Today Fred went to his forever home. He’s going to be so, so loved. He has three other fur siblings and two great parents. His family – and extended family – has been involved with SNORT either through adoptions and/or … Continue reading
It’s been a while now without a foster. Kramer was adopted Oct. 14 so I’ve gone almost three months without fostering. While there’s no definite date for my next foster, I will be fostering again soon. I promised my family I would not foster over the holidays – bringing home two dogs for several days is a bit stressful for everyone, especially when you don’t exactly know what you’re getting with a foster. Then earlier this month I dogsat – just for a few days, but I wasn’t going to foster during that time. And later this month I am dogsitting a puppy (!!) for about a week, so it looks like February will be when I start to look for the right foster.
Now that Lucy’s getting a bit older, I really appreciate the one-on-one time I have with her. Fostering is an upheaval for everyone – myself, Lucy, the foster. Again, you never really know what you’re getting with a foster, but I want to make sure I at least try and foster a dog I think has a good chance of fitting in with Lucy. That usually means an older, smaller, less active dog (because Lucy is kind of crotchety). Fortunately, I have a slight obsession with senior pugs and while they can be a bit more active than a bulldog, all the senior pugs I’ve had have fit in pretty well with Lucy.
Yesterday marked five years to the day that I brought home my first foster, Nellie (fka Cindy). That means Lucy has had eight dogs come in and out of her life and she’s not even six years-old yet! That’s a lot of dogs so while I’m not going to stop fostering, I do think I want to be a bit more selective with future fosters. It’s also really not easy to foster by myself. It’s doable but I’ve also been lucky so far – neither Kramer nor Lady were terribly complicated fosters who had lots of vet appointments or behavioral issues.
SNORT has been inundated with dogs needing foster homes and as much as I want to help, I know I have to wait. I am helping out with a transport tomorrow, though, so I’ll get a temporary dog fix!
PSA: If you’re interested in volunteering (doesn’t have to be fostering – transports, intakes, etc.), let me know! SNORT is really slammed the past few weeks!
An entire year has passed since I uprooted the life I’d been living for more than six years and moved 80 minutes away to start a new job in a new career field in a new city. As usual, in some ways it’s seemed like a long year and in other ways it seems like it was just yesterday I was moving into my new apartment. A year of “firsts” of is over; that may have been the most exciting part of this past year – experiencing all the “firsts” in my new apartment in my new city. First Thanksgiving, first holiday season, first birthday (although I actually spent that in paradise…), first run, first foster, etc.
It has not been an easy year (actually, it’s been one of the hardest), but I don’t have any regrets. So much than my job and home city have changed; as cliché as it is, events – work and personal – over the past year caused me to change but that’s not a bad thing. I am infinitely happier in my new career than I ever was in my previous one. Personally? I’m working on it every day. There will be downs – there have already been downs – but I had to move on in a new career field and allow any other changes to happen as they may.
Here are some highlights from the past year:
Dad’s Retirement Party
Fleetwood Mac Concert
I hope the next year has just as many highlights and a few less low-lights.
This afternoon Kramer went off to his forever home. I met his new mom (and her mom – Kramer’s new grandma!) halfway between Lancaster and his new home in New Jersey. It was a long day – I spectated at a CrossFit competition for most of the morning/early afternoon then drove to drop Kramer off and back home before my Hershey Half-Marathon tomorrow morning. More emotionally draining than anything else, though. Driving back home without him, knowing he was traveling in the complete opposite direction from me, was hard.
Kramer was admittedly one of the hardest fosters to give up for a lot of reasons. I’ve been lucky – the two fosters I’ve had on my own – Lady and Kramer – have been two of my easiest. I don’t think it will ever get easier than Lady, and Kramer – while far more active – was pretty darn easy, as well.
Pugs are so distinctive in their personalities – but all four of my pug fosters have all been typical Velcro pugs. And while it takes some time to get used to having a dog who must be with you at all times (i.e. total polar opposite of Lucy), it certainly is a great feeling to have a dog that visibly loves you. I adore Lucy, but I don’t get the outward displays of love from her like I did from Kramer.
Kramer also brought a lot of laughs into my life. He is such a funny dog and it felt good to laugh for the past two-plus months. He did something every day that made me smile and laugh. My apartment felt a lot livelier with him around.
In the last month, he’s also been extra great with Lucy. I’m not sure if she’s feeling friendlier toward him since he got neutered or if that’s just a coincidence, but she’s perfectly content to have him lay next to her. She wasn’t not okay with before then, it’s just happening a lot more lately.
This obviously begs the question as to why I didn’t just keep him and the reason is the same as all my previous fosters – it’s just not the responsible thing to do. While Lucy has done great with Kramer, it’s not like she’s ecstatic he’s around. The only dog she was ever sad to see go was Violet (f.k.a Snowy). She hasn’t gotten as attached to another dog since. Of course, it’s not like Lucy’s told me this. Maybe she loves Kramer more than she shows. But I don’t think she’ll mind going back to being the only dog again.
I’m also trying hard to save money. I renewed the lease for my apartment for another full year but I’ve put some thought into buying a condo after the next year of my lease. And my rent is going up $50/month – not an insignificant increase. The adoption cost for Kramer isn’t a big deal, it’s the cost of keeping two high-maintenance breeds healthy that’s a big deal.
Kramer also isn’t as easy a dog to travel with as other dogs, especially in comparison to Lucy. He barks. A lot. And I think he’d get on the nerves of my family when I visit. He’s just not my parents’ kind of dog. It’s selfish of me not to take that into consideration since I do like to visit them. I wanted to be selfish and keep him. But that wasn’t the adult thing to do.
And finally, there is zero possibility of me continuing to foster if I have two dogs of my own in a teeny tiny apartment. Plus, it’s not like fostering is a no-cost activity for me. I pay for toys, treats, food, etc. It’s not a huge cost, but feeding three dogs would be a big hit to the budget and push my apartment to maximum capacity. And fostering is important to me – I want to continue doing it. Maybe down the road when I have a larger home and a bit more spending money, keeping two dogs and being able to foster a third will be a possibility. It’s just not a possibility at this point in my life.
But I’m grateful Kramer has gone to such a wonderful home. He’s going to make his new mom very happy.
And now, the usual “what I want to remember” part of any adoption posts –
– How every time I walked through the door he immediately started whimpering and clawing at the crate door for me to let him out; he was that excited I was home. There is no better feeling than someone (or some dog) who is that giddy to see you day after day.
– After he was let inside after doing his business, he made a beeline to the kitchen (where I keep their treats). If I was still outside with Lucy, it took him approximately 10 seconds to realize I wasn’t inside yet and he’d trot right back to the patio door and stare at Lucy and me outside, waiting for us to finish so he could finally get his treat
– His blankie obsession. Cutest thing ever.
– How he loved to roll around on the couch; he’d roll and burrow in and under all the blankies on the couch. At first I thought it was because he was trying to (and often succeeded) get his belly band off but he rolled and burrowed regardless; it had to feel so good after likely living in nothing but a crate for eight years.
– His struggles to get on the couch. Nine times out of 10 I’d lift him onto the couch. But if I wasn’t fast enough or wasn’t in the room, he would do it himself. It often took several tries but it was so endearing to see him try time and time again until he finally hoisted himself on the couch. And then the rolling would commence (see above point).
– His eyes. Pug eyes are the best, but especially his. They were a beautiful amber color and so expressive.
– How he had to poop at least two times per walk – often three times. We went through poo bags fast with him around.
– Watching his tail wag. Literally all you had to do was say his name and look at him and the tail started. The best was when I’d catch him mid-blankie gnawing and call his name or he’d see me across the room – he’d keep right on gnawing his blankie but he’d make eye contact with me and his tail would start going. Sweetest thing.
– I know I mentioned this before, but how much happiness he added to my life. It was simply impossible to be sad with him around.
Thus ends the adventures of foster #8. It’s going to take a while to rebound from this one, that’s for sure.
After this past weekend, I feel like I can take a deep breath and really settle into a routine with Kramer. A week or so after bringing Kramer home, I dog-sat Spike, a 70-pound English bulldog. At only one year old, Spike had a LOT of energy and a very small space in which to expend that energy. I only had Spike for roughly 48 hours and then five days later, Spike came back…for an entire week.
I’m not going to lie, it was a stressful week. Three dogs, with Kramer still learning the ropes of being a true pet, in a small space was pure chaos. The best way to describe Spike is like Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) on steroids. He’s got a phenomenal and hilarious personality but it’s not a personality meant for small spaces with small(er) dogs. If he wanted to walk in the evenings, his energy was tolerable. If he didn’t want to walk (and there was no making a 70-pound dog walk against his will), watch out. Anything in the apartment was fair game – burrowing in the couch. Playing fetch. Eating my coasters. Body-slamming Kramer. Humping me. Chewing his Nylabone.
Fortunately for him, he’s adorable which made up for a lot of the chaos.
But back to our routine. Kramer is really starting to get the hang of being a pet. He has never had a true accident inside – every time he’s peed indoors it’s been marking, not because he had to pee. He’s never gone #2 inside, which I consider a true miracle. He has quickly caught on to the post-pee/poop treat routine. After coming inside, I find him waiting (not-so) patiently in the kitchen by the fridge where I keep their treats.
Kramer is still blanket obsessed and it’s the cutest thing ever. He must have a blankie with him at all times. Starting last week, I allowed him up on the couch to see what he’d do. As long as he has his blankie with him, he’s content to lounge around gnawing on it while Lucy sleeps (as usual) and I read (as usual).
He is very much a pug; he barks (a lot) and follows me everywhere but that’s all typical stuff I expect from a pug. He sleeps just fine in the crate at night and I’m assuming he does the same while I’m at work during the day. He just chewed on one of Lucy’s many beloved Nylabones yesterday and while I thought Lucy’s head was going to explode – she doesn’t share well – it was another sign that Kramer is quickly learning to enjoy the good life.
I finally scheduled Kramer’s neuter and dental surgeries for Sept. 11. I’m super anxious for both – he has an enlarged prostate which is contributing to the marking and constant peeing outside but that’s reversible with the neutering (another reason to spay and neuter your pets!!). His breath also reeks so the dental will be much-needed.
After two surgeries, there isn’t anything we need to address before he gets listed for adoption. As long as the surgeries go well, he should be able to hit the available page pretty quickly after the procedures. Which is sad. Obviously, it’s much easier on me with just Lucy to look after, but so far, the two fosters I’ve had on my own (Lady and Kramer) have been phenomenal. They’ve been two of the simpler fosters I’ve ever had and have been great additions, even if temporary.
In many cases, that’s a good thing. Sometimes it works out well to be semi-oblivious when embarking on something new, unknown, different, etc. If I let the unknown hold me back, I would not be where I am in life right now and while life is up and down, I’m largely in a good spot.
This morning, one of my Facebook memories was of my first foster, Nellie (fka Cindy) from four years ago.
I look back on that experience and realize I had absolutely no freaking clue what I was getting myself into. It’s not a secret that when I started volunteering with SNORT, I had no intentions of fostering. Lucy was still a puppy – probably around seven months old or so. Our apartment had space but it wasn’t huge. My job hours were nuts (and remained nuts for the next four-plus years).
I’m not even sure what prompted me to change my mind about fostering. Because Nellie was a puppy mill dog, there were no photos of her (the Amish don’t allow people on their property to take photos of dogs they are surrendering). There was zero information about her besides she was a puppy mill mama who was being given up because she could no longer have litters.
But something in me just had to take her in, so we did. I picked her up sight unseen on a super cold, cloudy, depressing January morning, took one look at her, thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?!” And promptly fell head over heels in love.
Now with seven fosters under my belt (and hopefully more in the near future), I’ve come to realize there’s a whole list of things I didn’t know I didn’t know before I embarked on this adventure. I was clueless about a lot.
I Didn’t Know:
1. I had such high levels of empathy and patience.
Patience has never been my strong suit. It’s why I’ve remained up in the air about wanting to have kids. But my level of empathy and patience has been practically unlimited with each foster. I don’t even have that much patience with Lucy. But with the fosters? Sure, I got upset when they crapped on the carpet or flipped the heck out during thunderstorms and kept me up for hours. But the amount of poop I cleaned up or the time I spent in the bathroom with a certain foster (Isaac!) during thunderstorms rarely fazed me. I’m not saying I’ve become Mother Teresa, but I’ve learned I have a higher capacity for patience and empathy than I previously thought.
2. There was so much medical lingo to learn
Entropian. Cherry eye (which I actually learned about with Lucy). Interdigital cyst. Pyometra. Thyroid levels. Seasonal alopecia. Unexplained alopecia. Spina bifida. There isn’t a single foster I’ve had that hasn’t underdone surgery or had a major medical issue. Nellie – heartworm, lyme. Violet (fka Snowy) – spay, entropian, dry eye, bladder cancer scare. Buddy – neuter, dental. Isaac – puppy Prozac, alopecia. Novalee – spina bifida. Blossom – spay, dental (I think). Lady – spay, dental.
I don’t know everything, but I’ve sure learned a lot.
3. I’d have to learn to not be squeamish
No sooner had I laid eyes on Nellie than I realized she was leaking…down there. And not pee. It was a…thick goo. Leftover from an infection or a recent litter, probably. But that poor girl just left a trail of gunk everywhere she went for a few days/weeks.
Many fosters have not been housetrained so there’s been countless pee puddles and piles of poo to clean up. So much laundry. Wiping of all bodily areas. I’ve seen tons of incisions, ears filled with wax and countless eye boogers. And let’s not talk about post-surgery poo…
Novalee once ate an entire bag of raw almonds. Let’s just say it became quickly apparent she hadn’t chewed said almonds when she spent three days walking around inside our apartment like a giant pez dispenser of almonds.
I’ve developed a stronger stomach over the past few years.
4. That I would handle adoptions better than I expected
Don’t get me wrong, I was a disaster when Nellie was adopted. And tears have been shed every single time a foster has been adopted. I miss them all. But I absolutely love the experience of fostering. It gives me a sense of purpose, something to keep me busy and selfishly, it feels so good be a part of saving a dog. If I had an unlimited budget and a bigger home, at least a few of these fosters would have probably wound up as “foster failures.” But I know going into each foster that I really can’t have two dogs – not enough money, not enough space – and that reality helps when it comes time to find a forever home for each foster. Now, there hasn’t been a foster in which I haven’t uttered the words, “I think I’ll keep him/her,” but deep down I’m fully aware it’s not the ideal option for either party involved.
5. It’s a total team effort
Six of my seven fosters came when I was living with Marty. While the interest in fostering was 100% me, actually fostering was a different matter. When more than one person is impacted by taking on a foster, it becomes a team effort. Maybe not with the equal distribution of work and time, but each person in the home has some added responsibility and stress.
It also takes help from my employers – days I may need to leave early for a vet appointment or even take an entire day off to shuttle a dog to a vet appointment or surgery.
And travel impacts everyone – most holidays I’ve had a foster so that impacts every family we visit over the holidays. Each foster is different and because each was not my own nor raised as my own, their quirks don’t necessarily make them ideal houseguests. So it does indeed take a village.
6. It’s stressful
I believe I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but it is stressful to bring a foster home. The days leading up bringing home a foster are anxiety-ridden. What will he/she be like? Will they like Lucy? Will Lucy like them (probably not). Are they housetrained (probably not)? Will they eat (probably not)? Where will they sleep? Are they super sick? And then once I get them home? What does that bark mean? Are they scared? Why don’t they lie down and sleep? Is that cough normal?
I’m an anxious person by nature so the early days surrounding a foster are really stressful for me. Everyone’s different but stress is one of the overriding emotions for me when I’m fostering.
I’ll never forget one of the biggest sources of anxiety with Nellie – she refused to eat. I tried everything. Dry food. Wet food. Chicken and rice. Wet and dry food mixed. Straight bouillon. Nothing worked. Until it was suggested from a fellow foster mom that she probably had no clue what a bowl was or how to eat out of it. So, I scooped some food into a super shallow frisbee and voila! She was eating like a champ. But I was just so stressed out during those first few days when I could not get her to eat.
7. I would have a hard time saying “no”
I’m kind of a selfish person. Hence the reason I’m not sure I want kids. I like setting my own schedule (when work allows), taking naps on the weekends and essentially doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Fostering puts a crimp in that. Having a foster is double the work, often triple the work. After Nellie was adopted, we were going to take a break and reassess whether we wanted to foster again and how quickly. We’d had Nellie for about six months, I think, which is a pretty substantial amount of time. But roughly six weeks after her adoption, I got a phone call about Violet, saying she needed a new foster home and wondering if I was interested. “Yes” may have slipped out before I could give serious thought to it. Oops.
So despite being a self-proclaimed “selfish” person, I’ve found myself saying “yes” a lot more when it comes to fosters.
All of this is to say that fostering is a big (and important) commitment. But there isn’t a single foster experience I regret. Each dog has meant so much to me and I can’t emphasize how much the benefits outweigh the stressors.
Foster number seven is in the books.
This morning I drove Lady to her forever home; she has two wonderful parents and a Boston Terrier brother, Arnie, who was already madly in love with Lady before I left. Both parents are older and retired; they’re home almost all the time and when they’re not, Lady will have Arnie for company. I think Arnie is ecstatic with that arrangement.
This one was hard for a lot of reasons. Lady was the first foster I handled by myself. While fostering has always been “my” thing, before I moved out here I had someone else living with me to help. Now I’m out here alone. I got really lucky with Lady, though, because she was the easiest foster I’ve ever had. Not the best because I can’t pick a favorite, but the easiest. Her health issues were minimal, she got along well with Lucy and her energy level was perfect for my small apartment. Her housetraining was the biggest struggle but compared to having two dogs who don’t get along (ahem, Isaac and Lucy) or a dog who had serious health issues (Cindy aka Nellie) or dogs who barked a lot (ahem, Buddy and Blossom), she was a breeze.
It’s also hard because it’s been a rough few months. I crammed a lot into just over four months – ending a job I’d held for six-plus years, accepting a new job in a totally new career field, a move, new city, a new foster and the end of a long-term relationship. So “losing” Lady is another big event in a short period of time.
But I am ridiculously happy I fostered her. She kept me occupied and busy and I think Lucy liked having the company. Selfishly, it was also really nice to have a dog that was utterly in love with me, not just me with her. Every time we took a car ride, she sat in the passenger seat and just stared at me. When I relaxed on the couch, if she wasn’t asleep she was keeping an eye on me to make sure she didn’t lose sight of me. It was so gratifying to see love in a dog’s eyes.
On the one overnight trip I took with her (to my parents’ house), she didn’t handle the separation well when I went out for a few hours. She didn’t freak out, but she apparently sat on top of the couch and stared out the window waiting for me to come back. It makes me worry about her first few days in her new home but I hope she settles in quickly.
As with every foster, there are very specific things I want to remember about her that made her unique:
Her love of anything soft. A pillow, a bookbag (which I would argue isn’t all that soft), a blanket – if it was soft and on the floor for even a minute, it became a bed for her.
Her three bottom front teeth. They were the cutest chicklets ever and I was so happy they didn’t have to come out during her dental surgery.
That she was mostly deaf. I loved being able to catch her sleeping before she noticed me. And being deaf didn’t hinder her in the least.
Her wardrobe. She was the second dog I’ve ever had who genuinely needed to wear sweaters because she got so cold so easily. All the generous donations we received helped keep her warm (and cute) in the cold.
How after the first week her personality came out and she started doing her happy dance for treats and food. She gets so excited for food and runs around in circles while waiting for her treats.
Watching her speedy little legs come running after me whenever she lost sight of me. Her eyesight was perfect, that’s for sure.
Her snoring. For a pug-mix, she sure snored a lot and loudly! I’m going to miss knowing she was on the floor right next to my bed every night. It was so comforting – for both of us, I’m sure.
How she frequently slept with her head in the air, as if she didn’t want to actually fall asleep for fear she’d miss something but just couldn’t manage to stay awake.
And there are certain pictures that capture her best:
So this was a tough one. She’s been bounced around a lot but she now has a forever home that is so excited to have her and I’m sure she’ll fall in love with them.
It’s been a semi-long gap between posts but life has been pretty routine. Lady had surgery just over two weeks ago (spay and a dental – she lost 14 teeth!) and has her post-surgery re-check tomorrow. Everything seems to be … Continue reading
Sorry for the gap between blogs. It’s been a really tough week personally so the blog took a backseat.
Lucy came back home about 10 days ago (I think?) and finally got to meet Lady. And, as with everything thus far with Lady, the meet and greet was seamless. SNORT recommends separating foster dogs from their fur siblings for the first few days in a new foster home but Lady had been here for 10 days already. Plus, in the few days before Lucy came home I’d been able to see Lady interact with other dogs and she was fine. She showed interest in other dogs but honestly that’s about it – no lunging toward them, no excited hopping around, certainly no aggression. Still, I was ready to separate them with a gate but that ended up being totally unnecessary.
When Lucy walked in the apartment, there was some mutual sniffing between the dogs and then Lady went over to her bed in the corner and Lucy hopped up on the couch and that’s where they spent 90 percent of their first night together. And since. Lucy and I do play together on the floor most days and while Lady frequently comes over to inspect, she has no concept of play or interest in toys, gets bored quickly and retreats back to her bed.
The biggest change is getting myself out the door in the morning. I do as much prep as I can before my 5:30 a.m. CrossFit class but I have only an hour from when I get home from class until I leave for work so the process of taking care of two dogs (breakfast, potty breaks – usually multiple since neither dog will do all their business in one trip) and getting myself ready is going to need to be refined. But we’re making progress.
The only negative is that Lady has severely regressed on her housetraining. Every day I come home from work either at lunch or at the end of the day and she’s peed. Sometimes twice a day. The obvious thought would be she’s marking her territory. Lady comes across as anything but an alpha female but the timing of her regression and Lucy coming back is too coincidental to rule it out. But if she is marking, she should be spayed soon and I’m really (really) hoping that ends the marking.
Also, Lady has completely come out of her shell. Don’t get me wrong, she still spends a lot of time in her bed, but she is so. freaking. happy. every time I walk in the door. She’s started hopping around and running in circles. It’s so heartwarming to see; it makes me realize how cruddy she felt (or how scared she was) when I first brought her home.
And while she and Lucy aren’t best buddies, they co-exist perfectly. They each lounge on different ends of the couch while I’m gone, eat in separate areas with a zero issues and have their own go-to spaces in the apartment.
So, I have to say that the fostering-by-myself experiment is going better than I could have expected. If housetraining issues are my biggest concern, I’d say we’re all doing just fine!
Friday night, I had five packages waiting for me; four were for Lady. She now has a wardrobe that spans a matching harness and leash to (sparkly) sweaters to an outdoor coat.
Thanks to wonderful SNORT supporters and family and friends, Lady is not only warm, but she has an entire wardrobe!
We went to the vet Thursday night and so far so good. She’s still on meds for kennel cough and Lyme and we started an anti-yeast medication to get her itchies under control. Right now that remains the most obvious issue – she is still very, very itchy, so we’re working on that.
She’s also put on two-plus pounds! That’s my girl! She adores treats, peanut butter and mealtime so it is zero surprise she’s putting on weight. She’s now started whining when I’m not fast enough with the treats – just like a normal dog!
I can also see why she’s inclined to be skinny – like every pug I’ve ever met, she follows me everywhere. If she can hear me, that is. I’ve quickly figured out she is partially hard of hearing. Whenever I come home, she usually stays fast asleep because she hasn’t heard me open the door. I kind of love it, though; I get to see her all curled up and peaceful before she wakes up.
Lady is also getting to be so excited when she finally realizes I’m home. She runs right over and waits for me to kneel down and pet her. She puts her wee little paws on my lap for closer snuggles. I love it.
And we’re now t-minus four days until I pick up Lucy; I’m more than anxious to see how that goes. Because of her kennel cough, I haven’t let Lady near dogs in the apartment complex but at this point she isn’t contagious anymore so I’m hoping to let her meet a dog or two before introducing her to Lucy so I can see how she is around dogs. Today she spotted a dog across the street and was super interested – in a good way. So I’m optimistic (for once).
I just adore this dog. She was sweet from the start but now she’s starting to become a bit more outwardly happy and it melts my heart.