Category Archives: Josie

Ketchup!

Last night I had a dream that I was competing some championship swim meet. I was up on the starting block pulling my goggles down over my eyes when it suddenly hit me that I haven’t done this since high school – what am I doing here? I’m not prepared for this! I won’t mention just how long ago high school was – or how long it’s been since I’ve been in a pool for that matter – but I think that dream was a metaphor for the chaos that has been my life lately.

Yes, I’ve been busy, as is probably evident by my lack of blogging. Actually, busy is an understatement. But most of the things that have been keeping me busy are great blog fodder, so my New Year’s resolution is to blog more. You like how I’m just now getting around to making my New Year’s resolutions and it’s almost February? Welcome to my world.

In addition to being busy at work (yes, I do have a day job – despite the fact that I would much rather spend all my time rescuing dogs, that doesn’t pay the bills), my involvement with rescue has pretty much occupied any remaining time outside of work. I’m cranking up the mileage on the car running transports and doing meet and greets, running up the minutes on my phone screening potential adopters and staying up late almost every night answering emails. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I fear this post is going to get quite long, so I’m going to break it out into chapters with big bold headlines so you can skip anything you’re not interested in….

Chapter 1: Update on the bust dogs

What an emotional roller coaster that situation was. It really opened my eyes to the horrors of dog fighting in a very personal way. Of course I have always thought dog fighting was terrible, and if the Philadelphia Eagles ever come to play the Seahawks, you know I’ll be the first one outside the stadium letting Vick know exactly what I think. But getting to know so many of the bust dogs, knowing very well many of them would never be adopted, really hit me hard. I fell head over heels in love with so many of those sweet souls, and in the end, we were only able to save 4 out of the 22.

That sounds like a terrible outcome – and in many ways it was – but the important thing to realize is that those are 4 dogs that would never have been saved if we hadn’t stepped in. Pierce County has never before even evaluated fight dogs – they were always held as evidence until the trial and then destroyed. And it’s not that the other dogs were vicious. They were just broken. Broken by human hands, through no fault of their own. I hate people sometimes.

The hardest part of the situation was knowing that many could be rehabilitated, if only we had the resources. But the shelter where they were being held probably puts down 10-20 healthy, adoptable pit bulls every week, since we are a small group and can only save as many dogs as we have foster homes for. Sure, we could have taken in more fight dogs and spent 2 years rehabilitating them to ready them for adoption, but how many “regular” pit bulls could we have saved during that time? Unfortunately the dark side of rescue is that it’s often a numbers game, and you have to weigh which option has the best odds. It’s really hard, because it’s often the sad cases that really tug at your heartstrings.

I still want to cry when I think of all those sweet dogs who are no longer with us, but it helps to know that even though they spent the last few months of their life in a shelter, it truly was heaven to them. They were inside, and they had nice people stopping by to give them treats and love on them every day – compared to their previous lives of being chained up outside in the cold, forced to fight each other in hopes of pleasing a master who never showed them the approval or affection they craved. For their last meal, they all got cheeseburgers. I like to think they left this world happier than they ever had been in their lives.

But you have to focus on the positive in this line of work, or you’ll go crazy. So to end this chapter on a positive note, here’s a link where you can follow the progress of the survivors. They are doing great!

Chapter 2: Foster #2: Gracie Lou Who!

At the beginning of this month, we unexpectedly ended up with our second foster dog. We were technically supposed to be on a foster hiatus, as the hubby wasn’t quite ready to foster again, but one of our previously adopted dogs came back to us and we had nowhere else for her to go. So after much begging and pleading with the hubs, we took in Gracie. We had two good leads on her for permanent homes anyway, so I convinced the mister it would probably only be for a few days.

Gracie was an absolute doll, and I quickly fell hard for her. Unfortunately, my boy Stewie did not. Thus, we were quickly introduced to the world of crating and rotating. Let me tell you, I have tremendous respect for people who have been forced to crate and rotate as a way of life, and make it work. It’s exhausting! (Mental note: crating and rotating would make a great future blog post)

Gracie’s presence with us really tested my emotions. The fact that I had to pretty much force my husband to even take her in in the first place, coupled with the fact that we had to keep her separated from Stewie created a lot of tension in our home. When the first adoption lead fell through, I was heartbroken. I was so sure it was going to be a good match. So I convinced the hubs that it would only be another week with her while I worked on the second lead. The next weekend, the second meet and greet went really well so we tentatively planned to send her on a trial run starting the following weekend (me to hubby: “okay, just one more week”). About halfway through that week, though, the adopter got cold feet.

Crap, now what?

I had already pushed my luck with the hubs, and if I wasn’t careful, I’d turn him off to ever fostering again. But with no other adoption leads in sight and nowhere else for Gracie to go, we were at a loss. The reality of the situation is, we can only save as many dogs as we have foster homes for, so if we don’t have a foster home for Gracie… I didn’t even want to think about that.

You see, Gracie had already cheated death once before. In fact, Gracie is the very reason our rescue formed a partnership with one of our local shelters. That particular shelter had a “no pit bull” adoption policy. Not because they thought they were inherently vicious, but because they were so hard to adopt out and they were already a high-volume shelter. Gracie was found as a stray and taken to that shelter a little over a year ago. She was actually on the euthanasia table, and the shelter worker flat-out refused to put her down. She was just too nice of a dog. So he called up the board and told them if they wanted this dog euthanized, they would have to come down and do it themselves. That sparked a discussion with our rescue, and they worked out a program where any pit bulls they received would be evaluated by us and taken into our program if there was room. They would still spend their days at the shelter to get exposure to the public, but would go home with foster families at night to learn manners and sleep on a warm bed. All applications would be handled through our rescue, not the shelter, so we could adequately screen them.

Long story short, Gracie had come too far and been through too much for it to end now. So I called up the adopter with the cold feet and talked to her about why she had changed her mind. She said she was in love with Gracie, but she was worried about how her cat would do with her in the house. After reassuring her that Gracie had lived with cats before and would probably be fine, we agreed to do a week-long trial run. I am happy to report the adoption was finalized last weekend! Gracie did awesome with the cat (as I knew she would), and everyone seems really happy.

I will end this chapter with a few photos of sweet Gracie, AKA Gracie Lou Who, AKA Gracie Lou Freebush (Miss Congeniality reference).

Chapter 3: Josie Update

Speaking of foster dogs, remember that super cute blue brindle puppy I had for a while? Well, that “puppy” is now a year old and about 70 lbs! That means she’s bigger than my Stewie. To put that in perspective, here’s a picture of her when we first got her, next to Stewie:

And here’s a picture of her now:

Look at the size of that head! Such a pretty girl, still. She is just thriving in her home, and I love that I get frequent updates on her. I love that “little” girl, and she is a big reason I do what I do.

Chapter 4: “The Kids”

As swept up in the rescue stuff as I get, I can’t forget my own two dogs! Maggie and Stewie are doing great. Stewie still chases his tail on occasion, but we seem to be able to manage it for the most part.

Having been through the crating and rotating phase when Gracie was with us also made me realize how good I have it, and what a perfect match Maggie and Stewie are for one another. Dogs are funny – like people, sometimes they just “click,” and sometimes they just don’t like each other for whatever reason. Maggie and Stewie are like soul mates. They bring out the best in each other. Maggie was really shy around other dogs before we got Stewie, and she has really come out of her shell in the last couple years. Stewie can be a bit of a butt head around other dogs sometimes, but he totally looks up to Maggie and does whatever his “big sister” says.

Sometimes I get applicants on our rescue dogs who are set on one particular dog and don’t like to hear me tell them it won’t be a good match for their family. But I really wish they’d just trust me. When you have a multi-dog household – especially with pit bulls – having the *right* match makes all the difference in the world!

They are lazy and like to wrestle laying down

Best friends

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Filed under Humans, Josie, Maggie, Misc., Rescue, Stewie, Training/Behavior

Update…

I have not been very good about keeping up with this blog lately. So, here’s sort of a mashup of what’s been going on in my life…

Josie is doing great in her new home. My cousin and her husband have been sending pictures and keeping me updated, and it’s so great to know she’s doing well. I am thrilled that it worked out that I got to keep her in the family. Here are a few pictures – she and her big brother Moses are just the best of buds!

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In other exciting news: I was just voted onto the board of directors for our local pit bull rescue! I have been volunteering with this rescue for about a year and a half now, and have slowly been getting more and more involved. I’ve been very impressed with the rescue and consider it a huge honor to have been asked in the first place. As a board member I’ll become more involved with the events and media outreach I’ve already been doing, and will also start doing some of the adopter screening and dog evaluations.

This past weekend I went to hear Donna Reynolds, the co-founder of BAD RAP, speak at the Pacific Northwest Animal Care and Control conference. What an amazing experience. First of all, BAD RAP is pretty much the holy grail of pit bull rescue (they are the ones responsible for saving all the Michael Vick dogs). Donna shared some amazing stories about programs they’ve implemented and partnerships they’ve formed, and then everyone broke out into groups to talk about the problems pit bulls are facing today, what our main goals are for improving these problems, and how we plan to get there. Though there were a lot of different points of view in the room and at times we didn’t all agree (the group consisted of private rescues, shelters, trainers and animal control, to name a few groups), it was really interesting to hear everyone’s perspectives. We were also able to share quite a bit about what our rescue has been doing, and I think there are a lot of ways that we can help these other animal organizations through partnerships. At the end of the session, Donna actually told us how great she thinks our rescue is – which was a huge compliment, considering the source! We’ve certainly modeled a lot of our programs after the success that BAD RAP has seen, and to receive that recognition was quite an honor.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…  Stewie’s tail chasing has been improving. Ironically, the day I called in the prescription for his medication was the day he quit chasing his tail in his crate. He still does it occasionally – mostly in the mornings when I’m getting ready for work. But the crate thing was the biggest issue since we couldn’t stop him from hurting himself. At least when we’re home and he does it, we can physically stop him from spinning and/or redirect him to a bone or toy. I think we’ll hold off on the meds for now, but it’s nice to know we have access to them, should we get to a point where he needs them again.

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ADOPTED!

It’s official – woohoo!

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Josie’s adoption: take two.

On Saturday, we dropped Josie off for her second trial adoption run, after the first one didn’t work out.  I have always believed things happen for a reason, and I hope the way things have panned out have just been fate’s way of stepping in.

You see, the weekend before Josie went on her first trial run, we had gotten together at our lake cabin with some family, and my cousin and her husband had totally fallen in love with Josie. At the time, we had no reason to believe her trial adoption wouldn’t work out, so we didn’t even really discuss the possibility of them adopting her. Well, fast forward two weeks – when they found out Josie came back to us for separation anxiety issues, my cousin’s husband emailed me to tell me they were interested and were filling out an application. Yay! It sounds like a perfect home for her – my cousin is a stay-at-home-mom, and they have another dog whom Josie has met and gets along with. Really an ideal situation, because not only will Josie have someone home with her most of the time, but even when the humans are out, she’ll have a “brother” to keep her company. My cousin’s kids are really great, too. They have an obvious bond with their current dog and everyone is really excited about possibly adding Josie to the family. Of course, on a more selfish note, I’m just excited that Josie would get to stay “in the family” and that I’d get to see her again!

The adoption coordinator and I spent a good couple hours at their home on Saturday answering questions, observing Josie playing with their current dog (they went nuts!), and explaining Josie’s separation issues. They’re fully prepared to deal with it and work on it, and I just have a really good feeling about all of this.

They are planning to do a week-long trial run, so we should know by Saturday whether the adoption will be made official.

Fingers, toes and paws crossed!

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She’s back :(

Our foster puppy, Josie, went for her trial run about a week and a half ago, and unfortunately it wasn’t the right match. So she’s coming back to us tonight. I’m completely heartbroken that it didn’t work out, and I know the people who were going to adopt her are too. But, this is exactly why we do trial runs – sometimes it just isn’t the right match.

It seems as though Josie developed pretty bad separation anxiety during her trial run. Whenever she was left alone, she would completely scream bloody murder in her crate… for hours on end (seriously, they videoed her!). Since they rent and are in a townhome with a shared wall, they just weren’t equipped to handle that, and I don’t blame them for the hard decision they made to return her to us. I know they loved her, and it truly was the most selfless thing they could do – to recognize that they weren’t equipped to handle her needs, and that she wouldn’t be happy being alone all day without either a human or canine companion to keep her company. She will probably need to go to a home with other dogs, or a home where someone is home enough during the day to positively condition her that being alone isn’t the end of the world.

I feel terrible about this, like there’s something I could have done to better prepare her. I always had her crate right next to Stewie’s, and it just never even occurred to me to separate them. She never had much of a problem with us leaving when we had her, but then again, she never was truly alone, because she had Stewie and Maggie to keep her company during the day.

So, we’ll be taking it slowly, moving her crate farther and farther away from Stewie’s until she is comfortable being in another room by herself. It’s going to take a lot of work, and I wish I had thought to do that before, but  you know what they say about hindsight…

It was bittersweet to let her go, and it’s equally as bittersweet to welcome her home again. I have missed her so much, but I was also really hoping her new home would work out for her. I don’t know how I can possibly let her go twice, but I do believe everything happens for a reason and that she will find her perfect home, eventually.

Welcome back, little girl.

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Goodbye, Josie

Today is bittersweet. Josie is going to her new home. While I am thrilled that we were able to find such a perfect match for her, I can’t help but also be a little sad, for selfish reasons. I love this dog. We even considered keeping her at one point. But ultimately we decided that three dogs was too much for us. I also think I may want to foster again in the future, so I’m looking at this as us keeping our home open for future dogs in need.

Josie is going to a great couple from Oregon, so she won’t be too far away for the occasional visit. They are so excited about her, and are some of the most knowledgeable and responsible pet owners I’ve met. I have no doubts they will be amazing “parents” to her. I also know our rescue is good about keeping adopters involved with future events, so I have to keep reminding myself that this won’t be the last time we see her. I will definitely miss her cuddles every morning when she climbs into our bed and wedges herself between us, tail thumping from side to side, whacking us both. I’ll miss her snorts and grunts when she gets really excited and gives us big sloppy pittie kisses. I’ll also really miss the way her whole body wags from side to side when she’s happy. She truly is an amazing dog, and I wish her the best in her new home. I take comfort in knowing her new owners will love her even more than we do, and I’m grateful for having the opportunity to save her from the life (or lack thereof) that she would have surely had if she hadn’t been picked up off the streets and placed into foster care.

With that farewell, I leave you with a photo  dump of several pictures we’ve taken of Josie over the last four months (I also have several videos on YouTube if anyone’s interested!)

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First day we took her in

First day we took her in

Day one - checking out her surroundings

Day one - checking out her surroundings

Exhausted after a romp with Stewie

Exhausted after a romp with Stewie

"Oh hi"

"Oh hi"

Sitting pretty on the patio

Sitting pretty on the patio

"Catch me if you can!"

"Catch me if you can!"

Rough and tumble

Rough and tumble

Stewie play bows; Josie is exhausted

Stewie play bows; Josie is exhausted

All three dogs playing in the yard (I can't believe how small Josie used to be!)

All three dogs playing in the yard (I can't believe how small Josie used to be!)

Josie shows off her pretty pink fleece

Josie shows off her pretty pink fleece

Small, medium, large

Small, medium, large

She's a fan of cozy spaces

She's a fan of cozy spaces (camera phone pic - excuse the quality)

Getting so big! (another phone pic)

Getting so big! (another phone pic)

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One step closer to adoption…!

On Saturday I took Josie to the Des Moines Pet Festival to hang out at with our rescue at the adoption booth. A couple interested in Josie were driving all the way up from Oregon to meet her, so I was pretty excited about this event. I had spoken to the potential adopters via email and knew they were very interested in her, but I was a bit nervous about the meet and greet. Would they like her as much in person? Would Josie steal their hearts they way she has completely stolen ours? I’m happy to say, the answer to both questions is YES! Josie was definitely a bit distracted with all the interesting sights, smells and sounds at the festival, so she wasn’t nearly as focused or affectionate as she usually is, but Jeff and Emily got to take her for a good long walk to “test drive” her, and they are interested in moving toward a possible adoption.

Next steps are setting up a home check, followed by a week-long trial run.  Since they live so far away, I will probably end up driving to Oregon to check out their home, and assuming everything checks out (which I’m sure it will), I’ll leave Josie behind at that time. If all goes well with the trial, we’ll probably meet halfway a week later to officially sign the paperwork. It’s bittersweet. I will be sad to let her go, but three dogs is really a lot to handle and I am looking forward to being able to devote more time to my own two dogs, who have taken a bit of a backseat to the attention-stealing foster puppy! It’s also comforting to know Josie would be going to such a great home. I know I’ll miss her terribly, but this experience has truly been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

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