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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Ollie Pop’s Bloggie Stop: Sharing My Beds

As many of you may know by now, my mama keeps a blog to talk all about the many dogs that she brings into my our house, in hopes to help them go to a forever home. As you might guess, this is also a priority for me as the resident forever dog. You see, I was a very Lucky Dog when I was adopted, because my mama and daddy decided to adopt me before they even MET me. They just saw my picture on the internets and recognized my lovable snuggleness all the way to the South Carolina shelter I came from, and decided to adopt me in what the Lucky Dog people call an “off transport” adoption.

Believe it or not, I actually really like being a foster brother. I am a naturally sociable dog, and enjoy having an extra doggie  around to entertain me play with when I am looking to chase, wrestle, or tug with something other than my humans. Also, sometimes our fosters come to us and are a little bit shy and unsure of things (I get it, I was pretty scared when I got out of the shelter too) – so I like to show the nervous fosters that life is pretty good, and help them learn that lots of people in this world are good and want to take care of them and give them lots of treats, toys, cuddles, and love. Also, mama always seems to buy more delicious yummables while she helps the fosters in their training, and never likes to leave me out, so I also get to enjoy a wide variety of snacks (even though mama makes me work for them too).

Fostering has its perks, but I will say the one part of fostering that proves challenging is sharing my bed. You may not think a 16 lb Jack Russell Terrier needs a lot of bed space, but you would be wrong. As you can see, I am quite capable of taking up an entire queen sized human bed all my myself.

olliebed

Lots of the time, mama brings home girlfriends for me. And I do quite love sharing my beds (mind you – bed is a bit of a relative term for me – sometimes my bed is actually a bed, and sometimes it is a couch or human lap) with the lady fosters, and having an excuse to cuddle up close to them, as is demonstrated by my former foster girlfriends, Cora Beth, Suga, and Loopy.

Sometimes though, Mama disappoints me a little and I come to find out that she’s brought me home a boy foster. They’re okay, I guess, but I am just not smitten for them the way I love the ladies. But, Mama usually has a very good reason for explaining why we’ve been asked to look after our new foster, so I adapt pretty easy. One such boy dog is my current foster brother, Balton.

Balton has been living at our house for almost 7 months, which is longer than I have EVER had to share a bed with a foster.

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As you might guess, this is a less than ideal situation to find myself in, but I have learned to adjust in the sharing of sleeping spots. Sometimes, we are able to split the distance and have our own special spot on the bed.

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Sometimes, Balton sleeps in the very spot that I want to sleep in, and I have to make him into a bed (he actually is quite comfy).

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And sometimes, I have to remind him that the beds are mine, and that he needs to not get TOO comfy, because he needs to get adopted and find a bed of his own.

ollie balton bed

Please help Balton find a bed of his own. Email my mama at LynnH@luckydoganimalrescue.org or check out http://www.luckydoganimalrescue.org/adopt/adoptable-dogs


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My Fosters, My Teachers

Somewhere down the road, fostering went from being a thing I did to help get a puppy fix, to being something I felt compelled to do for the dogs that I really felt maybe needed it a little more.  It started with a shy Chihuaha named Star, who needed to change fosters and go to a place with a second confident dog. Consequently, she got adopted two days later, but within 24 hours I could see a turnaround in her demeanor, and it warmed my heart. Once all 9 lbs of Star went onto her forever home, I found myself agreeing to take a 55 lb Rottie mix who had needed to have her eye removed. Sweet Loopy was a total lamb, a goofball and a complete awkward young adolescent with boundless energy. But all this was irrelevant when I agreed to take her home, for all I knew was she couldn’t go to doggie daycare because of her recent medical procedure.

After Loopy, there was Suga, Seth, and Cora Beth – all painfully shy and all needing a human willing to earn their trust. I learned a lot about how faith in humanity can be lost, and how it is a slow path to restoring that faith – if not in the whole of humanity, than at least in the couple of humans that occupy their world. Seth also offered the profoundly painful learning experience of how to pick up the pieces when the life you hoped to bridge to a long life of happy ever after, goes instead to the rainbow bridge.

My time cut short with Seth has taught me to learn that, well, there is always something to be learned, but you just need to sometimes dig a little to find the lesson. I think my fosters have come into my life at specific times to teach us what we need to learn at that given moment. They move on when they are ready to, and when they think they’re ready for us to move on. Timing seems to be everything.

So, as I reflect on the last 6 and a half months, I find myself asking what Balton is trying to teach us? Clearly, we haven’t yet graduated his course in foster continuing education, since he’s still here. There are days when I feel and see the progress we are making, and other days where I really question if I’m doing things right. I’ve had the question asked a few times about how a dog like Balton could ever successfully transition into a forever family, given his stranger danger how he shows his fear when situations make him uncomfortable.

I see forward progress through small victories, such as being able to let people bypass on the trails with less distance, bit by bit. Or recovering with more ease from the stress of children running and yelling outside our front window. But there are things that still prove to be a struggle, such as inviting guests into our home. To some degree, we have learned how to manage these interactions, but it’s still hard. Someone outside his circle of trust moving around or creating any sort of a “disturbance” is incredibly stressful for him, and so for two consecutive weekends when we had visiting guests, we tried to minimize stress (for Balton and the guests he kept barking at) through trips to the dog park and walks together, through marrow bones and high value treats, through baby gating, crating, and time away from the action.

So often I wish I could get into his little doggy brain and understand why certain triggers and certain environments make him feel and act the way he does. And while that may not be possible, I have learned ways to help him feel like he can take things on with greater confidence, and that he can trust the people who care for him to know that someone’s got his back. Developing a strong, trusting relationship with Balton has been but one layer of  setting Balton up for success, but it’s the foundation that all his other training rests upon. I’ve been grateful to learn about relationship based training in the resources provided by Suzanne Clothier, which consistently makes me now ask the question “how is this for you?” when working with Balton. Now, we are working on giving him some more tools to help him to give more polite cut off signals to people who make him nervous, thanks to the support and guidance of Grisha Stewart and BAT.

It’s been speculated by some that Balton has already found his forever home, as those of us in the rescue community can’t help but think after a foster dog hangs out in his foster home longer than the average bear. While it’s a thought that has crossed my mind on a few occasions, I look ahead, as I always do, when thinking about “foster failure” and what it all means, and consider if I can offer long term what is needed 15 years down the road (as we ask all prospective adopters to). Until I can definitively say yes to that question I ask myself, I know the right thing to do is to continue fostering and ultimately pass the leash when he and his forever family are ready for it and find each other. While there are challenges, and their are always lessons to be learned, we get to enjoy in the daily experiences of the happy, contented, sweet and affectionate dog you see below.

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I don’t know how or why Balton got dealt the hand he was dealt before he came to Lucky Dog, and why his fears didn’t emerge until a time where Cora Beth conveniently got adopted, and the stage was set for him to move in with Nick, Ollie and me. I also don’t know how long he will stay here until the right forever family comes along. But I do know that forever family exists, and they will be very lucky to have Balton be part of theirs. I find encouragement from things I happen to read at just the right time, like this great piece on “Leash Gremlins” in all their forms, and how reactive dogs are not unadoptable dogs, they just need those right tools to be successful, and allow their humans to understand them a little better.

Balton is helping us understand a little better.

I also find myself encouraged when I get notes from our Dog Walker, Alex, from Good Dog Pet Care – who was very patient in working with us over the course of about 2 and a half weeks, when Balton vehemently objected to a stranger walking him mid-day. Time, patience, compassion, and the help of a doggy friend has helped build their relationship, and we are fortunate to chronicle Balton’s journey on a daily basis from a different set of eyes. Today’s mid-day note, a teaser for tonight’s journal entry, reads, “What a lovely day! They boys did great. Nothing was too disturbing or strenuous. Awesome.”

balton trail

Awesome indeed.

To adopt Balton, visit www.luckydoganimalrescue.org or email lynnh@luckydoganimalrescue.org 


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A Change of Scenery

Hello friends and followers of the blog space formerly known as A Lucky Dog’s Lucky Blog! As you might have already guessed, we are relocating and rebranding a bit. The reasons for our move to WordPress and changing up our name are not terribly interesting, but worth being forthright about, in the tradition of how we roll at A Lucky Dog’s Lucky Blog, which will now go by its new name of Faith, Trust, and Foster Pups.

We started our little blog here in 2011, with a pretty simple and straightforward goal: to find some homes for some dogs at Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington, DC. Hence the simple and straightforward name to go along with it. However, it later came to my attention that there was another blog out there with a super similar name, the Lucky Dog Rescue Blog, which supports some other very passionate rescue efforts affiliated with Ashley Owen Hill and Lucky Dog Rescue in Meridian, MS. A quick glance will show that there is already quite a large follow base there, and it got me to thinking that I don’t want to dilute/confuse efforts. I had also sort of wanted to switch out of Blogger and move over to WordPress, so the timing seemed good as any to make the jump.

Snooooze mama Lynn, this story is boring.

Snooooze mama Lynn, this story is boring.

Obviously, the stars of this show (present foster Balton and resident foster brother Ollie) are unimpressed, and ready for me to move on and start talking about them again. So, that is what I intend to do. As I have shared the many stories of the many dogs who have spent some time in our home (some with longer stays than others), I have learned a lot about them, and in doing so, more than I could have possibly hoped to learn about myself. As time has gone on, I have come to find my greatest teachable moments have been from the foster dogs who have needed a little extra support. Who have taken a little longer to come around, have required a little extra patience, and who have had me work a little harder to build their faith and trust. In doing so, I’ve had to also dig deep to find faith and trust in myself, and continue learning and growing right along with them.

These are their stories – which I hope you will find endearing since I hope to find their forever homes. But these are also my stories – which I hope you will find useful in some other way. My fosters have taught me many unexpected lessons, and have helped me to discover unexpected things within myself.

I hope my musings might help whoever stumbles here do some learning and discovering of their own, and also help my fosters find a home of their own.


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Balton the Brave

Over the course of the last several months, Balton has earned himself a series of nicknames that marry themselves to appropriate situations, or randomly materialize depending on my mood. These nicknames range (coincidentally, many with an alliterative B sound) range from Beebop, to Bubba, to Butthead. But in the last 6 weeks, our dear foster has earned himself a very special nickname, which, like a knight of the court, has been dubbed through great nobility and accomplishments: Balton the Brave.

Balton the Brave is what I can best identify as Balton’s superhero alter ego. He shows up every time time Balton has a big moment, where he absolutely makes me well up with pride for facing the things that scare him and acting with poise and strength. Balton the Brave first arrived on the scene after we had been doing a good deal of practice in seeing new people on leash, not reacting, and getting lots of yummies. We then took our practice to a new level by walking several blocks in the busy streets of Georgetown, DC. Balton was a rock star, and handled himself very well among the commotion. 

Today, Balton the Brave once again emerged from his superdog phone booth crate. Since I switched from working at home to an office job, we’ve had to help Balton get accustomed to the idea of a mid-day dog walker. As you might imagine, this has been a rather tall building to take on in a single leap. Going from a consistent 5 months of having your foster mama home with you for walks and potty breaks, to having a strange new person come to take you out in the middle of the day, isn’t easy. So we found ways to make the stressful event less of an event, and get together for social, fun, after work walks. 

Thanks to a very patient and persistent dog walker, and bringing a little outside help from his dog, Lucky Dog Alum Hank, Balton the Brave triumphantly dared to go where no dog…okay, well, where plenty of other dogs have gone before. 

I know that to some, a mid-day walk with the dog walker may not seem like a huge deal, but for Balton, it’s another sign of baby steps leading to big strides, and I couldn’t be more proud.


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Snow Day (and where the heck have we been)

I’ve come to realize that it’s been an extraordinarily long time since we’ve checked in here, and time to start writing a lot more regularly. We’ve definitely been learning and growing lots in the 6 months since Balton has come to our lives and hearts. He’s the longest standing foster by a mile here at our house, and he’s still looking for a home. He’s still learning about the good things in life, and we’re still learning how to help him along in his training, and how to show the rest of the world the amazingly sweet, loving, and loyal dog we get to see when he is unafraid and able to trust. And I am happy to say that while no changes happen immediately, we have learned to find joy in all of Balton’s successes, great and small.

Today, Balton found some joy of his own in his first real snowfall. I’ve never seen someone love the cold, white, and wet quite as much as this guy. So, if you’re looking for someone to take on the arctic tundra with you…he’s your guy. 


It’s not always easy, but Balton has been learning in this last half a year he’s been with us, to trust in us enough that he can trust the people in the world around him. 30 minutes at a Petsmart parking lot, an hour at an adoption event, and since my job has changed so I am no longer working from home, making the acquaintance of the dog walker. 

Our journey, and our search for the forever home that can celebrate all the same successes that we have with a lifetime of love, continues. So keep checking back for more updates on our friend Beebop, and share his bio RIGHT HERE and all his fun updates from Social Media land RIGHT HERE.

Thanks to everyone who, though not in this space, has continued following Balton’s progress and rooting for him and every baby step and big stride he takes. Our Lucky Dog family has been an incredible support, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without you. 

With love and puppy kisses, and deeper thoughts to come, our search for happy ever after happily continues.

-Lynn and Balton