I love to play fetch.  I grew up with dogs that loved to play fetch.  My dogs do not love to play fetch.  I was excited when I thought, for about 5 minutes, Dash was going to play fetch with me.  Nope!  We had a few successful throws but very quickly Dash realized it was much more fun to just chew on the stick.  Or the pine cone:

Oh well, I’m happy to have a happy dog!

Kong’s rule, other toys drool.

Ok, so other toys don’t really drool but Kong’s have taken over as a favorite in my house.  I never bought them in the past (because, well, I’m cheap) but I decided to when I found out I was getting a foster puppy.  I spent some time reading up on all the things that I hadn’t had to deal with in years, like potty training and crate training, and noticed that everyone was raving about Kong’s and how helpful they are with crate training.  I decided it was worth it to invest in some (I couldn’t just get one for the puppy, that would be mean!) and I have been so glad that I did.

Every morning I fill the Kong’s with some peanut butter and a little bit of food then stick it in the freezer until it’s time for me to leave.  I have red Kong’s for my two dogs and then a greenish one for Dash.  As soon as he sees me pull the Kong out of the freezer he goes and runs to his crate.

The first few days that I had him I would leave little treats in the crate so that when he wandered by he would find them and it would be a positive “surprise”.  Teaching your puppy that the crate is his special place is very important, you don’t want them to have any negative feeling towards the crate because it will make training them much more difficult and an all around negative experience for both of you.  Never, ever, ever use the crate for punishment.

I also feed Dash all of his meals in his crate and as soon as he sees me get his food out he runs right to it.  Every time he gets all four feet in the crate I say “kennel” and “good boy”.  He now knows that even if I don’t have food or his Kong, if I say “kennel” it means that he needs to get in his crate.  I’m not sure why I call it a “kennel” to him and “crate” when talking to other people but I suppose that’s beside the point.

Ultimately, I am really happy with my decision to buy the Kong’s–they are not only a great toy that is fun and mentally stimulating for the pups but they really have helped with the crate training process.  Do you have any crate training tips?  Comment and share them with me!

No more medicines!

I am happy to report that today Dash had his last dose of medicine for the yucky Coccidia.  Granted, he seemed perfectly healthy after a couple of days (just like the vet said he would) but still, it’s nice to know that he is definitely past that.

Making sure that Dash is perfectly healthy is important because, obviously I want all dogs to be happy and healthy, but also because I want to be able to say with 100% confidence to anyone that may be interested in adopting him that he is healthy and good to go.  For some people the prospect of just getting a dog is scary enough but they can’t even fathom dealing with a dog with any sort of illness.  Now, even though Coccidia really wasn’t a big deal at all (I literally just gave him one pill a day for 10 days) it sounds intimidating and when I mentioned it to some people I noticed that they seemed less interested.  So, in conclusion: healthy dog = more adoptable dog!

How would you react if you were interested in adopting a dog but learned that he had an illness (serious or minor)?  Comment and let me know!

Time for a vet visit

Monday (the 16th–yes, I’m still catching up) was an important day because Dash had his first ever vet visit!  Of course he had worms, which is totally not a big deal and easily treated, but he also had a parasite called Coccidia.  Since I’m new to the whole fostering thing I wanted to ask the vet a few questions and she was nice enough to sit and answer all of them.

I knew it was important to walk my dogs in a different area than Dash and to immediately pick up all of his waste so that other dogs couldn’t get into it.  I also was assuming that since my dogs were completely up to date on all their shots they shouldn’t be susceptible to anything as long as they weren’t like eating any of his waste or anything.

Well, I was wrong.  Foster fail #1:  my dogs were still completely susceptible to kennel cough!  Yikes–I probably should have know that!  Turns out vaccines don’t protect against this and you really should quarantine all dogs that come out of shelters for about 10 days since this is the incubation period for kennel cough.  Since it was clearly too late for that the vet said I should just keep a close eye (and ear) out for any of the signs like: coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.  If any of them were to show these tell tail signs (which they still haven’t, knock on wood) I would just need to bring them in and get them started on medicine.  Crisis avoided but I will be filing that little tidbit of knowledge away for next time.

So what’s this Coccidia thing all about?  I haven’t ever heard of that?  Turns out it’s a nasty little parasite that lives in the intestinal tract of animals and was responsible for poor Dash’s upset tummy.  Luckily they are easy to treat and the vet said that within 36 hours of starting medicine he should be right as rain.  She also told me that I kind of wrong and kind of right about walking my dogs in a different area than Dash.  I thought I needed to do this so avoid them catching tape worms but it turns out those are not contagious and I actually didn’t have that much to worry about.  HOWEVER, Coccidia is highly contagious so she said it was a good thing I had been walking them in different areas.  Within a couple of days the vet said it would be safe to start walking them together but to continue immediately picking up after them.

Ok, I think I’m done with the gross stuff.  Sure enough, within a couple of days I could tell Dash felt 764,325,598 times better.  Now I call that a foster win!

Dash gets a name!

Gosh, I guess I spoiled that surprise.  Dash sure seems to think I’m funny though, look at him laughing!  Isn’t he a doll?  Originally he was called Sonic by the “shelter” workers but we just didn’t really like that (and wanted to get rid of all reminders of his not-so-great past) so we started brainstorming ideas and Rich came up with Dash.  It’s pretty perfect for his little personality so it was settled–Dash he is.  And isn’t he dashing?  Ok, sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Over the weekend Dash got to meet my pups and continue adjusting to life in a real home. I loved seeing him come out of his shell and learn more about his personality.  He really is a lover and wants to be right by you–except when he is sleeping.  Sometimes he wants to cuddle and sleep next to you but more often than not he would go flop down on the other couch to catch his zzz’s.

He’s Here!

Ok, ok, so really I’ve had him since Saturday the 14th but I’m trying to do this in order, remember?  So, I got the call from A, the founder of the rescue, that the puppy was getting into town and they were going to be bringing him to my house shortly.  He had been transported to Tallahassee from a “shelter” in a very small town about an hour away.  You noticed the “”‘s around the word shelter didn’t you?  Well that’s a story I’ll save for another day but for now let’s just say it isn’t a very nice place.

As A was nearing my house she called to give me a head’s up that the poor little guy was pretty scared and hadn’t handled the ride very well.  Originally we were planning on introducing him right away to my dogs but we decided that since he was already pretty shaken up we would let him have the day to settle in before introducing them.  Fortunately my awesome boyfriend Rich (who you will certainly hear tons about–he’s my biggest supporter and helper) stepped right up and said he would be happy to hangout with our dogs so that the new guy could have some quiet time to adjust and calm down.

Once A got to my house we brought the little puppy in and decided that the first order of business was a bath.  Because he was so scared from the ride, and had some of the usual worms that you can expect from most formerly stray or shelter dogs, he had quite an upset tummy and had had an accident on the ride over.  We wanted to get him cleaned up and also get rid of the fleas on him so he would feel better.

For those of you that don’t already know this: Dawn dish soap works wonders!  All you have to do is suds your dog up, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and all the fleas will be dead.  Seriously, stop wasting your money on those expensive flea treatments, I promise you, this works better!  Now, that it not to say you shouldn’t use the preventative stuff, because you most certainly should, this is just a great way to treat a problem that already exists.  And now that I have completely gotten sidetracked, let’s get back to the puppy.

So where were we?  Right, bath time.  Now that I had a clean, and obviously already happier puppy, A took off and left me and the little guy to get to know each other.  He was all tuckered out so we pretty much spent the rest of the day snuggling on the couch.  It was so obvious that he was relieved to be in a real home with someone to love on him.  This guy was already a love bug and super snuggler!

And it begins…

So, I intended to start this blog before I actually got a foster dog but, well, life happened and I didn’t get around to it.  Since my entire purpose for this blog is to encourage others to foster too I figure I should start at the beginning anways (even if it’s already happened).  Here goes:

After sending in the application to foster, and waiting very anxiously for a reply, I got an email asking if I would be interested in fostering a little puppy that only had a few days left at the shelter before he was scheduled to be put down.  The president of the rescue that I am working with was worried because the puppy was a male and I said on my application that I would prefer females (one of my dogs, Buddy, has a bit of the “I’m-a-big-shot-alpha-male” thing going on and generally prefers females).  I knew that Buddy would be fine with such a young dog so I immediately said ‘yes’!

I was going to get my first foster dog that Saturday and I realized I needed a few things before my house was really “puppy ready” so I made a list and headed to the store.  Of course I would need puppy food, more toys, training treats, and by far the most important: a crate.  Having a crate is essential to house-training and many dogs still like to hang out in them even once they are older and have free reign of the house (which is the case with my two dogs).  I could have gotten all of this stuff for free from the rescue that I am working with but I decided since I can afford it I would rather buy these items myself (yay tax deduction) so that the rescue could give them to someone who couldn’t afford them.

The night before the puppy was scheduled to arrive we set all the stuff up in the house and had a serious talk with the dogs.  Afterall, they were going to be big foster brothers and sisters to the puppy and it was important that they understood that they needed to be on their best behavior!  This puppy was going to be learning a lot from them and I wanted to make sure that he learned as many good manners as possible so that he could find a forever home fast.

All that was left was to wait!

Just a little disclaimer

In no way do I claim to be an expert–on anything.  While I have grown up with dogs, and like to consider myself somewhat knowledgeable in all things dog related, I have no official training of any sort–so please, don’t take me too seriously.  This blog is solely intended to share my experiences as a foster mom to dogs in need and hopefully encourage others to consider doing the same.  Remember, when you agree to foster a dog you are really saving two lives.  Not only the dog you are bringing into your home and loving but also the life of a dog that might otherwise not have had a space in the shelter.  So, join me on the journey to save some lives!