My Mini Me

Otis here. I’m back with J for just a few short days. I was really excited to head back to work with her, but little did I know what I was in for that first day back.

J told me about this little stray pup at the shelter who looked just like me, and she said we’d get a chance to meet each other. I was, um, not thrilled because dogs that bounce and yip and move quickly are not my favorite thing – and puppies happen to be all of those in one little package. Greeaaatttttt.Turns out the little stinker had spent a lot time with my former-foster mama back at her desk snoozing the day away, so she thought she’d be a low key buddy for me too. Boy was she WRONG. She started acting a fool when I came around!ig02ig06

"Get me outta here!"

“Get me outta here!”

Although I do have to admit we were pretty cute together, dontcha think? I mean, look: our striped furs totally match! And our paws dipped in white and our big brown eyes. If I didn’t know any better I’d say we were relay-did.

ig05

ig03

This little girl is named Pixie and she’s looking for her forever home. Can one of you adopt her so she stops tormenting me? Email my former-foster mama at peacelovefoster@gmail.com if you’re interested.  Thanks a million!


Helping Kobe Cope

Yesterday we celebrated two lucky dogs who were pulled by Bully Paws and are excelling outside of the shelter. I now want to share with you how Kobe’s story is progressing! Remember Kobe? He was the lucky brown “pit bull” dog who made it out of the shelter with Jasmine’s House after four months of waiting:

04

Kobe was luckier than we realized when he left with Jasmine’s House that day.  The shelter took quite a toll on Kobe, and he developed severe anxiety by the time he got out. At his foster home he made it clear how much he hated being alone by doing some pretty serious damage the first day his foster parents left for work (anyone with dogs that have separation anxiety can relate to this, I’m sure).

Jasmine’s House and Kobe’s fosters immediately put a plan into action to combat his separation anxiety. It quickly became evident that Kobe didn’t need just the usual tricks to help his anxiety, he needed rehabilitation.  This would require lots of time, patience and dedication – which is exactly what his fosters & Jasmine’s House gave him.

Every day Kobe’s foster drops him off at Heather’s house (the foster coordinator for Jasmine’s House) before they go to work at 6:30 am. Kobe spends the day with Heather, and then gets picked up on his foster dad’s way home. Heather also happens to be Joanie’s foster! It turns out that those two are perfect for each other, and after spending a few days across baby gates and on parallel walks, they are now almost inseparable.

KobeJoanie

KobeJoanie2

Another doggy friend can really help dogs with separation anxiety – though it often doesn’t completely cure it. The regimen for Kobe is an intensive one, starting out with trips into the crate for only one minute or less. The point is to slowly build him up to where he can tolerate being alone for five minutes, and then thirty minutes, and then hours. This process can be very slow going, but it is essential for a dog who needs to learn that being alone is not the end of the world. For a more detailed description of crate training/combatting separation anxiety, I recommend reading Patricia McConnell’s book I’ll Be Home Soon.

Heather emailed me with a milestone just the other week: she went to walk one of her dogs for 40 minutes and when she returned, Kobe was fast asleep on his bed (next to Joanie in her crate). Then, I received another update that Kobe had been left alone for four hours and again, he was totally fine.  These are huge, huge victories for dogs like Kobe with such severe anxiety, and they were accomplished with consistency, patience and lots of hard work.

Kobe is no where close to anxiety-free yet, but he has come leaps and bounds in just a few short weeks.  He still does not like to be crated when left alone, and doesn’t appreciate tie-downs either – so he might be a dog who just won’t be able to stay in a crate. There are plenty of non-crate trained dogs out there; that’s not super important. But what is important is that Kobe doesn’t feel like he needs to totally lose his marbles when his humans leave – which it seems like he is learning.

Kobe3

When he is not practicing being anxiety-free, Kobe is working towards his CGC!  Kobe participates in CGC class at Canine Lifestyle Academy, and he is quickly excelling with the help of his loving and dedicated foster parents.

KobeCGC

KobeandJoanie

He lives with another female dog and six cats, who I hear he is getting along well with! So even as Kobe works on getting his ducks in a row in terms of anxiety, he continues to be the darling dog we know and love.  He is lucky to have so many dedicated people in his life willing to work with him instead of just throwing in the towel and saying he is too difficult. He is going to make a family very happy one day!

JoanieKobe3

Joanie, the little black pup, is available for adoption through Jasmine’s House rescue! Kobe is not available just yet, but he will be one day. If you’re interested in either, head to the Jasmine’s House website and fill out an application.


Kobe’s Big Break

You might remember the poem I shared a few weeks ago:

The air is crisp, my paws sense the cold concrete floor.
I’m encaged in metal that lacks an inviting decor.
Another season begins and I am still here.
Are my days numbered? I shiver in fear.
You see I live a sheltered life devoid of endless fun.
On most days I get no more than 20 minutes out in the sun.
Patrons pass over me cuz I’m a misunderstood breed.
Unfairly prejudged no matter my plead.
So I whimper and lick the lock on my door.
Oh why can’t it be your hand, your face? Rescue me, I implore.

This poem was written by an extremely dedicated and caring volunteer. He wrote it with all shelter dogs in mind, but about one specific dog in particular: Kobe.

Kobe arrived at the shelter in July.  While he quickly became a staff and volunteer favorite, he was overlooked time and time again because he was a plain old brown “lab/pit” cross (my monkey costume didn’t even help!).  He doesn’t like to play with toys, and he isn’t overly affectionate to people he doesn’t know, so he never really piqued the interest of adopters – despite his charming personality once you spend a few minutes with him. Weeks turned into months, and before he knew it, Kobe became our longest resident.

Kobe’s luck changed last week when two lovely ladies from Jasmine’s House stopped by the shelter to look at dogs to bring into their program. Kobe wasn’t even on their list, but the shelter’s Rescue Coordinator convinced them to take a look at him (which, in the end, was his saving grace).  The stars aligned for him that day – Kobe’s rock solid personality immediately won them over, and one meet and greet with the foster home later he was out of there. On Saturday, after four months of spending every night in a shelter kennel, Kobe became a Jasmine’s House dog.

The shelter took a toll on sweet Kobe, but not in the way it often does for dogs. Kobe is as sweet as the come and is great around other dogs, but he hasn’t gotten the opportunity to learn to be himself yet. He sleeps a lot, like he is trying to dream away all the trauma from his past life. He’s a dog that finds comfort in a human’s lap, and who has a lot to learn about being a part of the family. This all makes perfect sense considering his life before he was given up consisted of being tied to a tree in the back yard.  To come out so loving after all he’s been through is a true testament to Kobe’s personality.

Kobe is slowly learning the joys of being in a home. He’s realizing what it feels like to run in an open field, and to rest on a comfortable couch. He is learning what love and attention are like, and he can’t seem to get enough of it.  He’s even gotten his very own Sirius Republic snood to wear while enjoying the crisp Fall air.

Thank goodness for rescue groups like Jasmine’s House who give these dogs a chance at the love and comfort they deserve. Kobe is staying in a temporary foster for the week (which is where I got these great photos!) and then will head to his permanent foster on Friday where he will get to settle in and look for his forever family.  Everyone who fell in love with him during his time at the shelter is crying happy tears, especially when we see updates like this online:

Kobe is going to be a fabulous addition to someone’s family.  After such a bumpy road until now, I am just thankful that he’s got a fair chance now. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all the volunteers who loved Kobe while he was at the shelter, the Rescue Coordinator for making sure he didn’t get overlooked, and Jasmine’s House for giving him a second chance at love.  Hooray, Kobe!

If you’re interested in adding Kobe to your family, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


There’s a New Pittie in the Neighborhood!

When my next door neighbors came to me saying they were looking into adopting a “pit bull” dog, I was elated.  They are the kind of laid back people who don’t care about stereotypes and just wanted a nice family dog for their kids to grow up with.  They headed to our local shelter and, after a slow moving search, finally found a pup that seemed to be the perfect match.

After meeting many dogs, they settled on handsome Rojo (pronounced Ro-ho). Rojo had been overlooked at the shelter for months because of his nondescript, brown-dog look. Even though he behaved like a gentleman during visits, he never caught anyone’s attention. Until this family stopped by and gave him a chance.

Rojo now lives with two kids and has a huge yard that backs up to woods.  He seriously hit the jackpot with this family. They’re so willing to accept him for who he is, and they’re ready to learn whatever they need to for him to be the best dog he can be.

They lost their last dog about a year and a half ago, so naturally they are experiencing some, “Oh yeah, he’s not Scooter” moments, but they’re working through those. We all know how hard it can be to not try and replace our last pet, but to realize that the new one is an entirely new experience to fall in love.  I have a feeling that Rojo will quickly turn into another beloved fur baby just like his predecessor.

I’d like to ask you all for some advice on their behalf: Rojo is a pretty consistent submissive/excitable wetter.  Do you have any ideas for curbing/curing that for me to pass on to them? Thanks!


Puppy…. Love?

Do you all remember my best friend Sarah and her first foster dog, Jack Rabbit? Well he got adopted after only two short weeks! Sarah very quickly got to experience the joy and heartbreak of getting a foster pet adopted. She, like me, missed her furry friend when he went to his forever home, but was excited to have her care free life back.

I was really proud of her when she started talking about fostering again (specifically I was happy that the first experience didn’t scare her away for good!). We talked a little bit about the next dog she would take, but then all of a sudden she texted me a photo of a puppy. I knew there was no way that Sarah in her right mind would agree to foster a puppy, so I asked what dog that was. Sure enough, she had volunteered to foster a three month old beagle mix from a West Virginia shelter that lost power during the hurricane.

After I did a quick mental check over to see if she’d totally lost her sanity, Sarah explained to me how she planned to handle said puppy. She has a very flexible work schedule and can even bring little dogs into work, so that covered the supervision issue. She immediately went to PetSmart and bought a whole bunch of puppy supplies including food, puppy pads and lots of chew toys, followed by her “puppy proofing” the apartment. She armed herself with lots of treats and a crate and set out to teach the puppy boundaries and manners. This time around, the puppy is not allowed on the bed and must sleep in his crate – two things Jack got away with.


She admitted to me that the first couple hours were extremely stressful, and she wasn’t sure if she could keep it up. I told her she’d had it easy with Jack because, in general, the first day or so of having a new dog is very full of, “Oh shit, what was I thinking?” thoughts.  But Sarah had a talk with her roommate, Natalie, and Natalie convinced Sarah to stick it out for a few more days, offering to help care for him. Together they would make it work and get him adopted.  Besides, after only a few hours of being in their apartment he began to settle down (and then bounce around, and then settle, and then bounce. . .).

To me their harebrained scheme sounds totally crazy – but they seem to be doing just fine so far.  The puppy’s name went from Spencer to Lincoln to I think they’ve settled on Sinatra, and he is happily living it up puppy-style in their apartment. I can almost surely say that Sarah will not be fostering a puppy again for a very long time, but for now she is learning what it takes to care for, teach and love a little wiggling three month old bundle of energy and fuzz. In her own words, he is “the love of her life and the bane of her existence.” Ah, puppies.

If you’re interested in adopting this sweet guy, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Pittie Princess, TV star

I love my job because I get to take pretty little dogs like this, bust them out of the shelter for a few hours, and have a girls’ day out.

Yesterday’s adventure started at the studio for channel WUSA9 here in DC. Angel, the sweet pittie pictured above, was getting her time in the spotlight! Angel loves people, is easy going, and looks great in a dress, so I knew she’d be the perfect adoptable candidate to brave the cameras for a day.  Boy did she work it! Angel soaked up the attention, behaving as just that – a little angel – for our live 45 second clip on PetLine9. You can check out the video on their website. We got to chat about our upcoming gala, The Love Ball, as well as little miss Angel.  Notice that I talked about Angel as an individual, and didn’t relay assumptions based on her “breed” – only about what I’d observed myself. I was able to be honest with potential adopters, and didn’t have to use any generalizations based on what kind of dog she might be.

After winning over everyone she met at the studio, Angel took her talents to the streets. The shelter was having a fundraiser at a local boutique, so we stopped in to say hi and help do some shopping. Angel can now also add to her resume the positions “personal shopper” and “professional tail wagger.”

The adventures left Angel totally exhausted, and she passed out on the ride home. She looked like such a sleepy puppy, even though she’s closer to one year old. Her efforts to keep her eyes open as we drove home were so endearing.

Angel is a dog who doesn’t show well in the shelter because of her sometimes extreme hyperactive puppy behavior, but turns into a close-to-perfect dog in the “real world.” She walked well on her leash (using a Sensible harness – my new favorite walking gear!), she greeted strangers politely, and she picked up quickly on basic behaviors I was asking of her in just the few hours we hung out.  If the stars align in a few weeks, she is well in the running to be my next foster – though hopefully she’ll be adopted by then!

Spending the day with such an awesome dog was a great way to head into the weekend. Hopefully someone noticed her and her snazzy dress on the news and will come to the shelter to visit her! In the mean time I will continue to spend time with her every day to spoil her with treats and well-deserved attention.

Hope you all have great weekends adventuring with your pets!


When the Stars Align for Another Chance

Gaston has hit the jackpot.

This handsome guy was my passenger on our road trip up to Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) last Monday. Gaston busted out of the shelter after thirteen long months and made his way into the AFF adoption program!

Gaston was a long time resident of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.  As you can imagine, he became part of the family there. They outfitted him with special harnesses and collars that wouldn’t irritate his skin, they made sure he had plenty of great toys to chew on, and they gave him special food to help manage his allergies. He loved all the staff, and they loved him. Everyone wondered why he wasn’t getting scooped up. He’s a bit dog reactive, but they’d seen worse – so after over a year, where was his perfect family?

That is when things came together and Gaston found himself eligible to transfer into the AFF program. Even though the AWLA staff all loved him very much and were sad to see him go, they knew new things were awaiting him. At AFF he will get specialized attention to help with his reactivity and inevitably find him the perfect home. In the mean time, he will be able to enjoy the acres of open land AFF has to offer (more about that later).

Having a traveling buddy for the six hour journey was great. He was a very similar traveler to the way I act on long car rides: he cat napped, he gnawed on his antler, he snoozed hard, he looked out the window. We had a good time.

I was lucky to then be able to see him all week while I worked at AFF. He settled in pretty well, even though it was a very new environment for him. I’d bet money that he’s never smelled all those farm sniffs before, and check him out as we pulled up: “Cows!”

Hopefully now Gaston is quick on his way to meeting the perfect forever home. Any dog that finds themselves in the hands of the folks at AFF is a lucky dog. Check back tomorrow to learn more about my week there!