Here is the post I thought I’d put up earlier this week before I left for the cabin to celebrate my birthday:
[Note: much has changed since then I will update you later this week!]
All of the puppies are now in their forever homes. So, it was time to pick up the really special dog I’ve been anxiously awaiting!
I thought there would be a brief overlap between the last remaining puppy who was supposed to go home Saturday and the new foster dog who was to arrive on Friday night.
Friday we all listened to Pippin’s sad cries from the puppy room, interrupted by brief visits from friends who held her or distracted her. We hadn’t been through a puppy/litter withdrawal since Homeboy/girl (you have to read that hilarious/embarrassing story to understand that name).
Late in the afternoon, it dawned on me that because her adopter was another OPH foster, I could meet her adopter at the transport location for my new foster dog (it was closer to her house) and we could unload the whiner have the adoption that night instead of waiting until Saturday.
My newest foster, Tito (OPH Lieutenant Howl) arrived on the transport van just ten minutes before Emily appeared to meet Pippin. I handed off the happy puppy to the happy adopter and headed home with Tito.
Let me tell you about Tito!
Nancy and I met Tito when we were traveling in Tennessee in March for Who Will Let the Dogs Out. He was rescued by Amber and Branden with Halfway Home Rescue (a fabulous rescue saving dogs in western, Tennessee – if you’re looking for a good cause to help – check them out!).
Tito was found with a twenty-foot logging chain around his neck. His ears had been cut off so severely that you could see right into his ear canals. This was not the work of a veterinarian. This was someone who mutilated their own dog most likely to make him look ‘tough.’ The logging chains are often used by ignorant, cruel people to try to build up a dog’s neck and shoulder muscles for the same reason as cutting the ears. Image. In many places in this country, having a tough looking pitbull is a status symbol.
Despite that rough start to life, Tito is the happiest of souls. When we met him in March, he was in a puppy pen in Amber’s garage. Tito weighs 55 pounds (of solid dog – that chain did its trick), yet he was content as can be to stay inside a puppy pen he could easily have knocked over. He jumped up carefully on the side of the pen at the sight of us, ready to give kisses and snuffles and accept any treats we had. We gave him a toy and he spun circles of happy before commencing chewing. He stole both our hearts.
I followed his story as he moved through the rescue channels. Amber said he was so great with other dogs she used him for ‘dog-testing’ new dogs. He didn’t bat an eye at the cats and continued to love every person he met.
Next he moved to RARE, a rescue just outside of Nashville, because he would have a better chance of adoption there. He continued to be his happy self. In fact, he was so happy, that he developed ‘happy tail’—a condition in which a dog wags his tails so forcefully and continuously, that he ruptures it over and over banging it into things (most likely the sides of his crate). The wounds would not heal because Tito just opened them again and again with his wagging. There was no option but to amputate his tail (a common treatment for happy tail).
When he was put under anesthesia for his neuter, the vet also amputated his tail. Now his little nub still wags non-stop, but at least he doesn’t hurt himself.
Eventually Tito was adopted. I was happy for him and thought that was the end of his story. But a few weeks ago, I learned that he had been returned. I immediately reached out to my rescue contact in TN to ask what happened and whether she thought OPH might pull him. That dog deserved to be in a real forever home, and if I could, I wanted to help make that happen.
I mentioned to Nick that we might foster him. I showed him his pictures. He knows me well enough to know I had ulterior motives. I confessed that yes, a part of me wanted to foster him so that we could potentially adopt him. And to my surprise, he was okay with that. In fact, he liked the idea.
We already have two dogs and we don’t need another dog.
Gracie has finally become an unflappable senior set in her ways, but Fanny, my sweet girl, is an anxious and fearful dog. She is happier and more confident with a playmate around which is why I’ve taken in a steady stream of young male foster dogs to keep her company.
Gracie, to her credit, does occasionally try to play with Fanny, but she generally lasts for one race around the living room and a brief encounter in which she snarls at Fanny who grovels on the ground in excitement. This is followed by Gracie having a coughing fit and wandering away dazed and regretting the effort.
So, my thought was—maybe Tito could be Fanny’s emotional support dog. He certainly has the energy, the play, and the confident, happy attitude.
Now that he’s here, I don’t know if he can be. He is big and strong and so MUCH. Don’t get me wrong—he’s a great dog. So loving and happy.
But he has a lot to learn about house manners and has been restricted to the kitchen with its worn wood floor indefinitely. He is new to leash walking and has a powerful urge to sniff. He loves to be outside and has already slipped out our door, forcefully pushing past whoever hesitates. Luckily, he doesn’t go anywhere. Usually he’s trying to find me.
My kids are so in love that they are working hard to help him.
In fact, I went to the cabin to celebrate my birthday with friends and left Tito home with them. I don’t want this to be my decision. The way he is now, Tito is too much for us. He needs consistent attention and positively reinforced direction. He has to be supervised whenever he is loose in the kitchen.
Other than your lap and your love, what he really wants is food. He’s more or less obsessed with it. Tito is a serious counter, table, hand surfer. He’ll snag that food wherever he can find it. A slow down bowl was no match for him.
So, for now, the jury is still out. The kids have this week to try to housetrain him, convince him not to knock people over with his brand of love, teach him to walk on a leash without taking his handler grass-skiing, and to accept that just because a food container is opened, that doesn’t mean it’s for him.
Nick hopes to bring him down here this weekend so we can see what that big personality is like in our tiny cabin and how he and Fanny do together. And then we’ll have to make a decision because I don’t want this amazing dog to wait a minute longer to start his forever life.
I debated sharing any of this with you, dear readers, as many of you are serious dog-lovers who would have thirty dogs if you could. I don’t need to be convinced to adopt this awesome dog. What I need to figure out is if this is the home that is best for Tito and if Tito is the best dog for us.
If I know anything after fostering 176 dogs, it’s that there is always another good dog coming.
Serious decision making time here at this foster home and in this foster’s heart.
Thanks for reading!
If you’d like regular updates of all my foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips from OPH training, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com. I have a new book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, coming out in July. If it sounds like something you’d like to read, I’d be beyond grateful if you’d consider preordering it. Preorders contribute to the success of the book, not only giving me and my publisher some peace of mind but hopefully attracting media attention.
And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit WhoWillLetTheDogsOut.org.
Our family fosters through the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes, a network of foster homes in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and south-central PA.
If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs . It’s available anywhere books are sold.
I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at email@example.com.
Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.