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

 

A letter to my foster Brody

Dear Brody,

This is a hard one. I mean, it’s never easy giving up a foster, but it does get easier the more you do it and sometimes the tears don’t fall when they leave. But, with you, it’s hard.

I just wanted to give you a place to crash until your forever family showed up. I thought we’d have some fun, get you more socialized and then your new family would show up. You are so cute, I figured it wouldn’t take too long. I’ve always said that being a foster is all about your mindset. If you know it’s temporary and you know you can’t have another dog because it would mean no more fostering, or if you know that every dog you successfully foster means another dog can be saved, it’s easier to keep it light. But I still knew that as a foster some dogs will test you and what a test you ended up being!

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As soon as you walked through the door, another shy, scared chihuahua, I knew this wasn’t going to be so easy. Rescued by a wonderful woman, your guardian angel Laura Weitner (read about and see the pictures here:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/llpsinc/photos/?tab=album&album_id=373293723063174), you had such an interesting backstory.  I don’t know how you did it, living alone in that disgusting house for nine months after your owner died, but I am so glad Laura had the determination to capture you and work to rehabilitate you for so many months. She loved you so much Brody, but knew, like I do, that she was just a part of your journey. She let you go to grow and get stronger with tears in her eyes much like the tears in mine now. I think back to when I went to pick you up, how you wanted nothing to do with me. I could see how attached you’d become to Laura and I wasn’t sure how you’d handle coming home with me.

And then we got home and you jumped in my lap! From day one, you were nothing like what I expected you’d be like. Other than your fear of strangers, you were so easy and so affectionate. And so quirky! What a funny personality you have. Obsessing over your lamb toy, demanding attention and crawling into my wine buffet or under my couch. I knew I had to be picky with where you ended up because you were too special. Your new family needed to appreciate your sensitive nature, your kind heart and let’s admit it, your moody nature with other dogs. I didn’t intend to have you this long and get this attached; I just wanted you to have the best.

I know you loved me and trusted me so I felt like I owed you this letter, but I know that this letter is more for me than for you. You will be fine and you won’t miss me as much as I will miss you. And that gives me the strength to say goodbye.

Thank you for showing me that I am strong enough to love so deeply and let go. You’ve cleared the space for another foster, when I am ready (and it will take some time.)

And, please come visit since you’ll be in Cleveland.

Love you forever Brody.

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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/

The Ones Who Seem to Have Given Up

I came across this photo recently on Instagram from a rescue group I follow and it really struck a cord with me.

photoMy dog Roscoe is one of these dogs. Sadly, had I not been lucky enough to foster him, I probably would’ve never considered adopting a dog like him. When I first took Roscoe in, he was extremely shy, fearful of being touched and cowered in the corner for the first few days. It took a long time for him to build up enough trust to let me pet him or put a leash on him. He still has issues to this day and will never be the type of dog that runs to greet me at the door (well, he does, but he also runs away as soon as I get too close) but I’ve learned that none of that really matters. Seeing the capacity a dog has to love, even after being through a traumatic event, is a remarkable thing that bonds you together like no other experience. Roscoe is such a special soul, I can’t imagine not having him in my life.

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What would I do without this face in my life everyday?

 

As I learned with Roscoe, you don’t really know what a dog is like until they receive the love they deserve. Most dogs in shelters, or when they first get into foster homes, are shut down and stressed out. How they are acting is just a reflection of their environment, not who they truly are. Of course, you should know what you can handle in your own life before taking on a challenging dog, but if you have the time and love in your heart to take on a dog that needs a little extra patience, it will be worth it. For me, I think it helped that I had one dog already that was very much the opposite of Roscoe, so when Roscoe would run away from me or show his teeth when I tried to pet him, I could walk away and give attention to my other dog.

Roscoe, the first day. So scared.
Roscoe, the first day. So scared.

 

Happy Roscoe at the beach in Charleston!
Happy Roscoe at the beach in Charleston!

This is also why fostering is so crucial. Like I said, most dogs do not put forth their best selves when they are stuck in a shelter environment. Getting a dog out of that environment and into a home where they can receive love is key to unlocking their true personality. I was so glad to see that the Cleveland Kennel began a fostering program earlier this year. If you’ve ever considered fostering, my advice to you is to do it! You learn so much and play such an important role in saving the lives of so many dogs. And, maybe, you’ll be lucky enough to meet a dog like Roscoe and fall in love.

If you want to read more about my adoption story with Roscoe, check out Lucky Puppy Magazine: http://www.luckypuppymag.com/lucky-puppy-of-the-week-roscoe-the-long-haired-chihuahua/ Roscoe was the Lucky Puppy of the Week!

Do you have a story about a “challenging” dog you adopted? I want to hear it! I’d love to start sharing local adoption stories, so drop me an email (contact@dogsinthecle.com) or comment below.

 

 

 

How to Help a Service Member this Veteran’s Day

Have you heard of the local organization Wags 4 Warriors? The group helps veterans with PTSD get a service dog at no cost to them. The non-profit, based in Brecksville, was co-founded by a veteran, Frank DeLorenzo (OIF Veteran) and Jen DeLorenzo to help service members who have come home and are dealing with some trauma from their combat experience.

Wags 4 Warriors works with local rescue groups to find appropriate dogs for the veterans and then pays for all of the training and support for the dog to become a part of the veteran’s family.

There are a few ways you can help this organization:

1. Organize a fundraiser – Some ideas they give on their website are:  Dress down days at work or school (pay a fee or make a donation to dress down), Garage sales, tag sales, bake sales etc., Gift basket raffles, Bike-a-thons, golf tournaments, wine tastings

2. Donate – You can make a monetary donation, or donate leashes, collars, bones, crates, treats, gentle leaders and other dog supplies. To donate, visit: http://www.wags4warriors.org/Support.html

Another great organization helping current service members is Dogs on Deployment. If you’ve ever considered fostering, but are worried you’ll get too attached to the dog, you might want to consider looking into this organization.

Dogs on Deployment (www.dogsondeployment.org) is an online network that finds foster homes for military personnel while they are deployed. Service members can go to the site to search for volunteers who are willing to board their pets while they are away.

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Three Ways to Help:

1. Board

Go to the site and create an account. You can select what you want to do. If you want to be a foster for a service member, choose the board option. Once you create your account, you can connect with service members and make boarding arrangements. As a boarder, you have the option to choose the amount of time you want to board, whether it’s less than 1 month, 1-3 months, 4-6 months, 7-12 months or greater than 12 months. The site says a typical deployment can last 6-12 months, but they do occasionally have military members who need short term boarding. Read more FAQs about boarding here: http://www.dogsondeployment.org/faqs/detail/boarding

2. Volunteer

Dogs on Deployment is always looking for volunteers to help out with local events and spread the word about the organization. I don’t see that any upcoming events in our area (Looks like the strongest presence for this group is in the south and on the west coast – so share with dog lovers you know in those areas!)

3. Donate

Beyond connecting military service members to people who can foster their dogs, Dogs on Deployment also provides financial assistance to military members and their families. According to GreatNonProfits.com, Dogs on Deployment helps over 700 military-owned pets per year. You can donate online here: https://store.dogsondeployment.org/donate.asp

You can also buy a cute bandanna or dog treats to support the cause: http://store.dogsondeployment.org/category-s/1817.htm

And because you don’t hear it enough, I am sure – thank you to all who have served!

What I’ve Learned from Becoming a Dog Foster

This past week marked one year since I began fostering for Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue. One year ago my first foster, a little white fluff ball named Vinnie, barked his way into my home and changed how I felt about being a dog mom, dog rescue, and, pretty much, my life.

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I am proud of myself for being able to give up Vinnie. This face!

 

Getting involved, no matter how small your role is, in rescue changes you. Once you open your heart to dogs that have been abandoned, neglected, discarded, whatever the case, it changes how you feel about dogs. If I thought I loved dogs before, it’s on a whole other level now.

The main thing that I’ve learned, which I pretty much knew but is now reinforced 100%, is that there is pretty much no reason to buy a dog. I do understand that some people want or need certain breeds based on their lifestyle, but in general every type of dog can be rescued. And that getting an older dog is probably a better fit for many people who want dogs. They are lower energy and generally potty trained (or were at some point and may just need a refresher). I loved fostering Vinnie, who was probably around 8-10 years old, because he was so mellow and laid back.

Being a foster also taught me a lot about being a better dog mom. I have always been an overprotective dog mom, always worried Hunter is going to get hurt or get sick and it can lead me to protecting him more than I probably should. When you love something as much as I do my dogs, it can be hard to imagine something happening to them. After becoming a foster and seeing what other dogs have been through, I have lightened up a little. To see Vinnie, being dumped at a shelter overweight and old, now playing with toys happily at his new home and Brady (my second foster) bouncing back from losing his mom and being left with strangers, you realize how truly amazing and resilient dogs are. I try to give Hunter a little more space now and realize that he is ok.

Picking up Brady, my foster
Picking up Brady, my foster

 

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Of course the biggest impact of becoming a foster and what has taught me the most, is adopting my second dog, Roscoe – my foster fail. Since I wanted a second dog I had a feeling I would foster fail at some point; the surprising part was the dog that I ended up adopting. Although I don’t dislike Chihuahuas, they weren’t on my list of favorite dogs. I always figured my second dog would be a Corgi or another Pom. It’s a funny thing though, how the right dog just seems to finds you. Early on, even when Roscoe was especially fearful and didn’t seem to be warming up much at all, I just knew in my heart I couldn’t give him up. Although I loved my first two fosters, I didn’t have that same feeling with them. They had easy personalities and I could see any family loving either of them. Roscoe was so sensitive and so scarred that I just wanted to protect him and give him the time and love he needed to feel safe. Once he started opening up more I knew he was here for good, that he had chosen us.

Another big part of adopting Roscoe was his relationship with Hunter. Hunter, although he can be a little bit of a bully, was so sweet with Roscoe, and Roscoe really seemed to take comfort in him. I’ve noticed since introducing Roscoe to more dogs that he is not really a fan of most dogs when he meets them. He will growl and show his teeth, but he never did this with Hunter. It’s like they had an understanding from the beginning. For me it didn’t matter what type of dog Roscoe was, it just mattered that I loved him, Hunter loved him and he needed a home. Ultimately, the type of dog doesn’t matter as long as he fits into your life and you love him. Adopting Roscoe has taught me that.

Snuggling with Hunter
Snuggling with Hunter

 

Roscoe has not been the easiest and it’s still a challenge every day. He still doesn’t like when anyone (even me) walks towards him or picks him up, but I have to remind myself how far he has come from the little guy shaking in the corner he was. And from time to time he’ll slowly back himself up to me for snuggles or nudge me with his paw for pets and I know all of the work is worth it. Although I know I’ve made mistakes along the way  (especially with Roscoe), I have also learned a lot and had so much fun. And I have becoming a foster to thank for that.

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Now I always have this face staring at me and I love it!

 

Two other things I’ve learned: One, fostering can be done at your own pace and any help you can give is appreciated. Since I adopted Roscoe I haven’t been able to foster more dogs (mainly because I don’t have a yard so three dogs would be hard to manage, and I want to give Roscoe more time to be comfortable), but that has not been an issue at all with the rescue group. There are so many other ways to help. You can also take breaks between fosters, request certain types of dogs you’re most comfortable with and really decide what works best for you.

And two – avoiding becoming a foster failure is really, really, really hard. Pretty much everyone does it. It’s important to know what you can handle though and make the best decision not only for the dog, but also for yourself and your lifestyle. With most rescue groups, you can play a role in choosing the family your foster dog goes to, and ideally keep in touch with them once you’ve given the dog up.

I hope to get back to fostering again soon, but I have remained as a volunteer for COPR, doing home visits and hopefully attending some adoption events when they have them in the NE Ohio area. If you have any interest in fostering, I highly recommend it, but there are so many ways to help out local rescue groups.

City Dogs will be holding a Volunteer Orientation this Saturday if you’re interested in finding out more info on ways to get involved in the local rescue community. More info can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1593073500965424/

And, of course, most other rescue groups are also in need for fosters/volunteers so you can always reach out to whatever group you’re interested in! Of course, I’m happy to answer any questions you have as well – I love talking about fostering!

Help Needed for Dedicated Animal Rescuer

Yesterday my day was consumed with following the news about a rescue friend of mine, Catherine Krzywicki, who lived through every dog owner’s greatest fear – a house fire with her dogs alone inside.

Thankfully a thoughtful teen, an aspiring firefighter amazingly, noticed the fire and contacted the fire department. If he hadn’t discovered it when he did, it would’ve been a much worse tragedy. One dog and one cat perished in the fire, and another cat went missing. Reports say around 17 animals were rescued, which I know is a shocking number of pets to some. No one who knows Catherine though, worries about how many pets she has (some are fosters and one she was pet sitting as she often does, by the way. Not all are her permanent dogs). We are just glad that these lost, unwanted animals have found a home with someone who will love them. I just want to emphasize here that these are animals no one wanted. She is not irresponsibly breeding animals and letting things get out of control. She is taking in animals that have no home, and likely won’t be adopted because they are sick and/or old. It’s a sad fact in the rescue world that there are far too many animals who need homes and far too few people caring for them.

Catherine takes in the elderly and sick dogs that no one wants and loves them more than most people love their family pets. She is one of my favorite friends on Facebook because of the photos she posts of her dogs -dressing them up for holidays, summer pool parties, whatever the occasion is. She was in my nosework class with her dog Spencer and I have seen her spend her whole day taking her dogs, on shifts, to the park for long walks. Her dogs, foster and permanent, are her whole life. I hate to see her being judged in the media merely for having a big heart. [Also, just to address media reports – her dogs have not gone to animal control nor are they going to rescue groups. Most have been at the vet and were taken in by friends yesterday to help her out until she can get back on her feet.]

Some of her beloved dogs.
Many of her beloved dogs.

At times like these, you have to look for the positive. The fortune of that teen walking by at that moment and the amazing support of the community who have now raised over $11,000 for her- really struck me. It shows that although terrible things happen to good people, when you’ve touched as many lives as Catherine has, you are never alone in times of tragedy.

I am in awe of the Cleveland dog community and so glad to live in this city with such passionate dog lovers. Although the outpouring of support has been immense, help is still needed. Several dogs are back at the vet and bills will likely be high.  Fosters may be needed as well to help Catherine out until she can get back on feet. If you can help, there is a You Caring page set up for her: http://www.youcaring.com/catherine-krzywicki-and-dogs-360865#.VWcbo_uAkLM.facebook

A big thank you as well to the Euclid Fire Department for showing such care for these animals. Thankfully the department had gas masks for the dogs, something I am not sure that every department has.

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I am hopeful one more positive thing will come out of this. I hope that others will be inspired by Catherine’s dedication to the animals in this community and look into fostering, donating their time or money to a rescue group, or adopting. Caring for homeless and forgotten dogs should be a community effort.

CLE Adoptable Canine of the Week!

Meet Guinness!

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From Secondhand Mutts: Guinness, a Doberman Pinscher mix, was a stray in the city of Cleveland taken to the City of Cleveland Kennel. Guinness has lots of energy and love to give to whomever will accept it. He would do best with a family that is willing to train him and get him through some basic obedience.

GuinnessSHM_body

Secondhand Mutts is seeking a foster home for him and hope his temporary “parents” can commit to taking him to weekly training sessions at HDP K9. Guinness is good with kids, he is crate trained and house trained. Guinness does have some prey drive with little animals and would do best in a home without cats or little dogs. He will require a yard with privacy style fencing. If you are interested in fostering Guinness please email them at foster_coordinators@secondhandmutts.org.

Read more about Guinness here: http://secondhandmutts.org/frog/

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

Some exciting news…

Meet Roscoe – the newest member of my family:

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Probably looks a little familiar? I was going to say I foster failed, but how can you fail when you end up with this guy? As a foster, you try your best to be practical and tell yourself that the love you give them is just getting them ready for their forever family. That you’ll be able to let them go if the right family comes around. And sometimes you do of course, but I don’t know how you don’t open your heart to the possibility that the dog you take in could be family. (Maybe once you end up with more dogs than you can handle, ha)

Roscoe came to me a scared, shy guy, frightened to be touched and terrified of taking a walk or going outside. In the first few weeks he took comfort in my dog Hunter, often snuggling up to him before he would even let me touch him. It took him about three weeks to take his first walk, and even longer to let me pet him or to walk towards me. I’ll never forget the day he finally broke through his wall and reached out his paw, nudging me to pet him. His eyes looked so scared but so desperate for some sort of connection. If I stopped petting him, he would nudge even more furiously. I was hooked from that moment, although I tried to tell myself otherwise.

It took me a while to decide to adopt him mainly because, as silly as it may seem, I did feel like a failure for not being able to give him up. As a foster you want to help as many dogs as you can, so knowing that if I adopted Roscoe I couldn’t foster anymore, made it a tougher decision. And of course it’s hard to give up a dog, but you have to be able to accept that as a foster. The other two dogs I fostered were very hard to give up even after only having for a short time, but I knew they found great homes and would adjust. They were happy, easy dogs. And, I know Roscoe could adjust too, but I just didn’t feel like anyone would understand him like I did. Those first few months of carrying him as I walked Hunter around the block, waiting outside for 45 + minutes for him to go potty (thank God it was the summer), bonded Roscoe and I. From day one, he has been the sweetest dog, never biting me all those times I know he was scared to death as I picked him up. And, he is a great snuggler. His little body just melts into me when he lets me hold him. He is still fearful and doesn’t love being picked up, but I want to keep working with him to see his true personality come through. We’ve been through a lot, I can’t wait to get to the really fun part when he realizes how great it is to be a dog who is loved.

I’m excited to finally make it official and introduce him to all that CLE has to offer (slowly). It’ll be interesting having two opposite dog personalities in the family, but I like a challenge! So, welcome Roscoe Theodore to the Dogs in the CLE family! (just don’t try to pet him yet, ha)

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Goodbye 2014!

Although I hate the getting older part of a new year, I am excited for 2015! I love the fresh feeling a new year brings; making lists of things I want to do and thinking about what changes I can make to improve my life. One of my resolutions (among many) is to try and enjoy January and February (my least favorite months) rather than just hibernate and try to get through them. Things speed along fast enough, so I want to enjoy the time I have with my dogs, friends and family.

2014 has been a really great year. I got a new job, met some great new friends and did something I’ve been wanting to do a while – became a dog foster. Becoming a dog foster has definitely been a life changing experience for me. I’ve only had three dogs, and two of them for a very short time, but it has taught me so much about myself, how to be a better dog parent to Hunter and increased my love of dogs even more. I know that it is cheesy, but dogs really teach you so much about being happy. Seeing these dogs and what they’ve gone through and how they are still open to people and love even after suffering because of their cruelty, is what makes dogs truly special. They live in the moment and don’t dwell on what’s happened in the past.

My guys Vinnie, Brady and Roscoe.

Not that they aren’t sometimes damaged too though. My current foster Roscoe is much more hesitant and has taken a lot more time than the other two to open up. Roscoe has made me earn every bit of love he gives, and it’s still a work in progress. The first time he took his paw and nudged at me to pet him, my heart melted. This little guy was still so scared, but so desperate for love that he reached out despite his fear. Earning his love has been such a gratifying experience and I can’t wait to see him come out of his shell even more.

In addition to becoming a dog foster, some of my other highlights of 2014 were taking Hunter to his first baseball game, seeing two dogs get married, going to a few dog fashion shows, writing an article on Cleveland for GoPetFriendly and visiting almost every dog friendly patio in Cleveland with Hunter this summer!

Here are some of my favorite photos of the year. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Year’s! Thank you for reading and stay tuned in 2015 for even more fun stuff to do with your dog.

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