Fostering By the Numbers

Nelson went home on Saturday morning.

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His story illustrates how the foster dog system works when all goes well:

  1. Nelson is selected from the dogs in a shelter in Virginia as an adoptable dog that just needs more time than a shelter has room or funds to provide. OPH pulls him and after a vet determines there is no medical treatment needed for his eye (it was an old trauma), he is neutered, tested for heartworm (he was negative), vaccinated, and microchipped. Then he waits in a local foster home until he can catch a ride north with an OPH transport.
  2. I pick Nelson from a list of dogs in need of fosters, but can’t meet the transport van, so other OPH volunteers step in to pick him up and house him for two nights until I can take him. (Thanks Karie and Evan!)
  3. Nelson arrives here and we assimilate him into our home, walk him, feed him, and get to know him.
  4. I write up a bio about him saying that yes, he is housebroken and yes, he is crate-trained, and no, he isn’t a threat to cats. I write that he’s an easy-going sort of dog who is very lovable to everyone he meets but can counter-surf despite his size. Information like this is something you can’t get when you pick a dog out at a shelter. (And not to discourage ANYONE from adopting from a shelter, I’m just pointing out that there is much good about the foster system that makes an adoption match more likely to be an informed one.)
  5. Nelson is with us for just under two weeks. He is adopted by a family who discover him via the OPH website and have already applied and been approved to adopt a dog. They bring their current dog with them to meet him at my house, adore Nelson on sight, and take him home.

Many, many foster experiences happen just like that. But a few don’t. Continue reading Fostering By the Numbers

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A Visual Tour of Nelson, One-of-a-Kind Dog

Our latest foster dog is one interesting canine. He is a hodge-podge of dog parts, scrambled together to create complete adorableness. Today I’m going to take you on a visual tour of Nelson.

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Nelson is listed as a 2-year-old heeler mix. That description is a bit misleading, but it’s the official line, so we’ll go with it.

First off, Nelson is not a heeler. Sure, he’s got gorgeous heeler coloring, but in so far as heelers are energetic, semi-neurotic, herding dogs, Nelson is none of those things.

Energetic is not a word I’d use to describe Nelson. He’s very ‘chill’ as my daughter says. He has a happy little jaunt and is perfectly pleasant on a leash, but the most energy I’ve seen him call up is when we pass the fox den at the top of our pasture. He would very much like to climb right down the hole and visit with the fox family (and he’d probably fit). I have to drag him away from the hole each time we pass it.

Neurotic, also is not a word I would use to describe Nelson. He is super easy-going, gets along with the other dogs, and while curious about the cats, he can’t be bothered to make a big effort to chase them. He spends his days lounging nearby and doesn’t even bark at the UPS guy (despite Gracie’s theatrical performance of “kill-the-guy-in-the-brown-suit” which she stages every time the big truck lumbers up the driveway).

As far as herding, well, although Nelson likes to be with people, he certainly isn’t going to nip at your heels and collect all the people in one place. He doesn’t even cast a second glance at the horses when we walk by them and only feigns a passing interest in the chickens (mostly because Darlin’ gets so excited at the sight of them).

So, let’s assume the heeler label is in name only as a nod to his awesome markings.

Speaking of markings, let the visual tour begin. Continue reading A Visual Tour of Nelson, One-of-a-Kind Dog

My Dog Problem…

“You know, when you’re hiding how many dogs you have from your family, it’s a sign you have a problem.”

This is what my sister-in-law said to me over a beer Saturday night. I had just confessed to her that we had another dog coming on Sunday, but someone else was holding the dog over the weekend until all the extraneous family left.

We had a weekend full of family visiting to see my daughter perform in YorVoice –  a friendly local a-la-the-Voice competition held at a gorgeous theater in downtown York. (She WON by the way – pardon me while I take a moment to do a proud-mama-brag! You can see it HERE. She’s the third performer.) I told Sherry that I wasn’t hiding the new dog; it was just a crazy busy weekend beyond the visiting relatives and I didn’t want to add to the chaos. (But, really, all our weekends are pretty busy so if I’m honest, the deception was prompted completely by the visiting relatives.)

This would be the first time some of them had been here in a while. Since their last visit, we’ve fostered over 75 dogs. There are now baby gates and dog beds and toys and baskets of laundry creating a new maze of obstacles in our home, similar to when we had three toddlers/preschoolers roaming the land.

There’s a nice, new cozy bed in the guest bedroom, but that doesn’t mask the fact that three whiney puppies are ensconced on the other side of the wall from their bedroom, plus the pushy mama dog who is protesting the onset of weaning and regularly breaks through the baby gate to whine outside the puppy pen. Add to that my snarky, awkward personal dog, and, well, you get the picture. It seemed smarter to avoid having to explain why I could possibly be adding to the chaos.

Eventually I was found out (and teased), but Sherry was right about it probably being wise to be upfront about your problem with your family. I think the days have passed when they could have had me committed involuntarily. For the most part, I distracted them with puppies.

Other than much eye-rolling and head shaking (and the requisite snarling from Gracie), Nelson’s arrival on Sunday went uneventfully. I have many, many excuses for why I signed on to host him. But they are only that — excuses. The real reason is I couldn’t resist him. Because, yes, I do have a dog problem. (Owning that.)

In case you’re interested, here are my excuses – Continue reading My Dog Problem…