Friday, October 23, 2015

Fabulous Friday

Bailey is resting after a busy play day with Katy.

We are celebrating though because tomorrow is a spa day. Well normally only Katy loves spa days. She thinks her monthly visit to the groomer really is a spa and Mom has continued this fantasy for years now. Bailey not so much. He hates the spa. However, even Bailey is celebrating this month as much as he dreads going. You see last month after getting his Lymphoma diagnosis we weren't sure if we should make this appointment based on the information we got from his vets regarding his prognosis. We weren't sure he'd still be here to go or if was here he'd be healthy enough to go.

Well folks Dad made the appointment and the people there knowing our situation let us know we could notify them if there was a reason we wouldn't need the appointment. Bailey is going to that appointment tomorrow and we can't be happier.

After the first terrified week of preparing for death, we are deciding to live life each day. It took some time to let go the fear and learn to live in the moment. We don't know how long Bailey will be with us. However, we don't honestly know how long Katy will be with us either. With Bailey, we just happen to know there is an issue that will shorten his life soon. Katy's future health is a bit more of a mystery.

We have made some practical plans regarding the future. We are now on a waiting list for another Sheltie working with the breed rescue who brought us Bailey and Katy. Katy will not function well as an only dog, so we have to prepare for that situation. The vets helped us find medications which have allowed Bailey to continue eating and functioning for the time being. A close friend helped us to find food that Bailey would eat and for the moment we've stopped his weight loss. That has been a huge help in keeping him happy and playing.

Bailey is doing well and today we celebrate his continued fight. We thank all of our Blogville friends for their good wishes and prayers.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thankful Thursday: In Defense of Dog Foster Volunteers

There are lots of heart breaking stories about pets needing homes on the Internet today. I think for the most part they are written to generate attention for the cause of pet adoption. It also doesn't hurt the websites that they generate clicks and thus, more advertising. The problem for me is when they get it wrong.

I was recently clicking Yahoo news stories and came across what appeared to be a standard pet abandonment story. The picture and the headline Dog Cries Out She Realize Her Family Is Gone Again caught my attention and I clicked.

The problem I had with the story is the writer clearly wanted to write a story that would inspire adoption and help people understand the needs of the animals, but missed the boat and instead completely lost the opportunity to explain to people why fostering is important for shelter animals. He left the impression that fostering in fact breaks the spirit and heart of a dog because the dog often can't stay in one foster home for the entire time it takes to be adopted. Of course no where does he mention the issues staying in the shelter crated might create. In fact he never describes the alternatives to foster care. It is as if these dogs have better choices that fostering is preventing. He merely mentions that the foster failed because the foster family lived in a high rise and the dog couldn't adapt to using an elevator. Of course, he does gloss over the behavior problems the dog had that also made this particular foster family and home not a good match for the dog. He fails to balance the story by explaining any of the benefits of fostering or the risk of warehousing dogs in shelters.

Reading the comments that followed the article you clearly understood he missed the boat on teaching people about the benefits of fostering dogs. After reading the article many still didn't understand the difference between fostering and adoption. In fairness to the readers, it wasn't well laid out in the article. While describing how heart broken the dog was when her foster family left, no where is the balance about how much the dog benefited by not living in a crate for several months with limited human contact helping her stay healthy and perhaps working on those all important social skills that prevent so many dogs from long term adoptions. In reading the comments it is also clear as I stated that he clearly leaves the impression that fostering is preventing dogs from being taken into permanent homes as if homes are waiting and foster parents are selfishly preventing these dogs from going to those homes. If you've ever worked or even talked with people who work with shelters this clearly isn't the problem. In fact fosters often help dogs to work through some of the challenges that prevent them from being adoptable. It clearly doesn't work in all cases, but the less work a dog is to take on, the easier it is to find a forever home. A dog who is in a home with someone who is walking it on a leash, teaching it not to eat the furniture, how to play with other dogs, not eat the family, etc. does become a more adoptable animal than one who has unknown qualities because it only has been walked at the shelter and never spends time in family situations.

I have many times written on this blog to thank the two foster Mom's who took in Bailey and Katy. How many people can say they got a puppy who was fully housebroken? Bailey's owners had abandoned him because they bought him and then couldn't deal with a human baby and well another furry baby who also needed help learning the basics. Bailey's foster Mom was amazing. She got him fully prepared for his new home so he had the best possible chance of a good start in his forever home. Bailey did have trouble believing he wasn't going to be abandoned when he left foster care. However, I'd have to wonder if he'd have been even more traumatized with emotional and behavioral issues had he been in traditional shelter care. Not that people aren't caring there, they do the best they can. Shelties are just very sensitive dogs. Just finding appropriate boarding care for these two can be a challenge because they hate being separated. Try finding a double room at your local kennel. However, Bailey's foster Mom had raised Shelties for years. She understood not just dogs, but his breed and was able to help him adjust and thrive. I cannot thank her enough for the time and money she spent making sure he would have a good life.

We don't know as much about Katy's back story, but I am equally thankful she was in foster care, too. It was clear that she hadn't had much experience with positive human interaction and even simple things like stairs seemed to be new to her. Her foster Mom gave her the chance to be with other dogs in a home situation. Her first experience post surrender was a positive one and it helped her to trust. I know she was scared to leave and she didn't want to leave her foster dog family. However, I think that bond helped her with bonding with Bailey when she arrived here.

Another benefit to good foster parents is the valuable information they can provide from having lived with the dogs. We are currently starting the process to add a third dog to our family using the same rescue that brought us Bailey and Katy. Already, we know of two dogs we won't be getting because based on their knowledge of the dogs they are fostering and the information we provided those two beautiful dogs wouldn't be a great match. As frustrating as it is to wait, I am grateful that they are working to provide both the dogs and us with the best forever match possible. That is only possible because of the amazing work of these foster parents who sacrifice their time and yes money to take care of these beautiful animals. It is truly a gift of time, talent, and treasure to rescue and foster.

While traditional shelters do their best, most have limited information regarding how the dog will be in a home situation, what behavioral modifications are going to be required to adjust to home life, what adaptions the house might need to make it a better working situation, correct challenging behaviors, etc. With all fairness, they have no way of observing those kinds of situations. However, if you live with a dog, looking for what kind of environment the dog does best in, you can provide information to make the adoption process work better. There are no guarantees of course, but information at least helps people make the best decisions possible for a new home. When you have a foster parent that observes a dogs behavior with other dogs, other animals, children, etc. that is likely more reliable than someone who surrenders the dog and says there was nothing wrong we just have to move. Some behaviors can be worked modified to make the dog a better fit.

For instance a dog who has been allowed to jump up on people can be broken of that behavior and thus be more adoptable given the right foster home. A puppy like Bailey is house broken and becomes the most amazing puppy in the world. As I said I'm the only person I've ever known who got a puppy that was potty trained. However, an honest assessment about behaviors that are likely not going to change is also valuable. A dog that is good with cats gives it more options. It is hard to know if the dog hasn't been with cats and you don't want to eliminate homes, but you also don't want a bad adoption because the dog is trying to kill the cat. If it can't be trained to live with cats better to know that than to have to guess.

I have the greatest respect for those who can foster. I know in my heart I can't separate myself from the dogs I bring into my home. I also know the two I have, would have major separation anxiety if we took a dog in, spent time with it, and it suddenly disappeared to a new home. It takes great courage and strength to bring in a dog in need, care for it, and just as it is starting to do well, send it on to someone else. I can only say thank you to the two women who did that for my dogs. I only hope they both realize the gifts they have given me and so many others by bringing these dogs into their homes and helping them to get ready for new ones.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wordy Wednesday: Adopt a Dog Month

October is the Humane Society's Adopt a Dog Month and as Bloggers we've been asked to promote adoption. What better advertisement do we have than our own beautiful dogs.

I encourage those of you who have specific needs or interests in a breed or type of dog to look into breed rescue. There are many valid reasons for wanting a specific type of dog and that doesn't necessarily exclude you from rescuing a dog. My goal for this post is to get people who have those needs or interests to consider breed adoption. There are many already advocating for local shelters. However, there is a place for breed rescue, too. It opens the door to those who have a desire for a specific breed and are willing to consider adoption over working with a breeder. Those potential adopters shouldn't be discouraged, shamed, or pushed into considering animals that may not be what they want or need. It is great for people to consider their options, however for those who are committed to finding a certain breed, providing a homeless purebred dog with a home is better than turning people away from adoption and having them seek out a breeder instead.

One thing I'd like to offer as we go through this month is that we find positive, healthy ways to discuss pet adoption. The choice to adopt a homeless pet is an important one. Setting one group against the other is not a great way to encourage people to make new choices. I find all too often when I bring up the topic of breed adoptions I get lots of resistance from those advocating for mixed breed adoptions. There is a place for everyone at the table. However, when you push people to do something they aren't going to do, you just shove them towards finding a breeder. You aren't converting them to consider a mixed breed adoption. There are ways to have a healthy discussion about what people are willing to do. However, in my experience it all to often becomes a hostile discussion that ends with you aren't a real advocate of rescue.

Recently, we were faced with the hard choice of needing to consider bringing another pet into our home as we watch another heading to the Rainbow Bridge. I spoke with a family member who has been a pet owner for years thinking that of all people in my family I could discuss the issue with, she'd be the most open to me working with a breed rescue. After all she has a specific breed of cat that she has used a breeder to get because she likes to raise her cats from kittens. She will not consider another breed of cat. It has to be this specific cat or nothing. I don't judge, we each have our needs. However, when it came time to get a dog, she adopted a mixed breed from a local rescue. I respected that choice, too. Again we all make the choices that work for us. However, when I told her our plan to return to Bailey and Katy's breed rescue she let loose with what to me sounded like a script that comes all to often from people who preach mixed breed rescue. Pure breds aren't rescues. You only rescue when you take a mutt. I should just go to the local rescue and get what they have.

This is just not a productive reaction to people who are choosing adoption over breeders. We are supposed to be advocating adoption. As long as we are using a reputable adoption source that is what should matter. What type of animal the person chooses to adopt is personal. Hopefully if the person is using a reputable rescue that group should help he/she make a choice that is a good fit. There are times when the rescue isn't doing due diligence and then it can help to have a friend who can look with honest eyes and ask the questions a rescue should ask about how this dog fits into the family. However, that needs to be done with respect and sensitivity. The best interest of dog and family should be the point, not your personal feelings about the choice the owner is making.

I do hope breed rescues continue to grow and expand across this country. I know they are not available in all states and regions. Our rescue is a regional breed rescue that covers three states. It would be great if the American Kennel and other dog breed groups would work towards organizing and supporting individual breed rescues across the country. It would provide more opportunities for animals and adopters to connect. People who have specific interests in the breed often find it challenging to find available dogs as they sift through lists of dogs in the area. Breed rescues provide ways for people interested in dogs with specific qualities, characteristics, and abilities to connect. When we go to fundraising events I always enjoy visiting with the breed specific groups to find out more about their groups and how they are advocating for their breeds. The local Dachshund group has the best fundraising booth of any of them at the events we attend twice a year.

Blog Paws is hosting the Hop here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Good Friends

One of the things I've always been grateful for is how quickly Katy and Bailey bonded. When you rescue two dogs so far apart, each with their own challenges, even with the best screenings you can't guarantee they will bond this way.

As Bailey continues his fight, he has his closest friend by his side encouraging him to enjoy each day, each moment. Katy has encouraged ball games, yard explorations, bones wars, and all kinds of other games. She is doing everything possible to encourage him to live his days to the fullest.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Who Said Summer is Over?

We have been having unseasonable warm weather and we are enjoying the extra warm spell. Last year winter came early and while we love climbing through the snow there is something about a nice looong fall. We've been enjoying our extended summer activities and hoping the fall season stretches into winter as Mom loves the cool fall weather before the snow hits. She's not as fond of the snow cookies. She doesn't seem to understand their icy goodness.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dealing with the Demanding Press

Even when we want a quiet moment of privacy, the press is constantly shooting pictures of us. Even the death stare doesn't deter them from snapping pictures of us.

Bailey is still doing well, eating, playing and chasing Katy around much to her delight. He is living life to the fullest and that is all we can ask.