Enough feeling sorry for ourselves – it’s time to celebrate all the great times we had with Johnnie Cash while she was our foster dog! Here are some of our favorite memories. Check back next week for our final goodbye letter to her!
If I had a dollar for every time someone gave us a funny look when we told them Johnnie’s name, I’d be able to buy her bully sticks for a whole month. We’ve gotten so good at spitting out “but she’s a girl!” afterwards that it’s basically just a continuation of her name. Most people say it’s cute or clever, but I think they have to warm up to it. For us, she’s Johnnie. She’s the most Johnnie dog ever and no other name would fit her – but we know that for others it’s not like that right away.
To be honest, there’s not a great story behind why we named her Johnnie Cash. When I knew I was going to bring J (then Angel) home as a foster, Mark and I spent the weekend thinking of a catchy name for her. We were out at a show Saturday night watching one of our favorite bands The 19th Street Band and when they played a Johnny Cash cover I thought too bad she’s not a boy because I really like the name Johnny Cash! But then I remembered my dog crush over at Love & a Six-Foot Leash, Stevie Wonder, and how she was a girl who rocked a (mostly) boy’s name. Mark and I decided to hell with what people might think and decided on Johnny Cash (except we’re spelling it with an ‘ie’ because we like to be complicated :-)).
I like it because it’s unique just like her personality. Johnnie’s not much of a girly girl, so I think this edgier name fits her just perfect. She might not have a ton of similarities with the real Johnny Cash, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun with the name! Check out this ‘girl in black’ as she rocks the guitar like her namesake.
First weeks with a new dog are generally pretty nuts. I was making the joke before Johnnie came back that we were putting our helmets on, battening down the hatches and going into the week head first. You never know what “issues” a new dog will have adjusting to their new life in your home.
I am very happy to say that the first week with Johnnie went relatively well! I’m not saying there weren’t some bumps, but all in all Johnnie has been easy going while she adjusts to living in our home (. . . KNOCK ON WOOD PLEASE). Here’s a bit of a rundown of the first week having her with us!
Sunday – Her first day out of the shelter. I picked her up Sunday morning, took her for a run, took her to a doggy play date and then joined some shelter friends at an adoption event. She was completely wiped out by the time I brought her home so she slept all evening and did WONDERFULLY in her crate Sunday night! I had no idea if she was going to come used to the crate, take to it quickly enough or absolutely hate it and require intensive crate training.
Monday – I worked from home Monday morning to help her adjust since we only had a whirlwind Sunday together. She slept most of the morning, but I took her for a short run when we both woke up. I left her with my dad for the afternoon while I went to work and she did really well at home (which basically means she didn’t bug him all day). She got her paws on a random piece of wood in the house – she’s got a real thing for sticks – but other than that she didn’t do anything she wasn’t supposed to.
Tuesday – This was her first day coming into the office with me. I took her for a walk first thing and then she slept pretty much all morning in her pen next to my desk. A minor issue arose when I left for two hours in the middle of the day. I completely failed her by bringing her to a new place and then leaving her, and she made a bit of a fuss to my coworkers in my absence. She behaved really well when I came back, but I knew it didn’t set us off on the right foot. I felt so awful that I didn’t set her up for success. The evening went well though and again she fell right asleep in her crate.
Wednesday – Wednesday was a pretty uneventful day! I decided to start a routine of bringing her to work for only a half day and then letting her stay at home with dad the rest of the day (I’m so lucky I have that luxury). I had to go to reactive dog class in the evening so she was at home without me for the evening as well and she did fine. As long as I make sure she’s had enough exercise, usually all she does is lounge around with my parents. If she doesn’t get enough exercise, you can probably find her doing zoomies around the house/in the yard. This evening she had an accident inside though, something she hadn’t done yet while living with us. It was – sorry for the gory details – some pretty runny stool. Poor monkey had a stomach ache!
Thursday – Valentine’s Day! Johnnie joined me at work for the whole day because I didn’t have any meetings or anything to pull me away from my desk. She did well, but was a little antsy because we were both too lazy to get up for a walk that morning – bad foster mom! I took her for a jog after work because I was leaving her with my parents over night. She was “good as gold” for them, except she had another runny accident in the house :-(. I knew it was just because she couldn’t hold it since her stomach hurt so bad.
Friday – The upset stomach continued. . . I came home early Friday morning to a poor pup with a very messy crate. We (finally) decided to nix any treats or food except for some bland food the shelter gave us for dogs with upset tummies. She was at work with me in the morning and then when I finally got home that afternoon. . . it was the weekend! We went for a long run/walk in the rain and spent the evening relaxing and playing with toys. I was so relieved to finally have the ability to spend as much time together as we wanted without having to impose on my parents to watch her while I was at work.
Saturday – Freedom! We woke up early and joined the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Pit Crew on a walk along the Potomac River. It was the first time Johnnie would be in a situation with so many other dogs. She did great, considering. She had some trouble focusing when we first got there because of all the stimulation, but as the walk went on she got better. I had to keep reminding myself this is all new to her and she is still learning and I shouldn’t be too hard on either of us if she isn’t perfect! She wasn’t reactive towards any of the dogs and some other walkers commented on how well she did. I was very proud of her!
Afterwards we made a special stop to get Johnnie a new toy and then hung out at Mark’s for some R&R, and then headed out on another short hike just the three of us. At the end of the day I took her to the Foster Dog Alliance class given by Your Dog’s Friend. Again, I had to remind myself that neither of us are going to be perfect in class because it was OUR FIRST TIME. Johnnie is already a pro at sit, down and touch. We practiced “watch me” and four on the floor. Johnnie has some manners to still master when it comes to greeting people – I think that will be our biggest project. She was so wiped out from the day that she curled up in her crate on her own at about 8 and just slept there the rest of the night. A tired dog is a happy… owner :-).
Sunday – Another early morning for us at a group dog walk with B-More Dog! It was freeeezing but Johnnie was a trooper. I wanted to make sure we still had a good experience with so many other dogs so we stayed pretty separated from the group. I brought the clicker to this walk to reinforce some of the focusing tools we’d learned at the foster dog alliance class. She seemed to really love the structure and consistent reinforcement and stayed much more focused during this walk than the Pit Crew walk. People at the inner harbor LOVED her (I mean, who wouldn’t?). I was very happy with how well she did with so many people and other dogs.
We swung by an MCHS adoption event on the way home, but only briefly. Johnnie’s favorite place to show off is somewhere with space and places to get away from other dogs or scary things (cars, trucks). Events where we’re in a small store with narrow aisles and lots of other dogs are not exactly our favorite. Instead of pushing her into a situation where she wouldn’t happy (and therefore would be outwardly cranky – something not so nice looking to the public), we left the event early and on a good note. I had plans for Sunday evening so she spent from about 6 pm on at home with parents, mostly switching between snoozing and telling them she deserves parts of their meal.
Johnnie is such a special dog, and she shows that more every day. I know I made it seem like she’s perfect in the above description, and she’s close to it – but there are still things that we need to work on to make her the best dog she can be for her forever family. I’ll talk about this later in the week, but the worst part about the past seven days has been anticipating what might still go wrong – again, bad foster mom!
Right now my family and I are just enjoying the little things like watching Johnnie pounce after a squeaky toy or gently waddle over to you all groggy after waking up from a nap. I absolutely love her, and I know there is someone else out there who one day will too.
If you’re interested in adopting Johnnie Cash, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On August 27, 2012 a family in tears walked their eight-month old puppy into the shelter because their landlord wouldn’t allow them to keep her.
The puppy was adorable, but seriously lacked basic manners. For five months she was overlooked in the shelter, despite her deep brown eyes and a tail that wagged her whole body when she met you. I first met Johnnie Cash (formerly known as Angel, for anyone who is looking for her from MCHS) in early October when I took her on tv and she was a total doll. It wasn’t the right time for me to foster her, but I fell in love and told myself that after my big event in November was over I would take her home.
The more I watched her in the shelter though, the more hesitant I got about taking her. She was so rambunctious, clearly with lots of pent-up energy. Even some of our long time volunteers were weary of taking her for walks, annoyed with her love of biting the leash and jumping on you. Occasionally I would take her out – giving her a toy to occupy herself with so she didn’t grab the leash – and I would work on basic manners with her: sit, four on the floor, loose leash walking, etc. She picked it up really fast.
And yet I started to ignore what I saw in her myself and started listening to others. “Oh, that dog, she’s a pain!” I began to talk myself out of fostering her because I was afraid she was going to destroy my house and be tough to adopt out. Soon the holidays came and went and fostering drifted out of my mind, even though this beautiful tan and white pup had now earned her spot as our longest resident.
January flew by for me with obligations almost every weekend. I finally came up for air a few weeks ago, so Mark and I started entertaining the idea of fostering again. He joined me for one of the fabulous photo shoots at the shelter two weeks ago where we both met a few fostering contenders. During the shoot we took Johnnie out and she immediately caught my attention because of what she wasn’t doing. She wasn’t jumping, she wasn’t biting the leash, she wasn’t making a mad dash for every toy in the room. . . she was just an extremely waggy, happy girl – totally different than when I had spent time with her months before.
After that photo shoot, I couldn’t stop thinking about Johnnie. I couldn’t stop marveling at how well she demonstrated “sit” and “down,” and I couldn’t stop wondering if it was just a fluke and maybe she was behaving nicely because she was just worn out that day, or if something had changed in her as she grew up in the shelter.
I learned that about a month ago Johnnie got spayed and had surgery for a hernia. Volunteers and kennel staff noted that that’s when things started improving – she wasn’t acting out as much, she wasn’t as out of control. To me, it sounds like she was probably in pain from that hernia and when she finally recovered from it, she felt better and started to clam down. When I took her to an adoption event last weekend and she totally rocked it, I knew her fate was sealed. She was coming home with me.
It’s only been a little over 24 hours since she’s been in my home, but I am head over heels in love. So is Mark and my whole family. It breaks my heart to know that this dog spent so much time misunderstood in the shelter when she is proving herself to be an AMAZING family dog with me now. She’s fast asleep at my feet as I write this, and we already went for a run together this morning after bouncing around the yard playing with sticks.
I’ve never truly busted a dog out of the shelter like this – Zee was a product of Aleksandra’s generosity and hard work, Baxter came from the Jasmine’s House farm and Otis came from his previous adopters. The feeling of walking Johnnie out of the shelter and into my loving home is an experience I don’t think enough people are blessed with having. I’m so happy to be able to share our journey with you this time around – though I have a feeling this gem of a dog will not be here for long!