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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Operation: Adopt Nala

“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”

In the world of rescue, there are certain dogs who touch your heart in such a way that your heart just wants so badly to find that forever home they deserve. One such dog who has been touching hearts for some time is Nala.

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Nala was rescued from a rural shelter in 2013 and has been living in foster care with my good friend Cathy for one year as of today. When Nala first arrived she was incredibly fearful of the world around her, but the safe haven of a loving foster home has been a wonderful gift for this beautiful young lady, who has begun to learn the world is full of good and has really blossomed in Cathy’s care. I’ve had the joy of spending some time with Nala and helping her practice getting comfortable around strangers in the home, and also have gotten to see her work at doggy school when I would take Ollie in for classes.

Much of the last year has been spent getting Nala really and truly ready to go to her forever home, and her foster mom knows the time has now come to find happy ever after. Although Cathy loves Nala to pieces, she knows that hers is not the right fit forever home. Having put so much time into Nala’s training and confidence building, Cathy feels confident that Nala is now ready to transition into her life with her new adoptive family. I couldn’t agree more, and hope you will help us in spreading the word about this truly special soul so she can find them.

Nala has been attending adoption events through her sponsoring rescue, Rural Dog Rescue in Washington, DC, but as you might guess, adoption events are kind of hard for shy dogs like Nala to put their best paw forward. So a few weeks ago,  I had the pleasure of practicing my amateur photography skills as part of an adoption video Cathy made for Nala.  This video allows would-be adopters to see the Nala they don’t get to see at events, and Cathy did a beautiful job highlighting Nala’s skills, playful nature, and sweet disposition. And if you watch closely, you’ll notice a certain semi-celebridog who came along for play date fun during filming to make a cameo and credit appearance.

Please share Nala’s video far and wide, and help Cathy in her mission to get Nala adopted – she’s waited oh so patiently for forever and deserves it more than any dog I know!

To learn more on how to adopt Nala, check out her adoption bio or email her foster mom at cathyruraldog@gmail.com.  All of us on Team Nala thank you for your support and for reporting for duty on this very important operation!

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There’s Something About Mary…

Today’s edition of Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups interrupts its own regular programming to bring your attention to one of Lucky Dog’s other pups, who I had the extreme pleasure of spending some time with yesterday afternoon. Mary is a 2 year old American Bulldog/Boxer mix (or at least that’s what we think) who is pretty much the cutest little short n’ stocky sweetie pie ever to grace this earth. If it isn’t already blatantly obvious, I fell in love with her in just a few hours, and seriously contemplated stealing her and moving her in with me…even selfishly doing a secret foster swap and sending Balton to Wagtime Too, where Mary is staying, and hoping no one would really know the difference. But, since they look and act nothing like each other, I quickly determined this plan would fail, so decided instead to make the most of our Sunday afternoon together before bringing her back to boarding. And then decided to tell you all about our time together and how absolutely wonderful she is.

Mary and I went out to represent Lucky Dog Animal Rescue yesterday while talking to an incredible group of kids (and their parents!) at Kidserve in Gaithersburg, MD. We were invited to speak to Kidserve about what Animal Rescue does and how people can show their support by fostering or volunteering. Mary was a great little Lucky Dog ambassador for this activity because she loves children, and she was happy to accompany me because she got to leave yesterday’s adoption event an hour early. She was getting a little toasty on the sidewalk trying to compete with 60 other Lucky Dogs for attention, including our new arrivals from shelter partner the Florence Area Humane Society.

ImageStaying cool in 70 degree weather and this pretty dark chocolate coat is not easy!

So, off Mary and I went to the Kentlands Clubhouse, where she and I beat the heat and got to hang into the Air Conditioning for a little while and give our presentation. Image

Mary told the kids how she gave birth to her litter of 10 puppies in a South Carolina shelter, and all her puppies had since been adopted. We talked about how Lucky Dog has boarding partners like Wagtime, the doggy daycare place where she was staying. We also talked about how people can foster full time or overnight/short-term, so it’s a volunteer commitment that can work with just about any schedule (our friend, and fellow Lucky Dog Blogger, Katie, explains the difference quite nicely in her blog Of Barks and Bones). Finally, we talked about how Mary herself would love to move from her boarding situation to a foster home while she looks for her ultimate landing pad of a forever home.

Mary was a big hit among the kids, and dutifully met her all her speaking engagement obligations by giving each of them tail waggles when they came to say hi to her, soaking up rays on the terrace, and graciously allowing each of them the opportunity to give her belly rubs.

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On our way home, we stopped for a short walk so she could get some “me time” (and I could get some “Mary and me time”). While out, we stopped to take in the afternoon sunshine and cooling breeze, sniff some flowers, sit in some grass, and so Mary could go potty. Then, I taught her how to drive a car. Or, at least sit in the drivers seat and pose adorably.

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Mary is super low key and remarkably well behaved in busy settings, and on leash. While out on our walk, she came nose to nose with a giant Newfoundland and was exceptionally polite. And, after our short walk, she was definitely ready to curl up and snooze in the car for the rest of the ride back to DC. If you’re looking for a dog who doesn’t need tons and tons of exercise, she is your girl. Mary is, well, an absolutely delightful little lamb, if you will. I would love nothing more than to see this puppy crossed with potbelly pig (I mean that with all the love in my heart!) go to a home that will allow her to be the super snuggle buddy and happy love bug that she is. And so I can stop pining over her and wishing I could adopt her myself.

For more information on adopting or fostering Mare Bear, check out her bio at http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/25238779 or email my friend (and Mary’s Adoption Coordinator) Holly at hollyc@luckydoganimalrescue.org


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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Awesome indeed.

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