Archive | November, 2012

Sophie Here!

23 Nov

Hi Hi!  Sophie here!

Whoops. I got stuck.

I hyjaked hijacked Chelsea-Mom’s computer.  I REALLY enjoy stealing her things, He-He (don’t tell her I hid her shoe in that box I sleep in).I try not to damage her stuff, but I just can’t help myself sometimes. I AM just a baby after all..(Chelsea-Mom says it’s lucky for puppies that they are so cute.. I don’t know what I need luck for, though.. I’m so awe-some I should be called The Incredi-ble Sophie!)  Pajama pants are my favorite things to steal from Chelsea-Mom, but it’s not just her stuff!  I like to steal Gene-Dad’s stuff too.  He has such nummy slippers.  Anyways, before Chelsea-Mom see’s me I have some things to say!  Chelsea-Mom told me the other day that I have a LOT to say and that I’m very noisy for such a little gal. I’m pretty sure she’s fibbing.  She says that I’m even noisy when I’m SLEEPING, but I don’t see how that’s paws-ible.  Gurl dogs don’t snore.  Everybody knows that.

Me NOT snoring with Mylo.

So, first off.. My Chelsea-Mom tells me that she and Gene-Dad are not my “forever” fambily.  She says that I’m jus living here for awhile.  Well, what the heck?!  Where’s my forever fambily!? I really like life with Chelsea-Mom and Gene-Dad and I love my  brothers Mylo and Chase! (They let me pick on them a lot.  Chelsea-Mom says that’s what little sisters are for.) I like snuggawing with my whooole fambily on the couch, I like to play with everyone outside, and I LOVE playing tug-o-war with whomever (2-legged or 4-legged) wants to play with me.  So, you see, I’m kinda sad that this is not my forever home.  Chelsea-Mom tells me, though, that there are thow-sends more than I can count, dogs looking for forever homes, and that she likes to help as many as she can.  She PROMISES me that I will love my new forever home as much as I like her home.  I want to believe her, but I’m still kinda nerv-us.

Chase makes me feel better when I’m ner-vus.

Even though I’m kinda nerv-us and I don’t want to leave my “foster” (I guess I’m a “foster”?) house I can’t wait to meet my new parents and see if I’ll have siblings to pick on or not!  I hope they take me for car rides, let me play with tug toys, let me snuggle on the couch, and maybe even someday sleep on the bed!  As much as I love Chelsea-Mom and Gene-Dad I’m ready for my new parents!! How much patience can one little puppy have?!

Some other things I love?

Leaves.  Chelsea-Mom says something called the “wind” is what makes them fly around and makes them so fun for me to chase.  I’m not sure what “wind” is.. but I know leaves are a whole lotta fun!!

When Mylo and Chase (my “foster” brothers) wear collars.  Then I have something to grab on to!

Wearing sweaters.  Chelsea-Mom calls me a Purdy Girl when I’m wearing my sweaters.  Gene-Dad says that one of my jackets has an El-vis style collar.  Who’s El-vis? I bet he’s not as cute as me!

El-vis collar.

Jumping!!  I love to pounce off the couch!  Preferably right on to one of my foster brothers.. but I’ll jump on to other things too.

Chase wanted to wear a sweater too, but it didn’t fit him.

Tug-o-War!  Chelsea-Mom says I’m fereles feerless not a-scared of anything.  Brother Mylo pulls me all over the place!  Brother Chase is usually on my side though.

Something I don’t like?

Something Chelsea-Mom calls “Sno.”  It appeared on the ground last night and it’s really cold!!  Chelsea-Mom said that I still have to go potty outside tho. Boo.

I also don’t like that I have to sleep in that box thing while Mylo and Chase get to sleep on the bed. SO NOT FAIR.  Chelsea-Mom says it’s because I’m a puppy and that my new fambily will want me to be used to that box. I told her last night that if she let me sleep on the bed JUS ONCE! I’d never tell anyone.. and I thought she caved, but then in the morning I woke up in that box thing again!!

Me in my crate when I was littler. I broke the box the other day.

I like pretty much everything else.  I’m happy to be with Chelsea-mom, Gene-dad, and Mylo and Chase for the time being, but I really want to be someone’s forever pet.  Will you take me home with you??  I’d make a GREAT Christmas present.  I look adorable in ribbon. 

11 (because I apparently can’t count) Things I’ve Learned from Fostering

16 Nov

1. The earth will continue spinning even if my couch covers are never on correctly.

I am a slightly anal and compulsive person.  I was a math major in college, this probably explains it.  I like things centered, I’m not artistic, I don’t like clutter.  Living in a 900 square foot house with three dogs sometimes has me reeling.  I can’t even count how many times I adjust my couch covers a day.  I just can’t STAND when they are crooked and

Do you think they do this on purpose?

apparently it’s impossible for a dog to get on the couch without screwing them up.  I have learned  I am learning that nothing bad will happen if I wait to fix them until tomorrow.  I will not have a heart attack.  The dogs will not judge my crooked couch covers, and the husband thinks I’m crazy for caring in the first place loves me no matter what our couches look like.

This same lesson applies to the dog hair situation in my house.  No matter how distraught I feel about it NOTHING bad will happen if I skip vacuuming for a day.

2. Caring means Sharing.

Sharing dads lap.

This is a lesson that everyone in our family has had to learn.  When we have a foster dog Gene and I share our floor space, our couch space, our bed and our time.  Mylo and Chase are forced to share their food, their dog beds, their toys and, most importantly, their humans.  At this point I’m proud to say that I’m pretty sure we would all pass kindergarten with our sharing skills.

 

3.  Accidents happen.

Milk gets spilled, injuries happen, rugs get peed on.  This is just part of being a dog mom, and also a regular mom, I suppose.  Things get chewed on, windows get broken.  It’s

“But MoooOOm. It wasn’t my fault!”

important to remember that you love your fur-babies and not to get too upset about material things.

4.  Judging a potential adoptive family is about what’s best for the dog, not about what you personally think about people.

I find it very hard to not be too judgmental when I meet prospective adopters for my foster babies.  See, I KNOW how happy they are at my house.  I know what their life is like with me, and I don’t want them to have to give anything up.  Dog people all have different views and different ways to treat their dogs.  Many people wouldn’t agree with everything that I do, just as I don’t agree with things that other people do.  This doesn’t necessarily define either of us as bad dog owners, just different.  (There certainly ARE bad dog owners.. I’m just observing differences between good ones).  Sometimes dogs do best in single dog homes, sometimes they do best with other dogs around. Some dogs are trustworthy off-leash, and some dogs aren’t.  Some dogs couldn’t live in the city (exhibit A: my lab Mylo) and some dogs do just fine.  I have to work really hard to remember that simply because people may be different than me doesn’t mean they won’t be a great home for my foster.

5.  Adult dogs bond just as fast as puppies.  Maybe faster.

Many people have the belief that it’s necessary to get a dog as a puppy in order to have that indescribable dog-human bond.  I myself always wanted puppies.  Since becoming a foster, though, I have had 8 adult dogs come into my house and I have learned from these dogs that it’s JUST as possible to form a bond with an adult dog.  They are more mature and more capable of forming relationships.  They want to learn from you and they are experiencing a new life with you.  This is a good way to start a relationship.  The other benefit of getting an adult dog?  They are typically potty trained, and are usually through their chewing phase already.  Also you know what they’re going to look like!

 

6.  Dogs who have never been given anything don’t expect as much.

Gene and I have both noticed that the dogs who have had awful or neglectful upbringings tend to me much less obnoxious clingy demanding endearingly-needy than our boys who have been spoiled for years.  They tend to be more appreciative of extra attention, treats, toys, and even the simplest of things like heat and a place to lay.  My dogs think that it is their  “whoever is in charge of doggie Heaven”-given right to lay on the couch, get at least one rawhide a week, play fetch once a day, sleep in bed, and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes it’s pleasant to lay down and snuggle next to a dog who hasn’t experienced that before.  The look in their eyes is priceless.

7.  I’ve learned to appreciate my own dogs even more. 

One of the things that I appreciate the most as a foster parent is that my perma-dogs ALLOW me to be a foster parent.  Over the past year I have fallen more and more in love with my own dogs for being so amazing and polite about letting strays into our family.   I love the time in between fosters when it’s just the two of them (which isn’t often) because this time makes me love them all the more for sharing the rest of their time with whatever foster we have at the moment.

8.  Money donated is money well spent.

I don’t have a lot of money.  I have a mortgage, insurance bills, cellphone bills, dog food bills, my own food to buy, ect.  Everyone I know can relate to this.  But somewhere along the line I started donating.  Not a lot, maybe $5 here, $10 there, but nevertheless, donating.  Once I started this I could no longer sit in a tanning bed, or buy a new shirt, without a twinge of guilt.  I always feel like maybe my money could be going somewhere better.  I don’t think anyone should donate outside their means, and I think everyone should splurge on themselves every once in a while, but I do think that once a month, or maybe twice a month, skipping that latte and sending $5 to a charity of your choice will make you feel amazing. I suggest you all try it!

9.  Fostering has brought me to a new level of contentment with myself.

I have always been a pretty happy person.  I love my family and my friends.  I am fortunate enough to be married to the man of my dreams and now I have his family as well.  I have always been happy enough with myself as a person and never really felt as though I was missing something.  Now, however, I have discovered how truly happy a person can be if they are doing something that they really believe in.  Having a passion gives my life purpose, and joy beyond words.  It makes me a better child, friend, dog-mom, and wife and I choose to believe that “A family that saves lives together, stays together.”

Family

10.  It never gets easier.

I have fostered, and given up, 9 dogs and I am on my 10th.  One would think that at some point it would get easier to say goodbye, but this never happens.  Each dog is so different and touches my heart in different ways.   Each dog thinks they are here to stay.  They fall in love with our family and they don’t understand that we are not their forever home.  Even when I say I won’t, I fall in love with them as well.  Often ours is the first good home they’ve been in.  Every time I find an adoptive family I worry that my foster will feel like I am just one more person that has abandoned them.  I wonder if they ask “why do you keep those two dogs (Mylo and Chase) but you won’t keep me?” My grief over giving up a dog is not typically sorrow for my own loss, but worry and fear about the rest of the dog’s life.  You can’t tell them what is happening; all you can do is give them a hug and a kiss and drive away.

Sometimes I wish Chase would drive me home.

11.  Broken hearts do indeed mend. 

My heart begins to break as soon as I even start THINKING about sending my foster away, and continues to rip until I am actually driving away.  At this point all I can do is hurt.  I have learned, though, that despite the immense pain I feel at that moment in time I WILL feel better.  My heart begins to heal, and while it’s left with a jagged mark, that mark fades with time.  In order to heal myself I spend time with my own dogs and I wait anxiously for updates about my foster-baby.  Knowing that I found them a wonderful home goes along way towards helping to heal my heart.

So worth it. Check out Hank now.

14 Nov

When Hank got adopted I knew it was supposed to make me happy, and yet finding Hank’s forever home broke my heart.  Hank is a perpetually happy-go-lucky pitbull who completely stole my heart with his sweet face and loving attitude.  I never wanted to let him go.

Hank is a classic example of how amazing this breed is.  He has all of the qualities that make me love pitbulls so much.  He’s carefree, he gets along with people and other dogs, he has a mellow demeanor, he loves to snuggle, and he loves to be loved.  Because of this I was incredibly heavy-hearted when I dropped him off with his new mom.  A few weeks later I still miss Hank VERY much, but I have a new foster who I love, and I am here to tell you that getting updates about your previous foster makes everything SO worth it.

Here are some Hanky Panky Updates.

Hank met a horse for the first time.

Hank meeting his new horse friend.

Hank and his new pittie sister, Diamond, are so in love.  They wrestle all day, and then cuddle together all night.  His new owner says Diamond even sleeps next to Hank’s crate whenever he has to be in it.

True love.

Hank is spoiled with new collars, new dog beds, new toys, car rides, and walks.

Handsome man.

He even got a Halloween costume, talk about being part of the family.

He looks so happy..

I’m SO happy that I get to see Hank with his new owner and know that he is ok.  I still miss him every day, but seeing how happy he is melts my heart.  This is why we fosters do it.

Passions and Participating

7 Nov

It’s pretty clear to anyone who knows me that my passion is Pitbulls.  I believe that they are incredibly sweet and loyal dogs who have been mistreated and taken advantage of.  Because Pitbulls don’t have very good English skills I choose to do their talking for them.  (I almost wrote that they don’t have a voice.. but Pitbulls are notoriously vocal dogs, so that’s most definitely not true.)

I choose to stand up for them when people put them down, whether I’m at a wedding, the grocery store or the bar.  I may not change anyone’s mind, but maybe they will learn something.

I choose to make sure that my pit-mix is an excellent example of the breed.  I’m aiming to get Chase therapy certified, but until then I make sure he’s always on his best behavior at the vet, the parks, or anywhere else I take him.  I get no greater joy than seeing someone come up to Chase asking “Is that a Pitbull?” with trepidation, and then finding him to be a calm, gentle, loving giant (at 80 pounds he’s a big pit-mix).  Again, this may not change anyone’s mind, but maybe, just maybe, somewhere down the road they will remember their good experience with a Pitbull-type dog.

I choose to foster Pitbull’s.  I choose to help save lives.  I choose to be an available safe home when a Pitbull needs to be rescued.  On top of helping save lives, fostering Pitbulls gives me more ammunition when I argue with drunks at the bar.  Drunk: “Pitbulls are terrible- why would you let them in your house? They’re going to bite your hand off.”  Me: “I have yet to have a mean Pitbull in my house.  As a matter of fact I find them to be much more well-rounded than many other breeds”.  Drunk: phpphbbb.  (It’s hard to argue with drunks.)

My most common arguments.

I do these things because I’m head over heels in love with this breed.  I STRONGLY believe that they shouldn’t be judged simply because of the way they look.  Have people learned nothing in all these years?  Dogs are no different than people (except for their lack of opposable thumbs-which makes them useless when I tell them to do stuff for me).  They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Their behavior differs from dog to dog, not breed to breed.  There will always be some similarities between dogs of the same breed; but there will be many differences as well.

I don’t expect everyone to share my passion.  I don’t expect that everyone I know will instantly fall in love with Pitbulls simply because I tell them how wonderful they are.  And that’s fine with me.  Everyone I know has their own issue to be passionate about.  I know people passionate about politics and people passionate about the environment.  I have friends passionate about children with disabilities and family members passionate about educating our youth.  Without all of these different passions the world wouldn’t go around.   What is most important is that these people are PARTICIPATING.  Regardless of whether they share my passion or not they are getting out and doing their part.  They are standing up for something, educating anyone they can, and taking part however they can.

There are many different ways to get involved no matter what you’re passionate about.  In the animal welfare and animal rescue world alone there are hundreds of ways to get involved. Some of the people that I admire most have dedicated their lives to help rescue, and educate about, Pitbulls. Check out Ashley Owen-Hill from Lucky Dog Rescue (luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com) or the founders of Bad Rap rescue (badrap.org).  Read about people who started programs like Priority Paws, a program right here in MN that brings Therapy Pitbulls and youth groups together (http://www.arottalove.net/blog/), and learn about the founder of MN Pitbull Rescue (mnpitbull.com).  These people are incredible.  They make me feel as if I’m doing practically nothing.  These are people for me to look up to as I continue working with Pitbulls.

What these people do is amazing, but they couldn’t do it alone.  Many people who are very dedicated to animals aren’t able to dedicate their whole lives to saving them.  However, choosing to participate in even the smallest of ways helps programs like these survive.  There are many seemingly small gestures a person can make that will make a world of difference in the big picture.

People volunteer their time.  These volunteers are the core of any good rescue/education program.  I feel like I have so little time to give, and yet here these people are walking shelter animals, working at an adoption events, helping rescues with their administrative duties, helping train rescue dogs, taking their personal dogs out to classrooms ect. The list goes on and on.

People get involved with fundraising. Not everyone wants to be out in the cold walking dogs or volunteering to clean kennels.  Fundraising can be a fun social event and is a totally great way to help save lives!

Many people who don’t actively participate in animal rescue donate!  There are some incredibly generous donators out there and there are many others who don’t have a lot to give but still donate what they can to causes they feel strongly about. Every dollar counts. I know rescue groups with more than 20,000 friends on Facebook.  How amazing would it be if every one of those friends donated just a dollar a month?

If money and time are short for you like they are for me look in to fostering! I feel like it’s such an easy way to participate because one: I already have dogs, so it doesn’t take any extra time, and two: it’s free! The best part about fostering is that even if you foster fail you saved a life!  What could be better than that?

For Pitbulls one of the most important things a person can do is to make sure that THEIR Pitbull is a good example of the breed.  Every positive experience that people have with the breed is another step in the right direction for the breed as a whole.  This doesn’t involve being involved with any rescue group, it simply requires people to be responsible Pitbull-type dog owners.

Sometimes a person’s actions at home are enough.  Loving the pets you own and treating them well is enough in my book.  That’s one, or two, or three less animals to worry about.

So, you can see that there are many ways to get involved, each as important as the next.  I greatly enjoy sharing my love for Pitbulls with such an incredibly passionate, strong willed group of people across the US and throughout many other countries.  We HAVE to be so passionate about our love of Pitbulls because the people discriminating against them are just as passionate about their hate.  I know that this is how other people feel about THEIR passions and I feel incredibly lucky that their are people out there sticking up for the underprivaliged children, the environment, farm animals ect.

Whether you are passionate about Pitbulls, like me, or something else I suggest that you find a way to get involved and participate. Sometimes the smallest things make all the difference. 

Sophie, Sophie, Sophie-a!!!

2 Nov

OH MY GOODNESS.

I think in Sophie’s case a picture really does say a thousand words.  And probably says them a thousand times better than I can.

Meet my new foster puppy “Sophie”

Sophie

Check out that belly!  Are you in love yet?

Sophie was born on July 25, 2012, which makes her about 13 weeks old.  When I got her a week ago she desperately needed some quality nutrition.  She barely even looked like a puppy.

“Are you my new mommy?”

(We may or may not have called her “Yoda” for a while.  And possibly “Creature”-Of course only lovingly.)

What happened to Sophie and her sisters, who are also at MN Pitbull Rescue, is a pretty common situation.  Someone hoped to make money off of pitbull puppies, didn’t realize how much work they were, didn’t have the resources to take care of them, and the innocent puppies suffered because of it.  Puppies need to be dewormed, they need to be fed a lot of food, and they should be vaccinated at an early age to protect them against common contagious infections.

The day that I got Sophie as my foster was the first day in her 12 week life that she’d been away from her siblings.

Sophie and her sisters.

She was nervous and scared but she’s a brave little girl and explored her new surroundings.  She really likes other dogs, she is a little food vulture, and she is OH SO SNUGGLY.   As if I hadn’t already fallen head over heels for the puppy smell, the big round naked puppy belly, and her cute ears that don’t really bend the right way… I soon discovered that she makes the cutest little snore noises whenever she’s comfortable.  I’ve been trying to video tape it, but have yet to succeed.

Sophie sleeping.

I am constantly amazed by how bright Sophie is.  Her first night in the kennel was really rough, but within 4 days she has taken to her kennel like a bee to honey.  Now she sleeps all night without making a peep and when I’m getting ready to leave in the mornings she is already sitting in her kennel waiting for her treat.

Because she was getting so good in her crate I decided to take Sophie to work with me yesterday (I work at a preventative care Vet Clinic) and she blew me away with how well she behaved (aside from a few potty issues..)

She played with the staff, who loved her, played with her toys if people were busy, and when she got tired she went voluntarily into her kennel and took a nap.  Her kennel was in the lobby all day and she didn’t make a peep, even when other dogs barked at her.

Aside from being incredibly well behaved Sophie showed off her smarts.  She knows her name, how to sit, “come” (most of the time), and she even figured out how to turn her kennel into a loft!  Here’s hoping she can find a way to add an extra story on to my house before she leaves.

Sohpie in her “loft”

Sophie is one of those puppies that people can’t get enough of.  She is very social, loves humans and dogs, (see her below with Mylo) and she is so cute it hurts. Really.

She’s not picky about whether she snuggles with a human or a canine.

I haven’t had a puppy since we got Chase over 2 years ago and I was definitely over-due for some puppy snuggles.  I had forgotten how much work they are, but had also forgotten how much fun they are!  I am enjoying her so much and am already sad thinking about the day I have to let her go.  I’m really going to miss watching her stumble up the stairs, watching her pounce on her toys, listening to her snores and grunts, and snuggling with her warm puppy belly.  Most of all, though, I’m going to miss watching her continue to learn and grow.

Sophie’s happiness and excitement are contagious.  She’s a true lover, and I know that whoever becomes her forever family will be incredibly lucky to have her.

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