued from a hoarding situation at 2 years old.  The rescuers had nowhere to put all of the dogs so after the miserable life he’d ALREADY had he ended up in the pound.  He had a bum leg, and was therefore not considered a highly adoptable dog.  Many of the other dogs were put into shelters and rescues where they had a chance to get adopted but Reddie sat in the pound for 3 months where his bum leg continued to deteriorate.  He was supposed to be put down after 30 days and was living on borrowed time.  Finally Critter Harbor found a foster, me, and he was rescued, after months, from his living hell.

Foster “Reddie”

 

Hank was found on the streets and brought to a pound.  Minnesota Pitbull Rescue needed a foster family in order to pull him from the pound and managed to find one, me, the NIGHT BEFORE he was put down.

Hank and Reddie are both fantastic dogs with great demeanor.  They are dog friendly, people friendly, and kid friendly.  They both needed some training, some love and some rehabilitation, but they adjusted to their new lives fairly quickly and their new owners are, and will be, incredibly lucky to have them.

This happens to SO many great dogs.  They are pulled in the nick of time because a foster family is willing to take them in.  But what happens to the ones that aren’t pulled in time?  They are put to sleep, whether they are great dogs or not.

Now, I don’t believe that I saved these dogs lives.   It’s entirely possible that another foster family may have stepped up and taken them in, but what if they hadn’t?

Me and Foster “Tigger”

 

I feel that if you believe in something, and you care about something, you can’t sit around and hope that someone else will take care of it.  I can’t rely on other dog crazy people to save all the dogs because there’s always more that can be done, and in order to do it people need to actually DO it.  You can’t sit around and have faith that other people will fix things.

“ When you find your passion in life… follow it, believe in it, fight for it… and most importantly: DO IT. That’s why you’re here.”  -Ashley Owen Hill www.luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com

Every single person on earth has the ability to make a difference, but few people actually do.  I refuse to foster fail because I couldn’t forgive myself for not trying to make a difference.  Because I refuse to foster fail I inevitably end up getting rid of fantastic dogs, and it kills me to do so.  However, I have two wonderful dogs already and I truly believe that my incredible foster dogs will make other people as happy as I am with Chase and Mylo.  NOT foster failing helps the animal rescue world go round.  If I can continue to be a part of that I will be thankful every day, even the days that hurt.  I will soak up the love from my fosters while I have them.  I will be hurt when they go, but I will snuggle up with my dogs for the day and know that another family will get to enjoy what I do, and another dog can be rescued because of what I do.

Me saying goodbye to foster “Ginger”

Foster failing would be the easy way out for me.  I think everyone would admit to taking the easy way out in life a time or two, but I know that the pain I feel from giving up a dog I love, and the constant worry that I have about their future, is NOTHING compared to what I would feel if I couldn’t foster anymore.  Every time I saw a sweet face that needed saving I would know that I’m relying on someone else to rescue them.  I can live with a little hurt.  I can’t live with that.

 

 

Letter to a Foster Dog- Hank

11 Oct

Dear Hank,

Hank.  My dear foster baby. (If you haven’t read Hank’s story, read it here:https://pittiesforyourthoughts.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/some-hanky-panky-going-on/)   I’ve had you for over a month now, in my house, on my couch, in my lap, outside with our family, and in my heart.  I’ve learned your personality, and your sweet quirks.  I’ve watched you become surer of yourself, and have marveled at your complete joy in living.

As I look ahead to next week, when you will be meeting not just one, but three, prospective adoptive families, I am over-come with an abundance of opposing emotions.  It’s so hard to explain what I am feeling now that we are at this stage.

As your foster-mom my goals have been to get you out of a horrible situation, to bring your weight back up and to show you what it’s like living in a house.  I set out to learn everything I could about you so that I can use it to help find you a “fur-ever” family.  I set out to show you love and tenderness, but also to give you the direction you need in order to become a great house dog.  I didn’t intend on falling in love with you.  But I did.

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Our family on the couch. Hank looks comfy!

I have watched you conquer stairs.  Watched you discover the joy of couches.  I have been amazed at the speed with which you potty trained and crate trained and  I have been overjoyed to see how happy you are; I have never, in my entire life, met a dog as happy as you.

I completely understand why you are so happy, too.  Your life has done a complete 180.  You experienced so many new things at our house.  So, this is the hard part for me.  When I send you to your new “fur”ever home, how can I ever explain to you that I’m not kicking you out?  That I would love more than anything to keep you for the rest of your life, to watch you grow old, and to keep you this happy every day until you no longer have needs on this earth.  You are SO happy at my house, how can I make you leave?

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I’m so happy and proud that you have people that can’t wait to meet you, but at the same time it hurts me to even THINK about sending you to a new home.  THIS is the agony of being a foster parent.  As your foster parent it is my job to let you go to a new home, so that I can continue fostering more dogs.  You will go to a new home, and in turn I will pull another dog from a desperate situation.

Please don’t think that I gave up on you.

Please don’t think that I kicked you out.

Please don’t miss me.

I hope that you go to your new family, whoever they may be, and are as absolutely, completely, head-over-heals (quite literally sometimes) happy as you are at my house.  I hope that you remember me, but that you don’t feel sad that you are no longer my dog.  Because, Hank, you will always be my foster baby.  You will always belong to me, just a little bit, even when you have a new family.  I will never forget the time I spent with you.

I hope that you can understand this.  I hope that you are happy to share the life you’ve had with me with other dogs in need.  Most of all, I hope that you are as happy with your new family as you are with my family.

I worry like this because once you are adopted I no longer control what happens to you.  I have to have blind faith that they will love you as much as I do, and treat you even better than I do.

For you, I HAVE this faith because I don’t see how anyone could resist falling utterly in love with you at first sight.

Soon I will be sending you away.  I am preparing myself for this, and in case I can’t say it later, I want you to remember these words:

Hank, your Chelsea-mom loves you.  I know you will have an absolutely fantastic life, and even though I wish I could be a part of it, you need your new family, and I need to continue fostering.  I will think of you every day.  I’m so glad you came in to my life.  I love you.

Foster Brothers to the Rescue

5 Oct

When I started fostering I was so excited to get involved, and so excited to get my first dog, that I didn’t think about all the things that would be hard about it.

Granted, I knew it would be hard to let go of the fosters, and I knew that dogs with behavior problems could be trying, but I didn’t really think about how much it would affect the rest of my family.

Our Family

Every day of my life I am incredibly thankful that I have someone so supportive that I’m able to bring home stray dogs, disrupt our lives, and receive help with the day-to-day responsibilities of having three dogs.   I feel SO lucky that I get to do this, and I think it’s important to realize and appreciate what everyone in my family contributes to this group effort.

Meet Mylo and Chase.

Mylo

Mylo is a 3 year old Labrador Retriever, and Chase is a 2 year old Pitbull-Mastiff mix.  Mylo was a rescued from abandonment shortly before he starved to death as a 6 month old pup.  Chase’s mom was tied to a tree, left for a week, impregnated, and almost put to sleep pregnant before she was rescued.  She had the puppies but was too young to be a mother, and started attacking her litter when they were 3 weeks old.  Because of this we received Chase when he was only 3 weeks and 6 days old.

Chase

I feel very fortunate that my dogs don’t have abandonment, anxiety, or social issues from their dramatic puppy-hoods.  I am UNBELIEVABLY fortunate that they not only DON’T have any of these issues, but to this day they have always been extremely well behaved with any and all of the dogs they meet.  In fact, I used to work at a boarding facility and I frequently used my dogs to test other dog’s socialization levels.

When I started fostering I knew they would be great foster brothers and I never thought twice about it.  However, now that I’ve fostered for some time I definitely feel that I need to redistribute the credit given in our household.  What must it be like for them to have new dogs on their turf all the time?  Initially, for the first hour or so, I think they find it fun.  They have a new playmate for the day! But then.. The dog stays over.  They are here for breakfast the next day.   They start sitting on the couch and stealing mom and dad’s attention.  Next they chew on their toys and try to get in the bed.  Sometimes the foster gets to go special places, or they get to eat special food.  I can only imagine that Mylo and Chase feel overshadowed sometimes.

Sharing the couch with one of our favorite fosters “Reddie”

In general they enjoy playing with the fosters, and they are perfectly fine eating in the same room and coexisting in the same house, but it seems to hit them hard when the fosters get brave enough to steal the couches, or try to steal their human’s laps.  It’s easy for me to see their jealousness,  but they always behave themselves, and usually adjust eventually.  Eventually they usually figure out that 3 dogs and 2 humans DO fit on the couch together, so long as no one cares about being squished, sat on, or kicked.

Fuzzy pic. It’s hard to take pictures with all three of them on top of you.

Then, after ALL of this adjusting, throughout the fosters entire time at our house, the foster dog is adopted and leaves never to be seen again.

Sometimes I wonder if my dogs can understand a foster’s sad past?

Maybe they feel special to help teach the fosters how great life can be?

Sometimes I wonder if my dogs are afraid they will be sent away next?

They see so many dogs come and go from our house, what’s to keep them from thinking they might be next to go?

Sometimes I wonder if I’m over-reacting and just THINK my dogs are jealous and pouting.

This is usually Gene’s opinion.

Whatever may be true about the whole situation, I know that not all dogs could do what mine do.  They have had nine foster brothers and sisters in less than a year.  They have put up with, adjusted to, and lost nine foster siblings.  And they keep letting new ones in.  Keep wondering where they go and if they have to be worried.  They share their toys, food, leashes and let them come on their outings. AND, as if that’s not enough, they share their humans.

Sharing treats with foster brother Bubb

I think Mylo and Chase may have the most difficult positions in our little foster family.  Gene and I are aware of what we are doing. We know what to expect, and we know that no dogs will replace ours.  I try to find ways to tell Mylo and Chase this, (For example only Mylo and Chase get to sleep with us in bed- One: there’s no more room. Two: I feel like they need SOMETHING that is always there’s no matter how many dogs we have in the house) but I think they just have to learn with every new foster that they will not be the next ones given away.

I always worry about my dogs, but I know deep down that being foster brothers is a great experience for them as well as for us.  They are incredibly well-rounded dogs now.  They are used to many things that they weren’t used to before. They have a lot of confidence in new situations.  Most of all, I have a TON of confidence in THEM.

Mylo and Chase.  Mommy loves you. Thank you for helping her help others.

Me and my boys.

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