Foster Mom’s *$^%# Panic

The thing about fostering is that people don’t like to talk about the mistakes.  We know the proper steps, the protocol, the right ways to do things; so when we do something wrong… well we have to blame ourselves!  But I don’t like to admit that I did something wrong!  OH MY GOSH.  I didn’t do it!  It’s Tofu’s fault!  GAAAAAAAAAA.

 

Anyway 🙂  It’s almost been two weeks since Tofu’s arrival and I’ve been trying to strictly follow a de-stress period for my new house guest.  Since we know that she was living outdoors and let’s say “roughin’ it” before coming here, I wanted to take things slow.  I felt a little out of the game because my last two fosters were puppies.  They were happy to be thrown right into the party as quickly as Leroy would say, “Let’s play!”  So I knew I needed to be a bit more patient and understanding with our girl Tofu.

Leroy and Tofu have been saying “Hi” through their crates, getting comfortable with each other’s presence while on tethers, and having a few brief meets- generally while Tofu was tethered and Leroy was leashed.  Leroy was being playful yet cautious while he got used to this new friend that I brought home for him.  However, we had a little incident that had me very panicked upset frustrated worried about these two white fluff balls ever getting along.  Basically this ‘incident’ was that Tofu reacted very poorly to Leroy trying to play with her.  Considering this and her past history (outside, chained, breeder dog), my heart sunk and I spiraled into all of these tragic thoughts (she’s aggressive, she’s never going to get adopted, she doesn’t like Leroy, I’ve ruined the chance for them to be friends, I took things too fast, I set them up for failure).

Now the reality is that some of those thoughts were true.  I pushed a little too hard.   It is a common, although potentially dangerous and very risky, mistake that fosters do.  We want to skip to the part where they play and cuddle and frolic.  I’m a full time Grad student and I have a part time job (and I volunteer a lot).  So I’ll admit it- I hate to follow the crate/ rotate.  I feel bad for the poor dogs, pathetically watching each other through wire.  Being crated for 8 hours, then again during dinner, then again while I shower, and again at night.  GOSH that’s hard.  Well the thing is, it’s harder for me than it is for them.  The dogs are adjusting during this period.  And that it something that you should not rush.  A few extra hours in a crate can make all the difference!

So as I said, I rushed them.  I rushed and I panicked because I made things more difficult for myself, for Tofu, and for Leroy.  And because of that, I certainly can admit that I was wrong and I made a mistake.  I was carefully supervising and it wasn’t the worst thing to ever happen to a foster; but it was a mistake.

So after another week of panic/ rotation/ tethering/ muzzling/ stress, I decided that they were ready to try again.  My conclusion is that Tofu has never had a canine “friend”.  She is Ok to be around Leroy, she is even pretty comfortable around him, she is not openly fearful or aggressive in any way.  However, she doesn’t know how to play.  This is really sad because it makes me assume that all she’s ever known is being mounted, used, and abused.  So when Leroy wanted to play, she didn’t understand how or why or what he was doing!  We will continue to take things slow.  Any type of excitement or play will cause panic be very closely monitored.  But for now, we’re doing a pretty good job of just hanging out.  🙂

Mom, I don’t know how I feel about this.

If you know a lot about dog body language, you can see that they are not completely relaxed.  Leroy is alert and very aware of his Tofutti friend to his right.  Tofu is actually a little more relaxed because Leroy is being very calm and not trying to play with her.  However, she is still aware and watching him.

I guess maybe she's OK.

I guess maybe she’s OK.

The two are a little more comfortable here.  Leroy is still alert but not as stressed about sharing his space.  Tofu is pretty relaxed because Leroy was calmly tip toeing around the bed.

If I don't look, she might go away.

If I don’t look, she might go away.

Leroy and Tofu decided to look at the same ‘noise’.  Well, Leroy heard a noise outside and then Tofu tried to find what he was looking at 🙂

This is exhausting.  Let's nap.

This is exhausting. Let’s nap.

Leroy and Tofu participated in their first nap together 🙂  Leroy was trying to sleep with one eye open for a little bit.  But he continued to get closer to Tofu and he is now happily sleeping.  So he did decided that he could trust her (and me) that it was Ok to let his guard down for a bit.  Tofu is doing great with Leroy mostly on, near, or up her butt.  She is currently snoozing as well.

So the point is that mistakes happen.  But with time, patience, perseverance and close observation, I was able to (mostly) repair the damage.  However, this will be a lesson to myself for next time.  Take things slow and do it right the first time! SERIOUSLY 🙂

 

If you have any questions about Tofu, Jora, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com 

Visit http://www.lcpoinc.org for more information on our organization! 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Vacation panic- To board or not to board!

Well I’m backkk!  🙂  I had a lovely family vacation in the Dominican Republic and I enjoyed 7 days of sun and alcohol and dancing and water.  While I’m sure you’d love to hear about all of that, I wanted to write about my pre-vacation-panic about what to do with my beloved Leroy.  Now, many people may not believe that Leroy comes with a list of issues challenges.  I will give you a brief rundown.

1. Can NOT be around cats.

2. Difficult to walk on leash.

3. Takes a few days to acclimate with other dogs (and honestly, I only trust myself in this department).

4. Food/bone/toy aggressive around other dogs.

5. Leash aggressive/ reactive.

6. Uncomfortable being leashed/ restrained around new men.

7. Unreliable recall when outdoors.

8. Stressed in new environments.

So who knew?!  Well I did 😉  And we manage to the best of our abilities.  But the main points are hopefully enough to explain my concern with throwing him just anywhere for a week.  While many incredibly lucky people have that one friend who loves animals but doesn’t have any due to work or apartment constraints, I’m not in that boat.  My parents would typically watch him but this is our once yearly trip that we do together.  The majority of my friends check in under a few categories- allergic (or someone living with them is allergic), have cats, home for school break, full house (anywhere from 2-7 dogs already), have cats, no fenced in back yard, weigh under 90 pounds, or have cats.

So onto a solution!

I had to board Leroy at a traditional facility once for an emergency weekend.  It was a regular boarding kennel- Indoor/outdoor runs, concrete floor and lower barrier, chain link door and fence.  The benefit was certainly the cost.  These types of kennels will generally run around $25 a night.  The kennel owner did admit that he was concerned when I was dropping Leroy off.  The barking, stress, and shelter-like feel were a lot and my boy did not handle it well.  But the kennel owner reassured me that after only 15 minutes, he settled down and was just fine.  When I picked him up, he seemed unaffected by my presence but thrilled to leave the building and hop in my car.  He was also limping (a normal symptom, but I felt bad nevertheless).   So basically, I’d be OK with this again for a weekend or quick trip.  But for 7 days, I wanted to feel more comfortable with where I was leaving him and aim for a less stressful location.

I ended up leaving him with a wonderful positive reinforcement trainer who we’ve worked with before.  She does limited boarding out of her home with dogs she knows.  Here is the website.  We didn’t to their training program that’s listed on the website, just traditional boarding.  Leroy stayed in a room that was about the size of my living room and dining room combined.  And their “small” yard was a quarter acre fenced in.  He enjoyed playing, running, and fetching in the yard, followed by meals and chewies in his room.  This is about as low stress of a place as it gets.  Plus I felt great knowing he was with a behavior specialist and trainer.  She sent very nice updated and a picture that made know with certainly that I left him in good hands.

Sweet Spot Farm

Haii momz! Iz playid witf a jolley ballz!

 

This lovely place like this ran me $50 a night.  Not the most expensive place I could find, but not the cheapest either.  But peace of mind is worth a lot when you have a boy with a list of challenges.

Another excellent option that I wanted to share is having your fur friends stay in someone’s home.  I offer this service for one dog at a time when I’m not fostering.  Here is a website to show you my profile.  There are great new sites starting up such as this one that allows you to search for people in your area who can watch your animals either in their house or sometimes in yours.  I would recommend doing first a meet and greet, then a night or two (while you’re nearby), then a regular week long vacation.  Especially if you’re leaving the country, you want to make sure you and your animals are comfortable with the set up.  Doing this can run you anywhere from $25-$50 a night as well.

So there you have it, a vacation rundown by Leroy and Company.

And don’t forget, our little Jora is still looking for her forever home.  Email me at Casey@caseyheyen.com with any questions about Jora or the adoption process!