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.

Progress Makes “Perfect”

I’ve really driven home on this blog the point that Otis can be a bit co-dependent. That’s what I remembered him being from over the summer, and what was confirmed by his last owner when I took him back. After an independent Baxter, I was wondering what it would be like to have a shadow dog again. I had visions of him whimpering outside the bathroom door while I showered, getting stuck under my feet at every step, and showing separation anxiety when left alone.

What I wasn’t accounting for was adjustment, relaxation, and a mind at ease. These ingredients have brought out an entire new side of Otis from when he came to me six weeks ago.  I was able to enjoy and appreciate progress with Baxter every day, but for some reason I’ve been totally blind to how far Otis has come.  So I want to take an entry to celebrate Otis’ victories like he deserves.

While Otis still loves to hang out with me, he no longer needs to be attached to my hip. A big milestone he recently started enjoying is relaxing in the living room by himself while everyone is in the kitchen. He’ll also leave my room and walk upstairs to hang out with my parents if I’m not doing something entertaining enough for him. He’ll be that companion dog who will follow you from room to room and keep you company, but who won’t let the whole neighborhood know when you’re separated from each other in the house.

In the same vein, another thing that makes him a great dog is how well he does when alone. He just stays on the couch the whole time he is by himself. No chewing, no whining, no destruction. Just calm and patience, waiting for our return. It’s so relieving! It is especially nice to know that he can stay home all day while I’m at work and not bug my parents. In fact, they barely even realize he is around.

Otis has also become a “normal” eater – he gobbles his meals down, he is enticed by treats, and sometimes he even comes over to have a sniff of what we’re eating. For the first while, Honey barely touched his food, let alone treats. I was worried about him, but he has proven to be just as eager as the rest of the food motivated pups out there. Along with the food motivation has come basic obedience. His butt is on the floor as soon as he sees a treat in my hand; a scene much like the photo below. “I did it, now where is my reward??”

Finally, one of the biggest things I realized when I stopped to reflect on Otie’s first month was that the jumping has almost completely stopped. It was always Otis’ go to –  he would get excited, then hop his front paws on whatever was in front of him: a human, a couch, a bed. He was always bopping around. Now it seems he doesn’t even think about jumping up (with a few exceptions of over excitement, of course).

So no, he is not perfect – but every day he is becoming more calm, comfortable, and happy – and what else can we ask for? So many dogs get bumped from home to home because they are not given the chance to settle in.  Otis, just like Baxter, is a prime example of a dog who needs a little time and TLC before he becomes the best that he can be. But once they come out of their shell and show you their goofy and loving personality, you’ll be so glad you gave them that chance.

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.

Food Motivaton, Positive Training, and Progress

Food motivation: the thing that can make training with your dog a piece of cake and help you feel like the best dog-human team there is, or the thing that can make obedience class one of the most frustrating activities you and your dog will do together.

Baxter was food motivated. He would do almost anything for food. Baxter came to me with pretty much zero obedience training, and in a matter of weeks learned sit, down, paw, and… okay, well that’s about it – but still! It was easy enough because he loved food. I didn’t even have to use treats with him; he would bend over backwards for just kibble. It was great!

Otis showed up as a non-food motivated dog, or so it seemed. The first few days he wouldn’t eat his kibble even for meals, and would turn up his nose at whatever I put in front of him.  Working on basic obedience was frustrating and discouraging because Otis would pay zero attention to me or the treat in my hand. Turns out though that all he needed was to settle in a little, and boom went the appetite (duh! earth to fostermom!).

Look at me being a good little student and staring intently at the treat.

This is making a very positive change in his attention during training work. He will still have trouble focusing if I don’t have a treat, but as soon as I get something yummy in my hand, it’s all eyes and ears on me (gee, can’t imagine why). The treat still has to be pretty high value, like deli ham or cheese (which we break it into baby bites to make sure he doesn’t get an unhealthy amount during our sessions), but now his focus is worlds better than it was three weeks ago.

I’ve been using a clicker with him to help build a positive relationship, especially because he is so sensitive. Honey would not do well with someone saying “NO!” to him all the time. He works best when he is encouraged for doing well, and, like most dogs, he shuts off when he doesn’t know what you’re asking. I’ve used clicker training to help work on eye contact and focus, as well as basic stuff like sit and wait. I’m excited because he has been making quick progress with sit-stay-come; something Baxter never exactly mastered.

To make sure Otie doesn’t get confused or discouraged, we keep training sessions short, sweet, and frequent. I’ll grab some treats when we wake up in the morning and work for five minutes before breakfast. Then we’ll do some simple commands after the workday. Then we’ll have a refresher course after a walk – and so on. It ensures that our experiences stay positive, and Otis keeps enjoying to learn. It is our goal to set him up for success now during his time with us and for when he is in his forever home.

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

An Update on Life + Kibble for [FB] Comments

For every person who “Likes” Peace, Love, & Fostering’s Facebook page* and then leaves a comment (say hi! say whatever you’d like!) between now and midnight on Dec 21, Baxter & I will donate 1 lb of kibble to the Montgomery County Humane Society!! Share with your friends so we can spread the news about adoptable Baxter while helping needy shelter dogs. Thanks so much!

So I realized that I haven’t really given you all an update on the general existence that is Baxter these days.  I always forget how far he has come until I stop for a second and think about what he was like the day he walked into my house.  I owe it to him to share a little of his progress.

You know how they say dogs take a while to adjust and settle in, and it can be anywhere from one week to a year? Well Baxter is a perfect example of this. Every single day he becomes more comfortable with something new.  Each time I think he is “adjusted”, he becomes relaxed with one more part of his life and proves me wrong — in a good way! Things I didn’t really expect he would do like a normal dog, he is doing.

He knows our routine now and looks forward to it. He knows that the food bowl means he has to plant his booty on the floor and not wiggle and scoot all over the place. He knows that when foster grandma comes into the room, if he looks extra cute he might get a few more kibbles (not on my watch!). He knows that, “C’mon Bax, let’s go to work” means get ready for the leash and the car. He knows that when we walk into the office his place is inside his pen. He knows to wait by the front window when I’m not home because eventually headlights will signal my arrival. He knows that if he is sleeping in my room and I leave but don’t go up the stairs, he doesn’t need to follow me. If I do go up the stairs he’d better follow because I might be gone for a while. He knows that when I make a big smile and lean towards him he is supposed to plant a big kiss on my face.

All of these little victories make me overwhelmingly happy. New dog owners should be aware that their new dog acting up, peeing in the house, being withdrawn, etc. probably has to do with the fact that they just don’t know how to deal with their new surroundings yet. Soon they learn boundaries and rules and what makes their humans happy or what makes their humans upset; and every dog has a different time frame for when they learn these things. This time frame doesn’t have anything to do with what kind of dog they are – a dog can be the best dog you have ever had (Baxter!!!), and just be a little shy or slower in becoming confident and comfortable.

It makes it fun; watching our lives with Baxter unfold. I can leave Baxter alone with my parents and everyone – Bax included – is at ease. I can tuck Bax into his crate at night and he sleeps happily until I drag him out of bed in the morning. I can be comfortable with him being in the other room without me. All of these are really things I wasn’t sure were going to happen when I first met him. Mostly because I’d never really taken on a long-term foster before, but also because Baxter had so much unknown about him.

He makes me feel so proud, happy, and fulfilled because of the dog he is growing into.  His forever family is going to love all of the same things about him that I do, and more, because they will get to experience the truest form of Bax as he lives with them for years and years.

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

*Up to 200 lbs of kibble. Multiple comments from the same contributor will only be counted once. If you already “Like” the page, just leave a comment and you will still be counted!