Why You SHOULD NOT Adopt an Older Dog

In preparing to foster Sargent I read numerous articles about ‘why you want to adopt a senior dog.’ Instead of listing the reasons why I think adopting a senior dog is a great idea, I am going to tell you all the reasons why you don’t want to adopt an elderbull, especially one as wonderful as Sargent.
 DSC_0374You SHOULD NOT adopt an older dog if:

  1. You want a dog that you have to spend hours training, instead of an instant companion that already knows commands and can walk on a leash very well.
  2. You want a dog that is constantly on the go and never settles down, instead of one with a good amount of energy, but loves nothing more than to lay with you on the couch.
  3. You want a dog that you have to walk for hours every day, instead of one or two short walks around the block.
  4. You don’t want a dog that you already know his personality and you would prefer to take a chance on a puppy who’s personality could change over time.
  5. You don’t want a dog that will love you more than anything in the entire world and who is just grateful for your love.
  6. You prefer to constantly watch, monitor and clean up after a younger pup.
  7. You don’t want to save a life and are fine knowing that older dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first euthanized at a shelter.
  8. A few years seems like too much of a commitment.
  9. You don’t feel bad that after almost a lifetime with someone else they are now in need of a soft place to land to live out their golden years.
  10. You don’t like the salt and pepper ‘distinguished’ gentleman look.

DSC_0513If the reasons stated above do not apply to you, and you feel like you DO want to adopt an older dog, I happen to know one that would be perfect for pretty much anyone. He is handsome, well trained, pretty low energy, but still acts like a young pup even at 12 years old. Sargent is the perfect dog and is available for adoption!

Introducing Sargent!

It’s cliché, but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.

For about a week the Mr. and I were struggling to decide on a dog to foster. It was down to two, one 12 year old boxer/pit mix and one 2 year old pit mix. The dogs needed to get out of the shelter for different reasons, but both had been there too long for their own good. We, a bit selfishly, had different reasons for wanting to take each dog, including ease of transition into our house, time commitment to training, and which one would have a better chance of getting adopted if we took them in.

Before we could make a final decision, the 2 year old got adopted. After being in the shelter for 5 months, the weekend we had to decide, a decision was made for us! As I eluded to on the Facebook page Friday, the two things I checked off my rescue bucket list are walking a dog out of the shelter and fostering a senior! Meet Sargent!
IMG_3913We picked up Sargent from the NHSPCA, a shelter that has worked with BURN to foster their pitties that don’t do well in a shelter environment. Everyone their said how great of a dog he was and were sad (but happy!) to see him go. He was so wiggly and wagged his tail so much that almost every picture I took that night was blurry.

IMG_3893Sarge was brought into the shelter after 5 years with his previous owner due to housing issues. He wasn’t neutered, but since coming to the shelter he had the surgery. He has lived with other dogs, kids, and cats. His information said he is crate trained, house trained and walks well on leash. So far, we agree with most of these statements.

He and Nola have not spent a whole lot of time together yet. They have had several on leash walks together, in which they did great. Our first meet and greet in our yard didn’t go all that well. Sargent seems to be missing the part of his anatomy that got snipped at the shelter, because he was much too interested in mounting Nola. Just as any shelf-assured girl would do, Nola would not have it. So, we need to keep an eye on that situation and figure out how to curb that behavior.

He also did not appreciate our set up at bed time. In our house, Nola is the queen of the people bed and fosters are not allowed up unless we say it’s ok. The crate is set up in mine and the Mr.’s bedroom and that is where temporary guests get to sleep. In this case, I bought an orthopedic crate pad, a pillow and two snuggly blankets for Mr. Sargent. He was not happy about it and has cried, whined and barked until the Mr. gave in and slept with him on the couch. We have some work to do figuring out a sleeping situation that works for us all.
IMG_3924Overall, even after just a few days, we can tell Sargent is a great dog. He is very obedient, friendly, walks very well on a leash and is overall just a nice boy. His ears are so adorable because one stands straight up and one folds over. He has a surprising amount of energy for an elderbull, and loves to go on walks. He didn’t mind bath time at all (which was good because he STUNK after we got home from the shelter), and he loves to play with toys (balls, not so much). He has the biggest head I have ever seen on a dog his size, and he uses it to give you kisses and lay on your legs. He wants nothing more than to be with us and we’re happy we can give him that.

Know anyone who wants to add an adorable elderbull to their family? Please spread the word about Sarge: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/25845462

Rescue Bucket List

I realized when I got back from vacation that I had forgotten that the Mr. and I just passed a couple of big milestones. The first was the one year anniversary of when we got our very first foster, Laynie. It was one year ago that I drove home after being in Boston for five days for work, picked up the Mr., and then drove another 45 minutes north to get Laynie. When we met her she was bouncing off the walls and the Mr. and I were afraid of what we got ourselves into. It took some adjustment time (read about it here, here and here) but soon we fell in love with Laynie and with fostering.
IMG_1681The other milestone was that I started this blog right around the same time as Laynie came into our lives. I originally just wanted a place to write about and share photos of Nola, but soon discovered that it was a wonderful resource to write about fosters to help get them adopted. Through this blog, I have ‘met’ so many wonderful people and I have learned so much about the world of rescue, fostering, and dogs in general. The network that I have uncovered over the past year has been invaluable. I am excited to keep learning, making more connections, and saving more dogs!
IMG_1606Looking back, and forward at the same time, I have begun a list of things I want to accomplish through rescue. With all the information I’ve gathered from reading other blogs, following rescues, and volunteering, I have started to realize the scope of the problems rescues are facing. Shelters are full, some are still euthanizing perfectly healthy dogs, strays run rampant in some parts of the country, and BSL is threatening to make things worse. As I get deeper and deeper into the world of rescue sometimes I feel like ignorance was bliss, but then again, I am glad I know what I know now so I can help. I know I can not save them all, which believe it or not was a hard realization to come to, but there are certain types of dogs that I have been thinking that I want to rescue for one reason or another. So, without further adieu, here is my rescue bucket list:

  1. Rescue a dog directly from a shelter- literally walk the dog out of the shelter and into my home (and heart!).
  2. Foster, rescue or adopt a senior dog who can live out the rest of his or her golden years in a loving environment.
  3. Rescue/foster a momma AND her puppies.
  4. Foster a little dog (30 pounds or under).
  5. Become a foster failure!

The last one might seem like a strange goal to some of you in the fostering world. But to me, fostering first and really being able to see how another dog fits into our lives would be the best thing for us. Nola is very tolerant of other dogs in her home, but to officially add another four legged member to our family I would need her approval first. I love EVERY dog and want to keep them all. But, it’s the ‘queen of the castle’ that needs to make the decision for us.
IMG_1352 What do you think of my list? Do you have a ‘to-do’ list having to do with dogs or rescue?

REBLOG: Everything You Need To Know About Fostering

I didn’t get a chance to write a post for today, so I thought I would share one from my new fostering idols over at Temporary Home, Permanent Love. I heart all their posts, they are so insightful and right on about everything having to do with fostering, but this post in particular resonated with me. Enjoy, and if you aren’t following them, do it now!

Temporary Home, Permanent Love

Saying Goodbye to our Foster Dog

You will step in poop.  You’re also probably going to get some on your hands, because eventually you will use a bag with a tiny tear at the bottom that you won’t notice until it’s too late.

You will be a hero.

You will spend many sleepless nights as your foster dog learns to adjust to his new home.  You will have bags under your eyes, you’ll skip the gym, and you’ll gain 10 lbs.

Your foster dog will adore you despite what the scale says.

Your favorite shoes will be destroyed.  Your couch will be shredded.  Your clothes perpetually covered in dog hair.

People will look at you in awe as you tell them how you saved this dog’s life.

This adorable foster puppy is just waiting for his forever family to find him.

Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will convert from pictures of you at clubs and parties, to pictures of your foster dog.  Your friends will call you “the crazy dog…

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Thoughts on Fostering- Choosing the Right Rescue

Each of our previous fosters were from different rescue organizations. Laynie, our first, was from the Bully Underground Rescue Network (BURN). Anna, our second, was with Almost Home Rescue. After working with these two very different organizations, I have learned a lot about my feelings on rescue policies and the characteristics I value in an organization to foster with. Here are a few things that are important to me, and what I think a potential foster should look into before they choose a rescue to work with:

  1. Adoption policy, more specifically how the rescue handles home visits and meet and greets. Does the rescue REQUIRE meet and greets with the dog before the adopter is approved? Do they do a general ‘approval’ or are the applicants matched with dogs? Is a home visit mandatory? Do they check references and call the adopter’s vet for a reference?
  2. The rescue’s policy on the foster family’s involvement. How does the rescue handle the foster parent’s opinion on where the dog should be placed? Is the foster family involved in the home visit and/or meet and greet? Make sure you choose a rescue that requires a level of involvement of its fosters that you are comfortable with. If you want to be involved in the meet and greets and home visits, and want your opinion to count, make sure you ask about it. If you purely want to be a home for the dog, and would like the rescue to handle all the adoption details, make sure you know this ahead of time as well.
  3. Adoption events. Does the rescue actively participate in adoption events to get the dogs out in the public? What other ways to they advertise their adoptable pups? The more visibility the dogs have, the better of a chance they have to get adopted.
  4. Where the dogs come from. Are they pulled from local shelters? Are they owner surrenders? Are they brought up from another region? Make sure you align yourself with a rescue that mirrors the importance you put on where the dogs are rescued from.
  5. Their policy/history with adopting out ‘bully breeds.’ What is their policy about accepting pitties into the rescue? As ‘bully breed’ advocates, this particular one was important to us. But, it could really be any breed, so be sure to look into whether the rescue has restrictions about accepting certain breeds.
  6. Resources for fosters. How does the rescue handle the more ‘difficult’ dogs to place? Do they offer training and support for foster families with dogs that might have some training ‘issues’? Will the rescue cover the cost of a trainer, dog walker, etc.?
  7. Where they are based out of. Are they local? Is it a shelter, or a network of fosters? Generally the rescue has resources that are located around wherever they are located. Make sure it is not too far from your location so you have access. Also, if the rescue is located in a different area than you are, make sure you are willing to drive if you are involved with home visits, as the applicants might be a distance away from your home.

These are just a few things that we have discovered are important to us when fostering. I have purposefully left out our views on each topic, as I don’t want to insult either of the great rescues we have partnered with. It is just important for you, as a foster, to figure out what your values are and find an organization that supports those same values. Fostering is a challenge no matter what, so the last thing you want is to feel unsupported! But, in the end, placing a dog in a perfect forever home is the best reward and the reason why we will continue to open our hearts and home to dogs in need.

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Laynie enjoying a sunny day on the deck.

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Anna also enjoying a sunny day on the deck, before her deck privileges were revoked because she jumped the gate!

If you have fostered before, are there things that you find important that I should add to my list? Did you know what was important to you right from the beginning, or have you discovered them through experience, or both?

A Letter to Anna in Her New Home

Dear Anna,
It’s been just over three weeks since you’ve been gone, and I am just now finding the words to express what you meant to the Mr. and I. I’m sorry it took so long, it’s not that we didn’t love you, it’s actually the complete opposite. You left such an impression on us that it is so emotional to think back on our time together. I have tried to write this several times, but always ended up in a mess of tears. So, bear with me, sweet baby, as I try to get through this.
IMG_3453Your journey with us was unexpected in many ways. First, we thought we were getting a 35 pound pup for a two day hold. You definitely weren’t 35 pounds and you stayed with us for three months. It wasn’t your fault, we fought for what was right for you, even after only knowing you for 24 hours. We had no idea what your past was like, only that your future with us was going to be the best we could make it. Most of what we were told about you was untrue, except for the part about you being a total love. You were like an onion, we kept peeling to reveal more and more interesting layers (and tears). From our first vet visit, where you almost took off the Mr.’s foot because of a little Frenchie that stared you down, to the first time you jumped our fence to chase a cat, you always kept us on our toes.
IMG_3441You taught us a lot about dog behavior and training, Banana. We had never dealt with a dog who had such severe leash reactivity, separation anxiety and complete lack of any obedience. You brought out in us patience, determination and we learned how to be strong, yet gentle leaders. Your dog issues introduced us to the world of BAT and functional rewards. We met the best trainer with lots of bully experience who helped us tremendously. You really wanted to please us, in your own stubborn, pushy way, we just had to find the right way to communicate to you what we wanted (and use lots of treats). But you got it. By the end of our time together you would sit before storming in and out of doors. You walked on a loose leash 85% of the time. You were so much better when we met other dogs on our walks. You stopped tearing up your crate when we left you. You came a long way in three months and I am so proud of you.
anna_snuggleAnd the snuggling. That is what I will miss the most. You are such a good snuggler. You had a way of snuggling up right next to me that was so comfortable that I never wanted to get up. I’ll never forget our fist night together, when you snuggled right up, on your back and slept all night with me on the couch. You didn’t even know me, but you wanted to snuggle.
Anna_sleeping2

The times that you would rest your head on my shoulder, right under my chin, and just let out an exhale melted my heart. I could always count on you to be right near me on the couch.IMG_3320We even broke our ‘no fosters in bed rule’ for you, sometimes, especially when the Mr. was away. Being sandwiched in between you and Nola in bed was like heaven for me. And on the nights when it was just Nola in bed, you went right into your crate and fell right asleep, even though you hated the crate during the day. I never really figured that out, but I think it’s because you were just happy when you were with us. And we loved it.

Foster Dad had the hardest time letting you go. He has always been a bit iffy about fostering in general, as it is such a big commitment. But from the beginning, when I called him crying when I found out you were not just a two day hold, he wanted to do right by you. Then when his job changed and he worked from home, he spent a lot of time bonding with you. He said you were his ‘buddy’ and when I was stressed and tired of dealing with some of your issues, he was calm and always thought of the good things about you. He loved playing ball with you and enjoyed the fact that you would cuddle with him just as much as with me. When we found out you were adopted, he was happy, but the idea of bringing you to your forever home made him really sad. He was upset the whole week leading up to that day, and made sure to really relish all the ‘last times’ with you. He misses you a ton, stinker.
DSC_0177Before you, I had never met a dog that rivaled Nola in quantity and quality of kisses. Your little snort and happy tail was always a joy to meet at the door when we came home. You love people more than anything in the world and it showed when you would give your belly to any stranger you met. People reciprocated the love. How could they not? You are such a beauty and you make everyone you meet smile.
DSC_0175 DSC_0017 anna_kissWe had to fight for you on several occasions, to make sure you would end up in the place you deserve, and sweet girl, we are glad we did. We are so happy that your new family believes you are the perfect dog for them. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t sure we would ever find someone that describes you that way. ‘Tough’ maybe. ‘Lovebug’ definitely. But you turned out to truly be perfect for them. We have seen the picture of you curled up on your Dads’ bed, chewing your toys and being the amazing snuggler you are. You look so content, little girl.

There are a few things I want you to remember in your new home, sweetheart. First, try not to pull so much on leash. Your Dads aren’t as young as Foster Dad and I are, and you are really strong! Relax, enjoy the walk. You don’t always have to be in such a hurry! Also, your Dads will have to leave you at home alone sometimes. Remember, they WILL ALWAYS come back. Don’t worry about being alone for a little bit, they will never leave you forever. When you do have bad days where the sight of another dog is just too much for you and you get frustrated, or you decide to chew on something you shouldn’t have, make up for it with your loving sweet personality. Your kisses and snuggles go a long way to make us humans feel better. And lastly, enjoy your life. You are now the only four-legged baby for two men that will love you with all of their heart. They loved their last dog as much as others love their children (if not more!) and I suspect that you will get more attention and love than you ever have before.
anna_1

Although we miss you like crazy, we could not have asked for a better ending to our journey together. As unexpected as your beginning with us was, the end of your time with us was just what we wanted for you.We love you Anna Banana and wish you all the happiness you deserve. Thank you for such wonderful memories as our second foster pup. We know that we are not yours, but you will always be our foster, and now you will also always be part of a forever family.

Love,
Foster Mom, Foster Dad and Nola

2012 Year in Review

2012 was a big year for us. It was the year we started this blog, and the year we started fostering, and thus the year we became pit bull advocates. Before this year, the Mr. and I didn’t know much about the pit bull stereotypes and negativity around the ‘breed’ (heck, I didn’t even know pit bull wasn’t a breed!). After I started following a few blogs, I quickly learned how much of a problem it was and it made me want to take action. Since Nola is such an easygoing dog, we decided that we would help become advocates by fostering pit bulls in need. Although fostering was tough at times, on both the Mr. and I and Nola, we found it to be extremely rewarding, especially since both of our fosters have been placed in great homes.

Laynie_daisy_fourthLaynie is getting along great with her sister Dasiy. She loves that her mom works a school schedule and is home with her during the summer, on holiday and especially recently, on snow days. Laynie’s mom even started fostering pit bulls herself! Here is Laynie with her sister Daisy and her foster sis’ Calada (who is still up for adoption). How cute are they?laynie caladaAnd Anna, sweet Banana. We recently got an email from her Dads saying that she is doing really well and that they love her very much. They have realized some of her ‘issues’ but are willing to keep working on them with her. Doesn’t she look so happy in her forever home?

anna_update1 anna_update2 anna_update3 anna_update4All in all, 2012 brought a lot of happiness and joy to our lives. We will continue fostering in 2013, but for now, we are enjoying some quality time with Nola Muffin. We hope you all had a happy and healthy 2012 and hope 2013 brings you more of the same!
DSC_0004P.S. In case you’re interested, here are some stats about the blog from 2012.

In 2012, there were 106 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 666 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2 GB. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

People from 47 countries visited the blog in 2012.

The post that got the most views was: Guest Post: Third Time’s a Charm: Angus

Click here to see the complete report.

Freedom!

Here’s another post about Anna I never got the chance to share before she was adopted. This was the first and LAST time Anna was off leash, as she seems to have an affinity for escaping and we just couldn’t take the chance of losing her! She was condemned to a life on a 30 ft. lead for most of her time with us. But, it didn’t seem to phase her much and hopefully with some more training in her forever home, she will be able to enjoy the freedom of being an off leash dog.

A couple weeks ago we took Anna for her first off leash play time that wasn’t in our backyard. AHR has a strict no off leash policy for any of its fosters, and with Anna not having much recall we didn’t risk it. But, we really value letting dogs run in an open area because it lets them expel energy that can not be gotten rid of on leash. We went to a sports complex that has several fences in baseball fields. The gates may or may not have been locked and the Mr. May or may not have lifted Anna over to get her in, but it was the perfect place. I brought a duck that had a slingshot on its beak and Anna loved it. Here are some action shots:
IMG_3001 IMG_3004 IMG_3009 IMG_3011 IMG_3006 IMG_3003IMG_3015IMG_3014As to not press our luck and get caught, we then put her on a 30′ lead and walked around the rest of the complex. We let her sniff and run and just enjoy a less structured walk. She did so well! We even threw in a quick recall training session! Anna was so happy and slept the entire rest of the day (which made it a good day for us too!)!