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.

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.

 

The Cat Whisperer?

*Please note that I am neither a cat trainer nor a dog trainer, though I am working on a part of that. 

I recently volunteered my services to one of our Fosters who, though doesn’t have a dog of their own, have some terrorizing cats.  Not sure just how much of a bully these cats were, I figured that although I’m certainly no Jackson Galaxy, I have a Peaceabull Assembly of cats and dogs and could maybe offer some advice.

The Fosters suggested it would be helpful if I brought along a dog who could maybe push a cat’s buttons but stay fairly respectful so I of course brought the Juli-bean.

  
The situation was that there are three cats, two of whom we barely saw as they skedaddled out of sight and heard only as one issued a throaty growl when Julius wandered near her special hiding place.  The third stood her ground, in that she was huddled near the sofa.  As Juli approached she hissed and swatted her warning and then not even crack Beggin’ Strips could lure him back.

It turns out that one of the more unsociable cats has jumped on a foster dog’s back and bit her neck.  Both survived.  I came armed with a pheromone collar and some tips on personal space, retreat space and a bit of positive clicker training.  A former foster didn’t respect the baby gate but it seems as though it was installed after his arrival.  I suggested trying to train the next one to stay away from the gate by clicking whenever a dog turned from the gate and to make a larger buffer.  They seemed excited to try and of course wanted to keep Julius.

  
I must say, my bean bean isn’t perfect by any means, but that night? Yeah, he pretty much was and I was certainly bursting with pride and overflowing with love.

Do you have a bully cat?  How do you deal with it?

 

“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.

Cujo’s Chance

Technically, Lucky/Ion/Eden never made it to the adoption floor. Cassie and Melissa had adopted her immediately after her spay, so her name was listed without any picture other than “available soon” to mark her presence. Chance had a different story.

On the day they were both transported for their surgeries, Chance was found to have a cold and could not be operated on and thus not yet ready for adoption so he would remain a guest of the Allen County SPCA for a bit longer but was already creating a small buzz.

  

The Blues had arrived at the SPCA on Friday and on Saturday and Sunday I did something that could have impacted his future. Saturday morning Asia and I went to the shelter to visit the Blues and she immediately fell in love became obsessed with Chance. He was, after all pretty spectacular in so many ways.

  

 He was calm and affectionate and while Eden bounced all over him and jumped on his head and his back, he remained steadfast and happy, giving more credence to the theory that he was her father. Though he was sweet and affectionate with us, it was clear that Chance was a dog’s dog-he loved being near other dogs, especially little Eden. His tender, gentle acceptance of her was inspiring to see.

  

The following day, the hubby and I had to run an errand that took us to the shelter and I used that opportunity to introduce him to the Blues. I rarely do that but when I do, it’s to plant a seed, because there’s always that just in case case that comes up. Little did I realize that little seeds had been planted in Asia’s heart as well and on that Monday she informed me that not only did she submit an application for Chance, she had called to ensure that her faxed application had been received and already scheduled a meet and greet for him and Sugar. As much as I already loved Chance, and thought that he would make an excellent addition to the family, I wasn’t convinced that it was the right time or circumstances.

  

For as much as I pressured gently encouraged Cassie and Melissa, I wanted to be sure that Asia was separating Chance’s back story with her urge to adopt him. As far as the circumstances in Asia’s household, she had just purchased her new home, adopted Sugar and began fostering Bitsy all before even the first utility bills began rolling in. Luckily since his neuter was delayed, so would be his meet and greet which would allow me to really work on if not changing Asia’s mind, at least to get her to think the decision through more carefully.

In the meantime, I pulled out all the stops. The time commitment, the financial commitment, the loss of a crucial foster at a time when good foster homes for pit bulls were scarce were all arguments I cited while trying to get her to reevaluate her decision and ultimately I asked that she at least wait to see if another family would come along that would be in a position to give Chance all that he needed. Not that Asia wouldn’t, but instead of being the second or third in a home, he should have an opportunity to find a family who needed to love him. He deserved that chance. If after 30 days he was still available for adoption we could reevaluate.

Nearly every day I went to visit Chance and while sitting with him or walking him I fell for him again and again but knew that if the hubby and I were to add a dog to our household, it would be someone spry and active enough to play with Julius but calm enough to keep Ray feeling secure. While Chance would definitely not be threatening to Ray, he would not in any way be able to keep up with Julius so while I loved him dearly and if I needed to I would provide him a home, I knew that a better one was out there somewhere for him…

  

To be continued…

#FreeLucky

#FreeLucky

There’s no denying that Lucky and Cujo were in fact two lucky dogs and oh my goodness, if a name was ever wrong for a dog, then Cujo was it. We began referring to him as Chance; he’d gotten several by now and yet The Blues still got other new names at the shelter. Ion (Lucky) and Iron (Cujo/Chance). I’ll admit, I really never called them by their new names much; Lucky and Chance they were in my mind and my heart. These two were definitely wiggling deeper into my heart, I mean, how can you carry a dog into a clinic, wear her blood on your shirt (like a badge of honor) and not feel like you are now somehow bound together? Can’t happen.

 

Lucky is about 10 months old and presumably Chance’s daughter. She’s a stocky little low rider who wiggles into you as if she’s trying to osmose into you to get that much more loves because she’s never met a stranger and is absolutely positive that all of humanity was set on this Earth specifically to love and dote on her. She’s probably right about that.

Soon after the weekend, the pair was sent to H.O.P.E. for their surgeries where Lucky’s lucky streak continued. There’s a fabulous woman (and friend) who loves Pit Bulls has been volunteering with the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition by walking foster dogs at our Pack Walks and we’ve joked that she is a lucky charm because the last three dogs she walked were almost immediately adopted afterwards. She also works at H.O.P.E. and though she was at the June Pets for Life clinic volunteering, it was at H.O.P.E. where she re- met and fell in love with Lucky all over again prompting a Facebook campaign that had me in stitches and tears.

Ironically I had just recently had a text conversation with her partner about her level of readiness for a “large” dog and how all of their friends, especially all of us crazy committed pit bull people would be there to support them but understood the reluctance since they are newly settling into a new home.

The campaign started with this picture

Photo by Cassie

and the caption, “This is Lucky/Ion/whatever I name her. I have absolutely fallen in love with her and need her sweet love in my life forever!”

Friends, ever supportive that we are began a very low pressure, reasonable show of support for Cassie’s campaign which became known as #freelucky.

 

Photo by Lisa Reyes and The Amazing Adventures of Clyde

Comments such as “Poster dog for PFL,” “Such a proud symbol of the PFL cause,” “If there was no Pets For Life in Fort Wayne, where would this girl be right now?” (Did I mention the other mom is the Pets for Life coordinator?) “#luckyneedstwomommies” and then there was, “Sarah McLaughlin called, she wants to perform at the #freelucky concert.”

Then the one that may have tipped the scale, “…I really do think it is time for me to devote my love to another dog. I miss Oscar and he would want me to love again….she just left to go back to ACSPCA and it made my heart hurt.”

Photo by Lizz (photobombing dog has already been adopted)

Ultimately,and in record time the campaign worked and Lucky’s fate rested in the paws of the two resident dachshunds.

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

All kidding aside, how fitting that this Lucky dog found her way to these lucky women. This little dog, who in less than one year of being had been bounced from home to home, been protected at two shelters, become a rally symbol of community hope, a symbol of two women who are passionate about saving lives and giving back to their community and has made her final stop with them. I’m sure that when they look at their girl now named Eden, they don’t see a sad little story, but one of success and love written on one kissable, squishy face. #LoveForeverEden