To those of you in rescue

For those of you in rescue who feel that you can never do enough, who are affected just as deeply by all the souls you are not able to rescue from the shelter as by the ones whose lives you change with your time and love–your efforts are recognized. Your work is appreciated, most of all by the four-legged furballs who have forever homes because of you. It’s a stressful time of year, and I’ve read so many posts from you, worried about the animals we cannot help, worried that you may need to step away from rescue to take care of family. Your contributions inspire me SO MUCH. THANK YOU for your selflessness. I’m sure you’ve read The Parable of the Starfish before, but I wanted to share it because it is the core of every volunteer effort. We help one at a time. This is what we can do, and it makes a difference.

The Parable of the Starfishstarfish-beach
Source unknown

One morning a man was walking on a nearly deserted beach. He came upon a boy surrounded by thousands and thousands of starfish. As eagerly as he could, the youngster was picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean.

Puzzled, the older man looked at the boy and asked, “Little boy, what are you doing?”

The youth responded without looking up, “I’m trying to save these starfish, sir.”

The old man chuckled aloud, and queried, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

Holding a starfish in his hand, the boy turned to the man and, gently tossing the starfish into the water, said, “It will make a difference to that one!”

Meet Belle, our first foster dog

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Belle

Our first foster Rottie is finally here. 10 month old Belle spent the past weekend going from one volunteer driver to the next on her journey from Los Angeles, California, to Eugene, Oregon. Her traveling buddy and fellow Rottie, Daisy, is now with another Eugene foster family as well.

Two coordinators from the rescue group came to help with dog introductions over the course of a strategically planned walk. They led the way with Belle while my husband and I followed closely behind with our family dogs, Frieda and Lola. Our girls were allowed to sniff at Belle’s behind during the walk, but they were discouraged from any face to face interaction. This went fairly well. Lola was easy going and nonchalant. Frieda was dying to sniff, then after she’d sniffed, she just wanted to be in front, leading. About halfway, we switched places in the line, and Frieda and Lola walked in front of Belle, allowing her a turn to sniff them. Thumbs up.

We returned home and walked around the backyard on leash for awhile before letting Belle off leash first, then Lola, then Frieda. Lola and Belle seem to get along fine. Frieda, younger, alpha, and more uppity than Lola, was more intimidating for the new dog. The three attempted play several times, though it was broken up cautiously each time it got too energetic. After awhile in the backyard, we moved inside the house. Satisfied that the foster was in a safe place, the coordinators left.

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Left to right: Belle, Frieda, and Lola

Together with the kids, we took all three dogs on a 2.5 mile walk. Belle would easily pull ahead if allowed, and is just a little insecure on leash, but these are mild issues that will alleviate with consistent walks. We passed several other dogs on the route, and though she showed interest in them, she did not exhibit aggression or overly excited behavior. She so far has been fine with each of the kids, especially with our youngest, who has never been without dogs and has to be told to give them their space.

Even after the walk, it took Belle awhile to calm down and stop pacing at home. She constantly tried to jump in my lap. This might have been fine if she were a lap dog, but even as a smaller Rottie, she’s simply too big and therefore is learning the command “off” again and again. We had a monstrosity of a pee accident (apparently she did not pee outside after our long walk but saved it for the length of our hallway). She has trouble with “sit”, but we’re working on it.

Belle was found wandering the Sonoma Desert. Her prior owners were located, but they did not want her returned to them. Rather than find her a more suitable home, they chose to abandon her. She exhibits every potential to be a great forever pal for someone. If you are willing to lead, she is more than ready to learn. It is already clear to me that her future person cannot be a pushover. True to her Rottie core, if you let this girl have her way with where she wants to sit, and how, when, and what she wants to eat, she will quickly rule your home. If you want a cute puppy but aren’t into consistent walks and you think enforcing boundaries is cruel, please look somewhere other than the Rottweiler.

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Finally pooped.

There are already two potential adoptive families scheduled to meet Belle on Friday this week, which means she could be our foster for only five days. I’ve been so excited to meet our first foster that when she arrived, it was like having a rock star in the house. She is an absolutely beautiful young Rottie and we’re going to work on what we can while we have her.

Ready, Set, Wait

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The third Kuranda bed is good to go.

Oregon doesn’t usually experience prolonged 90 degree weather, but we’re roasting in it this week and next. Our foster dog hasn’t arrived yet, and we wait, the furries sprawled about, all of us lethargic without A/C, ready for a call to start our adventure.

I’ve become increasingly fascinated at how rescue organizations work and how it’s decided what dog is routed where and by whom. There are groups who focus on one species, those whose rescues span species, and those who are breed specific. Other organizations engage in a specific situation, like those who find foster families for pets of deployed military service people. Since many rescue groups do not have the facilities that animal shelters do, they rely heavily on fosters, and when those aren’t available, they try to coordinate with shelters to use shelter space. Often, the shelters themselves are at capacity and in need of fosters as well. Spay and neuter your animals, people!

The networking and logistics of this largely non-profit rescue effort impresses me. Volunteers sit behind computer screens, locating animals in need, coordinating transportation, and posting information on various websites to find potential homes. Others put serious mileage on their cars, part of a modern pony express of drivers who get the dogs to where they have a better chance of finding a home. And there are those like us joining the chain, waiting at home until we can be of use to an animal that is most likely stressed and in need of calm consistency.

We are likely to foster one of two Rotties making its way up from California. We don’t know the background of either dog except that both were rescued from high-kill shelters. I was told that the rescue group will try to do a temperament testing on both when they arrive. Keep in mind that shelter animals aren’t tantamount to bad or dangerous animals. There are numerous reasons why an animal might end up in a shelter, many having to do with inadequate owners.

I just counted over 75 Rottweiler rescue groups in the US. Can you imagine the entire web of all rescue organizations and the efforts of thousands of volunteers? Beautiful. Ready to get to work.

 

The Home Check: Are We Fit to Foster?

Carrie, a volunteer from the rescue organization, came yesterday to determine whether or not our home was ready for a foster dog.

She walked through the main areas of our house, pointing out quiet spaces, like behind one of our couches, where the dog might appreciate having a crate set. She suggested the French doors between the dining room and extra room to be a good place for introducing the dogs, as our dogs and the foster can check each other out through the glass and sniff at each other beneath the door.

Our enclosed backyard got the thumbs up, provided we move one structure away from the fence so that the dog won’t be able to jump onto it and escape over the fence. Carrie applauded the electric wire that ran the length of the backyard fence near the base. She agreed with how useful it could be with an escape artist dog. We have had too many escapes to go without it. Our Rott/Lab Frieda broke out constantly over a period of two or three months, oftentimes within the first 10 minutes of being let outside, and usually by tearing off pieces of cedar board fencing at the base. After the electric wire was set up and she received her first zap, she hasn’t torn off another board.

all-a-board-2We’ve decided to foster with a Rottweiler rescue group. We love the intelligent, protective Rottweiler tendencies in our Frieda girl, and would love to work with other Rotties. Fullbred Rotts are said to be stubborn, headstrong animals who will usurp the dominant position if the humans allow. We’ve seen that potential in Frieda; that with more enabling owners, she could use aggression to rule the roost. Seen it, and never allowed it. We’ve provided consistent leadership with her and have been rewarded with an extremely loyal protector.

Carrie went over some useful tips about the Rottweiler breed. I think most of these are applicable to all dogs:

-They might not appreciate prolonged eye contact. Some Rotts take this as a challenge.

-Never allow a child to tease the dog or pull at any bodyparts.

-They do not like having the tops of their paws touched.

-Never put your face squarely in front of a Rott. (I’ve seen people do this with dogs they don’t know. Never a good idea.)

-Have the dog on leash when introducing it to new people or animals.

-Always have dog on leash outside. (I wish everyone followed this rule.)

Over the course of the visit, we heard about Carrie’s own 100 pound Rottweiler and the potential that our foster could be a full grown Rottie as well. I experienced my first “Wait…aaah…what are we doing? Should we be doing this?” My foremost concern is for the safety of our kids. We will have to be vigilant with whatever animal we bring into our house, but more so with an animal that is large and powerful. We will start talking to my daughter soon about what fostering means and how we need to behave around animals we don’t know. I am still convinced we can do this and that it is overall a win-win situation and I am so excited to meet and work with our first foster. Word is we may have him or her within a week.