And all that Jazz(ie)!

January 16, 2014

First Freckles (adopted!) , then Annie (foster fail!).  Now we’re honored to add another pittie-pal in need of a home to our blog.  This week, guest-blogger, fantastic pup-Mom and pibble advocate Valerie Fenton shares the story of a very special girl who is in need of a safe and warm foster home.

If you have room to spare, or you know people who are thinking of fostering and/or adopting, please share this post.  This little girl needs a friendly place to find her paws.  Is it with you?

I’ll let Val take it from here:

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FOSTER HOME NEEDED for the sweetest, quietest little girl, so she doesn’t get stuck in a kennel while she waits for her forever home!!!
     On the cold afternoon of Sunday, December 15, 2013, Chris and I were driving into their neighborhood in Hyattsville, MD, when we saw this little girl running down the road — obviously scared, alone and hungry. Thus began a 2 1/2 hour pursuit to catch the little girl — while Chris pursued on foot, I drove the car to head her off before she could get to any major roads where she most certainly would have been hit by a car.
     Chris found out from a few neighbors that the poor girl had been wandering the neighborhood for at least 3 freezing-cold days, eating whatever she could find on the street, and that even though phone calls had been made to PG County Animal Management…. no one had come to help her. After a lengthy and exhausting pursuit, the little girl finally snuck onto a large fenced in property, looking for some place safe to hide and rest. Luckily Chris and I saw this and tried to catch her. Eventually, after several phone calls to the police department, a kind animal control officer showed up to help. The little girl was finally caught when, exhausted, she went up to the property owner.
     The animal control officer said she was sadly like many he has seen before — probably a mama kept in a yard by a backyard breeder, pumping out litter after litter for profit, until she outlived her usefulness and was dumped on the streets. The officer, the property owner, and Chris and I all agreed that she clearly was a very sweet little girl who just needs to learn how to be loved by humans, instead of used by humans. She had probably never known a kind hand. She had probably lived most of her life outside, instead of in comfort and warmth. What impressed everyone was how not once during the chase, even when we had our hands on her several times or had her cornered, did she ever try to bite or nip anyone out of fear. She encountered several dogs during the chase, and she went up to them, wagging her tail.
     After she was caught, she was taken to Prince George’s County Animal Shelter, where the kind staff brought her into their office to help her learn to be around caring people. She was named “Yasmeen” (meaning: Jasmine). They said she was gentle and quiet, but she was blossoming the more she was around people. She rarely jumped — only to give a “hug” to a person.
     This lucky girl had several people fighting for her — the shelter staff, Chris and I, and even the animal control officer. Everyone recognized what a good girl she is. Our efforts paid off, and a rescue, Partnership for Animal Welfare, took her out of the kill shelter. She was renamed “Jazzie” (the irony being that she is the calmest, quietest dog you will ever meet). She got spayed, was treated for a mild case of kennel cough, and has been recovering at the College Park Animal Hospital, where I take her for daily walks.
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     In only a few weeks, she has blossomed into the sweetest girl. Wags her tail constantly. Loves to give gentle hugs. Leans on your leg until she sinks to the floor for belly rubs. Patiently lets you shower her with kisses.
     She seems to know to go potty outside — the vet techs say that she never has an accident in her cage… she waits until they take her outside to go to the bathroom. She is learning to love walks and is very patient while you strap on her harness and put on her jacket when its cold.
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Not once has anyone heard Jazzie bark. Not a peep. She is truly the quietest dog, even when other dogs are barking at her.
     She is learning how to interact with other dogs — she seems to respond best when slowly introduced to calmer, quieter dogs. Dogs that are very jumpy, get in her face or start barking at her a lot, seem to make her nervous. She has not acted aggressively to another dog.
     Jazzie’s time at the vet is up, and because there is no foster available with the rescue at this time, on Saturday, January 18th she will be sent up to rented kennel space in Columbia, MD. Chris and I are sending out a plea for help because we have 3 dogs and can’t foster her. Jazzie is truly blossoming with the kind people she has been around these past few weeks… she needs to continue her socialization in a foster home, or better yet a forever home, with a kind and caring foster.
     Please share her story and her pictures. She has the most beautiful starburst eyes and a gentle, old soul. She deserves a forever home, but at the very least, she deserves a comfortable foster home until she finds her forever home.
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Jazzie is a spayed female. Small, @ 38 lbs. Short fur. Doesn’t shed much. Shepherd/lab mix.  Here’s her new profile on the rescue website: http://www.paw-rescue.org/DOGS/jazzie.php
     If you have any questions or are interested, please email me at valeriefenton@gmail.com, so I can put you in touch with the rescue coordinator.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry, Part II

This is a big week for us.  This week, PB&Cheese proudly publishes its 50th post.  We are so thankful for our readers, our sharers and our cheerleaders.

For weeks, I’ve bent James’ ear, trying to figure out what to write about since this is sort of a big deal (to me).  What story haven’t I told?  What story needs to be told?

Last night, I was in the middle of writing a post about Zozo when a pal called.  She was upset.  People close to her had said mean, hurtful things about her wonderful furbaby.  We talked, commiserating about ignorance and intolerance against our girls.  After we got off the phone, my brain continued the conversation.

Instead of a sentimental rhapsody about a morning ritual that Zo and I have, you instead get this: a mini rant.  No cute pictures of dogs napping or romping or playing.  Sorry (not sorry).

In our almost 6 years of dog ownership, I have “learned” the following:

1.  big dogs are terrifying to people (we have one big dog).

2.  pit bulls are the Worst Breed Ever (we have one pit bull).

3.  people who own big dogs and pit bulls are horrible people (that’s us).

4.  pit bulls are un-trainable and mean-spirited.

5.  both dogs will maim us given the opportunity.

6. dogs will destroy your home.

People, and I know you’re mostly the choir here… but people.  Please.  None of these things are true.  You want the truth?

Dogs are loving.  They are loyal.  They know when they’re safe and they know when they’re scared and they will do anything for praise and affection.  Pit Bulls are smart and silly and fiercely protective of the people who protect them.  Big dogs are exuberant and they don’t always know their own size, and they like to lean and give hugs and bound up to you to say “Hi” and give kisses.

They want to learn and they want to please.  They crave a job to do, and they work so hard to do it well.  They would never hurt anyone unless that person was hurting them (or me or James).  Sure, neither is particularly gentle with squirrels, but that’s a different argument for a different day.  We love our dogs.  We care for them like they’re our children.  They’re messy and sticky and occasionally one of them dents the drywall (by the way, you know what else exhibits this behavior?  Toddlers.  Let’s lock them up next to the scary demon dogs).  We have been through the ringer with them.  Neither will turn on us because we all need each other   They know that.  We know that.

You know what does leave a mark?  Dirty looks, rude comments and an obstinate mind.  We wouldn’t be out if our dogs were a menace.  We wouldn’t go on adventures if we weren’t certain they’d come when called or greet other humans with respect and patience. We wouldn’t have people over if we didn’t think the dogs could behave themselves socially.  They can’t understand when you don’t want to play or accept kisses, but they can read that look in your eyes and the change in your posture, and they feel they’ve done something wrong. They don’t know what, but something has gone afoul.  They hurt.

So think about that when you run your mouth to someone with a “dangerous” dog.  You’re criticizing their pet.  A member of their family.  You’re insulting that person.  That to me is more mean-spirited than anything I have ever witnessed an animal do.

[dismounting soap box]

“He needs someone else.”– this is a long one…

June 2013

Our house feels like a circus. Some days, the furbabies stick to their corners and behave in a perfectly civilized manner. Other days, fur and slobber flies, furniture is rearranged and a playful bark and grumble soundtrack underscores our lives. It’s on those occasions when James and I look at each other, sigh, and break out the bully sticks for time out. Recently, we’ve had a lot of coming-and-going, so routines have been interrupted and no one is particularly on his or her best-est behavior.

But it’s home, and we wouldn’t trade the noise, chaos and drool for anything. They’re good dogs. They look out for us, they protect the fortress of home, and they certainly keep us entertained. We’re lucky to have them. When we’re late getting home from work or we over-schedule ourselves and end up spending less time with the dogs than we’d like, when a week goes by since they’ve been for a walk on-leash because we’re feeling too lazy to adventure beyond the yard, I tell myself it’s ok– they certainly don’t care– and I’m not failing them. Things could have been much worse for them.

A little over two years ago, we brought MJ home. I’ve written about her marking me at the shelter. She was one of 8 puppies dropped off from a litter. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) kept four and sent the rest over to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Two puppies from the Arlington location were snatched up right away. The other two, MJ and Freckles, had some health issues that needed to be addressed. We ended up with MJ, and Freckles found a home, too.

MJ settled into the house, announcing her arrival as princess, alpha and snuggle-bug. She didn’t get as big as we expected, but her strength more than made up for her more-compact stature.

Freckles grew into a 75 lb. goofball. Unfortunately, Freckles was kept outside for the first two years of his life. If he was mistreated further, I don’t know and I honestly don’t want to know. I can’t handle that.  He was surrendered back to the AWLA, which is the best thing anyone could have done for him.

We began following Frankie’s story shortly after the 2012 winter holidays. He’s great with people. Kids? No problem. He’ll sit on your lap or sleep at your feet. This is a pup who needs to be a family dog. For months Freckles looked for a furever home. Late this spring, we sighed in relief when someone came forward and finally adopted Freckles, now Frankie.

A couple of weeks later, he was back at the shelter. I found out about his return to AWLA through Peace, Love & Fostering’s blog. I reached out to the blogger, asking her questions about Frankie. What’s going on? How come he’s back? What’s The Problem?

Maybe we can foster him…

That’s a huge step for us. We felt particularly pulled toward Frankie’s journey since he was right there, round and silly, beside our baby girl when we took her home. I know we could never have handled two puppies, but my head starts down the “but what if…” path. The least we could do is welcome him into our home while he waits for the right person or family. Could I really, truly welcome a new furbaby into my life and give him up when the time came? Would I become a foster-failure?

We were put in contact with a member of AWLA’s staff, who answered our questions. Great with people. Settles well. Basic manners: check. His Big Issue is that he doesn’t always play appropriately with other dogs. He’s not aggressive, he’s just … rude. We scheduled a date to bring MJ and Zozo by to play. If that worked, we’d try an overnight. If that went off without a hitch, Frankie would come hang out with us for a while.

I had visions of the siblings meeting and running towards each other, crashing together with love and sniffs and kisses as they remember the other from their early days. Everything was soft-focus and pastel-ly in this dream.

That’s not how it happened. MJ couldn’t care less about the dog on the other side of the fence. We brought them together in a play yard, and things got a little heated. Frankie tried to play, MJ told him to back the hell up. We did a lap of the yard to let everyone settle. We tried again. Same outcome.

It wasn’t going to work for them.

Out of curiosity, we ran the same drill with Zozo, with absolutely no issue. Zozo was calm enough to let Frankie do what he needed to do to assert his dominance and begin playing.

We agreed with the shelter staff. It wasn’t the right fit. Someone else is out there for him, and he just needs to be a little more patient.

I got a little weepy on the way home from the shelter, shedding tears of frustration and disappointment and heartbreak. I didn’t need to be a hero, but I thought that maybe we could help. We tried. That’s all we could do.

Except I write this blog and, as of June 20, 2013, Frankie still needs a home. He’s wonderful. He’s charming and silly and snuggly. Peace, Love & Fostering has several excellent posts about Frankie and his winning pupsonality. He deserves a great home with a seasoned dog owner who will praise his successes and give him a safe place to learn to work on his impulses. Most likely, he needs to be The Only Dog unless your dog is a pup who just “gets him”.

If you, or anyone you know, is looking for a lap-sitting, adventure-loving sidekick, please contact AWLA and schedule time to meet Frankie.  You won’t regret it.

and now, I humbly descend from my soapbox.

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NOTE: The photographs featured in this blog post were taken by Dirty Paw Photography for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA). The photos are featured on Frankie’s adoption page on th AWLA website.