Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 in Fosters - A Retrospective

As 2012 winds to a close, it's time to reflect on the foster dogs who came through this house in the past year.

Just like in 2011, all our fosters came from Southern states: Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. They were adopted out all across the country: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Vermont are homes to our fosters now.

Here are the fosters we housed in the past twelve months.

1. Crookytail the Benevolent, RL1 (January 2012)
The One Who Stayed

Crookytail was my first pull from Robeson County, North Carolina. RCAS and neighboring Sampson County became the focus of my rescue efforts in 2012, in part because Liberty County's rescue team became so successful that their shelter's save rate went from 2% to 98%, and thus all the dogs I wanted to pull were spoken for before I got to them. Also, I'd gotten more confident about my ability to pick out good dogs instead of relying on other people to choose them for me.

Thus began the Era of Crookytail, in which he added his considerable talents to our fostering team, and everything got way better than it had ever been before. All the fosters start smiling in their pictures a lot more once Crooky joins the team.

This year, Crookytail went from a dog with absolutely no formal training to a titled Rally Obedience dog. Granted, he didn't love the sport and is retiring as a RL1, but I'm still proud of him, and in 2013 he'll be able to get back to his real job: guidance counselor to foster dogs.

2 and 3. Jackie and Erin (March 2012)
The Trailer Park Kids

After Crooky joined us as a permanent dog, I did puppies for a while because I didn't think I could handle three full-sized dogs. Little did I know that puppies are actually a WAY bigger pain in the ass. Jackie and Erin, the two on the right in that picture, were the first of our foster puppies. They were "found" in a cardboard box in a trailer park (in reality, the person who claimed to have "found" them was probably their owner who just didn't want to be held responsible for dumping a litter of puppies).

Because dogs in Robeson County frequently get no preventative care or vaccinations whatsoever, both of these puppies came down with parvo a few days after I pulled them. They had to go into the doggy ICU and get IVs for a few days. All told, their vet care cost about a thousand bucks, and Erin died anyway. Jackie survived and made it to Philly. She got adopted two days later.

4 and 5. Cerise and Razzmatazz (March - April 2012)
The Burnout Babies

I'll tell you a secret: even the best foster parents don't always love all their dogs.

These two were my least favorite fosters ever. It wasn't their fault, but I still never liked them very much. They had sarcoptic mange and were being treated with lime-sulfur dips, so they smelled terrible and I had to give them medicine four times a day and wash my hands every time I touched them and Dog Mob had to take preventative medicine too. Because they were itchy and miserable, they just wailed constantly and scratched all the time and were basically impossible to train. Because they were hound mixes, their wailings were LOUD, which did not endear them to me, as we live in a condo and our next-door neighbor was a doctor who was eight or nine months pregnant at the time and already not sleeping well.

We had these puppies for two weeks, then Cerise got adopted and Razz went to go stay with a lady who was fostering one of her other littermates.

6 and 7. Indy and Little Fox (April - May 2012)
The Melon Collies

These two little monsters were a couple of collie mixes that I pulled from North Carolina. Their mother was a collie mix; their fathers were probably two different dogs. Little Fox's father was definitely a German Shepherd (her owners were kind enough to tell the shelter staff that as they were dumping the mother), but Indy's father was most likely a yellow Lab or Lab mix.

A friend of ours decided to adopt Indy (the beige one), so I kept her a couple more weeks for basic training and put Little Fox up for adoption. Little Fox got adopted by a very nice older couple in Bucks County. Indy lives in Alabama with our friend now, where she eats his furniture and destroys his remote controls and is generally a massive troublemaker. I told him that was going to happen, but he insisted he wanted the tomboy and not the polite little lady, so that's what he gets.

After those two left, I decided I was never doing puppies again. NEVER.

8. Mab (June - July 2012)
The Smart One

That summer, some more friends decided that they wanted to adopt a dog, so they contacted us for help picking one out. I sent them a couple of possible candidates and they chose Mab, a little black border collie in RCAS. Mab got out of the shelter with about 90 minutes to spare. She turned out to be the smartest foster we've ever had -- just ridiculously quick to learn and easy to train. If she hadn't already been promised to our friends, I would have been sorely tempted to keep her, but as is I'm just delighted that she went on to such a good home. She lives in Vermont now and has a wonderful extended family of dogs.

9. Eldwin/Etta (August 2012)
The Happy One

Eldwin, who was later renamed Etta, was another foster dog that I was briefly tempted to keep. She was a little shepherd mix who came out of RCAS and also proved to be super smart, as well as happy and smiley and instantly endearing. Luckily she got an adoption commitment from a dream home with a young couple in Philly within two or three days of arrival, so I could file her away mentally as "taken" and stop myself from getting too attached. She was only with us for ten days, and it's a good thing, too. Any longer and she might never have left.

10. Tulip (August 2012)
The Short-Term Pee Sprinkler

I barely got to know Tulip, a beagle mix from SCAS who was in and out of here in less than 48 hours. She was sweet, but really timid and a major submissive urinator. Crookytail helped bring her around, and she showed a good bit of improvement in the short time she was here, but we didn't really have enough time to fix that issue, because Tulip got adopted almost immediately. Hooray, less pee mopping for me.

11. April (August - September 2012)
The Good Mama

April was a soft-hearted, gentle black Lab/border collie mix from rural Tennessee, where she had been found outside a branch bank with her daughter Scarlett. The local rescue hadn't been able to get her adopted, so they sent her and a few other dogs to my rescue group. Scarlett got adopted immediately (puppies always go first), one of our friends and his wife decided to adopt April soon after she got here, and I got to deal with the toughest potty-training case I've been faced with so far.

I owe a lot to the magic powers of Crookytail on this one. With his help, April was brought out of her depression and given a crash course in remedial socialization and successfully started on potty-training. She now lives with two cats in Wisconsin and is a very lucky dog. It turns out that she loves snow, which is good, because she'll be getting a lot of it out there.

12. Shelby/Sydney (October - November 2012)
The Box Dog

Shelby, later renamed Sydney, was yet another mama dog who sat in the shelter after her puppies had been adopted (although in Sydney's case, only one of her puppies actually got adopted -- the other died, probably of hookworms, before his adopters could pick him up). Although she was smart and sweet and blessed with exotic markings, no one seemed to want her. On her last day, the shelter director sent out a plea across Facebook for someone to pull this special little dog.

She was in rough shape when I pulled her; she was severely underweight and had a massive parasite load, including heartworms. Luckily, other generous people had been touched by the director's plea and donated hundreds of dollars to cover Sydney's medical bills. Even so, she had to spend a full month on crate rest before she could go up for adoption.

But Sydney came through heartworm treatment like a champ and proved to be an adaptable, friendly, quick-learning dog who went on to a great home in upstate New York with three other dogs. She was another one that I wanted to keep, because she was smart and had great hind-end awareness and a really nice natural side pass, but alas, I can't have three dogs. And she scored an excellent home, so I'm pretty happy with that.

And that is the recap of 2012 in foster dogs. In just a few more weeks, we'll saddle up to start again in 2013. Crookytail is excited and Pongu is filled with loathing at the prospect of bringing in some new foster fuzzbutts. I'm already scouting for prospects.

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