Finally Happy

The exciting moment came. I woke up one morning and had the exciting realization: Otis is a totally different dog now than he was when I took him back four months ago. This is always a victory for foster families, often one that sneaks up on you out of the blue just like it did to me. It happened with Baxter as well, and it was just as gratifying.

My home is the first one for Otis where he can be completely comfortable. In his entire 1.5+ years of existence, he had always been living with something to be scared or anxious about. Because he is now able to be himself and do things he wants to do without worrying, he is opening up enormous amounts with every day that goes on.

It’s the type of thing you don’t notice because it’s happening right before your eyes. The thought hit me last week when I brought Otis into a meeting with me at work (yes, I can bring my dog to work and into meetings with me – I’m lucky!) and he spent the first ten minutes happily greeting everyone by going around the circle delivering sniffs and tail wags. He wasn’t staying right by my side, he wasn’t drooling uncontrollably, and he wasn’t miserable being surrounded by people other than me. He was happy.

I noticed it again later that week when he was in my house and spending an alarmingly large amount of time, get this… out of my sight! Instead of needing the security of me, “his person,” to be comfortable, he was out wandering the house, hanging out with my brother or checking in with my mom and dad. He was embracing his free space and expanding his limits. He was happy.

I notice things every day now that show how much Otis has grown. He wags his tail more when we’re out in public, he is more open to greeting strangers, he doesn’t cower at the site or sound of new things, he enjoys being home without me, he is relaxed, he is partaking in normal dog things like using his nose, he is extremely food motivated, he investigates more on walks, he will try new things like running up the slide at a playground… the list goes on. Even two months into his stay with me, much of that list was nowhere near do-able for Otis.

These small victories mean so much more than just a testament to his progress. They mean Otis is truly ready for a forever family of his own. He has made it clear that he will not always be the shy, withdrawn dog that he once was when I met him. He still has a ways to go, I think living with a stable family for years to come will bring out the best, happiest side of this pooch. Hopefully this is the end to his worries. “God bless the broken road,” right?

Baxter and Otis!

Like I said yesterday: what could be better than getting a former foster and current foster together for a play date!?

Coincidentally, Baxter and Otis have actually met before. When Baxter was in the shelter a year ago and Otis was with me for the first time, we used Otis to dog test Baxter. Crazy, right!? I obviously had no idea what impact either dog would end up having on my life a year down the road, but that was the first time I ever met Bax. Baxter didn’t feel very well for that meet and greet, so both dogs seemed like they couldn’t have cared less about each other – and you know what? Not much has changed!

I was thrilled when Baxter’s mom was happy to accept my offer to bring Otis with me to visit and hopefully have a play date with Bax (in her words, “I hoped you’d say that!” – could they get more awesome?). Baxter has been getting a little pushy with male dogs recently, so we had to be cautious when introducing the two. Otis is so “whatever” about dogs (mostly just very submissive) that Baxter had no problem with him. Baxter didn’t even mind when Otis showed some serious interest in Miss Piggy!

Here is one photo that pretty much sums up how Bax & Otis felt about each other:

Total apathy. Baxter had a “too cool for you” attitude, and Otis, well, doesn’t have very strong opinions about many things so he was fine with whatever. It actually worked out really well, and was a victory on all accounts: Baxter was accepting of another male on his turf and Otis followed Baxter’s rules to prevent conflict and everyone was able to have a healthy socialization session. Though I think Piggy and Baxter seemed to find Otis’ antics a little amusing:

They did have bouts of playing when Otis was able to convince Baxter that running around in the heat was a good idea. They played so well with each other! Even all three of them together stayed within safe and appropriate levels of play. I think the heat helped a lot with keeping everyone subdued, but still – I was proud of each one.

For the most part, they spent their time ignoring each other in the grass. Aren’t they so stinkin’ adorable together?! So many happy tongues!

I am just as thrilled about this combo as I was about being able to hang out with all the humans. Everyone got along so well and each dog was on their best behavior. If that’s not cause for victory celebrations, I don’t know what is! I can’t wait until we do it again.

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.

Baxter’s Journey Comes Full Circle

Exactly one year, one month, two weeks and one day ago, Baxter was carried through the doors of the Montgomery County Humane Society.

He came in as a stray – emaciated and ragged, with scars all over his body. He was noted to be friendly but very, very scared. Baxter spent six weeks at MCHS, being looked after by staff & volunteers. His special angel Big Bruno, an MCHS volunteer, helped Baxter learn to walk out of his cage instead of crawl. Baxter was then rescued by Jasmine’s House, where two wonderful women took him into their heart and their home and helped put him back together physically and emotionally. Catalina of Jasmine’s House especially bonded with Baxter, as she has a history of helping the ones who need it most (see: The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant).

After three months at Jasmine’s House, Baxter came to me. He was with me, learning about living in a home and being a family pet, for four wonderful months until he found the perfect forever home. Baxter was adopted into a family of three loving individuals: Diane & Lali, his new moms, and Miss Piggy, his new sister. I saw Bax off in that first week of March knowing he had an amazing future, but sad that I had to say goodbye. I knew I would see him again soon though.

I know most of you are familiar with this story, as you were here with me throughout it all (if you don’t know it, see the beginning of the story in this post and the ending in this post). But I needed to write it down again to appreciate the meeting that occurred last weekend between the amazing people I just described who were involved in Baxter’s rescue and rehabilitation: Big Bruno, Cat, Diane, and Lali (and myself, but I hardly fall into the category of the rest of the bunch). It was the first time we had all been together at once – it was the first time D & L had ever met Catalina! It was also the first time Cat, who so loved this dog and did enormous amounts in helping him recover, saw Baxter in his new home, happy with his new family. I managed to capture their reunion, and the photos are, of course, worth a thousand words.

It was an amazing evening.  Baxter has now been with his new family for nearly five months! I know, I can’t believe it either. Listening to their stories of how he has opened up to them over the months, how he becomes a happier dog every day – it was just incredible. This is how I can foster, giving them up time and time again: because you hear how well they shine under the love of their new families. It’s really something.

We all sat back and reveled in the magic that is this little guy’s story. Each of the steps to his new life were there, together, enjoying the victory. For those of us who do this day in and day out, whether through a rescue or the shelter or whatever – we need to see these kinds of endings. The happy endings. They remind us WHY we rescue and why we put so much of our heart and soul into it. The fact that we have watched Baxter’s entire story unfold with such a positive outcome gives us enormous inspiration to go out and help all the other dogs like him.

I am so honored to know these people, as well as grateful to have spent some time with everyone together. Here’s to hoping it won’t be so long until we all meet again!

Make sure you tune in tomorrow to see how Baxter and Otis got along! Yes, you read the right… nothing better than getting an old foster and new foster together for a play date.

A House of Sickies

Well I am just SO BUSY playing doctor this week! FosterUncle has been taking up my couch working on getting better since the surr-gin dug into his foot last week, and I have been on 24/7 care duty with him.

Now FosterMama is ickies too! She immediately came home from work yesterday and went into her room and slept all evening, saying she had a mygrain (well if it’s my grain, why do you have it??). I knew just what to do since I’d been practicing with FosterUncle – I curled up next to Mama’s bed and kept her company all evening.  You would have never known that I had been sleeping all day while she was at work the way that I snoozed away the evening with her, being sure to not interrupt her precious nap time. I am such a good dog Doctor like that.

FosterMama feels bad she wasn’t able to take any new pictures of me doing cool things, so she wanted me to stick a bunch of old, random, unedited ones on here. She says she is sorry and that she’ll be back with fun photos tomorrow hopefully! I told her it was okay and that our blog friends would understand – and then I gave her face a bath with my tongue… that’s what sick people need, right??

Anyway, here are pictures of me being me. Below is also photo documentation of me being a wonderful snuggler-pillow-watchdog for Mama while she tries to feel better.

Now will someone please adopt me so I can stop sleeping with these ick people all day and start running around outside like I would prefer!

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.

Can’t Get Enough of This Every Day Love

Thank you guys so much for all the sweet comments on yesterday’s post. It’s so great to hear everyone else’s stories about why they foster, how they got into it, what their favorite parts are, etc. It made me think even more about why I do it.

This picture pretty much sums up my favorite part about fostering: the bond you make with each and every dog.

How every day routine turns into unavoidable love, similar to what you feel with a dog that’s yours forever.

It’s especially easy to fall for a dog like Otis.  Is there anyone out there that you think would love Otis the way he would love them? You never know the power of sharing. . .

Have a great weekend!

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.

Love Affair

FosterMama took me to an event this week, and I met someone. It was what they like to call “love at first sight.”

I fell head over heels. The crystal green eyes, the lean physique, the matching size at only four months. . . I just couldn’t help myself.

Looks like until I find a girlfriend, I’ve got a boyfriend!

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.

An Otie-Note to My FosterGrandpa

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Many of you probably celebrated surrounded by your loved ones, whether in person, in dog, or in spirit. I don’t yet have a forever family, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have some great Dads in my life right now. I’ve already told you guys how much I like my FosterDad, but I haven’t really filled you in on my feelings about my FosterGrandpa.

My FosterGrandpa is very special to me. Word on the street is that he doesn’t exactly consider himself a “dog person” like his daughter is, but it sure seems like he is an “Otie person.” You see, FosterGrandpa works from home so we spend long days together while everyone else is working from not-home. He lets me out to do my business and every once in a while we take breaks and sit outside on the back deck together, soaking up the sunshine and the fresh air. I’ve even started going downstairs and hanging out in his office with him instead of my staying on my usual couch roost. We, ya know, keep each other company. It’s really nice.

I’m a lucky dog because FosterGrandpa does a lot to make life easier on Mama so that I can stick around. FosterMama knows that if it were not for FosterGrandpa and FosterGrandma, she could not take care of needy pups like me. I believe it was only a mere three days after my half-brother Barley passed away that FosterGrandpa started allowing foster dogs into his house and his heart, and for that I am very thankful. FosterMama says that it makes her happy every day when she sees FosterGrandpa interact with the temporary pups that come through their home – me included.

So, Happy Father’s Day to the greatest and hopefully only FosterGrandpa I will ever know! Thanks for taking such great care of me and sneaking me the good treats before dinner.

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.