Back at the end of March I predicted that it would take me six months of steady campaigning to convince Jason we should adopt a dog. In truth, it only took five months. We adopted Arthur/Ragnar at the end of August. He’s part mastiff, possibly part boxer or lab, and at the moment he’s snoring, crashed out on the floor by my feet.
He’s a smart pup, though a bit skittish. We’re working on that and seeing major improvements.
You know what the trick was? To convincing Jason? Finding a big enough dog. Which makes sense when you consider that the only dog he has ever liked is a friend’s Great Dane.
Meet Ragnar, named in honor of a Norse pirate-king:
In case you were wondering, he’s at most 10 months old and weighs 75lbs. We’re hoping he’ll at least top 100lbs by the time he’s full grown.
I never told you about Bruno, did I? Bruno was our second foster dog from Copper’s Dream. Look at him. How could anyone not love that face?
When he came to us, he was terrified. Cowering when you tried to pet him.
He mostly ignored the cats. Began to relax after a few days. If you crouched down to face level with him, he’d let you pet him without wincing.
Then, one morning, he made a play bow at Tabby: the only one of our cats who actively dislikes dogs. She began to trot, and then to run to get away from him. He thought she was playing chase, so he ran after her. Poor Tabby was cornered and terrified (and lost control of certain bodily functions).
Jason and I yelled, without even thinking. We ran into the dining room (where Tabby was cornered) and separated the two. Bruno very clearly was confused. He just wanted to play and had no intention of hurting her.
We put him outside while we cleaned up after Tabby, and he whimpered. He cried. He pawed at the door, desperately trying to get back inside. For the rest of the day he was back to being that terrified dog who cowered when we came near. We thought it was because of the yelling. But it wasn’t. It was because we had left him alone outside.
He probably was locked outside a lot before we got him. And hit or kicked if he tried to get into the house. Poor guy was terrified of door ways…
He just shut down.
Luckily, I knew someone who had a magic touch with dogs. She came over, had a toy Bruno actually liked and treats he would actually eat. She figured out he had issues around food. His prior owner had probably taken his food or hit him when he was at his food bowl. So we gave him his food and went into the other room, and once he realized we didn’t want it, he ate.
She and I spent the next three or four hours sitting on the floor of my kitchen with Bruno. We just pet him. His body relaxed. He made that whuffling exhalation dogs make when they’re happy. And he got happy dog face, you know, the expression where their mouths are wide open and their lips are relaxed and they look almost like they’re grinning? That.
I’d been so careful not to invade his space, not wanting him to feel threatened, which had been completely counter-productive. He needed contact.
After that, he was a completely different dog. He was happy and playful. It was so amazing to watch him bound after a toy and pounce. Utterly amazing.
By the time the adoption fair rolled around, he was willing to be around a crowd of people. He’d been terrified of that on walks with me around the neighborhood. But he was great.
A man who reminded me a lot of my dad fell in love with Bruno. I told him about the history of abuse. Told him about Bruno’s health issues (Bruno limped and had something wrong with his hip, and we didn’t know how serious it was). And the family just said, Well, then we know we’re getting a disabled dog and that’s okay.
He got along with their other dog. He licked their son’s face. He walked on leash with the father and trotted happily after their dog. And they loved him.
So now, he lives with a family in Cupertino, with another dog he gets along with. She’s not so interested in playing with him, but he keeps trying. And the family adores him. Turns out his hip problem was from a fracture from when he was a puppy, probably a result of being kicked.
This — this is why fostering is wonderful. Because you can take an abused and frightened dog and make him feel safe again. And you can find him a family that adores him.
She’s absofrickinlutely adorable. And incredibly well behaved. Nine months old; we think she’s some mix of Chow and German Shepherd. Poor girl had ear infections and an allergic rash when she came to us, both of which are doing much better now.
We’ve had her all of five days, and tomorrow we’ll be sending her off with a very nice college student who adopted her. We’ll also be picking up another dog to foster. Who, hopefully, will get along as well with our cats as Addie does (which is to say, she wants to play with them but not hunt them, and they completely ignore her).
So far, absolutely worthwhile. Yes, it will be sad to let her go. But she’s going to someone who adores her. It will probably be harder for us in future, when we’ve fostered a dog for longer than five days.
So, I’m in a bit of a quandary. I contacted one rescue group and applied to foster with them a few weeks ago. I said no toy dogs and noted that we had an 18 pound cat. They immediately offered me a 3 pound yorkie.
I then told them that I was traveling at the end of the month, so didn’t want to take a dog before then. Considering that their website says they go through phone interviews and home visits and such, I just wanted to get the ball rolling so we could hit the ground running when we got back (although Mythbusters have proved you can’t really hit the ground running).
They said, let us know when you’re back. So I did. Sunday night. And I said, very clearly this time, that we could only take a dog who weighed 20 pounds or more. And asked if they had any that matched our living situation. They didn’t. But said they would have more dogs by end of week. And that they’d have a foster councilor contact me and schedule a home visit.
This is why I contacted you guys two weeks ago. To get the home visit done. Okay. Fine. Whatever.
But, I notice, looking at their website, that they seem to only rescue small dogs. Mostly chihuahua or poodle mixes. Neither of which I like (Sorry to you poodle lovers, I get that they’re nice dogs, just not for me. No apologies to chihuahua lovers, you’re just nuts.). So I’m a little worried. And I haven’t heard from that councilor. And I am bad at waiting.
So… I’m not sure if I should stick with this group. There’s another rescue organization nearby that seems to rescue larger dogs (lab mixes and shepherd mixes and border collie mixes, oh my!). And they seem a tad more organized. So I’m wondering if I should have gone with them. Honestly, right now I wish I had.
But… I don’t want to be a flake. I would feel guilty for applying with Group 1 and then not working with them. J points out that we’re doing a service, and if they don’t listen to basic requests (no toy dogs, yo, we have a ginormous cat who would eat them for dinner) we might not want to work with them. He thinks there’s no need for me to feel guilty. I remind him I’m descended of both Catholics and Jews, feeling guilty is what I do. It’s in my bone marrow.
Meh. I want to foster a dog. A dog larger than my cats. A dog that J finds acceptable (he is anti-poofy and very anti-ankle biters). Since much of the point of this is giving him a chance to live with a dog and see if he can tolerate it long term, I really don’t want him to have this experience be negative.
Please. A lab mix. Or a shepherd mix. Or a larger spaniel. Or a golden mix. Something sizable and chill around other animals.
Edited to add: the second group has a dog I would love to foster who just went up on their site…
In fact, J is sure he *doesn’t* want a dog. But he realizes that being with me may mean he has to have a dog. So we began talking about it last night. I brought it up (of course). I asked what things would have to happen or change within the next six months in order for him to be comfortable with me getting a dog. He’s not very good at articulating it; all he can really say is what he doesn’t want, which isn’t the same thing. But I’ve got him thinking along the right lines, I hope.
I pointed out that he could use it as incentive to get me cleaning more. My messiness drives him batshit, and we’ve been working on it since before we moved in together. “However,” I said, “if you do use it that way, that means we really do have to get a dog.”
“I know,” he said. “No bait and switch.”
And I’ve been looking up dog breeds. And today I looked up the local shelters. And I have, of course, already fallen in love with half a dozen puppies. None of which we’ll get. But this guy, this guy is the one I keep coming back to: