Tag Archives: Foster care

A Puppy Just Saved My Life

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

The Bitter Sweet of Fostering

Kibbles in the lap of his new dad

Kibbles in the lap of his new dad

This weekend my beloved Kibbles got adopted by a wonderful man and his girlfriend.  He called her his partner…they are of the age where boyfriend and girlfriend seem a little ridiculous.  He’s retired but very active.  He’s planning on taking Kibbles on many adventures and making him into a boat dog.  We’ve already heard from them as to how much they are in love with Kibbles.

I’m sad to have to give up my co-pilot.  Kibbles went with me on a lot of my client visits.  We had him for about two months and helped him learn to let go a lot of the adolescent bad behavior.  He is so quick to learn and I hope his new family continues to work on his training.  I think he could easily be a therapy dog.  He has never met a dog or human that he hasn’t loved.  We were also working on agility and he is a natural…although the jumps throw him a bit.  He doesn’t realize that he can jump!

He does however realize that he can chew and new dad Donny bought Kibbie a nice Antler for when they get home to the new house. Kibbie, however, could not wait that long so he took it out of the bag, laid down in the store and chomped on it while Dad made his new tag.
Everyday I would ask Andy if we could keep Kibbles and everyday he would give me a pained look and roll his eyes.  I had a connection with Kibbs for sure that I haven’t had with my other fosters and that was clouding my emotions and causing me to lose a little focus on why I am fostering.

With Kibbles safely and happily adopted into a new family I can offer a foster spot to another pup and save another life.  I’ve had a few people ask me how I can give them away once they’ve been integrated into my family.  I won’t lie, some are tougher then others to let go but I’ve got to keep my eye on the prize — saving more adoptable dogs!

October is Adopt-A-Dog Month.  If you are thinking about bringing a furry friend into your family, please consider adopting from your local shelter or rescue.  Only around 30% of companion pets are adopted — that leaves a lot of lives in shelters, rescues and foster homes like mine.  We can only save so many.

Que bella faccia Sophia!

Who can't see their soul in those eyes?

Who can’t see their soul in those eyes?

On Saturdays you can usually find me at our local PetSmart taking pictures of the dogs available for adoptions through the rescue group I volunteer with, Mostly Mutts (www.mostlymutts.org).  One of the volunteers had just been to the Cobb County Animal Shelter and picked up several dogs including this small brindle beauty they named Sophia.  At the time, I had Rocky as my foster but I knew he was getting adopted that day.  Since I was about to go out of town I didn’t want to foster until I got back the following week.  My husband tolerates the fostering — he loves on the dogs once they are at my house — but I am the doer of all things doggy!

Since I have four girl dogs in my pack already, I usually sign up for the boy fosters but as I was on my way to pick up this little boy boxer mix pup, I got a text message that he was adopted.  When I got to the adoption event I asked who I should bring home for my foster and every volunteer said, “Oh take Sophia – she is so sweet!”  I remembered Sophia from last week’s intake and she was such an unusual looking dog.  She’s about 29 lbs and we think some sort of Greyhound mix or maybe whippet mix.  She’s had a bought of doggie bronchitis and a runny nose but we have her on some super antibiotics that are making her feel better every day.

I’ve had her almost a week now and she’s not had an accident in the house.  She hasn’t made a single noise — even with my pack of crazy barking hounds reaping havoc around her.  She is totally non-reactive to their nonsense.  I want to call her Bella because she is so beautiful plus since I have a Sophie, it is very difficult to work on her knowing her name if I’m calling to Sophie and not Sophia!

Yesterday we did a fashion shoot while she was lounging on the bed surrounded by toys (which she hasn’t played with).  Here are a few samples from her fashion book!

What do you do with these things?

What do you do with these things?

Do I wear them on my head?

Do I wear them on my head?

I like the fuzzy sweater!

I like the fuzzy sweater!

Now this is more like it!

Now this is more like it!

I'm ready for my close up!

I’m ready for my close up!

I Want It Now Daddy!

Sometimes I feel like Veruca Salt from the movie Willie Wonka when I get around our rescue animals at Mostly Mutts (www.mostlymutts.org) when she sees the Oompa Loompas and she wants one.  I see our dogs and puppies we have rescued at Mostly Mutts and I want them now!  So instead of becoming a horrible pet hoarder, I became a foster parent.  I thought about this long and hard.  When my husband Andy and I first lived together we rescued a lovely chocolate lab girl named Duchess and we renamed Murphy.  Murphy loved other dogs and she especially loved kittens and cats.  We fostered many kittens for Murphy and were able to get them adopted.  This was when we lived in New Jersey.

Our next foray into fostering came after we had moved to Georgia.  We worked for a large technology company and they had just built a building in a very undeveloped area just northwest of Atlanta.  It seemed that this was a common dumping ground for dogs when people just didn’t want them anymore.  There were a number of dogs who hung around the building, digging in the garbage looking for foood.  Of course I would bring food and water, along with some other colleagues, and try to catch these poor babies who had forgotten that humans can be kind and caring.  One day I sat on the hot tar road for a good 20-30 minutes trying to coax this black dog to me.  I had water and it was hot.  I had food and she was hungry.  Finally she came to me and collapsed in my lap.  She was a medium build but so skinny I could pick her up with one hand.

We took her to the animal shelter but within a day I got a phone call from them that she would be put down because she tested positive for heart worm.  Of course I could not let that happen so I went to the shelter and collected her with the intention of curing her heart worms and finding her a loving home.  She was like a little stuffed animal.  So darn cute!  But Beatrice was not an overly friendly dog.  We had several inquiries about her but all the families had small children.  I could just see this dog who had been fending for herself for so long resist taking a cookie out of a toddlers hand when the first night we had her she stole chicken right off a dinner plate!

After having Beatrice (who the neighborhood kids called Beastrice and ran screaming if she ever got loose from our yard!) for about six months, I woke up on our Anniversary day and Andy had put a big red bow on Beatrice’s neck.  She was the best anniversary present ever!

Riley, Beatrice and Murphy "behind the line" waiting to be released for dinner

The Wrecking Crew: Riley, Beatrice and Murphy “behind the line” waiting to be released for dinner

So now we are kind of 50/50 on the fostering scale.  We didn’t attempt to foster for quite some time as Beatrice was a bit of a problem child — not people friendly, not dog friendly — really she only liked us and her space on the couch.

Fast forward about eight years and my Wrecking Crew had all gone to Rainbow Bridge within six months of each other.  Beatrice was first with a large, inoperable cancerous tumor on the back of her tongue.  Murphy second after a long bout with diabetes.  She was 14 1/2 when we put her down.  Last my big boy Riley, who we got for Murphy when we moved to Georgia.  He had mega-esophagus that was causing him to have chronic pneumonia as the food and water would get stuck in his esophagus causing the infection.  Riley passed on a Saturday with me holding his his paw.  He could not breath on his own.

After we lost Beatrice I was trolling the animal shelter.  Three was a good number of dogs to have.  I could still walk three.  There was room on the bed.  One day I found a little black puppy that looked like Beatrice.  I took her home that day and named her Bailey.  The chocos, Murphy and Riley were still around when Bailey came home.  Riley was so good with the puppy.  He would lie on his back and let her jump all over him.  So suddenly when Bailey was by herself, and we were down to just one dog, we jumped into the foster arena again.  This time with Mostly Mutts.

Her name was Viola and Andy found her the day that Riley passed.  He took a picture of her on his phone.  He had the duty to go to PetSmart after we put Riley down because we still had Bailey at home and she needed supplies.  He didn’t mention her to me when he came home.  We were heart-broken about Riley.  Then through other strange circumstances we found ourselves with a young yellow lab the same age as Bailey.  Andy then told me about Viola and we took Bailey and Phoebe to see her at the Kennesaw PetSmart.  We agreed to foster her and came home with her that day.  We never brought her back for adoptions and the next week we paid the adoption fee and she was ours.

Now, I’m really not doing well in the fostering area!  I’ve got a 75% failure rate…meaning that we keep!  But three is my comfort number.  I like a three-dog household.

A few years passed and I dodged bringing home any more fosters until my work friend tells me about this little Jackahuahua that her son and his wife had that they don’t want now that they have a baby. I was sure that they would come to their senses and understand that they could have a baby and a dog at the same time so I offered to “hold” the little dog until they could figure things out.  Well for me and my husband it was love at first sight and after a week, Andy said, “We’re not giving her back, are we?”  This moves my failed fostering rate up to about 80% failure!

Roc coming home from meeting potential adopters

Roc coming home from meeting potential adopters

So when I recently talked to Andy about fostering again he was an adamant NO!  And I can’t blame him based on my record but I was determined to make this one a success!  So little Roc (I call him Rocky) came home to Litt’s Puppy Palace of Love.  He has been a joy.  I post many pictures of him on Facebook looking for someone to adopt him.  He hates adoption day at PetSmart.  He’s a chihuahua and doesn’t really like people sticking their face into his crate or sticking their fingers in through the grates.  He likes to be introduced to people.  Since he is so small, our Mostly Mutts volunteers like to hold him.  He tolerates it and goes into what we affectionately call his “dead squirrel” mode with his little legs held out stiffly in front of him.

But today is Adoption Day for Roc and my foster failure rate goes down a little!  His new family asked, “Don’t you want to keep him?”  Well, yes, of course I do!  But if I can see him into a new home, then I can help another dog find a new home. If I just kept this little boy, then Adrienne (my friend) would not find her Rocky!

Don’t get me wrong, foster failure is not a bad thing!  It means that a dog or a cat has found a furever home. I just want to be able to help more animals find that so I’m a reformed failed foster!  So, I get to indulge my Veruca Salt a little bit when I bring home a new foster.  It feels good to want something now because you can help people find their best friends later.