Archive for the ‘Fostering’ Category

Bitter Sweet

Posted: April 14, 2013 in Fostering
Tags: , , , ,

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Friday I took Forrest to his forever home!! This is my first foster dog that is going to his forever home so I wanted to make sure everything went perfectly. It snowed like crazy here and I couldn’t get him out much to exercise so I was a little concerned with how excited he was going to be. I packed Forrest and Opie in the car and started the drive to his new home. I talk about energy. It’s something I believe in that can’t be explained but felt by those who take the time to be in tune with it (dogs for example are). It was almost as if Forrest and Opie knew they were going to be saying goodbye. There was a moment where they rode along almost hugging each other.

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When we arrived I let Forrest out he went pee and we went in. His Mom and Dad are more awesome than I imagined. They had bought him a brand new crate as well as a bunch of toys, leash, and collar. I gave them the going away package BIN put together for Forrest. I stayed a bit and chatted about him with them. I told them anything I could think of that was important for them to know about him. What amazed me was Forrest’s behaviour. From the second we got there it was as if he knew he wasn’t going to be “mine” any longer. He sort of detached himself from me paying much more attention to his Mom and Dad (part of me was over joyed but I can’t say there also wasn’t a part of me that was sad too). They had bought him a duck toy that he loves. He calmly played with it in the kitchen eventually laying down to chew on it. This gave me a chance to explain his feeding rituals and what not while his Mom filled out his paper work. I observed him for any signs of discomfort. He was 100% content not anxious or stressed, part of me thinks he knew that he was finally home. After seeing how comfortable he was it was a little easier for me to leave him. I thanked them for loving him so much already as he really deserves a home, somewhere to belong. He was calmly laying in the living room with his Dad playing with his duck. Instead of making a big show of goodbye and upsetting him (at this point I wasn’t sure if he was going to try to follow me out) I quietly patted him on the head and walked down the stairs. It took everything in me not to scoop him up and give him a big hug and call out “Forrest Mc Morris” one more time but I didn’t want to make things hard for him.

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I thanked his Mom again and left. Walking to my car was bitter-sweet. I knew that he was happy and in a good place where they would love him. I would be able to foster another dog and give a deserving bully a home. Still the selfish part of me was sad that he was no longer “mine”. In the end when his trial run is up assuming everything goes well (I know it will) I can foster another dog and give them a home. Which is what I set out to do in the first place. It’s one of those happy but sad moments I know I will continue to encounter through out my journey. Keep your fingers crossed for Dee Jay (Forrest’s new name)  he deserves this!

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So I know again postless for a few days. We were quite busy this past weekend. We spent a ton of time with our pups and helped out at the Bullies In Need nail trim at the Pet Valu in Rockland. It was a huge success so let me say thank you to anyone who came out to see us. Forrest was a perfect gentlemen at the event and had a visit with a FUR EVER HOME!! It went really well. I was amazed at how well he behaved, he was perfect. He was affectionate and calm in the store, walked well on a leash for them and even crawled into the girls arms (I’m not sure who taught him that but I’m pretty sure that was the deal sealer). I couldn’t be happier for him. I can’t lie I really have gotten attached to the little guy in a short period of time but I’m so thrilled for him. Forrest is  a loving and affectionate puppy who deserves to be a  part of someone’s home permanently. He has made amazing progress in just a few short weeks. He came in nervous and scared and is leaving happy and confident. He has worked really hard to get where he is.  He has learned his basic commands, walks well, and even started to rollerblade with me and my other guys in the morning. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him. He will be going for his trial run with them shortly. Everyone keep their fingers crossed as this puppy deserves a family!!

So  I’ve talked before about Bullies In Need a rescue we foster for. They are a pitbull and bully breed dog rescue here in Ottawa. Dogs are rescued from shelters, fostered, and then rehomed outside of the province due to the BSL here. Some of the dogs are ok to adopted in Ontario some are not (check out our website for a listing of adoptable dogs.) Fostering has been an amazing experience so far. I’m thankful for everyday I get to spend with Opie. He is an amazing little guy. He has been such a great introduction into the world of fostering. Like I said I totally believe you get the dog you need. I think for my first experience with fostering I could not have asked for a more positive one. He has been an amazing guide.

I thought that each Friday my post would be about fostering or our foster dogs we have here in BIN. I recently had the chance to baby sit another one of our young guys Mojo he was awesome and fit right in with my pack. As I write this I’m in the process of getting everything ready to take in Forest a little guy from Toronto who is need of a place to crash and to brush up on some manners. Who knows he may end up staying if Opie finds a forever home. Which I hope he does because he really deserves one.

Opie has been amazingly easy to raise. I really credit it to his willingness to learn combined with  his eager nature to please.We have always been consistent with him, from day one he was shown what was expected of him and those expectations have never changed. He is a very smart pup and very food motivated so training with him has been a breeze. Stella helped us out a bunch with showing him the boundaries of our yard and even potty training. He knows all his basic commands sit, stay, down, give both paws, stand, and roll over. He even does a small agility course. It’s pretty impressive for a little guy.

It helps dogs especially puppies to get on some sort of a schedule. We usually get up at about 730 8 ish. I open his cage door and he waits patiently to come out.

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We also wait patiently at the door to go outside. Just because the door is open does not mean we go outside.

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He also knows that to come inside he needs to sit and wait patiently. Next we usually eat breakfast or go for a walk/rollerblade. He walks well on a leash rarely pulling. He loves to run beside you while you jog or rollerblade. If we run first thing then we eat when we come home. He  knows the feeding time ritual of waiting calmly for his food. Opie has been a great eater from day one ( he is a little chunky despite a good amount of exercise). He has zero food aggression towards humans or other dogs, I’ve even caught him and Stella sharing food from the same bowl.

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He is an amazingly well-behaved guy who deserves a great home. If your outside of Ontario and are interested please email bullies_in_need@hotmail.com and fill out an app. You can check out our webpage here.

Oh did I mention He was a snuggler.

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Wedding

Spring is in the air or if your here in Ottawa then it’s buried underneath the snow somewhere. With my fiancé and I quickly approaching our wedding (we’re tying the knot in November) the word commitment comes to mind. Now for those of you thinking of getting a dog this spring this “C” word applies to you too.  Similar to marriage being a commitment so is getting a dog especially a puppy. Let me say I love puppies my girls are 1, 1 1/2, and Opie must be about six months now (he is snoring away next to me). But puppies are a lot of work. Most of the time people are over whelmed with how cute a puppy is without really ever considering what it takes to raise a dog. Many people overlook adopting an adult dog over looking the many benefits (I mean other than giving a totally deserving guy a home). Many are already house and crate trained. Check with your local rescue or shelter to see what dogs  their care that are adults and up for adoption.

One thing to consider is exercise. It is a major factor in a dog being happy and well BALANCED. No exercise No Bueno. Sure it is easy to exercise a puppy now while he is small and a short run poops him out but what needs to be considered is what kind of exercise he will need in the future. All dogs need it large or small. Now there are a few things that vary how much exercise a dog needs. These things being age, size, energy level, sometimes even breed. Without even touching on rules, boundaries, and proper behavior. Just exercise itself is a minimum half an hour a day commitment and that would be a low energy level dog. If you fall in this category consider yourself lucky some most dogs need more. In an ideal scenario I get my pack out twice a day one Rollerblade in the AM before breakfast this helps your dog to feel as if they are working for food something they naturally do in the wild. Sometimes for the second activity we switch it up go for a walk, go to the river for a swim, go hiking, walk in the city. Variety can help when things are getting repetitive. When it’s too cold out we rent an indoor hall in Ottawa where we can play fetch, run an agility course, Stella likes to play find it (she finds a treat hidden amongst a bunch of toys and other distractions.)

Exercise is only a portion of having a balanced dog, showing him how to behave is another. It’s your responsibility to show him proper and improper behavior as well as socialization with other people and animals. Obedience and training classes can help as well. But having a well-balanced dog goes far beyond having him sit or stay. It’s our job show our dogs what are appropriate interactions with the world around them. Just getting out and walking around with your dog aids in proper socialization. He will see strangers and be put in new situations. When introducing something remember to take it slow and make it positive. Always end on a positive note. That way you dog will associate this with something positive. These are only a few of the components that when all put together give you a well-behaved balanced dog.

Back to actually getting a dog. I am a firm believer in adoption from a shelter or rescue. I hear a lot from people “well we would adopt but we want a puppy.” The rescue we foster and volunteer for BULLIES IN NEED has a bunch of puppies right now (for anyone interested in adopting outside of ONTARIO let me know). Another common one is “I want a small dog”.  Friends of mine from high school rescue Chihuahuas. Going to show dogs big and small, old and young are in need of homes all across North America. More importantly than size or breed getting a dog to match your energy level can help in having a happy home. Explain your energy level to the people at the rescue or shelter and they should be able to help match you to a suited dog. If you run 5 miles a day then you need a dog that can keep up with an active life style. If you’re more of a couch potato then a lower energy dog would suit you better. Bear in mind all dogs need exercise every day. But in this instance adopting senior dog may fit your life style better. Whatever the case may be there is a dog out there for you. He’s waiting at a shelter or rescue for you to come find him.

Despite all of our picking and choosing I believe firmly you get the dog you need not the dog you want. Let me explain. When I was living in Jersey I was having a really rough time. Some things in my life were changing and I just wasn’t happy with them.  That was when I rescued Bently. For a long time that dog was my rock. Without my fiancé and Bently I’m not sure what I would have done. When I rescued Stella here in Ottawa it was a bit different of a story. I found myself more angry and frustrated with life. Stella has shown me patience and whatever scenario you find yourself in, find the joy in it. She’s the type of dog that is just happy-go-lucky. It’s hard to look at her and not smile. Rarely is she not bouncing around in a care free way. Lilly our small dog is a snuggler and seems to know when you’re feeling blue and will snuggle right up to you to make you feel better. My fiancé got her when I had an apartment in New Jersey and was away for quite a while and needed a companion. Our dogs are always trying to teach us something we just have to have the intuition and patience to figure out exactly what that is.

I got up at 9:30 this morning with the full intention of letting the dogs out and writing something for this blog. It’s my goal for the first 30 days to write something everyday. I let everyone out for their morning pee and poop and sat down to read a few articles look over some topic ideas and write something. Pretty much from the get go our little guy Opie (we foster him for Bullies In Need a great rescue who is always looking for volunteers and foster homes contact me for more info) had a bunch of spunk and so did his older sister Stella who is normally lazy in the morning. I immediately knew I was going to be getting very little done this morning until I drained some energy. So I put on my warm clothes strapped on my roller blades and off we went. Thankfully they are all asleep now which frees me up to write this.

I know in the title of my article I said training and you could certainly look at it that way. I prefer to think of them as behavior expectations. I find when people hear the word train they think of treats and dogs sitting as their owner wags a biscuit over their head. What people don’t understand is puppies from day one are formulating exactly what is expected of them and exactly what you allow them to do. I touch on this concept in a previous post . A lot of people think that for a dog learn he needs to be a certain age or you can’t teach him anything. I find just the opposite. The earlier you start the easier your making your life. An amazing example of this would be our foster dog Opie.

By the time we got Opie from Bullies in Need we were well aware of the fact that it is never too early to start showing your dog acceptable behavior. When he came to us he was just a bit more than 8 weeks old. One key thing with dogs is patience for both of you. You need to have patience in showing them what you want and they show patience by waiting for your command before doing anything. Your dog should be looking to for leadership at all times. For instance when you are letting your dog out of its cage it should not just burst out the second you unlatch the door like a charging bull. Instead you should be able to unlatch the door open it and walk away ( I can turn my back even round the corner). Repition is key. It took Opie about a week to pick up on what the proper way to exit you cage was. None the less at 8 weeks he was already learning what was expected from him at home. Another prime example involving doors would be letting them out. Your dog should not be crowding you at the door. Opie was taught just like the rest of our dogs that an open door is just that an open door. It’s that simple nothing more nothing less. Just because a door is open does not mean you may go out of it without my permission. Same with entering some where the human always goes in first and the dog once he is calm and submissive. Never should your dog be allowed to bound into the house ahead of you. This is your home you let him live here not the other way around and by letting him just run in ahead of he is affective saying this is HIS home.

The best part about this is each time you make them wait and return to a calm submissive state it drains energy. Not physically but mentally. Sometimes mental work is just as hard for them as running or physical exercise. Conditioning is the key. A prime example is Opie and our kitchen. When we cook in the kitchen we don’t allow our dogs in there. For Lilly and Stella this  wasnt always a rule so they will occasionally drift into the kitchen where as Opie has learned that by quickly exiting the kitchen and lying down gets him a food reward. Let me explain the reward. It is my expectation that you remain outside the kitchen but laying down calmly is above and beyond so in our house we choose to reward such behavior ( I would strongly recommend that you try this at home.)

My point is showing them first what you expect is a much better way than letting them do whatever they want and then begin at 4 months to place expectations on their behavior. I’m not saying at all that it wouldn’t be possible for the 4 month old to learn (you can teach all dogs new behavior and place new expectations on them) but it is much easier to never let your dog form behaviors that you don’t agree with. Even as a puppy correcting undesirable behavior is a must and creating new desirable behaviors is possible.

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