See Ya, Sweet Hazel.

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The day that your foster dog is being adopted is a strange one. You have the excitement of knowing what lies ahead for the dog, the sadness of knowing that it may be the last time you see her and the duty of handing over the leash to someone else. It’s stressful while you are at the shelter, for the humans and for the dogs. I have this constant banter in my head- wondering if I forgot anything, if we are making the right choice, is the dog going to miss us, how much we are going to miss the dog, hoping the dog doesn’t puke in the back of her new mama’s car and on and on….and on.
Deciding on who is the right fit for your foster dog is a big decision. For us, the bottom line is: can this person give more to this dog than we can? In Angie’s case, a mom and her three older sons living at home were the right choice because someone would pretty much always be home and the guys wanted a dog who would really play. In Jenga’s case, a young couple just setting out on their lives together in the city, with access to dog parks and other dogs was the right choice. And, in Hazel’s case, a young woman who lives on her own, works for a vet and wants to do agility with her was the right choice. Hazel will have lots of other dogs to play with, get to go to work with her mama and be spoiled just like the other two. And, that is a great feeling…and it sort of trumps the other feelings- loss being one of them.
Jenga was toughest on me, I loved that dog (and still do) the way I loved my very first dog as an adult, Taz. Taz was my “Heart Dog”, and Jenga is a close second. There is something very special about Jenga for me, and I am thrilled that her parents will be allowing us the honor of dog- sitting her while they are on vacation. Hazel was toughest on Paul, he bonded with her in a very special way and it really touched me how much he loved her. It is a very topsy-turvy ride being a foster parent, and one well worth every second of love, doubt, fear and sadness.
For now, the Nanan’s are on a foster hiatus…we will probably pick another dog towards the end of August. Rocco, Savannah, Trixie and Zooby will be glad for the break, I am sure. Until then, Paul will probably be counting down days until I move into the back bedroom again and I will probably be wondering who we could be helping.  But, one thing we have come to realize is that we have to have some balance. We need to give our own pets a break….and we need a vacation. Well, 3 days in Florida will have to do for now, but, it’s better than nothing 😉
So, last night, Hazel got to meet some new people and made some doggie friends and that makes me so very happy. As with the others, there is a hole in our house and in our hearts that she filled for the 2 and a half months she was here, but, knowing she is safe and will be loved makes the hole bearable. And, sadly, we know that there will always be another dog to fill that hole. So, we will just keep trying to do what we can to save as many as humanly possible and send them on to a better life.
Please consider fostering…it will add such love to your life and improve your karma! It’s a beautiful thing 🙂

Here’s Paul and Hazel yesterday morning. He was saying up until that time that he didn’t want to let her go.
Here’s me and Hazel’s adopter…a young woman who could not have been more excited to be adopting this amazing little girl!
And, this is my little tribute to our fosters. I have had this statue for years…and up until a few months ago, it did nothing more than collect dust…now it has a very important job to do 🙂
That’s all for now…Live Well and Foster!

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Hazel’s Hope

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Our sweet, sweet Hazel is STILL looking for her forever home! I am so surprised that she has not been scooped up yet to be loved and cherished by the perfect family. Maybe my posts about wanting to keep her messed up my karma or something, but, the wanting to keep her hasn’t changed….neither has the knowing that she can’t stay.
I have been away from home for 4 days now, petsitting for a nervous doberman and in all honesty, I miss Hazel more than my own animals….that’s a secret between us….please don’t tell Rocco, Savannah, Zooby or Trixie. Well, Trixie won’t care, anyway 😉
So, what is it about Hazel that makes her so special? I think that, just like our other fosters, the knowing that she won’t be with us forever is part of it, but, more than that, I think Hazel is just a special little dog. She is so easy and go with the flow, and with her over-sized paws and silly spotted nose, she is just…..well, amazing. She has one of the best personalities of any dog I have ever met: goofy, silly, loves to do training exercises and play. Playing for Hazel means puzzle toys and Nylabones, and, if she can find another willing doggie partner to tumble and wrestle, even better. And, therein, lies the major issue: our residents don’t want to play with her. And, that’s not fair to her. She deserves a full life, with play and fun…not grumpy old housemates who just want to snooze all day. But, to her credit; she does not let this get her down, she entertains herself, knows that the dogs aren’t interested…and keeps trying with the cats 🙂
I have had only a few people express interest in Hazel. It kind of breaks my heart for her that she still does not have her forever home. I don’t think I have done anything differently than I did with Angie and Jenga in terms of marketing. So maybe she looks a little funny in pictures sometimes…to those of us who know her, it just adds to her charm.
She just looks cute in this one…
She does look a little silly here… 😉

Here you can kinda see her awesome Mickey Mouse spot…when her leg is in a certain position, I swear it is the perfect Mickey!
And, here she is in her second favorite spot: chillin’ on the bed. This is one of the coolest things about her: she is totally fine spending time on her own. Hazel has no separation anxiety and knows how to stay out of trouble when no one is home. She often wanders off on her own for a nap or to enjoy her bones and this is truly a great quality in a dog!
Actually, now that I think about it- if chilling on the bed is her second favorite spot, lying in the sun is tied with snuggling up next to you for first!
Please share Hazel with your friends and family. You never know who might be the one to fall in love with her! Here is her ad…you can share the blog, too…lots of Hazel stories here 🙂

http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/pet/3108729600.html.

 

Single White and Brown Female Seeks Furever Home.

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Hazel here! I decided that since my foster momma’s ads weren’t getting much action, that I should write my own! I think I did pretty good…I mean, it was pretty easy to write great things about myself, because, I am…well….GREAT! Please share this blog post with your friends. I really, really want my furever home. I know my foster parents love me to the moon and back, but, I’m ready for my very own family. One who will love me forever and treat me like the special girl I am. Not that my foster parents don’t…..they TOTALLY do, but, the two old fuddy-duddy dogs here took a vote and decided that I was cramping their (lame-o) style. So, please share my new ad for me. I included the link to it, but, posted it fully here for you to be able to read right now. See how thoughtful I am 😉

Hi! I’m Hazel and I am available for adoption. I am currently in foster care through ACCT in Philadelphia. I live with my foster family in New Hope and I love it here, but, I am ready for my FUREVER home! Before I get into how awesome I am, here’s my basic info:
I weigh about 45 lbs., I have a beautiful white coat with brown markings. I am spayed and up to date on my vaccines and am approximately one year old. I am listed as a pit bull terrier mix, though, everyone seems to think I am more likely a bull terrier mix.
Okay, so now on to the important stuff:
#10.) I was sick as a dog when I arrived at my foster home…now, I am healthy as a horse!
#9.) Speaking of other animal species, everyone says I have really neat Moo- Cow spots. One even looks EXACTLY like Mickey Mouse. My looks are outstanding!
#8.) I get along well with other animal species, too! One day, I met some cows and I just wagged my tail and checked them out! It was so cool. I get along with my kitty foster siblings, too. Okay, I get on their nerves sometimes because I am pretty playful with them, but, they do like to rub up against me and sniff me, which to me means “Let’s play!”
#7.) I get along well with other dogs. My doggie foster siblings are a lot older than me, and, even though they won’t play with me, we spend time together just chilling with our foster parents. I would probably like a doggie roommate, though, we will need to make sure that we can play well together, sometimes I get jealous.
#6.) I have no issues being alone. In fact, sometimes, I choose to go off and relax on my own. I love to be with my foster family, but, a girl needs a good nap every once in a while! I can be left home alone, too. I don’t bark, cry or destroy. I just chill. I’m good at chilling. I don’t go to the bathroom inside, either, I am completely house-trained!
#5.) I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE people! I have never met a person I didn’t like. Kids, men, women, you name it, I like them! I was a big scaredy when I got here, so, my foster parents made sure I had lots of good experiences. I go to Petsmart, I go to adoption events…it’s all good. I just love being around people!
#4.) I am very affectionate! In fact, I am kind of a mush. I love to give kisses and fall asleep with my face right next to my foster momma. I wiggle a lot when I am getting love and wag my tail a lot, so you know just how happy I am.
#3.) I have beautiful Hazel colored eyes, just like my name. Seriously, they are GORGEOUS! Oh, and I have a cool freckly nose. It has exactly eight freckles above it.
#2.) I make my foster parents laugh every time they feed me. I do this silly little dance, where I turn ’round and ’round in a circle several times. Then, I plop my butt right into a sit to have my bowl put down, just like I was taught! I know lots of other obedience commands, too, and my foster momma will work some more with me before I come home!
and the NUMBER ONE reason you should adopt me is:
*** I am proof that shelter dogs ROCK! I am loving, trusting and fun. I have come so far in foster care, I make everyone proud and happy! I deserve to be loved and cherished! I am ready for my new life! Could it be with you??
For more information about how awesome I am, contact my foster momma, Lori at lorosuzo (at) yahoo.com. You won’t regret it!
Here’s the link to this new ad:
http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/pet/3093786281.html

And, here’s a few more pictures of me…just in case you forgot how stinkin’ cute I am!

Here’s me with my boyfriend. Okay, we only met once…but, it was true love!

Here I am showing my love for other animal species. Okay, it was cement…but, it’s still a piggie!

I’m really a good girl. I’m a lot of fun. Can you please help me find my Happily Ever After?
Thanks so much! If I could, I’d give you a great, big, sloppy kiss right through the Interwebz!
Hazel 🙂

Adopt Hazel!

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After careful consideration and a considerable amount of fence- sitting, Paul and I have decided to stick to our plan of adopting Hazel out. What really did it for me was this cartoon:

It literally broke my heart. More than the thought of saying goodbye to Hazel.  It just sort of drove home the very reason we started doing this: to save dogs lives. To give a chance to a dog who, otherwise, might not have had one.
Having said that, I believe that Hazel could live a very happy life with us, and all of us could be very happy with her. She and Rocco are buddies, she and Savannah get along well, the cats are perfectly fine with her, Paul adores her and me….well, I just think she is amazing.
Hazel is easy, Hazel goes with the flow. She has come so far from the scaredy dog with no hair, who stunk to high heaven and left flakes of skin and her stench in her wake. Hazel loves laying in the sun, she loves to cuddle and she loves to lay on her own. Hazel is living proof that shelter dogs are not broken. She is the embodiment of resilience and everything we love about dogs. Joyful, mischievous, funny, loving and not perfect. Though, I have to admit, she is pretty darn close. Hazel has very few issues, and the ones she does have are completely workable…like car sickness. *We’ll be trying some ginger for this, and isn’t this EXACTLY what those seat covers were made for???*
Adopting Hazel out will give us the opportunity to save another life, and the reality is there will always be another life to save. And, for the one life we save, there will be many more that die in a shelter due to a completely treatable illness, like Hazel’s mange. I encourage anyone to foster. To say that it is life- changing is an understatement. It is life- affirming. I have never experienced anything that makes me more sure that I have a purpose and that my place in the universe is secure. I wondered for many years and through many experiences what the plan was, what the meaning was. And for me, this is it: to provide a safe place to land for a being in need. Is it easy? No. Is it always fun? No. But, it is rewarding in a way that I cherish and feel good about.
So….Foster. See an animal heal because you cared enough to do it. Watch a personality emerge because you nurtured it. Learn what an animal likes because you took the time to figure it out. Love an animal when someone else didn’t and feel your heart grow and stretch to a strength you didn’t know you had. And, then let go, and make room for the next one.
Each of our 3 temporary housemates have taught us something. Angie tested our patience and showed us that we had more than we thought. She taught me that each day should be greeted with kisses and enthusiasm. Jenga taught us about the value of silliness and boundless play and the value of gentle hugs given with soft eyes. Hazel….well, she just may be the one who really teaches us about love and letting go. She may be the one whose lesson to us is if you love someone, they will always be in your heart. No matter where they are. If they are in your heart…they are really never very far away.

Whoever we choose to adopt this dog to is going to be very lucky, indeed.

Hazel- The Keeper?

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Every time we bring a new foster in the house, Paul and I have a conversation about whether or not we should keep the dog. Stupid conversation, since it defeats the purpose of fostering, but, it’s almost inevitable. We have had 3 great dogs share our lives with us and each one has brought something unique and “keepable” with them. Though, in looking at it with more than our hearts, we know that it isn’t the best decision. For each of them, it has been for different reasons. Angie was definitely a no cats girl, Jenga needed more stimulation than our low-key older dogs could give her….and, Hazel…well, this one will be a bit tougher.
Hazel is almost perfect. Low to medium energy, with occasional zoomies. Happy to cuddle, happy to go off and nap on her own. She is affectionate, but, not needy. She would not know separation anxiety if it slapped her in the face. She is house-trained, sits to have her leash put on and doesn’t mind the bathtub *as long as you line the lip of the tub with treats* 🙂 She has done extremely well with training..and is basically what I would consider an “easy” dog. She is also very cat- friendly and Trixie really enjoys rubbing up against her and she and Zooby have been caught kissing on more than one occasion.
So, here we are again…having the “how are we going to give this dog up?” conversation. And, honestly, it is a strong internal battle, for both Paul and I. Fostering is a roller- coaster. I have numerous questions in my head at all times. Questions like….will this dog be happier living with other people?…..will they treat her the way we treat her and can they do even better?….why is no one responding to her ads?….do I care that no one is responding to her ads, is that the Universe’s way of telling us to keep her?….can I imagine this dog not living here?….can my heart take it if she doesn’t?
That is the big question. Letting go of Jenga was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Jenga had the biggest personality of any dog I have ever met (to go along with her giant head) and I found myself bawling my eyes out on more than one occasion at the fact that other people were getting to live their lives with her. Never mind that I chose those people, and believed that they would give her an amazing life. It is such a hard thing to do. Loving an animal back to health, nurturing their well-being and then handing the leash over, trusting that they will be loved and well cared for. For all three of our fosters, we have taken pretty strong measures to get them well….from vaporizers to supplements, from training to high quality food, we have made it our mission to ensure that these dogs are healthy and able to live full, happy lives….with other people. It’s a weird feeling to say the least.
And, now, here we are back at the question…”should we keep her?” It is as yet not answered completely. Our hearts say yes, but, there is so much to consider. The biggest consideration is that if we do, we won’t be able to foster again for a while. I have not yet decided which I can live easier with…not having Hazel in our lives for the rest of her days or not being able to foster. One is definitely more selfish than the other, no doubt about it. But, even my heart has it’s limits when it comes to loss. And, when I hand the leash over, it does feel like a loss.
Every dog is special. This I know. I just think that Paul and I have been extra lucky with the foster dogs who we have welcomed into our home. It is an amazing feeling to watch a dog be nursed back to health due to your own diligence and care. To know that the obsessive checking you did on them when they first came home helped calm a cough or soothe shelter- jangled nerves. It is amazing to watch a personality blossom and a dog gain confidence…to see a scaredy dog learn to trust and feel safe. Whether Hazel stays or another takes her place, I know that Paul and I have done something that lots of people can’t or won’t do. We saved 3 lives worth saving. And, I am proud of us for it.
We really, really love this dog.

14 Days to a New Hazel.

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It has become a bit of a habit, or tradition, for me to write about our foster dogs weekly. It reminds me of the progress they have made in that time and how much they have recovered. Hazel, being our third “sick” foster has come just as far as did Angie and Jenga in two weeks time and seems to have just as much potential to be a happy, well adjusted dog. Like the two before her, she has some quirks (don’t we all!) and twists of personality that are all her own. That really is one of the most fun parts of fostering, getting to know who a dog is. Rocco and Savannah have been with us for so long, that I sort of forgot that dogs can have so many individual personality traits. Not to shortchange them, because they, too, have funny things they do…like Savannah brings each person who comes in the house a toy…she hops from foot to foot when she is barking from excitement…Rocco makes himself a little nest when he takes a nap on the bed and likes to do his “Zen Dog” under the miniature maple tree outside. But, when a new dog comes in, it’s really cool to see them evolve, gain confidence and engage in behaviors that make them unique individuals. Angie suckled and kneaded blankets, Jenga liked to trail blankets with her and Hazel “caches”.
Caching is a left- over behavior…a piece of primitive genetic software that served wolves in the wild very well, but, most domestic dogs have no need for, and some just don’t seem to know it. Caching is the burying of items to protect them from scavengers and our Sugar used to do it with pretzels, and Hazel does it with hard treats. It’s really interesting to watch, except that the other day, she bloodied up her nose pretty good while doing it. Angie’s suckling and kneading is one of these left over behaviors, as well…as an adult, she obviously no longer needed to nurse, but did it often and it seemed to relax her. These behaviors are known as “fixed action patterns” and are instinctual and hard- wired and some dogs seem to have no idea that they serve no purpose any longer. Humping is also a common one and probably the one people get most upset about…they don’t understand why a spayed or neutered dog would hump, but, it’s just one of those pieces of software that dogs use, because it’s there, even if it serves no purpose (other than to feel good or relieve anxiety…humping is not about dominance, contrary to popular *mis*belief) Our cat, Trixie, attempts to nurse from Savannah and did the same with Sugar…more wonky software. Come to think of it, I guess we have a lot of that going on around here!
Anyway, back to Hazel….she has really proven herself to be a trooper! She made her first visit to Petsmart the other night and was bombarded with attention as soon as she walked in. She was nervous and as soon as it seemed too much, we moved on and she really enjoyed roaming the aisles and sat for a treat at checkout. We were so proud of her! She has earned open door privileges, having been treated for an upper respiratory infection and kennel cough and will probably move out into the living room this weekend. She is not at all bothered by the cats and we have seen no concern in her body language towards them…we will watch this closely, though. She and Savannah lay right on opposite sides of the gate with each other and Rocco seems to know the drill at this point….new dog = lots and lots of special yums. That’s not to say he is perfect about it, but, that’s why we take it so slow. It’s not fair to any dog to just expect them to roll with the changes and be fine with everything and this would be a major caution to new fosters and adopters: GO SLOW!  Especially, if you’ve got pets of other species living in your home or dogs like Rocco, who are dog- selective.
Hazel has proven herself to be easily adaptable…she enjoys company, but, does fine on her own, too. She has done really well with training and is spooking less easily. She likes to do zoomies and likes to cuddle. She loves, loves, loves Nylabones like no other dog I have ever met. We are bringing her to the clinic today for a skin scrape and hoping she comes back negative for mange. If so, she’ll be scheduled for her spay surgery and we will start to market her more and take her to adoption events. If not, we’ll keep loving her and working with her and that’s fine, too 🙂
Hazel’s caching earned her a shout out in my webinar for “The Academy for Dog Trainers” the other night….her wonky software made her famous! I was such a proud momma! I had given her a Busy Bone while I cleaned..to keep her, well…busy and hoped to catch her in action and she didn’t disappoint! Watch the determination with which she hides that bone from the scavengers who are sure to show up at any second!

She was pretty proud when she heard her name and saw her picture during the webinar…said she knew that behavior would come in handy one day! 😉

A Week with Hazel.

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So, our little house mouse has been here for a week. I call her that because she is a skittish little thing, who often makes herself as small as possible and, the whole hairless thing, which Paul said made her look like a hairless rat. I think house mouse is kinder 🙂
Anyway, after a week, she is noticeably less pink and may even have a bit of hair re-growth on her back end. She has been getting a seaweed supplement with her food, coconut oil rubbed into her skin and, of course, her daily dose of Ivermectin. The coconut oil must instantly soothe her skin, because she goes into a trance-like state when I am rubbing it on…and she knows she gets to lick the cup when I am done. She does have an upper respiratory infection, so we took her to our vet yesterday and got her some meds for that. I think once those have kicked in a bit, we will start to see more of her true personality.
One thing seems pretty clear, Hazel probably hasn’t been exposed to much in life. She spooks easily, but, the good thing is, she recovers quickly and has enough curiosity to want to check things out most of the time. Right now, she is content to sleep most of the day, get up and play or train for a while, go for a little walk and then go back for another nap. I worry a bit that at some point, she will want to make up for lost time 😉
Hazel, like Angie and Jenga before her, is doing great with training. She is by far the best loose leash walker I have ever worked with. We have practiced sit, look, down, and wait as well. We have used wait for the car and she seems to be pretty patient. Her car behavior is pretty funny…I am used to nose art in random spots on a car window, Hazel’s goes in a line from one corner of the window to the other, almost like she is methodical in how she checks things out. Every once in a while, I will look back and her face is directly behind me, buried into the corner of the window. This is pretty nice, after Angie, the “I gotta give kisses in the car” dog, Jenga, the “I gotta be right here in between you guys” dog, and Rocco and Savannah, the “We whine the whole way there, wherever there is” dogs.
Hazel also seems to be fairly independent, which is nice. She does not jump up the second we walk into a room or freak out when we leave. She is affectionate, but, not in a needy way…more in a “oh, this is nice way”. She is just as content to chomp on one of her many Nylabones. But, touch her with that coconut oil….and she is in heaven! It is so interesting to me after living so many years with the same 2 dogs to get to know the personalities of others like this. Angie was needy and snuggly, Jenga was goofy, funny and cartoonish, Hazel is cool and assesses everything. Once she decides something is safe, she becomes loving and playful.
We won’t market Hazel for adoption too aggressively yet. Which reminds me…I do need to update her Petfinder ad! She needs time to get well and get comfortable with the world. Once she is more settled and has decompressed, we will take her to events and out into the public eye. For some reason, I fear she won’t be as adored as she should be, what with the lack of hair and all 😉
She is still pretty adorable, if you ask me!