The Tough Truth About Frankie

When I shared Frankie’s handsome face on Friday, I described him as the dog he is at heart: goofy, adorable and loving. Sadly, there is a bit more to the story. Frankie has been in the shelter for six months. That is almost 20% of his entire life. Shelter life is obviously not the ideal situation for any animal, and it takes its toll on each pet in a different way.  For Frankie, it is not going well.

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The staff at his shelter are doing everything they can to keep him happy, including play groups, enrichment activities, extra human time and more exercise. Something is just not clicking with him though. Here is a note written by his biggest fan on the behavior team at the shelter after some friends met him for the first time:

“When you saw Frankie, you probably couldn’t tell too much. Fridays are good for him, he gets a lot of walks and attention. But then the weekend comes and his routine is thrown off. By Monday morning, he is a wreck. It takes a staff member or volunteer at least 30 minutes of snuggle time just to get him to WANT to go on a walk. We take him outside, where he rolls in the grass, and zones out as we give him belly rubs and talk to him softly.

When Frankie is with people, his comfort and joy is palpable. As you saw, he will literally fall asleep in your lap. But without consistent human touch and affection over long periods of time, the stress of the kennels is slowly wearing him down. This is a dog who grew up in a neglect situation. He grew up without any human affection at all. Despite that, he has managed to remain at heart a social dog who enjoys the company of people. However, long periods without human contact cause him great emotional suffering and stress. Instead of shutting down, Frankie is beginning to show other concerning behaviors that show us his emotional breakdown. He will repeatedly jump at the door to his kennel, and has a difficult time settling on his own, even after the longest of walks. This may not seem concerning, but we have learned that these behaviors are the beginnings of stereotypy – repetitive behaviors caused by stress. If this level of stress goes on too long for a kenneled dog, long term effects occur as their brain chemistry will actually change.

Frankie used to relax quite well in his room after walks. Over time though, he is now just as antsy afterward as he is at the start. To help him, we begin and end walking sessions with relaxation time – body massages and belly rubs and snuggles. However, it is clear that Frankie is suffering. You can’t see it on the outside. Every Friday I go home and he is happy and relaxed. Come Monday morning he is transformed into a stressed out and anxious boy. Given some time, he comes around and bit by bit, he comes back to us. But he is in emotional pain here, and soon I fear it will be too late for him to turn back into the fun-loving, happy-go-lucky dog that he is.

I really am worried for him. The best life he has ever had is in the shelter. The people who love him most are here. And that’s okay, some dogs don’t even get that, many dogs really. But he deserves a home.”

Falling in love with Frankie is contagious. I realized that quickly and, just like the rest of the staff, became attached to him almost immediately. It probably has to do with the way he gravitates towards your lap as soon as you get on the floor, or maybe it’s the way his front paws awkwardly face away from each other beneath his big smile, only adding to his goofy demeanor, or maybe it’s his laid-back personality that is a breath of fresh air from the exuberant adolescent dogs you’re used to. Who knows. But Frankie is Frankie and he will make you fall in love with him.

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It breaks my heart that I can’t long term foster him thanks to my upcoming move, because a house with no other dogs, a big yard and someone who wants to take him on hiking adventures is just what he needs (not saying anything about myself, just that my situation was ideal for dogs like him!).

The least I could do was give him a break from the shelter, so that is what I did. Saturday afternoon Frankie came home with me so I could take him to the pit crew group walk on Sunday morning. We jammed as much fun into our 16 hours together as possible, which I will tell you all about tomorrow!

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If you or someone you know is interested in fostering or adopting Frankie, a big dog located in VA who would excel in an active, only-dog household, please email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com! Spread the word about handsome Frankie!


What’s a Dog to Do?

Poor Sinclair is just all worked up over this crazy weather! Here in Maryland we have experienced a total identity crisis for the month of December – this week it was in the 60s! What!? Sinclair just does not understand how he is strutting his stuff in the nice weather one day, and then bundling up for frost the next. What’s a dog to do!?

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Get dressed up in cute winter gear, that’s what:

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And then sulk about it because it’s embarrassing:

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Sorry, Sinny – guess you’re just going to have to get used to it!  We’ve got a long winter ahead of us. Hopefully a family will come along, scoop you up and snuggle you all winter long so you don’t have to wear any more embarrassing scarves.

If you are interested in adding Sinclair and his sonar ears into your family, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com or fill out an application on the Jasmine’s House website.


Competitive Cuddling

Didn’t you hear? There’s a competition for 2012’s Best Cuddler Award. I didn’t realize he was even in the running, but it seems Sinclair has been training very hard to make himself the best cuddling competitor possible.  Check out his training regimen while he was with me last week. . .

He starts by sneaking his way onto the bed in the first place, as a warm up.

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Then he slowly works his way closer to his cuddling object – usually the human – and curls up behind the often unknowing recipient.

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When he finally feels prepared and warmed up, he goes into full blown competition mode:

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He stays there for a while, practicing and practicing, until finally the cool down phase. This is where he stretches and lets loose a little after his tough cuddling workout:

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Gosh, cuddling is just such hard work – but I think he’s on his way to Cuddling Champion!

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If you are interested in adding Sinclair and his sonar ears into your family, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com or fill out an application on the Jasmine’s House website.


Can’t Live Without TOYS!

Hey ladies and gents. Sinclair here. J let me take over the blog to talk about the most important thing in my small little world: toys.  You see, I have a serious love affair with toys, as she mentioned during yesterday’s introductions. All kinds of toys: squeaky, rope, plush, plastic – you name it, I play with it.

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My version of playing is as follows: total and complete destruction. Yep, you heard me. I like to rip, shred, chew, and gnaw the toys I get my paws on.  Temporary-FosterMama (TFM) gave me a lobster rope toy, and like a true Mainer I started with the claws first.

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Now you might look at these incriminating adorable photos and think, “He is so destructive!”  BUT, think again – this sort of playing with toys is very good for me! Let me explain to you why.  First of all, giving me toys to chew on means that what I’m NOT doing is chewing on your shoes. The best way to prevent me (or whatever doggy) from chewing up things they’re not supposed to is to provide them with alternatives! I was so busy ripping the limbs off Mr. Lobster that the couch didn’t even interest me (not that it normally would because I don’t chew things I’m not supposed to, but to some dogs the couch and other non-edible things are simply deeeeelicious).

While I was deep in the La La Land of Squeaky Toy Destruction, TFM kept talking about this thing called in-rich-mint. TFM says in-rich-mint is something that makes my little doggy brain work and concentrate really hard on something. That is exactly what I do when I destroy toys: I lie there for hours meticulously ripping and pulling at my toys, planning exactly which piece of string to pick apart next. I work really hard to be the best Captain Destructo I can be. You give me a strong rope toy to work on and disassemble for thirty minutes and I am straight exhausted after that.  Like seriously, give me a NAP!!!

So next time you think toy destruction is a bad thing, think again!  It might be saving your pup from serious boredom – or, better yet, it might be saving your throw pillows from an unfortunate demise ;-)

Toy2If you are interested in adding Sinclair and his sonar ears into your family, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com or fill out an application on the Jasmine’s House website.


What Large Ears You Have. . .

It’s been a revolving door of temporary fosters here at the PLF household – and we love it! Everyone, meet Sinclair:

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Sinclair is a stunning adoptable from Jasmine’s House who stayed with us for a few days last week, and let me tell you. . . he is a total doll!  At three years old, Sinclair’s got top notch manners – and not just because he is being fostered by the Jasmine’s House trainer (okay, maybe that’s helped a little bit).  He is one of those “I’ll shoot my butt to the ground in a milla-instasecond before you can even say ‘sit'” sort of dogs, and he splats into a ‘down’ the same way, with a big smile on his face.

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Basic commands aren’t his only skills. Sinclair’s got one of those easy going personalities perfect for someone with only a moderately active lifestyle – he’s good to hang out on the couch with you after a walk or a fun game of fetch.  For those of you with hyperactive dogs, you appreciate how nice this is.  What’s even better? He’s 100% crate trained! After a few dogs who weren’t fond of the crate, it was a huge relief that Sinclair loved snoozing the day away in his crate without bugging my Dad who works from home.  I knew he was staying out of trouble while I was at work, and he wasn’t upset about it!

Sinclair is what we like to call “dog selective” – meaning he’s not reactive, but he isn’t BFFs with everyone he meets (and I don’t blame him, neither am I!).  Even while he practices his manners around other dogs he is well-behaved on walks and in public.

My favorite thing about Sinclair is how much he loves toys and playing ball.  Mark has been dying for a dog to play ball with ever since I started fostering, and Sinclair was just the guy for the job.  Whether it was out in the yard or in a space I cleared out in our living room, we had a great time playing games of “I’m gonna getcha,” tug and fetch with Sinny.  Some of our toys that have been sitting dormant through all our fosters finally got great use from Sinclair, including this lobster rope toy I got from family in Maine last Christmas.

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As if we weren’t lucky enough with how awesome Charlie was, it only continued when Sinclair stopped by. We’re getting spoiled!  While we love to soak up the love and happiness these temporary fosters bring us, we’d love it even more if someone else got to experience it every day by adopting them.

This week we’ll be highlighting our time with Sinclair, including more exploration into the joy of toys and showing off his amazing cuddling skills. These ears are too cute to miss, so he’ll see you tomorrow!

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If you are interested in adding Sinclair and his sonar ears into your family, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com or fill out an application on the Jasmine’s House website.


There’s More Than Fun to Adventures

How much do we love adventures? So much. We like hiking, going on road trips and exploring new places with our foster dogs.  It’s not only fun, but it’s a great way to get them out and about for adoption exposure.

Mark and I knew we just had to take Charlie somewhere fun while he was with us.   Strutting him around in his Adopt Me vest would get him tons of attention simply because of how cute he is.  Since we’ve been to all the good walking spots in our area, and we’ve already done the DC thing with Bax, we were sort of at a loss for what exciting new place to venture to. Then I remembered a fun trip our friends at Pittieful Love went on to historical Baltimore landmark Fort McHenry (where Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”). Just like Pittieful Love wrote about in their post, we tend to take for granted how close we live to National Monuments! I’d only been once a long time ago and Mark had never been, so we knew it was just the place to take little Charles on that chilly Thanksgiving weekend.

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We had a blast! Because we had a dog we couldn’t actually go into the Fort area, but we were allowed around the perimeter and by the surrounding water. It still meant for lots of exploration and good photo ops:

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That is another thing I love about taking my foster dogs on adventures: the photos. Yes it is good for adoption exposure because of the people we meet out and about, but it is also a great way to get photos showing adopters how the dog can fit into their life.  Photos from walks, out on the town, or meeting new people are all situations that adopters might imagine themselves in if they were to adopt the dog — which is all the better to help convince them this might be the dog for them!  Look at these photos. . . don’t they give you an idea of what the day would be like if you took Charlie out with you (and therefore you want to adopt him, right!)?

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Not to mention that a photo like the one below might stand out among all the other adoption photos, bringing some extra attention to your pup from potential adopters.

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(Yes, we took this photo idea directly from Pittieful Love – thanks guys!)

A fabulous outing resulting in attention-grabbing photos? Don’t mind if we do!


Combat the Cold with Charlie

It’s getting crispy cold outside, and you know what that means at the Peace, Love & Fostering household: jacket weather!  My pups rarely head out the door now without their BaxterBoo or Dover Saddlery hoodies on. Refer to my post on Baxter’s winter wardrobe for my thoughts on each jacket’s design and use.

Charlie Bear got full use of our Fall weather hoodies when he hung out with us. Because of his pemphigus foliaceus he’s got pretty thin hair, so I sometimes even put the hoody on him inside the house in addition to when we went outside. He snuggled right up!

We also went on a fun adventure by the water that definitely required the jacket. Tune in on Monday to find out what historical landmark we visited!

Stay warm this weekend!

If you want to make Charlie your very own adventure buddy or snuggle partner, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com or fill out an application on the Jasmine’s House website.