Tag Archives: animal rescue

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

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. 

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.

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.”  

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.

Mister “Hank”y Panky.

13 Sep

Hank begging for a foster.

Meet Mister Hank. Also known as Hanky Pank (and Hank the Tank, and the list goes on).  Hank will go down in the books as my first foster pitbull(FINALLY!!) .  I found him on Minnesota Pitbull Rescue’s Facebook page begging for a foster so that he could be sprung from puppy prison (animal control).  His picture explained that he was found on the streets of St. Paul about 20 pounds underweight and covered in urine.  One look in his big, soulful, “love-me” eyes and I did just that.  I fell in love.  Considering how underweight he was they may have been “feed-me” eyes.. but I’m going with “love-me”.

I said I would of COURSE foster this peanut, and the very next day volunteers dropped him off with me, in Duluth, at my work.

Hank on his way to me!

First off,  Minnesota Pitbull Rescue volunteers rock.

Second, Hank rocks.

Hank has a very mellow attitude, and adjusts to new situations incredibly well.  He spent 5 hours at the clinic I work at without making a peep.  He did however leave a trail of food, drool and urine from one end of the clinic to the other!  In spite of his messiness the staff fell for him instantly.  He looks so thin and damaged, and yet he has this incredibly sensitive, loving demeanor that is obvious at once.

Hank is about 4 years old, will weigh about 60 pounds, and is very short and stocky.  He has a large head, large feet, short little legs, and a long body.  He is incredibly cute.

I always get a little nervous when I bring new dogs to meet my own two, but Mylo, Chase, and Hank get along just fine.  Hank attempts to follow them around, but Mylo and Chase are much faster than Hank is with his short stubby legs.

Watching Hank run is one of my new favorite things.   He runs so sideways you think he’ll fall over, which he occasionally does.  Hank is not the most graceful dog I’ve ever met.  He is slightly bowl-legged, which is probably increased by his current scrawniness, and stamps his feet all around the house wiggling his butt.  He reminds me of a cute little dinosaur waving his big head around, stamping his feet, and wagging his tail.

We discovered right away that Hank may not have ever lived in a house.  He has probably never known what its like to sleep with his human on the bed, or had a dog bed of his own.  He was not house trained, was afraid of our stairs, and looked at the couches in complete awe.  He couldn’t believe that dogs were allowed on these giant squishy things!

Hank on the couch with Mylo.

Dogs that have never experienced stairs are often afraid of them.. and unfortunately at our house dogs have to go down 2 stairs to get outside.  I’m sure I looked rather humorous trying to carry his underweight, but bulky, 55 pound body down the stairs.  It was either carry him, or let him out the front door and walk him all the way around the house to the fence in the back.  Thankfully, after about 4 days, Hank BRAVED the stairs.  He typically trips not only down them, but also up them, but he’s showing marked improvement.

The first weekend at our house Hank got to go to a friend’s cabin with us.  It was a big weekend for him!  He got to be around 8 new dogs and our two. 11 dogs at one cabin!  Hank did fine with all of the dogs, from the feisty little wiener dog, “Wiener”, to the un-neutered Labrador Retrievers.  He also got to meet a bunch of new people.  It was great to get to bring him with because even people who would typically be afraid of a large headed, cropped eared, pitbull all got to see how gentle he was and how much he loved people.  Everyone wanted to snuggle with him and kept telling him how fast he was going to find a new home.

It was also great for us as fosters because now we know a lot more about Hank.  Now we know that he sticks around off leash, he doesn’t get nervous around large groups of people, he does well with all kinds of dogs, and isn’t bothered by four-wheelers and other loud noises.  This will make many potential new families very happy!

Hank at the cabin.

In spite of his initial habit of creating lakes of urine on our floors (he is now house-broken), and his outright terror of our stairs, Hank has been an absolute joy to be around since minute one.  He gets large amount of joy out of very simple things.  He enjoys chewing on Mylo’s legs, meal times, treats, butt scratches, carrying shoes around the house (which we discovered when sets of shoes were mysteriously one shoe short), running after our dogs, chewing on nylabones, and he especially loves snuggling.  He will push his way into a lap whether there’s room for him or not.

Hank will be an incredible addition to anyone’s home, and because of that will be extremely hard for Gene and I to give up.  Fostering isn’t always a ray of golden sunshine, no matter what I may tell you.  On an obvious level, picking up poop off the floor has its downsides, as does tripping over the mass of 3 dogs crammed in the teeny entry way, or teeny kitchen.  However, those things don’t bother me.  The hardest part is falling in love with a dog who you know you will eventually give up.  Thinking about losing Hank physically hurts me, but in spite of that, I keep my fingers crossed every day, hoping that some great family will fall for my new baby as much as I have, and steal him away from me.  I’ve been here before, many times.  It’s a complicated wish, full of mixed emotions, tears, and happiness.

I vow to enjoy him while I have him. Show him what it means to be loved. Teach him what I can.  And let go of him when he needs me to.

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