Hi. I’m Adoptable.

Okay, it’s time to make a confession. I’m really starting to slack in the “getting Otis adopted” category. Not intentionally – and I haven’t done enough fostering to know if this is normal or not – but Otis seems to fit so perfectly in our family that oops! I forget he’s not supposed to be here.

I think what’s done it for me is watching him interact with my parents. It totally melts my heart when I catch my mom working on tricks with him, or hear my dad talking to him in the other room. Coming home to Otis on Monday and hearing about his weekend together with “Foster G”, as my mom now refers to herself as (precious, right?), was so sweet. If it didn’t mean quitting fostering, I’d totally consider keeping him in our family.

But what you always have to tell yourself is: if he fits so well in my family, it means he can fit even better in someone else’s. Let me run through some of the things about Otis that make ME want to adopt him, in hopes it will make someone else want to adopt him too.

–  He is the world’s greatest snuggler. I’m currently typing this with his head snuggled under my arm. He’s snoring, but that’s okay because he is so cute and peaceful.

–  He’s elated whenever you come home. It’s like he hasn’t seen you in weeks. If you’ve ever wanted to feel really special, Otis will take care of that for you.

–  His yawn sounds kind of like a wimpy sea lion rawr. It’s the best thing to hear first thing in the morning if you ask me.

–  He makes the most ridiculous faces. I’m talking laugh-out-loud funny sort of faces.

–  He is perfect when he stays home alone. Perfect! Snoozes the whole day.

–  His face is ultra squishable, and he will happily receive endless nose kisses. It really helps for when you get those cravings for dog affection (okay, or maybe that’s just me. . .).

–  He’s up for any adventure if it means hanging out together. “It doesn’t matter where I’m going just as long as I’m with you.”

–  He can cheer you up in an instant just by zoomie-ing around the yard like it’s the best day he’s ever had.

–  He catches on to things quickly, and once he settles in he eagerly tries to please. This helps a lot with training!

–  His leash skills are impeccable. Everyone thinks he would be a nightmare to walk because he is so big, but it’s like walking a cloud.

–  He is downright the goofiest dog I’ve ever met.

See. He’s great. He’s so great. I don’t even know how to convey that as much as I want to without sounding like a crazy fostermama. His wimpy personality is holding him back a little bit from finding the perfect family because he’s got to be an only-dog and only-child, but we know there is a lucky someone out there to be his forever home. It will just take some time, and we’re okay with that – because, like I said, he is perfect here.

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page to learn more about him and how to get in touch.

It’s Always Better When We’re Together

. . . or is it?

To me, separation anxiety is one of the most intimidating behavior issues to deal with. The fact that it manifests itself when you’re not around makes it seem like a daunting challenge to overcome. Thanks to the brains of the dog behavior geniuses I’m surrounded by, I do at least know some arsenal in combating separation anxiety, should I ever have to face it.

So when I agreed to foster Baxter and was warned of possible separation issues, I braced myself for the worst. Some of you may remember over the summer when Baxter was at the Jasmine’s House farm and ate a leash, resulting in multiple surgeries to remove the impassible object. No one was sure what triggered the leash eating, but it was anyone’s best guess that it was due to separation anxiety. I knew at the very least I would have to be super diligent in observing Baxter’s behavior and anxiety to prevent another “leash incident”.

We knew that if his anxiety got bad when he came to us, our one saving grace would be that he was already used to spending time in his crate.  He was sleeping on a Kuranda bed at the time because we were afraid when he was alone in his crate that he would eat the bedding (which is something he did at the vet recovering from his first surgery).  When he first came into my home my eyes were on him at all times, and if I wasn’t around then he was in the crate.

Well, it ended up that Baxter’s separation anxiety never really did show itself. The first few weeks when we would put him in his crate he would bark a little at first, but now – thanks to keeping a routine – he knows when bed time is and happily trots into his bed and goes to sleep, sans any woofing or whimpering.

Under supervision, the leash eating issue has also basically disappeared. While we still take precautions to make sure he isn’t put in a situation where he can swallow something inedible, I do trust him to not be around me all the time. In his crate he has even graduated to a mattress instead of the Kuranda bed, which he absolutely LOVES – shown by the fact that he chooses to sleep there on his own accord throughout the day.

Even though my Dad works from home so someone is usually always around, Baxter would stay in a crate if I was out. I didn’t want my Dad to feel pressured to watch him closely (when we were still being paranoid and diligent about preventing him from eating things) when he needed to be working.  After a few weeks though, we were able to set up a “Baxter proof” space; essentially just two hallways with all the room doors shut, connected by a set of stairs. No access to any rooms, anything on the floor, or anything else dangerous.

He gets two beds, and he can access my Dad’s office. He stays there now when I’m not home but my Dad is, and it works perfectly. It took him maybe three or four times to get used to it and not look for me for the first ten minutes, and now he settles down as soon as I close the door. I put his bed by the window so he can sleep looking out the window. Pulling into the driveway and seeing this little man waiting for me is the best feeling : -)

Additionally, Baxter is not one of those suction cup dogs when you are home together with him. He doesn’t sit outside the bathroom door waiting for me, he doesn’t spring up when I move rooms, and he doesn’t whine if there is a door between us. I’ve had a few dogs like this, and I’m not at all saying it’s bad if a dog acts “clingy” – but I can definitely say I appreciate the space a little. Plus he balances it out perfectly when he trots around the house looking for me if he hasn’t seen me in a while.

So all in all, we got really lucky with Mr. Bax that he turned out to be such an easy keeper. I’m so happy that he has been able to settle down with us to the point of little to no anxiety. We still treat him to kongs or bully sticks when we’re not around, and mental puzzles when we are home just to tire him out – but my mind is at ease when we are out of the house.

We are lucky that Baxter didn’t need much work to get to this point, but people whose dogs are suffering from separation anxiety should know that there are lots of resources for your worried pooches. Patricia McConnell, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, has some great books out there about behavior issues, including separation anxiety, that I would highly recommend. Even the smallest things that you would never think of can help your dog get past their distress. Being educated about the triggers and causes of your dog’s anxiety can help worlds in treating and curing it.

So, in case his adorable brown eyes haven’t won you over in the “Adoptability” category, his easy going nature is a no-brainer. He is your little buddy when you’re around, but doesn’t freak when you’re not. Win, win!

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.

The power of being positive

There have been many discussions via different social media platforms recently about how to look at and describe the background of a rescue dog.  People get defensive about what they think did or did not happen to their beloved pooches before the dogs became part of their family. But ultimately, why does it matter?

As a generally compassionate race, humans feel the need to linger on past experiences, whether it is with people or with animals. I was guilty of this as well with previous fosters, delving into their sob stories – confirmed or assumed- as soon as I introduced them to someone new. Thinking back now, I’m not sure why I felt the need to do that. Did I think telling a story of abuse would make someone like my dog more? Did I think it would make them more likely to adopt?  Was it for my own satisfaction, showing “how far my dog had come”?

One day my eyes were opened to a new approach of advertising my animals. A more positive, happy approach: tell people what you do know about your dog. So basically, tell them anything you have seen and experienced first hand. This will probably include how loving they are, how much they love to play, how friendly and outgoing they are, etc. These traits are not only super positive, but more importantly they are accurate facts confirmed solely on your experiences with them – not assumptions, not hearsay, not hypothesizing.

Take CK Bax for example. I have absolutely no idea what happened to Baxter before he came into the shelter as a stray. He came to us in bad shape with scars and hunger and fear. Sure, based on his actions and appearance one can make speculations about what he experienced, but the hard truth is that no one knows. No one.

Even if we did know what happened or felt comfortable sharing what we think happened, telling people the gory details of Baxter’s assumed past is most likely to turn them off to him. It can unintentionally spark “I don’t want a dog like that, with that kind of historythoughts. Baxter’s hardships are all behind him. Now, Baxter is a happy, outgoing, and totally adorable dog, and that is what I love about him. That is what is going to sell him to his forever home.

Deep down we know we don’t want people adopting our animals out of pity. We want people to choose adoptable animals because they see them fitting in perfectly with their family, because they couldn’t imagine their lives without this great dog, or because the dog simply captured their heart.

So maybe take different approach and stay positive when describing your rescue or adopted pooch. Focus on the good, the here and the now – take a message from your dog and don’t get stuck in the past.  Share the things about your pup that make you burst with happiness, and maybe save the sob stories for another day.  In the end, you’ll see that the way people perceive your dogs will start to make a positive change.

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.