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!?!?


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”

Blast from the past: Stevie Wonder update!

Those who have been with us since summer surely remember Miss Stevie Wonder, the most gangly and tiger-striped of pit bull dogs to ever cross our threshold. Fostering Stevie was an absolute riot. She was full of bubbly exuberance, had a tail that could put a dent in titanium, and adored our Chick with a passion that rivals the world’s greatest love stories.

Last week, before we left town, we got a quick visit in with Stevie and her new family — one of the benefits of living just three miles away. It’s always fun hearing about how our fosters are doing in their new homes, but seeing them happy, bouncy, and comfortable in their forever homes is something else entirely.

Needless to say, Stevie is doing great. She is enrolled in class at the Washington Animal Rescue League, she goes for long walks with her family every morning and evening, and she gets to chase her beloved tennis ball down the deck stairs and across the yard every evening after school. Her darling brother Henry and mom take turns throwing the ball, and Stevie chases it with glee. We’ll let the photos do most of the talking here, because they really show the sweetness of her new family — from the big squeaky tennis balls they loyally buy her and let her destroy, to the “upside down kisses” that Henry likes to demonstrate with Stevie.

One funny little story that doesn’t come through in the pictures: Stevie loves all dogs and gets waggy and happy when she sees any dog on the street. But when she sees another pit bull type dog, she goes absolutely bonkers with wiggles and happiness. Perhaps a trait she learned while living with us? Who knows!

A letter to Stevie Wonder in her new home

**Our sweet protege, Elderbull Lady Zabora is still at the vet, recovering from some complications related to her spay late last week. The vet hopes to release her to us very soon, but wants to keep her for monitoring for another couple of days just to be on the safe side. Please keep her in your thoughts. Thanks to all for your generous support of her rescue and medical care via her Chip-in and raffle, which will remain open until Labor Day (September 5).**

Dear Stevie Wonder,

We hope you realize what a lucky dog you are. We never thought we would find you your perfect home. We always thought we would have to compromise on something. Maybe the people wouldn’t really really appreciate how special you are. Or maybe they wouldn’t have a yard. Or maybe there wouldn’t be anybody to take you running. Or maybe they wouldn’t let you sleep snuggled up on the bed with them at night. Or maybe there wouldn’t be a perfect little boy for you to become best friends with, and learn with, and grow with, and share your life with, and grow old with. But Stevie, you won the lottery. You got all of these things and more.

We didn’t expect it to be this way Stevie, but you burrowed your way deeper into our hearts than any of our other foster dogs so far — even Lollie Wonderdog. It’s not that we love you more — although we sure do love you a lot — but rather something else. We feel so blessed to have witnessed an incredible transformation in you. We watched you go from a trembling, cowering, broken down, withdrawn mess of a skinny dog to a beautiful, graceful, jubilant, exuberant, bubbly teenaged puppy with an incredible zest for life. Watching you bounce around with a toy in your mouth, grinning from ear to ear, and breakdancing at every opportunity, makes our hearts sing. And to think that your life could have gone so differently.

As you make the transition to your new home, Stevie, we hope you are able to keep that crazy wiggle-butt of yours under control. At least, under control enough that you don’t knock over your new human brother too much. He is going to grow to love you more than he ever realized was possible, but he will do it faster if you aren’t always knocking him over with your enthusiasm. We also hope that you remember that not only is your new mom Liz the boss, but that your new dad Paul is also the boss — even though he is so head over heels for you that he would let you do just about anything you want, if Liz weren’t watching. And we hope that you are able to swiftly redirect the profound amount of love you had for us toward your new family. We know you will do it, but we hope it is as easy and graceful as a swim in the lake. Even though they will always love their sweet Rosie, her absence has left a little hole in their hearts that you will fill. And the sooner the better, Stevie-girl.

Stevie, you have taught us a lot about life and love. From you, we have learned about the addictive effect that pure, unadulterated sweetness can have on a person. Your particular variety is absolutely captivating. We have been reminded of the amazing power of putting your heart right out there and making yourself totally vulnerable to those you love. It’s something that we humans are so shy to do, but you make it so plain to see that it’s the best way to love. We have also learned about the boundless joy of going for a nice long swim in a lake and then rolling around in a stinky dead fish (though we will take your word on this last one).

We will always love you, Stevie Wonder. Thank you for making such a beautiful and permanent imprint on our hearts. We are so much better because of it.

With much gratitude and tenderness,

Foster mom, foster dad, and Sir Chick (who is not ready to admit it, but he kinda did enjoy your incessant tongue baths)

Once upon a time, in A VILLAGE called Petworth

Well friends, it’s official. Our Stevie-girl is adopted!! Very soon, she will be going home.

home? i thought home was under this couch with the lost kibble?

The sweet family we met two weeks ago fell in love with Stevie instantly when they read her blog, and even more deeply when they came over in person to hang out with our little girl. And why shouldn’t they? She was showing off her most spastic enthusiastic behavior during their visit, complete with barking, mouthiness, and crazy zoomies — three behaviors that almost never show up in regular life with Stevie. Luckily Paul and Liz are very experienced dog people and were able to see through Stevie’s crazy and impolite antics to the sweet, gentle lady hiding inside.

You see, Paul and Liz love another dog — a sweet Boxer / Pit mix named Rosie, who left this world earlier in the year after falling prey to a brain tumor. Rosie was their first child and their first dog love. They will always love Rosie, but in Stevie they saw something of Rosie. In Stevie’s sensitive brown eyes they caught a glimpse of the same sweetness, tenderness, and the big, jubilant personality that Rosie had.

Rosie's beautiful smile

Paul, Liz, and their two-year-old son Henry live just a couple miles away from us in a DC neighborhood called Petworth. It’s a diverse, developing community with a little bit of excitement going on, and a nice, neighborly, quiet feel to it that Stevie will love. At her new home’s doorstep she has plenty of neighbors to turn into friends, lots of fun festivals, markets, and dog-friendly establishments to visit, and a huge network of parks and trails where she will enjoy runs, hikes, and adventures with her new family.

Petworth is also home to one of DC’s most popular blogs, Prince of Petworth. Every year, PoP runs the “Coolest Pet in Petworth” contest. We sure hope that Liz and Paul enter Stevie in the contest this year. Knowing all we know about her, we think there’s a pretty good chance she could win!

**We will have a big non-Stevie announcement on Thursday and hope everyone will be as excited as we are. Check out our Facebook page for little hints and previews all week long!**

what IT TAKES to make us weepy

Hello Montgomery County Humane Society folks,

We’re sending this note attached to our application because we just weren’t sure that it was clear enough in our short answers that Stevie is supposed to be our little girl. We met her over the weekend with her foster family and really connected with her. We love her sweetness, her energy, her goofiness. We are excited to take her for runs (Paul), to play fetch with her on end (Liz), and to see if she’ll play in the sprinkler or the baby pool (Henry).

We know, from experience, that there is always a transition period – sometimes a few iterations – when someone new joins the family. We know that it is our responsibility to make that transition as smooth as possible for Stevie – by giving her love and calm and warmth (and a basic obedience class). We will do that. We know, from experience, that sometimes dogs bark, and jump around, and knock you over (especially if you are a toddler). We think all of that is fine – and believe that when someone is in your family, there are moments when everyone has to adjust a little. While it could mean bringing in a trainer, it might also mean adjusting our own behavior and routine so that it works for everyone. That’s just what families do for each other.

It surprises us a little that we feel the way we do about Stevie – we lost our sweet Rosie-girl this Spring to a brain tumor and it absolutely broke our hearts. We thought for sure that we wouldn’t be ready this soon. But then we looked up, and Stevie was there. We realized that, while Rosie will always have a place in our hearts, our love for her also created the space in our family for another dog, for Stevie – and the knowledge and ability to be the kind of home that she deserves.

We want to be Stevie’s forever family and hope that you’ll consider our application.

Thank you,

Liz, Paul, and Henry

Stay tuned . . .


**We will have a big non-Stevie announcement on Thursday and hope everyone will be as excited as we are about it!**



Swimming in Solidarity

Hi guys, it’s me! Stevie Wonder!

Do you want to know the absolute silliest thing about my foster brother Chick? He does not even like to go swimming in the doggie pool, and he does not even like to do gymnastics in there!  Can you believe it? He says it’s because he’s from Texas and dogs from Texas aren’t wusses like dogs from Merryland and that he don’t need no stinkin’ baby pool, but I know he’s just as hot as I am when it’s summertime and we’re outside.

As you may recall from a couple weeks ago, I am a most excellent swimmer, both in big waters like lakes and in little waters like my doggie pool. Sometimes when my foster mama takes me running on the trail near her house, she lets me take a quick swim in Sligo Creek when we stop to rest, too. She says it’s a good way for me to cool off. I say it’s a good way for me to do my Stevie-thing.

Anyhow. Remember a little while back when my mama showed you me and Chick both wading in my pool together? Here we are, just so you remember:

Well what mama didn’t show you is what a spectacle it was, getting Sir Chick to get in the pool with me! He hemmed and hawed and made excuses until finally, I came up with a brilliant plan. I would get in the pool v e r y   s l o w l y, one foot at a time, pausing between each one to show him how non-scary it was. I spent an extra specially long amount of time on step three-feet-in just so I could show him that although I love the swimming best of all, I still stand in solidarity with my brother sometimes by leaving one foot out of the pool with him. Aren’t I such a nice sister?

Block Party!

After Stevie and I went running yesterday evening, we had to rush home and clean up fast — me with a shower, Stevie with a check in the mirror and a quick spray of binaca in her mouth — because a very special visitor was coming over to take our lady for an evening stroll.

As she is known to do, she impressed him with her most polite, modest, and feminine of behavior:

After that ladylike display, we were off.

We rounded the corner, and what did we discover? A block party! With all our favorite neighborhood friends, including our good pals who have been taking Stevie for daytime adventures while we toil away at work.

For her new special friend, Stevie showed off a move that Chick has taught her, using her neighborhood buddy Amanda as a prop: the “Hard To Get”

And it worked. He was smitten. But in the end, her tongue told him all he really needed to know about the reciprocity of her feelings:

Stay tuned . . .



The Prom

It was the doggie prom at our house this weekend, and both Stevie Wonder and Sir Chick got to go. They got special prom outfits that fostermom picked up at the thrift store for them — a sparkly sequined Hello Kitty skirt for Miss Stevie, and a blue paisley tie for Sir Chick.

Unfortunately, we didn’t give them adequate time to find dates, so they ended up having to go with each other. This did NOT make them happy.

Even though they were initially reluctant to be each other’s date, they agreed to go since they both love to party in general and dance in particular.

At the end of the evening, both were quite pooped and fell asleep still wearing their party clothes.

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

formula for a sleepy Stevie

First, take a surprise offer from a neighbor/friend to take Stevie running while you’re at work. For best results, use a neighbor/friend who is a longtime pit bull lover and rescuer.

Add two ultra-awesome boys who love dogs and especially pitties.

Toss with plenty of sunshine and a lush green creek-side trail. Mix for about 40 minutes.

Once the Stevie is nice and panty, add a Chick. Sprinkle with generous petting.

Dip the Stevie and Chick in the baby pool.

Put in crate to set for 5 hours.

In the evening, enjoy your sleepy Stevie!

Thanks for giving our kiddos such a nice surprise yesterday, Amanda and boys!

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