Happy Monday: Shelter Dog Updates

I feel like we all need some good news after the tragic events of last Friday. I’m a firm believer that when things get tough, you have to focus on the positive.  It just so happens that recently the “Happy Tail” (har har) updates have been rolling in from rescue groups who have pulled our shelter dogs, and I thought this would be the perfect time to share them with you.

I’m so lucky to have relationships with some of the rescues who pull dogs from us so that I get the occasional update. There is nothing that compares to seeing your favorite shelter dogs in a home with a family, no matter if it’s a foster family or forever family. The dogs are out of the shelter and finally getting the chance to be a loved family dog. Here are some no-longer-a-shelter-dog updates!

Patrice:

Patrice was at the shelter for about four months. She had so, so much energy and her obsession with tennis balls made it hard for her to make an impression on potential adopters. She literally wanted nothing more than to chase a tennis ball all day, ever day.

Patrice finally made it out through the rescue group Bully Paws. One of their foster homes came forward to pull a dog from us (we LOVE those), and they chose Patrice. They have other dogs and a massive fenced in yard where she will be able to run as much as her little heart desires. I took this photo the day Patrice left. This is her with one of our volunteers, Les, who, along with many others, has worked with her every day for the last four months. The smiles on both of their faces say it all – it was a huge victory for everyone the day she got out of the shelter for good.

Patrice

Bully Paws recently sent me this update from Patrice’s foster family. It’s always so hard to predict how dogs will act once they leave the shelter, and hearing that they’re settling right in makes us do all sorts of happy dances.

“Hello, the last couple of days have been a thrill to both Pablo and myself. Patrice is a REALLY sweet little girl. She is still a bit frightened esp of loud noises and her little tail goes between her legs when she hears a dog barking while on our walks. In the yard she will run and play but the moment she sees me walk away or turn to do something else, she will drop her ball and come follow to ensure she is not left behind. She seems to be MOST interested and really enjoys walking along with one of my others (her tail goes up and wags and she holds her head up high while she tries to stay right by their side). She definitely wants to be a part of the pack and seems eager to please each one of mine and their particular personalities (she was part of a particular play group at montgomery and sure she must be missing them a bit).  We are introducing really slowly using baby gates. Patrice has her own room where we set up her crate. The crate door is left open and she goes in herself and curls up to sleep. We did have two accidents the first day she was here (right in front of the door as if she knew where she was supposed to be going). I soon realized that when we take her out into the yard she is so excited to be outside and to run and play that she doesn’t stop to pee (I have another that does the same and who is also ball crazy).  So now we walk her into the yard on a leash before she plays and then before we go in, and she gets lots of praise for going pee outside. Patrice is a very finicky eater and eats just a teeny bit at a time (its shocking to me bc of the amount my other three eat). Tonight is probably the first good amount of food she’s had since being here. But she also got lots of exercise today so she had a good appetite. Most of all, she LOVES to run of her leash and play ball!”

This is a photo of Patrice, the dog who couldn’t settle down in the shelter, in her foster home. Doesn’t she look content? Hooray Patrice!

Patricenew

Peanut (now Wilbur):

Peanut was at the shelter this summer. I fell in love with him because he was this adorable little compact pittie with a crooked tail and the cutest little face.

peanut

Bully Paws pulled Peanut from us as well. He is actually now in his FOREVER family, and that is the amazing email update we got:

“Wilbur (formerly Peanut) is awesome. Our obedience instructor loves him. He is so smart that it is hard not to teach him more than what is scheduled for the class each day. We have decided to keep Wilbur in school until he can earn his good citizens certification. The wife and I truly feel lucky to have him. Wilbur gets along great with our elderly basenji (15 years old) and sleeps at night on the foot of the bed with his feline friend (who thinks he is a dog as well). In the morning, when its time to give Tybalt the basenji his daily medicine, all three line up, sitting in a row next to each other. All get something. Wilbur sleeps whenever he is in the car and typically doesn’t get up until the car has stopped. He will jump in the tub for a bath even when it’s not his turn. He loves him some soccer ball. People who know this breed readily come up to us to meet him and talk about their pits. Always a funny story to share. Wilbur has been great to say the least.”

peanut2

These are two dogs you haven’t met (though hopefully you still loved their stories). Tomorrow I’m going to update you on the story of a dog I introduced a few weeks ago that Jasmine’s House pulled: Kobe. He has come a long way in the few short weeks he’s been out of the shelter, and it’s all thanks to his foster family and Jasmine’s House. Check back tomorrow for another happy tail!

Patrice and her tennis ball-loving smile are available through Bully Paws!


One Year Blog-a-versary!

It snuck up so fast that I nearly missed it! Yesterday, August 20, marked one year for Peace, Love, & Fostering! It’s unbelievable to me, really – and yet I feel like I’ve been doing this for a lifetime. It has been, hands down, the most rewarding experience in my 22 years of existence. Who else gets to say they talk to hundreds of people they’ve never met every single morning? I’ve made friends from all over the globe. It’s remarkable.

One year ago I set out to fiddle around with a keyboard and take some really, really amateur photos with my brother’s not-so-amateur camera – all to tell the stories of some dogs. I wasn’t quite sure what dogs, because at that time I wasn’t fostering yet, but I’d seen it done before by some pretty amazing people and thought, “Why not?”  My boyfriend is really the one who pushed me to do it. I have this problem of coming up with ideas and then not following through on them. He makes sure I follow through. So one night I just sat down, clicked away for a few hours, and boom: Peace, Love, & Fostering was born. It had a long way to go, but it was in existence on the interwebs.

Instead of typing out the long story that followed, in the footsteps of some of my blog heroes I’m going to celebrate this blog-a-versary with some stats:

Date started: August 20, 2011

Date started updating 5x per week: November 2, 2011

Total posts: 225

Total comments: 1,880+

Total views: 66,400+

Search that brought the most views (besides PL&F): beagle sheltie mix

Number of fosters total: 3

Longest time a foster stayed: 4 months (tie between Otis and Baxter)

Shortest time a foster stayed: 6 weeks on and off (Lady Zee)

Number of fosters I wanted to keep: 3

Number of fosters it would have been logical to keep: 0

Number of fosters now happily in forever homes: 3

Longest time spent between fosters: 6 weeks between Zabora and Baxter

Favorite foster: Zaborabaxterotis

FosterDad’s favorite foster: Zabora

Goofiest foster: Zee and her off-balance bumblings!

Shyest foster: Otis

Happiest foster: Baxter when he saw human friends, Zabora when she was sleeping, and Otis when I returned home

Cutest couple: Baxter & Bella (below)

Biggest celebrity cameo: Tie between Chikerdoodle & Lily Fireworks

Post with the most views: Baxter is… ADOPTED!

Post with the 2nd most views: On Being 22 and a Foster Mom

Favorite props post: Will U Be Mine? (Baxter’s Valentine’s Day post)

Hardest post to write: Dear Baxter

Easiest post to write: The Power of Being Positive

Number of positive changes in my life from this blog: Too many to count!

Number of friends made: Too many to count!

Number of blog friends met online before meeting in person: 5+

Blog friends visited in other states: 2 (and hoping to add more!)

Weirdest place a random blog follower has said hi to me: While I was walking Otis in my neighborhood

Number of hours of sleep lost writing posts every night: Doesn’t matter

Favorite thing learned while blogging: Photography

Most helpful real life skills learned: How to be disciplined, plan ahead, and be creative

Favorite part overall: Tie between the lives saved, the bond made with each foster, and all my readers

I can’t say it enough: you all are one of the best parts of blogging. PL&F wouldn’t have gone anywhere in the last year if you weren’t here to read it. The friends I’ve met, the emails I’ve exchanged with strangers, the advice I’ve both given and received. . . the impact of it all is beyond measure. So thank you!

Tune in tomorrow to see the year reviewed in photos!


Otis in His New Home!

Lucky for us, Otis’ new dad is a photographer! Double lucky for us, he doesn’t mind if I share these pictures with you all. All of the updates I’ve been getting from R have been positive, and it sounds like Otis is settling in just fine! The pictures sure make it seem that way (some are camera, some are phone – all are from his new dad!):

Have a great weekend!


Dear Otis

Hey Stinker.

So, you’ve gone and found yourself yet another home. Third time is a charm, right? I am crossing all of my fingers and toes that this one will stick and that your new dad will appreciate you like I do (which he seems to!).  After spending four wonderful months with you, I still cannot believe it took you so long to find your forever home. Luckily, though, it seems I am learning time and time again that good things come to those who wait. You’ve finally got yourself a really good thing, Oats.

Your story is different than the others I’ve helped because this time it was all up to me. While I have many online supporters, parents who love you just like I do, and friends who cheered for me and you the whole way – I started this journey to find you happiness in July 2011 and, a year later, it was my job to finish it.

You made it very clear you knew that fact from the beginning by attaching to me like you were some orphaned child who finally found their mother (oh wait, I guess you were…). Your hopeless devotion to me was a bit overwhelming at times but overall quite endearing, and it made you stand out to me from my other fosters. Sure, you were extra needy when we were together, but you made up for it ten times over by having zero separation anxiety and behaving beautifully whenever I was away.  You were, in my eyes, the perfect dog.

It quickly became clear to me that others would not be as fortunate to know your true self. You loved me so, so much that you barely had the time of day for anyone else. You warmed up to my mom and dad, but even FosterDad didn’t get much more than a quick acknowledgement when he came around. This made it hard to show everyone else just how perfect you were. But it was okay, because I knew that anyone who was good enough to have you would recognize your shyness around others as just fierce loyalty to your person – a characteristic to be envied.

I wrote a post a few days ago about my realization of just how different you are from the day I brought you home. It was bittersweet because when I was writing that post I already knew you had found a new family, and I knew you would temporarily be set back in your progress.  But you simply couldn’t stay with me forever, even though you (and maybe me, too) wanted it.  Your new owner is the best of the best for you, and I know he will help you through this transition with understanding and gentle guidance.  I wish I could be there with the two of you to help as well, but it’s time for you and your new dad to figure things out on your own because you’re his now, not mine.

When I started this note I really didn’t intend for it to be sad or emotional because you, Otis, are far from that. You are goofy, happy, silly, expressive, sweet, and cuddly – and this journey with you has been all of those positive emotions rolled into one. You were one misunderstood pooch, and I’m happy I got the chance to turn things around for you.

Good luck in your new life, Otie! May you finally find joy and happiness in all you do.


Otis is… ADOPTED!!!

It seems that four months is the magic number at the PLF House, as Otis has officially found his way out of my life and into someone else’s… forever!

To be honest, I’ve had a lot of wonderful inquiries about Otis over the last four months, but none of them were the right fit. For many, there were obvious reasons why it wouldn’t work out, but for others it just wasn’t a good match. I knew Otis wouldn’t attach to anyone new  right away, especially during a brief adoption visit, but the way he was so closed down around potential adopters started getting me worried. Until we met R.

R emailed me one day after seeing Otis on the MCHS website, and even though he was a bit different from the exact mold I had dreamed up for Otis initially, I had a good feeling about him and his situation so I put him through the tests. You fosters know what I’m talking about – the rigorous discussions where you try to talk potential adopters out of your dog, and if they’re still interested then you know you’ve got a good one! R wasn’t put off by any of Otie’s “quirks” so we set up a met and greet.

That meeting is what sold me on this pair. Otis loved R. It was the most affection I’ve seen Otis display towards any new stranger, ever.  I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one who felt good vibes from the visit when I later found an excited email from R in my inbox about moving forward with the adoption process. The following days consisted of a long, serious talk between R and one of our adoption counselors about how to make Otie the happiest dog he can be for the rest of his life, another visit between Otis and R that went beautifully, and a few dozen more emails answering questions and brainstorming ideas on how to ease the transition. We wanted to make sure we had as many bases covered as possible.

Finally, all the paperwork was signed and Otie was officially R’s. R came to pick Otis up from work and that’s when all the goodbye butterflies set in. I couldn’t believe he was actually leaving – after so many failed adoptions and failed applications, Otis had finally found the perfect home? That was a tough one to swallow. But R is going to already seems to love him just as much as I do, plus it helps that he works from home (jackpot!!) and has a huge yard for Otis to run around in. It was tough to watch Otie walk out to R’s car that day, but I knew there was nothing but a happy life waiting for him.

R has been very kind in sending me frequent updates which have put my worries at ease.  It seems that while the transition was understandably a little difficult for Otis, he is finally settling into his new life (insert BIG sigh of relief here). I am sure he will be attached to R’s hip in no time, if he isn’t already!

It’s been a long road for this one, but Honey Bunches of Otis is finally home.


Finally Happy

The exciting moment came. I woke up one morning and had the exciting realization: Otis is a totally different dog now than he was when I took him back four months ago. This is always a victory for foster families, often one that sneaks up on you out of the blue just like it did to me. It happened with Baxter as well, and it was just as gratifying.

My home is the first one for Otis where he can be completely comfortable. In his entire 1.5+ years of existence, he had always been living with something to be scared or anxious about. Because he is now able to be himself and do things he wants to do without worrying, he is opening up enormous amounts with every day that goes on.

It’s the type of thing you don’t notice because it’s happening right before your eyes. The thought hit me last week when I brought Otis into a meeting with me at work (yes, I can bring my dog to work and into meetings with me – I’m lucky!) and he spent the first ten minutes happily greeting everyone by going around the circle delivering sniffs and tail wags. He wasn’t staying right by my side, he wasn’t drooling uncontrollably, and he wasn’t miserable being surrounded by people other than me. He was happy.

I noticed it again later that week when he was in my house and spending an alarmingly large amount of time, get this… out of my sight! Instead of needing the security of me, “his person,” to be comfortable, he was out wandering the house, hanging out with my brother or checking in with my mom and dad. He was embracing his free space and expanding his limits. He was happy.

I notice things every day now that show how much Otis has grown. He wags his tail more when we’re out in public, he is more open to greeting strangers, he doesn’t cower at the site or sound of new things, he enjoys being home without me, he is relaxed, he is partaking in normal dog things like using his nose, he is extremely food motivated, he investigates more on walks, he will try new things like running up the slide at a playground… the list goes on. Even two months into his stay with me, much of that list was nowhere near do-able for Otis.

These small victories mean so much more than just a testament to his progress. They mean Otis is truly ready for a forever family of his own. He has made it clear that he will not always be the shy, withdrawn dog that he once was when I met him. He still has a ways to go, I think living with a stable family for years to come will bring out the best, happiest side of this pooch. Hopefully this is the end to his worries. “God bless the broken road,” right?