Foster Updates

Blog post by Laura M.

She didn't have a name when the puppy and her sister were dumped at a construction site, so the ARLP volunteer who found them in June 2008 named her "Katie." Katie was an adorable little black puppy, and it didn't take her long to be adopted.

Kate's new family renamed her "Lexis." Lexis grew up into a lovely dog. She was sweet with all people, but she particularly loved children. She gravitated toward the little ones like pit bulls to peanut butter. She also loved balls, and would play fetch until she fell over, preferably in some sort of water. Her new family taught her important things like sit and shake and to walk nicely on a leash.

Marnie

But as she got older, Lexis became "aggressive" with other dogs. While she continued to get along well with her family's other dog, she started lunging and barking at other dogs on walks, and her family had difficulty managing her. One day while Lexis and her canine sibling were being walked by a friend of the family, the two of them lunged toward another dog at the same time and pulled their leashes out of the person's hand. The two dogs attacked the other dog, and in the process of separating them, the boy who had been walking the other dog received two punctures - a dog bite.

Animal control was called, and Lexis's family sent her to the impound facility for quarantine. While she was there, her family determined that they were unable to handle Lexis’s issues, so they contacted ARLP as instructed in their adoption contract. They asked us to please find a new home for her.

ARLP doesn't typically take in middle-aged lab mixes with bite histories, but that is what Lexis grew up to be, and we take care of our own. So ARLP’s exceptionally talented intake team went out to animal control to do a temperament evaluation on Lexis in order to better understand what her options would be.

Marnie

Lexis breezed through her temperament eval with grace and aplomb. She seemed to be a biddable, eager-to-please, well-balanced dog who adored both people and food. The animal control officers who worked with her had come to like her. They hadn't had any trouble with her around the other dogs at the impound facility. They felt, and ARLP’s intake team agreed, that Lexis deserved another chance, even if that chance was just a warm bed, a full belly, and a little love before she was euthanized as a compassion case.

Here's where I come in - because, as Tyrion would say, I have a "tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things." And Lexis came to my house a very broken dog.

She wasn't aggressive or overly anxious or behaviorally challenged; she was lost. She would pace around the house, looking out windows, scanning rooms, looking behind furniture for something - or someone - she could not seem to find. I would call her to me, and she would cheerfully come, receive some scritches, and then trot to the door as if to say, "Okay, can I go home now?" I didn't have a way to tell her that she wouldn't be going home again, and it was one of the most heart breaking experiences I've had in nearly fifteen years of rescue.

But there was more broken than just hearts. It took me about a week to realize that there was just something wrong with the way this dog moved. Her back end wasn't put together like my other dogs; she had an odd, short-strided gait in her rear. So we packed her up and went to the vet where she received a tragic diagnosis: severe hip dysplasia.

So now we have a five-year-old, large, black, mixed-breed dog with a bite history and a severe health problem. On paper, from an ethical standpoint, she is unadoptable. But her statistics do not even come close to describing the dog she is.

Marnie

We renamed her Marnie, because that is what she told me her new name would be for this next chapter in her life, and I don't know how to argue with that. She has the softest mouth. She loves, loves, loves to play with balls, even though the vet said that a dog with her hips shouldn't be able to stand steadily, let along run and play - no one told Marnie that her body was broken. She can be left alone in the house and not chew stuff up. Her behavior is normal and predictable. Her whole body lights up with joy at meal times. She is more social, better on a leash, and better behaved than the majority of my own personal dogs.

And Marnie is not dog aggressive. For the first few weeks at my house, Marnie completely ignored my dogs - she wouldn't even look at them. Thanks to the Two Week Staycation, Marnie learned that she did not have to interact with the other dogs if she did not want to. You see, Marnie likes other dogs, but she is worried that they will hurt her. While she can still run and jump and play on her own, having her hips bumped and jostled by other dogs hurts her. So she became defensive toward other dogs. Once she figured out that she could interact with dogs on her own terms, both at home and on walks, Marnie began enjoying interacting with the other dogs, and even solicits play.

Marnie

Marnie in person is a very different dog than Marnie on paper, and her case lies in the hazy grey area between "unadoptable" and "should be euthanized." Is she a good candidate for adoption? Well, no. But it is hard to say, once you meet her in person, that she should be put to sleep for being born black and with bad hips and for behaving like a normal dog during a dog fight.

So ARLP has made the decision to fight for Marnie. Thanks to a grant from the University of Minnesota, she will be having surgery on her hips this month to relieve her pain and get her ready for adoption. Marnie will also attend training classes, go for walks, chase balls, and get to do all the other normal activities that dogs enjoy while she waits for the right family to come along.

Marnie

Interested in following Marnie’s story as she gets ready for surgery and searches for her own home? You’re in luck! Marnie has her very own Facebook page.

Share

3 Comments

It wasn’t ever my intention to keep him. Really, it wasn’t. If you go all the way back to the beginning, he was going to come to my house for just a week or two. Because he had had such a traumatic past I said that I would take him for the short term, ‘to feel him out and decide whether we want to place him with a foster (and who that foster would be) or do a compassion hold.’ Some dogs can recover from being starved, beaten, and neglected. And some can’t.

Squish

I stretched those one or two weeks to a month. Once we made the month, I negotiated with Brian that since we’ve had him for a month, why can’t we just keep him until he’s adopted? For some reason he agreed with me. This was a major thing as in his heart of hearts Brian really only wants one dog. It says a lot about this little white dog, he was special right from the beginning.

When I foster, and subsequently adopt out my fosters, my standard is that I want my foster dog to go to a better home and a better life than I could give them with me. No, that’s not some sort of impossible standard where by default I get to keep all of the dogs. I know my limitations, I know the limitations of the dogs who already occupy my home.

The little white dog received a lot of adoption applications. There were even a handful of good applications. There were people who could have easily loved him and given him a good life. We did a few meet and greets with these people. And as we moved forward, I kept coming back to the raw fact that no one out there could love him like I did. The simple reason being that no one knew him like I did. The world may see an outgoing, bouncy white dog that occasionally shies away or startles at loud noises, but for the most part he recovers quickly so it’s hard to see that he’s not ‘normal.’

What no adopter could ever see was:

  • The little white dog that had to be carried into my home because he was too afraid to walk in on his own. The little white dog who sat on the floor next to the three of us that afternoon as we talked about him, dog rescue, and life in general. And when he had an accident, Brian went to get the paper towels and the floor cleaner. Upon using the last paper towel, the little white dog was handed the cardboard roll to shred. The little white dog took off at a mad scamper across the room to crouch in fear of being hit by said cardboard roll. Humans were not to be trusted and sticklike objects were items that humans used to hit the little white dog.
  • The night about 3 weeks in, when we took him upstairs to our bedroom to sleep in the bed with us. If you’d seen him that night, you’d have thought that he had morphed back into the terrified little white dog that he was the day he came to us. Any progress that he had made over the last few weeks vanished. He froze at the top of the steps. The ceiling fan was certainly going to come down from the ceiling and eat him. The bed, well he had no idea what to expect when we lifted him up and set him on the bed. We made it through that night with the little white dog curled up (or frozen in fear) on the pillows between the two of us. And when he did finally fall asleep, we smiled at his little snores in our ears.
  • The first day at doggie daycare….By the time I made it to work, sat down at my desk and brought up the webcam after leaving him off, he had shutdown. The little white dog was huddled in the corner, next to the gate. I had tears running down my face. What was supposed to be a happy, fun, socializing experience was too much for him. I wanted to leave work to get him and take him back home where the world was safe. I called another ARLP volunteer for support and reassurance and to talk me out of running to save the little white dog from his day at doggie daycare. I wanted, and needed to hear, that I was doing the right thing by leaving him there. That if he never leaves the comfort and safety of our home then he will have no opportunity to grow.
  • Then there were the dates. The little white dog was terrified of entering new places in the beginning – new homes, new shops, new offices, and any dog friendly place that you’d want to take your dog. So we set up dates to go visit ARLP volunteers’ homes. We’d spend about an hour going in and out the front door, checking out the house, exploring each room, making our way to the back door to go in and out. Once the little white dog was comfortable, or as comfortable as he was going to get, we’d call it a day and head home. When we had (mostly) mastered the concept of going into new places then we turned the dates around and had people visit us because for a while, new people at our door were very scary things for the little white dog.
  • And finally, there was the month or so at the beginning when the little white dog was actually more of a shedding stink bomb with four legs. It took him forever to work the crap of the first 18 months out of his system. The results of this process were white hair everywhere and a stinky stinky dog. I’d sweep and the next day we’d hair white hairballs scattered throughout the house. We’d find white hair in places that we had no idea how it’d gotten there. And if you touched him you’d have to wash your hands as the stench would then be on your hands. We’d give him a bath, put him to bed in his crate, and the next morning his blankets would smell again.

These, and so many more things, are all the things that an adopter could never know. And no matter how much explaining I did, they could never understand what we went through to get to the little white dog that throws himself in joy into a person’s arms. Or that 90% of the time will walk through a door without being carried or coaxed. Or that bounds into doggie daycare happy to see his dog friends.

It’s not necessary for an adopter to know all of the details of a dog’s past in order to give him a good and happy life. Heck, I don’t know the beginning stories of two of my dogs and we’ve done just fine over the last years. But the little white dog isn’t your normal dog. This world has already failed him tremendously. By some great testament of his temperament and his character he made it out the other side with only shadows of the past that sometimes lure their heads into his now life. He may not realize it, but he’s lucky. Really lucky. His yard mate for the first 18 months of his life was not so lucky. She didn’t make it.

A dog that can come from a tragic past and have such an intense desire to be a ‘normal’ dog and to still believe in spite of it all that the world is good and safe, that dog deserves a one hundred percent guarantee that the world isn’t going to fail him again. So…going back to my standard of a home better than mine, well, I know that I can promise the little white dog that. That no matter what it’s going to be okay, he’s going to be okay. Life will be good, it’ll be more than good, it’ll be amazingly fantastic.

And in return, even though he has no idea, he makes my world okay too. On those days when the rescue world can be overwhelming - the need so great, the options so limited, the people either so selfish or so cruel - I am comforted by the snores of the little white dog sleeping on my couch. And in that moment, in my heart and in my mind, everything is okay. Having him be okay makes everything else okay for me.

The journey with the little white dog has been heartbreaking. It’s been amazing. It’s been frustrating and fun all at the same time. And after the journey that we’ve been on, I guess that you can say we’ve come too far to let him go. When I told Brian I was writing this little announcement to the world, I asked him what I should call it. His reply, ‘To Squish or Not to Squish, That is the Question.’ Our answer - we’ve decided to ‘Squish.’

Squish

Share

5 Comments

All of ARLP's foster dogs are, and will always be, near and dear to our hearts. But some -- due to their duration of stay in foster care, their particularly unique personalities, their resilience, or, as in Tally's case, a combination of all three -- leave a lasting impression on all they meet. We know that the many people who have followed Tally's journey over the last two years will be overjoyed to hear that Tally is home for good. Here, Tally's forever mama tells a story of what you want, what you get, and the unexpected bliss can result from a mismatch between the two.

Blog post by Ruth Patton.

It started with an email message from Jen L., ARLP's lead Rott n' Pit Ed trainer, in early January: “Hey Ruth, We just started another session of class and I was wondering if you would be interested in being a training buddy for Tally. Let me know what you think!”

The answer was yes, of course (more accurately, it was “Wheeeeeeeee! YES”), and Tally and I met for the first time on January 15. I picked her up at Chez Hotchkiss [home of ARLP volunteers Amy and Larry], and she was wearing a cute little pink collar and sweater set. I remember a lot of jumping and scrabbling and lunging and snorting...Tally was Distraction in Argyle. I got her into the car, got her to class, tried over and over to get her attention while she pulled and yodeled, and ran out of treats.

Ruth and Tally at Rott n' Pit Ed soon after they met. Photo by Lp Reyes

The next day, Amy emailed, “No pressure...but do you love her????? :)”

The truth? No. I mean, not in that way. Not in the 'adopt her' way. I grew up with dogs, and loved dogs, and knew I’d have one someday, which meant I’d thought about it a lot and had a fantasy dog in mind. Fantasy dog was male (so, not Tally), tall (strike two), laid back (three), and he’d run miles and miles with me (have you seen Tally’s wonky wrist?). And on the limited occasions I was willing to admit the depth of my psychosis, fantasy dog would also convince the cats to love him, he’d get along with all other dogs, and he’d protect me from muggers. (I know. I’m not proud of it.)

Not that the ARLP chicks didn’t try. “So-and-so was saying that Tally's totally your dog.” SIGH. I thought Tally was cute and had fun at Rott n' Pit Ed with her and cried just a tiny bit when I dropped her off at home for the last time in early March, but she totally wasn’t my dog.

Ruth and Tally consider each other. Photo by Lp Reyes

Aaaaand then I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I kept checking the list of available ARLPups to see if she was still there, and I’d make cheerful, promotional comments on her Facebook pics (e.g., “She’ll make a GREAT companion!”). And I kept hoping she’d get adopted so I could let it go.

In the meantime, Cory and I decided to give fostering a try. It seemed like a great way to have a dog in our lives without having to make any kind of permanent commitment. For me, the cats were a serious concern. No so much Jasper, the lazy male with three settings – sleep, make biscuits, cry for dinner. It was Poppy I was worried about. She’s seven pounds of fury. She’s the one who runs to the door whenever someone comes over...not to greet them, but to assess if they’re a threat that needs to be neutralized. She’s faced off with two dogs at once totaling over twelve times her mass. She backed the neighbor Labrador into a corner of the kitchen and kept him there, hysterically yelping, until I managed to get a towel over her.

Jasper in front, Poppy in back. Photo courtesy of Ruth Patton

I was afraid that if a dog showed any interest in her, or chased her, or heaven forbid, tried to attack her, she would scratch their eyes out. So having a dog in the house could turn out to be ultimately unworkable for the long-term.

We submitted the foster application in early April and heard back from Amy, who wanted to come over to see the house and yard and make sure we weren’t hoarders and were fit for fostering. I asked her to please bring Tally. We locked up the cats, the guests arrived, and Tally destroyed two toys, popped our kickball, and rolled in her own pee. I emailed a friend later, “DOGS ARE SO GREAT.”

Smitten much?

Tally works her charm on Cory. Photo by Ruth Patton

Soon after, Amy asked if we’d like to dog-sit Tally while she and Larry were on vacation in early May. I let Cory decide because I felt biased. He agreed, I did a secret celebration, and it was decided. On April 30, Amy dropped her off with all of her doggie accessories, gave feeding instructions and some sage advice, and went home. So there we were, with Tally in the house, wondering how we were going to handle the next couple of weeks.

Photo courtesy of Ruth Patton

You know how the story goes. She hasn’t left.

I remember Tally as a bit out-of-control back in January, and apparently when she first arrived in Minnesota her distractibility was legendary. But her many months with kind, caring foster families helped her settle down into a very easy dog. From the beginning, she was great in her bin – went in easily, didn’t complain once there. She’s great in the car. She doesn’t bark, doesn’t get in the garbage. Really, the only naughty thing she does is chew plastic things (water bottles, food containers, plant pots...with the plants still in them, but we know that, so if she gets one, it’s our fault). She’s very trainable – what started with “leave it” with treats became “drop” with toys, and she’s decided she likes to fetch.

I’m not sure I can explain how ridiculously delightful Tally is. She loves to play, and her capacity for fun is almost matched by her clumsiness. When she wants your attention, she’ll grab a toy – a ball of some sort – amble up with it in her mouth, and just bonk right into you, toy-first. BONK. Tug is super fun, and she’s surprisingly good at catching high fly balls, but sometimes she’ll leap up to catch one and throw herself completely off balance, landing hard on her side (but up the next second, chewing the ball as she toddles up, reluctantly but eventually dropping it for another go). She snorts and sneezes and makes funny noises. Her ears don’t match. She sleeps hard and is happiest on the couch next to or on top of someone. She seems particularly content while a beloved person holds a Nylabone for her as she gnaws on it, gazing deeply into her person’s eyes, gnaw gnaw gnaw.

Family photo by Lp Reyes

Perhaps my favorite Tally quality right now is her adoration of the neighbor kids. Especially Cora, who’s eight. When they visit, Tally won’t leave Cora’s side. She stares at Cora with unmitigated devotion. If Cora sits down, Tally lays in her lap. We showed Cora how to play fetch with Tally, and it’s heart-swelling to watch this little girl with her little girl’s voice say, “Tally, drop,” and see Tally, so intense, drop the ball, sit down, and look up into Cora’s face.

Yep - that's the adoring look. Photo by Lp Reyes

And the cats? We took it super slow, kept the species separate. They didn’t even see each other for the first month. Then we moved Tally’s crate into the dining room and covered it with a blanket when the cats were around. Then the blanket came off. We increased their exposure to each other over the course of weeks: we’d have Tally out and let the kitties into the room for five minutes. Then ten. Then fifteen. In general, and to my huge surprise, Tally is completely intimidated by them. Her usual reaction is to look away, as though trying to convince herself that if she doesn’t see them, they won’t see her. There have been two incidents of Poppy-on-Tally violence, both of which began with a great deal of cat menacing behavior (growling, stalking) and ended with Poppy swatting Tally on the butt, even though Tally was exhibiting the most pathetic expression of canine submission you can imagine. (And both of which happened when the human intervenor was on the toilet.) I’m pretty sure Pop didn’t even use her claws; she just wants everyone to admit that she’s in charge. As I’m writing this, Tally’s asleep next to me on the couch, and Poppy’s on my other side. Jasper’s next to us on the back of the couch. It’s better than I’d dared hope.

Even so, Tally’s not completely comfortable around them. When one saunters into the room, she’ll often lick her lips and look at me. It’s that looking-at-me part that melts my heart. She’s nervous, and she turns to me. Every time, I tell her, you’re okay. I’ll protect you. And her history is always in the back of my mind, with the fight ring and then the substandard shelter where so many of the other dogs died, so I feel like I’m making amends for the human race, you know? I mean it when I say to her, I will keep you safe for the rest of your life.

It's official! Photo by Lp Reyes

I still have a hard time believing she was in foster homes for so long – almost 18 months! I don’t think she was waiting for us. I don’t believe it was meant to be; I just don’t think the world works that way. But I do feel very, very lucky that it all happened the way it did, that Jen thought of me and that Amy brought her over and that Cory was here and that I’m finally ready to let go of my fantasy dog and cuddle up with a real one. That’s how it goes, right? There’s what you want, and there’s what you get, and the two don’t have to match up for life to be good. Tally is amazing. Loving her makes me a better person. I’m going to keep her safe and happy for the rest of her life. And I’m grateful for ARLP and the work it does bringing dogs like Tally into the lives of people like me.

Amy, Ruth, and a group of ARLP supporters at Tally's adoption party. Photo by Lp Reyes
Share

2 Comments

Foster homes - the first stop in our program dogs' journey to the good life - are an invaluable part of A Rotta Love Plus. When a foster home decides to keep its foster dog forever, you may overhear us joking, "another one bites the dust." But as you'll see in this post about the Williams' family experience with Sula, like many other "foster failures" before them, the match between dog and home was just too perfect to resist. Click here to learn more about fostering for ARLP.

Blog post by Seth Williams.

In early June, we were spending a typical Saturday out and about and had no idea that a new chapter in our lives was about to open. A phone call from ARLP foster coordinator Amy let us know that ARLP had visited Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC) to evaluate a Rottweiler for foster care and, while there, they were alerted to a second female - of the 'Rottweiler mix' variety - that might be a good candidate as well. Seems the MACC staff arrived at work one morning and found her tied up in their front yard and saw some potential "amazing" in her. But she needed a home.  Could we take a dog? Sure! Today? No, but how's tomorrow work? Done. She had her temporary home.

Amy and Larry arrived the next day with a stunning little female on the other end of the leash.

That 60-pound, grey and tan Rottie mix walked into our patio that Sunday in June and, though we didn't realize it at the time, into our hearts as well.


Sula. Photo by Lp Reyes

We did the initial meet n' greet, got her settled, and rustled up a bag of food, some treats, and toys, and off went Amy and Larry.

We had decided on the name 'SULA' the night before her arrival based on a photograph Amy sent us. Sula's snout had a tan marking that looked like a mountain, and I was instantly reminded of a beautiful peak in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana named Sula Peak. She was as beautiful as that peak.

We began our Foster journey, intent on finding out what made this girl tick. Why was she abandoned? Was there something we weren't seeing? What could it be? A few weeks passed without learning any such information. What was happening, however, was Sula's subtle yet effective integration into our family.

Sula was brought into a home that already had two humans, a four-year old Lab named Hoolie, who has seniority,  and a four-year-old (or thereabouts) Rottweiler named Andy, who came to our home a little over a year ago from the State of Texas. Also in residence was a 13-year old feline with an attitude to match.


Andy, of TX200 fame. Photo by the Williams' family

Sula meshed into the daily routine and was readily accepted into the pack by the pack dudes. The cat tested this new arrival but soon decided she was worthy of feline companionship as well.

Training started with Rott n' Pit Ed, and attendance at Adoption Day events was planned and executed. All this time, we humans found we were constantly challenged by the idea of Sula one day leaving our family.


Sula and Seth. Photo by Lp Reyes

It was becoming evident that we were bonding and enjoying having her in our family. Besides, we were learning about the 'inner' Sula. Who else would understand her, know her likes and dislikes? But we found comfort in ARLP's ability to find the 'perfect' home and knew our job was to give her the best foundation as possible for success in her new home.

...but still...

Sula and Hoolie were fast becoming play companions and seemed to find great joy in eachothers' company. Andy, the cerebral Rottweiler, would engage Sula once in a while, but mostly seemed to watch in awe as Sula and Hoolie expended great energy in nothing more than play -- a concept that baffles Andy.


Hula and Soolie. Or is it the other way around? Photo by the Williams' family

When the applications for Sula started rolling in, our discussions of making Sula a permanent member of our family took on a sense of sincere purpose. Several days of discussing the pros and cons helped us discover that Sula had, in a bit under two months, in fact become a family member. If she were to be adopted into another home, we would miss her terribly, Lab Hoolie would lose a true play companion, and at the end of the day, our family would have an empty hole left behind.

Discussions conducted, evidence weighed, decision made. Sula was in her forever home.

Now we understood. Now we found, in the decision, joy, peace, and completion. It was, and is, the right thing.

We will continue to foster, albeit short-term, but anything we can do to help these critters successfully navigate waters they are thrust into, through no intent of their own, is time and effort well invested.


Home for good. Photo by Lp Reyes
Share

6 Comments

Post by Kyler's foster human, Laural H. Photos by Paige.

This is the third in our series of updates about the “Texas 200” Rottweilers, who have now been enjoying the good life in Minnesota for about six months. New updates will be posted each day this week.  The dogs’ back-story can be found here.

Can’t get enough? Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/arottaloveplus) for even more “nubbins.”

Kyler is unbelievable.

 

When he first came to me, he was scared of almost everything, including me.  But not my dogs, he actually tolerates the pitties in the house.  But the best news is that one of my resident dogs, Biloxi, tolerates him!  They  pretty much ignore each other, but hey, they cohabitate nicely.

 

My biggest challenge with Kyler occurred when he first came to my house.  He wouldn't let me touch him, and everyone that has met him just wants to give him a hug.  He is one big teddy bear!  After about three weeks, I could touch him and pet him.  It took between two and three more weeks before he let me hug him.    Now, I can hug and kiss away.  He also loves to have his belly rubbed and allows me to roll him on his back to rub his belly!  But there are very few people that can touch him – and this is after months of being around them.  He is still very people-shy, but he is getting better and better every day.

My first goal with Kyler was to allow me to touch him, my second big goal was to get his nub to wag.  I remember standing at the window watching him outside, and his nub was wagging.  I honestly have never cried as much with a dog as I have with Kyler.  Every little new thing he does brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.  Now the nub wags a lot!

Kyler loves walks, car rides, and the dog park.  This big boy will jump around around the living room because he is so excited to go...wherever we are going.  He isn't much of a "toy" dog.  He will pick up a bone or a rope toy every so often, but he really has no great interest.  He also loves to eat.  Meals, cheese, hot dogs, and today we found out that he even likes sweet potatoes!  The poor boy was afraid of the Kong when he first got here.  After he decided that peanut butter was pretty darn good, the Kong isn't such a bad thing.

Kyler is one big achievement.  Every small step we take is cause for celebration for him.  Last week he learned to sit....again tears and smiles from me!  He has learned to "wait" so now he is sitting and waiting for his meals.  This is huge!  He doesn't run anymore when there are people walking on the other side of the street.  This is huge too!  He has even started to use the dog door!

Kyler is starting to make some decisions on his own and his confidence is growing daily.

As I like to say...Kyler is becoming a dog.

 

Share

2 Comments

Post by Lilah's foster human, Jennifer G.  Photos by Paige.

This is the second in our series of updates about the “Texas 200” Rottweilers, who have now been enjoying the good life in Minnesota for about six months. New updates will be posted each day this week.  The dogs' back-story can be found here.

Can’t get enough? Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/arottaloveplus) for even more “nubbins.”

Here is Lilah upon arriving in MN six months ago:

In the past six months we have really seen Lilah blossom into a terrific dog!

When she arrived in Minnesota, she was pretty shy around new people, new environments, and new dogs.  We have worked to build up her confidence and she has really turned around.  I have to mention that our resident dog, ARLP alum Dazee, has really helped Lilah learn to be a dog, how to trust people, and how to play.  She wouldn’t be where she is today without Daze.

Lilah’s three favorite things are: going for walks, cuddling, and doing anything for cheese!

Lilah is a climber!  She doesn’t hesitate to climb on loose rocks, a pile of wood, or even a radiator.  We’re not sure where she learned this, but she has great balance.  She has recently become quite mischievous – stealing treats that are stored up high when no one is looking.

Our biggest challenge with Lilah has been building up her confidence in socializing with new people, as well as learning how to correct her in a way that doesn’t result in her shutting down.  She continues to make leaps and bounds!  Recently, she started trotting up to new people, eager to meet them.

[Ed. note: In fact, one observer at the recent Uptown Market, which Lilah attended with ARLP, said that Lilah "showed not a single sign of the shy, timid girl she once was -- she greeted all she could with wags and licks, two and four leggeds alike."]

Lilah is a very fast learner, so we are confident that she will adjust well in new environments.

Lilah is definitely coming into her own now and it's a joy to watch her grow.

Lilah has had a lot of adoption interest lately, so we are hoping to report good news soon!  Lilah and ARLP's other adoptable dogs can be viewed here.

Share

1 Comment

Post by ARLP foster Laura M.   Mikey is available for adoption - Cowabunga!


Normal is so boring.
Mikey

Ears are serious business.

Mikey

You can't just let them flop around any old way.
Mikey

You have to research carefully.
Mikey

And pick the style that suits your face.
Mikey

Pray you don't have a bad ear day.
Mikey

Never be afraid to try something drastically different.
Mikey

Sometimes, a good ear style is the best way to stand out in a crowd.
Mikey

Share

Feb. 13, 2010, Pearla came to my home as my foster. And today, Feb. 14, 2011, she is still in my home! Has it really been a year?

Let’s review:

The first few weeks, Pearla hung out in my kitchen, while she acclimated to the household pulse, and the resident dogs acclimated to her presence. All fosters follow this schedule, called the Two Week Shutdown. It works wonders for all family members and I’d highly recommend it to anyone bringing a new pet into the home. Pearla learned our schedule of meals, playtime, work time, and quiet time. She learned how to potty outside. And I learned Pearla is highly interactive, very bright, and eager to please. All these attributes make training with Pearla a real joy. If anything, her attentiveness can be aggravating because if her reward does not arrive fast enough, she’ll run through her various tricks and learned behaviors in no particular order.

What a wonderful problem to have—a dog that wants to work with you, and may be faster in her repertoire than you’d expect!

Once the shutdown was over, and our household pattern adjusted to include her needs, we ventured into more rigorous, structured training. Pearla attended Rott N Pitt Ed, our ongoing introductory training available to all the program dogs, foster and adopted alike. She also took a few Canine Good Citizen classes, and passed both the CGC and therapy dog tests. She attended a tricks class, called Tricks for Pitties, just for fun! To keep her leash manners sharp and expand her doggy horizons, Pearla continues to attend RNP today, and what a great reason to adopt from A Rotta Love Plus! One of the many benefits of a relationship with ARLP is ongoing training support after you’ve taken your pooch home. I find this support a tremendous value, especially in the coldest months when training outside the home can be a real challenge in Minnesota. One of Pearla’s RNP Ed graduation days was televised as the backdrop for a local dog oriented cable show, while our Vice President, Lara Peterson, was the show’s special guest with her ARLP alum, Mo-Bits.

Over the next several months, Pearla attended many of our favorite ARLP events. Pearla attended the Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths Art show in the Northrup King building, as one of four special four legged guests. She went to three sessions of Get Set to be a Vet—one at the Edina High School and two others at the Science Museum. She danced her way through Minneapolis in the Gay Pride Parade, and her smile and constant wagging tail charmed everyone who met her at the Pedigree Adoption Event in Como Park. She also went to several summer school programs, where young kids were able to touch her scars, learn about Rottweilers and pit bulls, and improve their dog safety skills.

In the fall, Pearla was selected for the ARLP 2011 calendar (her calendar pose was featured in a short article in the Southwest Metro Community Magazine later in the year)! She attended her photo shoot in the west metro, where we learned Pearla does not like heights of any kind. Even a few inches off the floor makes her uncomfortable, which has provided a new training opportunity in the home. Heights are still challenging for our little pearl, but she has learned the soft comforts of the arm chair can be very nice, even at 18 inches off the ground.

This winter Pearla enjoyed special attention at Twice the Gift, a non-profit seasonal store where ARLP has twice been selected to sell handmade crafts to raise funds for the program dogs. Located in the Crystal Court, ground floor of the IDS Center, TTG is only open during the holiday season. Pearla charmed so many passersby on her Saturday appearance, that she was invited back for a second attendance later in December. What could be more indicative of how special this little dog is, for her to be invited to represent A Rotta Love Plus a second time, in the same shopping season, in downtown Minneapolis!

After the holiday season and the deep freeze in January set in, exercising Pearla proved a big challenge. While her health is stable, her allergies remain a challenge, so her food type remains the same, but I should’ve reduced her portions when weather forced us to cut back on our time outside. She remains a huge fan of fetch, retrieving all her toys every time you throw them, but the basement is not as long a retrieve as the back yard. With the limited exposure to daylight, the dark skin on her thinly furred scars has reverted back to healthy pink, as has her muzzle and the crown of her head.

Many times, I have thought about keeping Blondie Bombshell, and failing fostering for the second time in three years. There are so many positives about having Pearla in the home—she has that incredibly cute snaggle tooth smile, her tail is always wagging, and her desire to please is only slightly behind her desire to play. Since she has already passed all the required tests, she can represent her breed in all kinds of education, therapy, and dog-specific celebrations. All of these charming attributes make Pearla a wonderful breed ambassador, and a fantastic addition to the right home, including mine. But the cold hard truth, is there are many more warm hearted, smiling pit bulls out there, waiting for a place to relax, unwind, and learn how to become a fantastic breed ambassador, like Pearla. If I selfishly kept the Blond Bombshell, I would never have the chance to help those other dogs in need of a temporary home. In fact, had I kept the last foster, I’d never have experienced this wonderful year with Pearla.

So where are you, Forever Home? Pearla is looking forward to meeting you.

Share

People sometimes comment, "Why don't you have more dogs on your site?"...One of the reasons is because their foster families fall in love during the 30 day intro period and decide to adopt them and they never make it onto the website.

Here are our 2010 foster failures (winners):

Zoza

Albert

Jack the Cat

Jasper

Gabby

Bailee (Now Rubi)

Maverick

Dazee

Pete

Mabel

Share

Copper, that's who!

I asked my vet how long it would take a dog to starve to death. Her best estimate, not knowing what I meant by “previous condition”, was about 2 to 3 months. “Previous condition” is the big unknown, meaning the dog might start out at a healthy weight, might start out as overweight, or…might start out already thin.

So what’s a hungry dog to do? Starve to death? Scavenge? Eat whatever it finds?

Winter came early in the fall of 2009, and by January 16, 2010, 25 inches of snow was already on the ground in Minneapolis. The overnight low was 16 degrees, which is quite balmy, for the coldest month of the year.

Jessica found Copper in a dumpster. How he got there is speculation, but it is possible the staff of the store where Jessica first saw Copper, had put him there. Copper had crawled into the store, likely seeking shelter, but more likely seeking food. It was closing time, late on a Saturday night, and the staff thought Copper was scaring the clientele. Jessica was not scared of Copper, she was scared FOR Copper. She went home to gather support and supplies to help him, and returned to search, finding him after an hour of looking.

It took convincing, as well as several Good Samaritan parties with yummy food, to get Copper safely out of the dumpster and into Jessica’s care. Jessica and her family took him in, keeping him safe while his injuries were assessed. There was the imprint of something long and broad on his back, like someone hit him with a board. Doused with pain medication, Jessica estimates it took Copper 15 minutes just to lie down in his abbreviated manner—Copper slept in her chair with his hind quarters elevated. Besides the injury to his back, surgery would answer why he needed his belly elevated in order to be comfortable.

Now, my fine readers, the next few graphs will call for strong stomachs and stiff spines. Copper’s first surgery amputated his tail. Cause unknown, but Copper’s tail had been split open in a straight line, almost down the center. Likely due to MN weather temperatures, not to mention filth, and no medical care, Copper’s tail was full of gangrene, well beyond repair. Second to his damaged tail, chemical burns on his genitals suggested deliberate placement, causing his skin to fall off—Copper was neutered.

Copper’s next surgery removed the bundle of non-digestible items from his intestinal tract. These items included bottle caps, plastic, a pencil sized solid metal pipe, and the top of a can with a serrated edge, as you and I would have from opening a can of tuna, or olives, or soup. Any one of these items could have blocked his intestines, and killed him. All of them combined, were causing his excruciating pain—by the time he arrived at the vet only morphine silenced his screams.

At rescue time, in mid-January, while Copper had all this medical help, his emaciation bears some discussion. Copper was near starvation when Jessica met him. It took some time for him to that point, when she saved him. By the vet’s estimation, it may have taken Copper 2 months to get to this level of deficiency. Rescued in January, it is possible Copper survived most of November and December, fending for himself. Can you imagine? In Minnesota?

Maybe he was locked in someone’s basement or garage, or some type of shelter, and not out in the elements. Wherever he was, Copper was deprived of the basic elements all of us need to survive, but he made it on his own.

Look at Copper today. He weighs 74lbs. He will be an incredible companion. He’s a comic with his toys, fetching and playing with you as long as possible. With some training, he could be a great agility competitor, or maybe disc, or possibly flyball. He has a very gentle demeanor, when he is not charging around the yard at top speed. The only remnants of his past are in the photos and memories of those who know him. Though he was shy of men while he regained his health, Copper is now a polite puddle of love to complete strangers. He’s a leaner, leaning into you to better feel human contact when you stop to pet him.

There are so many people to thank, who supported Copper in his fight for life. Several rescues as well as Good Samaritans donated time, money, medication, mileage, phone calls, and caring, to get Copper to his present state of good health. But at the top of that list is Jessica, who took the time late on a Saturday night to involve her friends and family to find Copper, and save his life.

Would you like to help Copper in his next chapter? Copper is available for adoption. His celebrity status as a classic example of how these wonderful dogs can be so forgiving will go with him to his forever home. Is there room in your heart for Copper?

Share