Monthly Archives: October 2017

Foster Dog Zeke, Day 5

Needy Zeke laying on my foot.

I knew things with Zeke would not be smooth sailing all the way. No dog is perfect and as time goes by little quirks always come out. 

Zeke appears to have mild separation anxiety. I knew that every time one of us left the house and came back, even for 5 minutes, he would jump all over us. He is so ecstatic to see us that you would think we had been gone for days. 

Well today Zeke was alone for the entire afternoon. I came home and let the dogs out of their crates. Zeke’s chest and front legs were covered with drool. After putting the dogs outside and letting them back in, Zeke drank a large amount of water, and then repeatedly launched himself at me for affection. I ignored him and went about my business so as not to reward this wild behavior. He then launched himself to stand on our cherry dining room table where I was sorting mail. I’m afraid this did elicit a yell from me of “What are you doing, get down!!!” I’m only human. I was shocked rather than angry though. So I put him back outside, then let him back in to start again. Things went much better this time and he calmed down after a bit. 

I still think Zeke is a great dog. He probably didn’t have these problems before he was turned into the shelter and went through losing his home and family. With a little love and kindness he will work through this. 

I do want to caution against just repeatedly telling an anxious dog that it’s ok. Once, so they hear that your voice is calm, is fine. If you say over and over that’s it’s ok, the dog may think that you are telling him that his fear is ok. Be careful what you are reinforcing. 

Being anxious is tiring!

Foster Dog, Day 2

Foster dog Zeke, Day 2. Today we ran errands. I didn’t want to leave Zeke home while we were having work done on our house, lest he become afraid or slip out the door. So he got to go along with me. He traveled like a champ. 

So far he does pretty much everything like a champ. He can sit, lay down, shake, and wait for your permission before going through a doorway. He goes in a crate on command. He is calm and well mannered. Has no house training accidents. He apparently lived with cat/s before because he had no reaction to ours. 

Zeke was turned in to an area pound, along with another dog, by his owner because there was a change in living circumstances. That is all I know except that he is up to date on shots, heartworm negative, and neutered. 

I am guessing that someone, somewhere is heartbroken to have to give up their dogs. Dogs don’t get like this by accident, a lot of training was involved. When you tell Zeke to sit, his back side hits the ground  immediately. To honor this person, I will do my best to make sure that Zeke ends up in a loving home where he receives the best of care. That is what I would pray for my own dogs. And Zeke deserves no less. 

New Foster Dog!

New foster dog Zeke got here an hour ago. I would say he is used to being in a home. He discovered the arm of the chair within minutes. 

He has met the cats and was unimpressed. He met our other dogs in the pasture, on leash of course, and that went very well. I think he will be spending time there and playing within a couple of days. No accidents in the house so far. All in all, a very respectful guest so far.

Only one item of note. We are part of, and foster for, Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. And after looking at this dog and watching him move around for the past hour, I suspect that he has very little, if any, sheltie in him. Maybe a little Collie. If I had to guess I would say he is mostly some kind of Spitz breed. Mostly likely American Eskimo, or Samoyed. Quite possibly some Chow. 

That’s ok. We love them all and like to try different breeds. And he appears to have some of the best type of dog in him, which is the Good Dog. 

Does This Happen To You?

Is it just me or do random people at the store stop you to talk and ask questions of you too? I’m talking total strangers that I have never seen before.

There was the lady who was determining what kind of cat food to get. I was there getting cans of cat food for my 15 year old cat who would eat nothing else. Little did I know that by entering the pet aisle that I would become her prime suspect. She saw the food I put into the cart and asked, “Do they like it?”. Umm, no I just buy this to stack around the house? Of course, I responded that yes, this was the only thing that Lacey the cat would eat. Then I got to hear a little about her cats.

Next I was asked about a number of other brands on the shelf. I had no experience with most of them. Then it was, “Do you think Brand X is good for them?” Umm, you really should discuss it with your vet if you think that your cat has special needs. I thought this would be my opportunity to make a break for it. I don’t mind helping people but I had already spent some time on this and I had to get home. Not to mention, this lady was in desperate need of a bath. Mercifully, I was not all that close to her but I didn’t need to be. I explained to her that I was on my way home from work so really needed to get going.

I should have been faster with my departure. “What kind of litter do you use”, was next on her agenda. She wanted to discuss the merits and my experience with the various cat litters. I gave her a few words of advice and moved to leave. She was still talking as I made my way down the aisle and I called have a nice day. I could still hear her as I left the aisle. I’ve always wondered if she was still standing there talking by the time the next unsuspecting soul came along.

Driving home I thought there went 15 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. I can only hope that this random shopper’s life was improved in some way by our discussion. Whether it be from some advice I gave her, or just that someone took 15 minutes out of their day to talk to her.

There was also the day that a friendly lady asked me about acorn squash in the produce department. She seemed nice and mercifully was well groomed.

Her: Do you know anything about acorn squash?
Me: Yes, it is delicious.
Her: (Picking up random squash) Does this one look good? How about this one” (And so on, until she had the appropriate squash.
Me: (Thinking she is all set now and we are done)
Her: Ok, what do I do with this?
Me: (Gave her various cooking methods)
Her: Well, what do you cook with it?

So I gave some more suggestions and made my get away.

These are the most notable instances but these types of encounters seem to happen to me from time to time. I went home one day and asked my husband, “Does it say Sucker or Has no life on my forehead? He said no, that he thinks people can sense that I am a kind and caring person. I like his answer better so that’s the one we are going with.

Some Things That I Have Learned While Fostering Dogs

People go to adopt a dog from a foster home or shelter and take their impressions of the dog from what they immediately see. And really, for the average adopter, they think what you see is what you get. Not so much. If you had been abandoned, sent to a new home, or your best friend had died, or you were in an unfamiliar situation for a host of possible reasons, would you be at your best? You would be in unknown territory and so would have to try to adapt with whatever skills you had or just try things and see what worked. This is what so many dogs are doing when a potential adopter comes to meet them.
With luck, the dog will be happy go lucky and thrilled to see every new person and go joyfully with them wherever they want to go and do whatever they want to do. This rarely happens. And really, would you go with a stranger, without reservations, and do whatever they asked of you? I think not. In fact, the argument might be made that this would be foolishness. Why then, do we ask it of dogs?

Often the dogs are sad, afraid, looking for safety. Trusting you to provide what they need is something that must be earned. If they came from a good, loving home, hopefully this will come quickly. If they have never had care, love, and safety, they must learn that these things are available and will be a constant in their lives. Expecting a new dog to integrate immediately into your life is not likely to happen and not fair to the dog.

Sometimes I have seen a family come to meet one of our foster dogs and have an immediate bond. This is rare. Usually the dog becomes anxious and sometimes panicy when it is time to leave with the new owners. Sometimes the foster dog tries to get out of the car and gives us a pitiful look with forlorn or panicked eyes. Or acts dejected. On fortunate occasions the dog is just happy to go for a car ride and jumps in. And these are dogs that have been living in our home, which admittedly is not very normal, but is loving, with lots of attention and company from humans and other animals.

Think then what it must be like for a dog living in a shelter or pound. Don’t get me wrong, most of these places now are wonderful, doing the best they can to provide for the animals in their care and often doing a fine job. Still, the animals are there because, for some reason, they have lost their homes, if they ever had a true home. And these places are not homes, even though they may simulate them. Workers and volunteers still have to go home at night. It is not physically possible for the sheer number of animals seeking homes to have an actual home to stay in during this transition.

These dogs in shelters and pounds can exhibit behaviors like slinking in the back of the cage, cage aggression-protecting the only thing they know, and shutting down, becoming non-reactive, or exhibit fearful shaking. These dogs do not “show” well to potential adopters. They get passed by, so spend longer in the shelter, which makes them have more negative reactions as they spend even longer in the shelter. It can become a vicious circle. Getting them out of their cages for walks and one on one interactions can help. It gets them out of that reactive situation.

With all dogs that you are meeting though, in foster homes or shelters, don’t expect miracles. The true personality of the dog may not emerge until you have adopted them and had them in your home for a while. How then can you make a decision on who to adopt? Well you can take them out of the current setting if possible and see if there is a connection with you and your family, including any other dogs you may have. It would also be wise to ask the shelter workers for their advice and opinions of the dogs and what is normal for them.

My experiences while fostering have taught me that, on average, the true personality of a dog won’t begin to emerge for about a week, maybe longer. Once they start to develop a routine and become familiar with a place, they start to relax and do things that seem normal to them. So keep in mind that input from someone who has spent some time with the dog can be invaluable!

All photos are of past dogs that we have fostered.