Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups

Helping dogs on the road to forever, forever finding ourselves as we walk that road with them.


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Seth Goes to Shirlington & Learns a New Trick

Monday was a hot, hot, humid Memorial Day. Seeing as Seth had been very tolerant and good about heading 50 miles north to Gaithersburg on Sunday to go to a hot, hot, humid adoption event, and then being sent home with a 5 month old terrier puppy so he could spend the rest of the holiday weekend with us before going to doggie daycare for full time fostering, he (and foster brother Ollie) were owed a nice holiday out and an opportunity to cool off.

Crazy Harry the cute: available for adoption/seeking full time foster.
http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/23021839
As you might have guessed, a 5 month old terrier puppy made for an active evening, and while Seth was a very good sport, he was sort of giving me a look to say, “We’re not keeping the puppy, right?” Ollie even got tired after awhile, though he had a good run of chasing and wrestling. 
While Ollie and Harry were doing this…




…Seth was doing this.





So after our slumber party, we dropped Harry off at Wagtime and headed over to Shirlington Dog Park for some off leash play time and swimming. This was our first time taking Seth down to Four Mile Run, and I was interested to see how he would like the water. The first time we brought Ollie he took a lot of coaxing to dip his feet in, but not Seth. Rolled right in and took to the water like a champ, happily swimming and exploring. Check out the boys!

 



After our swim, we came back up onto dry land and ran into a man in his little dog, who started playing chase with Ollie. I was intrigued by the fact that this tiny little dog seemed to have a ridge down her back like a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and asked how old his dog was (thinking perhaps it might be a puppy). He told me the dog was about a year, and that she was a Dachsund/Miniature Pinscher Mix. I asked what her name was and he said “Mia”. I prodded once more and asked if he had adopted her from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue (after which I think he thought I was a total creepster). But he said yes.

Turns out “Mia” was nee “Sweetie”, who I was the adoption coordinator for, so I introduced myself as the lady who he had talked to on the phone during screening. Sweetie has a pretty interesting story as to how she ended up a Lucky Dog after wandering into her foster’s yard. She also had some unique adventures once she became a Lucky Dog, thanks to her spiritied, curious, and sometimes a little mischievous nature. More on Mia, nee Sweetie can be viewed at Lucky Dog’s special blog HERE and HERE.

Mia has been adopted just a little less than 2 weeks, and is settling in beautifully at home. You can already see how quickly she has bonded with her new dad, and how happy she is to be in a forever home where she is so loved. And to see how happy her new dad is was also heartwarming. My camera was too slow to get her actually looking, but even her side profile is incredibly happy. 🙂




After time spent in the water and at the park, we went to the Dog Friendly Shirlington Village for some outdoor dining at lunch. Shirlington is great in being super accommodating to dogs. Their outdoor seating welcomes the furry patrons, and water dishes are abundant throughout. And any opportunity to expose Seth to people without him feeling totally overwhelmed is generally one worth taking. He did really great, and mostly casually sniffed at some passers by while we ate. If he did get a little overwhelmed he was able to hide under my chair, but he really didn’t feel the need except for once.

He also put on his best “I would like some fish tacos and sweet potato fries” face. I would be lying if I said he didn’t get a few sweet potato fries out of the effort.


All in all it was a great way to spend the holiday weekend, and the boys were pretty well exercised as a result and couldn’t keep their eyes open on the ride home:


So the people of the household were actually able to crate the buddies for a nap in the cozy A/C, and head on down to the neighborhood swimming pool to cool ourselves off. 🙂

Another new development this week: Seth learned a new trick!



While this new revelation is pretty impressive, and continually comical for us to watch him keep doing this simply because he sees the little bed as a good sleeping option, this is NOT the new trick. This morning, Seth finally learned how to “sit”. Being that he is such a treat motivated dude, I couldn’t understand why we were having such trouble with this seemingly basic command. But generally it would involve him looking at the treat, walking away, coming back to the treat, giving me a frustrated look, walking away, me giving up and then giving the treat when he came back the 5th or 6th time, so as not to make him think I was nothing but a mean treat hoarder. All the while continuing to tell him “sit” as if he were to just know what the heck I was saying.

Enter Victoria Stilwell, one of my personal heroes, host of It’s Me or the Dog, and possibly the most well known ambassador for the Positive Reinforcement based training, or the Positively Method, which rewards dogs for carrying out a desired behavior and encourages problem solving, instead of using punishment or force to suppress a behavior. When Lucky Dog is adopting out our dogs, this is the method that we steer our adopters towards, and with so many people out there calling themselves “trainers” or using old school, out dated methods that promote “dominance” or “alpha status” over their dogs, I am a huge personal fan of what Victoria and our own Lucky Dog positive training partners do. Putting your dog in the hands of the wrong trainer can be so, so harmful to your dog, and can hinder or damage the development of a trusting relationship between doggie parents and their pups. Our new milestone with Seth as of this morning is testament to how awesome the Positively Method is. 

 In a new web video series hosted by Victoria and eHow Pets, Victoria teaches a puppy to sit in the video you see below. I decided to take the problem solving principles taken with puppy and see if we could apply the same methods to “teach an old dog a new trick”, so to speak.

 

It took some patience between last night and this morning, but Seth had a breakthrough this morning and sat, multiple times (both to ensure it wasn’t a fluke and as part of the training session below). I’m so excited for him, and so excited as we continue our relationship building while he continues seeking out his furever family.  

Come out to meet Seth, guest foster Harry, and the other adoptable Lucky Dogs this Sunday, June 2 from
12-2 pm at Falls Church Petsmart, 6100 Arlington Boulevard  Falls Church, VA 22044!



Happy Tails ’til next time!
Lynn & Seth

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Our Sesh with Seth

Well, our 3rd foster of 2012 (not counting our 2 both-already-adopted weekenders, Spirit and Mia) has arrived at the Homestead. And I’ve been spending the last 5 days working on getting to know him a little better so I can tell you about him. In those 5 days, I have come to discover that he’s pretty fantastic. Seth is a 2 year old lab mix who arrived to Lucky Dog about 2 months ago from his humble beginnings in South Carolina. He is an absolutely beautiful dog, weighing in at about 50 lbs and with a gorgeous reddish coat that color-wise likens him to a golden retriever, but otherwise has the look of a lab with maybe just a smidge of shep and a dash handsome southern gentleman in there. 



Seth is a little on the shy side when you first meet him, but if you’d been reading our blog over the last couple of months, you probably already know that we’ve gotten accustomed to some of those shy dog quirks from our last foster gal, Suga. Seth has also had the benefit of being in a really good foster home for the last couple of months, so from what I can tell he’s come quite a ways from when he arrived. I was asked to take him last Thursday, and brought him home with me after last Sunday’s adoption event in Georgetown. After receiving the run-down on him and studying up on his bio, I felt pretty certain that this dog still would barely be looking at me by now, but Seth warmed up surprisingly quickly. He’s cautious for sure, but very curious and very food/treat motivated, which has helped a lot in our getting to know each other.

On day 1, Seth sort of hung out in the hallway upstairs for the first few hours, averting Ollie’s attempts at play and pacing the hallway. But eventually he worked his way downstairs to the living room, poked around in the toy basket, and settled himself on the dog bed. Each day, he gets a little more fearless in the house, and is fantastic about coming when called. In fact, he follows me around quite loyally to see where I’m going and what I’m doing (or perhaps if I’ve got a snack for him up my sleeve, I’m not really sure). He and Ollie are also getting more comfortable with each other and Seth’s playful side is coming out as that happens. It’s an absolute joy to see him in action.


Seth is happily helping himself to squeaky toys and chasing his foster brother through the house. He’s also gotten comfortable enough to hop up on the couch or people bed if he feels like there’s room for him, but only because we’re cool with that here. He’s very responsive to verbal guidance, so if that’s not your thing, he’ll totally respect that and happily find a cozy spot on the floor. He sleeps in his dog bed through the night, and is stationed there, crashed out and cozy as I write this. 



When I first tried to take Seth and Ollie for a walk so they could be introduced, he got totally spooked by all the people that came his way, most notably because they had kids with them and went into flight mode. And because he’s a pretty big guy he is a strong puller when he wants to be. The use of an Easy Walk Harness helped to manage this at first, until my dog walker went and told me he walked very well without it, after which I had to test his study myself. 


Turns out he was right, and Seth has been walking beautifully without a harness since Tuesday. Yesterday we even went out on a run together and he did awesome, trotting alongside me like a perfect gentleman! He’s very responsive to verbal commands and hardly pulls at all, happy to stay right next to me on our jaunts through the neighborhood, and curiously sniffing an occasional tree along the way.

After our morning run, such a champ!



Unlike our Suga, he doesn’t try to hide from every single stranger that passes us by, and even gives quite a few of them a pass by sniff. But he definitely needs to meet people on his terms and needs to take it slow. Yesterday when my neighbors and their young daughter came over to introduce themselves and make small talk while we were out in the side yard for a potty break, he was beside himself even as Ollie was willing to say hello, and attempting to hide wherever he could. So I let him head inside the house to chill out so as not to keep him in an uncomfortable situation, and he rebounded shortly after, ready to take on his evening walk. Tonight we went to the dog park and once he became familiar with his surroundings, he did absolutely wonderfully (and snoozed in the car on the way back home…have I also mentioned he is very well behaved in the car?). Some of the new people made him a wee bit nervous, but he was very polite and playful with the other dogs and even gave a couple people a good sniff to say hello.


Seth will be out and about this Sunday at our Lucky Dog adoption event from 12-2 pm at White Flint Petsmart at 5154 Nicholson Lane, Kensington MD. Because he gets nervous around new people, Seth would like you to know that he may not necessarily show himself as awesome as he does at home when he’s had some time to warm up and get cozy. So he asks that you try not to take it personal if he acts shy. He promises with a little patience and love, he will soon start to show the incredible companion he is. In the mean time, keep checking back for updates and fun foster foibles, both here on the blog and on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ALuckyDogsLuckyBlog 


Also, please be sure to see and share Seth’s bio at http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/22318259 and help us tell other people how great he is, so we can find him a great home!


With puppy love and a couple of ear scritches,
Lynn & Seth


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Dela-Where a New Lucky Life Begins.

This morning, Nick, Ollie, Vance and I loaded up the car and headed out to Matapeake Beach in Stevensville, MD, just on the eastern side of the Bay Bridge. Our excursion was not simply to take advantage of their dog-friendly beach along the Chesapeake Bay. Nope, we were on a mission and on our way to a meeting point that would ultimately bring our Vancey to his new forever. Vance’s new family came all the way from Delaware to bring him home, so our boy traveled about 125 miles to his new home today (add that to the 500+ miles our boy traveled last week to get here…he’s quite the little road tripper)!

Vance’s family is so lovely, and it was love immediately. If there was any doubt about the road traveled to bring their new little one home, Vance quickly went to work about erasing them as he stared giving them kisses straight away and loving on them in his oh so snuggly and charming way. Vance’s new human parents (and his new canine sister Madison) came upon Lucky Dog more than a year after Madison’s canine brother passed away at age 15. Searching out the perfect companion locally after taking their appropriate time to grieve, they had been searching for a long time when Kim, Vance’s new mom, got a call from her brother (who lives locally to the DC area). He had seen Lucky Dog at one of our usual out and about events and pointed Kim in our direction. She mostly fell for Vance on his photo alone (I can relate, that’s sort of how it went with Ollie for Nick and me. ;)) but after chatting with her Thursday night, I could tell how excited she was and how loved he was going to be.

First family photo, do you think they’re all happy enough?

Vance will have a half acre totally fenced in yard to romp and play in, and much to everyone’s delight, introductions with Madison were as good as anyone could have guessed they could have gone. When they brought him home she wagged her little nub, gave a friendly little sniff, and then the two started playing straight away. Thus effectively calming any additional worry that may have existed as to whether this was a perfect forever after. We’ve gotten a few photo updates already, and while any new transition into a new home naturally takes time, I think Vance will be okay with a little time and patience.

Actually, I’m pretty sure he’s over us already.

Back to a party of 3, Ollie, Nick and I followed up the adoption with a trip to the Dog Beach…

…which Ollie enjoyed until I actually made him go in the water and try his hand at swimming, after which he wanted out of the Chesapeake Bay and chose to roll his wet self in the sand.

Suffice it to say our day at the beach didn’t last long, but was well worth it as we sent another foster sibbie home. Tomorrow we will be welcoming our next houseguest to the Heun Homestead, so check back on the Lucky Blog super soon to meet our newest foster pup…


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Vance, Vance, Crazy Pants

Ever since I started fostering for Lucky Dog, conversations involving the introduction of a new foster usually go something like this: 


Me – There’s a transport coming up and they need fosters so I’ll be picking one up this weekend.
Nick – Are we going to foster a Jack Russell Terrier?
Me – Doubtful.
Nick – (insert noticeable grumble or sigh)

So you can imagine my husband’s joy when Sunday came around and I found myself assigned to none other than, you guessed it, a one-year old Jack Russell mix by the name of Vance. I held my breath and hoped that two male JRTs could co-exist peacefully in one house, and all the way home this pint sized little dude, tethered in the back seat, kept finding ways to worm his way up on my shoulder, between me and the drivers side door of the car, and finally with me pulled to the side of the road and re-tethering him in the front seat so as not to crash the car. True to his terrier nature, I could tell already we were going to have a wild card on our hands with this one. 


So badly wanted to ride shotgun,
but I put my foot down when he tried to change the station



And apparently the window wasn’t down enough for him, he opened it himself.



Following the initial craziness on the way home, introductions at home went better than expected. Nick was in love immediately. Ollie was seemingly disappointed that I didn’t bring him home a girlfriend, but outside of some resource guarding with toys and treats, they have been getting along quite well. Vance, for his part is incredibly sweet and playful and loves people. He really took no time at all to settle in, and made himself at home. He plays with any and all toys he can find, is quite good about communicating when he needs to go out, and enjoys a good snuggle and belly rub (and is very proficient about asking for those).

 
So many toys…so little mouth space



You scratch my belly now please foster lady
It’s probably especially relevant to write about Vance while we’ve still got him, because he’ll in all likelihood be adopted tomorrow! More on that when it actually happens, since I don’t want  to jinx anything, but it’s been fun while it’s lasted with Vancy Pants. And heck, it’s been pretty nice to have a foster pup that my dear husband has actually been giddy to have around. Even if only for a flash in the pan.
Lynn


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Another Long Overdue Update, Another Lucky Foster Adopted

Why oh why does it take me so long to share an adoption update?

Maybe it’s because I don’t want to get overly excited about the fact that my foster has gone to her forever…so I wait a few days for the other shoe not to drop and know the pup isn’t being returned. Maybe it’s because I am a little too sad to see them go to fully admit it. Or maybe I just am very untimely in my blog writing. Option 3 seems most plausible.

So, yes friends, it’s been nearly a week, and I have not heard any bad news since Suga left the building and moved in with her new pack last Friday. I will be following up tomorrow to do the 1-week “how’s it goin’?” checkup, but since the adopter hasn’t reached out since last Saturday to send me this photo…

Day 1: she has found the bed and a friend’s lead to follow
…I have to assume things are going well so far. As you can see, Suga is living with a new version of her foster brother, except he is a JRT/Beagle mix and has aboout 15 or so pounds on Ollie. Nevertheless, we were able to do a switcheroo pretty easily due to their uncanny look-alike status, and Sug (they are keeping the name!) took to him pretty much immediately. After the first day, it was reported that she was skittish but doing well overall. Taking a lot of cues for where to go/what to do from her canine brother Jack (not surprising), eating meals as normal (not surprising), taking treats from her new parents (not surprising), and going potty normally…and outside (this one was maybe a little surprising, since she went a near 2 days before she graced us with her first bathroom break on the upstairs carpet, much to my relief).
Sug’s new parents, who live in a quiet North Springfield neighborhood, have a huge back yard, and with one parent who works from home, came along on April 22nd when we were hosting a rainy, yucky adoption event out in Annandale VA. They were inspired to meet Suga when they saw her Lucky Dog bio (which sort of warmed my heart, because I agonized over that bio to help speak to Suga’s true personality, rather than the drama queen people meet at adoption events).


“Look lady, if you would just stop taking me to these things, I could have my Sundays back and stop having hide under cars and behind legs.”



For the record, she absolutely did put on her best “sorry, I’m just not that into you show” on April 22nd, but unfortunately for Suga she had her foster daddy Nick with her, who made a point to talk all about her more awesome qualities and how her adoption event antics were nothing more than her way of stomping her feet saying she wanted to go home. Jeff and Noah were undeterred by the tail between her legs, and filled out an application. After a lovely conversation about how their older dog Shorty had passed away, and how they could tell Jack was a little lonely for a new playmate, learning about how many of Jack’s personality traits mirrored those of Ollie, and how curious they were about all that Suga had to offer, it became clear to me that after some internal struggle, some light nudging from people and teasing “when are you going to keep her?” questions from my fellow volunteers and family members, and a few would-be adopters before that I didn’t feel quite right about (that incidentally also ended up falling through) I was able to let her go and avoid foster failure. Bringing her to her new family was the saddest I had ever been to say good-bye, but oddly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. We came to do the home visit, and I left with the feeling she was going to a place where after the initial transition, she would be happy and doted on for many, many years.

My time with Suga was 3 months of trust building and earning. She is the first foster that I really had to work for in order to go from this…

Feb 4th on the car ride home from transport…shaking, soggy and avoiding eye contact

…to this:


April 14th adoption event: snuggle buggin’, butt waggin’, tap dancin’ love muffin.
I’m grateful for every moment we had, and my hope is her real, true life forever continues to help her grow, love, and find adventure,trust and joy in each new day. For my part, I can say with confidence that Sug gave that to me in the 3 months we spent with each other. And, she was able to let go and move on to her next best thing in just enough time to let me recover for Pet Fiesta weekend (she told me to let our foster coordinator Kate know that she owed her one).
So fear not Lucky Bloggers. Come Sunday I will have a new four-legged little someone to write about. And your guess as to who it will be is honestly as good as mine.
Stay tuned…