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.

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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:

Little Zee’s vet visit

A little bit of rain did not deter us from making a visit to the vet’s office for a nice thorough exam, a full set of vaccinations, and some compliments on her cuteness. Zee is a bit of a sissy in the rain, but once she got Chick’s waterproof coat on, she hardly even noticed the rain drops that were falling on her head.

When I first met Zee at the shelter, she was 7 pounds overweight and had a bad case of conjunctivitis, some skin inflammation, upper respiratory infection, and a mysterious neurological condition. All we really knew was that she was a sweet girl, maybe eight years old, who would almost certainly be overlooked in the shelter for as long as she lived there. In a shelter full of beautiful, bouncy, happy dogs, it’s hard for a mellow older girl with special needs to compete– people tend to get stuck on her age and apparent depression and move on.

Zee had full bloodwork done when we had her spayed a few weeks ago, but she had not had a chance to bask in the glorious attention of a nice vet who would thoroughly check her vitals and answer all of our questions — until a few days ago. Not surprisingly, she did great, and the vet’s assessment was even better than we had hoped.

Zee’s weight is down to a perfectly healthy 44 pounds. Her ears, eyes, heart, and lungs are all in great shape, and her teeth are in remarkable condition for a dog her age, especially given the fact that she has likely never eaten high-quality food before. The vet was very impressed with her beautiful, thick coat that is as soft as velvet — so different than any of the other dogs we have fostered to date.  He also detected very little arthritis in her joints– so little that he did not even recommend a joint supplement, only a daily multivitamin. He thought that she may even be younger than the estimated 8 years old that the shelter had guessed — possibly 6 or 7. In other words, she is a perfect physical specimen!

The vet was also kind enough to spend some time investigating Zee’s neurological condition, which does not seem to cause her any pain or suffering, but does make her just a tad off balance — as though she were a little tipsy or walking on a boat sometimes. He did a few tests on her reflexes and coordination, watched her walk up and down stairs, and asked her to sit, stand, and follow him around the office in different directions and maneuver around corners.

The observation confirmed for our vet what we had already suspected, which is that Zee’s condition is likely the result of a trauma earlier in her life that has affected her balance and depth perception, and only very slightly her reflexes — it is essentially a form of brain damage. This type of condition comes on at once — at the time of the trauma — and tends to be stable afterward. For Zee, this means that her cute trot, her clumsy way of bumping into coffee tables, and her need to sit down when she sneezes are going to be lifelong traits, but are not likely to develop into more serious issues down the road. From the vet’s assessment, the way Zee bumbles happily through the day now is the same way she will bumble happily in five years.

 Zee left the vet’s office feeling a little off balance but with a belly full of treats and a body satisfied from pets and scratches, and we left feeling so hopeful about our little girl’s future.

 


My distinguishing features

Hello sweet readers, it’s your Little Zee!

All this while that foster mama has been taking my photo, snuggling me in her lap, letting me stick my tuna-flavored tongue up her nose (ok, I don’t do that very often), and writing about me, I’ve been simultaneously taking naps and tapping my fingers as if to ask: “why isn’t anybody noticing my distinguishing features?”

So I arranged a photo shoot where I could show them off. Not that I’m fishing for compliments — really I’m not — but please tell me, isn’t my coloring most unusual?

I know, I know. It’s hard to get past my perfect bone structure and my cute arching ears. But let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Most people at first think I’m simply a blue pit bull, but I’m not! My back is blue, and the top of my head and my ears, but check out what’s going on below my cheekbones– see that interesting sandy-cream brindle?

I also have that interesting sandy brindle on my chest and the insides of my legs . . .

And seriously, check out these brows:

Mama said she’s never seen a dog that looks quite like me. I thought that was pretty obvious since I’m the only Little Zee around!

Running errands? Bring Zee!

You know that dog who acts like a complete spaz out in public, needs to sniff everybody, jump into strollers, steal children’s ice cream cones, snatch merchandise at the farmer’s market, and knock over entire stacks of VHS tapes if you bring him into Video Americain to rent a movie? Nevermind art galleries or stores with small beautiful things, you wouldn’t even come close to one of those with these dogs because their antics, lack of self awareness, and waggy tails would break everything at knee-level.

Well, Little Zee is not that dog. She is instantly at home wherever she goes, and handles herself with perfect manners in all kinds of scenarios. We have a number of pet-friendly shops right in downtown Takoma Park (a video store, a hardware store, and a very cool new furniture and art store), and last weekend we took her around to run some errands. She liked everything she saw, but Trohv, our cool new furniture / arts store, was her favorite.

The combination of warm, fuzzy rugs and cool, smooth concrete floors gave her plenty of options for laying down and taking a rest — which she was very happy to do anytime we decided to stop and take a look at a neat chair or a cute glass vase. The other customers made her very happy, but not so happy that she had to bounce up and down. She greeted everybody with a polite tail wag and a little kiss if they wanted one, but didn’t go crazy jumping on people or tugging toward them if they didn’t want to say hello.

We think this is a rare asset in Zee’s corner, and speaks volumes of her personality and demeanor. Many — maybe most — dogs have to train for months or years to be able to behave nicely in public, but Zee’s calm personality really shines in this light. It makes us start having big dreams for Little Zee. Could she become a therapy dog? Or maybe she could work with kids in schools, helping them learn to read? Attending to seniors in assisted living facilities? Her fantastic temperament opens a lot of doors for her, and we hope her future forever-family will appreciate it!



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