gonzo and chick, sitting in a tree

Gonzo and Chick, sitting in a tree.

t-o-l-e-r-a-t-i-n-g!

As long-term blog-readers know, our own loverboy Chick is a patient, wise, and gentle soul, but he does not like fostering as much as we humans do. Still, he puts up with it and the other dogs we bring into the house.

On the other hand, Gonzo’s attitude couldn’t be more different. He looks at the world with an attitude that says “Let’s Party!” He is always trying to play with Chick or at least be near him, and while Chick is reluctant, he is starting to warm up a little, as you can see below.

So we ask of you: what kind of narrative is going on between these two in the following series?

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

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Chick’s position on fostering: still not impressed

Fostermom and dad enjoy fostering for the reasons we have already explained and the reasons we will explain next time we have the time to sit down and write about them, but as for Mr. Chick, our own loverboy, he is not so sure.

Of course, he has dog friends. He even has dog kindred spirits, like his uncle Tex the lab, and his old Texas pal Pancho the mexican bandito. But for the most part, Chick’s attitude toward other four-leggers of the canine variety is one of reluctant tolerance. He will leave them in peace, and ask the same in return.

You can tell by his utterly unimpressed and squinty expression in this sorry excuse for a portrait of him and Mr. Gonzo Bunny-Ears:

The only good thing in the photo is that it gives you a little bit of a sense of how very small Mr. Ears is, when compared to the very normal-sized Mr. Chick. Note how Chick has his legs all the way down on the step below,  and he’s just as tall as an upright Mr. Ears.

Chick’s real complaint with fostering Mr. Ears in particular is that Gonzo is full of boundless energy and is constantly running up to Chick, bodyslamming his tiny body against Chick’s, and saying (with his body language) “hey bro, wanna play? huh? huh? huh?” To this, Chick squints his eyes unamusedly, sighs, and saunters off to another room.

Gonzo has also learned that Chick’s back is the perfect height for putting your paws up on, especially if you are trying to reach, with your tongue, a cooking utensil in your foster mom’s hand. Chick does not find this entirely entertaining, but bears it stoically.

Not that Chick doesn’t like fun. It’s just that Chick takes his energy in small, very enthusiastic bursts, and when he’s not in a burst, he prefers to have fun by reading the paper and sipping a cup of joe. And he’d prefer if you would refrain from wrinkling his paper or spilling his coffee, thank you very much.

double the dog = double the fun?

Since we welcomed Lollie into our home as our first foster dog, we get a lot of questions about whether it’s a lot more work taking care of two dogs than one.

This is a hard question and will depend a lot on the personalities, needs, and chemistry of the two dogs you are caring for. If your two dogs are best friends (like Mr B and Miss M of Two Pitties in the City), it is less work than if your two dogs have more individual needs, as do our own doglove Chick and our foster wonderdog Lollie.

People ask, is it no more work? A little more? Twice as much?

In truth, for us, it’s somewhere in between. It’s double the food and double the poop, but still the same number of outfits (our darling Chick kindly shares his sweaters and jackets with his foster sister, who is thankfully the same size). Double the vet visits and double the monthly preventive meds, but not much more cost (when fostering dogs, the sponsoring shelter or rescue generally pays for all vet care, so we just buy food and treats). Double the enrichment and double the training, but hardly any more walks (we usually walk them together). Double the dog beds and double the leashes, but only a few more toys (we rotate toys among them so nobody ever gets bored). When we go out of town, two dogs means double the boarding, but when we’re in town we get double the cuteness and double the attention (“hey, are those two brothers?”).

Most important of all, it’s double the snuggly little dogs all curled up in their snuggly little dog beds, double the silly moments that make you burst out laughing, and double the earnest, wet little doggie kisses that we wouldn’t trade for all the world’s treasures and all the world’s gold.

For more info on adopting Lollie, contact us at DCpetographer@gmail.com or 301-520-7123.

the ever-moving subject

Lolita is not a hyper dog, but she is constantly in motion. Maybe it’s because of all the time she spent at the shelter. Her greatest passions right now are the free-range rabbit next door, Max, and the squirrels that trapeze across the canopy of oaks in our yard. To maintain her rabbit fix and her squirrel fix, she patrols constantly while outdoors, darting from Max to squirrels and back again, never staying still for more than a millisecond.
This makes her exceptionally challenging to photograph. Whereas resident wonderdog Chick is a natural in front of the lens, Lollie refuses to be contained. Our attempted photo session this afternoon produced this dazzling collection:

whichwaydidhego?

Clearly, a long way to go before she develops Chick’s modeling skills:

my left side is my best side . . . as is my right side.

Tonight I explained to Chick that Lolita’s photophilic development is one of his key roles as her mentor. He sagely nodded his Cone of Shame and went back to sleep.

two steps forward, two steps back

At the risk of confusing metaphors, you know that saying about a stitch in time saves nine? Well, yesterday we got a stitch. In the arm. Specifically, our resident wonderdog Chick got one.

Although they are clearly on the road to being soulmates, it’s going to take a little more time.

The other day, Lollie and Chick went out for a romp in the yard after being pent up all day in separate rooms. In the excitement of burning off their energy doing crazy laps around the yard and frolicking, a playful interlude escalated into a little spat. Their disagreement ended as quickly as it started, but Chick ended up with some scratches and a cut on his arm. A trip to the vet earned him a stitch, some drowse-enducing meds, and the dreaded–but well-deserved– Cone of Shame. Lollie barely had a scratch.

While we wish it hadn’t happened, we are thankful for the early and relatively minor reminder that, borrowing the advice of BAD RAP, “we can’t go too slow” when introducing a new dog into the household. So for now, we’re back to the baby gates, and have learned an important lesson: while your new dog is new, burn off each dog’s energy solo before letting them hang together!

making friends and managing personalities

OK, our resident wonderdog, Chick, is leash-reactive. What this means is, when walking on leash and surprised and confronted by another dog, especially an off-leash one, a little switch flips in his head, and he gets defensive. Sometimes even aggressive. The interesting thing about leash-reactivity, though, is that it often is not correlated with a dog’s general dog-friendliness. This is certainly the case with Chick, who is otherwise a lover—or at least a tolerator—of all beings canine.

Still, the stakes were high when we brought Lolita home. We didn’t know her history, and though she had shown to be generally dog-friendly or dog-neutral at the shelter, she had a sad collection of scars littered across her face and front paws. The scars could tell any number of stories: fighting, abuse, under-fence digging, etc. Her first night, we kept the two dogs completely separate, but let them sniff each other’s belongings to get accustomed to each other’s scent. I took Lollie out in the yard alone, and she met our neighbor’s dog, Flash, through the fence. She was super excited to see him and showered him with kisses. A good sign.

Lolita hitting on Flash

Over that evening and the next, we brought the dogs together very slowly, reinforcing every positive interaction with plenty of bribery and love. We allowed a series of very short sniffs between the dogs, but never more than a few seconds. A joint walk went well, and an open-door visit session through a baby gate resulted in a very wet face for Chick, who was lick-bathed by Lolita. He looked a little sheepish afterward, but didn’t seem to mind the rather soggy attention from his new sister. 

Chick regally guarding Lolita’s room from his throne.

Next, the dogs went off-leash together in the yard, and when that went without incident, everybody came indoors. Other than a decisive woof from Chick when Lola tried to climb onto him (a signal she immediately understood), there was no drama. The two happily snacked on treats and trotted around the house together for the rest of the evening. 

Bribery helps

Vigilance continues, but outlook is positive.

Lola whispering sweet nothings to Chick

long road behind, long road ahead

Nobody has ever accused us of under-appreciating our family dog, Chick. He spends the day lounging about on a throne made of couch and silk pillows, snuggles in a custom doggie sleeping bag when it’s chilly in the wintertime, owns a stylish red hoodie, and gets to have play-dates with his friends at least every week or two. He enjoys grain-free, organic food and the occasional salad, happily snacking on apple cores, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. Of course, this spoilage is partly because we are big suckers for pit bulls, and partly in reward for his impeccable behavior. He does not bark, he does not pull on leash, he does not beg, he will not take food until given the OK. His butt hits the ground mere milliseconds after the word “sit” comes out of your mouth, and he is always up for a good cuddle or play session.

We joke about Chick having been an “insta-pet” when we brought him home, but in truth, we have come a long way in six years. Lollie’s first day brought back a flood of memories of our first days with Chick. How uncertain and unrefined he was. How obvious it was that he had never had a soft bed or a gentle touch. How many hours we spent nurturing and training him to be the perfect dog.

Though Lollie is a bit of a spaz and has a long way to go, she is exhibiting a lot of very promising traits already, and we may look back on her an insta-pet too. She is extremely attentive, and responds well to treats. She is housebroken. She isn’t much of a jumper, and doesn’t grab food forcefully. She is quiet as a mouse, except when first left alone in her crate—at that point she whimpers a little bit, but even that is quiet, and only lasts a minute or two. Most important of all, she has a lot of love to give. She showers us with affection from the second we open her crate to the second we put her back in.

It’s a great start, and with lots of time and patience, the rest will come, too.

Lolita's first free-range experience in the house. A big success!

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