Monthly Archives: November 2011

Foster Dog Files: Goodbye.

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I woke up this morning with very mixed emotions. The first thing I thought of was the fact that my dad has been gone 7 months today and the second was that Angie was no longer here. I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad the past few days, in part because I am not looking forward to the holidays and navigating through them without him, and in part because on our way to the adoption event on Sunday, we drove past Abington Hospital. My dad spent a month there prior to his death and any drive that takes me on a route near there usually stirs up my emotions. This was the closest I have come and it hit me hard…I cried for a long time in the car while Paul rubbed my back and Angie licked my face. Those 2 things allowed me to get out of the car and move forward. Thanksgiving was my dad’s favorite holiday…he loved cooking and then creating a well-balanced plate. As long as I can remember, people teased him about the way he put his meal together…while most of us would go back for whatever didn’t fit, my dad always very artfully arranged every side dish, slice of turkey and  leg on his plate. I think he enjoyed the teasing almost as much as he enjoyed the food.
As for Angie, I think anyone who reads my blog, or is friends with me on Facebook knows how much we loved her. I knew that we would, I guess I just didn’t expect her to leave a hole in my heart when she left. There was so much about her that was special and unique….and happy and joyous and unscathed by the bad stuff she had been through. I hope that she will be happy in her new home and that they appreciate all of her wonderful qualities….the way she leans, the way her whole body wags, her adorable head-tilts, her eagerness to learn, the way she wags the tip of her tail when you walk into a room, her enthusiastic kisses. I never met a dog so willing to learn and trust and love. Were there challenges? Yes…big ones. Rocco never got used to her being here and was not very nice to her. She was sick and in heat for most of the time she was here. She became so attached to Paul that I really started to worry about how difficult it would be for her when it was time for her to go. She could be impatient at times. She flung snot everywhere every time she sneezed. But, all of that was heavily outweighed by the sheer exuberance of her personality. She, like my dad, was larger than life…a character whose enjoyment of the little things made the big, difficult things more bearable.
The flip-side to the sadness I feel at these losses is an intense feeling of love. I do consider Angie moving on to her forever home a loss for us, because if things were different here, we would have kept her in a heartbeat. But, we did what we set  out to do and will do it again. Our goal is to always have a spot for a foster dog. The loss of my dad has changed relationships in our family and caused them to grow. My Uncle Dennis, my father’s brother, has become an unbelievable source of support and Paul, my brother and I have decided to move to Georgia to be closer to him and his family. My stepmother is having Thanksgiving at her house and we will be there, because despite my earlier worries about what would happen to our relationship, time has proven that we are still family.
Life really is a roller-coaster and while sometimes I want to scream “stop the ride”….I am glad I continue to get on. Though sometimes I want to hide and cry into a pillow, I am grateful to have Paul’s shoulder to cry on, and for my friends and family who have been so supportive of everything this year has brought to me. I am also grateful to be able to volunteer at the shelter and now that Angie has moved on, look forward to spending more time there again. Both Paul and I agree that there is nothing better than spending time with a shelter dog to help you forget your own troubles. Everything else seems to fade away and all that matters is the dog you are with. I highly recommend it as a cheap form of therapy with immediate rewards.
At times like this when my heart is heavy and sad, I remind myself that no matter how hard it might be, I always bounce back….even when it seems impossible. I remind myself of all the love I have and have experienced. I remind myself that I have more love to give and that I am very, very lucky to receive all the love I do. Whether it comes in the form of a note from my dad, a kiss from a dog, encouraging words from a friend or family member or a reassuring hug from my husband, love is all around me. There will never be another dad, but, he lives on in all of us. There will never be another Angie, but, the lessons learned will serve us well for the next dog.
This may not be the happiest of Thanksgivings for me, but, I am grateful nonetheless.

Foster Dog Files: Advertising Queen.

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Ok…..Pulling out all the stops!!! I have written an ad for Angie to go on Craigslist, which is one of the ways the shelter markets animals. Anyone who responds to the ad still needs to go through the shelter screening process.
I am asking 2 things:
Please share this post for Angie and…..

help me come up with a title for the ad! THANKS 🙂

Hi! My name is Angie and here are the……… TOP TEN REASONS YOU SHOULD ADOPT ME!

10.) I am absolutely beautiful, if I do say so myself! Everybody tells me so. And, I mean everybody!

9.) My foster mom and dad have worked hard to make sure I am a “good girl”. I take being a good girl very seriously.

8.) I work very hard at training and am told I am a quick learner. I know lots of commands, like sit, lay down, stay, paw, settle and come!

7.) I love, love, love to cuddle!! I also like to play, but, honestly, I would rather cuddle. Take me for a long walk or two during the day and do some training with me and I will settle down nicely and be relaxed for my cuddle time!

6.) I am house-broken.

5.) I am in foster care, which means that I have gotten healthy. This is a big deal because I was really sick when I got here.

4.) I am spayed and ready to go to my forever home now!

3.) I am very playful with people and like everyone I meet. Everyone likes me, too. I am not bragging…it’s the truth…I am impossible not to like. I even like little kids a lot and my foster mom and dad have worked hard with me to teach me not to jump. I don’t want to knock little kids over with my kisses, so this is very important!

2.) I have fancy eye shadow on one of my eyes. Some say it looks like I forgot to do the other eye, but, I know better, it’s my trademark look.

….And, the NUMBER ONE REASON YOU SHOULD ADOPT ME is:

1.) I am loyal, funny, smart, affectionate, wiggly, happy, love to give and get kisses, love treats and will do anything for them and….I could go on and on, but, that’s like 9 reasons wrapped up in one!

If you think you would like me to be your new best friend, you can contact my foster mom at lorosuzo@yahoo.com. I get along with other dogs…and we can arrange to meet, so we can be sure that we’ll be BFF’s! One thing you should know is that I shouldn’t live with cats…I find them simply irresistible! I am ready for my furever home…and can’t wait to meet you!!

Foster Dog Files: 1st Person.

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Hi everyone…it’s me, Angie. I saw that one of my other friends wrote about himself, so, I decided that I should too. My foster mama writes nice things, but, I thought you should hear about me directly.
So…..what you already know is that when I came here I was really sick. What you might not know is that I didn’t know if I was gonna make it. I felt so bad that I just didn’t really care anymore. The night before my foster mom and dad came to get me, my good friend Peggy tried to give me some goodies, but, I just didn’t want them. I could hardly breathe and I was so weak that all I could do was lick some peanut butter off of her fingers. I also overheard talk about something called euthanasia, because I wasn’t getting any better, even with all the medicine they were giving me at the shelter. When my foster parents showed up, I was feeling a little better (because of the peanut butter AND subcutaneous fluids they gave me) and the bits of cheeseburger they fed me really helped. I stayed in a dark, quiet room for a few days with this thing called a vaporizer that really helped my breathing…and once I started feeling better I really blossomed! I was able to sniff out spots to go do my business, rather than just going in the street. I started learning these things called obedience commands, which are supposed to help me become a better dog…and, I think it’s working! Everyone tells me what a good dog I am and I love the pets and treats that go along with being a good dog. I also love going on what they call “socialization outings”..I just call them car rides. I relax in the car and look out the window…it is so cool! Sometimes, I try to get into the front seat for kisses, and even though my foster mom and dad tell me not to, I think they like it, because they laugh 🙂
So, now I am stronger and healthier and I am so glad that I didn’t give up! I went to something called an adoption event today and I am told it is because we need to find my forever home. I guess that means I am not staying here. That makes me kind of sad, because I love my foster parents, but, they have done their job and it is time for me to find my own couch. The one here is full..plus there are kitties here and I don’t really think I like them too much. Reminds me of the skittery critters I used to see when I was living in the streets. We met one really nice lady who wants me to live with her and her daughter and if it works out, I guess I’ll give it a go. My foster mom was talking about something separation anxiety and having to fix it and I know what that means: I have to learn to spend time alone without freaking out. Ugh…does anyone have any idea how hard that is for me? I had no one to love me before and now I do, and I just want to be with them all the time!! Ok…I know that’s unrealistic, but, a girl can dream, right? My foster dad is my favorite to cuddle with. He uses me as a book rest, too…I like that, makes me feel useful! Anyway, it turns out that I like my crate and this week we will be working hard on getting me comfortable with people walking out of the room. I hate that! I am always so afraid they won’t come back. But, I am willing to try, because I am a good girl and good girls get yummy stuff!
I also heard the word “spay”, which means that I will not be able to have puppies. I am not looking forward to surgery, but, I am looking forward to a life without puppies. God knows there are too many unwanted pittie puppies out there without me getting into that mess. So, on Thursday, I go down to the shelter to get “fixed”. Sheesh, the way they say it, you’d think there was something wrong with me. There’s not….I’m GREAT!
Anyway, wish me luck with my surgery and that I get my furever home real soon. Share my story again, too, just in case this one doesn’t work out. A girl like me needs options! Your friends can contact my foster mama at lorosuzo@yahoo.com.
Here’s me on the way home today….man, was I beat! Foster mom & dad wouldn’t let me sleep, though, said I needed to take a long nap when we got home. So, they started making all these silly noises that they say are just like the ones I make when I am alone. Sounded like a dying dinosaur…it was pathetic!! I sound much better than that…I’m a pit bull after all 😉

 

Foster Dog Files: Progress.

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Angie is doing incredibly well with her training and socialization. She has mastered many commands, including new ones like “settle” and “leave it, take it”. We are working hard with her on crate training, because her biggest issue by far is separation anxiety. Yesterday, I walked into the room where she was hanging out with Paul, and she was hanging out in the bottom part of the crate on her own (this was before her new one had been assembled). Today, we worked on “kennel up” and settling in the crate. I was even able to close the door for about a minute. This is huge. Angie is very social and people-focused and this, to me, showed that she is really learning to trust and is willing to figure things out. It will take some more work to get her to the point where she can relax in there without knowing that her people are nearby, but, I am completely confident that she will be able to do it.
I have to be honest and say that this part of fostering Angie has been difficult. At times, I have to remind myself of where she came from and how bad off she was 2 weeks ago. Her attachment to us is incredible, particularly to Paul. While her trust is encouraging, it has also become the thing that makes the separation anxiety so strong. So, we are working on having low-key interactions and coming and going with no fanfare. I think the safety and positive associations of the crate will help.
Tonight, Angie went out on the town in her “Adopt Me” tee shirt and as usual was super-popular and well- behaved as we walked through the busy streets of Lambertville and sat on the porch of a local restaurant. She had a great time and came home and passed out, which was a big part of the point of our excursion. I guess because of her rough past, Angie doesn’t really know how to play with toys and letting her play off-leash (even in a fenced yard) is ill-advised right now because she is in heat, so she really can’t run around too much. So, most of her energy is being expended by long walks and training sessions. And, since she is still recovering from pneumonia, we want to keep her somewhat calm anyway..and, like a typical kid, she doesn’t really understand that this is good for her. But, our outing tonight did the trick, because she is down for the count!
This dog simply amazes me. She is smart and loving and funny. Training with her is a joy, because she is like a sponge. I swear you can almost see the wheels turning. She is gaining weight very well and continues to walk well on the leash. She does the cutest head-tilts I have ever seen when she is listening to whoever is speaking to her. She seems to truly enjoy the challenge of training. Please continue to share her journey, and progress! This little lady will be ready for her forever home soon! I can be contacted at lorosuzo@yahoo.com 🙂

Foster Dog Files: Love.

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I love Angie. I have fallen for her in every way. The strength, sweetness, energy and love this dog has absolutely amazes me.  We had a rough weekend,(none of which was her fault) but, since then things have improved dramatically. She has settled in, gained weight and confidence. We have a routine and are exploring new places and people. She has reacted beautifully to everything she has experienced. She loves the car, loves the sound of laughter and loves being cuddled even more than playing. She has not shown any interest in chewing, biting or any other disliked young dog behavior. The two accidents (pee) she has had were completely my fault.
For a long time, I didn’t understand what fostering a dog really meant. I thought it could potentially be a de-stablizing step, rather than a stabilizing one. I was wrong. She may have a few issues when she goes to her forever home, but, because of the love and care we have been able to provide her, these will likely be mere bumps in the road, rather than skids out of control. Being here has normalized things for her…eating regular meals, sleeping comfortably, and learning that people come back to take care of her and don’t just leave her to fend for herself.
Angie is extremely smart. She picked up some obedience commands immediately and today we will work on tougher ones. She doesn’t care if you take her food bowl away while she is eating, she has learned to sit before being fed and to have her leash put on. She sleeps with her belly exposed and sometimes her tail wags while she is asleep.
I know a lot of people think we won’t give her up and will end up keeping her. I don’t think that is going to happen, for a few reasons. 1.) I knew what I was signing up for and though I didn’t think I would love her this much, I look forward to the day when I can hand her over to the right person knowing I have done what I set out to do. 2.) We have a good balance here, the vibe is just right between our full-time residents, human, canine and feline. 3.) The jump from 2 dogs to 3 is bigger than the one from 1 to 2…been there, done that. Plus, I want to be able to save another life and if Angie stays, we can’t, there just really won’t be any room.
If you know anyone who is looking to get a dog, please send them my way. Though she can’t be officially adopted until she is spayed, we can bring her to meet people. People can contact me at lorosuzo@yahoo.com. I am happy to sing her praises to anyone who is interested.
I mean, look at her….what’s not to love? 🙂