Monthly Archives: December 2011

Oh, Hay There!

When you have dogs, your yard takes a beating.  Especially when it’s a northern facing exposure with a very specific path the dogs must travel in order to conduct their business.  On this day of stay-cation, and in preparations of a new house guest, we decided to do something about it.  And as I am a sucker for a good “before and after” reveal, I bring you:  Hay Day.*

Before:

No sun hits this spot, ever. Grass or ground cover has absolutely zero chance of growing here...I'm thinking rock garden?

 

Oscar is demonstrating proper use of The Path to the backyard.

 

This is the spot where the water drains off the roof into a nice little puddle every time it rains.

 

Just, yuck. I'm sure I don't have to explain what paws look like coming inside after a rainy day.

 

After:

Ta da!

 

Oscar approves.

Much better.  This should help eliminate some muddy paws, at least until spring when we can come up with a more permanent solution.  What do some of you guys do to help with mud in the backyard?  I’m open to suggestions!

*Remember MTPRC?  They’re the heroes who rescued Kaylee off her chain.  They host a “Hay Day” every year as the weather starts to get cold, in which they travel around the Nashville area delivering hay, shelters and  cold weather supplies to dogs in need. Love those people!

~

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Who’s It Gonna Be?

We’re getting restless. 

It’s been a week since Kaylee joined her furever family, and we’re feeling  the itch.  We traveled over Christmas so it was impractical to get a new foster right away, but we’ve been back home for 48 hours now.  The house is just so quiet!

We have several potential candidates for our next foster.  Since I just can’t wait any longer, let’s go ahead and meet them all, shall we?

This is Rosco.  We don’t know a thing about this guy, but what a looker!   Don’t you just want to smoosh on that face?

Here’s Halo…He’s a little over a year old, and got left behind when his family moved out-of-state and couldn’t take him with them.  What a smile!

This handsome guy is Ty.  He got dropped off at a vet’s office over the summer to be boarded for a few days, and his owner never returned for him. Who could abandon a face like that?

And we don’t know the name of this little nugget, just that he’s about four months old and got picked up as a stray after being hit by a car.  He’s recently had surgery on his leg, poor little thing.  At least from the picture it looks like his tail-wagger isn’t broken!

So which one of these lucky pooches will be ringing in the New Year at  Flaherty Foster House?  Check back soon to find out!

All of these dogs are searching for their People, and waiting to find their furever homes.  For more information on adopting them (or if you’d like to foster in the Nashville area), leave a comment below or e-mail us at:
aheartbeatatmyfeet AT gmail DOT com

~

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Fostering 101: What is Fostering, Anyway?

We’re taking about a week’s down time over the holidays before we bring home the next tenant of Foster House.  I’ve been working on a series of posts off and on for a while now about fostering in general, and what we’ve learned from it so far.  Seems like a good time to start sharing them – enjoy!  ~Laura

Anyone who’s ever fostered dogs has heard this statement, “I could never do that, it’d be way too hard for me to give them up.”  Heck, I used to say the same thing.  However since we’ve now successfully placed two foster dogs in loving homes, I say with confidence that I would not change a thing about our fostering experience so far, and cannot wait to bring home the next pup-in-need.

Fostering isn’t for everyone.  I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you of what an amazing rewarding experience it is (although, it is), but I do think that before anyone completely writes off opening their home to a dog in need, they should have all the facts.   We’re by no means experts, as we’re still pretty dang new to this, but we have learned a good bit so far.  So we’re putting a few posts together to talk about dog fostering and what we’ve learned by working with Agape Animal Rescue (pronounced a-GAH-pay, some people have asked).  What fostering is, how it works, why it’s hard and why it’s great.  I welcome some of our more experienced foster/blog friends to add their two cents down in the comments, as well – as some of you know, we never would have started on this journey without your inspiration and guidance! 

What is Fostering, Anyway?

I’m actually surprised at the number of people who haven’t even heard of the idea of fostering a dog.  When I’ve talked to people about it, more than a few have said, “What does that mean?” Fostering is, quite simply, bringing a dog into your home and loving it like a member of your family until they are ready to find their furever People.  That’s it. 

Most dog rescue organizations do not operate out of a facility.  Instead they rely on a network of foster families.  When a dog enters a rescue program, either pulled from a shelter, an owner surrender, picked up as a stray off the side of a road, or liberated from a puppy mill, the rescue will pay to have the dog spayed/neutered and fully vetted.  This includes treatment for heartworms, fleas/ticks, and any other malady the poor pup might be afflicted with.  (Agape also takes care of all medical expenses that might come up while the foster pup is in our care, as long as we use their vet – this may vary depending on the rescue – be sure to ask!)

Once the pup has a clean bill of health (or is on the road to it), they dog is placed with a foster family.  The foster family might already have dogs and cats of their own, or no pets at all. They might have young children, teenagers, or they could be empty nesters.  They could be a couple or single person.  It doesn’t matter – the rescue will match up a foster dog with the foster family who they think is the best fit.  Whatever your preference is as a potential foster family – small dogs, big dogs, already house trained, good with kids, low energy, high energy – a good rescue organization is not going to give you anything you’re not comfortable with. 

Once the dog is in your home, you have one majorly important job – love him!  A lot of rescue organizations will provide everything you need, including food, toys, crate, bedding, baby gates and medication.  Some will even help you with training.  So really, your one and only responsibility is to show love to an animal.  Agape has a slogan for their foster families that says it best: “You supply the love, we supply everything else.”  

Every once in a while you may be called upon to attend adoption events.  These are usually on a weekend, and are held in a public space such as a park or pet store.  These events are designed to let potential adopters meet many dogs at once, and also lets them ask questions about the dogs they’re interested in directly to you as the foster family – because after all, the dog’s living with you, you know him best!  However, this is not a requirement with all rescues, for example, if we are unable to attend, Agape will arrange to pick up our foster dog and ferry them back and forth to the event. 

As far as advertising the dog or getting it exposure, the rescue takes care of that too.  Depending on the rescue’s format, the dog will probably be posted their website as well as national sites like Petfinder.com.  You can also take the foster dog out to community events, street fairs, the dog park, even just a walk in your neighborhood.  Some foster families blog (but obviously you know that, as you are reading one right now), but that’s by no means a requirement. 

If you decide you’re interested in fostering, I suggest contacting a few different rescues in your area, and asking them lots of questions.  As an example, these are the questions we sent out to the different rescue groups when we started our process (thank you Aleks from Love & a Six-Foot Leash for helping me put these together):

  • Does your rescue group try to place dogs into decent homes as fast as possible, or do you carefully scrutinize each prospective adopter and wait for the “perfect” home? 
  • What role does the foster family play in selecting applicants and making final decisions of whether the potential adopter is approved or not?
  • Does your rescue pay for vet care?  What are the boundaries?  For example, if a dog in our care ends up needing surgery or emergency care, will it be covered by the rescue?  Do you only use a specific vet, or can we use our own?  How does this work?
  • What kind of assistance/support does your rescue offer?  Do you help with boarding the foster if we go out of town?  Do you provide equipment (crate?), or other supplies (flea/tick/heartworm medication?)  Do you offer free training consultations or discounted rates for training if we are having issues with our foster?
  • What do you require of your foster families (required to attend a certain number of adoption events per month, etc)?
  • Where do you find most of your adopters?  Online/newspaper/ads/etc?  Are you open to us “advertising” the foster dog ourselves, via a blog or facebook, and communicating with prospective adopters directly, or would all interactions need to go through the rescue group? 
  • What is your process for assigning foster dogs?  Will you work with us to make sure we’re matched with one that is compatible with our lifestyle?  Do we get any choice in what dogs come to our house? 

In the end, you’ll just want to make sure you choose a rescue that you’re comfortable with.  While it is all about the dogs, you’re going to be working with the people at the rescue organization as well, so you want to make sure you can form a good partnership with them to help get the dogs the wonderful home they deserve.

Next in Fostering 101….The Adoption Process

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Merry Christmas, Kate!

Merry Christmas, indeed.

~

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Kiss Me, Kate

Lovely Miss Kaylee got adopted yesterday, and has a brand new name to go with her new life.  A name fit for the princess that she is: Kate. 

Like the most famous Kate of the past year, our Kate is poised,  polite and beautiful.  And just like “that other” Kate, she’s also embarking on a brand new adventure, and her life will never be the same.  She’s joining a new family who will certainly treat her like royalty.

 

We have to thank Kate’s paparazzi, Amiee Stubbs Photography,  for these lovely professional photos.  Amiee is a local animal lover, and has a soft spot for pitties.  She generously donated her time and skills last week to take some glamour shots of Kaylee Kate, hoping they would help her get adopted.

Little did we know that by the time the photos were ready, Kate’s future would have already been determined.  However that’s not going to stop us from showing off her lovely work!  Thank you, Amiee! 

Congratulations on your new beginning, Princess Kate!  Though you’ve left your old life far behind, always know that we, as your foster parents, consider ourselves lucky to have been a part of it.  We miss you like crazy.  We will love you forever.  And we will never forget you.

~

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Kaylee – ADOPTED?!?!

Wait, what?  There’s no way that Kaylee actually got adopted in less than four weeks.

After Kaylee visited Santa, she asked me if I thought he would grant her Christmas wish.  “Will he help my People find me, momma?” I choked back a tear, slapped a smile on my face, took her mushy face in my hands as I looked deep into her beautiful eyes and said,”I sure hope so, Kaylee-girl. No one deserves it more than you do.”

But in my heart I knew it was a long shot – we only had a few short weeks before Christmas, and we hadn’t had one single inquiry about Kaylee.  Even if someone did decide they were interested in her, would we even have enough time to go through the adoption process in time for Kaylee to spend Christmas morning under the tree with her new People?

Well unbeknownst to me, at the very same time I was trying to be optimistic on the prospect of Kaylee spending Christmas in her forever home, Kaylee’s new mom was falling in love with her online profile.

Farewell, tennis ball Kong. I must be moving on!

Meet Kandice and Larry, Kaylee’s new People!  This high activity couple lives in a beautiful home with their Schnauzer, Ben.  Larry is a pilot, and Kandice is (get this) a dog trainer.  (Seriously.  I mean, could it get any better?) Since Larry travels, Kandice wanted a larger dog to keep her company while hiking.  And to spoil rotten, of course.

Kaylee, now Kate, will be living the good life from now on.  She went from a chain, to a backyard pen, to a temporary foster home, to our Foster House, and now finally to her furever home, all in the first year of her life.  Her bouncing around days are finally over. She’s already made herself right at home…

…and just in time for Christmas.

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Dog Park Princess Strikes Again

Since Kaylee’s first trip to the dog park, we’ve been making it a regular outing.  The dogs love it, they have a great time (even if it does result in Bath Time) and come home exhausted.  Kaylee gets along great with the other dogs, and she means business when it comes to play time. 

She runs and chases her foster brother:

She loves fetch, and understand the importance of getting to the ball before the other dog:

…even when that dog is foster brother:

When she got tired of fetch, she hunkered down with her new love, Tennis Ball:

She even made time to bond with foster mom:

Then, just when we thought she was pooped and ready to call it a day, she’d be off again!

For information on adopting Kaylee, please contact
Agape Animal Rescue.

~

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Crate Expectations

We are huge fans of crate training at Foster House.  Crates act as a dog’s “den” and become a safe place for them to go to sleep, hide, or just chill. They’re also extremely handy when potty training a puppy, or introducing a new foster dog into the house.  And we’ve had pretty good success at it so far.

Oscar slept in “his room” without complaint beginning the day we got him and never looked back.

I love my room.

Tucker took to the crate instantly and loved it as his little hide out.  Sometimes when we’d be watching TV or cooking dinner, we’d look at each other and say, “Where’s Tucker?” only to find him curled up in his crate taking a snooze. 

Don't mind me, I'm just chillin'.

Kaylee on the other hand has been a bit more challenging.  After starting her life on a backyard chain, then spending time in an outdoor kennel before coming to us, she hadn’t really had a lot of experience in a crate.  The first couple nights we had her, she cried for about 5 minutes before settling down to go to sleep.  Unfortunately it went downhill from there, to the point where at its worst, she was crying for upwards of an hour every night when we’d put her in the crate, and then off-and-on all night long, then again starting around 6:00 AM.  She would rather have slept anywhere but the crate, like here:

Here:

…or here:

It was rough.  Finally, we got a suggestion to move Kaylee’s crate from the kitchen into our bedroom, with the idea that maybe one reason she’s so distressed at night is because she’s separated from her “pack.”  So we did just that, and you would not believe the difference it made.  We thought for sure she’d still cry a bit, at least at first…but the very first night we moved her crate into our bedroom, she didn’t make a sound. Not. One. Peep.  All night long!

Then, last night, we had a major breakthrough.  As we were starting to power down for the night, Kaylee walked back to the bedroom and went into her crate on her own.  And laid down.  All by herself.  Without us even asking her to!

Let me say that again, because I’m not quite sure you really get how amazing that is: this is the same dog who would dig in her heels when we said “time for bed.” Who we had to literally drag into the crate at night, who could not be coaxed or bribed by treats or toys or anything.  When it was getting late, if we so much as said her name and took a step towards the kitchen, she would pancake herself against the couch, as if to say, “No way, no how, my friends, I am stayin right here.”

I'm good right, here thanks. No crate for me, no thank you.

It’s now been four nights since we moved the crate, that’s four nights of quiet bed times, and sleeping through the night without a sound.  We may eventually work on gradually moving the crate back into its normal spot in the kitchen, but for now we’re just enjoying the peace and quiet. Bliss.

For information on adopting our Sleeping Beauty, please contact Agape Animal Rescue.

~ 

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Kaylee and the Egg

We’ve gotten a lot of good advice over the few years we’ve been dog owners, and the few months we’ve been fosters.  When Oscar was young and in his Puppy Kindergarten class, our instructor introduced us to the idea of feeding him meals out of interactive treat/food dispenser toys, so we used to feed Oscar all of his meals out of “the egg.”   For some reason or another we’ve gotten away from it recently, but we decided to bust it out again with Kaylee because she just…Eats.  So.  Fast! 

These toys are great for a lot of reasons.   They help the dog eat slower, which obviously keeps them occupied longer (and gives you more time to do the laundry or cook diner undisturbed).  They also help exercise Kaylee’s mind as she tries to figure out how to gain access to her breakfast. 

Dogs need to practice their problem solving skills just like we do.  When their mind gets a work out, it mentally wears them out, just like a good walk physically wears them out.  This helps keep them engaged, sharp, and most importantly, not bored.  Because I think we all know what can happen when dogs get bored.

Kaylee is demonstrating “the egg” (as we call it, it’s actually called a Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble) here.  After Oscar got too good at it, it was no longer a challenge for him, so we added a Buster Cube to the rotation.  We’ll have to see how long it takes Kaylee to master it and move on to the Cube.

She’s pretty good at it so far, I don’t think it will be too long!

For more information on adopting Kaylee, please contact Agape Animal Rescue.

~

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Rub-a-Dub-Dub

Since Kaylee has been doing so amazing getting along with her foster brother and other dogs at the Dog Park, we’ve been making it a pretty frequent trip.  It never fails, we always come home with two very happy tired pups.  However, with the Dog Park comes lots of wrasslin’, slobber, mud, and delightfully smelly things to roll in.  We just couldn’t put it off any longer:  it’s Bath Time at Foster House.

What exactly is going on, here?

"Wait, why are you doing this to me?"

"But, I've been a good girl! What's going on?!?"

"Oh, it's over? Well that wasn't so bad...."

Even the collars got a bath.

All clean after a bath!

Dog Park and Bath Time all in one day is a lot of work!

"If enduring the evils of Bath Time means I get to snugle on Daddy's lap, then I'm in."

 
Kaylee, you’ve been holding out on us.  We’re on to your little secret now – that after Bath Time your beautiful brindle fur becomes as soft as velvet.  And since Snuggles are your absolute favoritest thing on the entire planet, I think you will come to enjoy bath time…since afterwords we are powerless against the draw of your sweet puppy shampoo smelling cushy furry face.  So I present to you this bargain:  if you promise to continue being as well-behaved during Bath Time as you were this time around, in return we promise to give you as many Snuggles as you want, for as long as we are lucky enough to have you with us.  Deal?
 
 
 
“Deal. Now get back over here and Snuggle me.”
If you would like to experience Kaylee’s post-bath snuggly softness for yourself, please contact Agape Animal Rescue
 
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