I just wanted to say a quick THANK YOU to everyone who has offered advice, support, and shared their experiences, regarding my recent post on anxiety. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, well then check it out HERE! (Click on the word “here” and it will bring you to that post.)
While we are having some struggles, there are also lots of happy times, filled with love and laughter. I am reminding Jayden every day to use his Fear Buster prayers that our church shared with us, to focus on the positive, and live day by day. He is looking forward to his counseling today, and hopefully this will help teach him some ways to cope. I can not express how much I appreciate all of the comments, messages, and texts re: this issue. You all really made me feel better, and I thank you for allowing me to vent and share! You ALL are the bomb.com! Have a happy Monday! xoxo
Ok so I’m a little bit of a bad doggy mom, and realized that I don’t actually know the exact date that Oscar came to live with me. I knew it was in January of 2013, sometime in the beginning of the month. So I decided to start looking through my pictures and my blog posts….and funny enough, TODAY marks exactly one year! One year ago, this little pip squeak of a dog was transported from Gainesville to Tallahassee, to become my foster dog. He was my 5th foster pup, and he was coming to me as a potential forever dog, if he met my many requirements.
I quickly found that he did have everything I would want in a second dog, and I decided to make him mine! I officially announced this decision, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Oscar has come so far in the past year. He was little, with not much muscle, and a puny little tail. He could barely make it to the end of my street, without having to take a break to rest. Now, he can run and play with Lucy, for quite some time before he has to take a break. He loves to go for walks, and adores being off leash to chase his doggie sis!
I’ve found that he is crazy for water! He loves to cuddle, and he is very smart. He has met every foster that has come through our doors with a happy, wagging tail, including Sassy, Hambone, Shiloh, Wickett, Petey, and Cleo. And of course, let’s not forget his BFF, Apollo!
Oscar has passed his CGC test, and I have high hopes for him to succeed at other things too. He knows a few skills, like “sit”, “down”, “off”, “up”, “stay”, “shake”, and “spin”. The thing I am most proud of though, is his trust in his family. He looks to me as his mama, his leader, and the boss of the house. He looks to Jayden as his brother. He loves to wake him up every morning by jumping on him, and covering him in slobbery kisses. We can take food and toys away from him at any time, and he trusts us to do so. I love the relationship that Oscar and Lucy have, too. He has learned that he will never be starved again, and will now wait patiently as I feed everyone else before him. He will sit quietly, albiet drooling every where, while I practice skills with Lucy, or give her treats. He will share a spoon with her, when I am giving them a special treat (like peanut butter or yogurt). Oscar also is the typical little brother to Lucy, and will pounce on her if she’s got a toy he wants, or will climb on top of her if he wants to be the one cuddling with me.
Oscar is so sweet, and I couldn’t imagine ever letting him go. I think that he was meant for our family, and I am so happy that one year ago today, he came into our lives! Happy Gotcha Day, you sneaky, naughty, loveable, sweet boy!!
Other than the obvious reasons, like my child, my family, our health…I would like to share a few reasons why I feel I am blessed!
So, here we go, in no particular order….
I have the two best dogs in the world! Ok, so I may be a little biased, but seriously, they are awesome. Lucy is instantly best friends with every dog that has come through our door. She is submissive, yet confident. Her good nature rubs off on the foster dogs, and helps them feel at ease right away. Oscar, well if you’ve been following my blog for long, you know how much I love that guy! He has motivated me to be a pit bull advocate, which I will honestly say I never was before he came into my life. And….proud mama moment….he passed his CGC test last night!!! He initially failed by missing ONE part, but the instructor lets you take it again if there was only one error. And thanks to a wonderful dog named Wrangler & his owner who helped, Oscar passed the test!
Reason #2: I get to have these adorable dogs look up to me, lovingly and adoringly, for absolutely no reason other than the fact that I gave them a home to hang out in! I truly feel that I’ve impacted their lives, even if it was only by being the first person to show them what true love is all about.
Reason #3: I’ve wondered from time to time if the foster dogs would really remember me, but I have decided now that they most certainly do. Thanks to the training class Oscar was in, I had the pleasure of spending 6 weeks with two of my previous fosters, Lola & Hambone. I got to see them once a week, and I just can’t explain to you how happy it made my heart to see these two dogs, who clearly remembered and were happy to see me! Both of them would get all wiggly when I walked up to them; or I’d catch Lola staring across the parking lot at me with her goofy grin, waiting for me to wave to her; other times, I’d be sitting down getting Oscar settled, and Hambone would walk over to put his hound nose right in my face. And besides getting this love from them, it was awesome to see how far they have come, and wonderful skills they have come to learn. I will very much miss seeing them every week, and I will cherish the time I had with them. So many times, you have to say goodbye to your foster dog, knowing that you will likely never see them in person again. How lucky am I to have gotten these special 6 weeks with at least two of my foster babies!
Reason #4: Through fostering, I have learned so much, and now have become an important part of Last Hope Rescue. I have met some fantastic ladies, too! Ladies that I now truly call friends. It is a wonderful thing when you meet other people that have the same passion you do, and you get along well too!
Reason #5: I have a unique job where I am allowed to work from home, even though my office is located in Central Florida. This means I get to see my son every day, taking him to and from school. He never has to ride the bus, and never has to go to after school care. This also means that I am in a great position to foster. In fact, if I wasn’t working from home, Petey may never have come into our lives. Being able to foster has been such an amazing experience, not only for me and for Jayden, but for my dogs too. I absolutely love seeing the way my dogs bond with the foster dogs in their own ways. Lucy, for example, tends to have a stronger bond with the adult male dogs. Lola was the first female dog she would even let cuddle with her! Oscar tends to like the puppies more. It is so sweet to see their bonds strengthen over time, and I am blessed to be a part of their lives!
Yup, it’s a fact, I am blessed!!
Has a certain dog in your life made you feel blessed? Feel free to share your stories in the comments below! And don’t forget to enter my giveaway! You can do that by checking out this post: Giveaway Time!
*If you are interested in finding out more about Last Hope Rescue’s foster program, click on the link to read their list of FAQ’s about fostering! http://www.lasthoperescue.org/volunteer/foster-a-dog/faq-to-becoming-a-foster-home/
Yooooo dudezzz! It’s me, Oscar! My mama has been so buzy with work and stuff, so I thought I’d get on this thingy and tell you abouts my foster brothers!
But first….a picture of me, just becuz I am so dang handsomessss!
Yeah boooooy! Ok, so first there is my little foster brother, Apollo! Mama thought he’d only be with us for a week or two, but it’s been a whole month now, and he’s still here! And that’s ok with me, becuz we are best buddies! Apollo is some kind of boxer, like my sister. But I think he might have some pit in him too, like ME! I mean, you ALL know by now, pitties are the BOMBZ! So Apollo and I love to run, and wrestle, and steal toys from Lucy. He really loves to be outside too. I think that’s ok sometimes, but I have gotten used to the posh life of house livin, so I like to be inside near my mom! My mama got us this round blue thingy that she fills up with that water sprayer, and me and Apollo love to go in and splash around and stuffz! Apollo makes this real funny growl noise when he wants something, and he barks when it’s time for food. Any dog that loves food as much as me has GOT to be a good guy! My mama is always sayin things to him about not knowing where his family is, and not understanding why he hasn’t been adoptedz yet. Doesn’t she know by now? They will come when the time is right, just like when she found me!
Then there is my foster brother Petey. That dudez is laaaaaid back! He just like to sleepz all day, even more than me! And he really loves my people. He whines and barks any time they leave. But I just tellz him, “dude they are coming back! My mom wound never leave me all alone, so don’t be worryin!” Other than that, he is doingz ok. He just hangs out in the kitchen with us when my mom leaves. She doesn’t make him go in a crate anymore. I don’t know WHY he hates his so much. I love mine! See!
Anywayz, Petey is a real good guy. He lovez sleeping in my human brother’s room at nighttime. He likes to go outside with us, and watches us play, but he never joins in. And he hates the water! Crazy! Petey loves car rides too, and he gets all excited and you really have to watch out for that tail of his otherwise it’ll smack ya right across the face! Here’s some pictures of my brothers:
My mom says she is pretty sure Petey will be with us fureverz, but just maybe the perfect person will comez along. I sure thought my time was up when my mama found me. At least Petey is in a safe home, and he never has to worry about being in dangerz or anything!
So dudez, that’s about it for now. My mom said I should really just make this about my brothers….but you guys want to know about me too, right?!? Ok, ok just a quick update on ME! I’ve been doing real goodz in my training, and my last class is this week! My mom keeps talking about this Good Dog test or something. I’m not sure if I can pass it becuz it’s pretty tricky, and my leg is really hurting me this week…but I’ll try my hardest. I’ve been having lotz of fun in the blue water thing that my mom got us. My mom says I am bonkerz for water, whatever that means! Other than that, life iz GOOD! Here are a few more pictures of me, just in case you were missing my sweet sweet face!
As someone that fosters dogs, I often find myself wondering what the dog’s story is. I take the information I am given, and I start forming a history based on their behaviors, their training or lack thereof, things they are afraid of…My first few fosters were either very young puppies or owner returns. Their history was either very little, or we at least know where they’d come from.
Then came Lola. She was in a shelter and needed rescuing. She was around 9 months old, healthy, heartworm negative…rare when coming out of a shelter! She was taken from the shelter to the vet’s office, and that is where I picked her up. I quickly found that she clearly had never stepped foot in a house! She had no idea what would be around each corner, and didn’t know what furniture was, or what to do with toys. And she gravitated towards Lucy immediately! Lola was not potty trained & didn’t know any obedience skills. So, she obviously was not someone’s family pet, right? She had no fear about the unknown though, and conquered everything with fierce happiness! The only issue was a pretty severe fear of cars. So…Was she a stray? Was she from a random litter, and then left on the streets to fend for herself? Maybe she started out as someone’s outside pet, but then ran away and they didn’t care to find her? She definitely loves to be loved and hugged and cuddled, but I think that is just her personality. What would she have told me, if she could talk? And when I am lucky enough to visit her, does she remember me? Does she look at me and know that I loved her, and that I would never have said goodbye if I wasn’t sure she was in the best hands? Or do dogs sort of have short term memory loss, where they just focus on the present? That would be ok too, since I know she’s in a wonderful home!
Another foster of mine was Chelsea. Terrified. Of. Everything. She came to the rescue as a young dog, with her sister, and they were both already very timid, shy, scared dogs. Chelsea was adopted by a family, but unfortunately spent most of her time in a crate. That crate became her whole world. The only place she knew would be safe for her. Then she was returned. Thankfully, within just a few weeks, a fantastic family came around and adopted Chelsea. So, what happened to Chelsea & her sister? Had they been abused? How could she be SO scared of everything when she had been living outside? I found it fascinating that she had complete trust in dogs. I would understand having a bond with her sister, but Chelsea bonded with my dogs right away. Yet despite her fears, she quickly bonded to me and Jayden, beginning to trust us. Dogs are really so remarkable. I wonder, what Chelsea would tell me about, if only she could? Was she just scared because everything was new and weird to her? Or did something specific happen to make her that way?
I wonder these same things about my sweet boy Oscar. Like Lola, he came from a shelter, relatively healthy, heartworm negative. But he had been severely malnourished, and would forever be pint sized (his shelter name was Half Pint). It was also the opinion of the shelter vet, and of the vet I use, that he suffered an injury, which caused permanent damage to his left front leg. That being said, he is so friendly! He was fully house & crate trained, and knew “sit”. The only fear he had was jumping off of things, like the couch or bed…but maybe that was more related to his lack of strength in the front leg…so, where did he come from? What happened to him? He was sitting in the shelter for a month, so obviously no one was missing him. He says hello to everyone he meets, wagging his tail and giving kisses. He is treat motivated and a very quick learner. Surely someone didn’t physically harm him, how could they? I’ve thought about this so much…Sometimes I think maybe he was someone’s pet, something happened and his leg got hurt, and they couldn’t afford to fix it so they dumped him…that happens more often than you know! But then I go back to the reason his growth was stunted, severe malnutrition. Who did that to him? Why? How can you look into an animal’s eyes and deny them the things we all need to live?
When I see Oscar sleeping on the couch, or sunning out on the deck, or running free in a field chasing Lucy, I wonder if he knows how much he is loved. What would he tell me about his past? Does he understand now that I will never leave him or abuse him? Is he blissfully happy and feeling cherished like family pets should be?
It’s easier, for me, to accept Oscar’s past, because I get to love and spoil him for his whole life. I will make sure he is never hurt again. It is harder with fosters. I work so hard to make them feel loved, to gain their trust, and teach them things. I worry that the day I leave them, they are wondering where I went, and why I left them. I can only hope that they are so loved and well cared for in their new home, that they aren’t thinking about me one bit!
Do you ever think about these things? Where your dog comes from, and what happened in their past? What would your dog’s story be, if he/she could tell it? And if you had to tell your own story, do you know what you would say?
A couple of months ago I wrote a post about dogs and religion. (Read it here, if you missed it!) Today, I am writing on a similar topic.
Our pastor of Emerge Church started a series yesterday, on “From Here to There.” Basically, it is about how we can let go of our past, be mindful of the present, and work towards the future. While our past can mold us, it can also hold us back (wise words from Pastor Wade!). Many times, when things are happening to us, we find someone or something to blame it on…”well, he did that to me so now I can’t do this…” or “she lied and hurt me, so now I can’t trust…” This is holding you back from moving on. You are so focused on the past, that 1-you are missing out on the present, and 2-you aren’t moving on for the future. How will you ever get to a better place, whether it be financially, relationships, friendships, career, etc, if you aren’t working on improving, and getting past the past?! We are supposed to live and learn, right?
This sermon of course, got me thinking about dogs. (These days, I swear I’m ALWAYS thinking of dogs!) Dogs are amazing. They love unconditionally; they are loyal, comforting, and entertaining. If you have ever had the privilege of fostering/owning a rescue dog, you know that there is something even MORE special about these particular dogs. I am positive that somehow they know that they’ve been given another chance at life. I don’t know to what extent they understand, or how they know, but they do.
Like Pastor Wade said, it’s all about letting go of the past. And dogs are extraordinarily good at this. They’ve been dumped, ditched, bruised, neglected. Yet somehow they get past this, and they can still be loving, sweet, loyal companions. Sure, sometimes it takes them a little while to get over the hurt they’ve been through…just as it does for us. We put up walls, avoid getting close to others, don’t take chances at promotions, all because of things we’ve been through. Dogs do the same. The difference is that they DO get over it. They truly forgive and forget.
So why can’t we always do the same? Maybe because we are emotional creatures…although, it has been reported on more than one occasion, that a dog has passed away of a broken heart. They often console their owner, sensing when they are sad and in need of a loving touch. But maybe it’s because they don’t process emotions like we do? They don’t have the same thought process as us?
This concept is something I need to work on. I am sensitive, and as much as I hate to admit it, I do hold grudges. I get my feelings hurt, and I don’t forget about it. Especially if the hurt is by a friend. The ones you love the most, can definitely hurt you the worst. The things Pastor Wade said really hit home for me, and that is what led me to thinking about rescue dogs. I want to live my life more like a dog…forgiving and forgetting, happy go lucky, loving, and loyal. I am going to try to start being in the present, and moving towards the future. And in the meantime, I will continue opening my home to these amazing beings, and learning lessons that only they can teach.
*All of the dogs in this post are available for adoption through Last Hope Rescue. Please message me if you are interested in giving any of them a fur-ever home!
I am going to start out by venting…but stick with me, I promise I won’t be whining the whole time!
I work from home, so generally I am with the dogs all day long, other than running an errand here and there. Last night I had an educational seminar to go to though. I was gone maybe 3.5 hours. When I came home, I walked in the door to smell that wonderful pungent smell. That one that all of us dog owners know. It was clear, one of the dogs had some sort of bathroom issue.
Now, to take you back a day or two…Oscar has not been feeling well lately. He was pretty much behaving normal, eating fine, etc. But all of a sudden, he was having diarrhea. Because I know that fosters in the past have gotten intestinal parasites from my yard, and knowing how easily contracted they can be, I called the vet to see if I could drop off a fecal sample. I did…they tested it…and yup, Oscar has hook worms. Ugh! He pretty much made it outside every time, but has had an accident or two in the house.
Moving on to the next dog…Shiloh is a nervous pee-er. If I go to put her leash on, she pees. When I bend down to open her crate, she pees. Seriously, she pees all the time. Now, this is a habit that she will grow out of as she matures. But I won’t have her when she matures…I have her now. And I am cleaning up pee. all. the. time. Shiloh’s next issue: she had her spay surgery yesterday. She seemed a little loopy when I first picked her up, but was quickly feeling better by the evening. She took her pain meds fine, and was wiggly and happy as ever. Then came the diarrhea.
Yup….two dogs, one house, lots of poop. (Oh, and now Lucy has soft stools…say a prayer for me…)
So back to last night’s lovely smell…I figured it was Shiloh, since Oscar was feeling better. And, I was right. Shiloh is pretty much potty trained, and she is 100% crate trained..any idea where I am going with this?? Being the good, smart girl that she is, she didn’t want to go potty in her crate. No, of course not! So where did she go? She apparently positioned herself, so that she went outside of the crate…on my carpet…and walls…and baseboards.
I wasn’t mad of course. She can’t help that she isn’t feeling well, and neither can Oscar. But as I sat there cleaning the crate, and my room, my sweet boy Oscar sat there with me..staring. (I wish I had my phone, because he was so cute!) Usually he’d be trying to get into the crate, or he’d be crawling in my lap, licking my face, etc. But he quietly just sat there, with this strange look, waiting for me to be done. He was sharing in my misery. Misery loves company, right? While having this pity party, I thought to myself: Seriously. Can’t I catch a break here. I signed up to do this crap (haha) for my dogs. For better or for worse, I am committed to MY dogs. I will do whatever I can to care for them. But why I am doing this for, essentially, someone else’s dog? Why am I doing the hard part, when someone else will then get to adopt the perfectly precious, potty & crate trained, (mostly) well behaved dog? Why am I on my hands and knees, cleaning yet another potty accident, that is from a dog that is not mine? I don’t get paid for this shit (again, haha). I don’t get a doggie lifetime of love from this particular dog, so…why am I doing this exactly?
And then, I looked over at my Oscar again, and I chuckled to myself…if I weren’t fostering, I would never have come across this adorable, sweet, bratty, loving, sneaky, goofy pocket pit bull. While I can’t know for SURE, I am pretty certain he would no longer be alive, if it weren’t for me (and Last Hope Rescue, of course). We asked, and no one had even inquired about pulling him.
So, I ended my pity party and I got over myself. Fostering saves lives. It is a fact. Oscar…Shiloh…Wickett…Chelsea…Sassy…Lola…Toby…Petey. All of these sweet pups are alive because of a rescue group, and because of a foster home. And there are SO many other lives that have been saved, all because someone was willing to open their home to a dog that did not belong to them. A dog that was bound to have some sort of issue. A dog that they would eventually have to say goodbye to.
Fostering is not easy. You may have a dog that has an issue, and is high maintenance. Or you may have a dog that is laid back, and easy. You may fall in love, and then you are heart broken to say good bye. You will have to rearrange your personal schedule to make trips to the vet, and for meet and greets. You will have to screen potential adopters. You may even have to clean up poop, and wash sheets and towels a million times. It’s never simple. But, you have just changed the whole world for that dog. And, for that new family too. You have saved a life of a loyal, loving, forgiving, sweet dog. A dog that will remember you forever, and will show it every time she sees you in the future. A dog that will now get to live a full and happy life with a wonderful family….And THAT makes it all worth it.
If you follow my Tails of a Foster Mom facebook page, you may know that it is my birthday today!!! And if you don’t follow it….well, follow it!
So today I thought I would celebrate by talking about my proudest moments as a foster mom! 🙂 (Listed in no particular order!)
#1-I got an update yesterday on my previous foster girl, Sassy! She was the pup that almost died from parvo, then was adopted, and then returned after being left as an outside dog, and never getting any attention or training. She came back to me as a 7 month old, crazy puppy with NO manners! I worked with her to teach her basic obedience, and told her every day that she had to become a valuable member of society. When I met Jan, I had a feeling she just might be the perfect person for Sassy. She was patient, understanding, and so loving! Sassy is now named Kali, and this is what her mom said: “Kali is doing great! We have just finished the intermediate [obedience] class and Kali now passed the Canine Good Citizen test. She is my baby and I am so glad she is here with me. I love her so!” Hearing this is similar to what I imagine it will feel like when my son passes a college course…I know I didn’t do the hard work, but yet I am so very proud. I am so happy that Kali has gotten the forever home she deserves, and am very thankful to Jan for giving her the time and training she needed!
#2-Seeing my fosters out in public, knowing what great dogs they are! Lola has actually been the only one I’ve seen out around town, but I get updates on Petey all the time since he is with my brother, and I check in on Chelsea pretty often too. There are always good things being said about these dogs! Every time I have seen Lola, she is calm and happy. It doesn’t matter what is going on around her, or if there is a crazy dog near her (ahem, Oscar), she just wags her tail, smiles, and goes with the flow. My brother’s report on Petey is always “he’s a great dog”, and Chelsea’s family continues to give her the love that she needs, and they see improvement in her every day.
#3-My first couple of fosters were owner returns. Meaning, they had previously been adopted and then for some reason, had to be returned to the rescue. My first dog that was from the shelter was Lola! I saw her picture posted on the Wakulla Animal Control page, and B-E-G-G-E-D to save her! She was out of time, and the shelter volunteers were posting her like crazy, asking for someone to save her. My home had just opened up, and I kept asking the rescue boss lady to please let her be my next foster. There was just something about her sweet face! I truly loved fostering her, and though I say things about her being my favorite and how obsessed I am with her, this is why. I feel like she was the first dog I ever really saved. She will always have a special place in my heart. As will the amazing family who took her in as their own, and will spoil her with love for the rest of her life!
#4-I recently got an update on another foster of mine, Toby! Toby had come to the rescue with his litter mates, and was adopted. About a year later, his owner decided that Toby was just too big and returned him to the rescue. I offered to take him…and had no idea what I was getting myself into! I thought I was a “big dog” lover but Toby was giant! The first hint should have been his breed…he is a Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shep mix! Toby was very well behaved, and SO sweet…and very playful! This was a lot of dog for my little town house. We made it work though, and it helped that I started taking him to Doggie Dayz every so often to let his energy out. We had TONS of inquiries about him, but it never seemed to be the right fit. The rescue group is very big on their dogs being inside, family pets. They are not to be used for outside guard dogs…and that is exactly what people wanted Toby for. Finally we found the right person. I talked to Bob several times on the phone, and without ever meeting Toby, he was already in love. He and his wife traveled all the way to Tallahassee from South Florida, and the rest is history! Unfortunately I don’t have any new pictures of Toby, but here is what Bob has said about him: “He is amazing. He has the most wonderful temperament of any animal I have ever seen. We signed him up for classes… The trainer who has trained dogs for the ASPCA for 20 yrs, wanted us to bring Toby in for a free evaluation before the classes begin. The trainer was really impressed with Toby, and she has advanced him directly into the next class for obedience training. What she was really impressed with was his temperament and intelligence. I hope we can advance to the point where he will be a service dog and I can take him to schools and nursing homes. He loves and looks after Sandra, but he is really bonded to me. He is constantly by my side when I am home, which is most of the time. Thank you so much for the work you and your organization are doing for the animals and thank you for allowing us to adopt Toby.” Proud foster mom moment!!!
#5-The little things are wonderful too! Like when crazy Sassy finally learned to “sit”. Or when Lola who gets extremely car sick, laid down in the back seat and relaxed, making it home without throwing up. When Chelsea, who is literally scared of everything outside of her cozy kennel, runs and plays in the backyard like a real dog should!
No matter what the issues have been, or why they came to me, I have loved all of my foster dogs. Whether I accomplished something big while they were with me, or if they have made great strides since being adopted, I am so very proud of each and every one of them. I will always consider them as partly mine, and they all have a special place in my heart. With each one of them, I was able to bond and see the trust they had in me. I am so grateful that I have been able to be a bridge for them, allowing them to cross over from unwanted dog to beloved family pet.
Thank you for reading about some of my proudest foster mommy moments! Please feel free to share your proud moments too, whether it be as a foster mom, dog mom, or human mom!