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Shady Update

eyelashes

I think our foster puppy Shady Shae might have found a home, and we haven’t even put her up for adoption yet. When we were driving up the Pacific Coast earlier this month, she stayed with Judy. Judy also fosters dogs for ICHBA. Like us, she recently lost an elderly pack member and another one isn’t far from the Rainbow Bridge.

In the five days I was away, Shady wormed her silly little self right into Miss Judy’s heart. Judy said having her around was like, “a breath of fresh air.” She asked me if I’d “mind” letting Shady live with her so our ear-licking, couch-pooping puppy can win over Judy’s husband. I told her that of course I minded. But I’m thrilled for Shady. I can’t imagine it’s going to take very long before we hear an official announcement. I’ll keep you posted.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Lucy Break 1

Ninety-five percent of the time Lucy is a chill dog. So chill, one potential adopter decided she wasn’t a good fit because she was too aloof. In fact, the only time I see Lucy get excited is when she sees her foster dad Geoff Reed. The moment that dog sees Geoff she goes nuts and acts like a misbehaving puppy, jumping, leaping, kissing. I guess she knew before the rest of us she belonged with him.

If you haven’t already guessed, Lucy’s foster dad Geoff is adopting her. I have to give him props because he held out longer than most. Lucy was adopted out in January, returned after several months, and then multiple potential families fell through for one reason or another. It finally got to the point where Geoff couldn’t even interview interested candidates anymore. He was tired of resisting and finally conceded Lucy belongs right by his side.

A lot of the time, I get angry when people return dogs, but the longer I foster animals the wiser I become. Now, after seeing where Meadow, Rosie, and Lucy – all returned dogs – ended up, I’m changing my self-righteous tune. I’m beginning to accept that everything happens for a reason.

Congratulations, Lucy and Geoff.

Rosie’s Family on Bee Lou Lou

Good morning. Still working on the kinks in the new system so I don’t know where comments are going at the moment. I’m seeing the Farnival’s creative genius Charlotte tomorrow, so we’ll figure it out. But, I really wanted to share the latest comment I got from Rosie’s family.

On Saturday night, Bee Lou Lou and I met Rosie and her whole crew, Chris, Robin, Katie, and Angus for a steamy but really really fun two mile walk on the greenway. Our Big Galoot Rosie looks so happy and healthy. Here’s what her mom Robin shared about our little adventure:

“For anyone looking for a sweet natured dog, [Bee] is the one! Bee Lou Lou walked like a champ on a leash yesterday, and her markings are just gorgeous!

Chris and I so enjoyed walking Bee, Rosie and Angus with you yesterday! What a small world it is…. who’d have thought that we’d have grown up in towns literally right next to each other?? Just more proof that Rosie was put in the right place at the right time to allow us to be her forever family 🙂

Looking forward to more walks and meeting more of your pack!”

Pure Guesswork

lucy look

(Lucy)

Tomorrow afternoon Geoff Reed and I are going to visit Lucy’s possible new home. ICHBA calls this visit a meet and greet. It’s the last step in ICHBA’s adoption process. If we think her new family is suitable, then we’ll leave her there. If not, Lucy’s coming back with us.

Geoff and I talked on the phone yesterday and agreed that if for one second we get a bad vibe, then we’ll tell the family it’s not going to work out. It would be a hard thing to explain to the parents and their two little girls, but Donna, ICHBA’s founder, gave me a tip last year that I carry with me to every “meet and greet.” She said that if I put the dog’s well being before any human feelings, then it’s easier to say no. And she’s right.

Still, picking the right home is complicated. I’ve been wrong three times out of twenty eight. Those bad decisions eat at me for the same reason that I can tell the wrong family no. When the dogs are my number one priority and I fail them, it feels like I stepped on a nail, a rusty one.

The problem with making the right call about a family is that up to a certain point, it’s all a guessing game, a gamble. Families can have great recommendations from friends and veterinarians, positive interviews with both the foster family and Donna, amiable meet and greets, yet still end up returning the dog six months after they adopted them.

It’s always nice to know you’re not alone, and I’m finding a lot of companionship in David Wroblewski’s book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. In general, his writing is singing to my dog-loving heart, but in particular, I’m finding quotes reflecting my feelings about picking the right home. The novel is a big book about a deaf boy named Edgar and his dog Almondine, but it’s worth the time.  (Thanks for the recommendation, Todd Langston.) In this scene, Edgar and his father are discussing the possibility of socializing an adult feral dog:

“Every time I think about that dog, something your grandfather used to say comes to mind. He hated placing pups, really hated it. That’s why he started keeping them until they were yearlings-said most people had no idea how to handle a pup. Wrecked their dogs before they were six months old…Anyway, what I mean is, he hated having to choose where the dogs went. He thought it was pure guesswork. (80)”

I’ll let you know if Geoff and I guess right or not as soon as possible.

Lucy Finds a Home by Geoff Reed

005-2(Lucy with her new family)

I almost turned around five times on the drive to Springfield for a meet and greet with a promising forever home for Lucy. I had been fostering her for two months after she had been dumped in rural Tennessee. She had delivered eight healthy puppies under a house that had all been adopted, but she had nowhere to go so I took her in as my first foster dog.

She had been spayed and vetted, and had settled in at my house; she was a great dog. The only problem was she was forty-two pounds and she liked to rough house with my twelve-pound dog. As the days went by, their play got rougher and rowdier and eventually crossed the line into fighting.

Donna, ICHBA’s head honcho, had shown Lucy’s picture and story to a couple and they were interested in her. I took the back roads, driving from Nashville through Ashland City and up Highway 49. It was grey and drizzly, and Lucy sniffed the familiar country air with a worried look on her sweet face.

I had woken up with a hangover, brought on by a midnight dwelling on this task that I was both looking forward to and dreading at the same time. I had no appetite, but I thought about stopping at a fast food joint to get Lucy a plain hamburger, then thought better of it.

I’m not usually a flip-flopper – I make a decision and stick with it, but with Lucy it was different. I thought: she is such a good dog, maybe I should just keep her for now and maybe give her to a trusted friend someday. Maybe I will call Donna and tell her to just ‘eff it, I’m keeping her.   I am a foster failure -just admit it and go back home. But I drove on…

I had never been to Springfield before, and I encountered a beautiful old downtown and stopped at a nearby Kroger to buy a Nyla-bone and a stuffed hedgehog so Lucy would have some toys if she ended up being adopted.

After I met Donna, I followed her to a new subdivision outside of town. As we turned in, the street was full of young families and their dogs outside enjoying the Saturday afternoon.

We walked up to the house and were warmly greeted by a nice couple with a toddler. Donna and I had a seat on their couch and I let Lucy loose to go sniff around. I didn’t know how she would react to the antics of this little human creature, but in characteristic fashion she was calm, mellow and unaffected. She sniffed his little face and licked him gently.

One thing I like about ICHBA is that the foster has complete veto power over any potential adopters. “If for any reason at all you don’t feel comfortable with something, anything about them just give me a signal and we will bag it,” Donna said.

Melissa had told me that Donna was a no-nonsense type and didn’t mind hurting feelings because it was all about the dogs.

We stayed an hour, but I knew in the first minute that this was the right home for Lucy. They had shiny new food and water bowls and toys were waiting. After a while, Donna looked my way, squeezed my arm and I gave her a slight nod. She got out the paper work and it was a done deal.

I kissed Lucy smack on the maw, whispered “good luck sweetie” in her ear, quickly turned my back and walked out the door. My first foster dog project was now complete and I felt pretty good about myself.

Benny has a Fan Club: Update 2

DSC_0007(Benny and Meadow)

Sometimes, Mason and I like to dream up an all-star team of foster dogs, like which ones (if we were unbelievably wealthy) we would have kept at the Farnival forever. Benny, the huge hound dog, is always in the top three. I got this update from his mom, Alexandra:

“We have kept his name the same. We love his personality. He sleeps in Josh’s and my bed and has his very own pillow. Josh calls him spoiled (I have no idea where he is getting this from 😉 )

We started Benny in a 6 week behavior training course at Petsmart, not that he needed it. We signed him up mostly to teach ourselves more than him. That process really let us see how incredibly brilliant Benny is. He learned every trick and command faster than I could even teach it to him. Josh and I really learned how to interact with him to get the results we wanted (really we were trained more than the dog).

Also, he has a fan club. Both our boys are in baseball and we take him to every game. He has become the team mascot and always has a small group of children trailing him around everywhere.

He has two doggy cousins – my sister has two Beagles, Dolly and Deuce. We take frequent trips to the dog park together and Benny just comes alive there. He really enjoys social interaction with other dogs. He plays and runs REALLY fast. Josh said he wants to put him in a race and bet on him. I explained that as fast as he is, he would take off in the opposite direction because he marches to the beat of his own drummer! That’s just who he is, my little independent boy 🙂

In conclusion, he’s the love of all our lives and we just can’t imagine our life without him.”