Two Years Ago Today…

…our first foster, Cindy, was adopted.

That face.

That face.

Cindy, now Nellie, will always be special because she was our “first.” Nellie is a puppy mill survivor who, despite having many health issues we needed to resolve, was one of the sweetest dogs ever. She should have been frightened, shy, even angry and except for the first few days when she was adjusting to life outside the mill, she was none of those things. God, she was so sweet. She was a velcro dog and tolerated Lucy even though Lucy was still a puppy when we brought Nellie home and Nellie had had more than her share of puppies to deal with throughout her life.

Her adventures with us were limited as she underwent heartworm and lyme disease treatment for three of the six months she spent with us but she never seemed to mind. She was happy with the couch, a pillow and love.

She loved pillows.

She loved pillows.

I have no idea if we would have continued fostering if we hadn’t had such a good experience fostering Nellie but that doesn’t really matter because we did have such a good experience. I cried like a baby after we dropped her off at her forever home two years ago today and I cried for several more days after that. But it was obviously worth it because she has the best home ever and she made me want to continue fostering other dogs who need a temporary home as badly as she did.

Happy Gotcha Day, Nellie!

Nellie's forever home.

Nellie’s forever home.

God, she was so sweet.

God, she was so sweet.

Buddies.

Buddies.

Squishy.

Squishy.

A Long Three Days

It’s been quite a week so far. As previously mentioned, Isaac had a vet appointment on Monday afternoon for the purpose of getting some anti-anxiety medication. He happened to get sick that morning but had partially rebounded by our appointment. We were still sent home with some antibiotics for his stomach but he seemed to be on the mend.

Canned pumpkin helps settle dogs' tummies. Isaac didn't quite get it all in his mouth...

Canned pumpkin helps settle dogs’ tummies. Isaac didn’t quite get it all in his mouth…

Tuesday was largely a normal day; Isaac ate a small mix of food, pumpkin, rice and bouillon along with his medication that morning and again in the evening. He didn’t have as much pep as usual but seemed just about back to normal. Then just three hours after his evening meal, he puked. And puked again. And again. And twice more at night while we were sleeping. When we woke up Wednesday, he was lethargic, slightly shaking and had zero appetite. I’m talking, he walked away from a spoonful of peanut butter (his favorite!) without so much as a sniff.

The vet opened at 7 a.m. and I called at 7:02 to make an appointment. I could tell he was losing weight and with no signs of wanting to eat or drink, I knew we had to get him to the vet. When they weighed him, he had lost three pounds in 36 hours. Yikes. They admitted him for IV fluids, IV medication (the same medication we had in pill form that he was no longer eating or keeping down), anti-nausea meds as well as bloodwork and x-rays to make sure nothing too serious was going on.

So pathetic.

So pathetic.

Fortunately it looks like Isaac just had a stomach bug and needed some extra help kicking it since he wasn’t able to eat or drink or take oral medication on his own. He was understandably exhausted when he got home Wednesday night and Thursday morning while we took a little walk he was definitely not as peppy as usual. However, he’s eating the bland food we were sent home with and for now the food and his medicine are staying down.

Looking a little perkier the evening he came home.

Looking a little perkier the evening he came home.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do not know how parents do it. I panic at a mere stomach bug in a dog; granted, Isaac had never once puked in the 12 months we’ve had him so this was super abnormal but still – he just had a stomach bug and I was a nervous wreck.

Trying Another Tactic

**Warning: I realize there are people who may not agree with the most recent approach we’re taking with Isaac. Just know we’ve exhausted all options and everyone – the vet, myself, SNORT – is on board with this approach. Our behavioral trainer even mentioned this route as an future option in our first session.**

Late last week I scheduled a vet appointment for Isaac for this afternoon. Over the past six weeks or so, Isaac’s reaction to strangers has been escalating and not in a good way. He’s never been good with dogs – that’s well-documented and not likely to be completely eradicated although with the help of the most recent trainer we used, he is far better. Just today on our walk Isaac passed right by one dog that was roaming leash-less on his yard and a chihuahua who was – in typical chihuahua fashion – barking his head off without a single reaction to either dog.

"I told you I could be an angel!"

“I told you I could be an angel!”

However, he’s become a lot more reactive to strangers. Because we’ve run bloodwork we know there’s no health reason for his reactions. We’ve done behavior training and again, while I’m seeing improvement around other dogs, he’s not learning to better interact with strangers. I can’t get inside Isaac’s head but it’s likely that the longer he’s with us (and me in particular), the more protective he gets. Unfortunately, his protectiveness is starting to present itself as some aggression.

I will state that I have never once been scared around Isaac; this is very clearly a reaction only to strangers. Today on our evening walk, a friend/co-worker saw us walking and pulled his car over to chat. I forewarned him that Isaac was reactive to strangers but Isaac had no reaction at all to the individual; I’m convinced Isaac could tell this person wasn’t in fact a stranger based on how I greeted him.

"I gotta keep my family safe."

“I gotta keep my family safe.”

All that being said, Isaac is big and strong and if he is reactive at the wrong moment, I’m scared of the consequences so we visited the vet for our last resort – medication. “Puppy Prozac” as people like to call it except that it actually is Prozac.

I do not want people to get the wrong idea about Isaac; he is an utter sweetheart. He’s obviously loving – I think he loves us so much he feels the need to protect us! Our dogsitters adore him and he’s never once been reactive toward them except in a positive, playful way. He’s been wonderful around my and Marty’s families. I do think he’s just protecting me from strangers but it’s still a behavior that needs to be reversed or eased.

Several of SNORT’s fosters have been on Prozac for similar reasons and it’s done just as it’s supposed to – ease anxiety for whatever the specific cause of anxiety is for each dog.

It’s not a route I wanted to take but it would also be completely biased of me to deny Isaac medication that might help – I’m on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication myself and it’s been a very positive addition to my life.

Of course, to add stress to our day, Isaac woke up and proceeded to get very sick. His tummy was obviously bothering him and he went from having some energy when he woke up to not even getting out of bed just an hour later. I was petrified – he’s never gotten sick in the year we’ve had him! Fortunately,by lunch time he had some energy back and the vet gave him some meds to make his tummy feel better; good thing we had the appointment!

Pumpkin helps with upset tummies; Isaac left a bit on his snout.

Pumpkin helps with upset tummies; Isaac left a bit on his snout.

Isaac’s Birthday Wish

Isaac has just one wish for his birthday, so please help spread the word!
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(In case you can’t read it, his message says, “Why hasn’t anyone adopted me yet? I’ve been with my foster family for a year and I love them but it’s time for me to find my furever home. Everyone tells me I’m the most handsome dog and my age shouldn’t fool you – I have energy to spare! My birthday is in a few weeks and all I want is a forever family. Love, Isaac”)

Visit SNORT’s website!

Isaac and I thank you in advance.

A Staycation with the Doggies

This past week I was off from work for a staycation (I hate that word for some reason but it’s appropriate in this case). Marty went on the annual vacation with his family to the Poconos; I normally go but my parents were unable to watch Lucy this year and we had just paid to have Isaac dog-sat only two weeks ago when we went to St. Croix. It was easier (and much cheaper) to have me stay behind with the dogs.

Things went fine until Thursday; the dogs were well-behaved (I don’t think Isaac humped Lucy once) and while the week was a tad on the boring side, it was definitely relaxing.

Isaac clearly thought my daily afternoon naps were taking relaxing too far.

Isaac clearly thought my daily afternoon naps were taking relaxing too far.

The three of us had a nice routine each day – until Thursday.

On Wednesday night around 8 p.m., our landlord informed me he’d be over the next day at 8 a.m. to put in our new windows. Which meant I had to deal with two dogs (one of which is petrified of everything and one of which hates everyone) on my own. Fun stuff.

The minute the workers knocked on the door, Isaac went bananas and Lucy cowered in a corner. I had to pen Isaac in the kitchen, then upstairs as they worked their way to the different rooms, while Lucy was a ball of nerves. In fact, she was so scared she ran faster than I’ve ever seen her run right out the open front door, knocking over and breaking a flower pot in the process.

After 20 minutes I’d already had enough so a coach from my gym offered to take Isaac off my hands until they were done; Lucy and I then went on a long car ride until they were done.

This is pretty much what the three of us looked like the rest of the day:
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I found out later that day that apparently my vet will board dogs for just $8 a day; so my word of advice? If you have more advance notice than I did, put your dogs somewhere when work is being done on your house. Lucy still hasn’t recovered; I can’t go near our curtains without her freaking out because one of them fell down in the middle of the night after they weren’t put back up properly on Thursday.

I should have a more interesting post on Monday; we’re approaching a year (!) of fostering Isaac and I’m hoping that on Monday we’ll take a major step toward making him more adoptable.

PS – The week of relaxation allowed me to PR at my first 5k in 8-9 years with a time of 22:39, good for third in my age group and 58th of over 1,000 runners. Probably the highlight of my week – I never do well at athletic endeavors!
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