The ones that are left

I don’t always know the background of the fosters that I get, but when I have found out the stories it usually breaks my heart. And not always for the dog, but sometimes for the owners. For many of my fosters, they were given up because the owner was very sick or died unexpectedly. I will never forget picking up my fosters Bear and Roxie at their owner’s home and seeing him cry as we took the dogs away. The owner was very sick and going to move in with his daughter for hospice care. When he died a month or so later, his obituary asked for donations to go to Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue. He loved those dogs so much that he made sure they were cared for even when he no longer could, the ultimate responsibility of a dog owner.

Part of dog ownership is caring for your dog for life, and that can mean knowing what you’d do with your dog if something were to happen to you. Rescue groups like Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue serve an important purpose to help out families who can no longer care for their dogs for whatever reason. Many individuals contact this group when they have to give up a dog, knowing that the dog will get a chance to go straight into a home and be cared for until his or her forever home is found.

In my mind, sickness and death are the only reasons to give up a dog and in an ideal world, rescue groups would only have to take in dogs from these circumstances. And in this ideal world, no one would ever drop a dog off a shelter, scared and alone. But sadly, that is not the case and rescue groups take in just as many dogs that have been abandoned at shelters. Because shelters are constantly overcrowded, groups like Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue, also pull dogs from shelters, like in the case of my recent foster, Boogie. Boogie was dropped off at the Cobb County Shelter in Marietta, Georgia.  I don’t know the circumstances of the family that gave him up, and I don’t want to judge since it may not have been an easy or thoughtless decision, but when I saw this photo from his intake record, my heart broke.

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It’s the trusting smile that kills me. Boogie has no idea his family just dropped him off at a shelter, all alone never to see him again. When I see Boogie’s trusting smile, my heart breaks for him, but also all the other dogs who won’t make it out, or the ones who will spend weeks or months alone at the shelter waiting for a chance to get out. Boogie was one of the lucky ones, being young and cute meant that the shelter knew they could find a rescue group for him. It’s not always the case for the old, the fat, the slightly mean or aggressive ones who are stressed from being left at a noisy shelter. Those dogs deserve a chance out too, but too often don’t get it.

I am not familiar with this shelter (although I have been told it’s a high kill shelter) and I know that many shelters are filled with caring individuals who dedicate their time to make these animals feel safe and secure, but I think we can all agree a shelter is not an ideal place for a dog to spend any amount of time. And, the sad fact is, the more dogs that end up at a shelter means the more dogs that will be euthanized for being too old, too challenging, or maybe even just a certain breed.

So this is all I ask. Make a plan for your dog. If something were to happen where you could no longer care for your dog, do a little research on what would be best. Ask that one friend on Facebook who is always posting dogs pictures (because we all have one of those, like me 🙂 ), if they know of any rescue groups or organizations that might be able to assist. Rescue groups take the load off of shelters and give dogs the chance to decompress in a home environment which makes the life change a little easier.

And if you know someone looking to give up a dog, educate them about alternatives to an animal shelter. Ways they can keep the dog, or if they have to give them up, lead them to a rescue group that can help.

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And most importantly, know that when you add a dog to your family, you make a commitment to care for that dog for life.  You don’t give it up because the dog is too old, or sick, or having some behavior issues. If you aren’t willing to care for the dog as you would a member of your family, don’t get one. You are responsible for another life, don’t let your decisions lead to their suffering or the suffering of other dogs in the community.

And, just an update on Bear and Roxie because I love this so much. Bear, the younger dog, was one of my most fearful fosters. Because the owner was older and got sick when Bear was young, I don’t think he socialized him much. Bear was adopted with his sister Roxie by a wonderful family who has devoted their time to training and making, especially Bear, feel safe and comfortable. Now Bear is competing and winning in Rally competitions! This is my absolute favorite foster story, and just another example of the fact you can never give up on a dog!

 

Before and after Bear. On the left, hiding under my bed, on the right, winning Rally competitions!

Boogie is up for adoption with Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue: https://www.facebook.com/pg/OhioPoms/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2201785316556883

And please check out all of the dogs up for adoption at the Cleveland Kennel. If you can’t adopt, donations, monetary and otherwise, are always welcome: https://www.petango.com/cacc

 

Common Misconceptions About Fostering

When I took in my first foster Vinnie for Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue someone said to me, “Oh that’s great that you took him in so he doesn’t have to stay at a shelter.” I didn’t have the heart to tell this person that actually Vinnie couldn’t stay at the shelter, that the shelter was days away from putting him down. Overweight and old, Vinnie had sat at the shelter for weeks with no interest. Luckily, many shelters network the dogs they take in and this shelter connected with Pom-savior extraordinaire, Kim Ray at COPR, who agreed to take him in. But Kim couldn’t do that without a network of fosters.

Vinnie, my first foster
Vinnie, my first foster

The sad truth is that many shelters don’t have the capacity, or money, to keep dogs for weeks and weeks. There are too many dogs they take in on a daily basis, that space just doesn’t allow it. And if a dog shows any slight sign of aggression, is deemed too shy, damaged or old, the shelter may have to make a tough call. It’s a sad reality, especially since most of these dogs wouldn’t be the way they are in the shelter if they just got a chance to decompress in a home environment. It makes me so sad to think the price they have to pay for circumstances a human has put them in.

So yes, it is true that fostering saves lives. Unfortunately, there are never enough fosters out there to save them all. Part of this is just numbers, but part of it is also that there are still so many misconceptions about what fostering really involves. Here are a few common misconceptions I hear and why they aren’t really true:

It’ll be too expensive

Fosters are not expected to cover all of the expenses of dogs they foster. Vet visits, medication, and often food, are all covered by most rescue groups. Money should never be a deterrent to fostering. As long as you have love to give and a home to provide the dog, you can be a foster.

I’ll have no choice in the type of dog to foster

I love dogs, but I am also not very experienced in dog behavior or training. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to foster because it would only be the high maintenance dogs with behavioral problems that would need homes and I’d be in over my head. After talking with some other fosters, I realized that all help is appreciated and you could let the rescue group know what type of dog would best fit in your life and find the right fit for you. Since I knew I liked Pomeranians, I looked for a Pom rescue group to foster for. Start where you are comfortable and see how you like it. Ultimately rescue groups want the experience to be successful, so you should feel comfortable letting them know if you’d rather have a small dog or a low energy or older dog. You should never feel pressured to take in a dog that isn’t a good fit for you.

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Beautiful Brady, my second foster.

It will be on me to find the dog a home

With most groups you can be involved as much or as little as you want in finding the dog a home. The rescue group will network the dog and find the right home, you just need to be in touch with them to tell them about the dog and give recommendations on what the best home for him or her will be. Some groups have events they may want you to take the dog to, but it’s usually not required. One thing you should be willing to do is to take lots of pictures!! Whatever rescue group you foster for will appreciate having pictures to share on their website and social media to network the dog.

I’ll want to keep the dog

To be honest, this one is usually true, but it’s not as impossible as it seems. Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye. Yes, you do get attached. But when you see the dog go off to a happy home, the sadness is fleeting. I think it would be a rare case to find a foster who regrets sending their foster dog off to a new home, no matter how much they loved him or her. It all really depends on your mindset. For as many fosters I’ve known that have “foster succeeded” and adopted their foster dog (I don’t use the term foster fail anymore, because really isn’t it a success when you love the dog so much you want to adopt him or her?) I also know plenty who haven’t. These people generally go in with the mind frame that this is temporary and they want to keep fostering, so they can’t adopt every dog they fall in love with. And one thing that can make it easier is knowing that you can play a role in finding him or her a home and then keep in touch with the family after the dog is adopted. I recently got the chance to watch Brady, one of my fosters, when his parents went out of town.

 

 

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Brady with his new family. Look at those happy faces! How could you regret giving up a dog when the result is a family this happy?

 

 

 

And yes, I did foster succeed with Roscoe. Sometimes it happens. I don’t regret it for one minute, but it did make me have to step back from fostering. It’s important to know what you can handle and if the right dog comes along, you shouldn’t feel as though you failed. You gave that dog a home, and that’s always a good thing.

 

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My foster success, Roscoe. Photo courtesy of Boots and Bee Photography.

 

Disclaimer: I am only speaking from my experience as a foster for COPR and from conversations I’ve had with other fosters. Different rescue groups may have different requirements or practices. It’s important to discuss with them what you can provide and what your concerns are to ensure it will be a good fit for you.

Check out my foster page to see two dogs currently in need of a foster home: https://dogsinthecle.com/adopt/

CLE Adoptable Canines of the Week

Meet Morty, Bert & Ernie!

From Dachshund Rescue of North America:

Morty is a 4-year-old dachshund mix. He is a down to earth, well-mannered sweetheart that just wants attention and love. Don’t let the 30lbs fool you, he thinks he’s a 10lb lap dog that just wants to be where you are and make you happy. We think he would do best with a retiree, or someone who is home a lot during to the day to give him the interaction he requires.morty

For more info on Morty, contact his foster mom Katie at kmandml@hotmail.com or visit http://www.drna.org/11574

Bert & Ernie are 6-year-old bonded brothers. They compliment each other so well. Bert is always rolling over on his back and loves to be held like a baby and Ernie loves to be center of attention. They both just want to cuddle and are such lovebugs and wag their tails anytime you are near them. Bonded pairs are great to have because while they are trying to get used to their new forever home they have each other which makes the transition so much easier. They are looking for a forever home together!

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Contact foster mom Katie at kmandml@hotmail.com or visit http://www.drna.org/11654 for more info.

CLE Adoptable Canine of the Week

Meet Jackie!

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From Secondhand Mutts: Jackie was found as a stray one evening in mid-September on Tillman Avenue in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Jackie is estimated to be around 2 years old and is a Jack Russel/Miniature Pinscher/Beagle mix. Jackie gets along incredibly well the 11 cats and one dog, Buddy, in his foster home.  He is sweet, loving and eager to please.   Jackie is energetic and loves to run and play and be chased with his toys by Buddy or cats.  He fetches and greatly enjoys his trips to the beach with Buddy.  Jackie is a joy to be around.  He does need a bit of training, but he learns very quickly.  He is also a good sleeper and sleeps through the night.

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For more info on Jackie, call 216-664-9660 or email rescue@secondhandmutts.org to set up a time to meet him.

Have a dog you’d like featured here, contact me at contact@dogsinthecle.com

CLE Adoptable Canine of the Week!

Meet Eddie!

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From City Dogs Cleveland: Eddie is a Terrier, Pit Bull/Mix around 2 years old. They don’t get much more affectionate than Eddy! He is super cute, cuddly and wiggly. He loves people and would like nothing more than to have his own home to receive all the love he can handle. He is great on a leash and makes fantastic eye contact. He’ll be super easy to train as he is so eager to please and learn. Approximately 30 lbs.

Contact City Dogs for more info on Eddie – (216) 664-3476, citydogs@city.cleveland.oh.us

CLE Adoptable Canine of the Week!

Meet BELLA!

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From the Parma Animal Shelter: Bella is a female Collie mix who is 1 year old and weighs 62 lbs. She is up to date on shots, heart worm negative and spayed.  Bella is a great dog and like all young dogs, obedience training would be preferred because she loves to jump and is excitable. For this reason it would be best if she went to an adult family with older kids 16 and up. We’d love for her to have a fenced in yard to burn off all her energy. Bella knows how to give you paw too! Please email: askdor@yahoo.com for more information about Bella.

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For more adoptable dogs, visit: https://dogsinthecle.com/adopt

Have a dog you want featured here? Email me at contact@dogsinthecle.com

World’s Largest Mobile Adoption Event Hits Cleveland

The Northeast Ohio SPCA has teamed up with the North Shore Animal League America to bring the Tour for Life, a nationwide adoption event, to Cleveland this Friday, April 17. A mobile van will roll into town and park at the Northeast Ohio SPCA (9555 Brookpark Rd., Parma) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Tour for Life celebrates 15 years on the road this year and will stop in 37 cities in 26 states. The group has been traveling since March, partnering with local shelters and rescue groups in each city to bring attention to pet adoption and find homes for homeless animals across the country. In addition to adoptable animals, there will be a giveaway from Purina, a vaccine clinic and educational presentations.

Here are some of the dogs that will be up for adoption. Spread the Word!

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You can follow the Tour for Life on instagram @AnimalLeague or the hashtag #tourforlife2015!