Chix-a-Lot Friday: How I Met My One

So I was in the slammer, see. I got brought in for running loose on the town. Pit bull running at large, they said. And so they brought me in. It was an ok place, the slammer. The people gave me my very own room made of fence and concrete, and I had a water bowl full of water, and they would bring food, too. Some of the people who worked there weren’t too sure about me — a pit bull. But there’s this test they give the dogs to decide whether they get to be in the nicer dog hotel in the front where all the people walk by or the sad dog hotel in the back where nobody ever goes except the workers. I knew I had to woo them, and I did. I wooed and wooed, and I got straight A’s on my test. They gave me a nice corner room right up front, where all the people would see me.

But the people would come and go, and nobody ever stopped to give me a pet or let me lick their paws and noses. I would sit right by the door like such a good boy and waggle my tail as hard as I could, and lick my lips with excitement, and I so much wanted them to love me that my whole body would tremble in anticipation. I guess they didn’t understand. I guess they couldn’t tell that I was just happy to see them.

Pretty soon, a nice lady showed up. She was young and smelled like Mexican food and laundry and she understood me. She would come and put me on a leash and take me out for walks. And on the Very Best Days she would take me to the enclosed grassy area where she would let me go and I would run and run. I would chase a toy and she would sit in the grass and I would sniff and roll around and I was happy. We were both happy. And then I would come lay beside her and rest my face on her chest. And sometimes she would cry.

A little while after I met Nice Lady, she started acting kind of funny. She would chat up everybody that would come to the slammer to look at dogs and lead them over to my room. Tell them how nice I am. What a good boy I am. What a great pet I would make. They never listened. Sometimes her voice would quiver. Sometimes her eyes would water when she hugged me goodbye for the day. I didn’t really understand, but I liked her, and I liked the way she scratched my ears and the way she smelled like Mexican food and laundry.

Well wouldn’t you know, one day she showed up and brought two other girls who smelled like Mexican food and laundry. I could tell it was very important by the way they were talking and the way Nice Lady’s face was kind of scrunched up and I heard the words “last day” a few times. So I knew I had to woo them just like I wooed the people who gave me the test, and I did my very best. I guess I did ok, because the next day, Nice Lady came back again and busted me out of the slammer for good. “Call me mom,” she said. Instead I called her The One. What happened next I’ll tell you in next week’s edition . . .

Settling in on my bed the day she sprung me from the slammer.

Meanwhile in Stevie-land, I have taught my little foster sister how to make a hole in The Most Indestructible Dog Toy Of All. I am so proud of her smarts, persistence and sharp little Stevie-teeth . . .

Dog fostering – it’s infectious!

We realized something remarkable the other day: we know six families who have taken in their first foster dog since we picked up our little blog last fall. Six. And considering we don’t know very many people, that’s a big number! As a break from the Stevie Wonder cuteness, we wanted to take one post to pay tribute to a few of the wonderful and inspiring people in our life who have recently joined the dog fostering ranks, choosing to take the same rewarding, emotional, difficult, beautiful, wondrous journey we’re on.

One of the most fascinating things about this juxtaposition of stories is that each person’s motivation and satisfaction in fostering come from such different places. For us, the goal is to help individual dogs find redemption and elevate the image of pit bull type dogs in our society by presenting them as normal, loving members of our family — but that’s just us. Read on to learn what makes these other amazing fosters tick.

Our friends Kelsey and Shaun stumbled upon fostering while attending an adoption event in Southern California, pondering their first dog. They were intrigued by the concept, and after a series of serendipitous occurences that they call signs (including an encouraging comment from us on their blog!), they decided to give it a try. Their first little darling, Buddy, was just as cute as can be, and now they are hooked — not only on the cuteness that fostering brings into their home, but the chance to learn and grow: “We welcomed our first pup at the end of May, and in a few weeks he’ll be living in Northern California with a loving and compassionate couple with a huge yard for him to play. He’s been the best part of our summer, and we can’t wait for more lessons and growth with each new dog we plan to foster in the future.” Check out Kelsey and Shaun’s beautiful photography, poignant writing, and yummy whole foods recipes on their blog, Happyolks.

We met Josh through our blog after he became a new foster dad to a sweet but fearful little mutt, Suzi. He reached out to us for advice on how to navigate the rescue world and how to do right by Suzi while staying sane (challenging at times to be sure). His reasons for fostering were totally different: “I initially chose to foster for mostly selfish reasons: I wanted a second dog, but couldn’t afford one – so fostering allowed me the second dog at no cost to myself. But during my first foster experience, I realized that a lot more comes with it than I initially expected – and now I do it to help give each dog every chance it truly deserves to have a happy and healthy life.”

Adoptable foster Suzi and Lucy

Our blogging buddy in Alaska, Alana, actually foster failed with her first foster dog Molly. Alana and her hunny had been planning to adopt a dog and thought they might foster a few in the meantime, but Miss Molly walked straight into their hearts and curled up into a little marshmallowy ball, never to leave again. There was no going back. And yet, they haven’t given up. Through a program at their local shelter that is meant to give dogs a break from shelter life by placing them into homes for a short period, they brought in GI Jane, a darling brindle puppy who looks a lot like our Stevie Wonder! In Alana’s words: “I started fostering because I saw what a great impact bringing a shelter dog into my home and loving them as my own had on the dog’s overall well being and on the people willing to adopt them.  I specifically seek out bullies to give them a better chance of finding their perfect forever home by teaching them manners and showing them how to be a part of a family.” Read more about the adventures of Miss Molly, her occasional foster siblings, and her dear parents here.

Adam, Alana, Molly, and foster Janie (courtesy http://adamandalanafriese.blogspot.com)

For another friend of ours, Emily, becoming a foster was kind of accidental:  “While volunteering with a local humane society, I met Ginger Rogers, a beautiful pit mix who was condemned to be euthanized if no one was able to foster her. Looking at her beautiful but nervous eyes, I knew that she deserved better than to spend her last days alone and scared in an overcrowded shelter. I brought her home that day and have watched in amazement as she has blossomed into this beautiful and confident creature.  I am so thankful to be a part of her story, which thankfully, is far from over.” Want to read more about little Ginger, her two canine siblings, and Emily’s adventures? Check out their blog.

Beautiful foster Ginger Rogers (courtesy http://waldobungie.wordpress.com/)

There are more — our friend Susan who rescued a stunning blue pit bull off the streets of Pasadena and agreed to take her home when she was deemed “unadoptable” just because she was shy (Susan is still trying to figure out which way is up. Is she fostering? Is beautiful Louise hers for good? Is she just harboring her until another stable solution comes along? Sue isn’t sure but Louise sure is pretty . . . ) The list goes on.

Fostering is hard work, but it pays off, and we’re proud to be in such good company. Thanks to each of you for reminding us every day that the reasons for doing this work are as diverse as the people and dogs who benefit from it.

A swimompromise

It was so hot. So hot.

Stevie insisted on going back to the lake so she could do more of the swimming she told you all about a few weeks ago. We insisted that a five hour drive was maybe a wee bit too far for just an afternoon of swimming.

She balked. An impasse.

The conversation went something like this.

Stevie: Swimming.

Us: Stevie, the lake is too far.

Stevie: Swimming.

Us: Stevie, you hate car rides.

Stevie: Swimming.

Us: Stevie, by the time we get there, it will be night time.

Stevie: SWIMMING!!!

I will be the first to admit, watching an adolescent dog throw an imaginary hissy-fit is pretty cute. In the end, we had to give in — part way. We lugged the doggie pool out of the shed and filled it up with fresh water. To make it more authentic, we even threw in some dirt, twigs, grass, and fish oil (not really). We showed Stevie our compromise — our swimompromise — and without hesitation, she was in. Really, really in.

How to stay cool in the dog days of summer

Hi guys, it’s me! Stevie Wonder!

Guys, it’s been so hot here. SO HOT. Foster mom and dad have just about quit going outside except if they’re holding a cold beer in a shark koozie or watering the plants or something.

Me and Chick still like to go out though, even when the heat index was like 115 over the weekend. I used to think it was too hot too, but then my smart foster brother Chick let me in on a little secret: if you find a nice shady spot on the deck and lay real still except for the huffing and puffing and put your face sideways-like against the boards and make the funniest faces you can, it makes it not feel so hot anymore.

Want proof? Look at how happy and silly we got on the dog days of this weekend!

Chix-A-Lot Friday!

Alright, alright already! I’ve heard enough from you adoring fans about how you want more Chick, more Chick, more Chick! So we’re trying out a new feature, called “Chix-A-Lot Friday” — Here, you will find Chick’s perspective on the world. His rundown of the week’s news, what he thinks of his foster sibling’s antics, and what kong combo he is finding particularly appealing.

On to today’s installation:

Guys. Here’s the deal. That little sister of mine? Stevie Wonder? She’s crrrazy! She loves me so much that she told me she would like for me to wear her like a hat. At first I was kind of stumped. How do you even respond to that? Could my gorgeous, square head even hold up a gangly teenager like Stevie-girl? Would her long arms block my vision? Would my beautiful wrinkles get itchy? Would I even look good in brindle? Nevermind — dogs don’t even wear hats, I realized.

I tried to explain to her the problem. She would have none of it. She gave me a big ol’ lick to the muzzle. So I had to tell her: woah there, little lady, you’ve gotta take it slow if you want to win my love. I dole it out like candy to humans, but other dogs? They’ve gotta earn it. My ignore-the-foster game will outlast your play-with-me-play-with-me-play-with-me lick-and-punch routine every time, you little Stevie-youngster. Plus, you’re a lady. You can’t be just throwing yourself at every dog that comes along. Even if he is as dapper as me.

She’ll learn eventually. Until then, I’ve asked my mama to put her on a tie-down in the kitchen when we’re hanging out together so she can’t be constantly attacking me with her play-with-me routine. I know I’m irresistible, but I’m an older gentleman, and she’s gotta learn to respect.

*check out our Facebook page for a photo of Chick showing Stevie-girl how to chill out in the kitchen!

For more info on adopting Stevie Wonder, click here or contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com.

Your chance to adopt Stevie Wonder!

Confession time. We have been enjoying our time with Stevie Wonder so much that we have been forgetting to talk and write about her as an adoptable foster dog — we’ve almost been pretending she’s our own dog.

But she’s not ours. In fact, she could be yours! We’ve been doing our best to guiltily keep her a secret from the dog-seeking world, but in reality, we’re surprised that there haven’t been any applications for her yet. She is so very adoptable.

Stevie is not only an amazing swimmer, a great writer, and an ace at playing fetch, but the girl also loves to breakdance!

Seriously, she could not be any sweeter. She is super engaging, knows exactly how to get you to pay attention to her adorable antics, and is always up for a game of chase or a playful wrestle on the couch. She is an absolute delight in the house — great manners, knows the rules, and just wants to curl up at your feet with a good book.

And she’s not bad to look at, either. That gorgeous, shiny brindle coat is perfect for blending in with your landscaping and not leaving visible fur on your dark pants, and those doe eyes . . . well, they can make your heart melt.

She is great with children and adults alike, and also loves other dogs. As a bonus, she has a great squirrel radar and will be sure to keep you safe from those evil intruders, and is very brave in deathing sticks outdoors. If you’ve got a stick problem, Stevie is the girl to take care of it.

So what are you waiting for? You’ve been wanting to adopt a perfect dog, right? Or you have a friend who has? Here’s your opportunity. It won’t last long.

For more info on adopting Stevie Wonder, click here or contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com.

Our guest post on SHINE

A few weeks ago, a wonderful writer whose blog I love to read approached me about doing a guest post for a new feature on her blog called SHINE, which she described this way:

“In an effort to continue on my path to living more deliberately, I’m starting a new section of the blog.  The  germ of the idea came to me when I was volunteering for a non-profit organization by writing articles for their website. All of the articles were positive stories featuring kids or adults who were making a difference in their communities. Each interview left me inspired and humbled.

I was constantly blown away by what average, everyday people have done to make their corner of the world a better place. I loved writing the articles. Then I thought that you might like reading them. So why not keep it going? This section is meant to be just that: a repository for uplifting stories about everyday people who are following their dreams. Maybe you’ll be inspired to follow in their footsteps or share their stories with your friends. That’s why I’m calling this page SHINE. I hope it will spread some light and warmth.”

Naturally, I was flattered. But truthfully, synthesizing my ideas on a big topic has never been my strongsuit, so I struggled for days to write this post. It was not easy, but it was good exercise.

So to those who wonder — why are we doing this? What’s the point? How does it make the world a better place?  This is for you.

*******************

In October 2004, I walked in to the Town Lake Animal Shelter in Austin, Texas, as a volunteer looking for a way to contribute – a mission. In November, I walked out with so much more.

His name is Chick, and he is a pit bull. Something about the enthusiasm in his tail wag and the emotion in his eyes just called out to me, saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I’ll love you forever. Please love me too.” As I watched other dogs leave the shelter for the homes of happy families, he was overlooked, time and again. On the last day before his time ran out, he became mine.

. . . to continue reading, click here or copy this into your web browser:  http://jacquelincangro.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/shine-opening-hearts-and-changing-minds-a-guest-post-by-aleksandra/

Shining stars: a visit to Handsome Dan’s rescue

Last weekend while our foster Stevie Wonder was busy powerwashing the deck with her dad, I snuck away to Providence, RI, to visit my good friend Handsome Dan and his lovely family.

When Handsome Dan was picked to be in American Dog Magazine, his momma kindly invited me to come up for the weekend and photograph Dan, his parents, and their pit bull rescue for the article. Since Dan is rather shy and I had met and photographed him before, his mom thought her coy darling might be more comfortable with me than a stranger with giant photo gear. And since we had been planning a visit for months anyway, American Dog gave us the perfect excuse.

For those of you who don’t already know Handsome Dan, he is one of the Vicktory dogs — the 22 dogs seized from football star Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation that was deemed too emotionally traumatized to go into a regular rescue or foster home. These 22 dogs went to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary where they received boundless love and intensive rehabilitation. Some of the dogs — like Dan — have been eventually released to foster and adoption, while others are still at Best Friends.

American Dog will be featuring a piece about the beautiful rescue operation that Dan’s family runs, specializing in fostering and rehabilitating pit bull dogs seized from fighting operations or extreme cruelty cases. Dan’s mom is a savvy and experienced trainer, Dan’s dad runs a daily park trips program to socialize and exercise the dogs, and baby sister Josephine helps fosters get adopted by showing the world how good they are with children.

Baby Josephine rules the roost. In background: Handsome Dan, Heather, Story, Mark, and Ocean

One of the most interesting parts of the trip was getting to meet all of Dan’s former foster siblings: Gozer, a handsome fawn boy who suffered from behavioral issues at a young age, Betsy, an oversized beauty who had been confined for a long time in a cage so small that her entire paws were stained and infected from urine, Maddy, a tiny, adorable puppy who was scheduled to be euthanized while still a tiny baby, and Kermit, a still-adoptable energizer bunny seized from the recent large-scale dog fighting bust in Philadelphia. They all came to have their photo taken with Dan and his parents!

left to right: Dan, Heather, Betsy, Mark, and Gozer

Gozer and Betsy: now best friends and siblings, love to play bitey-face and snuggle on the couch together.

left to right: Mark, Kermit, Maddie, and Heather

adoptable Kermit and Maddie: best buddies

Something I notice right away every time I watch Heather and Mark interact with the animals is the amount of calm tenderness that they have to offer. Dogs — especially young ones who have never had a real home — can have a lot of frenetic energy, but Heather and Mark have a gift for calming them and helping them to really shine. Just look at the love in their interactions with their fosters and their own Dan:

Look for Dan in the next issue of American Dog magazine. If you live in Southern New England and are interested in adopting Kermit-the-dog, check here for more info.

weekend with daddy

Hey guys, it’s me! Stevie Wonder!

Well Mom went off this weekend to visit her friend Vicktory dog Handsome Dan’s family in Rhode Island, and left me at home all by myself with Mister Chick and my dad. Mom was kinda worried that I would be real sad with her gone, but I was fine! I was very fine!

Dad and I had lots of fun. For example of the fun we had, we played with with my toys:

We also did lots of walking and cuddling. Remember recently when I didn’t want to go walking with dad unless mom was there too? Well that is soooooooooo in the past. Now I love taking dad for walks — and my dog walker too — and I don’t even whine or lay down or look back a whole bunch to see if mom is coming. I’m like a walking machine!

I also taught him how to power-wash a deck. He had never done it before, and I had lots of experience. I normally power-wash with my tongue (so does Mister Chick), but dad had some kind of fancy contraption that sprays water and goes “Hissssssss!”

And last but not least, we did plenty of partying, cause Dad and I both love to party!

PS- mom is thinking about telling you guys about her visit with Handsome Dan and his foster siblings in tomorrow’s post. Whaddya think? Do you want to hear about that, or would you rather just keep hearing about glorious me? Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, and don’t worry about missing me too much: I will be here on the W-day no matter what!

 

 

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