Meet Brando: Our first foster

Friday evening, we welcomed our first foster: Brando!

Brando indoors

And he is a BIG boy! Isn’t he handsome? He was supposed to be called “Brandon,” but I rechristened him Brando, as in Marlon Brando, because they both share good looks and brawny presence.

Brando indoors

He came to us with tons of powerful, nervous energy and a pretty overwhelming shelter stink.

My first thought, upon meeting him, was: “OMG. We cannot handle this dog.”

He was so powerful and SO anxious; I couldn’t even imagine letting him come indoors. When we did come inside, he jumped up on everything, whined, cried, raced from room to room… clearly so stressed out.

But after some more time outside, and some relegating to certain parts of the house (thank God for baby gates!), he seemed able to finally calm down indoors. He still paces quite a bit and whines when something in the environment changes, but I think he has the potential to be a great house dog.

Brando in the Jeep

As far as his background, we don’t really know much at all. He was found on someone’s back deck in the country, and that person took him to the local animal shelter. Southeast German Shepherd Rescue got wind of it and decided to bring him in. The shelter says he’s 6, but I feel like he’s younger than that. His energy level alone would lead me to guess 3 or 4. His teeth also don’t look that bad, although some of the front ones seem rather ground down. My best guess is that he did have a family at some point, although I’m not entirely convinced that he’s ever lived indoors before.

Despite a poor introduction to Pyrrha (he came charging out of the car, and his transporter could not stop him from rushing straight up to Pyrrha), the two of them have gotten along quite nicely.

Here are some photos of them during a water break on the first day they were introduced:

Sharing the water bowl

They are both FILTHY from the mud in the backyard (all of that snow finally melted and turned the yard into a swamp).

Sharing the water bowl

They have continued to live together peaceably, which was a great relief. Pyrrha seems delighted to have a playmate, even though I think she will look forward to Wednesday, when he gets neutered (there has been a lot of humping). The only issue is that she likes to start things with him, and then when he fights back, she cries and gets irritated. She’s a big diva, essentially. But he is rather even-keel about her and seems willing to romp and play.

On Saturday, we took him to the local self-serve grooming salon for a much-needed bath! I can’t even describe what he smelled like. It was so horrible.

Brando's first bath

The bath clearly made him anxious, but he was such a good sport about it. He only cried for a little bit and then finally habituated to the experience. We gave him lots of praise and treats!

Post-bath Brando

(Above, Brando post-bath. See how happy and shiny he is!)

Another fun personality trait of Brando’s is that he loves Guion. This, obviously, delights Guion, who has put up with playing second fiddle to me in Pyrrha’s love hierarchy.

Brando indoors

Brando is friendly to me, but he doesn’t seem overly thrilled that I exist. If Guion enters the room–or, heaven forbid, exits it–Brando flips out. It’s kind of cute, and Guion, of course, LOVES the attention and affection. I often walk into the living room and find Brando sleeping on Guion’s feet. Precious.

Brando indoors
These dudes are going to have a hard time parting with one another.

This behavior naturally makes me wonder if Brando was formerly loved and cared for by a man. It would make sense to me.

Brando is fairly vocal and doesn’t like being left alone. Aside from his lack of training and unruliness, this would be his only other fault–that we can tell so far! I doubt he’s ever been crate trained, so we’ve been trying to make the crate a happy place for him, despite the fact that he cries and cries whenever we put him in there.

I’ve been feeding him his meals in his crate, and we give him treats when he’s in there. He’s learning to tolerate it. I was pleased yesterday afternoon to see him finally settle down in there and take a nap.

Post-bath Brando

Yesterday, we took the dogs on a two-hour walk around town. That thoroughly exhausted them both! They both met lots of people and other dogs along the trail, which was a good experience. Brando seemed a little overstimulated by everything at first, but after an hour or so, he was able to chill and accept the fact that we were going to pass all kinds of people, kids, bikes, runners, and dogs.

Overall, he is a happy dude with a ton of potential. I am confident that he will find his forever home in no time at all!

Brando playing

More to come!

Pyrrha turns 2!

Happy birthday, sweet P!

Birthday shoot in black-and-white

Unlike many rescue dogs, we actually know Pyrrha’s birthday, since she was registered with the AKC by her breeder. And, so, today, she turns two!

She still has tons of puppy energy and quirks. Here, she is getting really excited about the stick in my hand…

Birthday shoot in black-and-white

Birthday shoot in black-and-white

Birthday shoot in black-and-white

Ah, a stick. Better than any kind of fancy birthday present!

Birthday shoot in black-and-white

Birthday shoot in black-and-white

We ordered this customized, handmade ID tag for her as well, although it hasn’t come in yet.

1 inch Tilly Tag with two numbers
(c) Make Your Dog Smile.

I love the look of the stamped, hammered brass! Make Your Dog Smile, the Etsy store, has tons of beautiful, modern ID tags. I love them all!

Birthday shoot in black-and-white

Happy birthday, darling Pyrrha. We love you so much, as very weird as you are. Life would be dull and monochrome without you!

How do you celebrate your dog’s birthday?

How to foster a dog: Resources

As we are moving toward the idea of being a foster home (landlords have approved us! Yay!), I have been searching for lots of inspiration and advice for first-time dog fosters.

Greeting Blake
Pyrrha meets friends at a Southeast German Shepherd Rescue event.

The first place I looked for information on fostering is the great blog Love and a Six-Foot Leash. While Aleksandra and her family have stopped fostering for now, they’ve had a ton of experience and offer excellent, thorough advice. Some of the most helpful and informative posts for wannabe fosters:

Love and a Six-Foot Leash

Lindsey at has also fostered before, and she has some great posts about it, too, including:

I’ve also enjoyed reading other dog bloggers’ experiences in fostering, including Pamela’s list of 9 Things You Must Have to Foster (Something Wagging This Way Comes) and the posts on fostering from Vanessa at The Rufus Way.

Other Blogs about Fostering I Follow

Do you blog about being a foster for dogs? If so, share your blog, and I’d be happy to add it to the list!

Pup links!

A young Beatrix Potter and her spaniel. LIFE Magazine.

A collection of dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Set Your New Dog Up for Success: Prevent Accidents and Fights. A great post by Lindsay about two important elements of bringing a new dog home: Setting and establishing house-training rules and preventing and mitigating any potential dog conflict. (That Mutt)

Are Too Many Vaccinations Bad for Adult Dogs? A thoughtful and informative discussion about the controversy over vaccinating our dogs. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, too, and it was nice to read such a balanced and fair article on the topic. (That Mutt)

Pet Fostering Is Tax Deductible! This is great news for those who foster animals. It’s something I’m seriously considering after we have a few years of dog parenting under our belts, and this new tax break is just an extra incentive! (Pawesome)

7 Ways to Make Your Pet’s Visit to the Veterinarian Easier. Simple and helpful tips to reduce the stress of a vet visit. (Paw Nation)

Ryan Gosling and His Dog Have an Announcement to Make. An important PSA from the most popular actor (at least on the Internet meme scene). (Pawesome)

Miss Kate. It is a beautiful thing to watch a border collie work. (BCxFour)

Georgia Fiennes: Dog Paintings. Lovely and whimsical (but not tacky) dog paintings from artist Georgia Fiennes. (Miles to Style)