Chix-a-Lot Friday: Handsome devil, or just a devil?

Mama sometimes says that when she calls me a handsome devil, she doesn’t mean that I should actually act like a devil. I don’t really get what that’s about, but she sits me down every now and then and says those words. Maybe I need to pay better attention.

So remember how all week mama has been making a big deal about my foster brother Dude’s heartworms, and how they made him real sick? And how he is also very anxietated when they leave, which is extra super dangerous because it makes his face drool and his heart go thump-thump-thump and it makes the headboard turn into sawdust, and I guess drool and thumping and sawdust are Very Bad when a dog’s heartworms are being killed?

Well. Mama and some of her big-brained dog loving friends got their heads together and thought: we wonder if that Dude were allowed to be together with that handsome devil (not actual devil), if that would help the Dude not feel like he has to thump-thump his wormy heart and make sawdust on mama and dad’s bed and leave big foamy puddles of drool by the doors and windows.

So they tried it. Now friends, you have to understand that this is a really big deal because even though I am a very good boy, I am also a handsome devil and so mama doesn’t normally ever leave me alone with any of my friends or frienemies, in case something happened to go wrong. But I guess I’ve been seeming extra trustworthy recently or maybe the Dude seems extra get-along-with-able, because she started leaving us alone together for a few minutes, then an hour, then two.

The first time, we were very good boys. The second time, we were very good boys. The third time?

Some of you remember when I admitted my former baking habit — I also have a garbage disposal habit, which mama says is related. I thought I had quit it, but it’s just so hard, especially when there’s a youngster around who needs to learn the ropes. How could he ever become a proper housedog without knowing the secrets and smelly wonders contained in a kitchen garbage can?

Well wouldn’t you know, mama and dad sure were surprised when they walked in to the house and discovered this masterpiece in the kitchen. Mama started laughing so hard that she almost fell down, and dad just kind of stood there — but he started laughing too when the Dude trotted into the kitchen and instead of looking kind of bashful and confused like I coached him, decided to go right back to work on the masterpiece. Silly Dude.

And before I knew it, mama invited us to go outside, where we had to stand for a good, long while.

 

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A green lawn to roll on

It’s been a week and a half, and we can finally say that Snickerdoodle had become comfortable enough to feel at home.

Don’t believe us? Here’s our proof:

Different fosters have taken different amounts of time to really settle in, and we suspect that the Doodlebug’s trajectory was thrown off temporarily by his medical issues and his big scare last weekend. It’s true that he still won’t go anywhere near his crate (his third crate, after thoroughly defeating one and convincingly threatening the second) and he still gets a worried furrow in his brow when we leave the house. He still rolls his eyes and sighs when we pull out squeaky toys and balls. And he still isn’t entirely convinced that food is worth working for. But progress takes time.

We’ve hit some big milestones over the past few days: the Dude conquered his first kong snack. He learned how to walk into another room — not the one we’re in — for a nap on the couch. And he reclaimed that very primal, canine instinct to dive into the grass for a long, satisfying, post-bath back scratch, four legs pointed toward the heavens, with a big silly grin on his face. Our favorite milestone yet.

To check out our other blog — about pit bull advocacy, education, rescue, and events in Texas — click here.

For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.
For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.

Clean dogs on clean sheets

After Snickerdoodle’s scary incident and subsequent visit to the vet this weekend, he and the Chick put their heads together and came up with what they considered to be the Very Best Course of Action: from here on, all dogs should sleep on the human bed.

When the vet ordered plenty of rest and TLC for the Doodlebug, surely this is what she meant.

But these guys know better than to think that us very disciplined human would let two filthy, smelly, frito-pawed, grass-stain-covered dogs sleep on our nice clean human sheets — least of all on “clean sheet Wednesday.” No, we’re too cold-hearted and clean-loving to allow that.

So the Chick and the Dude did an unprecedented thing: they volunteered for a bath.

I should have known they were trying to trick me. I should have seen it coming. But I blindly trusted these two con-artists, and gave them a quick hosedown and a good scrub with some nice shampoo. What resulted was some very clean, naked, and fresh-smelling wonderdogs — sleeping on our bed.

"Chick, do you smell that? It smells amazing." "Yes Dude, it's us, and it smells great!"

"I'm already daydreaming about nightdreaming in that nice, comfy human bed."

"Ok Chick, on the count of three, pretend to be sleeping in their bed."

"One, two, three. . . "

To check out our other blog — about pit bull advocacy, education, rescue, and events in Texas — click here.

For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.
For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.

The day everything changed

We woke last Friday before dawn to the sound of Snickerdoodle coughing up blood. It was alarming, to say the least. A few minutes later, the Doodlebug was in the car on the way to the vet, and I was trying to contain my nerves as I drove there, glancing over at him every couple of seconds to make sure he was breathing.

Some extensive testing and a couple of X-rays later, we learned that Snickerdoodle’s heartworm is at an advanced stage. Although we knew he had heartworm from the beginning, he seemed asymptomatic, so everybody assumed that his was a milder case — as is normally expected of young to mid-aged dogs. However, the presence of blood in his lungs and the swelling of his heart and clouding in his chest revealed by his xray puts him at a Class 3 (out of 4).  Dogs with a Class 3 diagnosis are risky to treat and have a “guarded” prognosis with treatment — an expected mortality rate of 10-20 percent. Snickerdoodle’s generally healthy behavior and appearance put him on the optimistic end of the prognosis, but still — ample reason for his doting foster mom to worry.

We had planned to wait a month to begin his treatment (a series of very painful arsenic-based injections into the deep muscle tissue in the lower back), but the new information increased the urgency. He had his first injection on Friday.

For the next ten weeks, our task is to keep the Dude very, very calm. The injection’s task is to break down the worms and effectively kill the disease over the course of 10 weeks. But a big risk associated with the treatment is that any increase in heart rate for the 10-week duration poses a risk of pulmonary thromboembolism (blood clots) because of the pieces of broken-down heartworm traveling through his blood. This is the greatest danger for dogs undergoing treatment, and is more of a threat with more severe cases like ours. This means that for two and a half months, the Dude can’t go for walks, play or run in the yard, or meet other dogs (which gets him VERY excited). The poor guy is on a strict regimen of rest, and with the stakes as high as they are, we are taking the doctor’s orders very seriously.

For Doodlebug, the doctor’s orders are complicated by his serious separation anxiety, which in the first few days (pre-treatment, thankfully) induced panics that resulted in destroyed crates, chewed furniture, and huge puddles of drool on the floor. We have been working overtime to combat his anxiety through a combination of herbal remedies, anti-anxiety meds, lots of ride-alongs for the Dude, and varying degrees of “free range” status in the house when we’re not home. We have slowly begun leaving the Dude and the Chick loose in the house together when we’re not around, hoping that Chick’s stability and company will serve as a comfort to Doodlebug. We’ve even set up a complex video monitoring scheme involving the cameras on our laptops and an iphone, so that we may spy on the Dude when we’re not home and make sure he’s not working himself into a heart-thumping panic.

We’re not sure what his heartworm will mean for Doodlebug long-term. If he survives treatment, he may live a decade or longer, and grow to be a very old man. That is our dream for him. Some dogs treated for heartworm suffer from abbreviated lifespans, while others go on to live full and healthy lives. The result depends on the severity of the disease, how long it was in the dog’s system, the dog’s genes, and a little bit of luck. But for now, he needs to get through the treatment. If everything goes well through the end of March, we’ll know he’s out of the woods.

Given his complex issues, we know that Snickerdoodle is likely to be with us a while. And given how seamlessly he fits into our home and our life, that’s just fine by us.
*****
To check out our other blog — about pit bull advocacy, education, rescue, and events in Texas — click here.
For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.
For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.

Former foster updates!

Somebody must have told Santa that what we wanted most of all for Christmas was some updates from our former fosters — and boy did he deliver! Over the course of one week, we got updates on FOUR of our old fosters — Lollie (now Lily Fireworks), Gonzo (now Ozzie Bunny-Ears), Stevie Wonder, and Curious Georgia! Updates from our former fosters’ forever-families are one of our absolute favorite parts of fostering, and we’re thrilled to share these with you, too.

For those in DC or Austin who are on the fence about fostering, this is a great time to give it a try: The Washington Humane Society in DC is undergoing renovation, and is desperately in need of a few short-term foster families to care for dogs through the end of January while they fix up the kennels. Here is more info. At the same time in our new hometown, the Austin Animal Center is way over capacity, and is looking for foster families to help relieve some of the pressure on the physical space. The AAC fostering program places pets into homes for 2-4 weeks, while they grow stronger, gain weight, or recover from injury. Here is more info about how to sign up for one of these animals in this time of great need.

Now, on to the former foster fun!

Lily Fireworks (formerly Lollie Wonderdog)

“So we got Lily some doggles in hopes of remedying some of the squirrel/bird/deer chasing and pulling on our walks, and with a lot of hot dog bits and some coaxing, she wore them today — what a difference!!! She wasn’t too pleased with them at first, but over all did really well!!! She couldn’t see the squirrels and walked so nicely! We took them off at mile 4 and what a difference — 3 minutes later she lunged at a deer and almost pulled me over — Hot dogs came out and doggles went back on 🙂 She’s so cute in them…

Have we told you,we adore her! She’s stretched out hogging up the entire carpet in front of the fireplacechewing happily on an antler….Love her!”

Further Lily updates — Thanks to Lily’s patient mama’s work and Lily’s new doggles, our girl has graduated from her Easywalk harness, and has just ordered her first Sirius Republic collar! We can’t wait to see Lily in her new outfit. She prepared for its arrival with a nice bath . . .

Lily got to go out on a date with adoptable hearthrob Baxter from Peace, Love, and Fostering a couple of weekends ago, and she and her new boyfriend are starting a pit bull hiking club in Maryland called Pittie Trails, inspired by HikeaBull in the Bay Area.

photo courtesy Peace, Love, & Fostering

Lily and Baxter got along so well, that Lily’s parents are now daydreaming about adopting another pit bull type dog so that she can have a live-in boyfriend/brother/playmate. Fingers crossed they find the right dog!

Ozzie (formerly Gonzo Bunny-Ears)

“Oz has been great as ever! He had a great holiday season (plenty of gifts from the parents AND the Grandparents) and there was definitely no shortage of kisses and dog zoomies to boot! We are predicting even more loveable antics in the New Year! The dynamic duo of Laila and Ozzie is as strong as ever. He still cleans her every morning (no small feat when you consider her size), they eat every meal together, play their favorite game (tug-of-war) and snuggle up for naps and bedtime day in and day out. When one gets startled and barks the other is right there to back them up. When dad or I leave the room they are both hot on our heels. Their isn’t much they don’t do together. In fact they have actually taken to dressing alike. Well.. almost. Momma is a HUGE NY Giants fan, having grown up in that area, so Grandma decided to get the two matching jerseys for Christmas. Ozzie’s was snug but Laila’s barely fit over her head! So she had to settle with a cute Giants bandana. Dad wasn’t too pleased with the choice of team, being that he is a Ravens fan, but I go pretty crazy during football season especially they way our year has been going so I need every bit of support I can get. AND now that we are in the playoffs they get to keep their pompoms out for a little while longer (maybe even till February *fingers crossed*)


Ozzie also went on the longest trip (as far as we know) of his life. He got to go to the snowy, cold state of Michigan to visit his aunt and cousins. One cousin in particular fell madly in love with Mr. Ears declaring he was “the cutest dog in the whole world!” I was a little nervous at first since I didn’t know how he would respond to the likes of a rambunctious 3 yr old but he was a champ! My niece pulled him this way and that, tugged on his ears, tried desperately to pick him up but he kept his cool. I was so proud and glad that I could see this side of him! All in all we had a great trip and great holiday!”

Stevie Wonder

“Dear Foster Mom –

I know that I haven’t written awhile and I’m sorry about that. I’ve been really busy at home. My mom AND my dad were both home for two weeks over Christmas break. That meant that I got to chase the tennis ball A LOT. That was the best thing ever. AND Santa brought me NEW tennis balls AND a huge bone AND a new sweater. PLUS, we had this beautiful tree IN OUR HOUSE and I liked to curl up underneath it. My mom and dad said I looked just a like a present under there.

My mom said that one of her goals was to get me to chill out a little more around her. The thing is, I love her so much that I just have to be where she is all the time if she’s in the house and my whole body wiggles REALLY furiously when she comes home from work. My mom thought that, maybe, if we practiced being in different parts of the house for the two weeks while she was home than she might be able to start doing her silly yoga DVDs down in the family room again.

That just hasn’t been possible for the last few months because even though I am a SUPER GOOD girl, I just want to get underneath and on my Mom when she is going yoga. She told me that’s not what they meant by downward dog. (Is that a joke? Mom says it’s a joke.)

It gets even tougher because she does yoga in the room with ALL OF HENRY’S TOYS. If she isn’t going to pet me and love me than how am I supposed to pass up taking all of these toys, one-by-one, out of bins and off shelves and throw them around like I just found the arc of the covenant?!?! It’s the only responsible thing to do, right? But, my Mom says no way. She says I need to remember which toys are mine EVEN WHEN we are in the basement and EVEN WHEN I am left to my own devices. I am doing really well at other times, but that is a serious challenge for me. I mean, look at this place!

But, guess what, foster mom: I can totally do it now! (Okay, I might pick up one toy, but once I realize that Mom is doing the yoga, I leave it alone.) I either curl up on the couch and look like this:

Or, I GO UPSTAIRS – away from Mom! – I am totally brave and strong now and I can go all the way up to the 2nd floor of the house when she’s in the basement. AND TAKE A NAP! We all thought that was super, totally cool.

Of course, it wouldn’t be any fun if I didn’t develop new quirks. So, since Mom and Dad were SO happy about my chill out training success, I have redoubled my efforts to protect them – and especially my brother  Henry – from all enemies that surround us; Like, the dirt devil, the food processor and – this is the most unsuspecting villain – a wet paper towel being used to clean up a spill. You might think it’s wacky, but I know I’m just protecting them. So, when these things come out – I bark and try to bite/eat them. Mom and Dad say that I just don’t see them clean enough (which might be true) and that they are going to show me that these things are not too scary, after all.  Whatever. I think they should consider themselves lucky to have such a vigilant dog. When I’m not napping, that is.

Love you! Hope you’re having fun – Mom and Dad said you and foster Dad and my friend, Chick, went to Texas!?!?

Stevie”

Curious Georgia

“It’s been a while since we checked in, and while everyone is winding down from the holidays, Georgia wanted to pass a few things along and let everyone know how she’s doing.
Georgia completed Basic Obedience with a great trainer.  I have to say that she was the shining star of the class.  We worked everyday on our homework, and she finished the class way ahead of everyone else. She’s now a great loose leash walker, sits and waits patiently while we prepare her meals, she can sit/stay like a champ (even with minor distractions), and has a secure verbal command for “come”, which we started training silently with hand cues.  We test that last one with dummy words to throw her off, and while she twitches sometimes, she does an excellent job of only moving on the correct command.  We’re currently working on laying down and “go settle” (on her bed), as well as getting some distance and duration on those others.  I think we’ve come the longest distance with “go settle”, and have moved from a slight disinterest in her dog bed, to sniffing it, to siting on it, to pretty reliably finding it and laying down completely.  I’ve learned a ton myself about patience and consistency, and the results are making it an easier lesson all the time.  G seems to genuinely enjoy our training sessions, and I really enjoy the feeling that we’re working together towards something.
Next on the plate is to work on her social skills and apparent leash frustration.  When she sees other dogs on our walks, she becomes a bit vocal and they become the focus of much of her attention.  I don’t think it helps that just about every dog in our neighborhood, whether on the leash, in the yard or in a house, is a barker.  I think things are getting slightly better, just with repeated exposure, but we have yet to tackle it head on.  Off leash (which we’ve only done in contained environments) is a different story, and over Christmas we spent a few days in Charleston, WV with three lively Corgis and a Golden Retriever.  She had great manners, and when the rest of the group would break into spontaneous barking sessions, she just looked at them like they were crazy.  New Year’s Day we were back in Baltimore with some of our closest friends and their three dogs.  She was a model citizen and we were proud parents.
G’s getting softer, shinier, and more muscular every day.  She had some thin patches of fur on her head and end of her tail that are almost completely filled back in, and she went from shedding what felt like a pound of fur a day to virtually not shedding at all.  She still bothers her paws a bit, so we’ll try and get her to the vet sometime this week to get that checked out.  She’s getting better in the rain and in the cold, and it turns out she loooves bananas, but leaves neat little piles of completely clean lettuce and carrots when I try to hide them in her peanut butter Kong.  I don’t know how she does it.  We broke down and finally let her on the people couch (before she was only allowed on one), and it feels so good, I think everyone is much happier.
All in all, we’re really proud of and thankful for her, she’s an immediate hit with everyone she meets (except maybe the cats), and all is well in Baltimore.
-R, G, and ML”

A bit of fostering inspiration for our new friends

We don’t normally post on weekends. But we’re also normally not featured on the front page of WordPress.com, which drove a lot of unexpected traffic our way this week.

We got barrel-fulls of kind, thoughtful comments from lovely new readers, many echoing a very common sentiment we’ve heard before: “I don’t know how you foster; it must be so hard to give them up.” No doubt, it is hard. But it’s also one of the most fun, challenging, inspiring, and rewarding things I’ve ever done.

So here’s a quick rundown of a few of our favorite past posts that address this issue specifically. Dare we hope it’ll inspire somebody to jump in?

About us

How to Save a Life

One year blog-a-versary: The stats

One year blog-a-versary: In photos

Resolutions

And new friends may not have seen the fostering guest post series we did last fall, in which we interviewed a handful of stellar foster families who we admire about their own experiences. This series is certainly eye-opening, and offers some diverse and beautiful perspectives on the ins and outs — and hows  and whys — of fostering.

Q&A with us – Love and a Six-Foot Leash (Austin)

Q&A with Heather – Handsome Dan’s Rescue (RI)

Q&A with Josh – Animal Haven (NYC)

Q&A with Kate – Bully Paws (VA/DC)

Q&A with Chris – Animal Compassion Network (NC)

Q&A with Jen – Homeward Bound (Albany)

Q&A with Amy – New Leash on Life (Chicago)

Q&A with Laurie – All Paws (St Louis)

Welcome new friends, and enjoy!

Chix-a-Lot Friday: What I think of the Dude

Last Friday I confessed to you that I like dudes, remember? Well this Friday I have the following to tell you: My new foster brother is called The Dude. And I like him.

Here’s how it went down.

On the first morning, we started off like this:

And then that afternoon, we were like this:

And then I blinked and it was morning again and I woke up like this:

Now. A less gentle-dog-ly fellow might be peeved to wake up to a noseful of his brand new foster brother’s feet, but not I. Because first, as I mentioned last week, I promised my mama that I would love my new brother. And second, I secretly love the smell of dog feets (my mom loves it too so I guess it runs in the family).

Here’s the thing about the Dude. He and I are really, really good-looking together. He doesn’t have the beautiful brindle furs that I have, but otherwise, we go together so nicely. I am white with browns; he is brown with whites. Observe:

He is my perfect accessory, right? And really, there’s more to it than just how much he adores me the colors of his furs. He’s a pretty cool Dude. For one, he is majorly into snuggling, as am I. For two, he doesn’t try to play with me, which I appreciate (being the distinguished older gentleman that I am). And for three, well — I hate to reveal myself to be a big softie, but — I know he’s had a hard life and like mama says, he just needs a soft spot to land for a while. I don’t really remember what that’s like, but mama says I was in his shoes about 8 years ago (which is so silly because I don’t ever wear shoes). It only took me a day to give the Dude my full stamp of approval (the fastest of any of our fosters yet), and last night I told him a Very Sweet Thing. I said: Little Dude, I’ll be your soft spot to land on for as long as you need.

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