To Crate or Not to Crate….

That is the question!

Let me start off by saying that I believe ALL dogs should be assessed and treated as individuals. Dogs should not be judged because of their age, breed, or history. Just as humans should not be judged by their skin color, age, or family members. We are all different, it is that simple.

Oscar

I fully believe in crating dogs. Lucy was crated until she turned 1, and then she no longer needed to be crated. She isn’t food or toy aggressive. She doesn’t have any anxiety or fear issues. She isn’t destructive. Therefore once she matured enough to be fully potty trained, and to follow the general house rules, she was allowed to stay out of her crate. On the rare event that we’ve had a foster dog that can’t be crated (Petey & Hambone), Lucy then stays in the kitchen where Oscar is, with the baby gate up, separating her and the foster dog. She still likes the kennel though, and will often go take a nap in it. This is a good thing, because when we travel, I do keep her crated. This is to keep her safe and out of trouble, and to keep me from having to apologize for anything that she might get into!

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Oscar on the other hand, is crated and will be, always. He is around 2yrs old now, and he still gets into stuff if he’s feeling extra sneaky. He also can be reactive when food is involved…the unfortunate  after-effects of being starved as a pup. Though he has only ever barked (never bitten) at various foster dog’s when they come near his food, and has never ever done that to Lucy, I still would never put him or Lucy in the situation where they’d feel the need to fight or protect themselves. It is my job to know my dogs, to love them unconditionally, to protect them…but above all else, to remember that they ARE animals. Oscar truly seems to love Lucy, and recognizes that she was here first. It’s almost as if he sees her as the older sister, the boss if you will. For example, if they are playing and he accidentally hurts her, he backs off immediately, then goes to her and gives her kisses. It’s too cute!

Lucy

Anyway, a crate should be introduced during puppy hood, and should be the dog’s private safe cave. It shouldn’t be used as punishment, though can be used for a time out as long as you are gentle about sending Oscar   your dog to a crate during this time. Using a crate can also help with potty training, and I have found with all of the puppies I’ve had, that they quickly learn not to go where they sleep & eat. If you have a dog like Oscar, you can also use the crate as their place for eating. It should be the place where they can go to be safe, and get some space if they need it. As a rescue person, I always promote using a kennel, and I remind the new owner that the dog should be able to use their kennel while adjusting to their new surroundings.

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Of course, there are times that crates just do not work. Especially if it is an adult dog, and they don’t see the crate as their safe place. Then the dog can feel confined, threatened, and become destructive. (Remember Petey’s feelings towards the kennel?!) 

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I believe that some dogs can be moved out of the crate once they are mature and well behaved, like Lucy. But, there are some dogs that need the crate to keep them out of trouble. The crate should not be seen as an evil thing, like doggy jail or something. For Oscar, the kennel keeps him out of trouble. It is almost guaranteed that he would chew something up if I left the house, leaving him loose & unsupervised. Heck, he does that even if I am home! I would much rather come home, let him out of his kennel, and give him happy hugs and kisses; rather than come home, and have to be upset because he ruined something. Or worse, for him to get into something that could be harmful to him!

So tell me friends, do you crate your dog(s)? Are you for it? Against it? Do you separate your animals when unsupervised, using another method other than crating? I’d love to hear your opinions & experiences, so please share with me!

PS-Don’t forget, Tooley is still searching for her forever home! She is super sweet, and adores kids. She is great with dogs of all ages and sizes, too! Her ideal home would be with an active family, who understands that her hound nose can take her on adventures if not supervised carefully! 😉 Please share in order to help her find the family she deserves.

PSS-Are you following me on Facebook & Twitter? If not, please do!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TailsofaFosterMom

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A Dog’s Age

When I adopted Oscar from the shelter, his paperwork said he was around 11 months old,  that his growth was stunted due to being severely malnourished, and that he’d always have a puppy-look to him. It’s been a year since that day, and many friends lately have been commenting on how much bigger he’s gotten. A good friend of mine even suggested that perhaps he actually was younger than I thought, and maybe he was more of a puppy when I first got him.

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Dogs change so much between the ages of 6 months to a year. When Oscar arrived, he was fully house and crate trained. He knew “sit”, and he was great on a leash. Obviously he had been someone’s pet…but he also had a broken leg that was never repaired. He was scrawny, and had a dull flaky coat. He has never shown any fear or aggression towards people, but he definitely eats as if he thinks every meal is his last. So, was he only 7-8 months when I got him? Has he just grown and gotten stronger because he is now well cared for and healthy?

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Do you think he’s gotten bigger? Does he look any different from the pictures above, which were in the earlier parts of the year that I’ve had him, versus these ones below which are very recent?

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I never really saw the changes. I mean, I obviously knew he was stronger and healthier. But I never realized the changes in his size and the puppy-ness, until now.

It is different with Lucy, because I adopted her as a 8-10 week old puppy. The whole litter was at the humane society, and so her age was known. With my first dog, Sebastian, I also got him as a young puppy (from a backyard breeder, no less! Gasp!) It’s a weird feeling to not know the true age of one of my “kids”!

When I started wondering about all of this, I googled researched how a dog’s age is guessed. It’s pretty interesting, so I attached the link below if you’d like to check it out for yourself!

https://www.foundanimals.org/blog/determining-a-dogs-age/

Have you wondered about your adopted dog’s age? Do you know what your dog’s past holds? What do you think about Oscar’s growth? Tell me!

Wordless Wednesday (umm, sorta!)

Seriously…is she not the cutest thing ever?! I can’t understand why Stella has not been adopted yet, or why we haven’t at least gotten more inquiries on her. She has a gorgeous brindle coloring; she’s sweet, smart, and goofy. She is well behaved, and loves dogs, cats, and kids. What more could you want in a puppy?!

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Please share Stella with anyone you know who might be looking for a new furry friend! Contact Last Hope Rescue at LastHopeRescueFL@gmail.com, to adopt!

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A Brindle Babe

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“Stelllllaaaaaaa!”

So, as I previously mentioned here, Piper found her forever home and my new foster arrived! Piper is absolutely loved, adored, and cherished by the wonderful couple that adopted her! She is spoiled already, and I’ve seen pictures of her passed out in the couch, as well as sleeping on a recliner in her new Dad’s arms. They weren’t concerned about her legs, and they just want to love her forever. I couldn’t be happier! I have to admit, I felt a bit of guilt when it came to her. I was the one that brought her into the rescue, but I didn’t know about her legs. There was a few hefty vet bills for her, but the outcome of not needing surgery, and a happy ever after was all worth it! Happy tails, my little Golden Goddess!

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Piper and her Forever Dad!

When I got back into town from Piper’s adoption (and visiting with family), I was set to pick up my new foster the next day! That is where this Brindle Babe comes in!

Stella1Stella is super sweet, yet a little feisty! I cuddle her, and love her, and hug her…and then she growls at me, all while wagging her tail. It’s pretty funny! She was shy at first, but she has really opened up in the last few days. She loves both Lucy & Oscar, and plays very well with both of them.

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She is about 10-12 weeks old. She is a Lab mix…I think she might have Plott Hound in her too, but that is a total guess and really, who cares! Stella is a smart girl, and I’ve already taught her “sit” and “kennel.” She is fully crate trained. She eats, sleeps, and never goes potty, in her kennel! Stella really is such a great puppy, and any family will be lucky to have her! She also gets along with cats, and loves people of all ages! Feb2014 030

Stella is currently micro-chipped, and up to date on vaccines. The adoption fee is $125, and transport within Florida can be arranged. Because she is so young, any adopter should be prepared to continue the puppy vaccines as well as be ready to schedule the spay surgery when she turns 6 months old. This is something that the rescue requires, and follows up on!

If you are interested in this awesome pup, please message me or email us at LastHopeRescueFL@gmail.com! If you can’t adopt, please help Stella find her forever home by sharing this post! While I love her to pieces, I really hope she will find her family soon, so she can settle in and grow up where she is meant to be!

Jan2014 054Night night, friends! 

 

Be the Bridge.

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This gorgeous little brindle babe is Stella, and she is my 13th foster! I have had dogs that I thought would be adopted within days, but I had them for months. And dogs who I thought I’d have forever, but they’ve come and gone to perfectly wonderful homes. Throughout these fosters, I have been asked these questions over and over…”how can you say goodbye?” and “don’t you want to adopt him?”

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So I thought I would try to explain why I foster, how I can handle having multiple dogs at once, and why I can say goodbye without shedding a tear (ok, I’ve shed tears only twice…I’ll let you guess who those were over!).

-I treat each and every dog as an individual. Just because the dog is young, old, dog-friendly, kid-friendly, it doesn’t mean that he/she is not freaked the F out! I always have my dogs put up (Oscar in his crate, Lucy gated in the kitchen), and I let the foster dog come in to explore. I know my dogs very well, and that allows me to introduce them to the foster dog at the right time, to keep everyone happy. I love seeing the new dog become comfortable with my perma-dogs. Sometimes it takes just a couple of hours, sometimes it takes days. It doesn’t always mean that an instant friendship is formed, like Oscar and Apollo had. But there is an understanding between everyone. My dogs seem to know that this is a new dog, a dog who needs space, and lots of love. The new dog seems to understand that Oscar and Lucy are to be respected, and looked up to.

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Chelsea became a different dog around Oscar and Lucy!

-Having a young child around the house is another great reason to foster. If you are anything like me, you have looked for community volunteer opportunities for kids, and found pretty much nothing. My kiddo is 7, and the age for volunteering is usually much older. Fostering is a great way to teach Jayden about giving back, and helping those less fortunate. He learns what it takes to care for a pet, and that we have to be committed to them, no matter what issue they may have. Now when he sees a stray dog or cat, he immediately wants to rescue it. He is frequently heard saying things like “Why don’t people keep their cats inside where it’s warm?” and “Don’t people know that dogs can get hit by a car if they aren’t looked after?” He also loves to visit the shelter to give the homeless animals some attention. It truly warms my heart that he is this compassionate and kind!

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-Fostering is also a great learning experience for me. I have always had dogs, my whole life. But there was so much I never knew! The most interesting things I’ve learned are behavior related. How to introduce dogs correctly, how to read dogs, what can be stressful for even the most confident laid back dog. I’ve learned about health issues, and how to listen to what a dog is so clearly telling me. I’ve also learned some great lessons from these dogs. Things like the past is just that, the past. Get over it and move on. Don’t hold grudges. Love the ones you’re with. All of those things that make dogs so amazing, us humans could learn so much from them!

-Now for the part that makes it hard to say goodbye, yet it’s exactly why I can. The bond that forms between me and the dog. I love seeing the foster dog relax and open up. I love when they look to me for answers. When the people came to meet Toby for example, we were all sitting in my living room, talking. He kept walking over to me, standing in front of me, as if to ask me if I was sure it was safe. It made me feel so good that this dog, who had been uprooted from the only home he knew, was now trusting in me to keep him safe. When I drop a dog off at an adoption event, and I return to pick him/her up, they wiggle and smile with happiness. No matter what their past has held, they realize that I am a “good guy.” Depending on the strength of this bond, it can be really hard to say goodbye. But I go into the “relationship” knowing that there is an end in sight. I know from day one that there will be a break up. I know that I am just their bridge, helping them go from their past to their future. The fact that I can say goodbye doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. It means that I love them enough to give them up. Plus, I am not equipped to have more than the two dogs that I have. I don’t have the space, the money, or the time, to have more than two permanent dogs. My household is on a very strict routine, and my dogs fit perfectly into it. There’s no telling what a third perma-dog would do to that routine!  

-Speaking of my dogs, fostering is great for them! I have had foster dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages. I’ve had a handful of puppies, young adults, as well as full grown adult male dogs, like Hambone & Petey. My dogs have had to learn to adjust their energy, and the way they play, depending on what the foster dog needed from them.  Oscar is my go to guy for first introductions. He is a total love bug, and he’s all about play! Lucy is confident, and a social butterfly. She is high energy though, so sometimes she has to be introduced slowly, as to not scare the new foster. Bringing foster dogs in also strengthens my bond with my dogs. Because there is a never ending stream of random dogs coming through my door, I make sure that both Lucy and Oscar get special alone time with me. I also make sure that they get individual time with the foster dog, as well as time together. I love how much their bond has grown since Oscar’s arrival. Now every single night, they can be found cuddling next to each other, snoring away. They play perfectly together, and understand when the other needs space.

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-Finally, the thing that makes it all worth it, are the adopters! They (usually) are wonderful. As the foster parent, you get to be a part of the process. You do meet and greets, sometimes several of them. And the most important thing I think all foster parents should know, is that it is ok to say no. Sometimes the dog is just not the right fit for the particular family. Sometimes the adopters are not fit to have any dog! But you love this dog, and you know and understand this dog, and therefore you get to be a part of their forever story. I truly love when I leave a meet and greet thinking “Those are good people.” I always try to keep my distance after an adoption, to allow the new family to bond and move on with life, but I cherish those that welcome me to stay in touch! Sometimes the adopters refer to me as the first mom, or foster mom, or the other mom (I’ve been called all three), and it really means something special to me. It makes me feel like they realize that I truly loved the dog that is now theirs.

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Visiting with Lola in her forever home

 

Well my friends, I hope that at least one of you will be inspired by something I’ve written. Even if you can’t permanently foster, many rescues and shelters need temporary fosters. People who can only commit to having a pet for a few days at a time. If you can’t foster at all, go visit a shelter on your next day off. When you see a stray animal, stop and see if you can help reunite him/her with an owner. Share my blog (#shamelessplug)! There is always something you can do. Always.

Jan2014 026Good night guys!

xoxo

Wordless Wednesday

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus lately due to life’s hectic ways! I have two posts that are in draft status though, so I am sure to get at least one of them done in the next couple of days! Until then, meet my new cuddly foster girl, Stella. More on her soon!

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