We are certainly just easing back into fostering with this sweet pup. Serendipity is just about as easy as they come in terms of foster dogs.
Even after a three-day journey in a crate inside a van full of dogs, she arrived happy and friendly and pretty much ready for anything. Her enormous tail (which belongs on a lab not a petite girl like her) and her elongated body (I think she more resembles a fox than any other breed), wag ferociously at the sight or sound of any human being (and dogs too I would soon learn).
Per my habit, her first day and a half were in a ‘shut down.’ There are lots of versions of shut down, but my version entails being in a crate whenever you’re not on the end of my leash, encountering NO other dogs, and only my immediate family. Some dogs need shut down for a week or even longer, but some, like Ms Dipity, only need a day or two. It’s basically a reset so that the dog can relax after the stress of shelter, the discomfort of transport, and the history they’ve now left behind.
A few things were clear from the start—this dog had not lived inside a house and had little if no experience with stairs. The first few times she had to be carried inside the house (she happily scurried out!) and the first two days she had to be carried or coaxed with treats to go up or down the stairs. And here I will tell you that Dipity does NOT like to be carried. When you pick her up, she goes stiff all over and it’s somewhat like carrying a fuzzy board with too many sharp corners. I would hold her close enough to hear her heart pounding and talk sweetly to her, but there was no relaxing. Obviously in the past, when someone picked up this pup, bad things happened to her (from her point of view).
By day three, though, she was racing up and down stairs, in and out of the house, and crawling into my lap (and anyone else’s). This little girl is nothing if not adaptable. She’s pretty bright too, quickly picking up on our routines – meals served in her crate, sitting to be leashed, pottying outside. As of this writing, she is yet to have an accident. That said, she also has not been left unsupervised in our house ever, and we take her out to potty after every meal, nap, and play session (just like a new puppy).
On our walks about town, Dipity is friendly and happy, wagging her entire body at everyone she meets. When a young mom and toddler stopped to meet her, she basically crawled into their laps, looking back at me as if to say, “These two will do. You can go now.”
When we encountered a man on a motorized scooter, she barked ferociously (as ferocious as you can sound at her size). He was patient and stopped so that Dipity could approach him, talking softly to her. When she finally realized he was a person not a monster, she crawled up into his lap too. Again, she looked back at me with a “This one is nice too, see ya later,” smile.
When a person walking on the other side of the street waved to us, she sat down and wagged her tail, grinning broadly to invite the person over for an introduction.
It was clear this girl was going to get herself adopted with little help from me.
I was anxious about introducing her to our pack—it’s been a while since they had to share their space with a foster dog. But that, too, was super easy. We introduced her to Fanny first. Fanny is the queen bee in this house and quickly explained that fact to Dipity who totally got it on the first explanation, submitting immediately and rolling onto her back every time Fanny came near after that.
The next day we took her for a pack walk with all three dogs (Ian was home for spring break and brought his gf). Gracie is an old hat at this fur-foster gig and sniffed Dipity up and down and then ignored her (except when Dipity invited her to play and that earned her the patented Gracie snarl, followed by a coughing fit).
I was most anxious about Otis as he has been reacting to strange dogs for a few months now. After following and leading and having a couple quick drive-by sniffs, I thought we were okay. But then Dipity ventured a little close and Otis erupted at her. I yanked him away with a firm take-no-prisoners “NO!”
And then, unused to being scolded so loudly and seriously, Otis seemed to say, “Oh, don’t mess with the new kid?”
The next encounter was perfectly peaceable, and Otis was rewarded with copious praise and treats. Ever since, Dipity is his new best bud. I had hoped he’d react this way, as he’s an incredibly submissive dog (even cow-towing to Gracie), but it has been wonderful to see him relax and enjoy his new roommate. He will miss her when she goes.
As I said, easy-peasy foster dog. Her adopter is coming to meet her on Saturday.
So, let’s recap: This sweet little pup was scheduled to die in a shelter in south Texas (the Rio Grande Valley two weeks ago. Instead, thanks to the work of X-Port Paws (and my husband’s generous patience with my fostering habit), she is brightening up our little town with every walk.
And in just a few days she will start a brand new life, living on a farm and brightening up the home of one lucky couple in Maryland.
Until Each One Has a Home (because they all deserve one),
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com.
If you’d like regular updates of all our foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips, and occasional foster cat updates (!) be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.
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 and subscribe to our blog where we share stories of our travels to shelters, rescues, and dog pounds.
If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Or its follow up that takes you to the shelters in the south One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues.
I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at email@example.com.