Foster Flip-Flop

As the person who approves the adoption applications for our rescue, sets up and often does the meet and greets, I have a confession to make.  I get annoyed with fosters who get so attached that they make it harder for a dog to transition.  Granted, it doesn’t happen every time  but often enough that I’ve rolled my eyes a time or two.  Other than Margeaux, my longest foster(s) were the Sugar family; Sugar Marie and her litter of seven puppies. As much as I loved the puppies, by the time they were ready for adoption I was ready for them to go.  They lived in our finished basement which meant each time they needed to go outside we were transporting baskets of puppies up stairs, through the house and out to the back.  And then back to the basement.  Other than that, we’ve had guests for a night or two, but not much more.

I pulled Margeaux on a Wednesday knowing we had an adoption event on Saturday so I assumed she would be a three-day foster. Here we are now seven weeks later and with no open applications on her accompanied by lots of pressure from her Facebook fans for us to adopt her. Believe me, we’ve talked non-stop about the pros and cons of officially adopting Miss Piggy and while she is welcome to stay here as long as it takes for her to find a home and we haven’t completely ruled out being that home, we truly believe there is a better situation out there for her.

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So the Great Debate regarding Margeaux first and foremost begins with Ray.  Nearly two years ago Ray underwent a TTA surgery on his rear left leg and he will likely need a double surgery on his rear right leg this year.  Not only might he need a TTA surgery, but we’ve always known he may need to have a luxating patella repaired as well.  Margeaux requires very little time and attention but to decrease the availability of that wouldn’t be fair to her.  Furthermore, Ray is not a good patient.  His extreme anxiety dictates so much of how we live our lives that if Margeaux wasn’t completely integrated by then I fear she would suffer the lack of companionship and while she and Ray have parallel walked, they have not physically met yet.

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Then there is Julius.  Because Julius and Margeaux had such a successful meeting I became convinced that Margeaux was super dog friendly which has proven to not be the case.  Julius and Margeaux walked then proceeded to the back yard for pictures.  After the pictures were done, Julius in his Joe-cool-chicks-dig-me way, walked away from Margeaux and she has spent the following six and a half weeks trying to gain Juli’s attention. To say he’s fairly noncommittal about her would be an understatement.  He likes being in the yard with her as long as she doesn’t actually try to interact with him. When I was in my teens, my sister who is six years younger than I, used to sit outside my closed bedroom door hoping to hang out with me.  Sometimes I’d magnanimously allow her to enter as long as she followed the rules.  The rules were that she could sit in one small designated spot with her hands folded in her lap, not touch anything and not speak.  I see a lot of these rules in play as they apply to Julius and his little adoring foster sister.

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As much as we love her and as the debate rages on, we steadfastly tell ourselves that we are her foster family and as such we are doing our best to prepare her to transition her forever home.

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Meet Margeaux

A couple of weeks ago, I did something I rarely do, but when I do it, it’s for someone special.  Often while working in a different town, I try to visit the local shelter and on this particular instance, I knew that there was a special dog in house.  I had seen Margeaux when the Executive Director of this shelter had posted her on the page of a private group.  She was special and the hope was that a friend or someone “in the biz” would adopt her. While I wasn’t in the market for a third dog, nor am I the intake person of our rescue, I couldn’t leave without her.  We had an adoption event just a few days following and I figured she would be gone by the end of the weekend.

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Here we are two and a half weeks later enjoying the company of a very special and happy house guest.  While she could probably walk right under Julius, she only weighs about 10 pounds less than he and Ray. She is quite the little piggy and snorts like one as well. She’s never met a stranger and truly believes all humans are set on Earth just to adore her, with our family being no exception.

If you follow either me personally or the boys on Facebook, you’ll have seen my Margeaux in the morning posts and undoubtedly seen the numerous declarations that we should keep her.  While it isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility it isn’t a done deal either.  After two and a half weeks, she and Ray have still not met.  They have seen each other but haven’t yet even taken a parallel walk.  While this separation is happening, we have learned to gate and rotate like pros.  Margeaux lives in the office behind a baby gate.  At the end of that hallway is a folding divider gate.  There is another wooden gate that we move to suit our needs and basically is just propped against whatever wall we need.  Ray is usually behind that gate and in his x-pen which he uses as his crate or safe zone and he is becoming more and more curious to meet the little foster gal.  I believe her family is out there waiting for her and I will definitely make sure she goes to the best home possible, so stay tuned to see more about Margeaux.

 

Marley Monday-Video

You often hear about how Pit Bull types just have to be with people and Marley is no exception. I know three months in a shelter can be a long time and though there are some dogs who can do well invthat environment there are others who just can’t handle it. I truly believe Marley is the latter type. 

I imagine that being away from his people and among so many others who were being considered for adoption took its toll. I’d like to believe it is that frustration that lead to him “becoming hard to handle” and “dog aggressive.” 

Since we saw that his happiness over being pulled lead to his immediate change in personality in the “hard to handle” department we were hopeful that the dog aggression would have been a similar byproduct of his frustration and not a true reflection of his personality. We have, however, proceeded with caution for two reasons. First and foremost while he is undergoing heart worm treatment we want to keep him quiet so even if he were to be friendly we can’t really allow him to play. Second, well if he isn’t a fan of other dogs that can be managed but if he really was aggressive we’d again be risking the elevated heart rate, etc.

Seeing Marley at the vet’s office near other dogs gave us hope that he was pretty friendly but we still took it very slowly. A couple of weeks ago, he met Queenie, one of our adoptable dogs and although she completely ignored him, he was tail-waggingly happy to see her. Just a couple of minutes and he was as smitten as can be and soon frustrated by the closed door barrier. 

On New Year’s Day we tested him with little Ori who is the owned and fabulous dog of one of our new foster moms. (And also the adopter of one of Ray’s littermates.) We knew Ori was a very good neutral dog who would be very willing to correct Marley about any transgression. Also since he had met a larger dog successfully we wanted to see how it would go with a small dog.

We are pretty much over the moon about All. Things. Marley. But this is just pretty darned awesome no matter how you slice it, right?

Say My Name

I came in to the loud place with my Brother when our mama left us for too long in the house all by ourselves. Some neighbors were feeding us but finally we got “picked up” and were off to a better place. I waggled my tail and was happy to see new people who would love me  but soon I realized this was my new home and I was going to be sharing it with a lot of other dogs.  The longer I stayed here, the more upset and sad I felt. Mama came back for my Bro but she didn’t want me anymore. No one wants me. People come looking for a dog to take home and I want to go but no one looks at me. Am I a bad boy?  Maybe they aren’t talking to me because they keep saying Tiny at me.  I’m not Tiny.  Maybe they think I am Tiny the bad boy?  Can’t you see me? 

  

I’m sad and I feel angry too. The other dogs here shout at me and I shout back. I don’t like them anymore and I don’t want to be friends anymore. I want to go home. I want to be happy again but instead I’m sad and I’m here and I’m lonely in the middle of all of the mayhem. As time stretches on I feel like I’m nearing the end of my rope.

The Lady is nice and she is kind to me and she gives me cookies but I don’t feel like eating. I’m getting boney so maybe I really am Tiny. I don’t want to be here and I’m getting tired of waiting so I might as well act like a bad boy, if that’s what they think I am.  They move me and I see even fewer people than before and I just want to lie here and …No!  I don’t want to die!  I want to give up but a small part of me wants to keep hoping. I want to go home!

The people are nice here but very busy and they don’t have a lot of time to just sit with me so I can feel their heartbeat next to mine.  I want to rest my head in their hands but they are busy and don’t have time for me. 

But what is this?  I’m getting a bath today.  That’s strange. 

It’s not too cold outside and I’m nearly dry in this kennel and I see my friend The Lady and she has two people with her.  The Man has a kind face and he points at me but then he took a cookie over to the loud blue boy that I don’t like.  The Other Lady, oh the other lady!  She looks at me and smiles.  I can’t stop looking at her because she seems kind and she is carrying a collar, a leash and a harness and from inside her big bag she brings out another big cookie just for me!  It makes me very happy to see her and I dance with my front feet but I’m being very careful to not be scary.  I don’t jump on the fence and even though my heart is pounding and filling with hope, I don’t shout at her to PICK ME! TAKE ME HOME!  I dance and prance but when they open the gate I stand very straight and still so I can get my new collar and harness on.  My friend tells the new lady something.  She looks at me and says the magical words, “Marley.  Do you want to go bye-bye in the car?” 

Marley!  She knows my name!

We go inside and the nice man holds my leash while people do paperwork.  My friend The Lady hugs the new lady and we get ready to go.  They open the door to the van and I see a huge comfy bed on the floor with a blanket, a big back seat with another blanket and the new lady sits in back with me and hugs me around the neck.  

  I kiss her face and she says to me, “You’re safe now and we will make sure you will always be happy.”  She says she isn’t my mama (yet…) but she will protect me. 

  

We take a long ride and I get lots of treats.  I lie on the comfy mat for a while then I get on the seat and rest.  I love all the options.  We drop the man off eventually and my new lady takes me to what is called my Foster Dad.  He’s a very nice man who lets me sit in his chair and watch TV, we split a milkshake and we sleep in the big bed.  He is so nice to me and says I am probably the best dog ever and  I am very proud to make him happy so I use all of my very good manners.

   

 The lady says they all saved my life but my Foster Daddy says I may have saved his. All I know is that I am Marley and I am a good boy.

A Tiny Tale

I’ve sat staring at a blank screen now for hours because I’m not sure where to begin.  This story has many points from which to begin and it’s not yet completed so the opportunity to experience it while it unfolds presents itself. I’m excited to see how this story progresses and to discover the outcome along with you.

I guess the beginning for me started last week as one of our volunteers was at a shelter* and we were talking about some of the dogs they had available to be pulled.  One of the dogs was her “type” but she didn’t bring him back and since I had an occasion to be in that area a few days later, I just had to stop in to satisfy my curiosity about this guy.  The biggest surprise was that when I entered the front door, I was greeted by a Facebook friend who graciously led me on a tour of the facility where we looked at several sweet dogs in house.  At the end of the tour we were looking at a large board which listed all of the residents.  She pointed to a name, Tiny, an American Bulldog mix who was unlikely to leave the building.  He was heart worm positive and as if that wasn’t enough of a strike, he was deteriorating in the shelter and had seemingly lost hope.

Sad case, I thought but I generally advocate more for the highly adoptable dogs. If we can get as many of those as possible in homes it opens up that much more space for those who may need it and for those who may need more time.  Not until I arrived home and began scrolling through pictures of dogs available did I see Tiny’s beautiful mug.

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My heart skipped a beat and I had to know more so I began messaging with my FB friend but as her replies to my query came through, my heart began to sink.  At intake he was a happy and wiggly big boy who acted like a puppy.  He was gentle and loving and good on leash but as the days stretched to weeks and weeks stretched to months he became “hard to handle” and began “losing it.”  Unfortunately I was already emotionally invested and ready to at least meet him.  Knowing there was a glimmer of hope, the Pit Bull Coalition agreed to pull him and give him some time to decompress before assessing him.  If  he passed assessment he would be treated for the heartworms but if he was too far gone…he would not be treated nor would he be returned.

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Those eyes!

I spent the weekend literally sick to my stomach.  With my daughter egging me on and pushing me out of my comfort zone to rescue a “hard case” the plans formulated and the pieces all began to fall into place, including gaining acceptance from the hubby and other Board members of the Coalition.  Now that the plan was set, what if when we arrived he was deranged and we had to leave him?  What if hs e crapped mountains in the van or what if he ripped up all of the upholstery? Could he be touched? Walked? Will he ride? Oh! all the questions that plagued my brain all night!

After messaging the time frame in which we expected to arrive, we made our way to the shelter full of anticipation and worry.  He was being bathed for us and as we arrived were told he was waiting.  When walking through the kennels, Kevin pointed at a dog and asked, “Is that him?” to which my first thought was that it couldn’t be.  We were meeting a potential monster, not this happy, tail wagging, calm boy but surprise! That was him!  He and I locked eyes and I believe he knew.  I had arrived with a collar, leash and harness in my hands and walked straight to his gate where he stood wagging his tail, ignoring the barking that swirled around him and he waited to be outfitted for his journey.

To be continued…

 

*If you would like to help support this shelter, message me and I’ll share the name/location, otherwise I’ll be keeping it anonymous to protect the sensitive nature of some of the details here.

“Pit Bull” Awareness Month

Yep, I’m sliding into the wan

ing days of the month with this post but bear with me, I have my reasons.  Every October for the past several years I’ve embraced the concept of Pit Bull Awareness Month and celebrated all things Ray and Julius while working towards broad acceptance of seeing my boys and all other Pit Bull types of dogs as individuals, not as lumped sums of their breed, or breeds as the case may be.  My boys are both Pit Bulls in the broadest sense of the word and yet they share absolutely no similar breed DNA.  They are individuals.

 

Sugar, Julius, and Ray

 
In light of all of the ballyhoo with PeTa joining forces with the vitriolic group that I won’t link to here I was planning to sit out this round.  I was asked by a friend and fellow Pit Bull Coalition member to help find an avenue to help spread awareness to the right people.  Here’s the thing: in person I’m pretty confrontational and blunt.  If you threaten or malign my dogs (or anyone I care about) I could very easily try to pull your eyeballs out with my fingernails while trying to figure out ways to really hurt you but when it comes to mudslinging and manufactured “statistics” from zealots, I try not to give credence in the form of attention.  Much like when you are training a dog in a positive manner, you ignore the unwanted behavior and reward the desired behavior.

  
PeTa contends that it would be best to kill all Pit Bull types for their own good to save them from the criminal element who want to adopt them. There aren’t many words in that sentence that I don’t take issue with but many people more reasonable and more informed than I have addressed such lunacy, so I won’t bother other than to point out that of course, I don’t want to see Pit Bulls abused, but I don’t want to see any animal abused.  I just don’t think that killing them all will solve the issue.

  
In the vein of positive reinforcement, I also want to take this moment to write a bit more about what you might and might not see here.  Get it?  Same message but different delivery.  I have a pretty dry and sarcastic sense of humor but you won’t see me engaging in the tongue in cheek “pit bull attack” pictures of dogs licking babies.  Here at Peaceabull we don’t “do” the words vicious, monster, attack, or aggressive even if we are describing how heartily we show love and affection and we don’t assume (well maybe we do, but we don’t verbalize it) that you are working from a point of prejudice about our dogs.  You don’t like my dog?  I’m not going to assume it is because they are pit bulls, and by that assumption I am giving you the benefit of a doubt that you are not an asshole.  (Oops!  There’s the eyeball pluckers coming out!)

#TakeAChance

Well, that was quite the cliffhanger, wasn’t it? I meant to finish out the Tale of the Blues and talke about “Iron’s” hashtag on Friday, but not only did scheduling not permit, but Fate intervened as well. Chance’s story was going to be about how Asia regretfully decided to let him go. She had told him during her visits that he would be coming home to live with her and ultimately with all of the newness, as well as a foster pup, she agreed to see if his true family would show up. She gave them 30 days.

August 15

On Saturday August 15th I had an urge to visit “Iron” at the shelter and as I was driving down there, I received a text that a wonderful couple were in and going to adopt Iron. As luck would have it, I was able to meet this couple and they were, in fact wonderful. 

  

In the back of my mind, I felt a little sad for “Iron.” He would be an “only dog” which may make him a little sad, but it might work out in the end. That is the story we would have published on Friday.

August 22

A beautiful day dawned full of promise and anticipation. Today our little Pets for Life team would finally be hitting the streets and knocking on doors to begin our mission of helping our neighbors retain their pets. We were going to be able to offer spay/neuter, vaccines, preventatives and food among other things all for free to this specific area. What nearly marred this glorious day was the message I received that “Iron” was coming back to the shelter. The funny thing about this, though, is that it didn’t upset me or even make me sad. It felt right somehow. 

  

The adopters were distraught to return him (along with the mountain of belongings he had amassed in just 7 days) but due to some neighboring dogs trying to fence-fight, he returned as they say “through no fault of his own” and with the feedback that he is, in fact, perfect in a home. I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t feel upset about this return. I hugged the big wiggly lug when I saw him and I let him know that it was ok and I would always be around to look after him.

August 23

Another Sunday and another Pack Walk with The Bully Collective. As has been her custom, Lisa had arranged for a couple of volunteers to come and walk adoptable dogs. One of those dogs was meant to be Bitsy, Asia’s foster dog but as fate would have it, Bitsy had been on a two-night trial and on Saturday night we received the message that Bitsy had found her forever home. That allowed for her walking partner to be available for Iron/Chance.

  

Julius and I picked him from the shelter and left with the message that while I’d try to have him back by noon, I wasn’t going to promise. (Side note, Julius is the only dog I know who gets excited to roll up to the shelter as if we’re going to Disney.)

A nice long pack walk was followed by some impromptu Bro time as Clyde came over and the three boys had some quality play time in the yard. 

  

I loved seeing Chance waddle-trundle along after the sleeker Clyde and Julius. It was so much like a little brother trying to keep up with the big guys. As Lisa and I watched the adora-bulls play in the yard we agreed that someone in our large family of friends needed to adopt Chance. We couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing him regularly. I considered it over and over again. He and Julius got on well and Ray would be given all the time and space he needed and even the name could work. My boys are named after football players, so Chance might not work but Iron? Iron Mike, of course would be perfect!

After Clyde went home, I loaded Chance in the car and decided to make a pit stop at Asia’s house. Since she had company over everyone was in the back yard I text her to make sure Ms. Cranky (Sugar) was on a leash. 95% of the time Sugar is great with other dogs but there have been a couple that she wouldn’t tolerate so I wanted to be sure there would be no incidents. There weren’t. Asia didn’t receive my text on time and as Chance and I walked in the far gate, Sugar greeted him as if he were a long lost brother.

  

Chance played with Sugar, romped around the yard, followed the little (human) girls around and drank his fill from the water spurting out of the Slip ‘n Slide.

An hour before the shelter was to close, I called and got assurances that no one had come in to visit with him so I let them know he wouldn’t be back for “curfew” and since the shelter is closed to the public on Mondays, he wouldn’t be back until Tuesday.

There’s no mistaking the joy on Chance’s face when enjoying all of the activities of the day. Going from Pack Walk to a play date with the Big Boys, to a play date with Sugar, Slip ‘n Slide fun with three girls ranging from 1 – 5 years of age to all of the different locations in just one day back from another home would make anyone exhausted or even over-stimulated. Chance aced the day as if it was just business as usual.

Are you a believer in fate? Karma? Everything happens for a reason? The very evening that Chance was returned to the shelter Bitsy was adopted 

 

Bitsy and Bentley

 

and on Monday morning Asia emailed me, “I think he is meant to be with us. It’s been one month since I met him, I tried to let someone else adopt him, and it didn’t work. It’s a sign.” My response?

  

Okay.