Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Penelope, Adopted 8/4/10

I am late posting this due to pure laziness and being busy, but better late than never, I suppose. I sincerely apologize to Penelope and her new family for the amount of time it took me to post this.

Penne was such a good girl during her time with us. She was so well-behaved and mild-mannered that we didn't even crate her when we were at work and she never had a single accident! We didn't dare do that with any other fosters, just in case anyone got bored and decided to chew or get into something they shouldn't. She just hung out on the furniture with Gabe and Sam all day and then happily greeted us when we returned home.

As the end of July was drawing near and Penne went to boarding and daycare while we went to Jamaica, I hoped for her sake that someone would finally express some interest in her. I picked her up when we returned and the workers gushed about how wonderful she was and that a few people had asked about her so they posted her picture and bio for anyone who might wish to apply for her. This was encouraging, but again, nothing came of it.

A few days after our return though, I got a great application from a family with two young kids. I called them immediately and they seemed very excited and we promptly arranged a time for them to come and visit. When they arrived, Penelope was just smitten with them all, especially the kids, and vice versa! They hugged her and pet her, ran around the backyard and threw her tennis balls. It was love at first sight! When they left, she seemed sad and looked out the window after them as they retreated down the street, but I had a good feeling about it and set up the home visit right away.

The home visit was a success and we agreed that they would pick her up the following Thursday evening. I was sad to see her go but I knew that this gentle girl would be beside herself to have two kids to grow up and be best friends with. Her new mom came to pick her up after work and we said our good-byes. I was excited and a little bit jealous that Penne would spend the rest of her summer at the cape before returning in the fall, and while I didn't get a family picture that evening, her new family was nice enough to send me one a few weeks later, which I greatly appreciated. She looked happy and healthy, and the update informed me that she was doing very well.

I think of her often when I see other dogs on our website who've been in foster for quite some time, for no real reason. She was an amazing dog and her temperament was perfect, I still can't believe I only had one application for her in 3 months! I suppose it doesn't really matter. She went with the perfect family and sometimes it just takes awhile to find the perfect match, but I still am baffled as to why it took so long. As I write this I am looking out my living room window and watching the snow fall with fury and blow in the wind. I love snow days myself and can only imagine how happy Penne must be to have her kids home with her, romping around on this wonderful snowy day. The thought brings a smile to my face.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Penelope, Foster 4/30/10-8/4/10

I ♥ Penelope.

As a foster family, once we hear who is next coming our way from the south, the first thing we do is check out their Petfinder bio. It provides some insight as to the dog's personality, but the fact is that we just never know what life will be like after picking up the dog from the kennel.

It's been five weeks, and Penelope has been nothing but a sweetheart. Aside from being house-trained and well-mannered, she is a perfect, loving companion to our little family. She is just a 45 pound ball of silky, fluffy love. It amazes me that any dog with such a gentle temperament has been available for adoption since last year!

When I arrived at the kennel that Friday afternoon to bring Penelope home, the kennel manager let her out of her crate and she padded softly over to me, immediately looking for love. We walked outside and I tried to coax her into the car, but she just kept looking at me like I was some sort of alien trying to lure her into my spacecraft. We were making no progress with encouraging words, so I just bent down and hoisted her into the car. She stood on the backseat until I got in the car and promptly sat as if she were a person, looking contentedly out the window.

Upon arriving home, we let Penelope into the yard and went inside to let Gabe and Sam out as well. We opened the door and Sam went flying off the deck, Gabe a little slower, but still close behind, and all I could think of was poor Penelope! As she was looking for us, she probably heard a stampede, only to turn her head and see two little maniacs flying towards her. But, good girl as she is, the introduction went well and after some exploring around the yard, we went inside.

Penelope has proved to be an extremely easy dog, who wants nothing more than love, attention and some playtime. She made her transition really easy for us. Looking at her Petfinder information again, I was surprised to see that she was surrendered to a high-kill shelter in the south by a family who said she had too much energy for them. Out of curiosity, I spoke with her foster mom in Tennessee to see if she had any further information, and apparently her previous owner was an elderly woman. Despite being some sort of Australian Shepherd mix, this girl has no more than a medium activity level. She walks well on a leash and just lopes along at whatever speed is good for you. If you're resting on the couch, she will rest beside you on the floor. If you're outside playing with a tennis ball, you better believe she is ready to fetch and jump, and she certainly holds her own playing with dogs of all sizes. She is amazingly gentle, often taking a submissive play position, with the smaller dogs. She is unfailingly happy to do whatever we're doing, as long as we are together.

The weekend of Mother's day was a meet and greet event in Marshfield at a pet adoption day sponsored by the Marshfield High School. The weather was miserable that day, constant thunder, lightning and torrential downpours the entire morning and most of the afternoon, but it was still a great turnout! About half of the Great dogs at the event were adopted as a result, but even though many people expressed interest in her, there were no applications for Penelope. I was surprised, but not at all concerned. As always, the right family needs some time to find her.

I realize that I am gushing, but I can't say enough good things about "Penne Pasta", as I have become accustomed to calling her. As I type this, she is laying on the couch near my feet, my loyal friend ever by my side. She has never met a person she doesn't like, she adores other dogs, and was very gentle around my friend's 9 month old baby when they visited one evening. It is so easy to walk her and whenever we need to run out to the store, we just pop the three dogs in the car and one of us hangs out with them while the other goes in to get what we need. We went to Tufts one evening earlier this week to give them all a chance to stretch their legs, socialize with other dogs and really run free, and I did something that I've never done with another foster dog. I let her off leash, and she was very well-behaved and responsive to her name. She stuck right by us and came right back when called. She also thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the other dogs and romping around with them in the tall grass, which is starting to resemble wheat fields and swallows up my two little dogs when they venture into it.

There is meet and greet next weekend, and I have my "paws crossed" that Penelope's new forever family walks through the door. I can't imagine why people look past her, but the ones who take the time to get to know her will see how beautiful she is, and their lives will be richer and fuller for having such a faithful companion as an addition to their family.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Connor, Adopted 4/15/10

A few days after the meet and greet, I received an application for Connor that did not work out. I was so sad for him, but optimistic that others would come in, and even if it took a few weeks, I knew he would shine at the next event. Shortly afterward, I received another application for him, and it was a good one! I found myself feeling the usual mix of conflicting emotions: happy for Connor but sad for myself. I put that aside, however, and proceeded to work the application.

The phone interview went well and the applicants seemed very excited to meet Connor. We arranged that they would come to meet him on the following Sunday afternoon. When they arrived, Connor was a gentleman. Of the three dogs, he was the only one that didn't bark, and he greeted them happily at the door. They spent about an hour at our house that afternoon. They brought him a treat, asked some questions, and ran around the yard together. Connor seemed at ease in their presence and was his usual goofy, long-legged self. He demonstrated his pony-like trot around the backyard and really showed off for his potential new family. They, like us, were surprised at just how big he was. Seventy pounds gives a good idea of his weight but indicates nothing of his substantial height. I was momentarily concerned that his size would affect their decision of whether or not they wanted to go forward with the adoption but by the end of the visit they said they absolutely wanted to.

After they left Connor seemed a bit mopey. I suppose he just could have been tired since he must have expended a lot of energy showing off as much as he did, but I really think he was sad. It didn't last very long though, and soon they were all frolicking around the yard while I arranged a home visit for the applicants.

Because they were moving into their new home in a few weeks and Connor had no other applications, I agreed that I would hold him until they moved into their new place. It really seemed like a good match, I liked them a lot, and Connor was such an easy, good-natured foster that I didn't mind having him awhile longer. As the days passed and the home visit went well and we all prepared for his adoption I began to feel really sad, but grateful that we had the extra time together. It's hard not to have favorites and I really don't know if I could pinpoint just one of our fosters for the honor but it really seems as if each dog seems to steal our hearts more than the last. But then I remember our first foster, Honey, and how I cried when she left, and then I realize that it's not true. I think we're just becoming more comfortable with the process each time we receive and adopt out a foster and it's becoming easier to enjoy the dogs without stressing over letting them go.

The Thursday evening of Connor's adoption finally arrived and I was feeling much better about it than I had the day before. Once the adopters walked in the door and all of the dogs mauled them with greetings, I knew I had made the right choice. I gave Connor a hug and told him to be good and sent him on his way. He walked out the door and hopped into their car without a glance back. It was a good sign, and I was ready to let go. We had taken our pictures with him the night before and I made sure to "dance" with him one last time. Connor was about to begin his new life, the one this Great Dog so deserves, and it was time for us to continue our fostering journey.

I got an update from Connor's new family the next day, saying that he was doing great and making sure they were getting enough exercise. I'm sure that he loves his new home and the fact that he has two people to lap up attention from without having to share it with anyone else! Sam and Connor had become very playful over the last several weeks and the house was its usual quiet with only he and Gabe. Little do they know that Penelope will be arriving on April 30th. As for Alan and I, we will be enjoying the quiet, easy environment until she arrives, at which time all of the fun will begin again!

Long legs!

Dancing with Alan.

Sleeping on the cool kitchen floor.

The evening before our parting.

Long nose.

Toy destroyer!


Connor at rest.


With his new family!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Connor, Foster 3/5/10-4/15/10

As Daisy's adoption was being finalized, the foster coordinator emailed me and asked if we would be willing to take Connor next. I replied that we would and then proceeded to his description on Petfinder. He was so beautiful, a smooth, chocolate brown coat and greenish/white eyes, I figured that this guy wouldn't last long! I was a bit surprised though, because we had always been given small dogs up to this point, and Connor was 55 pounds. In the days before we picked him up I wondered how Gabe would react to such a large dog as his brother.

The day came to pick Connor up, and since Alan was driving near the kennels on his way home from a meeting for work, he offered to get him on his way home. He called me once they were both in the car and said that he was very sweet and giving him kisses...and that he was really tall! I couldn't wait to get home, so I rushed out of work as soon as the clock hit 4:30 and as I drove down our street I saw them waiting outside for me. He didn't look quite so tall with our house behind him but once we got inside he certainly did! We watched him extremely carefully all night, to try to prevent any accidents in the house as many dogs usually have when they've been plopped into a new environment, but he was a good boy and always did his business outside. Gabe growled at him nonstop (for days) but was truly petrified of him, and Connor would just tip his head at Gabe quizzically and move on. I browsed through his vet records on the first evening, as I always do for any new foster dog, and I noticed that his updated weight after coming off transport was 71.6 pounds! I then made a mental note that we needed to update his petfinder listing.

I learned from another volunteer that when Connor was found as a stray, he was extremely emaciated and was eating 8 cups of food each day to catch up. We're decreasing his food a bit as he's leveling out, and he is quite happy and in good health. It makes me sad to think of him as a stray, and the fact that he was starving makes me feel even worse, but he was lucky enough to stumble across an animal rescuer in Tennessee and his new life is just beginning.

Connor appeared to have bonded very closely with Alan in the few hours that they had alone before I came home from work, and he would whine softly whenever Alan left the room. He seemed to like me, but he definitely had eyes for his new daddy. The following day after we picked him up, there was a meet and greet at the Harvard Kennels, and so we brought Connor to see if he might generate any attention. There were a few families that appeared to be interested, but no one seemed particularly committed. Connor didn't seem to mind and slept like a log, sprawled across the backseat, on the way home.

Over the next few days, we got to know Connor quite a bit better. Every so often he would do something new or goofy, and after a few days he was starting to become a bit more snuggly and showing much more excitement when we would come home from work. During the time that we've had him, we've discovered that he loves rawhides and any sort of chewies, likes to trot like a pony around the backyard, and enjoys initiating play with Sam and being chased by Gabe. Our master bedroom is quite large and because Connor hasn't had a single accident, he hangs out with us while we are cleaning or putting clothes away. I think he enjoys the extra space, and he rolls around on the floor a lot, showing us the white patch on his chest, which practically begs for a belly rub. Sometimes he gets excited and gnaws on the carpet, but when he is told not to do so he immediately stops and looks at us with eyes just like a human's, or a child's as if to say "but it's so fun!". When we come home from work or let him out of his crate in the morning his whole body wags with pleasure. The past few weeks have taught us that big dogs' tails can be dangerous and we quickly learned that we should be ready to catch anything being knocked over from a medium height surface!

I cannot say enough good things about Connor. His manners are amazing, and he is loving and sweet. His goofiness is great, as he seems to just have that silly big dog look on his face sometimes. His personality is amazing, he loves everyone he meets and is quite the charmer. He hardly ever barks, plays hard with his brothers and sleeps hard, too. As I am writing this he is dreaming, hopefully a pleasant dream, on the love seat in the living room. He just made one of those whimpery-sleepy noises that dogs make when they are dreaming and I am trying to stifle my laughter so as not to wake him up. It's funny to witness such a small sound from such a large dog! He is all sweetness and love, a big baby and a gentle giant.

While I know that Connor will not last long with us due to his amazing disposition and striking good looks, I feel a bit conflicted, as I often do when thinking of my foster dogs. On the one hand a short stay in our home is great because the sooner he finds his forever home the better it is for him, and once a foster is adopted another life will be saved as GDRNE sends another one our way. But on the other hand, the sadder hand, I think of how I am unlikely to ever see him again once he is gone. We have been so fortunate in that all of our previous fosters have kept in touch and sent us pictures and I cannot express enough just how much we appreciate it! But it still is sad to imagine never physically being with this buddy again. Nevertheless, I know that we will miss him more than he misses us and he will be happy in his new home, wherever that may be and whoever it may be with. I keep this blog for others to read but also mostly for myself. I like to look back and see the lives that I have saved and remember that even though parting with a foster is sad we are doing it to give other dogs a second chance at a great life. Hopefully Connor's forever family will come along soon and whoever they are will be so lucky to have adopted such an amazing dog!


 I am so handsome.



 Streeeeeetched out.

Connor and Sam snuggling.

All the boys getting peanut butter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daisy, Adopted 2/20/10

Because we got Daisy right before the holidays, we ended up having her for quite some time because there were no adoption events in the month of December. On January 9th there was a meet and greet at the Harvard Kennels and I was worried that Daisy and I wouldn't be able to make it since she was being spayed the day before, but when I woke up that Saturday morning, she surprised me. Superdog! Daisy was as happy as a clam and raring to go.

So we went. There were 6 dogs at the meet and greet and while there was a good turnout, it was as if everyone who walked in the door was looking for a big dog that day. Daisy was her usual cute self and even though she did not appear uncomfortable, she was a bit more clingy than usual. I brought her home knowing that no applications would be submitted for her based on this event, and I was so disappointed for her. She has such a great personality and is so cute, I couldn't imagine that she would spend long in foster care, but that was exactly what was happening and I was surprised. In the past month though, she had become my buddy and I certainly didn't mind having her with us longer.

Another month went by with no interest at all in Daisy, and another meet and greet was announced for February 7th. I thought "This is it! She'll find her new forever family at this one, I can just feel it!". We went bouncing into the meet and greet, confident that fate would intervene. It was another great turnout but again, people would just pat Daisy on the head and walk right up to another dog. I couldn't believe it! I was in a bit of a grumpy mood for the rest of the day after that because I couldn't believe that no one paid much attention to her. She was such a great dog, so why was she still with us? But then I repeated to myself that she really is a great dog and I shouldn't be sad because she's good company to be around.

On Sunday night of the long weekend, I received an email from the application coordinator at GDRNE, saying that she received an application for Daisy and did I want to work it. I said "Yes, please!" and I waited anxiously for her to send it to me. The following day I got it and I was ecstatic to see that it was a family with 2 young kids, ages 6 and 8. Daisy loved our dog Sam and she adores kids, so I really wanted her new home to either have another dog or a couple of kids to run around with. I was so excited, and promptly called the family the next day. Shortly after I hung up the phone, another application came in for Daisy! It was another great application, a family that also had two kids, and I had to laugh at how these situations tend to be feast or famine. Daisy had no interest for months and all of a sudden two great families wanted her. Luckily, I did not have to choose between them, as I had already begun working with the first family. And, as I write this, I am currently finalizing an adoption for another great little dog for the family that just missed out on her.

The phone interview went well and they wanted to come visit Daisy the next day. I crated Gabe and Sam so that they could spend some time with just Daisy, and she was so excited. I truly think that the foster dogs know their people when they see them. She knew they were there to see her, she made her rounds to everyone in the family, ears plastered back to her head, tail wagging constantly, and it was love at first sight. Her now potential family stayed for about an hour, and after they left Daisy stood on my lap looking out the window after them.

I arranged a home visit to be done on Saturday, and immediately afterward, Daisy went home with her family. It happened so quickly because they were anxious to have her over the weekend before the kids went back to school, and I was somewhat unprepared! We still had to take our pictures with her while we were in our Great Dog shirts and say goodbye. I was sad when the time came, but our house was a flurry of activity and Daisy walked right out the door into her new minivan without so much as a glance back at us. It made me a little sad, but it also gave me confidence that she would be happy and be comfortable in her new situation.

The house was extremely quiet after Daisy left. She and Sam were always playing, and the barks and growls could get really noisy sometimes. Gabe and Sam were tired from all the action, and settled in for naps. We had friends coming over about an hour later, and it turned out to be great timing since we all could have used sometime to take our minds off of Daisy's departure.

As Daisy's adoption coordinator I was planning to follow up with her family and see how she settled in on Monday, but when I dragged myself out of bed on Sunday morning there was already an email from her new family awaiting me! It was such a nice email and said how great Daisy was settling in and they thanked us for taking such good care of her, and how they feel it has made her the great dog she is today. This email was so nice and made me feel so good about fostering dogs! It can be so sad when they go to their forever homes, but an email with thanks like this is a great reminder of the important work we're doing, and how our goodbye with a foster dog actually is a brand new beginning for them.

I requested a week break from the foster coordinator before we get our next dog. Daisy was a bit of an attention hog and with only two of us and three dogs in the house it was sometimes hard to distribute the attention as evenly as we would have liked, so we are using the break to lavish our much appreciated attention on our two permanent little men, Gabe and Sam. I think they are enjoying their quiet break, but I am sure that they (well, I'll be honest. Sam) is looking forward to the arrival of our next foster dog, Connor!

Daisy snuggling with Sam.


Daisy with her playmate, Bancu.

Our last day together.

Daisy and her new family.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Daisy, Foster 12/2/09-2/20/10

While Sandy was recovering and her official adoption was being arranged, we received word that we would be getting another foster dog on December 2nd. Daisy is a 3 year old Jack Russell terrier mix who was found as a stray and then gave birth to a litter of puppies on October 17th. Because she was not an owner surrender there is no background information on her, but I can certainly say that she is in good health, is happy as a clam, and has never met a person that she doesn't like!

When I went to pick her up at the director's house that day, she came running right out to the car with me! She rode nicely in the backseat during the 45 minute ride home, occasionally popping up on the center console to check that everything was alright up front. When we got home that evening, it was dark out and we introduced her to Gabe and Sam outside in the back yard. She got along just fine with them and we went inside. She seemed shy and quiet that evening, following us around the kitchen while we prepared dinner, and eagerly sat for pats and affection. When it was time for bed, she went right into her crate with a treat and we didn't hear a peep all night!

Over the past few weeks I have been busy preparing for the holiday season, and so Daisy's first blog is being posted very late. On the bright side this has allowed us to get to know her much better! She is a sweetheart! She adores Sam and loves to play with him. She loves toys and will happily chomp on one for several minutes at a time. We knew she loved her food and treats, but we discovered this evening that she also likes cauliflower. For Christmas, she came back to my parents' house with us and got to hang out with their dogs, Spike and Pumpkin. Pumpkin is not a big player, but she loved Spike and they played most of the weekend. Daisy has a fair amount of energy and certainly cannot be labeled a couch potato, but being in the company of 4 other dogs, boy was she pooped each night and when we got back home! She also loved her foster grandfather and spent many hours napping on his lap or simply being loved. She sits well, and has learned to give her paw and we're working on staying while we wait at the door. She eats her meals from a food ball and she picked it up quicker than any other dog we've seen use it. She is one smart cookie!

Last weekend a winter storm blew through and we got over a foot of snow, and because Daisy was transported from Tennessee, I think this may have been her first snowfall. She was so cute, romping around in the snow with our dogs. She has a very thin coat and you can see all her brown skin spots through her white fur and she gets cold easily, so I put a little doggy sweatshirt on her before we went out. Later that same day we had company for a Christmas party and she greeted everyone excitedly as they walked in the door. It was as if her long lost friends had returned from a journey! Everyone was excited to meet the new dog and she lapped up all the attention.

Every now and then Daisy will give us a peek at her wild streak and get the other dogs all riled up and a little discipline becomes necessary. I look at that goofy little face and it is so hard to scold her. Sometimes, when she's snoozing, I think about what her past has been like. The first few days she was extremely timid and cowered whenever we reached for her. It is painful to see, and awful to think about what may have happened to her over the past several years. Hopefully, she had a good previous life and her behavior was simply because she's shy in a new home. She has certainly come out of her shell, and quickly! She seems to be well adjusted and not at all afraid of people, strutting right up to them as if she has known them forever. And don't forget how much she loves all of her canine friends!

I noticed on the Great Dog website that only four of Daisy's eight puppies remain. My favorite, the 3 lb. runt of the litter is still available, but she's so cute I know she'll be adopted soon. Daisy is good company, a loyal friend, and I don't mind having her around longer, but I hope she finds her forever home quickly as well. She would love an active family, a home that is always full of hustle and bustle, and lots of people to be friends with. As we ring in the New Year, I hope for a bright new beginning for my little foster buddy.