As we say good-bye to Tucker and reflect on our first foster experience, we realized that we learned a ton in those seven short weeks. We learned that while, yes, it IS hard to let go, it is – like they say – also extremely rewarding. We learned how fast is “too fast” to trust a new dog loose in the house unattended. We learned new ways to keep dogs entertained on rainy days. We learned to stay on our toes. We learned that no matter how much you think you have a dog figured out, it will always do something to surprise you. I even learned that I was able to hold back my tears until after we left Tucker with his fabulous Furevers (but not before we made it out of the driveway).
There are, however, some things we need to revisit to tie up some loose ends, and some “half posts” that never quite blossomed to maturity. Might as well share those with you now!
Tucker Does Dog Park….sort of
During the first few weeks we had Tucker, I mentioned that due to his nervousness around other dogs, that he may never be a “dog park dog.” Well of course I just had to give it a shot anyway. This was shortly after Tucker’s first family who had shown interest in him decided Tuck wasn’t for them, so I was bound and determined to get him some new leads. So I dressed him up in his “Adopt Me” vest, loaded him in the car and off we went to the dog park.
Tucker did…..sort of….OK. We brought Oscar with us of course, and Oscar is a dog park pro – it is his second most favoritest place in the whole world, next to The River. So when we got there I let Oscar go right away, bounding around to say hello to his friends. I kept Tucker on his leash and did a few laps around the perimeter, letting him get used to smells, and used to dogs coming up to him just a few at a time to sniff and say hello.
After awhile I let Tuck off the leash. As you can see in the above picture, there are no other dogs in the frame. That’s because once Tucker was left to his own devices, he spent the majority of the time in a corner of the park as far away from canine companionship as possible. Barking at Oscar. And…other stuff…on Oscar…
Hey, it was only the first attempt. Maybe Tucker’s new parents will have better luck!
The Training that Wasn’t
A few weeks ago, we had it all set up for Tucker to go through a mini doggie boot camp, a week of intensive training with an Agape volunteer, Cathy. The timing was perfect – we were going to introduce Tucker to her pack right before foster dad and I were set to go out-of-town to my parent’s house for a long weekend. Oscar was coming with us, but due to Tucker’s youth and “enthusiasm” we thought it best he didn’t come along, 1) so he didn’t drive my parents’ dog bat-crap crazy and 2) to give Oscar a little break.
You might wonder why I never wrote a follow-up to the training to talk about how Tucker did that week. Well that’s because it never ended up happening. The day we were to deliver Tucker came around and it was raining – badly. Cathy’s process starts with a good long walk with the new dog and her current pack, and needs a lot of time at the beginning outdoors. This process sets the dog up for the best chance of success with the training in the long run. Unfortunately, the weather that day didn’t allow us to start Tucker’s training that day. So, Tucker went into boarding for the weekend instead, and that next week we just couldn’t get schedules coordinated to get Tucker back to Cathy to try again.
This turned out to work out for the best for two reasons: First of all, Tucker got an experience in a boarding facility, and the staff reports did wonderfully. Secondly, since Tucker wasn’t sequestered in boot camp, he was available to attend the adoption event the following weekend where he ended up meeting his People. Serendipity!
Unfortunately, however, my blog-rookie-ness had struck again, as I had already posted that Tucker would be attending boot camp before the week got canceled. Lesson learned: nothing is certain dog rescue – best to keep posts in “draft” form until the subject matter is confirmed!
I thought Pits were the point?
It is true, we started fostering dogs with the goal to focus on pit bull type dogs, and that is still our intent. But, as first timers, our foster rep thought it might be a good idea to get our feet wet with a dog that might have a quicker “turn around time” – that is, a dog with an easer time getting adopted, than a pit bull. It’s no secret that the pit bull breeds carry a stigma around with them simply by being born with certain physical characteristics – a blocky head, muscular build, and a big goofy grin. Type “pit bull” into Google you’ll find links to anything from rescue groups to media reports of “vicious dogs” to articles about a certain NFL player.
Whatever the reason and however it started, pit bulls drew a short straw in the public eye, and have an extremely low adoption rate. Here in the South, where “spay and neuter” can be a foreign concept to a lot of dog owner, shelters are over run with pit bulls. Our local Humane Association refuses to take them in, and our County Animal Control will euthanize them if they pick them up. Those lucky enough to get pulled by rescue groups often spend months, if not years in rescue before they are adopted.
We have a soft spot in our hearts for pit bull type dogs and we knew we had to do our part to help them out any way we could. But, we started with non-pittie Tucker for two reasons: a) the idea that he might not be with us very long made us think we wouldn’t get as attached and it would be easer to say good-bye (yeah, right) and b) TWINS!
We knew that as soon as Tucker got adopted we would continue our quest to do our part to help save pit bull type dogs. By taking them out of the shelter environment, they’ll get the chance to blossom into the dog they were meant to be, and have a better chance at being placed in loving, furever homes where they can fulfill their roles as cherished family pets.
So who’s the first lucky pittie houseguest going to be……?