Weekend Getaway

We took advantage of the long weekend and Lucky Dog’s brilliant weekend foster program to send TANK off to spend the weekend with a wonderful guy who was willing to take care of him for a few days, while we headed for the mountains with Chick. We love backpacking, and considering how lazy TANK has proven to be outdoors, we didn’t think he would make much of a trooper. The three of us packed up and headed out to the beautiful George Washington National Forest in Virginia.

Chick loves backpacking because of all of the sounds and smells of the forest. Plus, he adores showing off his very own backpacking gear, in which he carries his food, water, toys, and poop bags. People are always amazed at how cute and self-sufficient he is in his pack.

He also loves backpacking because it gives him many, many opportunities to roll around in the mud. He takes each one of these opportunities.

When we finally get to camp after hours of trekking in the hills, Chick is thoroughly and satisfyingly zonked out, and loves nothing more than to snuggle up in our sleeping bags for a big nap. As a bonus, the sleeping bags protect him from the tiny biting flies that are his absolute most hated thing in the whole universe!

TANK also got to have a big adventure this weekend, though it was not in the wilderness like ours. In fact, he gets more wilderness at the creek in our very own neighborhood than he did over the weekend, which he spent in the city with a special friend.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when we will tell you about TANK’s big weekend!

Happiness

For dogs who have recently been homeless, I think happiness is as simple as being snuggled in to a friendly, stable home where you are fed, doted on, and given a soft place to sleep. We have been lucky in this aspect with our fosters so far; all of them have settled in fairly quickly, deciding in just a few days that they feel safe and comfortable, and that they do in fact like us. It took Lollie about a week, and Gonzo was nearly instant.

TANK, our newest little marshmallow of a foster, is in the running for second fastest of a very fast group. He has been with us five days and already, he follows us wherever we go, gazes at us with love desparation while we’re cooking, and loves wiggling his way into our laps to cuddle lick us until we’re covered in slobber.

And we’re seeing more and more of his winning, winning smile (which may or may not be related to the recent heat wave).

TANK’s ancestry comes to light

We have made a critical and shocking discovery about TANK’s lineage. It appears that he is part lion. He is so liony that we are amazed, actually, that we had not realized it before. His coloring, the way he moves his body, those cute too-short ears, the enormous paws, the furrowed brow, the graceful lankiness of his muscular frame — it’s all lion. Just look at this striking comparison.

But before you start running off to hide your children and your groceries, an important distinction: Our lion is a very friendly, teenaged lion. He is no pride leader, our lion. He is no stealthy, ruthless hunter, our lion. He is just a sweet, goofy, lanky teenager of a lion.

And there is even more to the story than this. We believe him to be the reincarnation of a very specific, famous, friendly lion from history: Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. For example: just like his ancestor, TANK is a big softie who is quite timid. He is scared of water hoses, stairs make him nervous, and the sound of sirens makes him whimper. When the little 15 pound dogs in our neighborhood bark at him from behind their fences, he ducks his head down and tries to cross the street to get farther away from them and their meanness. In fact, here is a photo me and my friends comforting him after the little maltese down the street almost made him cry:

confessions of a serial drooler

My name is TANK, and I drool. Sometimes I drool a lot, and sometimes I drool a little. And sometimes — rarely — I am even caught not drooling at all. Sometimes I drool while running around. Sometimes I drool while I am in a restful slumber. Sometimes I drool to express how exciting life is.  Sometimes I drool because I am hot. Sometimes I drool to show off my impressive jowls. Sometimes I drool to see how long of a ribbon I can make. Sometimes I drool to show how happy I am to see you. Sometimes I drool to tell you that I would like to eat whatever you are holding. And sometimes, I just drool.

Sometimes when I drool, I leave a little puddle on the ground. Sometimes, I leave streaks. Sometimes when I drool, I smoosh a little bit of it onto my foster mom’s outfit, like a lipstick kiss left on her cheek by her grandma. Sometimes when I drool, I make an avant-garde drippy pattern on the deck, like a Jackson Pollock painting. Sometimes I do a more traditional pattern, like a Monet. Sometimes I keep my drool hanging, in case I need it at a later time. Sometimes I shake my head and leave decorative little ribbons on the wall. Beautiful, classy little ribbons. Singing, dancing little ribbons. Shimmery, happy little ribbons. They’re how I express who I am.

Love,

TANK

On learning a new dog

One of the highlights of fostering, for me, is getting to know a new dog. I love seeing a photo and reading a bio, and then experiencing the anticipation of how the new foster will be in real life. How will s/he fit into our family? What will his/her cutest quirks be? Biggest training challenges? Most surprising characteristics?

With a new dog, I am also always anxious to understand her/his personality so that I can try to convey it photographically and in words. One of my many untested theories is that adoptable dogs with a distinct “personality” have a magical sort of draw to them, making them more attractive to potential adopters. Our first foster, Lollie, was a classic lovable underdog. She was a big sweetheart with a sad past who had a lot of heart, and really wanted to win the world over. And she did. We dubbed her Lollie Wonderdog. Next was Gonzo. Gonzo was a pocket rocket. He was a tiny little ball of mischevious antics. He had tons of energy and didn’t much care if anybody liked him, but with that face and those ears, people just couldn’t resist.  His name became Gonzo Bunny-Ears.

TANK’s persona is still evolving, since we’ve only had him about three days and upon bringing him home, we knew much less about him than his predecessors.  He doesn’t yet have his middle name, which we like to bestow upon our fosters. So far we know that he is a big, goofy, oafish, friendly lug who is absolutely jazzed with life. Other aspects of his personality are coming out, but we are just barely starting to fit together the puzzle. It’s hard to resist, but we’re trying not to rush: the discovery is one of the best parts.

Here’s one piece of the TANK puzzle: in the house, he is an enthusiastic, bouncy youngster who is constantly moving, licking, chewing, running, and jumping. He will learn how to be a good house dog quickly, but at this point he is acting like a typical 60 pound puppy with little training. But outside? Outside he is the calmest dog I’ve ever met. He walks slowly next to me on the leash, almost never gets excited, and occasionally even decides to lay down in the grass to rest and smell the clover. And once he’s down, there is little that will convince him to get back up except his own free will.

New foster: TANK!

Introducing our new foster, TANK!

Have you ever seen such rugged good looks on a dog?

We have only had TANK for 36 hours, but are totally falling for this giant, puppy-like goofball. TANK may have that tough-guy look, but he could hardly be more of a softie! TANK lives for ear scratches, belly rubs, and big hugs. He also loves to give big, slobbery kisses to anybody who shows him a little kindness. He has such a big personality that when we say his name, or think his name, or write his name, we can’t help but use all caps: TANK!

This poor oversized puppy showed up as a stray at a rural animal shelter in South Carolina, where few dogs ever make it out alive. There he sat, patiently, quietly, and worriedly, waiting for somebody to claim him, but nobody ever came. And still. The shelter workers must have seen something really special in this guy’s sweet disposition and devastatingly handsome face, because he wound up being the first pit bull type dog to ever be released from the shelter to a rescue group! TANK is very proud of this great honor, and hopes that he paves the way for many other pit bulls who come from his former turf.

The area he came from is very rural and fairly poor, and we wonder: was TANK loved? Had he lived in a house and had his nails trimmed? Was he bred by bad people for bad purposes, but then failed to live up to their expectations? Has he ever played with a toy before? Slept on a soft bed? Seen the bright lights of a big city?

We wish we knew more about TANK’s history, and are really looking forward to getting to know him. We hope you’ll join us!

How Gonzo’s new mom tells it

Gonzo’s new mom was kind enough to write us a letter after they adopted the little man, telling us about their experience searching for him, finding him, and knowing that he was their One (well, their Other One). She sent us photos, too!

“Dear foster family,

Thank you so much for everything you have done for us and our newest addition. It was so important to us to have a well balanced, well behaved dog because of our other “little one” and you gave us just that.

Since the first day we got our first dog, Laila, we knew we would never own anything but large bullies/mastiffs from that point forward. There is just something so special about them. For the past few months we had been casually surfing the internet for rescue dogs. We wanted to rescue this time but were scared by accounts saying that they were a lot of work and would really need a strong leader and plenty of experience with difficult dogs who had gone through horrible situations in order to get the pet we wanted. We were also nervous about our Laila. She may look intimidating but she is just a goofy, gentle girl and what we consider an ambassador to her breed since we can’t go a day without someone either asking us what breed she is because she is so nice and pretty, or because they are scared of her. We are proud to say she can change the image of what a “bad” dog is. The last thing we wanted was to add an unbalanced or aggressive male to the picture that could adversely affect our girl.

So we continued to search for weeks for dogs that fit our criteria… “bully”, “mastiff”, “extra large”, “male”, “good with dogs”, “good with kids” etc. and we just weren’t finding dogs that really fit the bill. So, much to the chagrin of my husband (who was looking solely at 100+ lbs boys!), I started to search for smaller dogs. He eventually warmed up to the idea of having a smaller dog as long as we could stay with the bullies.

Then it happened. One day, after looking at large dogs for an hour or so I decided to uncheck the “size” box and there they were. Those glorious ears. They truly do have a special power! He was the cutest thing I had ever seen! I couldn’t wait to show Gonzo to my husband.  I was so worried because a dog that cute would for sure we gone in an instant. We read your blog, saw the pics and fell in love. He definitely had everything we wanted in a dog and felt that he had remained available for so long because he was meant to be with us. And if it were just the two of us, he would have been ours in a heartbeat! But there was someone whose opinion mattered more than ours, and she would have the final say.  And after giving the two a few chances to meet and some careful consideration we knew he was the one for all of us.

As far as integration goes it is honestly going better than I had anticipated. Even though it has only been a few days, I am sure we made the right decision for our small family. Gonzo is really smart and he listens to us very well. He won’t walk off too far if we drop the leash and doesn’t go running around the house if we tell him to stay with us. He has been super affectionate and attentive and been following all our rules. I started the training on lead with him today and he had his eyes on me the whole time. So great! Laila was not like that at all, but she was very young when we started working with her.

Laila wants to play a little rough inside but she hasn’t been trying too often today. They’ve had a few short off leash play sessions and they went great! Gonzo was teasing her because she just can’t keep up with him! He is airborne half the time!  Seeing Laila chase Gonzo the rocket around the backyard, him holding his own in a WWE style wrestling match, and the two of them napping side by side is the greatest feeling ever! The two like each other a lot, and I hope that once Laila learns to calm down and be cool around him, it will turn into love. 

And lastly we should do a DNA test for him just because I am now sure he has bunny in his blood. He doesn’t run around the yard, he hops, leaps and bounds. If I didn’t know any better I would think we had a really, really big bunny. He is constantly flying around and poor Laila does her best to keep up but she is just no match! 

Thank you so much again for the wonderful work you do. Your blog really helped us get past a lot of insecurities about adopting a dog. You gave Gonzo and will give other great foster dogs a safe place to rehabilitate and the best chance at finding a forever home.

<3 Gonzo, Laila, and their people”

AND a very important announcement from yesterday:

“We are going to rename him “Oswald”! His nicknames will include Ozzie, Oz, Bunny Ears, brown bottom, and who knows what else!

The back story to the name is the character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit . They have a couple of things in common… of course the fact that both of them are bunnies and lucky is important, but there is one more thing that I think ties them together.  Like I told you on Sunday he was Mickey Mouse’s predecessor. Due to legal issues and money Walt Disney left behind Oswald and soon created Mickey Mouse who of course is Disney’s flagship character. Now after decades of being in obscurity and forgotten he has been given a second chance just like our Ozzie! He is back with his Disney family and Gonzo/Ozzie is in his new family too!”

A letter to Gonzo in his new home

Dear Gonzo Bunny-Ears,

Thank you for being such a good boy and barely whimpering when I left you at your new home with your new people. I was so delighted to learn that you were not only a brave fellow, but quickly forgot about us after I left, just as I had hoped you would. After all, your new parents, C and J, are so wonderful, and your new sister Laila — a 95 pound presa canario — well, she’s just a dream. And I’m sure the milkbones helped too.

When I first heard from C and J and started corresponding with them over email, I thought they were too good to be true. And when they came to the adoption show with sweet Laila to meet you? I just about died from the cuteness of the two of you together. You probably don’t realize how small you are or how big she is, but Gonzo. She is almost three times bigger than you! 

Later in the week when they brought Laila over to our house for a play date, since you never did like the adoption shows very much, we were all nervous about how things would go. Would you like her? Would her rambunctious, boxer-like play style be too much for your tiny self? We already knew that you far prefer big dogs to small dogs, and that Laila always seeks out the little guys at the dog park, but still . . . would you be a match? By this time their application had checked out perfectly, so this was the last step, and the stakes were high! Your co-walk went fine, and the two of you even got to bond over near-simultaneous pooping, do you remember? You probably didn’t notice that Laila’s poops are almost as big as your head, did you. We also learned that you share an affinity for pooping multiple times on one walk — something that drives me and foster dad crazy.

Once we let you loose on the deck together, you did great. It is difficult to describe the joy I felt as I watched you sail through the air — seemingly in slow motion — to give your sister a good love-nip on the neck, and watched you both tumble to the ground, only to writhe on deck, side by side, two backs on the ground, eight paws flailing, two mouths open, and two tails beating on the wood planks in a hyper happy rhythm.

Gonzo, I hope you don’t forget all the things we talked about before you left. I hope you remember how to be a gentleman, and to let your new sister win games of tug-of-war now and then. I hope you are a good snuggling partner and don’t hog the very center of the bed like you so often did with your foster-brother Chick. I hope you remember to always pee outside and never inside, not even a little squirt now and then when you are exceptionally excited. And Gonzo, I hope you remember us. Not as your parents, but as some nice people who helped you make a graceful transition from your former life to your forever life.

And finally, Gonzo, you have touched our lives in an unexpected way. Just like the rest of the world, we have been hypnotized by your good looks and your bouncy, care-free attitude. We never thought we would see the day when a totally adorable, totally uncontroversial, tiny pocket-pittie would steal our hearts. We thought we were underdog people, and Gonzo, you are not and underdog. And to a large extent, we are still underdog people. But you have helped us realize that above all, we are dog people. Every dog has a story to tell and a special gift to share. Thank you for sharing yours with us. You have expanded our horizons, and we love you very much.

With eternal affection,

Fostermom and  fosterdad (and brother Chick, whose affection has surprised even himself, since he thought he could never love a dog smaller than his 50 pound self)

PS- here are a few photos of you, your sister, and your new parents — partly for you, partly for your fans.

PPS- the first photo is one of your foster mom’s favorite photos of all time.

Gonzo: ADOPTED!

Gonzo Bunny-Ears has been adopted!

On Sunday we sent Mr. Ears off to his fabulous and loving new family. It was a long journey for Gonzo — longer than we would have expected for the cutest, most adoptable bunny-eared dog we’ve ever seen. He was with us for nine weeks, and had been kenneled with the rescue group since late 2010. But it was worth the wait!

We knew it would be difficult to find his perfect family, because he is a demanding little guy with a long wish list. He wanted a family with another dog — preferably a big one, a house with a yard, a neighborhood with no BSL, a person who works from home or only part time, a family without lots of very young kids, a willingness to keep us up to date with lots of emails and photos, and most importantly, a family that is open to keeping “Bunny-Ears” as his middle name. We know what you’re thinking. Impossible, right? At most we would get five out of those seven, right?

Well Gonzo won the forever-family lottery big-time, we got all seven!

We can’t wait to tell you all about his new family tomorrow, but for now, a few photos of foster dad and me with the little Ears on the day before we took him home.

We admit, Gonzo was a hard dog to give up. He fit in so well in our family that we had a few moments of weakness where we thought about keeping him for ourselves. We loved snuggling with him in the mornings after the alarm went off, when both dogs would pounce on us in bed. We loved taking him for walks around town and getting zillions of compliments on how adorable he is. We loved how easygoing he was, and the fact that he got along with everybody. But in the end, he was not meant to be our dog. We have a special commitment to the underdogs of this world, and if there’s one thing Gonzo is not, it’s an underdog.

And for now, our commitment is to saving lives through dog fostering. Giving up a foster dog may be hard, I reminded myself as I kissed Gonzo on the soft spot between his eyes, and as I walked down the driveway away from his new home, but it’s not as hard as knowing that another dog will die in a shelter because we were too attached to let him go. We’ll probably flop to the other side some day. No doubt, a foster will enter our lives down the road that we just can’t let go of, and we will throw our theories out the window. For now though, this is our story and we’re sticking to it.

We will miss the sweet little guy, but we couldn’t be happier for him.

Come back tomorrow, when we will introduce you to the rest of Gonzo’s wonderful new sister, Laila!

Gonzo: big dog magnet

Big dogs — and big dog owners — love Gonzo. Especially pit bull types and their people. We think it’s because he is so pocket-sized but at the same time has the general look and feel of a bigger pit bull. He’s small but sturdy, adorable but tough. Fosterdad calls him a cinder block covered in fur.

Our hypothesis — and this is not very tested — is that many people own a big dog and would like another, but can’t quite picture their lives with two 60 or 80 pound pooches. These same good people sometimes cringe at the thought of a delicate little thing, seeing images of their big burly dog bowling their new adoptee over the first time they try to play. Enter Gonzo, the solution to both of these problems.

We have written much on Gonzo’s merits. He is an excellent picnic companion, a great car passenger, a superlative kitchen helper, and an ambassador for bunny-eared dogs far and wide. But we had not until recently calculated that he is the perfect small/large dog package, and therefore the perfect companion for a bigger pit bull type dog.

Gonzo has made several friends/possible siblings in his time with us. Each has been a pit bull type, and not one of them has weighed less than 55 pounds. Amazing? We think so.

Check them out, in order from smallest to biggest — from our very own darling 50-pound Chick, to beautiful 90-pound Laila, who is so big that she doesn’t even fit into the frame.

But wait! Could one of these gentle giants turn out to be Gonzo’s forever-sibling? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,016 other followers

%d bloggers like this: