Good luck, Trina!

This brilliant, sharky, sweet little puppy is on her way to a happy life with a young family!

Trina the shark

Trina the shark

I am happy to report that Trina (soon to be named something else, probably) went on trial with a family who has a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old lab mix, Belle.

Trina the shark

The meeting went quite well; Trina was nervous about Belle at first, and kept barking at her, but within a few minutes, she was her typical wiggly puppy self, and did her best to make Belle love her. (Belle wasn’t so sure, but she seemed tolerant, kind of like a mannerly dowager.)

As you can see, I think our crazy little girl has found her happy ending!

Trina went on trial today with her new family! #happyendings #dontbecry
Trina with her new family.

Semi-related life update: Because we recently learned that our landlords are selling the house we’re living in (BIG sad face), our housing situation is kind of up in the air right now. So we’re going to take a hiatus on fostering. I’m sad about this, but this is the best decision for us right now. We’re hoping that the stars will align so that we could buy our first house — and then, of course, we could keep fostering easily — but everything is uncertain right now. I’ll keep you posted!

Hope you all had nice weekends! I’m still basking in that fuzzy feeling after seeing another foster happily adopted. It’s such a nice, intangible reward.

Meet Brynn (Trina)! Our tempting new foster puppy

You guys. We are in trouble. I think I really, really want to keep this puppy.

Now that is some well-practiced cuteness. #fosterpuppy #gsd
Brynnie!

Here’s the story: Friday night, this little lady got dropped off with me; I was volunteering with the rescue on our pedestrian mall, where we had a table and were passing out information about the rescue, raising money, etc. Brynn (who is called “Trina” by the rescue, officially) showed up in the back of an SUV with a bunch of kids, just wagging her tail and looking around. I thought that being on the mall would be way too stressful for her, but she hung out there for three hours and was a total rockstar.

We put that cute vest on her and, naturally, drew tons of attention to the booth!

Oh, man. This little lady is a huge temptation. #fosterpuppy #gsd
Wearing her donation vest.

She met tons of people of all ages, shapes, and sizes; children, whom she happily kissed and showed no anxiety about; and other dogs, spending most of her time playing with Titan, the rescue VP’s bombproof sable male.

We wore her out at the event, and then brought her home to meet Pyrrha.

Hard day of play for little baby. #puppy #guionsaysineedtowaitaweekbeforewedecidetokeepher

The introduction went perfectly, and the two of them have been playing beautifully ever since.

Brynn ADORES Pyrrha and wants to be with her every second. Pyrrha tolerates this puppy love with admirable patience, but she also seems to genuinely enjoy playing with her in the backyard.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

First morning with Brynn (Trina)
On the tail! Killing me with cuteness.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

As you can see, they also love wrestling together.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

Based on her size (38 lbs.) and the vet report, we think she’s about 4.5 to 5 months old.

She was dropped off at a shelter in Gastonia, NC, by her owner, citing conflict with his/her insurance policy. And that’s all we know about her. Based on her outgoing personality and general looks, she seems to have been well cared for. Her lack of shyness also makes me think she was somewhat well socialized (although it could also just be that she has a great personality, which she does).

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

Brynn walks beautifully on the leash, and we’ve been taking her out on strolls every night since we got her. Her only (SLIGHT) fear seems to be moving cars (she just trots away from them), but we’ve been practicing some behavior modification to help her with that. (And, frankly, I’m kind of OK if she doesn’t want to get near moving cars!)

She looks very sound to me, and her vet check-ups didn’t show any cause for concern. As with all rescue German shepherds, you’re pretty much not going to get a well-bred animal, but she looks really great, all things considered. I particularly like that she does not have a sloped topline or those exaggerated hocks, and her face is also very nicely proportioned.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

Why do I care about all of this for the foster puppy? Well, because I want to keep her. As you may recall, our motivation for fostering was to find a great puppy to add to our family. Our qualifications were a happy, outgoing, bright puppy with no shyness (to balance out Pyrrha’s more extreme anxieties). We were also looking for a mixed-breed male, which, clearly, Brynn is not. So.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)
(She looks like she has a lump under her chest, but that’s just hair from where she was shaved for her spay.)

Here are my internal pros and cons for keeping Brynnie.

PROS

She’s:

  • Outgoing and confident
  • Healthy
  • Gets along wonderfully with Pyrrha
  • Super with children (was briefly fostered with them before us)
  • Great with other dogs
  • Intelligent
  • Active
  • People-oriented
  • Very responsive
  • BEAUTIFUL

CONS

She’s:

  • Purebred
  • Of essentially unknown origin
  • Land-shark-y (but aren’t all GSD puppies at this age??)
  • Not “bombproof” necessarily (e.g., was a bit wary of a toddler on our walk last night but was fine with tons of little kids coming up to her on the pedestrian mall)

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

(As you can see, my “cons” side is weak!)

Guion (husband) wants to spend more time making this decision (because he is rational and not as swayed by puppy breath as I am), so we’re going to give it another week before we make the final call.

But what do you think? Should we keep her?? Or should we keep waiting?

Happy ending for Draco (now Otis)!

This week, I got the most heartwarming e-mail from Jamie about Draco, who has been renamed “Otis.” Almost made me shed some happy tears!

The e-mail, below, was sent with this photo:

Otis (fka Draco) and his sister Gabby!
Otis (fka Draco) and his sister Gabby!

Hey Abby!!!

Just wanted to check in with you guys and let you know that things are going great!  After repeatedly calling him Otis, he is starting to come when called and responding well.

The first night, the cat scared him to pieces but they have come to just look at each other and for now walk the other way. Gabby and him are doing great. They are snuggle buddies. Gabby likes to use him as a pillow.  Otis does not let her out of his sight. I have to let them out together and he stands beside her while she pottys then walks her back to the door then he turns around and goes to the bathroom then comes in.  It’s quite the sight to see. ❤

Thank you again for everything!!

I think our sweet, cuddly boy is set for life! SO happy.

In additional foster news, we get to meet our new foster puppy tonight! She was named Trina by the rescue, and she’s a 6-month-old black-and-tan German shepherd. And that’s all we know! Photos to come!

Hope you all have great weekends!

Good luck, Draco!

That was fast, wasn’t it? But darling Draco is on a two-week trial with a family! (Our rescue has a trial period, in which adopters get to take a dog home for two weeks to see if he or she is a good fit. After the trial period is up, the adoption is finalized.)

Draco and his new dad and sister
Gabby and Jerry with Draco.

Jamie, Jerry, and their yorkie mix Gabby came to visit us last night, and the meeting went so very well! After our experience with Rainer, I feel like I have a little PTSD about dog meetings now, but we took the introduction much more seriously this time around, and everything went beautifully. The dogs met peacefully in the front yard, then we moved to the backyard to let them negotiate off leash, and then we went inside, where Draco immediately jumped up on the couch with Jerry, Jamie, and Gabby. Too sweet!

Think Draco found his forever family today!!
Bad cameraphone picture, but as you can see, Draco is really happy with his new family!

I’d say it’s a perfect match!

Cuddling acrobatics. #germanshepherd #draco

A few hours after he left, we got a sweet photo from the family, showing Jamie, Gabby, and Draco (who is probably going to be renamed “Otis”) all snuggling on a sofa together, with the caption, “I think they’re going to be best friends!”

Although nothing is final until the trial is over, my feeling is that Draco just lucked out on his perfect forever home! We couldn’t be happier for the guy. We came to love him a lot, after just a short week with him! He is a gem of a dog, and I think he is well on his way to a wonderful, stable, happy life.

Draco buddy

Happy endings! Fuzzy feelings! Good luck, Draco!

Draco buddy

And now we’re gearing up for the next foster adventure, because we apparently have a 6-month-old female heading our way in a few days! Whew! I will, as always, keep you posted…

These German shepherd twins…

… are settling in together nicely.

Shepherds at their posts. #pyrrha #draco #germanshepherd

As you can see, they can be hard to tell apart sometimes.

Shepherds chilling. #draco #pyrrha #fosterfun

With their eyes all aglow. #demondogs #fosterfun
Demon dogs!

Draco is a fast learner, and thanks to the help of consistent treats, he has learned to see the crate as a pretty cool place. He will still whine a bit, particularly at night, but he’s learning quickly.

A note on his name, too! Just so you didn’t think we named this gentle, affectionate boy after the punk bad boy Draco Malfoy… Draco was the name that he came with, and so we didn’t try to change it. (We got criticism from friends and family for giving such a sweetie such an aggressive-sounding name! Not our fault…)

More couch snuggles. #draco #fosterfun

And he’s still getting in plenty of cuddle time, as you can see.

Pyrrha is learning how to navigate some feelings of jealousy. She is not cuddly at all, not even with me, but watching Draco be so willing to snuggle has had an interesting effect on her. Last night, in fact, she jumped up on the empty space next to Guion — something she would never normally do — because Draco had just been right there. She grumbles at him occasionally, but they enjoy each other overall; we often find them sneaking kisses and playing “tag” in the backyard.

Hey handsome! #draco #germanshepherd

The exciting news is that he may have an interested family already! There’s a chance that they may come by this weekend to meet him! Hope that will work out for this sweet dude. Will keep you posted!

Hope you all have nice weekends ahead!

Meet Draco!

Last night, we picked up our new foster Draco (aka Tyr)!

First night with Draco

Draco is a 2-year-old who was rescued from an animal hoarding situation in West Virginia, where he was living in filth with 54 other dogs. Thankfully, the other animals were farmed out to rescues, and Southeast German Shepherd Rescue picked up Draco and his brother, Oro (who was just adopted!).

He was quite nervous when we picked him up (back legs shaking) and whined a bit in the car, but after a while, he settled in very nicely.

First night with Draco

First night with DracoI, for one, have never met a shy dog who was so quickly willing to be affectionate with people. He was way cuddlier with us in a few hours than Pyrrha even is, after a full year of living with us. As you can see, he found his spot on the couch right away:

I'd say the new foster is settling in nicely. #draco #gsd

My idea of a good night: wine, "Breaking Bad," and a shepherd sleeping in my lap. #draco #gsd

He slept like this in my lap for a full episode of “Breaking Bad.” Aww.

Pyrrha got a bit nervous during their introduction, but Draco is clearly an expert at calm, calculated avoidance. He didn’t show the slightest sign of anxiety or aggression toward her initial reactive display. He seemed to know exactly what to do to tone her down (a talent I imagine he acquired by having to survive in a house with 54 other dogs).

First night with Draco

He was still nervous about the new space, but she was quickly ready to play with him. She threw some desperate play bows and side taps his way, but he just wasn’t in the mood for playing last night.

First night with Draco

First night with Draco

First night with Draco

This morning, however (after a fairly scared, whiny night in the crate), he was ready to ROMP in the backyard, and they have been playful and sweet toward each other ever since. We are grateful! It’s always kind of a gamble how new dogs will interact with one another.

First night with Draco

In all, we think he is a total sweetheart and we can’t believe he’s still waiting for his forever home! Feel free to share photos and information about him with anyone you know, who may want a gentle, laidback dog in the southeastern United States.

First night with Draco

(Sometimes, when my glasses aren’t in, I can’t really tell them apart. Ha! As you can see, they have very similar markings and are almost the same size [Draco is a bit taller].)

First night with DracoWe are looking forward to getting to know this sweet dude!

Interested in Draco (aka Tyr)? Check out his adoption bio on the SGSR website!

Lessons from the foster dog: What Rainer taught us

We learned a lot from Rainer, likely because we had him with us much longer than our other fosters (Brando and Laszlo). We are going to miss him, even though our life with him wasn’t always easy.

He is a sweet boy, and we are so happy that he found his forever home! I’ve heard a bit from his adopter, and it sounds like he is really settling in and learning to love being doted on as an “only child.”

Dogs in the yard on Sunday
Rainer in our yard.

What Rainer Taught Us

  1. A dog’s personality can change over time. This is especially true of shy dogs. We already knew this with Pyrrha, since she really blossomed into a happy dog since adopting her, but it was rewarding to see this shift occur in Rainer too. The first few days, he would hide from us in corners of the backyard. Everything made him nervous. I thought he had a neurological disorder because of how much he slunk around and moved in such strange, stiff ways. But after more than a month living with us, Rainer turned out to be a totally different dog. He was so content being in our house. He wanted to be EVERYWHERE I was (I mean everywhere; private trips to the bathroom did not happen with Rainer in the house). In the latter days, he was affectionate with Pyrrha, whereas he first made her pretty uncomfortable. They even got to the point where they would sleep side by side, something I NEVER thought Pyrrha would allow in a million years. His whole physical demeanor transformed; he started jumping and sitting and letting his tongue hang out — all of these things that I thought he was incapable of doing when he first came to us.
  2. Correlated with that, a dog’s personality (and the canine power dynamic) can be different in different environments. This one surprised me. In the house, Rainer tended to take charge and let Pyrrha know her place. But in the backyard, Pyrrha ruled; she initiated play with Rainer, she got him belly up all the time, she taught him how to patrol for her feline nemesis. I’d never seen this dynamic before, and it still interests me. Rainer also reminded us that new environments are still very stressful to shy dogs. Getting groomed, going to the vet, and even going on walks made him extremely anxious, despite the fact that he was the picture of calm in our house. Again, good reminders to be vigilant in training and rehabilitation.
  3. Let dogs figure out the power structure. Obviously, do this within reason, and don’t let scuffles get out of hand, but Rainer taught us to hold back a little bit. Dogs are better than we are at figuring out canine dynamics; they suffer when we try to impose our human rules on them. For instance, it rankled me at first that Rainer laid claim to Pyrrha’s bed when he came here. My human instinct was to intervene, thinking that this is Pyrrha’s bed, she was here first, etc. But Pyrrha was OK to let Rainer take it. By the end of his stay with us, they were happily sharing the bed, and there were no more bed-territory scuffles or warnings.
  4. Don’t let strange dogs meet face-to-face, and don’t underestimate the protective instinct. We learned this lesson the really hard way with a dog fight (between Rainer and a potential adopter’s dog). I was naive, I didn’t trust my gut instincts, and I really, really should have known better. This is not a mistake we will ever make again. (And thanks to you all for your kindness and advice. This incident certainly revealed me to be capable of dangerous amateur mistakes, and you were all gracious with me. Many thanks.)
  5. Pyrrha really enjoys having a canine sibling. Even though their relationship had a somewhat rocky start and even though his presence in our home was very isolating to her social life, I think Pyrrha misses Rainer’s company. Particularly in our last weeks with him, Rainer and Pyrrha shared so many sweet moments: kissing each other’s faces, play bowing in unison in the living room, just sitting side-by-side in the yard and watching the birds and cars and people. They were happy and gentle with one another (especially Rainer, who was so tolerant of Pyrrha’s antics!).
Someone's not so shy anymore
Good luck, buddy!

You taught us a lot, Rainey Baby. We’ll miss you! But we are SO happy that you are starting a new life with your new family.

We are taking a few weeks off from fostering. Carrie from Tales and Tails reminded me that this is OK, that you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a fostering hiatus. I appreciated hearing that. I feel like I need to spend more time with Pyrrha, particularly refocusing on her training, so we’re enjoying this little respite.

What have your foster dogs taught you?