Happy Holidays

It’s the holiday season and people with children young and old are prepping for Santa to arrive very soon.  Needless to say Flipflop, Dahlia, Lucy and their feline brothers will all be getting gifts from Santa too!

Normally I buy Flipflop’s best friend and cousins, treats or toys, but this year I got them something different.  I purchased all the special canines in my life a Nite Ize dog collar cover!

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I had first seen it when I had a visit with one of my previous fosters, Marti.  Marti’s Aunt bought it for him. It Velcro’s onto their collar, harness or leash even.  And it’s amazing!  Good for all sizes, as the Velcro adjusts, up to 1″ wide.

Flipflop, Lucy and Dahlia all wear one now, it works off a battery, which you can replace and when it’s on you can set it to be solid red, or flashing.  This time of year, it’s so dangerous for pedestrians walking in the dark, and dogs too.  With this collar cover, my dogs and I are very visible and on days when they get some off leash time, even in the dark, I can always see them!

I highly recommend this item to any dog parent who walks their dog in the dark at any time of the year.  I get so many people stopping us and asking me where I got them as I have yet to see them in pet stores.

They are available on Amazon, along with other Nite Ize products for dogs.  I am not a Nite Ize or Amazon employee, I have no vested interest in promoting this product other than I think it is super cool and keeps us and our dogs safer.

Happy Holidays!

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Lucy – Post 4

Every foster has a story, a past I have to piece together and behaviours I have to learn about and how to best work with the dog to correct.

Lucy is the omega, she looks to my dogs constantly to know what to do.  At daycare she goes into a different room than Flipflop – Lucy goes into the toybox with the smaller dogs.   It’s done wonders for her confidence and socialization.

Today we went to an off leash park, as we usually do on weekends, and in the past Lucy has enjoyed being off leash running and exploring – and chasing squirrels.  But she would never venture too far away from my two dogs, finding comfort in having them near.  This morning was no different, for the first 15 minutes, and then Lucy found herself.

As we walked through the park, we came across groups of dogs, which Lucy and Flipflop delighted in playing with.  As we ventured further into the park, Flipflop decided he was done playing and walked along the fence of the park, while Dahlia walked faithfully by my side.  Lucy, on the other hand, embedded herself with a group of dogs playing and was having a blast.

She no longer looked for Flipflop to guide her, she was all on her own and playing like a champ.  After a few minutes I called Lucy back to us  as we were leaving the area.  Lucy followed us out of the sand area but that didn’t stop her independence.  She was off on her own saying hello to dogs along with way and found another pack to integrate into.

I watched with pride as my little foster terrier mix was having the time of her life.  She was in her zone and after about 10 minutes of full on Lucy fun, she stopped playing.  I watched her in the distance, she was trying to figure out where we went.  I called her name and she looked in my direction and then she happily trotted back toward me and resumed to her place in her foster family, happily playing with Flipflop again and staying close.

While none of this may seem like a big event to you, for Lucy it was huge.  She looks to my dogs to give her cues on how to behave and who she should play with.  But this weekend Lucy did her way for the first time in the three months I’ve had her.

She’s becoming herself.

Tis the Season

Winter is my least favourite season, I hate the cold and while the snow can be pretty and scenic I’d much rather see green!  But I living in Ontario, Canada snow and cold is part of every holiday season and carries on into the first few months of the new year.

Flipflop (my Bahamian Potcake) loves the snow, from his first winter here, he couldn’t get enough of it and the cold!  He lives for the negative 20 degree Celsius days, and unlike me, has no use for the weather when its over 20 degrees (we do a lot of beach days in the summer).

When Dahlia (my Catahoula mix) came to Canada from Florida in April, the weather was raining and cool. She seemed quite comfortable in the climate.  I assumed Dahlia wouldn’t mind the heat as she’d been kept outside all the time in Florida and is 8 years old.

I was wrong, Dahlia hated the hot summer days, she wanted nothing to do with walks in the summer, and enjoyed laying in shaded areas and keeping herself cool.  As the summer passed, and we made it to fall Dahlia thrived. The cooler weather agreed with Dahlia and she loved being outside.  And as the temperatures dropped further, at and below freezing Dahlia showed no signs of slowing down, until the first snow fall.

Dahlia HATES the snow, unlike almost every dog I know, Dahlia has no use for the white stuff on the ground.  Even while the other dogs run and play in it, Dahlia sits beside me looking quite unimpressed.  The first few times I tried taking her out in it she didn’t want to walk at all, now she’ll walk but she’ll stop and sit periodically as if to protest the fact that she has to be outside.

I  put invisible boots (paw wax) on Dahlia  and it seems to help her somewhat.  I don’t want to put boots on her as her leg was broken last year by her previous owner, so I worry about her traction on the ice if she has boots on.  And although dog boots are great for keeping their paws warm and free of salt they can, on some occasions, mess up the dogs hip alignment depending on how they walk in them.  Another risk I can’t take with Dahlia.

I am sure I will find a solution for her that makes her more comfortable now that she’s a Canadian girl but  Dahlia’s protesting behaviour of the snow is very fitting for this former abused dog who is now living the life of a diva.

Lucy – Post 3

As the holidays approach, its becoming more and more likely Lucy won’t have a family of her own for Christmas. While it breaks my heart this sweet, loving girl will be without the family she deserves, I at least know she will have a wonderful Christmas with me and my family.  Rumour has it Lucy is even on Santa’s nice list and he will be leaving her presents along with Flipflop, Dahlia and the cats (Sixx and Angel).

I often wonder if the reason Lucy is taking a while to get adopted, is because of her breed, Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) mix.  While JRTs are known for their stubbornness, attitudes, high energy and are one of the top 10 dogs surrendered to shelters, in the right environment and with proper training this breed can thrive.

Lucy is a mix, not sure what else is in her, but she definitely does not have the typical JRT traits.  While she does love to run and chase squirrels like a typical JRT, she is actually more chilled out than my 3 year old Potcake.  For a two year old  JRT mix, Lucy is very calm.  After her walks, she curls up and sleeps and when she’s feeling restless she loves to empty the pet toy box and see what suits her mood for that moment.  Some days she loves to take an antler and just chew, other days she thoroughly enjoys squeaking a toy, and of course destuffing a stuffed toy has its moments too.

Lucy is still timid of strangers, but is making great progress.  A couple days ago, I had a few people stop by throughout the day and I was very impressed with Lucy’s socialization.  And not surprising, those who met her thought she was an absolute sweetheart.

I know Lucy will find her forever family and when she does, that will be one very lucky family!

Fostering

I get asked a lot about fostering and what it entails.  The truth is there’s a lot online about it and any rescue or shelter would be happy to share their program details with you.  That said, I’m very passionate about what I do, so I am always happy to share with others anything I can about being a foster parent.

When you foster, you are providing a loving home to a special animal in need. The rescue will usually cover all your expenses for the pet (food, vet care, etc.) however; will not be responsible for any damages that the foster  may cause.  That said, the expectation is that you are a responsible person and will provide for a safe environment for your foster, which includes crating, if necessary.

If you’re interested in fostering, you should connect with your local shelter(s) and/or rescues, and they can talk you through their programs in detail.  At a high level, you provide a caring home for the pet and get it ready to go to a forever home.  You’ll work with the pet on any behavioural and/or trust issues, socialize the animal, as needed, and anything else the animal may need.

You have to be prepared, these animals are likely rescued (some with no previous homes), which means they could have come from the streets, abusive homes, puppy mills, hoarders, shelters, etc.  They each have their own set of baggage and some adapt quicker than others.  It’s your job as their foster parent to work with the agency you are fostering for and the animal to help him/her overcome any issues.

Once you select the organization you wish to foster for, you will have to go through a process, similar to the process one goes through to adopt.  You’ll complete an application and provide references.  A home inspection may also be required to ensure everyone in the household is on board with fostering, as well as advise you on any potential risks to the animal.

I cannot even begin to express how rewarding it is to see the dogs I foster coming out of their shells.  It’s the most amazing feeling in the world when my timid foster starts wanting to be near me, or starts figuring out how to play.  My previous foster, Dahlia, who I ended up adopting, is still so grateful every day to be loved and fed, it’s absolutely heart breaking and warming at the same time.

As your foster comes more and more out his/her shell, they will start bonding with you and your family, and you will likely bond with them too. Don’t worry its part of the process, and lets face it, you wouldn’t be considering fostering if you didn’t love animals; as your foster starts bonding with you it’s learning to trust humans, which is a great sign.

Eventually, it could be a week, it could be months, the right family will be found for your foster pet.  That’s when you’ll have another rewarding experience knowing that you helped an animal in need waiting for you.

It is an emotional experience, as a human, to have this pet you love leave your home, but you also know there’s another animal in need waiting who needs your help.

People often say to me they don’t know how I can foster as they would fall in love with every one of them – I do!  But I also know that if I don’t foster that’s one less dog who can be saved.  Fostering is  the best decision I ever made, yes I shed a selfish tear or two, when the dog goes to his/her new home, but I would much rather have a dog come into my life, help it grow into a pet and go to an amazing home, than to do nothing to help the many dogs in need around the globe.

 

 

This is Us

I just watched the fall finale of This is Us, it’s such a beautiful moving show.  I have to admit, I am not an emotional being, I don’t cry often during shows or movies, unless an animal is involved.  But this episode registered with me on a different level, it connected to my emotional journey as a foster parent.

Many would argue dogs are not like children, while others argue they are.  Dogs (and cats) are my family. Regardless of what society does or doesn’t think about that. Some understand me, others ridicule me, I really don’t care, I am who I am and I love how I love.

My journey in life has been to protect animals, the ones without a voice, I don’t have children and truthfully I rarely am able to connect with them as I can with animals. But a few years ago someone close to me was looking into fostering to adopt – a child.  It was quite the experience and the parallels to what I saw in the animal rescue world was truly sickening.

The neglect, beatings, sexual assault, abandonment, starvation, etc. is just as real for children as it is for animals.  It sickens me to the core to know what happens to some animals but when I was hearing the same stories happening to babies, toddlers, young children, it once again made me hate humanity.

The sad part is, that while agencies exist to help children, it is very challenging and much like animals, there are more children in need than people to help them.

So, to bring me to my point, Randal and Beth’s first foster child went back home today. They were emotional and torn up inside, but also knew it was the right thing to do.  And when they talked later in the episode about if they wanted to put themselves through it again, they answered, like all caring fosters do – YES, there is another one out there who needs them.

Whether you’re an animal advocate like me, or a child lover, I encourage everyone to do something to get involved, there’s so many ways to help animals in need, and children too, if that’s your path.

We all need to be the change we want to see in the world.