Category Archives: Pet Fostering

Rescue, Breeder or Both?

puppy loveThis is a very tough question because I’m personally involved in rescue but my love of dogs and the individual breeds makes me also a prime candidate for a pure bred.  The truth is I have both.  My two pure breeds (a lab and a vizsla) are rescues of a sort as the families that owned them couldn’t deal with or handle them.  So Lesson One is that there are sometimes pure breed dogs available at your rescue.  At Mostly Mutts, we’ve had Shelties, Boxers, Pomeranians, Great Danes, English Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Beagles, Lhasa Apsos, Poodles, Miniature Pinschers and the list goes on.

But most of those dogs were not puppies so what do you do when you want to get your pure breed puppy?  Lesson Two is that if you want a pure breed, do your homework and find a reputable breeder.  So today, I’d like to talk about what to look for in a reputable breeder.  In my profession, I see a lot of puppies that are in homes because someone walked by a pet store window and knowing nothing about the breed but spying this little package of puppy goodness, they had to have it.  Getting a puppy is not an impulse buy! Here are the Kritter Keeper’s rules for getting the right puppy for your family.

  1.  Research the breeds and what the right fit is for you and your lifestyle.  If you like to lie on the couch all day then you should not an Australian Shepherd as Aussies like to work all day running around and herding everything!  Maybe look at one of the less active companion breeds like a Chihuahua or Brussels Griffon.  If you are looking for a larger dog, believe it or not Greyhounds are big couch potatoes or something giant like a Great Dane or Mastiff.
  2. Research the breeder.  I would prefer to work with a breeder that is acknowledged by the AKC and fits their standards.  There is a laundry list of things I want from the breeder.
    • Certificate of Health — I want to know that some of the genetic things that a breed is prone to are not in the genes of her line.  For instance, hip dysplasia in a German Shepherd or blindness in a Dalmation.  To know what health risks a breed is known for see #1 on this list.
    • Home visit with at least Mom if not Mom and Dad on site.  I want to make sure I am not supporting puppy mills so I’m going to want to see what environment my puppy is growing up in and I want to check the temperament of Mom and Dad.  I  want to see the puppies before I choose and how they interact with the rest of the litter and the parents.  I also want to make sure that the breeder is providing an interactive experience for the puppies to help them with their cognitive functions.
  3. Understand the genetic lines of the dog — maybe the breeder has more of a show dog line versus a pet dog line.  If you aren’t going to show then perhaps you would be better suited to a pet dog line.

Whether you get your new puppy from a rescue or from a reputable breeder, enjoy all the puppy kisses!

 

Where Have I Been? Eating Ice Cream!

Is the Litt Palace of Puppy Love closed?  Not at all…but things certainly have changed for us.  I’ve taken time out of the blog world to lick my wounds and get back to a manageable mental status after the death of my husband.  I was (and still am) the move forward and ask for forgiveness later person.  He was the guy that researched everything before making a move.  We were a good combo together.  But now I feel like I did when I first moved out of my parents home.

Remember the first time you had that dirty little pleasure of eating ice cream before dinner…or better yet eating ice cream as dinner?  And guess what? There was no one to tell you that is not right.  You were your own boss and you could do whatever you wanted.

I had my share of ice cream for dinner this past year…several puppy fosters of really difficult puppies and finally found their forever homes.  I also adopted a puppy who has become my heart and soul, Bubba.  Bubba is the ice cream, the hot fudge and the cherry on top!img_2601

From a business perspective, you may recall I compromised with my husband and was going to take a job out in Kanab, UT with Best Friends as a trainer in Dogtown.  I was very excited about the opportunity to work for this great organization but I really wanted to open my own training center.  Andy knew me as a great technical consultant (I was an IT consultant for 15 years of our 22-year marriage), but he just couldn’t see me giving up that career to run my own business so our compromise was to work for a few years at a non-profit as a trainer and then open my business with that experience under my belt.

Well, needless to say, I couldn’t leave my framily in GA after his death — I needed all the support I could get living on my own.  So I focused on expanding Kritter Keepers. We now have two great Kritter Keepers in addition to myself – Jessica and Mel.  Angela has joined the team and will be working on marketing and other business-y stuff.  The biggest thing for Kritter Keepers is that we’ve purchased a property and are working to make our dream come true of having a dog sports – oriented training center, doggie daycare and boarding facility.  We are converting a human daycare. Designs have been finalized and we are hoping to start the remodel very soon.  That has to be a banana split for dinner!  It is both the scariest and the most exciting move I’ve made in my career.  I believe in myself and I know that Kritter Keepers Club will be a success!

I also bought a brand-spanking-new, six-miles on the odometer, Chevy Colorado.  This is a two scoops of the fudgiest, most indulgent ice-cream ever.  Andy didn’t think a pick up was practical especially for a girl!  And he hated General Motors because they cancelled our GM reward card when we built our first house — not because we didn’t use and pay promptly but because we had too many credit inquiries (first home buys suck up credit report scores due to the number of inquiries!).  He never forgave and forbid anyone in our family from purchasing GM products.  So this is a first for me and I LOVE my truck.  It is the perfect vehicle to express my personality!

The year has not just been about eating ice cream for dinner.  It’s been emotional and really could have been so easy to fall down that rabbit hole of depression.  I think being a little naughty and rebellious helped me.  When Andy and I used to argue, my favorite thing to fight back with was the “You’re not my father!” battle cry of the rebel-without-a-clue that I am!  So each little step forward, each scoop of ice cream, is not without an internal conversation with Andy. In his own way, I think he would be proud of what I’ve done this year even if he didn’t agree with some of events.

A Puppy Just Saved My Life

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My husband and I didn’t always agree eye to eye on fostering – especially puppies!  So, when he suddenly passed away earlier this year, one of my first thoughts was that I was going to foster again when things get a little less hectic.

The problem with things getting a little less hectic is that the quiet moments become greater.  It’s during those quiet moments that your pain and grief of losing your loved one hits you like a ton of bricks.  Fostering for me, brought a normalcy I needed. I think.  It’s not even been 30 days.

I don’t trust that Andy is dead.  He’s been away from me for long period of times since April of 2014 when his mom first went into the hospital.  Because of work situations and care needs for his mom, he ended up spending most of 2014 through April 2015 taking care of her up in New York.  I spent time up in NY and he’d make a trip down to Acworth for important things like our anniversary. Unfortunately, him mom passed in May 2015.  He then spent the better part of 2015 taking care of her different properties in New York and Florida.  Flash forward to October and Andy finally came home.

Most of the time he was gone, I was in Acworth.  I was so lonely for him.  Again, it was the quiet times – no one to sit on the couch with and hold hands. No one to cook for. My mood was spiraling downward.  During this time, my saving grace was a boisterous dog named Oscar.  Willful, crazy but lovely and smart. He was one of the first residents of our new shelter and I took him home loving a challenge.

While Andy was gone, Oscar wormed his way into my heart.  After more than a year and a half of fostering Oscar, Andy gave him to me for our 21st anniversary.  Betcha didn’t know that dog was the gift for that year.

So, it makes sense for me, as I try to make sense of losing my best friend, my love and soulmate that I take a puppy to foster.  For me, this was comfort (along with wearing Andy’s shirts).  The Litt Palace of Puppy Love is open for business.

Fetch-For-Fosters: A program that proactively helps rescue dogs to get adopted

Thanks Katie Grillaert for this blog…

No Dog About It Blog

Woman Rubbing Noses with PuppyIf you’ve read my blog, then you know that I am a big believer in dog training and helping people to better understand their dogs through dog body language. You probably also know that I am also a huge supporter of animal shelters and animal rescues.

The biggest issue many rescue organizations face is making a dog more adoptable. Training is key to making this happen. How a dog behaves is one of the biggest factors that impacts whether a dog will be adopted. It is a key factor in keeping an adopted dog in their new home.

Today, I would like to introduce you to someone who has a novel new idea that I hope will become a model nationwide. Fetch-for-Fosters is the brainchild of dog trainer Katie Grillaert of Fetch Dog Training and Behavior. It is a new program focused on proactively addressing a dog’s training needs…

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Dog Depression in Shelters – Be a Foster and Save a Life!

Dennis - photo by Sara Rylander

Dennis photo by Sara Rylander

Some dogs do “ok” in a shelter environment and some dogs just start to shut down. There is a common occurrence called “Kennel Crazy” where a dog is literally going stir crazy in their kennel. This is a common occurance for long timers in a shelter.  The depression can start as listlessness, drooling, obsessive licking, spinning, cage charging, barking and other destructive behaviors.  Life at a shelter can be a jail sentence for a depressed dog. It is very hard to bring a dog back to normal behavior once he crosses over to kennel crazy.

At Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue and Adoption, in Acworth Georgia, we have great volunteers and the majority of our dogs are in foster homes.  Our mission is to pull animals from the surrounding animal control, high-kill shelters.  Sometimes, we have some long-term residents in the shelter who haven’t found their forever homes and have not been – no fosters available, larger dogs seem to be harder to foster, dog/dog fear or aggression, special needs or a plethora of other reasons.

Dennis, has been in our shelter for a while.  He’s a loving and active dog and seems to get along well with other dogs.  He can also scale a 6-foot fence and that makes him a bit of a special needs dog.  We are lucky that we have so many dedicated volunteers and have four shifts of volunteers a day come in to walk the dogs, clean cages, feed and water, etc. but that doesn’t always prevent a dog like Dennis from getting depressed.

“…when I turned back to head back to the shelter on our walk, he was noticeably upset…he just wanted to keep going,” said Julie Wall, a Mostly Mutts shelter volunteer.

When dogs fall into this depression, it effects their ability to get adopted.  The Kennel Crazy can evolve to lunging at cage front, barking at potential adopters, not being able to self sooth. The daily noise and stress of being in a shelter can make it extremely difficult to adjust to a real home life if and when they do get adopted.  Even in the best, most comfortable and high-tech shelters, the boredom of being in a smell kennel or crate 20+ hours a day among the chaos of kennel life.

If you can’t foster a dog like Dennis then consider “checking” a dog out at your local shelter.  Many shelters have programs where a volunteer can take the shelter dogs on outings. Some of our shelter residents have been hiking up Kennesaw Mountain or Red Top Mountain, boating on Lake Allatoona, or even going to weekend slumber parties at volunteers’ homes who work too many hours during the week.

Exercise, psychological stimulation and plain, old fashioned love are keys to prevent Kennel Crazy.  Can you help Dennis or a dog like Dennis in your community?  If you are interested in fostering for Mostly Mutts, check out our website.

What I love about D-O-G-S!

The only time in my life that I can remember being without a dog is when I lived in Washington, DC right after college.  For a few years, I was petless until a mama cat walked into our townhouse and gave birth to four babies.  My roommate and I kept one of the kittens each and rehomed the others and mama cat.  When I moved a few years later, the brother/sister team were a bonded pair so I said goodbye to Sidley Ann (she was originally Sid Viscious until I discovered that he was a she!) and she stayed with her brother ‘Coon and my roommate, Rhonda.

kennai and kasey 3

Kennai and Kritter Keeper!

Most of my life I’ve had dogs and cats and multiples of both but I’ve always been drawn to a dog.  Big dogs, mostly! I’ve had labs and lab mixes since I was old enough to choose for myself (got a lab I named Boo Boo who went to FSU with me!).  But I love them all…big dogs, little dogs, hairless dogs, shaggy dogs.

First, I love that they are clever. Look at all that floor space but Kennai knows the best spot and softest spot is to sit in my lap.  That’s where he’s going to get the full-on doggie massage and butt scritchin’!  The first day we took this dog out of the kennels, we had to put up curtained panels around him so he couldn’t see the other dogs.  Now he’s a bubba smoosh and can tolerate being close by other dogs…he still tracks them but we can manage that.

Secondly, dogs don’t hold on to stuff.  They aren’t score keepers.  There is no secret chalk board that they are making marks on when you mess up a training sequence and don’t treat them when you should.  Kennai isn’t saying to me, “Ahhh, I’m not going to sit for you today because remember last Thursday when I sat for you and you didn’t tell me I was a good boy or give me a piece of cheese?”

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submissive grin

Third, you always know where you stand with a dog.  They are not capable of playing mind-games with you although some people really think that their dog tore up their favorite pair of shoes to get back at them for taking them to the vet instead of the dog park.  I’m pretty sure the dog tore up their favorite pair of shoes because a) they were accessible and b) they smelled like mom or dad.  A dog that doesn’t want you near is going to warn you away with a growl or with body language.  A dog that is more submissive may give you appeasement signals like showing his belly or a submissive grin.

Fourth, a dog helps me center myself.  I can drift off into a deep meditative state just by stroking the dog’s back.  I don’t have to worry about carrying a conversation.  We can just sit together and be. I know studies have shown that petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure but it’s something deeper for me.  I once took a class on how to meditate at the Atlanta Yoga Center.  During the class you learned to focus on the air coming in and out of your nostrils while chanting your mantra to get into a deeper meditation.  Petting a dog is like chanting my mantra.

Last, and most important, dogs bond with you unconditionally.  You are their person to steal a phrase from Grey’s Anatomy! You rock a dog’s world and you are the person who feeds him, nurtures him, pets him, exercises him both physically and mentally.  Have you ever noticed that when you are sick, your dog is right by your side?  Because I have a multiple dogs at the Litt Palace of Puppy Love, I’m lucky to get the “tuck in” effect when I’m not feeling good.  I usually have one of the girls on the left side of me, one on the right side and one by the feet.  Sometimes I’m lucky (ha!) enough to have one resting on the same pillows as my head!

Dogs are my happy place and I’m a very lucky individual to have them in my life!