A letter from Georgia’s new daddy

I think I just had one of the best weekends ever.  I really cannot believe what a great dog she is, or that she hasn’t been with us for more than 48 hours, it feels like she’s always been here somehow.  We’re sticking to our plan of keeping the lower floor divided, with the cats having the back half and basement, and G in the front half and upstairs.  The cats stare at her through the glass a lot, but they’re not getting puffy anymore and are comfortable enough to go off and do other things or curl up and go to sleep by the door.  Most of the time it seems like Georgia doesn’t even seem to know they’re there. 

Saturday went just as I imagined it, she was glued to my hip the whole day and wouldn’t let me out of her sight.  We went on a few walks and explored the neighborhood, which I haven’t gotten to do at all until now.  I’m trying to work out a route with plenty of grass on the same side of the street to get her used to sticking to one side or the other.  When she pulls I stop and wait for her to come back to me before continuing, and I think she’s getting the hang of it.  She’s met a bunch of the neighbors and one neighbor dog when we were out on a walk, and she’s a huge hit with everyone.  No surprise there.  She put herself to bed around 10ish, and very grudgingly left her cozy spot to come upstairs with us so we could let the cats check out her space for the night.  

Sunday morning started early, maybe too early for little G.  We went outside to do her business and I thought we’d go around the block.  We got about half way and she planted herself and gave me a “Hells nah” look.  I’m trying to avoid tugging on the leash, and I didn’t have any treats (rookie mistake I guess), so she won that round.  We spent a lot of the day working on “sit” and “stay”, which she seems to be picking up pretty quickly, and teaching her which couch can be hers.  She seemed to have that down, but did her best to convince me she had forgotten this morning when she tried to climb up next to me.  A quick “no” was all it took to send her back to her own couch.  We had zero problems getting her to eat, she’s practically the president of the clean bowl club.

I put the cats’ favorite stuff down in the basement yesterday and kept them there for a bit so G could explore their half of the house, which she was very thorough about.  At about 1 or 2 she decided it was ok if I left her direct field of view, which freed me up to do some chores around the house.  She was still following me up and down the stairs, and if she heard me go out the door and come back in she popped by to check on me, but she seems to be getting more and more comfortable with doing her own thing.  We’re also working on sitting and waiting before going in and out of doors, and she’s such a champ with that.  I am in constant awe of how good she is.  We had a few friends over last night, all of them dog owners, and they were equally impressed and charmed by her.  Someone actually said “I’m jealous”.

She’s already such a great companion, and getting better every minute.  We owe much of that to the loving home you and Ben gave her.  To hear that she lost 9 lbs in just a few months and wouldn’t eat a few weeks ago speaks volumes to how important her time as a foster was.  I really believe she is the perfect dog for us, and we would never have known if it weren’t for you, and “thank you” just doesn’t seem to say it all.  Just know that we are tremendously grateful for the time you’ve taken to get to know us, and your patience in helping us find our dream dog.

Good luck with the move, and we’ll certainly be in touch!

-R

One year blog-a-versary: the stats

We still can’t find the words to express how powerful and meaningful the last year has been to us. We have learned so much about dogs, about ourselves, about marketing, about writing, and about friendship, and it has been a joy to share it with our online community. Rather than struggling to find a few eloquent words that would inadequately sum up our year, here are a few humble stats:

Posts written: 262

Post comments: 5,500+

Blog views: 153,000+

Strangest web searches leading to clicks on our blog: “cat climbs cherry tree;” “what dog behaves like pancho villa;” “does stevie wonder swim;” and “incredible hulk and his girlfriend”

Dogs who have shared our home: 7

Foster dogs we have fallen in love with: 7

Dogs who found their perfect forever-home: 6

Dogs we tried but could not save: 1

Dogs whose lives were saved by our foster dogs’ inspiration: 5+

Dogs who were returned to us or the rescue: 0

Dogs who we have missed after they were gone: 7

Longest foster: Lollie Wonderdog, 3.5 months

Shortest foster: TANK, 8 days

Dogs who kept their foster names in their forever-homes: 3

Most popular posts: Pit bull awareness: words do matter; and How to save a life through dog fostering.

Silliest posts: Gonzo’s breed report; and Giving thanks and a dance party.

Most difficult post: Goodnight, sweet Blue.

Favorite foster-written posts: Stevie’s summer vacation Part 1 and Part 2.

Walks in the cold rain taken with foster dogs: dozens

Walks on beautiful sunny days taken with foster dogs: 100+

True friends we’ve made in our own community through fostering: 10+

Friends we’ve made in the blogging community through fostering: dozens

Days we have wished we were not fostering: none.

Have any favorite fosters, moments, photos, stories, or posts from our first year? Do let us know in the comments. We’ve had so much fun reviewing the past year’s happenings, we would love to hear your reflections too!

And most importantly, thanks to all our readers and friends for your inspiration, your compassion, and your friendship. You have changed our lives forever and for better. 

Blog-a-versary! A celebration in photos.

It seems that today marks one year since we started Love and a Six-Foot Leash and brought home our very first foster, Lollie Wonderdog. When we opened this blog, we were envisioning just a little personal documentary project to help us chronicle and then remember our experiences fostering homeless dogs — nothing more. We still cherish this element of the blog, but have found ourselves trying to do a lot more — advocating on behalf of homeless pit bull type dogs everywhere, marketing our current fosters for adoption, networking with other foster families and dog lovers around the world, and coaching others on the ins and outs of fostering and integrating new dogs into the household. It has been such a thrill.

As much as we love writing, we are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to sum up everything we have learned and received from the seven dogs who have shared our home. So instead, we want to celebrate our blog anniversary in the way we best know how: through photographs.

Thanks to each of you who have been a part of this beautiful and life-changing journey with us.

Mischief.

Joy.

Sorrow.

Play.

Bath.

Peace.

Adventure.

Friends.

Family.

Forever.

A letter to Curious Georgia in her new home

Dear Georgia,

Do you remember the day we met? I walked back into the office at the shelter, where the rescue, foster, and marketing folks sit, and there you were. You were the saddest dog I have ever seen. Your honey eyes were so timid and uncertain. You had already come such a long way with the care of shelter staff who had saved you at your “last call.” It was difficult for me to imagine.  I tried to pet you, and your tail tucked between your legs a little. What did you think of me?

Moments later, you had started to come around, quickly realizing that my lap was a warmer place to nap than your dog bed, and I whispered in your ear “I think I love you.” and it was true. It still is true.

Georgia, it was a little crazy and a little impulsive of us to bring you home right as we were packing up our lives for our grand adventure and a big move across the country. But looking at you, and feeling your warm, tender, trusting body snoozing gently in my lap, how could I say no?

Georgia at the shelter, the day we met.

Georgia's world opened up once she came home.

We learn from each foster dog that we are lucky to share our life with. But Curious G, we learned something extra-special from you– something that we hope others see as well, and hold in their hearts and act upon when they have the opportunity. Georgia, we didn’t think we could give you everything you needed to find a good home. But we knew we could give you a part of it — a start, at least. We had no idea if it would pay off, but look at you — cozy and happy in your new home with your mom and dad and your two kitty brothers — it obviously payed off. If everybody took a chance now and then and did a little bit, even if they can’t do everything, how many lives could be affected? For us, it was a simple act– an agreement to take you into our home for just two weeks and find a transition plan for you. It changed your world for the better.

We learned another big lesson about fostering, too. Lollie Wonderdog was with us 3.5 months. Gonzo Bunny-Ears was here two months. Stevie Wonder? Also two months. Little Zee was here five weeks. And you, Georgia? How long were you with us before you found your perfect dream family and went home? Two weeks and two days. Of course this trend will not continue.  And when we start over and set up in Austin, we will be starting from scratch in many ways. But taking you in and finding your family so quickly made us ponder — is there an economies of scale effect with fostering? Could it be that the longer we keep fostering, writing about it, making new contacts and meeting new friends, the more likely we will be to swiftly find homes for dogs in our care? We’re not certain, but we sure do hope so.

None of this is meant to discount how incredibly adoptable you are. You walked into our lives and we were amazed at how perfectly you behaved. No potty training accidents, no crying or barking, no jumping up, no stealing food, no escaping through the door or over the fence, no difficulty introducing you to kids, dogs, adults, new situations, nothing. You were — and are — perfect. It’s no wonder ML and R fell in love and adopted you as quickly as they could.

Curious Georgia, you have a dazzling life ahead of you. Seeing you so happy, comfortable, and steady at our visit to your new home was a rare pleasure in life. You had such a good time sniffing your new dad’s beard — I bet he didn’t even know that beards are your absolute favorite sniffing subject. And after 10 minutes of exploring, you hunkered down on the floor for a little nap. You melted their hearts just like you melted ours.

We know you won’t forget all of the things you learned in your short time with us. Where you used to flatten to the ground and whimper, you now take stairs with grace and ease. Where you seemed frightened of all dogs when you first came to us, you learned to love and snuggle with your foster brother Chick and sniff happily with our neighborhood dogs through fences. You weren’t sure what to make of strangers at first, but now you know the right thing to do: walk tenderly up to them and rest your face gently against their leg, requesting a hug.

Georgia, we wish you a life full of people to hug, dogs to snuggle, and beards to sniff. When we handed your new leash over to your new dad a few days ago, we felt as happy and confident as we possibly could that we were sending you off to the perfect, beautiful life you have long deserved.

With much love,

Foster mom, Foster dad, and Sir Chick (who already feels a little chilly without your sweet little head keeping his neck warm during naptime)

 

**Tomorrow is a special day for us — come back and help us celebrate!**

A twist of fate: Georgia is Adopted!

All weekend long we were squirming from having to keep the beans in the can, but today we can reveal our big news: Georgia is adopted!!

Can you believe it? Fate was on our Georgia’s side, and we are thrilled to announce that Curious Georgia has been adopted by a wonderful Baltimore couple. She has just moved into her new home — a gorgeous 1920s row house in a lovely, quiet, green neighborhood, with her two amazing, sweet, tender-hearted parents and two lovely kitty brothers, TJ and Toby.

I wish we could boast that we had a feeling when we pulled Georgia just two weeks before our big move to Texas that we could get her adopted in a snap — but we had no idea. We were feeling pretty clever with our plan to pull her, care for her for two weeks, and transfer her to our dear friend Juliana — another brilliant foster, writer, photographer, and blogger.

This would have been a win-win situation for everybody. Each of you would have gained a wonderful new blog to follow, you could have continued to track Curious G’s progress in foster care, and we still had the pleasure of sharing our home and our bed with Georgia for two sweet weeks. Needless to say, the adoption was a hiccup in the plan, but oh, such a beautiful and happy one! Georgia has gone to her perfect new home, which will free up Juliana’s home for another worthy dog. Stay tuned to her blog for news on who she will next bring home next week!

We first met Georgia’s mama ML when we were fostering Little Zee. She was immediately taken by Zee’s beauty and laid-back nature. She and her hunny were thinking about adopting their first dog, and Zee and I walked into their life via a visit to the beautiful shop where she works. Unfortunately, Zee was not meant to be for them, because she would not do well in a house with cats. Luckily Zee found the right home, and Georgia joined us at Casa Fosterfamily. A few days later, Georgia and I were wandering around town, and we ran into ML again. Georgia turned on the charm, and made her way into ML’s lap just seconds after meeting her. It was love:

After another visit, this time with dad-elect R, they were truly charmed: “We both feel like she is an amazing fit for us in every way.  I could not have dreamed up a dog this ideal!  We love her sweet temperament, her cuddling, and her handsome sniffing face.”

I will sniff my way right into your heart . . . and your home !

A meet-and-greet with the kittehs –which went great — sealed the deal.

Georgia will be living the dream with ML, R, and the two kitties. They are both artists whose flexible work schedules mean that Curious G will only be home alone three days per week, and even then, the days are relatively short and R can come home at lunchtime to give her a pee break and a nice snuggle. ML’s shop is dog-friendly, and Georgia will even be able to come along and be a shop dog now and then!

They have a nice sunny grassy patch out back for G to roll around in — something she did as soon as we stepped out into the yard during our home visit. Her parents have already fallen deeply in love with her, and her kitteh brothers are sure to follow suit. What more could a Curious Georgia want?

Congrats, Georgia. We will miss you, but couldn’t be more thrilled and optimistic for your bright new future!

Time’s up!

Well folks, the time is really here. The moving truck comes on Wednesday to take our whole life — packed into little boxes and labeled with a sharpie — and move it to Austin, where we’ll make our home for good.

Many of you probably thought we were totally nuts taking in a new foster — Curious Georgia — just two weeks before our scheduled move date. What would become of her when we left? Would she go back to the shelter?

But c’mon — you know us better than that by now! We are crazy, yes. Certainly. But we wouldn’t dream of taking a dog in without being able to ensure its comfort, safety, and spoiledness. In fact, we have had a brilliant plan in place all along. A good fostering friend of ours, Juliana, just happened to be dogless and could not take a new dog until today. We had space and capacity to care for a dog until our move, but it had to be gone by tomorrow. Curious Georgia was floundering at the shelter — having lost nine pounds in the two months she lived there — and needed to get into foster care ASAP, since capacity was nonexistent and she was on The List. One look into her honey eyes and a quick knowing glance between Juliana and me, and we had a perfect match. I took her home the next day.

It’s been a fast two weeks with Georgia. I fell for her the minute she crawled into my lap (which was ten minutes after we met), and Chick fell for her in just two days. For the first time in a long time, I think it’s safe to say that both we and our Chick will miss this foster dog when she moves on to the next chapter of her life.

I will miss her smooshiness and how warm my left side is.

After the moving trucks come, we’re heading out to California for two weeks of adventuring. Hiking and camping are on the agenda, as are great meals and great drinks. We’re also going to drop in on some of our favorite dog people — including a trip to the BAD RAP Barn, a weekend Hikeabull hike, and maybe even a visit with Our Pack. Who knows– if we get inspired, we might even check out the Lagunitas brewery.

While we travel, we will be posting guest blogs from some of our favorite and most experienced foster families, sharing their perspectives. We will write about foster mom’s experiences at a recent week-long training program at Animal Farm Foundation, focused on best practices in advocacy, adoptions, and sheltering for pit bull type dogs. Other goodies are in store too. When we get settled in Austin, we plan to start fostering again very quickly. In fact, our application is already in with Love-a-Bull!

As much as we’re excited to get out of town and spend two weeks wandering wherever the warm wind blows, Sir Chick and Georgia will be on our minds.

Mama, please don't go.

For those who played our little “guess who’s a pit bull” game in Saturday’s post: Chick (the handsome white dog) is 50% American Bulldog, between 25% and 50% English Pointer, and between 0 and 25% mystery dog. Pancho (the lovely dark dog) is 50% American Staffordshire Terrier, 12% Brittany Spaniel, and 38% mystery dog. Does this mean that Chick is not a pit bull but Pancho is a pit bull? Or are they both pit bulls? Or is neither actually a pit bull? Or are they both a pointer mix, because Chick’s DNA says he IS a pointer mix and Pancho actually looks like a pointer mix? We think all of the above. And none of the above. What a head-scratcher.

Pit bull awareness: words do matter

We know that those who read our blog are generally already keen to the fact that pit bull type dogs can be great family pets and are nothing to be feared or avoided. Many of you have pit bulls draped across your laps right now, and others work tirelessly at shelters and rescues in your areas to help give lost souls — many pit bulls — a new chance at life. But all the while that you’re doing so much good, could you inadvertently be doing harm also?

I was reading a great article by a kind advocate journalist in our local Examiner online newspaper the other day, highlighting our fantastic pit bull adoption promo that Chick has dreamed up and Little Zee has funded. I was happily bumbling through the article, which talked about how pit bulls were great dogs, more people should consider them as pets, etc, etc. Then, I saw it. And it stopped me dead in my tracks:

“The American Pit Bull Terrier is often recocgnized more for its aggressive nature; and as a fighting dog than for the other characteristics it is also known for, such as: companion dog, police dog, therapy dog.”

Its aggressive nature? Really? It’s a shame when things like this are said or written by well-meaning advocates who just haven’t had a chance to think through how their words sound to the outside world. I put down my coffee and took my two aggressive companion therapy dogs for a long walk to clear my head.

It’s a tough language game, talking about pit bull dogs in a fair and appropriate way. With thoughtful and effective advocacy and guidance coming from outstanding organizations such as Animal Farm Foundation, many of you have already read these concepts. But just the same, in honor of Pit Bull Awareness Day, here is a quick list of “don’ts” to help you be a better advocate:

Don’t call them American Pit Bull Terriers. Unless, of course, you have their papers. These days, any dog with a muscular, medium-sized body, short fur, and a pensive, wrinkly forehead gets called a pit bull. In truth, most of these dogs have no APBT and no Staffordshire Terrier in their family tree. I’ve tried out a number of alternative titles, and right now I’m calling them pit bull type dogs. It’s loosey goosey, and it refers only to broad physical characteristics. Do you prefer a different phrase?

Don’t call them bullies or bully breeds. Those of us who love them think it’s cute, but those who are already on the fence leaning away from liking our square-headed friends are not going to be charmed by this naming convention. Likening dogs who some people fear to bullies on the playground? Not great marketing. If you MUST “cuteify” and nick name pit bull type dogs, why not try “pitties” or “pibbles” instead?

Don’t say “it’s all in how they’re raised.” In truth, there is much more to it than that. Many dogs of all breed mixes are raised well and end up being little devils. Many others are raised in their own personal hell of abuse, and end up as perfect, loving pets. Remember Lollie Wonderdog, our first foster, who was found in a dumpster, starved, bred, beaten, totally filthy, and terrified of life? Odds are she was not raised in a warm and loving environment, and yet, she was one of the most warm and loving dogs we’ve ever known. By saying “it’s all in how they’re raised,” you are suggesting that dogs who come from a background of abuse could not make good pets. This discourages people from adopting, since the history of shelter dogs is so often unknown.

Don’t ascribe attributes — good or bad — based solely on appearance. You know not to judge a book by its cover. And yet, pit bull lovers are quick to refer to these dogs as smart, loving, snuggly, fiercely loyal, great with kids, athletic, etc, etc. Pit bull haters are equally quick to describe them as aggressive, tenacious, and unpredictable. Neither camp is right. Most dogs labeled as pit bulls are actually mixed breed dogs of varying genetic composition — the majority don’t even have a trace of APBT or Staffordshire Terrier in their bloodlines. If that’s the case, then how can it be logical to assume behaviors, good or bad, based on guesswork and physical appearance? This is a hard pill to swallow, even for me. But if we allow ourselves to make blanket positive generalizations about a diverse group of dogs who share some basic physical traits, why do we think it’s fair to criticize others for doing the same, but casting a negative light?

This list could go on: why you shouldn’t assume a dog was a fighting dog or a bait dog. Why the difference between those two doesn’t matter. Why you’re doing more harm than good when you cite fierce loyalty and love of owner. Why it’s crazy to talk about pit bull type dogs being bred for generations for any purpose at all, when in reality most pit bull type dogs are mixed breeds resulting from accidental litters.

In the end, I want to leave you with a little game. One of the dogs in these photos is half American Staffordshire Terrier, and the other one is 1/4 to 1/2 English Pointer. Care to guess which is which?

Little Zee’s Fabulous Four Adoption Special at MCHS!!

Hey guys, it’s me Chick, your favorite pit bull! And have I got great news for you!!

Tomorrow is National Pit Bull Awareness Day, and in honor of that, my former foster sister Little Zee and I have put our giant brains together and sponsored a special adoption event at the Montgomery County Humane Society!

You may recall when we did a special fundraiser for Little Zee’s medical care. Well we raised much more than we needed, and Zee generously agreed to use some of her extra monies to sponsor the adoption fees of a few other very special pit bull type dogs at her very own shelter of origin, MCHS. For a limited time only, all adoption fees are sponsored for Little Zee’s Fabulous Four — that means you can adopt one of Zee’s custom-selected pit bulls for free, and only pay the $25 microchip fee. And these lovely dogs are all spayed/neutered, tested for heartworm and other ickies, vaccinated, and come with Little Zee’s stamp of approval. Wowza, what a deal!!

Friends, these four dogs were selected because they have a special place in Foster Mom’s heart, and all have fantastic evaluations from the shelter. All they need is a little spotlight to shine on them, and we hope they’ll be adopted in a flash. And after they’re adopted, Little Zee and I will appoint NEW dogs to the elite “Fabulous Four” team to take their place! And as our wonderbulls are adopted, they will free up cage space for other great dogs in need. We’ll all be saving lives together!

But you can help!! Please spread the word about this awesome adoption special by re-posting this blog on facebook, on your own blogs, and emailing it to your DC area friends who might be looking for a new best friend.

As mama always says — you can’t put a price on a good dog’s love. But as I would say, right now you can bring that good dog home for just $25! Here’s the lucky line up. Our Fabulous Four of wonderbulls:

BEAMER

We’re not sure how Beamer’s name was picked, but we do know that it suits him perfectly. Happiness just bubbles out of this little guy’s ears, and his future family will be beaming every time they’re around him too — he’s that lovable and charming. Beamer is about 8 months old and a very quick learner. It’s tough for a lot of pooches his age to concentrate, but if you have treats in your hand, he’s with you 100%. This valuable skill will make him a delight to train, and very attentive to his future family! He also loves to be petted, and basks in the glory of human affection and attention. And seriously– could he be any cuter?

KERRY

Kerry is just a silly little wiggle-butt! She is three years old, playful and fun, confident and touch-oriented. When you lean over to scratch her butt, she will curve her body into a little u-turn shape to show you how much she loves your attention. That’s a special move I taught her, by the way. When you call her name, she sometimes cocks her head to the side in a mischevious way, to show you she’s listening. Her ears are lopsided and adorable, and get her tons of attention. She walks well on leash and seems good with calm male dogs. She’s a volunteer favorite!

SLOANE

Sloane loves to party! She is an eight-month-old pup who is full of bubbly exuberance and puppy energy, and it’s infectious. Spend a little time with this girl and she’ll have you wiggling, jumping, and grinning from ear to ear. We can’t put our finger on what it is about this girl, but she has some kind of gravitational pull that makes people want to touch her, play with her, kiss her, and look into her eyes. Go meet her. You’ll fall in love, and she’ll be the most loyal companion you’ve ever known.

DIAMOND

Oh, Diamond. Can you get enough of that adorable mug, that patchy eye, and that sweet underbite? Diamond’s face is absolutely irresistible. She is a sweet girl, well behaved, and desparately wants a home of her own. We don’t know where she lived before, but we know that she was well fed — Diamond would love a forever-companion who will take her for long walks to help her burn off a few extra pounds. But in the meantime, I hear she makes a great pillow and loves to be touched. Diamond seems fine with dogs and is great with all people. She’s a sensitive girl who gently closes her eyes when the wind blows, and will flip over onto her back for a belly rub at a moment’s notice. She is so beautiful that people stop dead in their tracks to stare and ask about her. Come check her out!

I hope you’re as excited about my Fabulous Four as I am, friends! Now go book MCHS in your calendar for tomorrow so you can snatch up one of these wonderbulls for yourself, or if you live too far, tell your DC area friends to come check them out. These dogs will truly love you as much as the day is long!

50 ways to leave your lover

It’s funny, when they say that us pit bull type dogs can’t ever live with other dogs, can’t play with other dogs, and shouldn’t be around other dogs at all. Balderdash!

I’m Curious Georgia, and I’m here to tell you that that’s just plain silly.

You know that little ditty about 50 ways to leave your lover? Well I don’t know about any of that, but I do know that there are 50 ways to snuggle your Chicken. Here are just a few.

I can snuggle my Chicken with just my ear:

I can snuggle him with my whole paw:

I can snuggle him nose to nose:

I can snuggle him like a little spoon:

I can snuggle him like a nice pillow for his bum:

I can snuggle him like a nice blanket for his body:

And I can snuggle him like a nice blanket for his neck:

It doesn’t matter much to me how I snuggle or even who I snuggle — as long as you’re sweet and warm and want me to love you, I’ll be your best girl!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,130 other followers

%d bloggers like this: