We’ve now had Tulip and Trillium, my little beach baby foster puppies from St Thomas, USVI, almost 6 weeks. People who meet them for the first time feel sad, and worry about how far they have to go yet. But folks who have seen them more than once marvel at the transformation!
They have had lots of doggy exposure. We have had several canine houseguests: Ginger, a mini doodle, stayed with us for a week. She was more unsure of the pups than they were of her, but after a few days it was crazy play time!
A few days later, dog-in-law Monte, and former foster Lyle, both large goldendoodles, had a 36 hour playdate. When Lyle the Wild came charging into the house (he’s just a year old), T and T screamed in terror and peed everywhere. Three hours later, they were best buds.
Lyle and Trillium had what can only be called a connection. In fact, they were so keen on each other they made everyone else feel uncomfortable. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing they are both fixed. Those would’ve been some weird looking puppies!
While they still aren’t cuddly lap dogs, we can get some good scratches and pets in. Trillium especially will allow belly rubs. We think she is more used to being held, as we had to give her eye drops twice a day for a minor eye infection. After a few days of chasing her about, she gave up and let us pick her up. We made sure to give lots of lovies when we did it, and rewarded her with whipped cream when done. So now she is more likely to allow contact, even if she isn’t always relaxed. We decided to start “force” cuddling Tulip more, to see if we can convince her that human contact is a good thing. Hopefully in a few days she will be better about it. But right now she cowers with terror, and we have to really make it worth her while (lots of ear scratches, belly rubs, and cheese).
On the training front, we are spending more time outside. They love being there, but hate getting there (ie: being leashed and carried outside). They need to start recognizing that the reward is greater than the punishment, lol. Many dogs are skittish on leashes, especially at the beginning. I don’t want to force too much, as I don’t want to create future leash aggression issues. So as much as I’d like to take them for a walk, I don’t think they are there yet.
In the meantime, we have had several meet and greets. All guests are handed a baggy of kibble to toss around like breadcrumbs for pigeons. The first time someone came to the house, they barked insanely and it took a really long time for them to accept the human. But each time someone comes over, the pups take less and less time to warm up to them. Mind you, they aren’t coming up to visitors for physical contact, but they will take food out of patient hands!
I had two good adopters back out. One family’s circumstances changed during the process, and they weren’t going to be able to give Tulip the time she needs and deserves. Trillium’s withdrew when they realized that their busy city neighborhood would likely be too much for a shy dog. She has another good prospect, who has now visited twice, once with their dog. Monday I will visit their home with Trillium to see how the pup does with a strange dog on her turf. I assume Trillium will cower in a corner, and probably pee a little, lol.
Tulip has two good options right now. Like with Trillium, we did first visits at my house with no dogs. Last night, the first couple brought their scruff-muffin, Weasley, over for a how-do-you-do butt sniff. Weasley was more interested in checking out our yard than playing with the dogs, but that’s ok. I’d rather have a dog that ignores Tulip than one who charges up with even friendly enthusiasm. Tonight we are meeting the second adopter, who is bringing her dog Daisy. If this one goes well, I have to decide if I want to do round 3 with both or just one. I havean on paper preference right now, but need to see how the dogs do before I proceed.
Until decision day, we have a routine.
Their days are full of naps,
and more naps.
Keep your paws crossed that I will be posting an “adoption pending” pupdate soon!
A wonderful friend recently asked me to write a blog for her company’s website. Christie has an amazing clothing line, Sun 50, that is not only fashionable and fun, it can save lives, as it is all created to save your skin from sun damage.
As the website states, “We created this company to bring hope and wellness into people’s lives.” Clearly, it has a spiritual connection with animal rescue.
I enjoyed writing about a subject that I am passionate about — just like Christie’s passionate for lookin’ fab and being safe at the beach!
After she published the blog, I decided to reprint it here, adding a bit more detail.
Perhaps you’ve realized you will be home more than usual this winter and you may be thinking, “now is THE perfect time to add a fur friend to my family.” After all, dogs have been known to cure loneliness, increase your opportunity to be outside, exercise and socialize, from a six-foot distance of course! (although, TBH, dogs don’t go in much for the social distance thing. I mean, how do you get in a good butt sniff from 6 feet away?)
So how do you start?
First of all, figure out the best dog addition for your lifestyle and be honest with yourself.
BREED: Are you looking for a running partner or a couch potato? A brewpub mate, boater, or road trip dog? Visit dog parks and ask the owner questions or just observe. Visit websites like Secondhand Hounds or Petfinder to see what’s available in your area. Research breeds of interest so you know what to expect in terms of training, health concerns, behavior, longevity, shedding, etc.
AGE: Are you ready to invest 10-20 years into this relationship? Or are you thinking 3-5 years is plenty of time? This will help you decide puppy vs older dog, and help narrow down breeds (small dogs statistically live longer than large breeds).
FINANCES: The adoption fee is just the beginning, folks. When you adopt from us, that fee includes spaying/neutering, microchipping, vaccinations, vet care, and any training/socializing we can do. Be sure to review the fees for agencies in your area.
When you get them home, add in food, medical care (routine and the inevitable emergency or illness), training, vacation expenses (whether they go with you or stay behind), etc. It adds up quickly. If you are worried about money, do not adopt breeds prone to expensive health issues, like bulldogs or Great Danes.
How new is your carpet? Do you like to leave shoes around? Does your toddler drop lots of food? How will you react when your puppy pees n your couch or the kitty uses it for a scratching post? These things happen. And it can get expensive — fast.
YOUR TIME: Puppies require a ton of work on their schedule, not yours. Not a fan of midnight walks in the snow? Don’t get a puppy. On average, it will take a dog up to a year to house train. All dogs require time in training, no matter their breed or age. It can take time for an animal to acclimate to life in your home, and if you can’t take it slowly, maybe you shouldn’t take the plunge.
OTHER PETS: do you have any other fur friends at home? How do they feel about adding to the family? We insist that all our dogs meet any other dogs they might live with. They don’t have to have an instant connection, although that can happen. But if they dislike each other immediately, that’s not a great sign. And don’t get a puppy to bring life to your old dog. That’s not fair: most older dogs would like to chill out, not defend themselves against puppy teeth and enthusiasm. Got a kitty? Is it used to dogs? If not, make sure you get a dog that is cat savvy (we can emp test our dogs), or is a puppy who you can train diligently to be respectful. Make sure that your current animals have a way to escape the new ones if they need a break. Bottom line: if you are applying to adopt one of my fosters, I will tell you to put your current animal’s needs and desires first.
WHERE YOU LIVE: are you a neat freak? A sneezer? Dogs and cats bring saliva, dander, hairballs, muddy pawprints, poop. I know folks with allergies focus on certain breeds, and they can be better. Some breeds shed less, but all animals shed in some way. Don’t write a dog off until you meet it — and don’t assume a certain breed will mean no sneezes.
Is your yard fenced? If not, are you ready to take your dog out on a leash every time it needs to go out? Electric fences are controversial — they work for some dogs, but not all. Where will the pet sleep? Is everyone on teh same page for rules? How about training — everyone should attend training classes so you are on the same page. If mom says no to jumping up on guests, but dad greets the dog every evening with an “up, up” commnad, dogs can be confused. Dogs pretty much understand “always” and “never.” “Sometimes” is anarchy.
I have found that most adoption returns happen because the adopters weren’t honest with themselves about who they are and what they were willing to take on. It is awful when returns happen: the adopters feel guilty, the dogs feel guilty, and the foster who made the connection often feels guilt as well. So please: make sure you are picking the dog whose age/size.breed works best for you and your family.
Oh — and can I make a suggestion on what NOT to do?
Don’t give a pet as a gift.
I know it looks cute on commercials, but it is a living being. When we have folks that want to do this, we first have the “gift giver” get approved, then we recommend a surprise meet and greet. Make it a “date” if it’s for your significant other — maybe you bring them to meet a dog just to see what it’s like. Or you arrange something with the adopter — like a “chance” encounter at a park. Make sure the animal clicks for them (and the dog likes them back!). If you choose a chocolate lab, and it turns out your significant other always wanted a pit bull, you can’t exchange it like a sweater that’s the wrong color.
Ready to make the move? Patience, Grasshopper. Right now, EVERYONE wants a pet. The pandemic good news for rescues all over the country is that dogs and cats are finding homes at unprecedented rates.
The bad news for adopters? Adoption is suddenly insanely competitive. For every puppy on our website, we receive dozens, or even hundreds, of applications. But please do not give up hope!
Here are some adoption tip highlights and recommendations for you:
- Read the bio and listen to what it says. If the bio says “no kids,” and you have triplets, don’t apply. If it says “must be in a home with other dogs,” and you don’t have one, move on.
- Apply quickly. Do not wait for your significant other’s opinion. Apply, THEN tell them what you have done. You are not obligated to adopt the animal, but it’s the only way to talk with the foster and learn more about the animal (our animals all live in foster homes).
- BE FLEXIBLE. If you insist on only wanting a 5-pound, blue eyed female fluffy white thing under 10 weeks old, you just made your quest exponentially harder. The more flexible you are, the more likely you are to get the right pet.
- Insist on something “designer” or “trendy” (like a Frenchie)? Become a foster. SHH Fosters chose the animal(s) they foster, decide who adopts them and get “first dibs” on their foster if they “fall in love.”
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Why adopt rather than buy from a breeder? You are saving lives! According to ASPCA, about 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. While that number is sickeningly staggering ( that’s more than 4,100 per day, or 171 per HOUR), that number is down from 2.6million each year in 2011, thanks in large part to rescues and shelters promoting spay, neuter and adopt don’t shop.
Additionally, with a foster based rescue, the foster knows the animals from heath to behavioral quirks and is motivated to facilitate the best match for you and each fur friend. It is also VERY difficult to tell if a breeder is an ethical and responsible animal lover, or just a puppy mill solely interested in profits.
It’s also waaaay less expensive. At Secondhand Hounds, our animal adoption fees range from $100 for an older cat to $1000 for a purebred, highly desirable breed puppy. For that fee, you get way more than “just” the animal itself:
“Secondhand Hounds charges an adoption fee to adopt through our rescue. … Adoption fees include the cost of spay/neuter surgery, microchip, de-worming, flea/tick preventative, heartworm test (for dogs and puppies over nine months), feLeuk/FIV test for cats and kittens, and age-appropriate rabies/distemper vaccinations. By paying this adoption fee, you are not only adopting your new best friend, but you are also allowing us to save more lives.”
Let me be clear: SHH is NOT anti-breeder. We are anti-bad breeder.
A responsible breeder has a waitlist and never has puppies waiting for adoption. A responsible breeder screens their animals for illnesses and does not breed litters with genetic issues. A responsible breeder will allow you to meet the parents, visit their facility and ask questions. If the breeder does not meet the above criteria, walk away.
Bringing a fur friend into your home is a major decision with lifelong reward. While the adoption process may take a bit longer these days, I encourage you to throw your application in. Your decision to do so will save a life — and might even be yours. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have — and please share pics of your rescue dog or cat!