Guest Post: Campbell’s Fostermom Gets Her Wings

This post was originally published by Kate, co-founder of Jasmine’s House Inc., on the 367survivors.org website. It is a wonderful write up of how our team has come together to help Campbell (the #367 dog you first read about two weeks ago), and how the foundation of that team effort comes from Campbell’s unbelievable Fostermom.  It’s been an intense and difficult journey, but Campbell is in the best place he can be. Read more from Kate:

I have put a lot of challenging dogs in foster care and championed their success – successfully.  I have also fostered a good amount of challenging dogs myself.  But when my darling (and I mean that) friend Heather at Handsome Dan’s said, “this is different; this population of dogs is different,” while I said I believed her – I’m not really sure that I did.

I know Jasmine’s story well, and I know what Catalina went through with her to get her to a place of peace. I know Dan’s story, and Cherry’s to some extent. I know Halle’s story and little bits about Oscar and Little Red, too (note: for those of you who don’t know, these are all dogs from the Michael Vick case in 2007). And I know a number of “non-famous” dogs who came off chains and struggled just the same. But I only know what chained dogs go through when they finally go home based on second hand accounts. I really only “know” what chained dogs go through from the vantage point of someone who has met them after they’ve settled and healed to the extent possible. What I’ve learned, of late, is this: To know their true process for recovery, the ones that struggle the most, is to know them very differently.

The people – the humans with wings (I think, literally) who are willing to share their homes and lives with these survivors while they heal – they are truly my personal heroes. Campbell’s Fostermom is at the top of the list.

Since the incident two weeks ago when the neighbors unexpectedly beat a piñata right on the other side of the fence while he was outside, Cam has had a slow road uphill. He was really leery of outside before the incident – afterwards, forget it. The following days were full of stress colitis (bloody diarrhea), utter refusal to go outside (lots of patient, patient floor cleaning), refusal to eat, and generally panicked behavior. Fostermom and his training team, Amy and Juliana, had been making amazing progress with his stress-mouthing, but it reared its head again in full force after that incident – to the point that Fostermom would have to go in the other room at times and just let him be until he calmed down enough that she could interact again without him completely losing his mind.

He stopped eating and drinking for days. We considered fluids a few times but weighed the stress of administering them against the urgency – fortunately he managed to get enough chicken broth in that he stayed out of real danger. He also lost interest in training and toys because he was so stressed – both things that help to appropriately direct his energy and build his confidence. He was really in distress.

IMG_3478

At one point, he became so disconnected that Fostermom was feeling incredibly sad and scared for his wellbeing. Amy and Juliana made it a goal for Fostermom to focus on his wins to keep above water. When they were there Cam-sitting last week they snapped this photo of his progress board because it’s just so freaking awesome. Maybe it gives some perspective? Things like “drank chicken broth”  and “walked out of crate for chicken” can be so monumental for this dog that they are the progress-board-worthy high points. Put that into perspective for a minute.

One of the things that helped him through his low was his series of play dates/training sessions with Meghan and her magical dog, Kyra. It took a few days, but Kyra managed to pull Cam back out of the lurch just enough that Fostermom was able to connect with him again and start making new progress. He’s since had play dates with Amy’s dog Meera, and has a walking date with JH Foster Lady Bug this weekend, too (this happened and went super well – more details on that later!). In moderation, Cam’s dog interaction really helps to build him up!

memeThe last few days have been the best, and every day this week there have been more positive updates than negative. He snuggled a bit yesterday and today! He met the cat through the crate and did really well! He’s eating and drinking chicken broth more regularly! He’s going outside more than he was before! He’s able to listen to soft music in the car again! He’s barely been mouthy in the last few days and his stomach has settled enough that it’s no longer bloody diarrhea! Just regular runs when he’s upset.

Everything about Campbell is finding the fine balance between too much and too little, and it’s a dance that Fostermom is learning to master more and more with each passing moment. His daily routine and all the tailored things that fill it are his lifeline. Those of us close to his journey live for his little progress updates throughout the day. He’s an amazing, resilient, brave little man.

And really, Super Cam, in case you missed the memo: Your Fostermom definitely has wings.

If you can donate to Cam’s medical and behavioral fund, here’s the link. Campbell say THANK YOU!

Campbell1


When You Want to Foster Fail

Johnnie has been with us now for six weeks. In those six weeks, we have fallen in love.

02With every passing day, I find myself a little less able to ignore the “what if. . . ” creeping up in the back of my head. Both Mark and I have cautiously brought up the idea of keeping her because each day we find something new about her to fall in love with. The sleepy face she makes when she wakes up, the way she offers “sit pretty” like crazy now when she wants something, the way she catches on to new training cues extremely quickly, the way she falls asleep on your chest at the end of the night – Johnnie is a one of a kind dog, and I’m beginning to wonder if I will always regret letting her get adopted.

I won’t lie – I have pictured my future with Johnnie. Mark loves her, and I imagine us going on countless more adventures since we’d have all the time in the world. I imagine what she’ll be like when she’s old and lazy and probably a little cranky. I imagine all the things we could get accomplished with years to dedicate to training, including getting her certified as a therapy dog so she could create more smiles like this one:

adoptionevent

Photo by Virgil Ocampo.

But then I snap back to reality. I remember that my future is up in the air. I have no idea what I’ll be doing a year from now, let alone five or ten years down the road. Rental housing that accommodates pit bull dogs is tricky to find, especially for someone on a tight budget.  I don’t have the long term stability that she deserves.  Plus, there are always others out there who need my help. Adopting Johnnie would be letting go of some of my flexibility to help the many more in need.

It brings me comfort to know that she will bring so much joy to someone else. Once we find the right fit, I know she’ll bring them the same happiness she brings to me and my family.  They’ll learn how to deal with her quirks and they’ll figure out how to set her up for success and they’ll build a positive, trusting relationship with her – just like she deserves. And for a long time I’ll think about my former foster dog Johnnie Cash and how she was probably “the one that got away” and I’ll wonder if I’ll ever meet another dog like her again – but I’ll know we did the right thing for her.

01

Until the day comes that we send her off to the perfect family, we’ll be fitting in as much snuggling, laughing, playing, adventuring and loving time as possible. Even though it will be hard to see her go, Johnnie will always serve as a reminder for why I have to say goodbye to my foster dogs.

“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” – Anonymous

sleepingTo adopt Johnnie Cash and experience how truly amazing she is, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.