Wednesday, December 29, 2010
And now you can help spread the word about this great program with Freekibble's Happy New Year e-card. Or send a Happy Birthday card or one to just say Hi.
All the cards are free & all the dogs and cats are grateful.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Ellie Mae went back to her regular foster last night and I miss her terribly. I held her little soft leg while her mom swapped out collars and I kissed her little head over and over. I am such a softie.
Folded up the crate and vacuumed. Put the toys in the bin, and they stayed there. My shoes stayed by the door, and nothing on the table was pulled by eager puppy teeth to the floor for examination.
Bella and I stretched out on the couch. Too quiet.
And Bella, who wagged her tail a total of ONCE in E Mae's direction, was bereft. Seriously, Bella? You couldn't at least make this easier by jumping for joy at all the S-P-A-C-E you have with no pesky puppy underfoot?
I got up off the couch and walked around. "Let's sleep on it," I told her, while she lay motionless on the couch looking like someone had mowed her down. "If we still feel this way on Monday, we can always adopt her."
Her foster mom Jamie was thrilled to have her home and her dog and E Mae greeted each other like long-lost pals. "I'm just going to treasure this time with her," Jamie texted me, "because I know she'll be scooped up and gone so soon."
As she should be. It's why we foster: to get dogs ready for their forever homes. But WOW, it's tough.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Kittens and Puppies
Beginning in the spring, we take in many nursing mom cats and kittens, nursing mom dogs and puppies, and orphaned litters. Your love and attention will allow these babies to reach the weight they need to be spayed/neutered and adopted.
Fosters feed, comfort and socialize these little creatures. The Humane Society provides all the needed medical support, including medications.Sick Animals
The Western PA Humane Society has isolation and treatment rooms where we treat cats and kittens with upper respiratory infections and dogs and puppies with kennel cough... Isolation space is often a challenge in our shelter when many animals get sick at the same time. Housing them with healthy animals would compromise the health of our entire shelter population. At these times foster homes are crucial to the lives of our beloved animals.
If you don't currently have a pet in your house who would be exposed to these very common & easily curable shelter illnesses (or if you can bring a different species in, say a cat if your household has a dog), you can save a life just by providing love & care for an average of 10-14 days.Neonatal Kittens and Puppies
When kittens and puppies too young to eat on their own come into our shelter, their lives depend upon staff and volunteers who have the time, energy, expertise and emotional strength to bottle-feed these babies.
If you have time for the special care these wee ones need, the Humane Society can train you to help them.
The Western PA Humane Society doesn't usually foster out healthy, adoptable dogs and cats, prefering to have them on site where visiting potential adopters can interact with them. But as an Open Door Shelter they never turn away an animal in need. As you can imagine, that leaves them pretty busy (they currently take in more than 13,000 animals a year) and space is at a premium. That's where fostering comes in.
Readers in western Pennsylvania--hope you'll consider fostering for the WPA.
Those who already do: I'd love to post about your experience, so email me!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
As it turns out, what they say is true: If you dress warmly enough, there is no such thing as bad weather.
On Christmas, Bella, Ellie Mae and I enjoyed the great outdoors with our friend Deena. I honestly, truly don't miss those never-leave-the-house days.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Let a dog run free only when you are confident she or he knows his/her name and will come back when called. Some dogs can be off-leash only in contained (eg fenced) areas.
<--Kris Ann first met Artie at the Tulsa, Oklahoma SPCA in their Jog the Dog program, through which local volunteers run or walk with shelter puppies to give everybody a good workout of mind and body.
I knew he needed a chance to prove he could do a good job in house after being at the shelter basicially since april 2009.
THANK YOU for all you do, Tulsa SPCA!!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Meet Miss Ellie Mae. She is as sweet and funny as she is beautiful.
(Ignore the woman behind her, who hadn't planned on being included, but the puppy wouldn't stand still. )
These pics were taken by the extremely talented Bill Owen, who donated his services to benefit Homeward Trails rescue.
(I'll post a Bella one too, when I receive them.)
(I made the second one black & white just now, because I'm artsy like that.)
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Anyhoo, Bella got the vaccine she was due and the doctor pronounced her
which I had known before I opened up my wallet and emptied it on their counter. But it's still nice to hear.
At the counter when I was emptying out my wallet, I saw a sign announcing a Washington Humane Society fundraiser at which pets (dogs. Cats don't take that crap) could pose with Santa.
I had already paid $$$ for the doctor, the vaccination, the half year's supply of flea & tick and heartworm, and the Zipcar rental (animals can come if you put them in a carrier, which everyone hates, the dog because it's like being in a cage in a moving vehicle and I'd vomit too, and the driver because her/his beloved pet is crying. It's also stupid, if I may veer even farther off topic for a moment, because if the idea is that a crated animal will disseminate fewer allergens--which is Zipcar's stance--then I say perhaps you should look at my jacket. Bella doesn't sit in the driver's seat, but her hair does) but I couldn't resist (and didn't even try).
All went less smoothly today when Bella, Ellie Mae (who came to us yesterday and is here through Christmas) and I shlepped out to Gaithersburg (apparently, it's in Maryland) for a pet portrait shoot with all the money going to the rescue group.
We were scheduled at 2:30, but the sessions were running an hour late. Annoying, yes, but not a death knell to the plan for those with cars that don't turn into pumpkins, but I had a Zipcar and I couldn't extend my reservation, as another patron was waiting to use my car. So my shoot was 5 minutes for each dog and poor Bella the canine thermometer of Mom's feelings looks so stressed out :(. I didn't even have time to see Ellie Mae's photos, but she wasn't excited about the bright lights. Most of Bella's pics are in profile, because she's staring hard at the photog's umbrella. (She believes in putting objects she's afraid of on notice that she's on to them, so they are less likely to attack her. Years ago, a stereo speaker in my apartment fell to the floor, scaring my skittish girl. For weeks after, she gave the speaker a wide berth when she walked by, and fixed it with her stare as she went.)
I saw some of the photographer's other work and he's really talented, so despite the fact that I limited him to a mere fifteen or twenty shots, I'm excited to see what he sends me--and very grateful to him & to Santa for donating their time.
It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it mean to disappear somebody?
Sorry I've been gone so long. While blogging about fostering is a fantastic idea--if I do say so myself--I'm finding it tough to do both. Fostering Jack meant petting him endlessly, which state made it hard to type. Then the shelter really wanted us to take Cinnamon too, and a foster couple was found who expressly wanted to take in a senior. So Jack was passed off to them and Cinnamon came in and kicked my ass. Bella's too. She was wonderful but indefatiguable (Bella and I: fatiguable) and I had zero time to type. I'll tell you more about her sometime...
When she found her forever home, I went on vacation. I'll tell you about that too...
Then I came home, rested and ready to rest some more. I wanted to hang out, calmly, with Bella, and to work on my apartment, which lay somewhere under a thick layer of bones and dog toys.
So I told the rescue group I needed a break. That lasted two weeks.
Then Christmas came and fosters wanted to go home to their families and I got the call. Which is why Ellie Mae is chewing my slipper with a vengeance, and dancing with it, in the center of my living room. Now she's trying to lift her dinner bowl off the floor--no, it's back to the slipper dance--wait, she's managed to flip the bowl up, hitting herself in the head. She's taking this as a sign it's time to fling the duck toy around the room. Now the porcupine. Now the lion's head. And back to the slipper.
Yeah, a break.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Mikey (foster #4) had a hard time for awhile there. When his owner died, he went to the shelter and fell into a deep depression. Homeward Trails rescued him and soon after he contracted pneumonia and nearly died. But HT's director and founder Sue Bell nursed him back to health, after which I took him in. We think he was about 9 or 10 when I got him.
At first, he was really sad and just wanted to lie on his Mikeybed (every dog who comes to my house has a bed whose name is preceded by his own. Same with 'food,' 'house,' etc.) But I soon found that a belly rub was much appreciated, and we spent the evenings as belly rubber and belly rubbee, with my girl Bella happily chomping bones beside us. As he grew more accustomed to us, he opened up, and became a very expressive, happy boy. Slow, short walks became longer, more frequent ones as he regained his strength. Eventually, as soon as we left the house, he would pull toward the woods, eager to run along the trails with Bella.
He was very vocal on the trails, woofing his excitement. Sometimes he'd run ahead and then return, barking at me insistently. "Really?" I'd say, "You saw trees? Rocks? What else?!"
Here he is in full happy barky mode:I fell hard in love with Mikey and I started thinking about keeping him. I just wasn't sure I was ready to give up fostering. While I was considering, I took Mikey to his first adoption event and a woman walking by fell in love at first sight.
Letting him go broke my heart, but knowing how much his family loves him helps, as does the fact that they let me take him out for adventures. And his family in turn fell in love with Bella and have kindly watched her when I travel; I happily do the same for them.
In fact, Mikey's family is away this weekend, so guess who is sleeping on my living room floor, post-barky woods romp, right this minute?!
Foster failures are those folks who fell so hard in love with a foster that they adopted him. Yes, it happens all the time. No, it shouldn't scare you away from fostering. Alot of people who foster do so to get to spend some time with a few dogs while helping out rescues and shelters, and fully expect that one of their canine guests will stay forever. Others fall in love over time, realizing how well a certain dog fits in their life. A third set believe a dog will have a rough time getting adopted due to age or ability (or lack) or issues and decide to keep their foster. Many people fall into all three categories.
'Failure' is a pretty harsh word, but I have yet to meet a FF who feels as if he or she failed.
Teri shares a wonderful story about her FF, Walter, on the "Happy Tails" portion of the Homeward Trails rescue site. (Note to readers: If you're ever feeling blue about all the homeless cats & dogs out there --or, actually, about anything at all--reading the "Happy Tails," "Happy Endings," "Alumni Updates, " "Our Alumni" (etc.) portion of a shelter or rescue website will brighten your whole week.)
Are you a Foster Failure? Email me your story to share!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Rushed the dogs out to let them do their business, and it was Bella who had the diarrhea. I had forgotten to mix the new food in with the old. Came home and checked the bathroom and, sure enough, she'd pooped all over the floor.
As I walked back and forth between garbage and mess, Shadow, aka Jack, followed close at my heels. When I came back out in the living room, something was all over the floor. Pee? Not sure. Cleaned it up. Between all the cleaning, scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed my hands. Turned my back to scoop out some kibble and one of them peed (spit up?) in the same spot I'd just been scrubbing.
Once everything was clean and I had washed my hands for long enough that I could consider eating, I enjoyed some tomatoes with feta, after which Jack achieved his aim of being constantly petted. Leaning down low to pat his little head, I couldn't balance a newspaper on my lap, so I was forced to watch that show on MTV about the New Jersey 'guidos' who tan and pull each others' hair.
I left out that Jack has a rash of some sort and the poor boy is itching like crazy. I wrestled him for five full minutes to get some Benedryl down his throat. He kept spitting it out. At one point, I thought he had swallowed it, but he waited til I set him on the ground and, yet again, he spit it out. Had to laugh.
But got him to swallow and now, about 40 minutes later, he's resting--without my hand on him--on the floor. Oh wait, he's up. And back itching. Poor boy.
Poor me :).
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
That's not what kept *me* from fostering, back when I was kept from fostering. (We'll get to other reasons people who love animals don't jump in.) But I'm finding it's a hugely popular sentiment.
Yes, it's really, really hard to love a dog and then let him go. There are fosters whose leavetaking I have mourned for months.
But the fact is, if I didn't take in those dogs, and no one else took in those dogs, those dogs would be euthanized. Way I look at is it's a helluva lot better for me to be missing some fantastic canines who are now with others who love them than for me to not get involved, and my heart to be unbruised, and those fantastic canines to be dead.
Sometimes it's not easier -- for me, the person, who lives, regardless--but it's always better.
"To close your eyes will not ease another's suffering." ~ Chinese Proverb
And another thing. You *wouldn't* keep them all. Some of them are difficult. Some are difficult before they are fantastic. And as much as you care for them, you remember the difficult times (which may not, in fact, be completely behind you) and wish the dog the very, very best in her forever home.
Besides, you value your space. Are you going to stack dogs floor to ceiling like some crazy hoarder? Because then, yes, donating to your local rescue group or shelter would probably make more sense.
And by letting one go, you get to save another.
The fact is, the dog (and cat--I mean cats too every time I say dogs) you foster is going to a screened home, to a person or people who love him and have been waiting for him. If you hadn't taken this dog into your home, giving him a place to feel safe and calm and bloom, and then taken him to that adoption event, it's possible that his Forever Family wouldn't ever have met him. And his FF has been waiting for him.
I know, because the people who adopt my fosters email me and tell me so. They also say they can't imagine their lives without him. And they send pictures.
So yeah, you can let 'em go.
You can read the complete "Facts About Animal Sheltering" from the ASPCA here.
When a foster steps up and takes a dog or cat, a space opens up for another animal. Because, trust me, those 5-7 million are nowhere near the majority of animals out there in need of shelter.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
-Best Friends Animal Rescue blog
Shelter Dog Trick Training Video on You-Tube
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I Got Theo
When I thought about taking a foster dog into the 600 square-foot apartment I share with my four-year old hound mix Bella, I imagined the well-behaved, well-groomed lab of a family forced by the economic downturn to foreclose upon their well-appointed suburban home.
I got Theo.
Smelly, skinny, coughing, scratching beagle/basset Theo had a bb pellet lodged in his shoulder and both a heart murmur and an enlarged heart that may or may not have been the result of his heartworm. He didn’t come when called; he curled into himself and scooted forward on his butt, all but begging not to be smacked.
Lois, Theo’s adoption coordinator at Homeward Trails Rescue, met us in a local playground—‘neutral territory’ for Bella— weighed down with treats. Anytime Bella—friendly to some dogs but known to bark, ‘Get the hell off my street!’ to others—so much as looked Theo’s way, she was rewarded with one. Back in my apartment, Lois took my measure as a foster mom, exuding confidence in my non-existent ability to control the whirling dervish who knocked over the garbage repeatedly as we went over the paperwork. When she left, I drew Theo a bath.
That first night I lay awake in the dark as he snored, pinned to the universe in a way I had never achieved in formal prayer. This creature had been slated to die and he was here—loudly—with me.
I was less spiritual in the morning, when Theo joined our once-peaceful walks. He pulled me down the street, loudly baying. Whenever a man walked by, Theo dove belly first to the pavement and tried to slink away.
Despite the lousy time he’d had of life so far, Theo never showed aggression. But he gobbled his food so fast I feared he’d choke, and drank the entire contents of the water bowl no matter how many times I filled it (that little comedy routine ended with my realizing I needed to cut him off at 8 pm so we could all sleep through the night). He abruptly left the room if Bella tried to play.
For more than a week, I took on all of Theo’s stress. I rushed home from work to take him out (even though the dog walker took them both at lunchtime) and woke to the slightest noise, worried that he was hurt or peeing. Possible adoptive families were scared off by the heart issues and it looked like he would be with me awhile; my mother told me too many times she didn’t think he’d ever find a home.
One particularly exhausted morning, one arm stretching to accommodate Theo’s pace and the other close to allow Bella’s constant sniffing, I stubbornly—and fleetingly—threw up a white flag. I was in over my head. I work too hard, I told myself. I have no patience. One dog is plenty.
That evening, we three were back out when a crack of thunder sounded, far off. Theo immediately slunk down between a car tire and the curb and refused to budge. After I coaxed him home, he retreated to the closet for the duration of the storm. I sat just outside, my arm threaded between and under my suits and dresses. One hand firmly resting on his shaking flank, I promised him I wasn’t going anywhere.
With two heaping bowls of food a day and three treats for every one I gave Bella, Theo added six needed pounds to his scrawny frame. Indefatigable Lois carted him to the vet, returning with meds and advice. Antibiotics cured the cough and Benedryl subdued the sneezing jags and itching til eliminating corn and adding fish oil supplements relieved his allergies altogether. Lois brought over a wee purple harness and Theo learned to walk on lead. After several homecomings to strewn garbage, this old dog finally bought a smaller garbage can and parked it on the stove.
I took to stroking Theo’s long velvet ears and promising him no one would ever hurt him again. In really no time at all, he was walking with his tail held high. And one fine morning he saucily leaned back into a play bow, inviting the eager Bella to play.
Before my eyes, Theo had become “adoptable” and I finally got it. In agreeing to take Theo, I wasn’t just a way station between a shelter and his forever home. I was giving this dog a safe place to blossom into his true self so his family would recognize their newest member.
After about three months, Theo found his forever home. After even less time with me, so did each of my next two fosters, Win and Blue. Theo and Blue’s families still send grateful emails and photos of the dog they “couldn’t imagine our lives without.” (Win came and went in a week; I haven’t heard from his mom.) Bella and I now care for Mikey, who is pretty much the dog I imagined when I first agreed to foster. He’s a ten-year old black lab with the sweetest face and a stuffed squirrel he carries around in his mouth. He walks beautifully on lead; he’s never had an accident in the house. He didn’t lose his family to foreclosure, though; his owner died and Mikey was surrendered to a shelter. Used to living in a house and being someone’s best pal, Mikey fell into a depression, and the senior boy didn’t appeal to a single adopter. Homeward Trails swooped in before his slated euthanasia and, not to put too fine a point on it, saved his life.
And yet I feel like I’m the lucky one.
"Happiness is a warm puppy." ~Charles Schulz
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" ~Groucho Marx
"A good dog never dies, he always stays, he walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter's drawing near, his head within our hand in his old way." ~Unknown
"No Matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." ~Ben Williams
But mostly amusing.
In order, I've fostered:
I'll share more about each over time. Next up is Jack, who I'm hoping to rename. Depends whether it's the name he's always had and/or prefers or if it's just another case of a Jack Russell being dubbed Jack at the shelter. I (re)named Blue, Pip, Percy & Skinny.
(Note to shelters: I'm available to name your dogs. )
I'm tempted to name him Russell, just to mix it up a little. I got a vote for Monkey, which would open a whole new world of names. The trend now seems to be pinning dogs with human monikers, but what if we veered off into naming them for other animals? Monkey, Giraffe, Shark?
For those of us (me) tired of "Jack," it's something to consider.