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.


Laynie enjoying a sunny day on the deck.


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?

Anna’s Special Visitors

As I briefly mentioned when I was catching you all up from my blog hiatus, we got an application for Anna! After three long months of crickets, we seemed to have hit the jackpot. The applicants had an American Staffordshire Terrier for 10 years before they lost her to cancer. They have no other pets, no children, a fenced in yard, and didn’t seem initially deterred by Anna’s ‘issues.’ So, after the rescue approved them during a home visit, we set up a meet and greet for Anna.
anna_1Saturday was the day. We had cleaned the house, cleaned the dog, and sent Nola to hang out with her BFF Payson for the morning. I think Anna could feel how important this day was to all of us. But I am not going to lie, I was nervous. I tried not to get my hopes up too much, Anna can be a handful and I was nervous once they saw her get overly excited in person they would change their minds.
anna_5When they arrived we discussed everything we could think of that they would need to know about Anna. We didn’t want to scare them, but we felt like we owed it to Anna to be honest. Is she very reactive on leash? Yes. Does she have a bit of separation anxiety? Yes. Does she know her name, or have any recall at all? No. Does she like to jump fences? Yes. Did they seem deterred by any of this? Not at all. And how could they, because Anna was her usual love bug self. At one point she sat on the gentleman’s feet and laid on her back for a belly rub. How can you not fall in love with her? You can’t.
anna_4It was hard not to like the applicants too. They showed us their photo album of their dog Indy. She and Anna look very similar. There were photos of her hiking with them, snuggling and all around being happy dog. It was hard not to smile. Not to be out done, the Mr. then showed them our album of Nola and we traded stories of the joys of raising a puppy. Then they said the one thing I can’t get out of my mind. They had lost their dog just this past October and they said although it may seem quick to adopt another, their house just doesn’t feel like a home without a dog. Bring on the goosebumps!
anna_2So an hour and a walk around the block with Anna later, we answered any last minute questions. We traded phone numbers and said we would be in touch with the rescue to finalize everything. I got a call from the adoption coordinator about a half hour later telling me they had sent her a text right away saying they definitely wanted to adopt Anna. We chatted about how great it went and then I left it in the hands of the rescue to officially approve them.
anna_3And they did. Anna is officially, 100% adopted!

Let’s Catch Up

Well, it’s been almost a month since I last blogged. A lot has happened since my last post, so here’s the reader’s digest version:

  • Thanksgiving: Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? We did. Nola and I went down to Massachusetts to visit with my mom’s side of the family. The Mr. went to see his mom and family in northern Maine. Even though this is the one holiday I have NEVER spent with the Mr., I still enjoyed it.
  • Trip to Seattle: My show went well. It was  a looooong flight and a looooong trip, but good. I even made it to the Space Needle this year! spaceneedle
  • Christmas decorations: I flew home from WA for a couple days to unpack and repack for my next trip to LA. I did find time to decorate a bit. I think the pups liked it!
  • Nola lost a tooth: Not just any tooth, her top canine tooth! She was chewing a bone the night before I had to leave again and I heard a crack. I checked her mouth and found that her tooth was gone. But there was no blood, no remnants of a root, nothing. It was like it just vanished. After the Mr. took her to the vet, it was determined this happened a while ago. I have no idea how we did not see blood, the tooth, or any signs from Nola she was in pain. It’s just crazy! I still feel so sad and felt so guilty for not noticing sooner. Nola’s jowls are so long that I barely ever see her top teeth, but I should have looked in her mouth more often!
  • Trip to New Orleans: I always love this trip because it is where the Mr. proposed and it is the town that Nola is named after. The weather was warm and my show went well.
  • New Camera: I got a new camera! It was supposed to be a Christmas present from my parents and the Mr., but I couldn’t wait. It’s my first ever DSLR, a Nikon 3100. While I am still learning how to use it, you should see an increase in the quality of photos on the blog (except for those that I have to take quickly or the pups will move, those I still use my iPhone because I always have it with me).

And the biggest news:

  • An Application came in for Anna: While I was in New Orleans I got an email from Almost Home Rescue that an application had been submitted for Anna (her first one in the three months she’s been with us). It looked promising and there was a home visit arranged later that week. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but stay tuned for more about this!

So that’s it in a nutshell. Hope you all had a great month. I am still catching up on all the dog blogs I follow, and it seems like I missed a lot! I will make sure to share much more about Anna’s search for her forever home this week.

The Anna Banana Song

I was looking for some inspiration for corny banana lines for a blog post about Anna, when I came across a song written by a young boy for the girl he loves, who just happens to share a moniker with our Anna Banana. I can’t get the song out of my head, and although it’s a love song, I think most of it applies to how we feel about our Banana too. Enjoy!

(Here are the lyrics in case you can’t quite understand everything he says)
Anna Banana by Derek Lorenzo

Anna ba-nana you’re my biggest crush
I don’t mean overweight
Means my heart turns to mush
A-nna ba-nana
You’re in my dreams
When I’m sleeping in class, your all I seen
A-nna ba-nana
Banana babe, I like you a lot.
A-nna ba-nana
Like a cute little plant in a big red pot.

Anna Banana!
I love you a bunch!
I’ll dance like your monkey if we go out for lunch.
Anna Banana, baby
I love you a lot.
Not once, not twice, not thrice, it’s more than four!
You’re a fried banana baby
‘Coz you are so hot!!

A-nna Banana!
Said the voices in my head
We go together like jam goes on bread
A-nna Banana
I keep saying your name
You are in my brain it’s like I’m going insane.
Like the rain in Spain on a horse’s mane
Fly like a crane to escape the pain
and I ride the train, eat some grain
cootchie cootchie coo you got me smiling again!

Anna Banana!
I love you a bunch.
I’ll dance like your monkey if we go out for lunch
Anna Banana, baby.
I love you a lot
Note once, not twice, not thrice
It’s more than four!
You’re a fried banana, baby
‘Coz you are so hot…
If you like our ‘Banana babe’ a lot, fill out an application for her through Almost Home Recuse.

What Makes Anna Banana So A-peel-ing

It’s easy to get caught up writing about the things that we are working on with Anna. But, it is also important to focus on all the things that will make Anna a great addition to the right family. There are many, so here are just a few:

First, she is an amazing snuggler. When she puts her head right on your shoulder and slides her body close to you it is hard not to fall in love.
Second, she snorts, a lot. I know I compared our last foster Laynie to a pig, but I think Anna might have some piggy in her to.
Third, she sits side saddle like a lady. It is so cute how she tucks her little legs off to one side and sits politely waiting for you to give her something.
Fourth, she is a wonderful watch dog. She loves to sit at the door or look out the window taking in all the sights and sounds. She barks occasionally, but is definitely not up to ‘neighborhood watch’ level, barking at EVERYTHING like Laynie did.

And lastly, she is so easy going. Although she has some reactivity to other dogs, when she is in the house just hanging out with us she is so easy. She wants nothing more than to be where you are, sitting right next to you, chewing a bully, or snuggling with Foster Sis’ Nola.
If you think Anna is sweeter than banana cream pie, fill out an adoption application through Almost Home Rescue.

Back to Basics

As sweet and wonderful as Anna’s personality is, it is clear that she has never been taught how to be a ‘house dog.’ She was found as a stray when she was brought to a shelter in Mississippi, so no one really knows what her story is. In order to help her more easily find her perfect forever home, the Mr. and I decided to enroll her in a basic obedience class ASAP.

While we are well equipped to handled teaching things like sit and down, it is the more complex behavioral habits Anna has accumulated throughout her life that we need to learn how to correct. For instance, any time we go near the front door Anna bolts to go out. We’ve taught her to sit before we open the door, but she has a harder time learning to wait while we open the door. She also gets SUPER worked up any time we grab her harness and leash to go for a walk. So much so that she is almost uncontrollable. And the other major thing we are working on is walking nicely. She is getting better, but just the sight of a cat or another dog sets her off into a whining, jumping, barking tornado of excitement.

The rescue organization recommended Shannan from Finish Forward Dogs, a trainer who has an obedience class, Good Bully!, specifically for bully breeds. I was so excited to read the class description and to find a teacher who knows the breed traits and characteristics and could help with some of the more ‘pushy’ aspects of her bully heritage. However, the class was full. So, we had to settle with a basic obedience. After speaking more with Shannan, she said I could come sit in on the Good Bully! class and that she would be happy to work with us and Anna.

So, last Friday I went to the Obedience I orientation. My first impression of Shannan was fantastic. She has three pitties of her own so I was so happy to hear she had the same problems with her dogs at some point. And, I loved the facility. I love that there are partitions between each dog and there are even hard walls that can be inserted if a dog needs a bit more privacy (like Anna).

After the hour long orientation, I sat in on the Bully Obedience class and LOVED it. I could see things that Anna does in every single one of those dogs. I also met an AHR adoptable, Atticus and his foster dad. Atticus was brought up from a shelter in the South and has had some issues around other dogs. He LOVES people, but has a hard time when other dogs are around. His foster dad was doing great playing the ‘name game’ and teaching Atticus to pay attention to him, not the other dogs.

Handsome boy Atticus watching his foster dad for directions.

I learned a lot from these two hours with Shannan and was re-energized to start training Anna with some professional help. Her first formal class was this past Friday. It went OK, but like the case with Atticus, most of it was spent trying to get her to pay attention to us, not the other dogs. We had to partition her off so she couldn’t see the other pups and we focused on mat work to get her to relax on her mat. It was a good to see how she does in a controlled environment with a professional. We haven’t taken her out and about as much as we normally do with our foster dogs because we don’t want to overwhelm her. Shannan is also coming to our house tonight to see first hand how Anna is at home and to give us some more tips about how to shape her behaviors into what we deem ‘acceptable household behavior.’ I will let you know how it goes!

If you are interested in helping sweet Anna Banana become a well trained member of the family, fill out an application with Almost Home Rescue.

It’s Official- Foster #2

I apologize for the lack of blogging last week, but Nola, the Mr. and I were adjusting to being a two dog household again. Anna Banana is officially our second long term foster.

As you may remember from this post, she was supposed to be a two day hold. But, after meeting her we were tentative about the family who was already ‘approved’ to adopt her. They had three young children and Anna has no house manners. They came to our house for a meet and greet and we discussed what was best for Anna and what was best for the family. The Mr. and I were convinced that after they saw how excitable Anna was and how much she was in the children’s faces (only for kisses, but that can be scary to young kids), that they would recognize that is was not a good match. Well, we were wrong- they wanted her. We were shocked, and concerned. We strongly believe that Anna needs to go through some obedience and should not be around small children under 5 years old. It took a couple phone calls and emails to the rescue stating our case to get the situation resolved. In the end, we are happy they listened to our opinion, and even though we were not anticipating another foster pup at this time, we are committed to help find her perfect forever family.

So here we are, two weeks later. I would be lying if I said it’s been easy. First, I can’t stop comparing her to Laynie. I don’t know why, I love them both, but it’s so hard not to! It’s always “Laynie did that too” or “Laynie learned that more quickly.” It’s unfair to Anna, but their personalities are so similar I can’t help it!

Second, we’re having a hard time determining how she is around other dogs. She has been ok around Nola, but Nola is extremely tolerant and submissive. Anna is a wicked puller on a leash as it is, so whenever she sees another dog it just intensifies. After a couple of intense incidents, we have just been avoiding any encounters with other dogs. It seems as though if the dog ignores her, Anna is fine. But if the dog starts barking or starts to pull toward her, it gets her worked up so we have just been trying to avoid getting to that point.

Also, Nola’s not loving having another foster sister. After Laynie we said we wanted to try a male foster pup next, since Nola seems to love the boys! She is being very tolerant and patient, but since she is just coming off her long recovery from her ACL injury we have to keep the playing to a minimum.  Anna is pushy and plays rough so that is not an easy task. Everything has to be separate, walks, potty breaks, feeding, you name it. It also means that the Mr. and I haven’t been able to spend as much ‘family’ time together with the pups.We are used to taking Nola for long walks on the beach or in the woods together, but since Anna can’t be off leash or around other dogs we have to split the walks. He takes one and I take the other. Not so fun.

The Mr. was also away all last week so I had the two dogs on my own. That meant for 4 days I got up at 6 am to walk Anna before she went in crate, then I fed both of them, then went to work, came home at lunch to walk the pups (separately), went back to work, and then came home to feed and walk the pups again. Needless to say I was tired.

But, as tough as it’s been, we’ve also fallen in love. Anna is a sweet, wonderful dog. She gives Nola a run for her money in the quality and quantity of kisses. She is an excellent snuggler and she even snorts when she’s happy to see you, which is pretty much all the time. She does need some work on her manners, but she is going to bring so much joy to someone when she finds the perfect home. We are excited to help her on this journey and hope we will find her the forever home she deserves.

If you want to be Anna’s forever family, fill out an application through Almost Home Rescue.

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Anna is a carbon copy of our very first foster Laynie (other than the fact that she’s brown and white and Laynie is black). I just can’t get over it. From the minute I picked her up and she was bouncing off the walls, all I could think about were the similarities. First, she is built just like Laynie- short and stout. She loves to give kisses. She has absolutely no leash manners and basically pulls me around the block, but she is much better when walking without Nola. She snorts and wags her tail a mile a minute when she is happy to see you. She was pregnant, and has the nipples to prove it. She is a snuggle bug and just wants to be near you. She has no house manners at all. She gets in Nola’s face an annoys the crap out of her. She’s much more calm when she is the only dog in the house. She loves bully sticks. She loves sleeping on our bed. Best of all, she is so sweet and our love for her is just a big as our love for Laynie.

P.S. Doesn’t she look just like the Dude from Love and a Six Foot Leash?

Expect the Unexpected: Our New Foster Anna

Going into this weekend I knew there would be a foster dog at our house. After this weekend, turns out that was pretty much the only that turned out to be true.

Saturday night I met Almost Home Rescue at a rest stop in Southern Maine to pick up Anna. (Maine has some strict rules about bringing in dogs from rescue transports, so it used to be that as long as they were in New Hampshire adopters could pick up their pups right off the transport truck. New Hampshire has since changed their importation rules, so now all dogs coming up from the south require a quarantine period, or a foster hold. That’s what Munchkin was, and that’s what we were doing for Anna because she had a family waiting for her.) As Anna came off the truck she had some serious energy. I expected to see a 35 pound petite pittie, with medium energy, and what I got was a 50 pound solid girl bouncing off the walls. I could barely hold on to her as she literally did a three foot vertical jump, twisting and pulling on the leash. She was so happy to be with a person; giving me kisses like it was her job. I could tell that she was a very sweet girl and the three days in the truck was a bit much for her energy level.

During the 20 minute drive home, I was thinking how much Nola is not going to like Anna’s crazy high energy, pushy personality. We really only agreed to take another female pit because it was for two days. We could keep them separate for two days, and not worry about stressing either of them out for such a short time. We did take them for a walk together when I got home, being careful not to really let them meet, just be aware the other one exists. Then, it was downstairs to the finished basement for Anna and I. We played, trying to get out some of that energy, until she conked out asleep. I slept with her on the couch, snuggling  and snoring like a true pittie.

Almost Home Rescue was having a reunion at a local park the next day, so I took Nola and the Mr. stayed home with Anna. Well, this is where the unexpected happened. Because all the AHR volunteers would be there, I knew I could talk to the President of the group and Anna’s adoption coordinator about some health concerns I had with Anna. Her spay incision looked a little infected and she had what looked like tapeworms. In our conversation, it came to light that the people who were adopting Anna were not 100% committed and that her adoption was contingent on a meet and great. Say what?! And then as I asked more about the people, I found out they have three young kids under six and that they were still under the impression that Anna was a 30 pound medium energy dog. Apparently there was a serious miscommunication going on here and it looked like out two day hold had the potential to turn into a long term foster. It was at this point that I lost it.

Through the tears I told the rescue coordinator and president all my concerns, the first being we did not expect to have a permanent foster and were not really prepared to keep her long term because of Nola’s low tolerance for females. The second being that this 50 pound ball of muscle has no house manners and is probably not a great fit for someone with three small children. And the third, and most upsetting, was my concern for poor Anna. What if I had shown up to meet these people thinking I was giving them their dog? I would have been mortified and I’m sure Anna would have been confused. Where would she go if we couldn’t keep her? They apologized for the misunderstanding and assured me that if it doesn’t work fostering her then they could find her somewhere else to go.

I called the Mr. and cried to him about the situation. We both decided that we were in this for the long haul. We had both already fallen in love with Anna’s sweet, loving personality. We have some work to do with introducing her and Nola, but we couldn’t bear the thought of uprooting this girl again and bringing her to another foster home.

So, the potential adopters are coming to meet her tonight. I’m not sure how it is going to go, but either way she is staying with us for a few more days. The people are going to meet her and let us know what they think. It turns out they were as unprepared to take her as we were. Obviously, I want her to go somewhere where she is the right fit and if that if it’s not with them, the Mr. and I are committed to helping this love bug find someplace that is.