Often when you first bring home a new foster dog (or two), the dog is still stunned by its new situation, maybe feeling queasy from the recent dewormings and vaccinations, so they are not themselves. It’s a mistake to assume that the compliant, easy-to-deal-with dogs you first bring home will still be that way a week or two into their stay with you.
I’ve fostered over 200 dogs now, and am wary of that honeymoon period. So, I’ve been holding my breath, wondering if Abby and Bonnie (A&B) who had been so quiet and easy their first week with me, would continue to be once they got comfortable with their surroundings…..
It was clear that Abby was ready for a new life. I met her two months ago, living on chain tied to a dog house in the hot sun in Cowen, West Virginia. She’d been saved from euthanasia at the local dog pound, but life laying in the mud, chained to her house, made me ponder the word ‘saved.’
When I returned last week, Abby was still there, chained to the dog house. Still greeting every person who approached with joy, her tail wagging, leaning in with pleading eyes that said, ‘love me.’ This time, I had made arrangements to pull her for the Humane Society of Shenandoah County and bring her home to foster.
I don’t know what to tell you about Bippity Bop. Her health situation is a mystery. As we back off (very slowly) from the anti-seizure medications, she is still not herself. It’s like the little dog who arrived here a month ago, is gone, vanished.
In her place, is a timid pup who startles easily, is unsteady on her feet, and seems confused most of the time. X-Port Paws and I are reaching out to different doctors and rescue organizations for advice and plan to do all we can to get to the bottom of this, but my heart is heavy as she is deteriorating quickly. I just want my spunky little girl back.
After ten days of quarantine and pumping her skinny body full of steroids, antibiotics, and as much food as she could eat, Bippity has joined our pack.
She quickly submitted to Fanny’s established leadership, will run and chase Otis but not wrestle with him (he is 3x her weight), and took no offense at Gracie’s warning snarls. She is undeterred; with her tail wagging and her happy energy, she trails all three other dogs all over the house.
Every foster experience I have is the same and different. Probably because every dog is the same and different. Bottom line, dogs are dogs, and it’s important to remember that. They are not people in furry suits. They have the same needs in terms of food, safety, comfort, health, etc., but they are also individuals.
Bippity may look a lot like Dippity and possibly even be a littermate, but she is a different dog. Bippity is quirky and confident, with a personality much bigger than you expect from a 25-pound dog who is sick with Bordetella and Erhlichia.
My next foster, Bippity-Bop, is making her way eastward as you read this! Yesterday, she traveled from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio, where she was boarded overnight and this morning was placed on an east-bound transport.
She’ll arrive in Stephens City, about a half-hour north of us on Friday evening. That’s if all goes according to plan. Anyone in rescue knows that according to plan is often simply a fantasy.
We’re still waiting for word on a transport date for Bippity-Bop to make her way eastward, but since I’ve restarted this blog, I thought I’d stick to my new Thursday posting habit. (I’m sure you missed me expected me to take up space in your inbox today.)
X-Port Paws has decided to keep Bippity in the boarding/foster situation in Texas for another week to be certain she is healthy enough to travel. At her vet appointment last week she was infested with fleas/ticks and running a fever. She also tested positive for Ehrlichia (but negative for heartworm!). Ehrlichia is a tickborne disease that is very treatable but must be monitored. Bippity has been started on a course of Doxycycline. This week her fever is gone and her energy is back.
In my last post in which I told you that our lovely little foster pup Dippity was adopted, I also mentioned, mostly just to make a point, that another little dog who looked just like Dippity had landed that same day in the very same shelter in south Texas.
My point was that the stream of unwanted dogs filling up our southern shelters is neverending. You save one; and another just like it takes its place like some kind of warped Ground hog day. It’s worse now than before the pandemic. (I wrote about the reasons for that in a post on Medium a few months ago.)
On this past Monday, I learned that Dippity 2 was still in the shelter and she was closing in on the end of her 10 days. If no owner reclaimed her, no local adopted her, and no rescue pulled her, she would be euthanized today.
Thanks to some very generous people who answered my plea on my Facebook page, more than enough money was donated to X-Port Paws to rescue Dippity 2 (now known as Bippity Bop).
On Tuesday, she was pulled out of the shelter and into a foster home by a partner of X-Port Paws. She will stay there this week, be vetted (vaccines, health certificate, and 4Dx test). After that she will likely go to a boarding facility until X-Port Paws can arrange for a transport to Virginia. She will be our foster, and we’ll work to get her healthy, spayed, and then adopted.
I’m grateful for the donations that have come in which should cover having her vetted, boarded, and transported. We may even have enough to cover her spay surgery. I’m waiting to hear if she tests positive for Heartworm, which will mean expensive treatment (paws crossed we’ll luck out as we did with Dippity).
It seems like a lot of effort and expense for one little dog. And, of course, I have to wonder- why this dog and not another? Right now there are so many.
I don’t have an answer for that. In rescue it’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. When my heart feels swamped, I remind myself: Help the ones put in your path.
Thanks to Serendipity, this little pup was placed on my path. The response of my dog-hearted community overwhelmed me. Within an hour of my post, donations had started to come into XPort Paws for Bippity’s rescue.
That fact confirms for me once again that people want to save dogs. And when we ask clearly for specific help, they respond.
As I travel to shelter after shelter, my frustration builds because I KNOW it is possible to save all the adoptable dogs. There are solutions; it is a fixable problem. As my friend, Aubrie Kavanaugh said in her book (of the same name), “It’s not rocket science.” There is NO reason that dogs as adoptable as Dippity or Bippity should die in a shelter. No. Reason.
There are lots of excuses, lots of blame, lots of indifference, and plenty of ignorance. Those are obstacles, as are personal agendas, politics, and people who can’t see past history. I will continue to work toward a future I know is out there—one where all the adoptable dogs find homes.
I don’t know very much yet about Bippity other than she landed in a shelter in south Texas where a lot of dogs die. Bippity is just 25 pounds, so she’s a little smaller than Dippity. She has a little gray on the ridgeline of her coat which suggests some shepherd DNA. She has the same big sad brown eyes as Dippity. She also looks to be a little more shell-shocked and terrified, but she is safe now and hopefully soon she will know it.
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.