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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Divine Pedagogy

Well, the end of my Advent is shaping up to be...not at all what I planned or expected.

Remember the puppy from last week? Well, on Monday he went to a new foster home with children, more space - everything he could need! I've seen pictures and can say confidently that it was the right decision and even though I loved the little rug rat, he needed far more than I could offer, and my own dog needed far less than that pup was offering her!

After that experience, of course, my week was pretty calm and I finally got most of my Christmas cards out.

Then yesterday (Saturday), I received an email - could I emergency-foster a 1.7 month old Rottweiler who needed to be moved from his current foster home ASAP? I looked up his info on the rescue's web page, called the rep back and obtained a little more info on him. It seemed appropriate to take the risk.I said Yes.

We introduced my dog and the newcomer on neutral ground and walked them back to my house where they actually began to play. The young Rottweiler, however, was not quite really understanding play-time. He first didn't seem to understand my dog's play-bow in his direction, then started "copying" her moves - it was quite hilarious! My favorite, though, took place much later in the evening after he'd had his dinner. While my dog finished checking his bowl for crumbs, he began inviting her to play. He pounced and pounced and wheeled around and play-bowed - to my dog's butt! She was totally oblivious to the desperate drama taking place behind her.

Unfortunately, though, although all of this was hilarious, it again quickly got very old for my dog and she began seeking solace from me just to get away from the young dog's playful advances. I also ran into a great deal of frustration as the dog is still "intact" (ahem!) and as such, has a hobby of "marking". It doesn't matter how often I have taken him in and out throughout the evening and day. The moment we come back in he's alternating between trying to chew on me (OW!) and lifting his leg on something. I have to watch him very closely and the moment he even SEEMS to be sniffing I yell a warning to him so that he will desist.

The best, though, was this morning. We must have walked for about 45 minutes or an hour and he absolutely REFUSED to "poo". We got inside, I took his leash off thinking perhaps he'd go next time I took him out. As long as it took to turn my back, he had peed and pooped all over the floor!

I cleaned it up, took him out and threw the "refuse" in an area of the yard so that he would associate that with the business that belongs OUTSIDE.

Somewhere in the middle of scrubbing the carpet...and the chair...and the carpet there....again...I realized it would behoove me to buy stock in "Nature's Miracle." As it was, I had to go back to the pet store today to get MORE of it!

Now, it is a consolation that this dog won't be with me for long. I know someone is already interested and I advised his rep that I can't take him with me for Christmas. He's far too rambunctious and out-of-control and I'm terrified he'll both pee all over my brother's house and potentially knock my mother down. Not a good risk.

Mind you, this dog is not mean or aggressive. He's just a very large puppy who doesn't understand manners. He's also cooped up right now in a small house with no way to run freely to get his energy (and other stuff - ahem) out.

So it was this morning that I mused and prayed and mused again on my way to Mass. I swore to myself I would NEVER take another puppy again because both my dog and my house are just not good for puppies. As it is, I'll have to kennel the creature so I can wrap Christmas gifts, and I can't actually get anything done unless it's something that can be completed in 5 minutes with a constant shift of attention to see where the dog is and what he might be sniffing. Or chewing, for that matter. (He really likes my cedar chest.)

I'm having to develop ADHD as a coping mechanism!

Then it struck me: NOW I know what's going on!

At the beginning of Advent I once again offered a little prayer and asked God to help me become more patient, more caring, to grow in virtue in these areas. I shuddered as I offered the prayer because those virtues, much like asking for humility, tend to be answered with a Divine bat upside the head!

This afternoon while I wrote a "bio" for the foster dog to help him be adopted, I still felt frustrated and found I had to dig to really look for this dog's great points. I know he's a good dog and deserves a good home. I know he's more rambunctious with me because he's free to move around, has another dog to play with (when she does play), has a person to walk him and pet him and give him awesome food. He's responsive, he is protective, he is playful and won't let me out of his sight. That means he bonds quickly. He is exactly what a healthy dog of his age should be, minus a bit of training for he has clearly been neglected in that area.

In other words, what does he need from me? Patience and understanding!

OK, God, I get it. Thank you for answering my prayer. *sigh* 

My dear friends, do take care what you ask from God, because if you mean it (and He always knows if you do or not, even if it's only a little), He WILL answer. And seriously, I mean it, BE CAREFUL!

I'm just sayin'....if you ask for patience, humility, or a chance to sacrifice....God might answer your prayer just like He answered mine: by sending you a  65 lb unschooled young Rottweiler!  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How to Foster a Puppy

Well, it wasn't part of my Advent plan, but a last-minute thing came up, and as it turns out, I'm fostering a puppy.

Yup. A puppy.

Yesterday afternoon when I was asked to do this, and told it was a "six-month old shepherd mix" I pictured the first dog I adopted as an adult: a 60 lb nearly-grown puppy. Well, much to my surprise, last night when the bundle of joy was introduced to me I found about a 25 lb small puppy who could properly be named "Jaws."

So! For all you dog lovers out there, I thought I'd provide a helpful "how-to" in case you, too, are interested in fostering a puppy!

Without further ado....


1. Pick up the puppy, get dog food, make sure you have a crate of some type, some squeaky toys, and treats.

2. Drive home.  Pull over on the way and remove the seat belt from the puppy's mouth. Carefully re-enter traffic and continue driving home. When you arrive, be sure to introduce your dog to the puppy on as "neutral ground" as you can manage.

3. If safe to do so, leave the puppy in the car while you run to get your dog, let her go potty, and then go to the car to get the puppy.

4. Open the car door while holding your dog's leash firmly. Scramble to half-catch the puppy as he tries to explode from the car, barely manage to grab the leash while gritting your teeth against the pain of rope-burn.

5. Untangle the leashes.

6. Watch the dogs as they are introduced - does the resident dog seem too intense? Hackles up? Baring teeth? Or just sniffing cautiously.

7. Remove the puppy from the astonished resident dog's head.

8. Untangle the leashes again.

9. Go for a walk. Make sure the male puppy doesn't pee on the resident dog. Ensure the puppy doesn't consume resident dog's poo. (Sorry, necessary warning!) Try not to step in said poo while untangling leashes again, and try not to fall in said poo when leashes are tangled around one's legs.

10. Return home. As resident dog is "in charge", make sure to support the alpha by removing her leash first no matter how annoying the puppy is in inhibiting you from doing this. Once resident dog is free and no longer entangled in either leash, drop the puppy's leash and let it drag for awhile just in case you need to snatch him back outside or away from something. Give him freedom to sniff around to get to know his new surroundings. Just watch him like a hawk.

11. Take the shoe away from the puppy. Hand him his squeaky toy.

12. Introduce the puppy (gently!) to the kennel. Go outside to bring the car in and get the rest of the puppy's toys from the car.

13. Let the puppy out of the kennel. Let the dogs "romp" a bit if it seems to be going well.

14. Take the piece of paper away from the puppy and replace it with a chew toy.

15. Remove the puppy from the couch.

16. Go into the kitchen to get the dog food ready.

17. Return to the livingroom at the sound of a very loud YIPE! followed by the resident dog slinking into the kitchen with her ears back. Ask who bit whom?

18. Take the blanket throw from the couch away from the puppy. Replace it with one of his chew toys. Watch him squeak away happily at it. Praise him enthusiastically.

19. Go back into the kitchen. Kick the dogs out of the kitchen. Realize the resident dog is trying desperately to get away from the puppy. Allow the resident dog into the kitchen and put the baby gate up. Watch the puppy sitting outside the gate wagging his tail hopefully and looking up at you with big puppy eyes.

20. Feed the dogs their dinner, return to the livingroom with a movie to watch. Sit on the couch with the resident dog who is still trying to get away from the puppy. Watch the puppy invite the resident dog to play. Watch the resident dog bare her teeth in warning because she does not want to play. Watch the puppy persist. When ignored, watch the puppy first bite the resident dog's tail and then her paws. Watch that not be a very popular course of action from the perspective of the resident dog.

21. Remove the puppy from the resident dog's presence and place yourself in between them so as to run interference.

22. Rewind the movie several times as you have not been able to actually watch this scene yet.

23. Realize sitting on the couch is not helpful so sit on the floor on the dog bed against the couch with a squeaky toy and try to contain the puppy. Rewind the movie again.

24. Watch the puppy as he roams and seems to be "sniffing" for a spot. Take the puppy out. Remove the leash from his mouth. Realize he doesn't want to go "out". Return inside.

25. Rewind the movie again. Sit back down with a toy and the puppy. Try to give the resident dog a lot of praise and attention too.

26. Watch the puppy sniff around on a rug and squat. Yell "NO!" and grab the puppy's leash. Throw a paper towel over the soiled spot and take the puppy out, praise him when he finishes going potty outside. Bring him back in. Remove the leash from his mouth. Try not to play tug-of-war in doing so.

27. Go get "Nature's Miracle", soak up as much of the mess out of the berber carpet as you can, spray the spot with the cleaner, soak it up, repeat. Take a shoe away from the puppy. Return to cleaning the rug. Put the cleaning implements away. Take the soiled paper towel away from the puppy and deposit it in the garbage. (The paper towels, not the puppy!)

28. Return to the movie. Rewind it again. Play "fetch" several times with the puppy.

29. Accidentally get into a "tug-of-war" game with the puppy. Make sure you win!

30. YIPE loudly when puppy accidentally bites you while you are winning the tug-of-war game you didn't intend to play.

31. Sit down at the computer to write about "how to foster a puppy".

32. Find it endearing that he is sitting on your feet while chewing on a proper toy. Hear a crunch and remove the teddy bear's eye from the puppy's mouth. Return to typing.

33. Realize the puppy is investigating computer wires. Push the puppy away and block the area with another object. Give the puppy a toy. Return to typing.

34. Hear another crunch. Remove the other teddy-bear's eye from the puppy's mouth.

35. Pet the puppy because he is really really cute! Remove your shirt sleeve from the puppy's mouth. Tell the puppy to get a toy. Remove your pant leg hem from the puppy's mouth. Tell him again to get a toy.

36. Realize you ARE what the puppy considers to be a "toy". Stand up and get a proper chew toy. As the puppy comes at you with a a wide open mouth ready to bite you again, stuff the toy in his mouth and watch him squeak away happily. Go sit down and rewind the movie.

37. Realize it is late. Take the puppy  and resident dog outside to go potty, put the puppy in his kennel and go to bed.

38. Get up in the morning, immediately get on the cold-weather gear and get the resident dog's leash on. Approach the kennel, leash in hand. Catch the puppy as he explodes out. Entirely miss him. Chase him off the couch. Take the couch pillow away. Try to catch him to put the leash on. Intervene when puppy pounces on resident dog who does NOT like being pounced upon. Try to catch the puppy. Take the couch pillow away again. Put it out of reach. Finally get the leash on. Untangle the leashes. Open the inner door. Untangle the leashes again. Praise resident dog for being so patient and quiet. Go outside with the dogs. Try not to slip on the ice when being pulled in several directions at once. Untangle the leashes again...

40. Welcome to life with a puppy!  (Don't worry, they grow out of it.....!)  ;-)


41. Notice how resident dog is getting snippier and snippier alternated with trying desperately to get away from puppy in active mode. Realize how this is not a good thing for either dog.

42. Contact dog's adoption representative to update and request he be moved to a more appropriate home.

43. Pray and wait for some hapless foster to take said adoption rep up on the offer to bring home the cutest puppy EVER!

44. Continuing working on maintaining peace in current home while scrambling to keep the puppy busy....