Rambo: The Beginning of a Giant

I decided not to foster anymore. But this didn’t stop me from rescuing. Again.

This is my new puppy. He is a pure Great Dane. His mother was hit by a car when her 12 puppies were 2.5 weeks old. Not all of them made it. Here he is at 5 weeks and 2 lbs. His eyes were sunken in and crusted shut from dehydration.

Five weeks old asleep in my arms.

Five weeks old asleep in my arms.

He spent 4 days at the vet receiving subcutaneous boluses in an effort to rehydrate him and at night I force fed him formula every couple hours until he’d eat wet food. Here is a picture of one of his boluses.

On his right side you can see a bolus sticking out.

On his right side you can see a bolus sticking out.

He started to show signs of being a puppy and opening his eyes. At the end of the week I was sure he was going to make it!

Starting to look like a puppy!

Starting to look like a puppy!

The vet thought he might have eye damage and perhaps brain problems. But he turned out just fine! We named him Rambo because he’s a fighter. He’s now 10 weeks old and, though a little small for his age, he’s just a healthy puppy chewing on shoes and falling all over his giant feet!

9 weeks old and able to totally dominate a slipper.

9 weeks old and able to totally dominate a slipper.

So this is the beginning of my life with Great Dane. He will be a part of my life for not nearly enough years, but I’m so happy!

From 5 weeks old to 10 weeks old. He's growing so fast!

From 5 weeks old to 10 weeks old. He’s growing so fast!

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Thor

I’ve decided to no longer foster anymore. I tried to refresh and refocus but what I found is that I was so much happier not being a part of that group. My stress level was down and I was happier.
But before I’m totally done I took in one more puppy. Thor is a 5 month old newfoundland/husky mix. He’s a big ol’ boy at about 42 lbs.

This boy is the first dog I’ve ever had that lost any teeth. Every other dog has been too old or too young while I fostered. I didn’t even think about it when I gave him a chewy. After a while he dropped a pebble in front of me. I pick it up , drop it, and run to wash my hands. Next thing I know there are thousands of puppy teeth all over the floor. I’m just…wading through several inches of bloody teeth nubs. It was disgusting. I’ve since burned that house down and moved to a different state.

He is also the most vocal dog I’ve ever fostered. Not vocal like “let me out of this kennel.” Thor whines and yips and barks at everything. Everything he sees. Everything he likes. Everything he doesn’t like. Everything that moves. Everything that doesn’t move. He is the most easily frustrated and excitable dog I’ve ever met. I don’t know if it’s the teething, the growth spurt, or just his personality. Or maybe it’s just het husky in him. I know they like to talk.

Also… hiccups. This dog perpetually has hiccups. They wake me at night they are so loud. Apparently large breed puppies tend to have hiccups a lot. The vet said it’s normal. Hilarious, but normal as long as he’s drinking and eating ok.

He’s a good boy, but he’s noisy and without manners. He didn’t get any manners training while he was living in a backyard and I won’t have him long enough to teach him any. Hopefully his new parents will take the time.
Check out the few photos I could get of Thor being still.

Look at those giant paws!

Look at those giant paws!

Trotting along, enjoying the yard

Trotting along, enjoying the yard

42 pounds of fluffy puppy!

42 pounds of fluffy puppy!

Refocus

I’ve decided to take a break from fostering.

It’s not that I’m fed up with the unruly dogs. It’s not that it’s taking up too much of my free time. It’s not that it’s too hard to let them go. It’s not a feeling of helplessness that no matter how many I save so many more are dying.
It’s the other people in the rescue. It’s the constant negativity. Every conversation is problem-oriented. Animal rescue brings me so much joy. I can’t understand why everyone is so focused on the negative instead of how good it feels when we change that negative into something better.

And it’s not just the negativity. Then there is the complete lack of compassion for humans. When a person returns a dog the immediate reaction is to assume they are stupid, worthless pieces of garbage. There is no moment to consider any other possibility. I am of the mind that until proven otherwise, I’m going to assume the best. Assuming the worse doesn’t change anything that has happened or stop something bad from happening in the future, it just puts mean, negative energy into the group.
Sometimes people are garbage. But even so, should we spend energy talking about what a piece of garbage that person is or should we be happy that the dog is no longer with them and focus on how to help the dog?

Is anything accomplished by wallowing in the negative or bashing other people?
I feel like I’m being dragged down into a black hole of despair every time I get on the private facebook group.

I suppose by writing this I, myself, am wallowing in the negative and bashing other people. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to distance myself from the energy I don’t want in my life. I know I can’t change the people around me but I can change the people I choose to be around. But if I’m no longer around those people can I still rescue dogs?

I’m reminded of a quote from the incredible, the incomparable Amy Poehler  “I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people who dream, and support, and do things.”

I know I’ll go back. I know that no matter how bad it gets, helping the dogs feels so good that I’ll put up with the humans who make me so upset that I can’t eat. I just need to refresh, reboot, and refocus. It just sucks that people have to be so mean.

If you have any advice or motivation, I welcome it enthusiastically.

Goldie

Tori is still not adopted. I was getting restless. I may have made an impulsive decision without consulting the boyfriend. Well, I consulted him several other times about other dogs and he always said “You can do whatever you want but I won’t be happy with three dogs in the house.” So I didn’t ask.
I just brought home a Great Pyrenees/Yellow Lab mix.

So things are tense. And covered in slobber. He’s not happy and I feel guilty. All I want to do is help save dogs! All he wants to do is live in house with less dog hair than things that aren’t dog hair! And, jeezy creezy, this girl has A LOT of fur. Every time you touch her a dozen hairs flutter to the floor. I’m not sure how this is going to work out.

So much fur came out while brushing. And it's she more is still falling off when I touch her.

So much fur came out while brushing. And it’s she more is still falling off when I touch her.

Anyways… Goldie’s story:
Goldie was picked up by animal control with another GP mix about 6 months ago. (The local animal control used to put all animals to sleep after the 7 day stray hold was up. The rescue I work with now takes all animals after the stray hold is up.) Goldie was adopted at her very first adoption event by an older, handicapped woman. 6 Months later the woman calls us to return her because she is trying to attack people who come into her home and she isn’t strong enough to restrain the 80 lb dog.
Yes, I took in another return.

Just barely snapped this before she ran off!

Just barely snapped this before she ran off!

I went to the house to pick Goldie up. She did, in fact, try to murder me. I quickly pulled out my bag of tricks (this is mostly just a big bag of treats) and had her sitting and begging in less than a minute. She turned into the most goofy, loving dog in the whole world. The woman was very impressed. I acted like it was no big deal. Like a boss.

Introducing her to Rocko and Tori was scary. But it became clear after the initial butt smelling that this big girl was not at all aggressive with dogs. Tori is quite small compared to Goldie. She spent a couple days hiding under tables and snapping. Goldie has absolutely no idea Tori is being violent. She is a big goober and keeps play bowing and running in circles around Tori in play mode. The are both so clueless. I am sure Tori will figure out how goofy and harmless Goldie is and reclaim her dominate throne in the house in no time.

She's trying to get Tori to play while she's sleeping.

She’s trying to get Tori to play while she’s sleeping.

Goldie is a big dog. She’s about 80 lbs and has a big build. I’ve noticed, however, that she doesn’t really realize her size. Not in the usual “What do you mean I’m not a lap dog” way, but in a different way. I had closed the bathroom door all but 2 inches while I was in the shower. When I got out of the shower Goldie was sniffing furiously and whining. She clearly wanted in the bathroom but didn’t know she could just push the door open. It’s not that she’s well trained and knows her boundaries, believe me, that’s not it. She just doesn’t realize that she has the power to push stuff. She won’t even paw at the kennel door when I get home. She just stands there prancing with no clue she could snap that kennel into pieces.

Even so, three dogs is too many. Well, these three dogs at least. I suppose it’s because Goldie is still very much a puppy. She’s 2 years old but she is still not quite out of the puppy stage yet. When Tori or Rocko moves or makes a noise Goldie is thrown into uncontrollable excitement. It is nearly impossible to get a photo of her because she won’t sit still or focus. Everything is too exciting! It’s a fun little trip into big dog territory, but until Tori gets adopted I guess I just won’t get to foster any other dogs.

Finally asleep at 2:30 am

Finally asleep at 2:30 am

Men and Dogs

In my foster group there are about 15-20ish dog fosters and, I don’t know, probably some number of cat fosters. Out of all of these wonderful fosters, not a single one is a man. There is one husband who is supportive and very involved but that’s it. I don’t know why this is. What I do know is that in most cases…. a dog may be man’s best friends but men are the enemy of dog fostering.

“I’ll have to talk to my husband but I really want to foster the new Lab mix.”
“I really want to, but my husband said if I bring home another dog he’s leaving.”
“I love her but she peed on the bed. My husband says she can’t stay here anymore.”
“He says he hates having all these animals in the house but I caught him cuddling and baby talking yesterday.”
“My boyfriend says he won’t move in if I have more than three dogs.”

Perhaps men are just the scapegoats or the voice of reason when we can’t think strait. Those longing puppy dog eyes can make us do crazy things. If men are the sane ones who can resist a dog that is clearly dying when it isn’t in your lap perhaps it makes sense that they don’t foster. Fostering is insane. The dogs are completely unpredictable in most cases. They may come in with zero training and without the ability to differentiate carpet from grass. They may come in with strange objects in their stomachs that really need to be vomited on to your sofa. Or they may be ill. I made the mistake of letting a 9 week old puppy sleep in the bed with me. I rolled over into a freshly vomited pile of live roundworms. That was about 18 dogs ago.
Maybe the men have a point. Or maybe they are heartless bastards who can watch a Sarah McLachlan commercial without bursting into tears. We may never know.

How can you say no?

How can you say no?

I have Rocko. He is my dog. Permanently. (Well… he might not be my dog anymore. He and my boyfriend have become quite attached. Especially since he moved in.) I am fostering Tori. She has no signs of getting adopted. Ever. This makes two dogs. I have been brought home a couple third dogs–small ones– to test my limits with the boyfriend. They have not been disasters. I wouldn’t call them successful, though. He would prefer I didn’t foster at all. I suppose I should take it as a sign of love that he moved in with me knowing I am going to bring strange dogs home again and again.

So the battle continues. We women desperately trying to help those in need and men ruining everything ever.

Mystic

My first new foster of the year. 2015. It’s going to be full of dogs.

Mystic was yet another dog that was adopted from us as a puppy and returned a year later. This doesn’t happen as often as I make it seem. I suppose I just have a soft spot for the type.

This tiny monster is absolutely adorable. He looks like a tiny maned wolf. His legs are longer than he is! We know the mother was a chihuahua and by the look of him, daddy must have been an italian greyhound. The legs on this dog are just… I can’t even describe how long and impossibly thin they are.

Mystic has been a unique challenge for me. He is so very small and delicate. I am not used to a dog that could break. I sat on him the first hour he was in my house. (This little boy can scream, let me tell you.) I was kicking Rocko’s Chuck It Kickball the next day. As it wooshed by a mere foot from Mystic I realized that had it hit him the poor thing would have been crushed into a fine powder. My life is not set up for dogs that can’t handle being hit with a kickball. I find myself carrying him around like a wine glass while the other two dogs run around like, well…. dogs. Luckily the dog-sized dogs are gentle with Mystic. I don’t have to worry about them trampling or shaking him. (Not that I don’t watch them at all times to be sure.)

I am enjoying the novelty of a dog that could become lost in my purse, but I don’t think I will be taking in any more tiny dogs.

Two velcro dogs. Look at those legs!

Two velcro dogs. Look at those legs!

Mystic in the car on the way to my house

Mystic in the car on the way to my house

I may never be able to get up again

I may never be able to get up again

Tori

I took a break from fostering last year. I was living in an apartment. I had a run of fosters that were very destructive. The last one I had before I took my break was with me for over 4 months and was very trying. She was a “velcro” dog. This term refers to a dog that must be near you (preferably touching you) at all times. There is no exception for sleep or cooking or using the bathroom. There was not a single night that dog wasn’t under the covers and between my knees all night. There was not a single potty break in which she was not trying to climb into my lap.
It was overwhelming. I was smothered.
So I took a break.

In November I moved into a house. It’s a smallish house but the backyard is huge. Well… compared to an apartment it’s huge. I now have about 0.2 acres surrounded by a 6-8 foot privacy fence. This yard is perfect for dogs. Well… almost perfect. They gate doesn’t latch and blows open sometimes. Also, it was filled with rabbits, squirrels, and birds.
Was.

The point is, this yard gave the me a good reason to start fostering again. So as soon as I was moved in I took in a dog. Tori.

Tori, like my Rocko, was adopted from the rescue I work with when she was a puppy. About a year later the woman who adopted Tori decided she didn’t want her anymore. The reasons are irrelevant. When someone wants to return a dog they will often make up reasons to rationalize and justify their actions. Sometimes they actually believe the reasons they have fabricated. I don’t mind because the dog is back with us and not being left outside or thrown out of a moving car.

Tori has a lot of energy. She sometimes resembles the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil. This dog looks a lot like a boxer that has been miniaturized. Imagine, however, that as her size was decreased her speed and stamina were increased. She runs at full speed all the time, she waves her open mouth around wildly, and she can jump impossibly high. She has caused minor injuries while whirling around crazily, but when she’s done she is the sweetest little lap dog. She just wants to cuddle next to you and sleep on the sofa while you watch tv. She doesn’t know she’s insane.

I’ve had Tori for 2 months now. I don’t understand why no one wants her sweet face in their home. She’s housebroken, has two eyes, and doesn’t chew on furniture. She even tucks herself in at night! I just don’t understand how any dog with those qualities doesn’t get adopted.
Seriously… look at this face.

Tori tucks herself in for bedtime

Tori tucks herself in for bedtime

This dog has supermodel in her genes

This dog has supermodel in her genes

Tori is an angel when she's sleeping

Tori is an angel when she’s sleeping

The Origin Story

I began my journey in dog fostering back in May of 2012. I was renting my parent’s house at the time which has a dog door built into the back of the brick siding. The door is large enough for an average sized human to fit through – a fact which was demonstrated when the front door knob suddenly stopped functioning one day. I went to the recently opened Petco one Saturday to check it out. (The new Target shopping center was a very exciting development for our town.) Outside was a small, local rescue with  several sweaty people in yellow shirts holding dogs. I’m not sure how exactly it happened but I left Petco with a dog, a crate, and a bag of puppy food in my car.

This has happened again and again, more times than I can remember since that day.

I’m not sure exactly what number I’m up to now, but when I try to list them all I come up with 38. It seems like more. And less. I’ve spent about 125 Saturdays at Petco getting dogs adopted. I’ve had up to 6 dogs in my Civic at a time. I have been on television with a foster 4 times. I have foster failed twice.

I have one dog that is mine. He never made it to an adoption event. He bit me three times before I got him to my car where he immediately jumped into the trunk and wouldn’t come out. When we got home he watched me eat lunch on the sofa from across the room. As I climbed into bed for my post Panera food coma he jumped in with me and has followed me around lovingly ever since. His name is Rocko.

I hope I never stop fostering.

This is Rocko the day I met him — shortly before he bit me.

Rocko is now a happy dog with so many toys. SO. MANY. TOYS.

Rocko has become the most wonderful foster brother. He cuddles and wrestles and ignores them as much or as little as they want.

.