When our foster coordinator sent me the text asking if I could foster a puppy, it was just another normal day in my life. And hers. On any given day, a call from our Shelter’s foster coordinator, Debbie Hines asking me if I would foster an animal is not unusual. Debbie keeps close track of what her foster’s current inventory is of animals and as such, when our Shelter has someone needing a foster, she’s quick to identify who might have room for another
And while I’m rarely if ever without a few fosters, I can handle a couple of litters at once and when Debbie sent me a text asking if I’d take another even though she knew I already had a litter of kittens and three young dogs it meant something needed help.
But the text was different this time. Almost always accompanied by a cute picture to entice me, her message this time was a novel by Debbie standards. This wasn’t just another foster that needed a quiet, healthy environment to hang before being put up for adoption. Not a sick puppy needing special attention to get well before the same. The message was “This 5 month old Chiweenie came in because his owner says he’s not nice. Says he goes after her kids no matter what they are doing. Can you assess him to see whether or not we should try to save him?” And this was the picture that accompanied the message.
Certainly his owner understood that that bringing a dog that bites to a shelter held no guarantees but she didn’t want him anymore. And so he was ours to do with as we saw fit.
Without much thought my answer was “sure”. I like a challenge. The idea that someone would give up on a 5 month old puppy was pretty annoying to say the least and our shelter staff nor Debbie are willing to judge him solely based on what an owner says. It won’t be ignored but time has taught that often there is another side of the story.
And yet, obviously very stressed, scared and apparently not well socialized (that means not very friendly in our lingo) the process of vaccinating him and worming brought out the bity dog she had described. Weighing no more than 8 pounds, he was ferocious in his attempts to avoid handling by our staff and to protect the innocent, a muzzle was deemed in order.
So when Debbie arrived carrying him in her arms, he was wearing a harness as he had never learned to walk on a leash and went wild at the attempt to place a normal slip leash around his neck. He still wore the muzzle and also now wore a calming collar in the hopes that it would help relieve some of his stress.
Within minutes, the muzzle would be removed. Other than a short walk around the yard on a leash to teach him that such would be a necessity and only a few minutes of him putting on his best alligator act…the one where he just drops and rolls and spins trying to avoid such a walk and he was trotting with me to the garage for the night. I’d give him some time to cool off, get settled and then start tomorrow to see what this little fire ball was all about. The poor pup had had a rough day
The next morning I was greeted by a happy little dog who I would rename Hank. Well, there was a quick snap at me when I inadvertently touched his back suddenly but that was my fault and not his. I didn’t take it personally. He ate well and while scared of his new roommates, a collection of what I called “misfit puppies” as they were not litter mates but had all become fast friends, it was obvious he wanted to be friends with them if not with me. When I’d return from work that day, he was even happier to see me and was now a member of the “misfit” pack. Jumping up on me to be petted and ravenous now for attention.
Over the next few days, he would become a cuddle bum, leaping into my lap at every opportunity to snuggle and lick my face. As a high energy breed, he did tend to jump up a great deal and would, in his excitement, nip at my legs and dangling fingers but a stern correction was well received and taken to heart. The nipping, that I’d never call biting would cease almost immediately.
Our first trip back to the shelter last night would bring out some of the anxiety our staff surely saw the day he arrived. Yes, he barked at strangers but with proper introduction would soon be sniffing their fingers, then welcoming their touch and before long climbing into their laps to bestow on them the abundance of puppy kisses he is proficient at sharing. He slept soundly in my lap all the way home, tuckered out from the excitement of his adventure and as the rest of his misfit pack have all left for their homes, I moved him into the house and he moved himself into my bed, where he slept well among the members of my own pack.
When I think that in another shelter his reported reputation may have caused him to be deemed unadoptable and earned him a death sentence, it makes me cringe. I will never know what made him bite the children that he was raised with but have to believe it was at no fault of his own. And while I would discourage adoption to anyone with children too young to understand that they should not approach him too abruptly or handle him too roughly, I believe he would be awesome in about any home that is ready for a fun loving, active, overly affectionate little dog. Maybe he’ll steal a slipper or two or in his excitement, leap two feet straight up in the air about you like a ping pong ball. If he pees on the floor when frightened, understand he’s still just a puppy. And maybe he’ll chase a cat willing to run but he’ll cuddle one too who is equally willing to accept his affectionate overzealous kisses. But none of these slights make him unworthy of a chance.
Whatever misunderstanding of his intentions is now in his past and he’s forgiven any misgivings about him. He did that in one day with me and I did nothing but love him. He surely didn’t deserve to be cast out as unworthy of a chance. And every day he proves himself worthy of nothing less than all the love his future forever home will surely offer him. And all his endless kisses
(Excuse the sorry quality of this selfie but I was being attacked…with kisses..http://youtu.be/8MQwnKx9f7k}
As Always, Perfect Reflection of dogs owners ruin and then expect to kill off… So they can go torture another one. Thank you Carrie, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being able to capture, in words, the world of rescue and that yes, every life is worthy of that chance.
And Debbie Hines deserves a HIGH FIVE !! Thank you for caring, for knowing your foster families, and for saving all that you can.
Thank you Carrie for all the great work you do with the misfits and all the other animals. All the shelter workers are special caring people with huge loving kind hearts..
I feel lucky to do what I do. Its great to know your purpose and passion