Jack Rabbit, Foster Teacher

I was thrilled when my best friend Sarah told me she decided she wanted to foster a dog. It would be an exciting experience, as Sarah’s never had a dog before.  She brought home her first Homeward Trails foster dog on Friday night!

Jack Rabbit is a whopping twenty pounds of all legs. At only about a year old, he seems to have his house manners perfected (he was adopted as a puppy and recently returned because of a divorce). I would honestly say he is close to ideal for a first time dog owner. House broken and crate trained, Jack minds his own business while he’s in the apartment and spends his time either sleeping or prancing around with a toy.

Because Sarah and I are so close and I’m the one with the doggy experience, I immediately assumed the role of FosterAunt. Like any good Auntie, I showed up to the first time meeting him with many gifts in hand: a kong, an antler, and a stuffed elephant. He loved all of them!  He actually plays with both by himself – especially the antler – keeping him busy for long periods of time.

Like with any new dog, Sarah and Jack are still getting to know each other. Sarah is eager to learn about caring for dogs so I am telling her everything I know about basic training, interpreting behavior, etiquette for meeting other dogs, etc. She’s being patient and understanding when working with him, and he is teaching her what it means to be responsible for something another living thing.

I’m sure he’s going to get scooped up in no time, and she’ll learn the bittersweet heartbreak of having to say goodbye. But then hopefully down the road she’ll get a new one, realizing again the satisfaction of saving a life and making a bond with a new dog.

For now, we’re all enjoying have a dog around again!

For a First Time Foster

For the longest time I was one of the only one of my friends to have a dog, but this weekend that changed. My best friend got approved to foster, and she brought her first dog home on Friday! My friend Sarah has never had a dog before, let alone a foster – so she is learning a LOT.  It’s almost hard for me to help her because there is just so much I want to explain to her.  So I turned to the real experts: you all! On the Peace, Love, & Fostering Facebook page I asked the question, “If you had to tell ONE thing to someone fostering/owning a dog for the first time, what would it be?” As I expected, you came up with thoughtful responses that were all great advice for a first time foster (or any dog owner, for that matter). Check out the wise words of wisdom:

–  Have patience. Lots and lots of patience. :)

– Patience.

– I recently fostered for the first time, an adult (not quite senior) male beagle. This is my advice: Don’t be surprised if it takes a dog a long time to get used to you. Some are shyer than others. Also don’t let the shyness fool you. :)

– It’s so worth it

–  Stay positive and give it time. Dogs are SO sensitive to negative energy; don’t get discouraged if things aren’t perfect right from the start. Give the dog time to settle in, and in the meantime, keep being kind and encouraging.

–  Educate yourself (with updated info) and learn as much as you can about dog body language and how they learn. It’ll come in very handy in helping you understand your dog/foster better.
–  Have patience! And don’t be afraid to ask questions!
– Read Patricia McConnell’s Love has No Age Limit. It breaks it down in an easy to digest way!
–  The anticipation of sending them off to their forever home is so much harder than the actual event.
– Patience!!!! It took mine 6 months before she would show her belly and truly be petted.. the first time she did I cried, I knew then she felt safe and loved. She was my foster failure! But my others were great and well worth it
– Exercise, exercise, exercise! A tired dog is a good dog :)
– Learn from your foster. Let them be themselves. My other foster failure.. Lol came to me from another foster home. They stated they cld not handle her. I got a 3 page letter about chaquita and not much of it was positive but I was going to let her, chaquita,.show me who she is. She was/is NOTHING like the dog described. She is my baby!!!
– Everyone is adjusting…not just you
– Routine and time. Dogs love routines, it will help them adjust and be less stressed. Also, it’s so tempting to get a new foster (or a new dog in general) and want to show them off and do everything and train everything. Don’t. They need time to just BE. Keep their world small for at least 2 weeks. Not too many visitors, not too much excitement, not too many road trips, etc. Let them learn to trust you (even if they are not a scaredy dog they need to learn to trust you!) and get used to their new environment.
– Don’t be afraid to stand up for your dog, even if it upsets other people. One of our dogs is reactive, and I needed to learn to give a firm NO to people who wanted to bring their dogs over for a greeting.
– You will sacrifice your time, your home,your health and your sanity and it will all be worth it.
– Training, training, training. And don’t be shy to ask for help if you’re not sure what to do next!
– Exercise, exercise, exercise. Exercise body and exercise mind. Tired dogs aren’t worried or bored. A tired dog is a happy dog.
As you can see, there are a few recurring themes. I think it is pretty clear that one of your best resources as a foster home are the people around you who have done it before! I’m so lucky to have this community of support, and I’m also thrilled to be here for my friend as she begins on the journey.

This is Jack (also known as Jack Rabbit, JackJack, or Jack Kennedy). He is about one year old and twenty pounds of total mutt. Stop by tomorrow to learn more about him and how his first weekend went!

How I’m Sensitive: My Concern for FosterAunt

Fostermama has talked a few times about how much she loves horses. She fell in love with horses before she liked big square headed dogs like me. But she went to college and her horse, Marley, stayed at home, and then her sister went to college and Marley went with her. Fostermama misses Marley, but knows that my FosterAunt is taking good care of her.

Last weekend, my FosterAunt had a big horse show. I don’t know why anyone would want to stand around and stare at horses all day, but I guess I’m a dog so I don’t understand that stuff. Saturday afternoon, fostermama showed me these photos.

photo from facebook.com

UH OH!? To me, a dog, that does not look good. Why does she have grass on her pants? Is that what they do at horse shows? Did something go wrong? I got worried, so I started drooling. I only drool when I’m nervous about something. Look at how concerned I am.

Turns out, FosterAunt knew what she was doing at that show, for the most part . . .

Yeah, that didn’t look right to me either. I asked FosterMom if this was a new style of riding and she said no, that FosterAunt had a little mess up. Oops!

I stayed very concerned until FosterMama told me that everyone was fine. These things happen, and thanks to an athletic and amazing Marley, FosterAunt came out with just a little grass on her pants. Crazy!

Then the next day she showed us all that she remembers how to ride, and that Marley still kicks butt – and looks gorgeous doing it (goodness, if I was as fearless as that horse…. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like!). Pheeeew!

I’m very happy I can rest easy that everyone is okay. I’m still going to do some extra drooling for good measure though!

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.

What Am I?

People are always telling me what I am. They tell me like they’ve met my mom and dad, and even their moms and dads. I don’t even know what I am, so how can they?

There is this funny thing I’d like to let you all in on. It’s called a mutt. It’s a dog made up of a whole bunch of different breeds, and probably not one in particular. My buddies at the shelter are often mutts. People try to tell them who their moms and dads are too because one of their 397630247 breeds got the long end of the stick and got to decide the phenotype.

For my “breed” – or mutt composition as I like to call it – I have arrows pointing in all different directions. It’s like every three pieces are part of a different puzzle.

I’ve got these really cool markings on me that people always like to compliment.

I’ve got these long, lean legs and a curlicue tail.

I drool sometimes. A lot.

The wrinkles on my face can make it look like I have a big blocky head. I do have a big head, but not that big. It’s a lean blocky, not a muscular blocky. There is a difference!

See? I’m made up of all sorts of different attributes! So when someone asks what I am I tell them in one loud bark, “I’m a snuggler, I’m a tail wagger, I’m a face kisser and I’m a LOVER.” No breed labels necessary, thank you. Now I know that there are stupid things called “formalitees” so one day fostermama will have to give me a label – but that day will only come AFTER a DNA test!

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.

Sleepy, Sunburnt, & a Total Success

I’m so tired from this weekend I’m not sure how many coherent words I can type. So I’ll make this quick and easy.

1.  Paws in the Park was amazingly successful.

2.  I can’t take much credit for the good turnout – the weather was absolutely perfect: 70’s and sunny. That brought a ton of people out.

3.  I am sunburnt to a crisp, in all the best ways: sleeve lines, red neck, and watch tan.

4. My parents & boyfriend were nice enough to bring Otis for a little bit, even though I was too busy to see them a whole lot.

5.  It was a very exciting reunion when I was finally able to stop a chat for a minute. You can tell I haven’t seen Otis in weeks (or so it may seem to him).

6.  Otis made a new friend, sort of.

7. No adoption leads this time around, but it was still great exposure!

8.  It was so great seeing all my favorite people from Jasmine’s House, as well as some blog followers I’d never met before. Thank you for saying hi!

8. Highlight of the day? There was a dog there that looked a lot like Baxter. When my coworker walked past the dog she asked his owner, “Is that Baxter?” and he replied with, “Why does everyone keep asking me that!?” :-)

9. Not sure who is more tired from this event: myself or Otis, who is currently snoring and out like a light next to me on the couch. Ah, to be a dog.

10. No brain power left to think of a #10.

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.

Fostermama’s Big Day: Paws in the Park

To my serious dismay I have been kept home a LOT the past week. No going to work with mama because she says she has mee-tings all day. It’s just me and fostergrandpa hangin out in the house for the looooong day that fostermama is at work. Then she comes home all sleepy and curls up on the couch with me and a glass of wine so we can blog. That part I of course do not mind.

Fostermama says all this time she is spending at work is because of my blog entry about paws yesterday some event called Paws in the Park. She says its a doggie walk and festivul, and that I get to go because I’m an MCHS adoptable! Yippee! Apparently I’ll be sticking with fosterdad that day though because fostermama will be too busy running around like a crazy person making sure everything goes smoothly.

She seems a little bit nervous about this event if ya ask me. Not necessarily scared nervous, but excited nervous – kinda like I get when I think we’re heading to my favorite spot in the creek but I’m still not sure yet. She talks a lot about how she’s never done this before so she’s worried she’s forgetting something, but I told her if I’m there that’s all she’ll need! Okay, maybe not all she’ll need… but still.  For how much time she has been working on this, she HAS to be ready! Besides, it sounds like they’ve got everything lined up as best as it’s gonna get: the vendors, the rescue groups, the activities, the demos – what more can you be forgetting, mama? I told her to just point me in the direction of the hot dogs and she won’t have to worry about me, I’ll be good to go.

I’m excited to strut my stuff wearing my Adopt Me vest and bandana in front of hundreds of people – maybe I will even find my forever family?? At the very least it will be a fun afternoon hanging out with fosterdad, and after this I will get fostermama back a whole lot more. Hooray!

Plus, I hear my friends over at Jasmine’s House will be there as one of the rescue groups! If any of you DC area folks are coming to the event, be sure to make your way over to their booth to say hi and buy some of awesome Jasmine’s House merch! Then of course look for me, as I put my paws in the park.

For more information about adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.