Posts Tagged ‘fostering a dog’

Foster Dog Maggie’s First Year

December 22, 2014 15 comments

IMG_1963It’s hard to believe, but in a few days Maggie will have been with us one whole year. Puppy mill dogs can take a long time to rehab, so I am not surprised that she is still with me, but I am more surprised at how far she has come… and how far she has to go.  Seeing her progress through pictures is quite encouraging. I had forgotten how much fear was in her eyes in those early days.

Back then, Maggie spent her time hiding from shadows in the daytime (she often hid in my closet or the quietest spot in my bedroom) and sitting next to me or Daisy at night. She was afraid of every sound, every movement and every reflection that came through the bay window. Doorways were scary, The sound of cars driving past the house was unsettling. Barking from neighbor dogs was terrifying.

But over the past few months, Maggie has discovered that she likes being outside, “cheese” is good, and ice cream is even better. She loves watching my dogs do tricks for treats, and solve doggie puzzles, and she has discovered that she wants to play too. She is learning that life in a home can be good and that a being a dog is much more than just living in a box.

It’s been a lot of fun to celebrate the successes. I hope you will enjoy this short video I put together highlighting her progress.

Merry Christmas!

The Top 13 Dog Blog Posts of 2013

December 31, 2013 27 comments

IMG_1443It’s become an annual tradition for me to end the year by sharing those blog posts I thought were most touching, interesting, or emotionally powerful throughout the past year. There was no shortage of amazing writing in 2013.

You may not have the same posts on your list that I have on mine, but I hope you will find them worth reading and sharing.

Have one of your own you want to share? Please do in the comment section below.

Happy New Year everyone!

1. Why Supervising Dogs and Kids Doesn’t Work  and My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today by Robin Bennett Yes. Robin had two great posts that made my list this year.  The first one covers an issue near and dear to my heart – dogs and kids. The second one covers another topic I wish all dog owners would heed – not all dogs are made for dog parks or doggy daycare. Both are worth reading.

2. A Cautionary Letter by Nancy Tanner – I remember the first time my friend Nancy directed me to this post. I had such strong feelings after reading it – anger, sadness, despair. If ever there were an argument for people to better understand training methods and their impact on fearful dogs then this is it. Trust me, this will leave an imprint on your mind.

3. What My Dying Dog Taught Me About Life by Alisa Bowman of Project Happily Ever After – Even though I read this post in January, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards. It is a loving, and at times funny, tribute to a dog who loved well and was well-loved. I cannot help but think that Rhodes left an imprint on many a reader (like me).

4. What Does It Mean to Give Your Pet a Good End? Maybe Not What You Think by Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me? – Too often in this world we judge one another based on what “we” would do vs what is right for the person in question. Edie takes on an issue that is often considered taboo in pet lover’s circles – should you be with your dog when their life ends. She handles the issue with her usual class and grace, but makes a great point that I think we could all stand to hear.

5. What’s in a Name? A whole lot of bullshitittypoo by The DogSnobs writers – Okay. I admit it. I really do love The DogSnobs. I love that they have a  no-holds-barred kind of writing style and an I-don’t-give-a-sh*t-what-you-think attitude. This particular post makes fun about all the silly names breeders have given designer dogs. Want to read more? Here are a few that made the Honorable Mention list:  Owner Profile: The Distracted DingbatYour dog isn’t being friendly. He’s an asshole. And so are you., and Put it back, you don’t need that! a.k.a. Picking the correct breed is important. Don’t fuck it up.

6. This test that you keep using…… and Beware the Straw Man by Linda Case of The Science Dog – Although these are two posts in one, they are really linked. Both deal with the issue of canine assessment tests used by many shelters and animal control centers to determine if a dog is adoptable or destined for euthanization. I admit I have a bias on this issue since Daisy and Jasper likely would have fallen into the latter category if they had not ended up at my shelter. Thank goodness they didn’t.

7. What it’s like to meet an angel… by Kaylee Greer of Dog Breath Photography – I first read this story on Kaylee’s Facebook page and was moved to tears. Her big heart and giving nature made one woman’s painful day a little brighter. She later posted it on her blog and I read it all over again. If you haven’t seen any of Kaylee’s photography, it is magical, whimsical and beautiful. You can see some of her work on her blog and on her Facebook page.

8. The Four Phases of a Positive Reinforcement Trainer by Katie Hood of When Hounds Fly – Even though I am not a dog trainer, I could completely relate to this post. In any ways it was the post that created a light-bulb moment for me and changed my overall response to animal welfare issues in general. If you have ever worked in the animal welfare arena, it is worth a read. You will find yourself nodding your head in agreement or holding up that figurative mirror of self-reflection.

9. Chasing Sunsets by Leo of Kenzo the Hovawart (and Viva) – This post may have touched me more than most because it was by a fellow dog blogger and friend, but I thought it would resonate with many of you who have recently lost a beloved four-pawed friend. Recently, Leo and his family went on a journey to retrace the steps he had taken with his late dog, Viva. I thought it was a beautiful follow up to her story.

10. They Never Told Me I Would Love the Snow by Kristine Tonks of Rescued Insanity – Anyone who has read Kristine’s blog knows she has a talent with words. This one in particular is a special one. It’s like poetry. Beautiful and visual.

11. Do Some Dogs Need a Heavier Hand? by Nicole Wilde – Nicole is well-known in the dog training world, but what I love is her unique way of getting a pout across by allowing you to examine the issue from all angles. Here is one particular post that resonated with me this year.

12. Chix-A-Lot Friday: Fostering as a New Years Resolution by Aleksandra of Love and a Six-Foot Leash – I love this post simply because it is so thoroughly covers all the things one should think about and plan for when fostering a dog. If you are considering fostering a dog, read this post first. It can help set your expectations and help you prepare ahead of time.

13. Letting Go Of Ruby: A Lesson In The Dying Light by Lisa from Going to the Dogs – Even though this is a more about her mother than her mother’s dog, their tales and lives are woven together. Poignant and heartfelt. Written beautifully.

How Daisy Came to Stay With Me (a look back)

April 17, 2013 24 comments

IMG_6216Today I am going to do something a little different and share an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab)“.

I don’t write on her blog much anymore, two blogs just became too much to manage, but I still treasure the words I wrote then because they remind me of how far Daisy has come since she first came to live with me as a foster dog in November 2007. I hope you don’t mind me sharing.

I first wrote this back on October 14, 2008, almost one year after I first adopted Daisy. 

I always like to share the story of how my dog Daisy came to live with me.

 When I first met Daisy, she was swollen with milk, having just weaned her puppies, and very, very scared. This would be her last litter (one of the many she’s had over the past 4 years).

Daisy, a yellow Labrador Retriever, had been brought to our shelter (the one I volunteer at) by a service organization. They had gotten her from a puppy mill – pregnant and scared. They cared for her during her pregnancy and after the birth of her puppies. Luckily for the puppies, the group had decided to keep them to be trained as service dogs, but for Daisy this was not even a possibility. She was too terrified, and often just curled up into a ball waiting for something awful to happen to her. You see, Daisy was puppy mill breeding dog, everything bad had happened to her up until this point.

When I first met her on that day at the shelter, she was sitting at the back of her kennel – terrified and alone. She cowered in my presence and refused to make eye contact. When I raised my hand to unlock the kennel door, she went straight to the ground, crouching in fear, and froze. It was easy to get the leash on her, but getting her to walk to the door to go outside was a slow process and required slow movements.

I walked her, with much difficulty, around the shelter property. She was so scared that she mostly walked low, slunk to the ground, and would freeze at any sound – or if I made any sudden movements. I avoided talking to her; hoping it would calm her.  It didn’t.  After a short walk, I sat down on the parking lot curb outside and waited to see what she would do. Her whole body language conveyed fear and distrust – averted eyes, lowered head and body, frozen body posture, and her back kept towards me at all times. She was telling me she did not trust me, and I didn’t blame her at all given her history.

 I let her be for a moment as I remained seated and gave her some time to adjust to my presence. She never did. She allowed me to pet her, but I think that was only because she was too scared to move. My heart broke for her. I think I knew then that somehow this dog and I were going to be connected.

I already had a wonderful older dog (Aspen) at home whom I adopted about 7 months previously. Aspen had several health issues and took a lot of time and care, but I knew that I couldn’t leave this dog behind. I was afraid that she would never make it to the adoption floor given her extreme fear and lack of socialization. I also knew that I couldn’t really adopt her. But I knew one thing, somehow I was going to make sure this dog had a fighting chance. “Perhaps I could become her foster mom” I thought, “Maybe I could help her to become an adoptable dog.” It would mean taking on even more responsibility (adding another dog to my life), but I think in that moment I had already decided to give it a try. If ever there was ever a dog that needed a chance it was this extremely fearful Lab. Maybe with a little time and patience, she could be adoptable I thought.

And so, Daisy came to live (as a foster dog) with Aspen and I in November 2007, only a few days before Thanksgiving.

Little did I know how much work, time and patience it would take to make her an adoptable dog. In the end, it didn’t matter because she was my dog. My best friend. Little did I know how much she would come to change me and my life.

The Adventures of Matt – Inspiration and Tears

April 8, 2013 35 comments


Back in July, I shared this picture of a special little rescue dog named Matt in my Blog the Change post on dog rescues.

I first heard about Matt from my friend Kristin who volunteered at Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC). She was actively sharing Matt’s picture and story in hopes that he would be adopted or fostered through a rescue. Matt was on death row and things were not looking good. No rescues seemed to want Matt. Possible dog aggression issues made things too risky, and since only a rescue could take him, his chances of getting out were not good.

But then, an amazing set of women, Anne and Breanne, stepped forward and offered to foster him through Wags and Whiskers Animal Rescue.

Matt was not an easy dog to take and both Anne and Breanne knew that they would have to work with him before he could be introduced to their two dogs, but they did it anyways… and they allowed us to join them on their journey, via Matt’s Facebook page, Adventures of Matt.

I can only speak for myself, but watching them work with Matt was inspirational. They not only showed us what was possible, but they were also brutally honest about their work with Matt., They acknowledged Matt’s set backs and celebrated his successes, and we celebrated along with them. They also shared their knowledge about dog behavior in a way that was not only educational but interesting. Matt became the star of the show. You were bound to learn something new if you were following Matt. I loved that.

Maybe that’s why it is so hard to believe that Matt’s journey is now over. This little red dog who inspired so many peacefully passed away Sunday night. It was not an easy decision for his foster moms and rescue to make, but I have no doubt they made the right one for Matt.

You see, a few weeks ago, Matt started vomiting and became seriously ill. A visit to the vet determined that Matt had an obstruction in his intestine. He would need surgery. The obstruction turned out to be a small squeaker from a squeaky toy. It had done enough damage that 5 inches of Matt’s dying bowel also had to be removed. Matt made it through surgery and was sent home to heal. But, it wasn’t long before Matt was ill again and another surgery was needed to save his life. His bowel was telescoping in on itself.

Things were looking very serious this time. The prognosis was not good. And yet, despite all odds, Matt came out of surgery doing better than expected. In fact, he was doing so well that he was able to come home soon after surgery. It seemed he had made a miraculous recovery. Soon he was eating and playing again, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Until Saturday.

Matt started vomiting again and was very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, a third surgery was out of the question. Matt’s little body just couldn’t take another one so soon. All options had run out for our little red friend.

So on Sunday Matt’s moms gave him the very best day a dog could ask for – he saw all of his old friends, including my friend Kristin, played with all his favorite toys, as many as he wanted, and was surrounded by love all day, and even played a bit.

In the end, his mommas were there to hold him as they lovingly sent him on his next new adventure. I have no doubt Matt is up in heaven showing all the other dogs his new social skills, the ones he learned from his moms.

Today, my heart is with Anne and Breanne.

Thank you for allowing us to join you on your journey with Matt. We loved every minute of it. 


A Loan From God

God promised at the birth of time,
A special friend to give,
His time on earth is short, he said,
So love him while he lives.

It may be six or seven years,
Or twelve or then sixteen,
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

A wagging tail and cold wet nose,

And silken velvet ears,
A heart as big as all outdoors,
To love you through the years.

His puppy ways will gladden you,
And antics bring a smile,
As guardian or friend he will,
Be loyal all the while.

He’ll bring his charms to grace your life,
And though his stay be brief,
When he’s gone the memories,
Are solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But lessons only a dog can teach,
I want you each to learn.

Whatever love you give to him,
Returns in triple measure,
Follow his lead and gain a life,
Brim full of simple pleasure.

Enjoy each day as it comes,
Allow your heart to guide,
Be loyal and steadfast in love,
As the dog there by your side.

Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call,
To take him back again?

I fancy each of us would say,
“Dear Lord, thy will be done,
For all the joy this dog shall bring,
The risk of grief we’ll run.

“We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.

“But shall the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.

I could never foster a dog or cat…

July 19, 2012 21 comments

Mattie is a beautiful bi-black Sheltie/Eskie, and she just loves to be the princess. She loves playtime in the yard and has quite a few favorite stuffies that she carries outside even to go potty. Mattie is a very affectionate little girl.
And, Mattie has passed the Canine Good Citizen test!
Mattie is 7 years old and will need someone who can feed her on scheduled times and take her for walks.
She is available for adoption through Minnesota Sheltie Rescue

Yesterday I took the dogs to the dog park for a long walk. It’s been the first day that it’s been cool enough to take them for any length of time. As we were walking, we ran into a woman we ad seen a few times before and we stopped to chat. Towards the end of the conversation, she said “You foster all these dogs right?” I laughed. “No.” I said, “but they were all fosters at one time.” We chuckled for a second and then she said, “I could never foster.”
I couldn’t help but feel sad. I hear that one a lot along with:

  • I could never foster because I would fall in love and keep the dog.
  • I could never foster it would be too much work.
  • I could never foster and then give them up.

I used to hear similar things from friends and acquaintances when I used to volunteer at an animal shelter:

  • I could never do that because I would be sad.
  • I could never do that because it would break my heart.
  • I could never do that because it would be too hard to leave them there.

Maybe it’s true. I’m sure not everyone can foster, nor can everyone can volunteer at an animal shelter. But, these aren’t the only things that rescues and animal shelters do.

Are you good at organizing events? Help a rescue or shelter to plan their annual fundraiser or volunteer recognition event.

Are you good with talking to people? Offer to make calls to newly adopted pet parents to follow up on progress or offer to go to pet adoption events and share more about your shelter or rescue with people.

Great at writing? Rescues and shelters need help rewriting their informational brochures and packets all of the time. They could use your help.

Great at taking pictures? Offer to take pictures of their available dogs and cats. We now know that good pictures, pictures that show a dog or cat’s personality, makes all the difference in how quickly they get adopted.

Can’t commit too much time? Offer to donate supplies or money. If there is one thing both of these organizations need it’s money. I know it’s not sexy or quite as personally rewarding as “doing” something, but it is the one thing you CAN do that will absolutely make a difference in the life of one dog or one cat. Rescues often pull these animals from kill-shelters. By donating money, you are enabling them to save one more dog or one more cat.

Maybe you are considering fostering and just can’t quite get up the nerve to try. Ask a rescue if you can speak with some of their foster parents about what they do and some of the things to expect. Ask a friend who fosters. Look up one of the many online blogs that shares their fostering experiences.

Fostering can be so very rewarding. Without foster homes, rescue pets would have no chance.

To those of you who have already fostered or continue to foster – Thank you. You are truly the unsung heroes of animal rescue.

You are the ones who say I CAN. 

Everyday Heroes: Foster Families – StubbyDog pays tribute to foster families.

It’s okay to be nervous when first adopting or fostering a dog

July 16, 2012 26 comments

Lacie is a beautiful, loving young Sheltie mix girl who will make a wonderful companion for that special someone. Through no fault of her own, she’s been shuffled around quite a bit in her young life. This little girl is a sweetie.
Lacie is 3 years old and will need to be on a diet and exercise regimen. She is really, really sweet!
Lacie is available through Minnesota Sheltie Rescue

Have you ever felt the stress that comes with introducing a new dog into the family? Reading my friend Amanda’s post the other day, Post-Puppum Anxiety Disorder, brought back so many memories for me.

As I read about Amanda’s nervousness and stress in adding two additional dogs into her home and her life, I couldn’t help but feel all the same feelings I had when I adopted my first dog, Indy. I fell in love with Indy the moment I met her. She literally was surrendered one day and adopted by me the next. At the shelter, I have been so certain she was the dog for me. But when I got her home I started to worry. What if she turned out not to be a good fit? What did I REALLY know about her anyways? Indy was so nervous that first night (understandably so), that I started to have second thoughts. Maybe I had made a mistake.

Thankfully, Indy adjusted and so did I. The more we learned about each other, the more we just clicked.We learned to trust one another. Indy turned out to be one of the best, most well-behaved dogs I had ever met, a discovery I never would have made if I hadn’t given her, and me, the time to get to know one another. She was quite a special dog. I have never regretted adopting her.

As I have added more rescue dogs into my life, I have learned that being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a part of the process when one fosters or adopts a new dog. Being nervous and having second thoughts are normal. It’s working past those fears and emotions, and being dedicated to working with your new and existing dog, that makes all the difference. Time can also make a big difference too. It takes time for everyone to get used to each others’ personalities and to adjust to the new routine. If you can get past those first few days (and sometimes weeks) the rewards can be great.

This is not to say that sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes it doesn’t. But knowing this, and being willing to make every attempt to work through it first, can bring about a surprising results.

I’d like to say that over time I have gotten past the butterflies in my stomach, the sinking feeling that maybe I’ve made a mistake, or the worry that I might somehow neglect one dog when doling out the love and attention, but I haven’t. Not once. Even when I boarded dogs as a part of my pet sitting business, I felt all the same nerves as I had when I fostered and/or adopted each of my dogs. It comes with the territory.

Fostering or adopting a dog is such a rewarding experience, but having the confidence to do so and to work through those initial worries and fears is the key. Trust yourself enough to know that change can be good. In fact, it can be life changing – for both you and your rescue dog.

I posted this on my Facebook page, but thought it worth sharing here as well – Fostering: Drive in the slow lane for dog/dog intros. I thought this post on the Bad Rap blog provided some great tips and ideas on introducing a new dog into your family. Granted, the foster parents had a more challenging situation than most adopters, but still some great ideas.

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation. ~ ~ George Washington (1732 – 1799)

I am Winston. I am told that I am just the cutest little thing to come along in a long time. I am now learning to deal with two very bossy diva foster sisters (who are Shelties like me) and some cats, but we all get along really well. It would be more fun, however, if the cats would run every now and again – oh a good chase would be so great!
Winston is 8 years old and a mellow fellow most of the time, but he would love a friend who would love to play with him!
Lacie is available through Minnesota Sheltie Rescue

Finding the right dog rescue…

July 16, 2012 18 comments

This is Hakim. Hakim loves to be around people, play fetch, and be petted! He loves to go for (leashed), walks and plays chase with the other dog in his foster home. He is an absolute sweetheart!
Hakim is 8 years old and a larger Sheltie (like my Jasper). He is available through

When our local shelter, Minnesota Valley Humane Society (MVHS), closed it’s doors a couple of years ago I felt such a great sense of loss. I had volunteered there for over 8 years and had made so many friends. My last  four dogs had come from MVHS – Indy, Aspen, Daisy and Jasper. And then suddenly, it was all gone.

I knew I wanted to continue to help animals in some way, but how? Several of my friends had gone to help at other shelters in Hastings or in Minneapolis because they were close to them, but many started to help out in local dog rescue groups. It was definitely a change for me and my friends. Where before we could spend time with a specific dog and maybe even work on their social skills and training, we now helped out with intake, transport, adoption events, fostering, and a variety of other things. It was a huge adjustment for me, and I suspect my other shelter friends. I liked that human to dog interaction. I liked making a difference in one dog’s life. It took me a while to understand that working in a rescue can make a difference too.

And, if you don’t know now, let me tell you – not all dog rescues are built the same. Every dog rescue has its own area of focus, its own priorities, its own way of doing things. I ended up with the right dog rescue group in the end (you will read more about them on July 23rd when Blogger’s Unite for Dog Rescue), but starting out I hadn’t a clue what to look for or what to ask and ended up with the absolutely wrong rescue (for me). Let’s just say that my experience with the first rescue group still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Knowing which rescue is right for you can be tough, but giving back and helping a dog rescue can be so rewarding when you do find the right one. That’s why I wanted to share this great post from Poochie Project’s blog called “QUESTIONS TO ASK A RESCUE BEFORE YOU FOSTER”. It is perhaps the most comprehensive list of questions to ask a rescue.

If I had known what questions to ask perhaps I would have found my awesome dog rescue group, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, sooner.

Knowing what I know now about dog rescues has opened my mind, changed my perspectives and shown me a new way to help animals in need. But what about you? Thinking about volunteering for a dog rescue and not sure how to begin? I would read Poochie Projects post and then start researching local rescues in your area. There are so many ways to help. One person can make the difference for one dog. It’s worth your time, isn’t it?

We are a family

June 18, 2012 24 comments

Daisy, Jasper and Lady at the dog park

There’s just something special about that moment when a family settles into itself. A kind of peace or easy comfortability that takes over as everyone adjusts to each others’ personalities and style.

When Lady first came to stay with us there was some adjusting to do, as there is with any foster dog that you first bring into your home.  There were schedules to sort out, toys to be shared, anxiety to be dealt with and personalities to be melded. Lady was nervous and shy and scared, but she was also possessive of me, the toys and the couch. She was used to fighting for her own bit of space and any encroachment upon that space by Daisy or Jasper was met with bared teeth and a snap. Daisy handled it by hiding in her kennel and Jasper handled it by veering away when he saw her about to snap at him. She was in charge… at first.

We worked hard to help Lady understand that she didn’t need to compete for any of those things any more.

I am a firm believer that a chaos-free home makes for a chaos-free dog, so we made competition less of a reward and sharing more of one. Possess the couch and you are no longer allowed to be on it. Possess a toy and it suddenly is gone. Possess me? I walk away. For me, creating an environment that is balanced and relatively drama-free is so key to helping a dog adjust. And slowly, over time, Lady started to understand how things worked in our family and she started to settle in and adjust.We started to be a family.

It was at this point, when we had just started to meld as a family, that Lady went missing  for 12 days. When she returned, we had to learn to adjust to one another again. Many of her old habits returned, understandable given what she had been through, but Daisy and Jasper were a little out of sorts too.

Getting back into our routine helped. Walks at the dog park, scheduled mealtimes, defined playtime – all these things helped us to adjust to one another again. To become a true family.

It’s funny how quickly and easily we have settled into one another now. Daisy checks on Lady as much as she does Jasper. Lady chases Daisy just as much as Jasper does. Lady and Jasper, being Shelties, have become a tag team when it comes to barking at strangers. They look at one another with a signal only they can understand and then off they go! Daisy has come back to spending more time in the living room and Lady is less interested in the couch. Jasper and Lady even share their bones – taking turns on who chews and who watches.

A family knows each others’ strengths and weaknesses; they know each others’ needs. They check up on one another to make sure they are okay.  They have fun together and they love one another. We are a family.




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