Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups

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

Foster Flashback Friday: Nina’s Potty Mouth

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Nina was our very first foster dog with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. I had started handling dogs at adoption events a few weeks after going through Lucky Dog’s screening process and adopting Ollie. From there, I sort of fell into fostering. The story goes something like this:

I was hanging around at an adoption event, chatting about this old-ish Jack Russell Terrier I was handling named Rasmus. He had recently gone through Heartworm treatment, and also had bad skin, bad teeth, and no foster. I pondered out loud bringing him home, but he ended up with another foster…who ultimately later adopted him, so it worked out quite well for him. Meanwhile, I thought divine intervention had perhaps prevented me from going home with a dog that day.

Fast forward about 30 seconds to a lone dog who looked in sad shape at the foster check out table. Evidently this dog also had nowhere to go, and…well…I was there. So they asked if I would please take her. She had kennel cough, so couldn’t go to boarding, and I had effectively opened myself up to the possibility of going home with a canine friend. Saying no was going to be tough (okay, for me, it was going to be impossible), and so began my foster journey.

Following some questions about crates, food, just how contagious was Kennel Cough to my dog with his Bordatella vaccine, and some paperwork, I was putting a 36 inch crate in my car for a 12 lb dog (it was all they had), and soon after carrying a small black & white beagle with an old man whooping cough to my car (for she was too scared to walk). Her name was Nina, and she was going to be staying with us for a little while.

Scared as she was at first and on the car ride home, she came around rather quickly and she and Ollie almost immediately developed a love connection.

ninaollie2

We only had her for about two weeks before Nina was adopted, but they were eventful. We learned that keeping her crated in the bedroom next door, our initial action plan with the foster, was not going to be a super solid one if we wanted to get any sleep at all.

ninacrate

The crate wasn’t the issue, she actually slept beautifully in it – the sleeping alone was. Cried, cried, cried her Beagle howl until someone came in for her. So, since I didn’t want to sleep on the floor for an undetermined amount of time, we found ourselves with two dogs in our room – suffice it to say this pattern pretty much stuck with future fosters.

We also learned how challenging and rewarding fostering can be – especially when you’re still working on things like housetraining with your own dog and a new pup comes in who needs to start from scratch. There was also an occasional dispute over a toy, and I found myself taking a crash course in doggy body language and understanding play styles. Much of the time I thought the dogs were fighting, they were actually just playing.

Still, there’s just something lovely about starting with a dog who won’t walk on a leash and then passing the leash of a sassy little diva dog that saunters around and wins the hearts of the neighbors. Not sure if this is the case for all fosters, but as our first foster dog, Nina was definitely the one I cried most irrationally for when she left us for her family.

ninacouch

Nina also had a gross challenge that we thankfully haven’t had to address since her departure – she would eat, or attempt to eat, her own poop. To this day I am horrified to talk about it, and I felt like I was a terrible foster mom when I let it happen. Fortunately, most of the time she was leash walked and I would intercede as pick-up patrol before she could get to it. But man did she want to snack on it, I had to be quick.

But a couple of times, when I wasn’t paying close attention as I should’ve been, she would saunter up to me from a different room and her potty mouth breath would be a dead giveaway of what I had managed to miss while my back was turned. In fact, Nina’s potty mouth remains one of our final less-than-sweet moments together. I was packing up her stuff and getting ready to bring her to her weekend foster, where she would be going before heading off to her adoptive home the next day.

As I was packing up a few of her favorite toys to send with her, Nina came sashaying up to me and lovingly attempted to give me a sweet puppy kiss when it became apparent that while I was upstairs packing and not paying attention, she was downstairs taking care of business and subsequently having herself a snack. Feeling disappointed in myself, and equally worried and grossed out for her, I got the doggie toothpaste and quite literally washed out her potty mouth just before her sendoff.

On out way over to the weekend foster, Nina laid in the back seat – looking a bit sad. I suspected that of course, she was as irrationally sad as I was that she would be leaving us and not coming back.

ninacar

As it turns out, she was actually not sad, but somewhere between carsick and nauseated from her morning snack. Moments later, Nina hurled all over my back seat. It was the first of many foster brandings to be left on that backseat, and a hard life lesson that laying a sheet down on the spot for the dog is an excellent idea if you don’t have leather interior.

But, she did feel much better afterwards, and I heard no follow-up reports of poop eating after that event. And Nina and her adoptive family have been spotted at a few Lucky Dog events after her adoption too. So…I like to believe that maybe we helped her outgrow that phase in her life?

As it turns out, poop eating, otherwise known as coprophagia, is considered a fairly common behavior, sometimes done as the result of poor nutrition or simply because they “like the taste” (seriously). Victoria Stilwell did a short piece on it in her “It’s Me or the Dog” training tips column – which addresses some of the stuff to do about it. At the time, we were feeding a high quality diet and picking up immediately when we could – so by all accounts I can feel good about how we tried to work with the odd behavior in our limited foster newbie knowledge.

Still, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still haunt me a little today. Maybe my public soul (and Nina’s palate) cleansing can finally give me a little closure on this chapter of my life. Have you ever experienced any gross or strange habits with in your own dogs or former fosters?

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Author: faithtrustnpups

Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups is a combination blog for animal welfare, humane education/positive training, recognizing the beautiful bond that exists between pets and their people, and other fun stuff. I share information about adoptable pets in the DC metro area, promote animal rescue and resources to support adopters and fosters, and share stories and lessons related to the dogs I care for. Much of my writing is for especially my "foster failure" with some specific fear-based issues. In an effort to help understand often wonderful, sometimes challenging dogs like him better, I learn to understand myself. Together, we share our stories, and walk together, leash in hand, and in building faith and trust within one another and within ourselves.

3 thoughts on “Foster Flashback Friday: Nina’s Potty Mouth

  1. She’s adorable! Love these foster flashbacks. We had the exact same experience with our first foster (also a beagle) in terms of initially setting up his crate in the bedroom next door and quickly discovering that if we wanted to get any sleep the crate was going to need to be in our bedroom where he could see us (and Lily).

    Also, Lily too is a fan of eating her own poop. She’s not interested in eating any other dog’s poop, or the geese poop that litters the path where we often walk her, but apparently her own poop is the exception (although she will also try to steal a snack out of my parents’ cats’ litter boxes if given the opportunity). However, she seems to feel that her poop is only appealing if it’s aged, and will only try to eat if after it’s been sitting for at least a few hours. So, as long as we keep an eye on where she goes in the yard and quickly clean up after her, it’s not an issue. And it’s not an issue on walks or in the house, since she’s housebroken. I used to be embarrassed about it, but considering how many dogs at the dog park try to eat other dogs’ poo, or their own almost immediately, I realized I have it pretty good 😉

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    • Clearly Lily is refined in her tastes, seeing her poop as she sees a fine wine, better with age. 🙂 And Ollie is a cat poop connoisseur as well..thank goodness for baby gates!

      I feel so much better about Nina’s unsavory tastes now. Foster Flashback Friday is so cathartic!

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  2. I cried when my first foster–whom I had only one night–walked away with his new mom at the adoption event. I had put so much planning and effort and preparation into finally having a foster, and I immediately fell for him, that I ready to spend weeks with him. And then off he went to live a good life, and I was left alone at the adoption event, unsure of what to do if I wasn’t holding a leash. So, I left and went to Kmart to purchase a new rug to replace the one that would NEVER get clean, no matter how many bottles of Nature’s Miracle I sprayed on it.

    I don’t think I’ve since cried when any fosters have found their homes. I guess you’re always moved by the first one, no matter how long it stay with you.

    Poop eating! Oh boy. It’s my favorite Skylar story! When we were walking past all the kennels at WARL, we saw this 10-mo-old Shep mix named Screech. Adorable little thing, crouched down and hunched over. “AW, she’s pooping,” I said. “Totally normal and natural.” And then she and equally adorable little kennel mate dove in for their noms. Dave and I watched, horrified. She was one of our finalists, and we knew we wanted to take her out to the dog run to see if she was “the one.” But we knew that’d mean she’d jump on and try to lick us. And we knew where that mouth had been. We stood there for what seemed like a long time, but was only a minute or two. “Let’s do it. Let’s pretend we never saw that, and let’s play with her.” She licked our faces and wiggled her butt and pranced. In the moment, we forgot about what we had witnessed her do; we were so in love with her.

    On the way home, I used my phone to google “dogs eating poop” and learned it’s normal, especially in a kennel or shelter. She did it once more after we brought her home and before she was house trained (that we know of). I’m grateful for that, even though I sometimes wonder if she daydreams about being able to chomp into it again, like a former cigarette smoker would love to have just one more drag.

    Maybe poop eating and other gross things (rolling in poop, dead things. ew.) help us to remember that dogs do weird things and they are definitely not people.

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