adopters, Breeds, dog rescue, Fanny, former foster dogs, fostering, returned dogs, training

Judging By the Heart

It’s another quiet week at this foster house. We’re in between foster dogs, something that feels rare for us as the dogs have generally overlapped for years now.

Tito was adopted on Sunday by a couple of ‘old hippies’ (their words!). It seems like a really great fit. They are experienced pit bull people who don’t just want to adopt, but to ‘rescue.’

They understand that Tito is a work in progress and that any dog adopted into a new home will require a significant effort on their part. At the start of this pandemic, Tito had only ever lived on a logging chain 24/7. Since then he has been in two rescues, one foster home, and now a second adoptive home. They are committed to helping him feel safe and loved, while teaching him about life in his new home.

Having lost their previous foster dog (much too early – only nine, but with a rare, awful-sounding disease) in February, they are ready to put their energies and love into another dog. Lucky Tito. I worried that Tito would be to big for them until I learned that their last dog was 77 pounds. With a securely fenced yard, a determined and playful attitude, and the experience and knowledge from a history with challenging dogs, they are ready.

That said, I think Tito will be an easy one. Their only requirement was that this time they wanted a dog who liked people. I assured them that Tito not only liked people, he LOVED people. He’s the kind of dog who wiggles and waggles at the sight of every new face and can’t wait to ‘hug’ them (lean his large self against them and wait for the pets to come so that he can shower those hands with kisses).

Tito (25 of 41)

A few days before he was adopted, he was in our kitchen when the UPS truck pulled up the drive. When one of my kids opened the door to go meet the driver carrying the package, Tito bounded past them full tilt for the UPS guy. I was told that from the expression on the man’s face, he was terrified at the site of Tito barreling toward him. In fact, as Nick said, “There’s a reason their shorts are brown.”

When Tito reached the frightened driver, he simply wagged and licked and gave him the Tito hug, much to the man’s great relief and huge smile.

I love that image of Tito – that’s who he is. Like so many of his ‘breed’, he is judged and labeled by his appearance. Expectations are a powerful thing and so many see what they expect to see in these dogs. I think Tito is a wonderful ambassador for his breed—that’s why I worked to bring him up here. That’s why I committed to fostering him indefinitely for the rescue (even though I knew ‘indefinitely’ would be short-lived).

Tito (26 of 41)

I wish we all could stop judging and labeling and assuming. Why does it matter what breed they are? At this point, at least when we are talking about rescues, those breeds are so intermingled and muted and convoluted that it’s frankly silly, to my mind, to call them anything besides ‘dog.’ A good dog.

The world would be a better place is we judged all animals (and people!) based on behavior and heart rather than appearance. And if we’re going on heart, well, Tito’s got one of the biggest canine hearts I’ve known.

Tito (30 of 41)

Meanwhile, here at home, I’m using the time to update the blog (check out the new design!). I also updated the domain name, so now you’ll find me at (no more wordpress in there).

This little break is allowing me to focus on my Fanny Wiggles whose dock-diving training is going swimmingly. We’ve recently begun working with a behaviorist and taking a few small, brave steps to overcome some of her fears.

As for future fosters, I will soon welcome back a previous foster who was recently returned and has been thriving with one of our training partners. I can’t wait to see her and tell you all about her!

Thanks for reading!

profile for release dayCara

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.

100 dogs coverFor information on me, my writing, and books, visit where you can also find more information on my new book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One  Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, (Pegasus Books, July 2020) or on the book’s very own Facebook page and Instagram account.

podcast coverAnd 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 You can also hear stories of our shelter visits on our brand new podcast! Please comment, subscribe, and share wherever you get your podcasts!

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.

Another Good Dog coverIf 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

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:

12 thoughts on “Judging By the Heart”

  1. Yeah! Sounds like Tito is in good hands. I hope they check back in with OPH in a year or so.
    In fairness to the UPS man, I would be scared of any unknown large dog that was running full-tilt towards me. Even if you can read canine body language, there’s still the chance that the dog might decide, “Oh, this isn’t Auntie Sue, but a scary stranger.”
    The redesign looks good! Congrats for shortening up the website name.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So happy for Tiro! I I am pretty sure my dog , Rocket would be returned too. He’s a handful. Maybe you can write about where people can get help for dogs with training issues and various solutions By the way, I ave my Aunt your new book as a gift and she lived it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One good place to start is It’s a site where you can find force-free trainers, but it also has lots of training information, resources and links to blogs and books with excellent training advice that is force and fear free.


      1. Sorry for all the typos in my last comment I had trouble seeing the print. I meant to say that I gave my aunt your new book as a gift and she loved it!!


  3. You are exactly right. So many of the world’s problems would be solved just by giving every creature (except deer flies) the benefit of the doubt and asking the question, “Who are you?” and being truly interested in the response.

    Liked by 1 person

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