All of the puppies were healthy and Emma did practically all of the hard work herself. A new puppy was born just about every 30 minutes since she went into labor. There are seven boys and three girls. No wonder she is passed out…
Look at the little white one!
I am so relieved that this is over for Emma, she was clearly quite uncomfortable the last couple weeks.
Not to mention the last couple days – she looked fit to burst! She gained approximately 15 lbs from the first week we had her. After the pups are weaned she will never have to go through this ever again.
So glad we found Mama & Rusty – everything that day was truly meant to be. I cannot even imagine their lives if things had turned out differently that day.
Emma and her puppies will be available for adoption through Secondhand Hounds at the end of June.
It hit me the other day when I was talking to someone who wasn’t a “dog nerd” (yes, I’m categorizing myself as a dog nerd) that not everyone is sure how animal rescues operate. So while this may be common sense to many of my friends, I think there are many people that can benefit from this little inside scoop. Just as I’ve learned with everything in life, you can never assume. Plus, I figure the more information we can get out there about rescuing and adoption animals – the better.
Much of this information I’ve learned from volunteering and fostering with a rescue in Minnesota, Secondhand Hounds, and I’ve also consulted with another friend of mine who is a director of an animal rescue.
So here’s the low down:
What does an animal rescue do exactly?
Animal rescues are essentially the ‘middle man’ for dogs, cats, and other animals that for whatever reason, do not have a home. They network the animals and find them temporary (foster) homes until they are adopted into a permanent home. Some rescues have limited shelter space for a small number of animals if they cannot find a foster immediately.
Is there something wrong with the animals that are in rescue? Why are they in rescue?
Dogs do not always end up in a shelter or rescue because they have some kind of freakish disease and no one wants them (yes, I’ve been asked this). So no, not necessarily. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. They are just like any dog you buy or adopt. You may not always know their past and you may want to get a DNA test done if you are concerned about the breed, but being in rescue does NOT automatically indicate that there is anything ‘wrong’ with the animal – their lives just didn’t have as fortunate of a start as others.
Are these animals “put” in rescue because there is something wrong with them? No, they did not choose to be in rescue, they’ve just somehow ended up there because of one of the following: they were abandoned, they were surrendered by their original owner, they were lost and their owner never came to claim them from the shelter, they were seized from a hoarding situation, they came from a breeder that was shut down, they were saved from a dog fighting operation, etc. These are just a handful of the reasons that a dog may have come to be in rescue.
Shelters and rescues have a great selection of adult dogs, puppies, and even purebreds for adoption. According to ArfDogs.org, on average, purebreds account for about 25 to 30 percent of a shelter’s dog population. And the fees are usually much less than the purchase price from a pet store or breeder. Plus your dog comes vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
Where do rescues get their animals from?
Rescues have animals come in from many different places. Here are just a few:
– Animal shelters
– Owner surrenders
– Craigslist or other online sites (There are many dangers of ‘selling’ a dog for a small re-homing fee online)
What is the difference between an animal shelter & a rescue?
An animal rescue makes sure that the animal finds a family to adopt the animal. Rescues do not euthanize a dog in order to make room for another (however they may put down a dog that is seriously ill). These rescues have very limited space as most of the animals are kept in private foster homes (just like yours and mine) and are supported primarily by grants and donations.
Shelters handle the stray dogs within the community and receive animals affected by state cruelty and neglect laws. They also receive pets that are dropped off by their owners for various reasons. There are two types of shelters:
No-kill shelters: accept animals on a voluntary or space available basis. A no kill shelter does not euthanize animals who can be adopted or when the shelter is full. They may euthanize animals who are terminally ill or considered dangerous.
Traditional/open admission shelters:accepts any and all companion animals regardless of health, temperament, or space available, with no limitation. These shelters have high euthanasia rates to make room for incoming animals.
Why does it cost so much to adopt a dog?!
It doesn’t. I can tell you first hand that it is actually A LOT less expensive to adopt a dog than buy one elsewhere (or even be given a dog). Lola did not technically come from an organized rescue group (rather we intercepted her before she ended up in one or somewhere else) and the first year we had her, we spent over $1,000 in vet bills. Mind you, this was just your basic vaccinations, deworming, blood tests, spay, etc.
This illustration below shows a rescue dogs true cost:
How do I find a dog that is with a rescue group?
Dogs that are available for adoption within a rescue are often found on Petfinder.com, public adoption events, social media sites, or on the rescue group’s website. You can do a Google search for rescues in your area and then follow them on Facebook – trust me, you’ll soon find yourself involved.
Why do I have to go through an adoption process? Why can’t I just go and see the dog I want to adopt?
Most rescues do not have a physical location where they keep the dogs. The dogs are kept in individual foster homes, sometimes very far away. Also, since these animals are already very likely on their second (or more) home, there is a screening process. A potential adopter must fill out an application to meet the animal and the rescue will then (most commonly) distribute the applications to the adopter who will then arrange a ‘meet and greet’ with the interested adopter and the rescue dog. This may take place over one or more meetings. Typically we have just met with the potential adopters once and we then both decide if it went well and if we would like to proceed and fill out the adoption paperwork.
Quite often though, rescues have adoption events where the fosters and volunteers will bring the dogs to a central public location for the public to meet the dogs.
What is required of a foster? How do I get involved?
A foster provides in-home care for animals in need until they are adopted. To become a foster, you first fill out an application with the rescue group and the rescue will then make sure that you have a safe home for the animal – that’s it. This is usually a very fast process as rescues are very short on foster homes. Oh yeah, and it’s free with most rescues. Yep – that’s right, the rescue pays for the vet bills of the animal, the food and even the crates/toys/etc. You just provide the shelter, care and love!
Once an animal is placed with a rescue group, they will stay in the foster home until they find a home. Sometimes this takes years. Sometimes the dog is transferred to a new foster home. While the dog is in rescue, the rescue group is responsible for all the costs of owning a dog – as you can imagine, this can get very expensive with as many animals as rescues have!
In these next couple questions I’ve consulted with Darren, who is the director of a local rescue in Minnesota, Across America Boxer Rescue.
How do the rescues learn of the dogs that are out of state that need rescue?
“This varies by rescue and how involved they are in social media. Most rescues get info from their members/friends/acquaintances or cross-posters (this is the most prevalent one) tagging them, posting to their page or individual pages as well as emailing them of available dogs. These dogs can be in a shelter or on Craigslist.
Most rescues also have several shelters they either work with or have a relationship with. Those shelters then know what breeds they pull and will give them heads up when they have a dog come that is in need. For instance, our rescue has a great working relationship with Indiana Animal Control (IACC) and Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC), two VERY large Midwest ACC’s that many dogs go to and thankfully many get saved!” – Darren Alick, Across America Boxer Rescue
Who do the rescues work with to transport dogs from state to state?Are they all volunteers or are there people whose job is just to transport?
“It depends on who you are using and where the dogs are being transported from and to. I personally do not know of a rescue in our area that uses paid transports. There are three main transporters for the southeast, south and midwest that I know of. I have worked alongside of two of them when they transport for my rescue and rescues I also volunteer for. All three are volunteers who fully coordinate a transport form start to finish. Meaning they layout out the distances, the stops, arrange for overnight homes as well as ensure all drops-offs go smoothly and everyone is sticking to the schedule. Each segment or “leg” of a run is calculated for distance and time to help everyone keep to that schedule. The drivers within that pool and who drive each leg are also volunteers, doing it for the love of knowing they’re contributing to saving dogs from otherwise terrible situations and euthanasia. Lori Weese, who transports for our rescue, also runs dogs for several other rescues within that same transport. Sometimes the dogs may be going to several different rescues, the transporter is just responsible for that portion of the rescue process.” – Darren Alick, Across America Boxer Rescue
Do you have any questions about animal rescue? Ask away!
I’m sitting here with that same lump in my throat I had when our first foster dog, Weeser left. It’s been an eventful couple of weeks but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Emma left our home last night and went to stay with a whelping foster family.
Since we found out last week that Emma or “Mama” was indeed pregnant (and an estimated 20 days away from having her puppies), the rescue and I have been reaching out to find a whelping foster. Meanwhile, I had grown so attached to Mama so I was also trying to see if we could somehow make it work to whelp Mama and her puppies ourselves. But ultimately I knew that I would have to recruit the help of several friends (yet to be determined), to help fill in the gaps of my schedule and then there was still that week that I was out of town…But I wanted to try. This could be a very rewarding and beautiful experience and one that doesn’t always come around.
I also questioned if the rescue would even be able to find another foster and if that foster would be willing to work with her. I did not want to risk her being ‘returned’ – too much moving around is not good for any dog, let alone one that is carrying a litter of puppies. I was getting to the point where I was beginning to prepare having her in our townhome until she and the puppies went to their ‘furever’ homes. I haven’t gone into too much detail about mama, besides that she is one of the most loving, precious and sweet dogs I have ever met. Truly. However, Mama is very timid and protective of that belly. She is a dog that needs very slow introductions. She has many traits which are indicative that she spent some time as a stray. It worked well with our dogs, but after several slow and controlled introductions. While she’s not aggressive, she is definitely not the type to run up and play with another dog. After all, she barely knows what a ball is and really doesn’t know how to play. She thought that Lola and Rio were fighting when they were wrestling and became obviously bothered.
The first couple nights, she would lightly growl at Rio and Lola if they came into her ‘bubble’. She wouldn’t lunge, she would just warn. Lola knew and respected this and Rio quickly learned not to bother a pregnant mama! I was constantly working with her and we made so much progress in the two short weeks that she stayed with us. I had to show her that Lola and Rio are our friends and good dogs also. They were not there to hurt or harm her. And she slowly learned to trust them. Mama and Rio even played a quick game of tug until Rio chickened out after a play-growl, lol. Every single day meant progress and it was such an amazing thing to witness.
But every day also meant she was that much closer to having her pups and there’s no doubt that she was feeling it. Her belly grew bigger and rounder every time I saw her, or so it seemed. I knew that if a whelping foster was going to be taking over, it needed to happen fast. I did not want to be moving mama around the last week that she was expected to deliver. She needs time to settle into her new place and a family that is home enough to monitor her. She needed someone with this patience and understanding. I had to move my heart out of the way and do what was truly best for Mama and pups, who could give her the care that her and the newborn pups would need.
Then Sunday rolled around and I received a text message from the foster coordinator who said she had found a family who could take Emma. As soon as I was off work, I called the family and spoke with them on the phone for about 30 minutes – it was definitely a good sign. They came over to meet Mama that night and as expected, she was fairly shy but I was completely open with them about her “issues”. They were willing to do everything they had to and sounded like they would be able to give Mama and pups more care and attention that possible for us, as hard as it was. Had it been anyone who I had any doubts with, Mama would still be with us. So as rewarding of an experience this would have been for the human involved (me), I had to think about what would be best for Mama. After all, this is about the welfare of the dog, Mama…
Please consider donating to our YouCaring fundraiser where 100% of the donations will be used towards medical expenses and goods needed for Emma and her pups.
In the meantime, I’ll be curled up on the couch with Lola, Rio, a spoon and a jar of peanut butter. Or ice cream.
P.S. I will be visiting Mama (and the puppies!) and will continue to keep everyone updated. And who knows, we may even foster Mama once the pups are gone – we’ll see how the story unrolls. Thanks for all of your support.
Let’s see…where did we leave off? Oh yes, we were still unsure if “mama” or Emma was pregnant and we had a rescue lined up for Rusty but he was still needing a foster after his vet visit.
We had a pretty quiet weekend with them and the schedule was kind of like this: sleep, eat, feed dogs, take two dogs out at a time to go potty, take dogs on walk or give them some exercise & repeat. Not like this is really any different than having two dogs, but it just takes more time.
Sunday, after work (I also have a part time waitressing job that I’ve had since college) we took Emma and Rusty for a long walk. They were both super out of shape, or so we thought. The seemingly short, one-mile or so walk transformed from them walking beside us, to them slowly falling behind us. Meanwhile Lola and Rio were romping around at Camp Bow Wow, a doggy daycare they go to when we both work long hours.
Monday rolled around and I arranged to bring Rusty to a vet which is about 30 minutes away after I got home from work. I let Rusty and Mama say their goodbyes (okay, I know they have no idea what this is) and I myself was heartbroken. I hated separating these two. They were companions. But it was hard enough finding each of them a rescue to go to last minute let alone the same rescue with the same foster. And then you run into the issue down the road at the time of adoption, would the adopter take both of them?! The chances of them making it through all of that together, I knew, was going to be near impossible and we didn’t exactly have a lot of time on our hands.
Turns out, Mama seems to be doing fine without Rusty, she’s just her normal self…sweet, a tad bit crabby but ever so loving and affectionate. She melts my heart.
Then comes Tuesday – I dropped Mama off at her vet appointment to get an x-ray to confirm whether she is pregnant or not. I was literally on the edge of my chair at work all day. I even called the vet’s office at lunch to see if they had seen her yet (she was a walk-in) and they informed me they had an emergency come in so they would be able to check her out in about an hour or two. I was desperately hoping that they would call and say, “Nope! She’s actually not pregnant, it’s just looking that way from a recent litter”. But that was not the case. Mama is pregnant. She is about 40 days in and it is unclear how many pups she is having.
I lost focus from everything I was working on. I was upset, I feel bad that she has to go through this, again…I know this can be a controversial subject, but I asked if the rescue ever does a gravid spay in these instances – they do not. Plus she is pretty far along. I contacted the foster coordinator and told her that we are unsure if we can take on the task of the whelping foster. She was aware of this when they agreed to take her in as their rescue animal and said she would start looking. It breaks my heart, I love this girl.
Wednesday rolls around and I check my email first thing in the morning only to find out that Rusty is heartworm positive. My heart sunk…It all makes sense. The lethargic behavior, the exhaustion and heavy breathing after a light walk. I felt like an idiot for not recognizing those signs. I also feel for the small rescue that took him in. They do not have many of the resources and donations coming in that other, larger rescues have.
*Please consider sharing Last Hope’s donation link. Heartworm treatment alone is about $400 for the rescue and plus the cost of keeping Rusty in rescue for that much longer is tough on a small rescue.*
I then began to think, what if Mama is heartworm positive? What if that is the reason that she is so tired, lethargic and breathing heavy in combination with the pregnancy? I’m stressed. And since they cannot treat a pregnant female, we will have to wait until after the pups are finished breast feeding to confirm and treat her if she is positive. Please tell me she isn’t, this sweet girl could really use a break.
Please keep us in your thoughts and we will continue to keep you updated. You can also follow along on our Facebook page.
Dogfighting. It’s everywhere. It’s sad to think about, it’s downright sickening, but it’s happening and right under our noses. The ASPCA has dedicated April 8th as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, so a few bloggers and I have got together to help spread the awareness. #NDFAD
So…how can you help!?
If you see a dog on Craigslist or posted anywhere on the internet (especially for “free”) – notify local animal rescues that may be able to help. Rio was a CL puppy who was pulled off of the site by a local rescue. Bullies on Craigslist = no bueno.
If you come across a profile or account on Facebook/Instagram/etc. that is clearly a red flag, DO NOT report the page or add your own comments. Save the photos, the information and contact local authorities. Banning the page/reporting the person does nothing but make it disappear from your eyes however many miles away on the internet. The evidence given to the right people can do a heck of a lot more. Dog fighting is a very secretive enterprise that is hard for law enforcement and investigators to infiltrate.
If you know of or have suspicions that someone might be involved in dog fighting, report it to officials.
Remember: dog fighting can be taking place anywhere. Whether in a basement, a remote area, a planned location, your neighbor’s house. Anywhere. Also, the dogs used are not necessarily all kept in the same location. They come from houses, apartments, condos…And large operations travel across the U.S.
Look out for heavy scarring on a dog. Fighting scars are typically found on the face, front legs, hind end and thighs, and can include puncture wounds, torn/mangled ears, and facial swelling.
Things to remember:
– There are many breeds of dogs used for fighting worldwide. Breeds include: Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, the Tosa Inu and the Presa Canario. The dog of choice for fighting in America? The American Pit Bull Terrier and other pit bull type dogs. But this doesn’t mean that other breeds or mixes are exempt. Other breeds, even non pit bull type dogs may be used in street fights or as the “bait” dog which is used to train the fighting dogs. Often these dogs are stolen (or ‘found’ online – see above). M.K. Clinton is all too familiar with this. Dog fighting is rampant in her city and she suspects that her dog from college was stolen and used as a bait dog.
According to the ASPCA, law enforcement has divided the most common types of dog fighting into three categories: street fighting, hobbyist fighting and professional dogfighting*:
Street fighters engage in dog fights that are informal street corner, back alley and playground activities.
Hobbyist fighters are more organized, with one or more dogs participating in several organized fights a year as a sideline for both entertainment and to attempt to supplement income.
Professional dogfighters often have large numbers of animals (50+) and earn money from breeding, selling and fighting dogs at a central location and on the road.
– Not all dog fighters treat their dogs the same; street fighters may starve their dogs to increase aggression, unlike many professional fighters who invest a lot of time and money in conditioning their animals. The dogs are commonly given quality nutrition, steroids and muscle supplements. Narcotic drugs are also commonly used to increase aggression and mask pain or fear during a fight.
If you would’ve told me last week that we would have four dogs staying in our house this week, I would’ve told you you’re crazy. Well, we do.
It was a Wednesday evening and ‘A’ and I were headed back home from a long day in Breezy Point, a small town in Minnesota. I had to work at a trade show for my marketing job and I received last minute notice that my boss was not going to being able to attend. It was offered that if ‘A’ could, he was welcome to come and help me. Four a.m. Wednesday morning rolls around and we are getting ready to leave our house and make the three-hour drive up to Breezy Point.
After the trade show was over we packed up the car, grabbed dinner and started the trek back home. We we’re driving through a very remote area that is popular for cabin-goers in the summer. There were mounds and mounds of snow and the lakes were still mostly frozen over. As we we’re driving through a wooded area, I noticed two dogs on the side of the highway. I immediately screamed, “We have to turn around! Did you see those two dogs!?” ‘A’ did not see the dogs but I had no doubt I saw two dogs down in the ditch.
We turned around, put the emergency blinkers on in the car and pulled off to the side. I got out of the car and grabbed a big peanut butter dog treat that I just so happened to grab at the grocery trade show (meant to be!?). The first dog, a big bulky lab-looking dog ran up to me. He was friendly as could be and we immediately put him in the back seat of the car. Now…where was the other dog?! I KNOW I saw two.
‘A’ and I walked down into the ditch and a smaller, brindle female dog darked out of a culvert and ran across the highway. My heart started beating. Although there were not many cars on the road I feared for her. She ran to the opposite side of the road and into the trees. I was thinking to myself that I needed to grab the other dog and make my way into that general area and just sit there and maybe she will come to us. I was frantically going through bags in the car, trying to find something, anything that we could use as a leash or collar. We did not have many choices. I opened the trunk and grabbed a piece of masking tape off of one of the boxes, twisted it and wrapped it loosely around the dog’s neck. I held on tight and began to walk over to where we thought the female ran off. I stepped into the snow and sunk. The snow came up to my knees! Thinking that maybe it was just that deep for the first few feet, I took a couple more steps and it was not getting any better. It was also not any easier for the dog. We had no choice but to turn around.
I was frantic, we could not leave without finding that other dog. What would we do? I did not even want to think about not finding her. She could very easily get hit by a car. Plus, we have her buddy. ‘A’ suggested that we drive up the road and see if there was a turn that led to the opposite side of the woods she ran into, maybe she ran far enough in that if we went to the opposite side, we could spot her.
We got in the car and about 1/2 mile ahead, there was a turn – we took it and then took another right turn. We were on a dirt road and I saw a dog laying down ahead of us. “That’s her!” I shouted. I told my ‘A’ to stay in the car because often women are less intimidating to dogs. I grabbed another dog treat and the male dog and I quietly stepped out of the car. I immediately crouched beside the car with the big lab-mix at my side. She was about 100 feet in front of us; we both just sat there. She saw us but didn’t move. I carefully reached out my palm with the big dog treat laying in it. Her ears perked up and I quietly said, “Good girl, come here honey…”. She began trotting towards us. But now what!? She has no collar and I already have one dog in my hand. Since I knew he came to me right away, I let go of him and while still holding the treat in my hand, wrapped my other arm under her belly. I broke the treat in half, gave her the one half, opened the back car door and tossed the other treat on the floor. She jumped in – hallelujah! The male dog was still at my side and I lifted him in the car. We had them!
We quickly began looking up the animal control phone number, after having to use google maps to find out where in the heck we were exactly. With spotty cell phone coverage, it was quite a challenge. We finally reached someone with animal control who asked where we found the dogs and we gave them the closest approximation according to the turn we took. We were quickly given the response, “Oh, that’s beyond our limits, we don’t cover that area and there is not an animal control officer over there, you need to call the sheriff for that city”. So again, here we are looking up the sheriff’s number and spoke with a rather unhelpful person. I was told yet again that this was “not in their limits so I can’t really do anything”. He even suggested that I leave the dogs on the side of the road, because after all, “They are probably someone’s dogs…”. No way that was happening.
At the very least I asked them to take the description of the dogs and asked if they had any dogs reported fitting their description – but nothing. They took down my phone number and description and said they will contact us if anyone calls. I had one more number to call and again told the person where we found the dogs. The all-too-familiar response, ‘that’s not our area, sorry’. I was fed up and asked, “What can I do?! I’ve called every sherriff’s office within a 20 mile radius and no one is claiming responsibility.” The operator finally said, “That is Indian Reservation land…” then went on to say, “if you just want to take them to an animal rescue or something, that would probably be best”. In other words, stray dogs are no stranger to the Rez and apparently no one wanted anything to do with these dogs.
Frustrated and tired, we decided to head back towards home and thought we would see if the local animal shelter would take them. I think you know the answer to that story. We could have lied and told the local animal control officer that we found them within city limits, but I could not bring myself to do that. I felt responsible for them. I felt if I dropped them off there that it could very well be a death sentence. After the required holding period, if they were not adopted or taken by a rescue, they only have a limited amount of time.
We brought them to the only place open at that time of night to try one last effort, an emergency vet clinic to check whether the dogs were micro chipped. They were not. Again, no surprise here. The vet technicians at the e-vet were beyond helpful. They looked the female over and agreed with my suspicion of her being pregnant. (Update: we are still unsure if she is pregnant but have an appointment this week for an x-ray). One thing was certain, she has had a litter (or two) of puppies already and she is estimated to be Lola’s age…about 2 years old. They also gave us leashes and fed the dogs a healthy supper and gave them fresh water. Overall, they appeared to be in decent shape and did not have any ticks, fleas, or injuries. We had a large kennel at our house from our last foster and so we brought them home with us and put them in the kennel for the night.
The next morning I was frantically emailing every connection I had within the animal rescue world. I had a friend that is a director of a rescue helping me. Even with that, we were striking out very fast. Rescues are overflowing, dogs are being returned and Easter is approaching. Luckily, by the end of the day I had found a rescue for the female but no foster readily available. But we still needed a place for the male. I had a couple options: keep waiting for the rescues to get back to me or arrange to bring him to the Humane Society (they will take him, but if he shows any aggression he would be euthanized). Many dogs act differently in a kennel environment and again, I didn’t want that to be his death sentence. Ideally, I wanted him to go to a rescue where he would stay in a foster home versus a kennel. The next morning rolled around and my phone rang – one of the rescues I had contacted said that while they could not take the female, they could possibly take the male. PERFECT! I told them that we had indeed already found a rescue group for the female but not the male.
Tomorrow we bring the male (now ‘Rusty’) to the vet clinic to get neutered where he will rest for a few days and then go into a foster home (which he is still looking for – please contact me if you know anyone that can foster in Minnesota). Emma aka ‘mama’ will be staying with us until we find out if she is indeed pregnant (if she is, she will have to go into a new foster home soon where someone is home to help with the puppies). If she is not pregnant (crossing my fingers!), we will give her a loving home until her perfect family finds her. Emma is with Secondhand Hounds rescue in Minnesota. It tears my heart to break these dogs up but I worked my butt off just to find them each a rescue group. I don’t know if it would’ve been possible to get them into the same foster home and then eventually, adoptive home…I feel I have done the right thing and these dogs are on their way to a better life, apart.
We will try to keep you updated on here, but feel free to follow the adventure of these two on our Instagram and Facebook page.
I was looking back and I can’t believe I never dedicated a post towards Ox. If you follow us on Facebook, his face is probably very familiar as our page was filled with updates on him – from the moment he was pulled from the shelter to the day he left our home.
As usual I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this face:
He had one day left at the shelter he was at in Kansas and everyone previously interested in fostering him had somehow fell through. I tagged ‘A’ in his photo with a little smiley face. Shortly thereafter I received a text message, “Do you want to foster that dog from Kansas?”. I guess he knows me all too well. So we discussed it briefly (as in, “Yep – is that okay? Okay, great!”).
Next the shelter was contacted and Ox was safe. I was so excited to get this little beefcake into our home.
We’ve always had great luck with fosters getting along with Lola. We hadn’t fostered since we adopted Rio, but everyone loves Rio, he’s pretty easy going. But there was still that little voice in the back of my head questioning whether all three of them would get along. Ox had been brought in the shelter as a stray, so it was unsure if he would have any food aggression/guarding issues. So slow introductions is always the way to go.
Ox arrived in Minnesota and we went to pick him up. Can you believe this boy was only estimated to be six months old? I guess his big dopey puppy paws give it away – but look at that big ‘ole head! I just love him. We introduced him to our dogs, one at a time and it went wonderful! He did have a little food aggression, but we were able to work through that pretty well in the two weeks that we had him. Ox and Rio became best buds and I secretly think they had a little crush on each other. Lola on the other hand was Ms. Independent and played when she wanted to, but of course never letting her authority slip.
While it did cross my mind of keeping Ox for ourselves (doesn’t this happen with every foster? Okay, all but one…) I knew we weren’t in the situation to add another dog to our family at this time and the applications for him were literally rolling in. Plus, I’ll admit it was very difficult at times with three dogs in a townhome with no yard. We really need a house and a yard. Or just a yard. Or really, just decent weather.
Then came the not-so-fun part, Ox had giardia. Shortly thereafter, Rio had giardia. Ick, ick and ick. A few bad days, two rounds of treatment later (and a lot of other ish) and we were all healthy again. Luckily Lola managed to avoid that one, which was surprising to me because if it’s out there – it seems that she’ll get it. The rescue was very cooperative though and even gave Rio the medication he needed to treat the parasite. Phew!
We had three applications come in that seemed like an amazing home for Ox. And that is one of the challenges of fostering. Telling another family, that has met your foster, that he’s a better fit with someone else. Ouch. But it all worked out. The first family that came to meet him, loved him of course but their resident female dog and him were not a good match.
The next day, his family came to meet him and five minutes into the meet-and-greet they were begging me to let them take him home. This tells me a lot. There were no hesitations, no questions, no concerns. “Once he comes home with me, he stays there for the rest of his life” they said. A few days later after all the paperwork was said and done, they came and picked up their baby and said “Thanks for taking care of him for us until he found us”. He is loved. I am happy and once again, my job as foster mom is done. Good luck in your new life, Ox!
I found myself tearing up as I was looking through photos from the couple months that we had Weeser. I had a lump in my throat when I would find myself talking about him, thinking about him and I couldn’t help but wonder – did I make a mistake? Should we have kept him?
Weeser was a weak four-month old pup when he was transported from Kentucky to Minnesota. The first photo I saw of him is burned in my head. He was in a dark dungeon-like shelter hiding behind rusty bars. He was just standing there on the concrete floor looking up into the bright flash of the camera. He looked helpless, miserable and he needed us.
We contacted the rescue that was going to pull him from the shelter and said, “We’ll take him, we can foster him!”. That was all it took, we just saved his life…
Lola had just came into our lives a couple months prior and this whole idea of fostering was very new to us. I will never forget the day we went to the rescue and picked up Weeser. He was so weak. His legs bowed outwards and he looked like a newborn foal when he would run. He had virtually no muscle development. But after all, he had been living in a DARK dungeon with minimal exercise.
Lola and Weeser bonded immediately. They had so much to ‘talk’ about. They would wrestle, play (pee on the floor) and then recharge their little batteries like any two puppies would do. They were two peas in a pod and literally inseperable.
The question began to enter my mind, how I am ever going to let him go?
Is it going to be like this with every dog that we foster?
Can we afford to keep two dogs?
Will Lola bond with another dog like she has with Weeser?
I still remember the moment when I received the first email with the subject line, “Adoption Application – Weeser”.
I’ll admit, I was basically conducting a thorough search of the applicant…stalking them as if they were applying for a job with the CIA, trying to figure out if they could ever possibly be fit to take care of my precious Weesy boy. Because how is anyone ever going to give him as good of a home as we can? Will they leave him home alone all the time in a crate? What if he ends up back in a shelter? The questions would not stop flooding my mind.
Two other applications came in and well, as much as I hated (yes, hated) to admit it…there was one family that sounded perfect. A mother and her three children – Weeser would receive lots of exercise and hardly ever be left home alone. So we agreed to meet them and it went wonderful. They loved him, he loved them. Of course they did, it was Weeser. It was bittersweet.
Another email came in from the rescue organization requesting for me to let them know how everything went with our meet-and-greet. I was hesitant – should I tell them it didn’t work out and we’ll be adopting Weeser? What should I do!?
Well, I replied and told them that I liked the family and everything went well – the truth.
Next, an email copying me, it read, “Congratulations, your home visit has been approved!”.
NOOOO… I had just approved the adoption and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Thirty minutes later another notification on my phone, an email outlining the details of the adoption:
NEXT STEPS… 1) Adopter makes payment with a debit/credit card through our website. 2) Vetting Manager signs the adoption contract electronically via Right Signature AFTER this animal is spayed/neutered and vaccinated. Vet records will be emailed to the new owners after an adoption is finalized. 3) Foster signs the contract electronically by opening the email from Right Signature and clicking on the link. Please make sure to check the boxes and fill in every blank next to the check boxes. 4) Adopter signs the contract electronically by opening the email from Right Signature and clicking on the link provided. Once adopter signs the form, another email from Right Signature will be sent to all signers with the completed PDF contract attached (adopters, please save this email since it’s proof of adoption). 5) Foster contacts Adopter to pick up new pet AFTER the adoption contract is signed by everyone and payment has been made.
WAIT, what is happening. Can I have a few days to let this soak in? I WANT Weeser, I want to adopt him! I called my mom, distraught and upset. I think I just made the biggest mistake… Weeser is PERFECT. The bond between Weeser and Lola was truly one of the most precious things I have ever seen in my twenty something years of existence. How would we ever find another playmate like him? I cannot let him go…I can’t. But I have to. I broke down, my heart felt heavy and tears flooded my eyes, I had a giant lump in my throat.
Lola loved him so much. She even went into a mini depression period when he left. She would sulk around, head hanging and would lay in his favorite spot, waiting for him to come back… but we both knew he was gone. I cannot bring myself to delete any of his photos. Yes, I know I have 15 photos of one pose where his head may be turned slightly different.
And to answer my own questions:
Is it going to be like this with every foster? > No.
Could every dog we have fostered fit into our family? > Yes.
Could we have afforded Weeser? > Yes.
Will Lola bond with another dog as she did with Weeser? > Well, no – not yet.
I still miss Weeser, but we saved his life. He is living a beautiful life now and I know that he is loved – loved as much as I love him. I am still in contact with his family and they send me an occasional photo of Mr. Weesy.
I have to look back and remember that moment, that moment that we said we could foster him and those few words changed his life forever. And while I am tearing up as I write this, I have to accept that what I did was right. I loved him, I cared for him, I helped him grow strong and I ensured that his perfect family found him, my job here was done. I believe that Weeser came into our lives for a very special reason and I feel fortunate to have made an impact on his life and in return, he made one on mine.
And the moment I knew it was right was when his new mom walked in the door to pick him up. Weeser greeted her with a wagging tail, excitement, and tons of puppy kisses. We said our goodbyes and then they left and suddenly I knew everything was going to be alright…
Bringing up the use of prong collars in a room full of dog lovers is pretty much like bringing up politics at Thanksgiving dinner…
I’m not even kidding. Have you ever seen the Facebook arguments that result from someone using a prong collar on their dog?
Here is what I’ve found with my experience using different types of dog collars with Lola and Rio.
Martingale – this is a great choice for the dog that just needs a light correction. This is what we walk Rio on.
Harnesses – There are probably 100 different types. The only harness that we’ve found that prevents pulling completely is the Easy-Walk harness. Downsides: only for walking, otherwise it may rub your dog raw under the front legs. Your dog will also lose range of motion. Then there’s Lola, she slips out of the easy-walk fairly easy (no idea how) when she gets excited.
Gentle leader (don’t even get me started). Lola almost rubbed her nose off and caused herself more stress and harm with this option than any of the others.
Choke – I would not suggest a choke collar for anyone, especially Lola – she would suffocate herself. A martingale might be better.
Prong – Kind of an “instant solution” for the heavy puller. Never wear when playing.
Lola is a puller. A heavy puller. She acts like she is out to compete in a weight pull competition any time a leash is put on her. She is our feisty girl and is full of spunk!
I have found TWO options for Lola’s pulling (UPDATE: we have been working with a trainer and now only use the Freedom No-Pull Harness or the Easy Walk).
(If you use a prong and have had negativity directed towards you, try this prong collar coverto keep the haters at bay.)
Does Lola need more training, YES. Do I need more training, YES. But we’ve had dog trainers walk Lola and they have suggested a prong. UPDATE: We’ve switched trainers and methods and now only use the Freedom Harness on our dogs.
I do believe is that every dog and handler is unique. If you’ve been told to use a prong, I understand – we’ve been there. Just please educate yourself and use it correctly. Never keep it on while playing, have a trainer or someone help you fit your dog with the collar, do not keep the prong collar tight unless you need to correct your dog and never slip the collar over their head. And please consider positive reinforcement methods – yes, it can be done, but it is NOT a quick fix. We’ve come so far with Lola and have made more progress using positive reinforcement than we would’ve ever made with the prong collar.
What type of collar do you use?
Do you have a solution for a heavy puller? Tell me about it in the comments below!