Tag Archives: fostering

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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My First Nomination!

17 Jan

Thank you SO much to Pocket Pittie in the City: http://pocketpittieinthecity.blogspot.com/ for nominating Pitties for your Thoughts for the Liebster Award!

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>”Liebster means Dearest in German, so the Liebster Blog Award is the Dearest Blog Award. It’s an award intended to recognize worthy, lesser known blogs and to help expose their work. Of course, accepting The Liebster Award comes with a few rules!”

Liebster Blog Award Rules
These are the rules as have been given to me:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you .
2. Share five things about yourself.
3. Answer five questions presented by Pocket Pittie in the City.
4. Ask five new questions to your nominated bloggers
5. Reveal your top five picks {with less than 200 readers} and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Copy and paste the award on your blog
7. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite up-and-coming bloggers and keep it going!

I am honored to accept this darling award, so here goes!

5 Things about myself:
1. My first true pittie love was my adopted Pitbull-Lab mix Hartley. He injested rope from a rope toy and died due to blocked and damaged intestines. He was only 15 months old.
2. I heard about Mylo a week after Hartley died. He had been abandonned in a house for 2 weeks and needed a home. I needed a reason to get up in the morning so it seemed perfect.
3. I have a math degree and am doing absolutely nothing with it.
4. My two biggest pet peeves are when people discriminate against Pitbulls and when animals are overweight.
5. It is my dream to own a boarding facility.

5 Questions present by Pocket Pittie in the City:
1. Is formal training “worth it” and why?
I believe that formal training is an excellent opportunity for both dog and owner. I wish that I had more time to take my dogs to classes for retrieving, agility, refresher courses, ect. I think it’s a good way to make sure you aren’t forgetting to continually work on your dogs behavior. This being said, my dogs have not had very much formal training. Haha.
2. What is your favorite activity to do with your pooch(es)?
My favorite activity is off-leash hiking. I know this goes against many dog owners belief systems, but my absolute favorite time with my dogs is when we’re deep in the woods with no one around and they get to be free. They are wonderful company and it’s always so beautiful to be outside and to watch them enjoy themselves.
3. If you like to cook, what’s your best dish?
I like to cook, but I’m not the greatest of cooks. I make a pretty good lasagna, but I can’t take any credit for the recipe. That was handed down to me.
4. What do your dogs do that makes you laugh EVERY time!?
My lab Mylo does actual FULL somersaults on the couch. He moans and groans and snorts the entire time and it’s hilarious.
5. What are your favorite things about dog blogging?
My favorite thing about blogging is discovering all the people out there that are just like me and understand what I’m doing.

I honestly have NO idea how to tell if I blog has more than 200 followers.. (I’m absolutely terrible with electronic concepts..) but here are my questions:
1. What kind of food do you feed your dogs and why?
2. What is your favorite animal related book?
3. I know you are all dog people, but what other kinds of pets do you have?
4. What is your favorite “guilty pleasure” food?
5. Do you exercise your dogs before work or after work?

and my nominees are…. Drum roll..
1. Leroy and Company: http://leroyandcompany.wordpress.com/
2. Temporary Home, Permanant Love: http://temporaryhomepermanentlove.com/
3. Pittieful Love: http://pittiefullove.wordpress.com/
4. And Foster Makes Five: http://andfostermakesfive.wordpress.com/
5. Dream Big, Bark Loudly: http://dreambigbarkloudly.wordpress.com/

Thank you again for the nomination, we all appreciate it!

The Pitties For Your Thoughts family.

The Pitties For Your Thoughts family.

One Step at a Time

17 Jan

Last Thursday we got the official bad news about Sophie. We all expected it but we were naivly hoping that she’d come around and realize that she’d been wrong about her new dad. Unfortunately this just wasn’t the case. Last Saturday Sophie went back in to foster care. What really makes this bad news is that she didn’t come back to US.

The director of Minnesota Pitbull Rescue and myself both agreed that it may not be in Sophie’s best interest to come back to my house if we cannot keep her forever. Sophie is clearly comfortable around our dogs, but we need to see if she can be comfortable in other situations. A huge benefit of her new foster home is that it is in the Twin Cities, which is where most of the MPBR events are held. ( I am over 2 hours away from most of the events). Going to the different MPBR events should really help Sophie adjust to new and different environments. She will have opportunities to socialize with other puppies but will have more chances to learn to be confident on her own. We’re hoping to see if Sophie has any actual socialization issues or if the way she felt about her dad was a one time thing related strictly to him. Since she never showed any nervousness at our house we felt like it’d be best to try her somewhere else.

This was very painful for me. I would have taken her back in a heartbeat and it kills me to know that she’s so happy at our house and we didn’t let her come back here. I know it’s for her own good, but it’s so hard for me not to feel guilty that I’m not just keeping her at our house.

I’m hoping that once she gains some confidence she will find somewhere new that she will be JUST as happy as she was at our house. I’m also impatiently waiting for some updates about how she’s doing at her new foster’s house. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything!

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. 

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.

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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