A Sick Foster Dog Changes Everything

You know what they say about plans?

Okay, I think that is actually assumptions.

And maybe I was naively assuming our plan would work.

When our newest foster dog, Tito (OPH Lieutenant Howl) arrived last week, two things became instantly clear: Continue reading A Sick Foster Dog Changes Everything

True Confessions of a Faux Foster Fail

It’s a chaotic month in this house. My oldest is graduating, my youngest is playing two sports, my daughter just finished one show and auditioned for a new show that begins rehearsing this week, and my garden went from arid desert to out-of-control weed-infested jungle in less than an hour. My husband is spending hours online lusting after used tractors and scheming about all the things he could do with that tractor once he has one. There are three horses wasting away (well not technically, but what’s the point of having a horse if you don’t ride it?), the graduation party yet to be planned, and then there’s the beach camping trip to follow (did anyone air out the tent after the last trip?). Want more? The deadline for my next novel is a week or so away, the house is trashed and the relatives arrive momentarily. So, of course, my hubby and I took a little three-day vacation last weekend. But now it’s time to pay the piper. And that goes for Carla, too.

At this point, it’s looking like Carla is with us indefinitely. She’s been here a month and there are no applications on her. We’re realizing that it’s time to start treating her as our dog even if she isn’t our dog.

DSC_8819For the first few weeks she was here, we babied her. She was sad. She was lonely. She deserved to be indulged. Wrong (always having to learn this the hard way).

This week I am weeding – in every sense of the word. I’m weeding the gardens that have finally gotten the rain that didn’t come for weeks. I’m weeding the final edition of my manuscript – taking out the parts that don’t work, even knocking off an entire character! I’m not weeding the house, though, it is what it is. But I am taking my weeding metaphor out on Carla, too. It’s time to weed out the bad behavior.

Because we’ve occasionally allowed her to be on the furniture, she doesn’t realize we mean it when we shoo her off the beds/couches/chairs. So all the furniture blocks are back up, the doors are closed, her access is restricted. I see this as an ongoing battle, one we may have to reach a compromise on. Her inclinations are entrenched and she is a wise dog. She knows when no one’s looking, and for a dog so large, she can slink around this house quieter than a cat.

While we were gone last weekend. Carla had more than a few accidents in the house, barked incessantly and was simply, underfoot. My mother, who was staying with the kids, wasn’t happy.  “When are you going to get rid of that dog?” I defended Carla – her schedule was disrupted, she wasn’t getting exercise, no one was paying attention to her needs….but secretly I was frustrated! This dog is housebroken. She’s been so good here! What happened?

Knowing this situation could happen again (when we are gone for the beach camping trip in a few weeks with twelve teenagers! I know, nuts.), we need a better solution. Carla can’t come with us; I’ll have enough to do keeping track of other people’s teenagers. And Carla is not a house dog.  Or at least she isn’t a house dog if someone doesn’t take her for a four mile run every morning. The housesitter might find that fact overwhelming. All this has led me to make the decision to treat her as one of our own but that does not mean she is a foster fail! It simply means we are preparing for a summer of Carla – just in case! (If my twelve year old is reading this – we are NOT keeping her, no matter what it looks like!)

So I’m going to reveal something that could earn me more hate mail than my unfair rant on Westie rescues
because we are treating her as our own, we’ve started training Carla to the Invisible Fence. Continue reading True Confessions of a Faux Foster Fail

The Messy Truth about Dog Fostering

Look what arrived!!IMG_1677

I think it’s time to be honest about what it takes to be a foster family for all these deserving dogs. Maybe I’ve made it sound glamourous and exciting. Sure, it’s all that. Kind of. But beyond the sweet faces, fuzzy snuggles, amusing antics, and happy endings, there is some serious work. And sometimes there is a little bit of frustration and a tiny tad of aggravation and occasionally there are moments when you groan and say “Why am I doing this again?” to a clueless dog who looks at you with complete unadulterated innocence. You need to be a determined and patient person to foster dogs. And you definitely can’t take your house (or belongings) too seriously.

For me, the hardest part has not been the getting attached or the rearranging of our family schedule or the late night and early morning walks. What makes me the most nuts and causes my husband to growl, are the messes. And I’m not talking about the shredded newspaper, the upended ash bucket, or de-stuffed stuffed animals. I’m talking about pee. The latest foster dogs are pee-ers.

I know they look innocent, but they are capable of significant mess making and proportionately ridiculous destruction.
I know they look innocent, but they are capable of significant mess making and proportionately ridiculous destruction.

Continue reading The Messy Truth about Dog Fostering