100!

Today’s post marks #100 for Peace, Love, and Fostering.

…What??

It feels like just yesterday that WordPress told me “Congratulations! That was your 15th post!” It’s weird but exciting to sit down right now and think about the fact that I started this blog in August, with zero expectations and very little clue about what I was doing. I saw the many who were doing it, and was inspired to follow in their footsteps. I admired what they were doing, and wished only to be a fraction as successful as they were at sharing stories of beloved fosters.

Fast forward six months, and here I am 100 posts, three foster dogs, and many, many words later. It’s hard to even think of my blogging experience as a whole, because so many monumental events stand out to me. There was the day I brought Zabora home from her spay surgery, after agreeing to foster her on a whim only three days after my Barley passed away. There was the time Zabora got adopted to the perfect home, leaving me heartbroken over saying goodbye to one of my first fosters. There were the weeks leading up to my career milestone, the Love Ball, that were spent with Curious Georgia.  Then of course, there was the decision to bring Baxter into our lives.

Little Zee.

Since Baxter has been with us for nearly four months now, his chapter is becoming more significant every day. It has only been since fostering him that I have updated this blog five days a week, spending almost every evening working on entries. It’s been only since him that I’ve gained such an incredible following, met many wonderful people, and gotten so much touching feedback about what I do. Baxter has changed so many things in my life, but the impact he has had on this blog is immeasurable.

Sometimes it seems difficult to get my posts written, or I stay up late editing pictures, or my evenings are a little more crammed – but it is all worth it. At exactly six months and one week, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it.  I love photographing my dogs (though that is still something I really need to work on), I love documenting my journey with them, and I LOVE sharing it with all of you.  I wouldn’t trade this for the world, so thank you for being here with me as I figure it all out! You all are the best part of this experience (along with the doggies of course : -) ).


When a Family Says Goodbye

As Bloggers, we make the decision to share ourselves with those on the other end of the computer screen. For some, this means sharing things about our lives and who we are. For others, it is just about our involvement with certain topics. But in this specific blogging and social networking community, we usually share most about our dogs.

To many people, blogging is “putting your life out there for anyone and everyone to see” – a scary thought. For most of us though, it is a chance to build new relationships and bonds with people we probably would never have met otherwise (in person or online). I can’t even count how many friendships I’ve made through this blogging and Facebook community of people who stand for the same things I do. Furthermore, I can’t even begin to put into words how special they all are to me.

With these friendships comes support and advice for your challenges, motivation for your struggles, and excitement for your victories – all from people who mostly only know you through the words you write online. We get so close to each other as we go through journeys together that we feel more connected than just as “fans” on Facebook, or blog followers. I feel like I personally know the people who are in this social media circle, as well as their dogs.

So when someone in this blog family suffers a loss, we all hurt. We all watch as a dog we’ve grown to love through pictures and stories gets taken away from their family. We feel heartbroken because the loving people who have shared their dog and their lives with us hold a place in our hearts as cherished friends – even without ever meeting them in person.

Blogging friends over at Pittieful Love suddenly lost their dog Knox this weekend to a rare blood parasite. Knox was the quintessential happy-go-lucky pit bull type dog, with a big goofy smile and a blocky black and white head. Stories about the way he interacted with his foster siblings always made me smile, and the pictures were so “aww” worthy. It was easy to feel a connection with him because he was so similar to all the pitties we love in our own lives. Knox was also a blood donor, and of course a wonderful ambassador for the breed.

Knox - Picture from Pittieful Love.

So it’s easy to see why Knox’s passing has shaken the whole blogging community. If you’d like to head over to Pittieful Love’s Facebook page to learn more about Knox’s story and leave a note, I think it would mean a lot to Knox’s parents. If there is any positive in this situation, it’s you wonderful people who have come together to give words & thoughts of comfort to this family in a time of need. Thank you.


Baxter’s Humble Beginnings

A lot of you have been following Baxter since he has been in my home, and many of you knew him from his stay at Jasmine’s House. A few of you even knew him when he was at MCHS. If you haven’t been following him since day one, it’s hard to appreciate how far he has come – even for me. He may seem like your average happy-go-lucky pibble, but his story started much differently than that.

I mentioned in my initial post about Baxter that he had a rough past. He came in to the shelter in June as a stray, like many other dogs do. He, however, was different. Half of his body was bald, and he had wounds all over his head and back. He was so scared he wouldn’t even walk – he only crawled and cowered. People had to carry him to and from his kennel to go outside. He was unsure about humans, but you could tell he wanted so bad to get affection. Once he realized we meant no harm, he would find shelter and comfort in the arms of those who offered it.

He didn't even want to walk when he first got to MCHS. Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

A lot of this isn't the wounds, it's just the mange. Still hurts my heart. Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

Because of how sweet and shy he was, many people at the shelter took a special liking to Baxter. We have lots of extremely dedicated volunteers who care deeply for our animals, and one special volunteer seemed to take Baxter under his wing. “Big Bruno”, as he is called, went out of his way to get to know Baxter while he was at the shelter. He and the rest of the kennel staff and volunteers helped Baxter find more trust in humans, which let him grow emotionally stronger.

Terrified Bax, but you can still see a little tail wag there. Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

Photo courtesy of Big Bruno.

Big Bruno took a video of Baxter when he was at the shelter. I had seen it a few times over the summer, before I ever knew Baxter personally. Now, after bringing this dog into my home and my heart, this video is hard for me to watch. To see Baxter so scared, looking so neglected; it breaks my heart into a million pieces. Luckily there is a happy ending. Here is the video.

Despite the extra love and TLC MCHS’s staff and volunteers were pouring out to Baxter, it was clear the shelter environment was no good for him. A few foster homes fell through, and finally Jasmine’s House stepped up to take on this “project” dog and all of his emotional and physical baggage. For that, I thank them from the bottom of my hearts.

Baxter’s baldness turned out to be Demodex mange, something easily treated. Slowly his wounds healed and his hair started to grow back. As his health bounced back, so did his confidence and appreciation for people. A few months went by and he still had the “I have to get to know you before I love on you” attitude, and that was what I was expecting when I went to visit him for the first time at Jasmine’s House. Instead, I got a bouncing, waggy, biggest-smile-ever pit bull scrambling to kiss my face. Can you say “pleasantly surprised”? CK Bax had come a long way from the thin, mangy dog he walked into MCHS as.

Baxter showed us all how resilient he is when he left his past behind him and learned how to be a dog again. With every milestone – being comfortable with strangers, learning to not be terrified of the car, mastering the stairs – he exemplifies the ability that dogs have to move forward, move on, and forget the past. I think as humans, most of us want to be able to do this: live only in the present moment without bearing the burden of the past. It’s a lesson we should all take from our dogs.

Comeback Kid Baxter isn’t named “Comeback Kid” for nothing; he truly overcame whatever dark upbringing he had and is now a shining monument to underdogs everywhere. And now…. he is happy. He is confident. He is outgoing.  He is a love bug. He is a goofball. Most of all, he is ready for his forever home!


Maximum Visibility

Baxter recently received his Adopt Me vest in the mail from houndgear.net. All I can say is WOW – what a vital part of foster marketing! This particular vest is different than your average Adopt Me bandanna or collar. I LOVE those items as well (I’ve made a few of my own), but you cannot miss a dog wearing this vest, even if you are across the street! I’ve searched the internet and really haven’t been able to find another vest like this one; so bright and crisp and clear.

I put it on Baxter when we went to a huge adoption event last weekend – I’m talking with hundreds of dogs – and it really set him apart from the others. It gave him that extra visibility, which in turn gave him extra attention. The more attention, the more potential adopters! Comeback Kid Baxter likes that concept.

(He was also a perfect gentleman at this event. Even with all the chaos, humans & dogs alike, he minded his manners. And of course people loved him).

I put his Adopt Me vest on him everywhere we go because you just never know when you might meet a potential forever home!  I even put it on him when I went with some friends to play Disc Golf (have you ever even heard of that game!? It is soo fun – literally a mix of Frisbee and golf). Maybe the woods held his future hiking partner, you never know.

Adopt Me!!!

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


Debunking Dog Myths

One of the most common reasons I hear for why people don’t get a dog is “I live in an apartment, it’s not enough room for a dog.” While I totally appreciate their caution and awareness for the dog’s comfort, I want people to know: apartments can be perfectly fine for a dog!

Two Grad Students and a Pittie brought this point up on my post yesterday. Yes, apartments have less square footage. But there are tons of dogs that are extremely quiet and calm indoors, and who don’t need a lot of space. This goes without being said for the little guys – Maltese, Pomeranians, Miniature Poodles, etc. – but there are also bigger dogs that would be perfectly fine in a smaller space as well, as long as they are getting the proper exercise outdoors.

Baxter, for example, would thrive in an apartment setting. He likes being close to his person, so a smaller living space would probably make him happy. To keep him out of mischief, we crate him while we’re not home anyway – so it’s not like he needs “the run of the house” ever. In fact, when we’re home he generally sticks to the living room and kitchen areas, which are easily smaller than an apartment. Also, when we’re home all he does is sleep anyway.

Take my current set up, for example. Literally just took this picture (I sit on the floor with him because I want to hang out with him but he’s not allowed on the couch in case his future adopters don’t want him up there).

Baxter is happiest just hanging out next to me. It’s not like he likes to walk laps around the house to be comfortable. In fact, I’m pretty sure if you suggested that to him he would laugh in your face.  Plus, he would rather go outside with you anyway than by himself. Who needs a big yard when you prefer going on walks?

Like I said, his M.O. is sleeping on his dog bed. At all times.

So I hope there is no one out there who is in love with him but won’t speak up because they live in an apartment.  Apartment, house, straw hut…. I’m sure Bax would like it all!


Baxter Rests Up for Turkey Day

Everyone knows the week before the week of Thanksgiving is the worst. You’re so excited about the holidays, but they’re still so far away! Well Comeback Kid Bax decided to embrace the dreary week he is facing the best way he knows how: by sleeping.This dog can sleep off his blues like the best of em.

CK Baxter knows how well sleeping passes the time. He also know how much his humans like it when his two speeds are: (1) walk and (2) sleep. Sprinkle the occasional zoomie in there and you’ve got the quiet little house dog you’ve always dreamed of (who is still very happy to join you for exercise). It makes me very jealous though when I leave the house for work and he is snoozing in his crate – why can’t I be like Baxter and lounge around all the time! Maybe I’ll just join him. Wake us up at Thanksgiving.

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


Conquering the Stairs.

** First, a fostermom moment: Baxter has officially learned sit! He didn’t know it when he first got here (or at least pretended not to) and now he does it perfectly! Every time he sits on command – especially for other people – my heart just bursts! I know it’s a really small thing but I am just so proud of my little bugger! Now on to our regularly scheduled programming…**

Like many other dogs who got the short end of the socialization stick in their early years, Comeback Kid Baxter can be understandably a little weary of new situations. One new situation that he didn’t exactly embrace with open paws? Stairs.

Now if you think about it from a dog’s point of view, stairs can certainly be quite scary. They are little zig zagging floors that lead to the depths of WHO KNOWS WHERE. Baxter will follow me all over the house, only to stop dead in his tracks when I head down the stairs. This has been a little inconvenient, as I live in the basement and any time I want to go to my room Bax won’t follow. I resorted to the solution for all things Baxter: food!

Baxter is extremely food motivated, which makes training him not only easy, but also really fun. Check out how this exercise went (and yes this was real first attempt!):

The bait: kibble. On every single step.

There ya go, Bax. Not too hard.

Half way there. Will he turn around!?

I'd bet money that he won't be able to resist that big victory pile at the bottom...

Success!!! Good boy Bax.

Then of course he turned right around and trotted back up the stairs. See ya! I figured I should be happy with that and was ready to call it a day. Until I heard…

The pitter patter of little paws slinking back down the stairs. Baxter’s good old love for food brought him back to investigate if there were any missing pieces. He walked up and down and up and down – so many times that he completely forgot why he was ever afraid!

Now Bax trots up and down the stairs fearlessly with ease, and he and I can hang out in my room worry free (which clearly CK Bax embraced quickly).