A letter to Little Zee in her new home

Dear Little Zee,

Gosh, you’re really gone. It’s amazing and numbing and wonderful and heartbreaking and joyful and astounding all at once. When we met you in August, you were an eight-year-old pit bull with goopy eyes and a physical disability in a large shelter. You had either a dark future or a long road ahead of you, we thought. But when we said goodbye to you just a few short weeks later, you were a shining star. A celebri-dog. An elder-belle. An internet sensation, a remarkable fundraiser, and a snuggle-bear with fur like velvet and eyes that can melt even the most hardened of souls.

But your new family does not have hardened souls. Zee, you were happily napping and drooling on the couch when I had this conversation, but I took a liking to your new mama as soon as we talked on the phone that first time. I loved that she was not put off by your age or your disability, but in fact drawn in by it. I loved that she and her hunny — your new daddy — had been waiting for the right time to adopt their first dog and thought carefully about what type of dog would be the best fit for their current and future family. When they came over to meet you, I loved how they loved you. How they kept remarking at how sweet, social, and soft you are. How you don’t mind being picked up and held. I loved thinking about how you would teach them so much about the purity and sweetness of a good dog’s love, and their lives will be forever changed by you.

Zee, you have bolstered our faith and pride in humanity. You have showed us how much compassion and love there can be for a tiny underdog in this world. That although puppies and young dogs will always be in the spotlight, there is enough space on the stage for a humble, lovable, older gal like yourself to bathe in the warm glow too. The amount of support we received while you were in our care — in the form of donations, quick emails, and long, emotional letters — really blew us away. We cried often while you were with us, but our tears were not tears of frustration or sadness, but rather tears that spilled over when our hearts were so full from the love of our community that we couldn’t fit any more thankfulness inside ourselves. We will always be grateful for the way you wiggled your way not only into our lives, but into the lives of hundreds of others who know you through photos and stories alone. Thank you, Little Zee.

With love, longing, and tenderness,

Foster mom, foster dad, and Sir Chick (who is so proud to share his Elderbull title with you)

Little Zee – Adopted!!

Wouldn’t you know? Our least traditionally “adoptable” foster so far has turned out to be the one to find her new home the fastest!

We are thrilled to announce that she has officially started her new, wonderful life without us. We couldn’t be more happy for her (and momentarily sad for ourselves).

With each of our foster dogs, we end up developing a picture of what the perfect family will be like. For Lollie Wonderdog, we dreamed of a nice, active family with plenty of patience, a big yard, and kind children to be Lollie’s best friends. For Gonzo Bunny-Ears, we held out for the rare adopter who worked from home, had another dog in the house, and would be willing to keep his important middle name of “Bunny-Ears.” With Stevie, we seeked sensitivity and tenderness, plus a little boy for Stevie to bond with, play with, and snuggle with on rainy days. In each instance, we won big.

With Little Zee it was not so clear. Zee is so easygoing that we came up with very few requirements for her forever-family. Sure, they would have to love her and appreciate how special she is — but who wouldn’t? Zee could be a great match for a seasoned dog-owner or a first-timer. She could live in the city or the country. She could have an apartment or a house. Children or no children? Doesn’t much matter.

But in the end we found a match so perfect that we couldn’t have even dreamed it up. Zee’s new mama, C, is an art therapist who works with seniors in assisted living facilities. She understands through and through that age is just an abstract label that cannot fairly be used to judge an individual’s abilities, dreams, or value in the world. C routinely ignores what so much of our society can’t look past — age-related disabilities and wrinkled skin — and helps individuals express themselves and thrive in a safe, warm environment. If there ever were a clear match for our Little Zee, I think we’ve found it.

So a few days ago, as Little Zee trotted and bounced her way out of our lives, we knew that she was wiggling her way into something truly special. Good luck little girl, your life has just begun.

Everybody loves Zee

When the third great adoption application arrived in one week — in the first week — we stopped thinking that the universe was playing a funny trick on us and realized that Little Zee is just something really special.

Before Zee, even our most quintessentially adoptable dogs took at least 8 or 10 weeks to find their way home. An eight year old dog with neurological problems who needs help up and down the stairs and can’t be around small animals? We thought it would take at least 3-4 months — if we were lucky — to find her a home.

Turns out our thinking was all wrong. Zee’s snuggly personality, compact size, beautiful face, and low-key nature actually make her exactly what many people are looking for.

In the weeks since the first one — when we received three stellar applications for Zee — we have been thinking and mulling, conducting interviews, answering questions and asking them, and hosting meet-and-greets, doing home visits, and going for walks.

We have also been celebrating. What does it mean, if three wonderful sets of people found Zee right after she was rescued and thought they might like to share their life with her? And which of these three wonderful sets of people — an art therapist and her husband who are looking for their perfect dog, one who will be sweet to them and their future children; a public health professional who lives in an exciting part of the city and wants a snuggly, easy dog to be her companion on the town; and an artist who met Zee when we were out shopping and instantly fell in love — will be Zee’s Ones?

Stay tuned to find out.

Foster Dad’s Take: Guard Dog

You’ve heard a lot from FosterMom about Zee’s beauty, her love of car rides, and her fine taste in furniture.  But I wanted to share one of my favorite things about our little lady: her utter incompetence as a guard dog.

Every evening when I walk in the door after a long day at work, Zee hears me fumble with the lock and lets out a staccato but somewhat hoarse woof.  It’s never more than a lone syllable, but it’s loud.  Next, however, she doesn’t come bounding over to the door to check me out.  Instead, I hear her slowly disentangle herself from the cozy jelly bean she’s formed at Foster Mom’s feet and saunter toward the door.  As she rounds the corner, coming within sight of the door, she pauses, head and ears cocked, her forehead wrinkled with curiosity.
When Zee sees it’s me, she romps over for a hearty back massage, leaning so far into me that she loses her balance and plops her butt down on the floor.
Good guard dog!

Little Zee, party animal

Our good buddies came over for drinks the other night, and Zee showed off her party animal side. Her favorite way to party is by sitting in the various laps that are made available to her, including our friend Amanda’s:

Although she is an equal-opportunity lap-sitter, she really is at her absolute happiest snuggled between a couple of guys. She loves women and kids, but she absolutely ADORES men (smart lady).

And miniature men may be even better. Here she is having a nice snuggle with our buddy Dexter, who has been a great friend and playmate to several of our foster dogs:


We think that Zee’s obvious comfort with and love for all different types of people is a big “adoptability factor” in her favor. Zee has never met a person she didn’t like, and has never found a lap that’s unsuitable for napping on.

Bouncing and Bumbling

We’ve written so much about Little Zee’s bouncing and bumbling ways — the very cute result of a neuro issue that has left her with slightly impaired balance and coordination — but until you have seen it, it’s really difficult to love.

Just a warning — we have bolstered our doors with extra locks to stave off all of the would-be dognappers who will be driving to our house as soon as they watch her charming ways:

no dogs on the sofa

. . . or so we thought.

After all, it’s a light colored sofa, and we do not suffer from a lack of dog-permissive furniture in our living room and den.

It’s not that our Little Zee sneaks up without permission. It’s that she’s so darn sweet and so good at finding the exact right spot to snuggle in, that you just can’t resist her pleading eyes.

One more dog rule, out the window.

Splish splash!

Last night was dog bath night at Casa Fosterfamily!  Dog bath night can go a lot of ways depending on who is being fostered — chasing a wet tiger-striped antelope of a Stevie Wonder around the living room after she manages to escape, needing four towels to mop the floor after pocket rocket Gonzo is through with his splashing antics,  or having to drag the bovine skeptic Lollie into the tub and keep her occupied with a heavy dose of peanut butter.

But last night, dog bath night was sweet and gentle, just like Little Zee — I carefully lured her into the bathroom with some liver treats — even though she was deeply suspicious as soon as she heard the water running — and she let me plop her right in the tub. She is such a good girl that she took the whole bath without so much as a complaint.

She was so resigned to the bath that she even sat down in the tub and stayed there while I soaped her up.

The closest she came to a protest was vigorously licking her face when I got it wet, as if to try to dry herself off and pretend the bath never happened:

We ended up with a clean, snuggly Zee, but her perfect cleanliness only lasted minutes — before we knew it, there she was, laying in classic Zee style, with her butt and tail on the dog bed, and the rest of her sprawled across the floor, dreaming of drier days.

Less adoptable? Who says?

Many of you have adopted pets in your lives. Have any of you adopted what is generally considered to be a “less adoptable” pet? If you have, what has that experience been like? If you have not, what has stopped you?

According to Petfinder, a less adoptable pet fits into one of the broad categories of animals that generally wait longer to find their families, and have worse luck at being adopted at all. These include senior animals, large black dogs of any breed, pit bulls or pit bull mixes, and special needs animals (including blind, deaf, or limited mobility pets).

Our Little Zee is “less adoptable” not only under one criteria, but under three different ones – she is eight years old, which makes her officially a “senior,” she is a pit bull type dog, and she needs a little bit of help getting around (up and down stairs especially), due to her neuro condition. But being the happy, optimistic, bumbly little charmer that she is, she has no idea that she is “less adoptable” in so many ways. She is perfectly happy in her own skin, and thinks that she is just perfect. That’s the Little Zee way.

And to be honest, we consider Little Zee to be our most adoptable foster dog yet. She is an absolute delight in the house, and needs very little care. She is quiet and snuggly, adores people, is so gentle on a leash, and is happy just to be with us, quickly curling up for a nap on the floor, wherever we are. She does not beg, does not chew or scratch, does not steal slippers, toys, or food, does not mind being handled, picked up, bumped into, or having her tail pulled. She has no anxious inclinations, and does not need to be babied with stuffed kongs or other activities when we leave. She does her outdoor business as soon as she steps outside, and does not have accidents in our house. She loves to go for walks, but is content with just a few 10 minute strolls a day if that’s all we can offer. She sleeps like a rock all through the night, and could easily keep sleeping well past the alarm clock, even if she has been snuggled in for 12+ hours. She is so happy and silly that everybody falls in love with her. She is small in size and goofy in personality, so she intimidates almost nobody. We could go on. So answer this—what about this description makes Zee so unadoptable?

In case you hadn’t heard, this week is officially “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week” at Petfinder. All this week, Petfinder is featuring animals who fit the aforementioned criteria prominently on their website, in order to encourage potential adopters to think twice about these lovely animals who just don’t have as good of a shot otherwise. We are thrilled that Petfinder has chosen to do this, and have already scrolled through some of the dogs in the gallery and picked out a few dozen that we ourselves would love to adopt.

But we do think that calling these animals “less adoptable” may not be the best term of art, since it has a slightly negative connotation. Next year, what if Petfinder hosted “Adopt a Diamond-in-the-Rough Week” instead?

Not just a napper

Little Zee wants everybody to know that she is not just a cuddly little napper– she may be 7 or 8 years old, but she still loves to party.  While she doesn’t need a ton of exercise and can get by on a few 10-15 minute walks a day because she’s so chill, she is also always up for a longer adventure or a good tongue bath to her favorite people. See for yourselves!

We especially love her waggling tail and butt when she walks, and how great her leash manners are:

And we love how engaged she is when it’s time to have a good cuddle. As long as we want to keep petting her and playing with her, she is excited to launch ambush tongue attacks– both hilarious and sweet:

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