Fostering Hates Me

I think the universe is trying to tell me something along the lines of “Food Lady, take an effing break!”

First I passed up the opportunity to foster Skip, whom his foster home describes as “Can’t believe he’s as awesome as he seems and waiting to awake from the dream that is Skip and see some sort of “ugly” (lame excuse given he’s been tested on:  llama, chicken, “fixed” males/females, strangers, flyball environment, off leash, kennel, bedroom dog, etc etc). I figured if I kept quiet you would forget that I had him.  Bar none the most well rounded dog, foster or not, I’ve had the pleasure spending time with.”

Hrmph.

Then I instead took in old man Blue, who did this to me earlier in the week:

It doesn’t look so bad now, but it really hurt and was very ugly (and bled a lot) at the time.  It would have been worse I think, except his teeth are 22 years old, and he was wearing a cone that jammed against my arm so he couldn’t get the grip he wanted to.  But it wasn’t a grab and release, it was a grab and HOLD and “try to bite harder” which is the kind of bite I fear the most.  The criminal activity I was being punished for?  Giving him a bowl of water in his pen.  Yeesh.

He’s now at SAINTS (and you can read about him here) and try as I might, I couldn’t find it in me to be sorry to see him go.  He tried to bite me lots more times before he went too!

Feeling guilty that I had abdicated my fostering responsibilities, I picked up this guy from the SPCA after dropping off Blue.  Meet Poutine (yes the like french fry dish), a red merle Aussie.

Looks like a total cutie, doesn’t he?  And he is! Too bad about the bad haircut, but otherwise, he’s adorable!  Or at least he was adorable.

Yesterday I couldn’t leave his sight without him crying to come find me.  He was so attached to me that I even walked him off leash after work on the property with my own dogs and he was great, always checking in and hanging out with me often, always coming when called.

This morning, I took everyone out for a pee and then put Poutine inside and a babygate across the mudroom doorway.  I then called everyone else inside to wipe paws.  The door was open about 6 inches because TWooie was still taking his sweet time coming to the house.  I felt this SWOOSH of air basically over my back – Poutine had jumped the gate, and my BODY, and was out the door in a flash.  There was no stopping him.

And of course he didn’t run for the farm, he ran up the road and was gone into the fancy house neighbourhood, with all its giant yards and twisty dead end roads.  I called him just before I lost sight of him and all he did was put on the afterburners and run FASTER.  I ran back home (still in my jammies, hair all askew, slippers on my feet) hopped in the car and started driving around the ‘hood trying to catch so much as a glimpse of him.  For close to 2 hours I drove around, creepily stopping children on the road to ask them if they’d “seen my lost puppy.”  I’m pleased to say that most of them recoiled from me and were poised to run, so all that hard work parents are putting into the “Don’t talk to strangers who say things like “I’m looking for a lost puppy dog”” campaign seems to be working.

I went back home and started posting “lost dog” ads on the internetz, and while printing up posters, had the world’s fastest shower, then I hopped back in the car with Dex, drove into the fancy house neighbourhood and hit the pavement, affixing posters to any surface that liked tape.

Then I spotted the bugger about 6 blocks from home, wiggling across someone’s yard.  I called him, and he booked in the opposite direction.  I almost had him cornered on someone’s doorstep and he deeked me out and went around their house to their backyard.  I started to go into their yard and came face to face with an ACO who had Poutine on a rope.

Long story short, the ACO extended professional courtesy to a fellow shelter worker and let me take Poutine without a fine.  Bless him!  I retraced my steps to remove all the posters and took Poutine home.  He is now wearing a harness and a collar and a leash attached to each, and gets crated before I even THINK about opening my front door.  He, by the way, is my best friend again and doesn’t move more than 3 feet from me at any given time.

I have been fostering dogs for close to 15 years.  I have had, literally, HUNDREDS of dogs come through my home.  I have never been seriously bitten and I have never lost a foster dog.  In the span of 4 days, I’ve experienced both of these things.

I think this is a sign that I need to give myself a fostering break…I went to physio this afternoon and my RMT said “What have you been doing, slinging sacks of cement around?  You’re all tensed up!”

Gawd, has it happened?  Did I burn out and not realize it?  And does anyone want to foster a wiggly, shaved down Aussie with a dual personality who longs for his freedom??

Gah.  I’m heading to agility class now … I’ll probably end up breaking my arms or something.

Comments

  1. Sorry you’re having such a bad week. Maybe a break from fostering wouldn’t be a bad thing.

  2. Agree with Liza <3

  3. Sorry you’re having a bad bout. Might be good to take a break, yes.

    Your description of what happened with Poultine made me laugh outloud. Sorry too.

  4. I don’t think “burned out” is right. But if you think maybe you need a break, then take a break! You’ll get TWooie all to yourself and Dex and I’ll bet they would benefit from a break. I think it’s called a “sabbatical” and you’re allowed one every seven years by convention. So obviously you are overdue!

  5. Faith says to remind you that you’re the best foster mom she ever had, and any time you want her to stop by and remind you what a great job you do you should let her two-legs know. She promises not to bite, but reserves the right to snuggle.

  6. Wow, you got a couple of right stinkers in Blue and Poutine! When I fostered Shelties, I had one take off on me — he was found two miles away, under a delivery van at the PO. Not a pleasant day for either of us, plus I had to shell out a reward to the nice person who rounded him up and contacted me to come get him.

    I hope things get back to normal in your household soon! Dex’s agility videos are quite nice. I think he and my Rowley are so much alike, the room would vibrate with their combined energy if they ever got together. :)

  7. What a tough week! Just remember, there’s a reason behind every dog behavior. Maybe Poutine has a few years of experience with what happens when he comes back to his owner after escaping the house, and it isn’t pretty. Many dogs are punished harshly for bolting out the door, and he’s learned that not coming back is a better idea. Either way, I think you deserve the world’s best vacation for what you do, whether it’s now or after Poutine goes to a new home. As always, good luck!

    http://parkerskye.blogspot.com/

  8. Yikes!!! Losing a dog is my 3rd greatest fear ON EARTH (following hit by car, and cancer) so I can only imagine how awful that was! Thank goodness you found him!

    Mr. Bear, when I first adopted him, despite being essentially glued to my side otherwise, would try to make a break for it every time I opened the door. Once I stopped crating him, it would take me 10 or 15 minutes to get out the door in the morning, because he’d be guarding it ready to bolt the second it was opened enough for him to squeeze through (and I’d stopped crating him because I felt guilty that he couldn’t sleep on my bed all day if he was in his crate, which he loves to do. Great reason, eh?). I think it took almost a month before he settled down, but now I can’t even imagine him getting the idea of leaving without me, let alone actually doing it. Hopefully Poutine settles down quickly!

    And I’m sorry you were bitten — Blue sounds like a piece of work!

  9. When it rains it pours… and floods. :(

    If nothing else, you need a physical break, it sounds like you are not back to 100% yet.

  10. Don’tcha just love Jonathan?
    : )

    Feel better and take a break. And more pictures of Twooie and Tweed please.
    : )

  11. Ha!! Thanks for the laugh this morning! I needed that!

  12. my lab is the picture of perfect stay and recalls in therapy dog class, but take her outside she reverts back to the wild thing, chasing deer, coming when she feels like it. today my husband put her in a stay to take out the trash, she took off, crossed the street, and tore around the neighborhood.
    I am in awe of you with new strange dogs.

  13. My red merle Aussie b*tch did the exact same thing after I adopted her from the shelter! I’d only had her for about a week (and she’d been really pretty well behaved for a 4 year old dog with no prior training) when she bolted out the door and was gone. Finally managed to catch her with a bribe of string cheese, but she nearly gave me a heart attack especially since she was obsessed with chasing cars. Glad that you got Poutine back!

  14. clairesmum says:

    The runaway Poutine is a great story after the fact, but I would have been terrified trying to find him and get him back under control.( I also have this great mental image of a dish of poutine with short skinny legs and gravy flying off the top, being chased by a giant fork!) Now if you had REAL poutine, you might have caught the pooch a whole lot faster! (For what it’s worth, you’d catch my husband if he were in the area).
    Seriously, taking a break from fostering might be a good idea – you have 5 of your own, you work with rescues in the shelter, and you take your dogs to lots of great places, trials, etc. If you are tired AND your brain is overly full of dog data, you may be missing any signs of “about to bolt/bite/chomp another dog” that are happening.
    I’d hate to see you or any of the dogs get seriously hurt, FL.
    Take care.

  15. Christine says:

    OMG Sheena – please stop taking pictures of Poutine at once – he is too cute for me to bear – he looks a bit like Duffy, who is only here sometimes, so maybe I could slip him in and the landlords wouldn’t notice – do you think he’d eat the inside of my car? This is the hobby Skye took up today with gusto. Good thing he’s cute too.

  16. fostermum says:

    I used to babysit a seeing-eye dog when her mum went overseas and that dog became a maniac off harness.
    She had absolutely no road sense; would jump down from crazy high rocks on the beach, onto more crazy high rocks and generally left her brain at home with the harness.
    You just never know what is going on in their heads do you!!
    Glad you found Poutine reasonably quickly. There is a missing dog down my way that has been missing now for 5 days.

  17. SweetCeana says:

    For heaven’s sake woman take a break before the universe makes the decision for you. Your life has been a whirl wind! In the past couple of weeks you’ve been: working your rear off non stop at a emotionally taxing job (shelter) and working your rear off at a physically taxing job (photography) all while running a non profit. You’ve had multiple foster dogs in and out of your house who bite you, make your dogs (err maybe just Twooie) want to eat them, run away and give you heart attacks. You have a very long commute to and from work which in itself is enough to warrant loosing it. (IMHO) You were in a car accident, your car was totaled and you are still feeling like someone put you in a blender. You have 3 dogs with awesome agility talent that you try and work with, a sweet mature (I won’t say old!) Tweed in pain who may drain your pocket out of love, and a young giraffe dog who will need to be neutered soon. I’m sure you also fill all that spare time you have with reading applications and screening homes for TDBCR and as much as I am sure you love the public… the public can be, well, nicely put taxing.

    Geez, I need a break just typing what you have been through recently and this is only the stuff you have disclosed to all us strangers who read your blog! I doubt you are burned out, but I bet you could be if you keep all this up. Don’t beat yourself up if you need a break from fostering, you are only human.

  18. You need a break and everyone else has already said what I thought about at 3am last night. You have done an awesome job for a lot of dogs and you will continue to do so in all sorts of other ways. If you don’t take a break you may end up losing your creativity and your spirit!

    All of the things that are happening right now are little flags that are signaling you to slow down, take a deep breath and take better care of yourself and your family of five. You each deserve to have time alone with one another for awhile.

    Taking a break will be hard for others to accept because you have done such a good job. They may try to guilt you into taking just one more for awhile; to saying that if you don’t the dog may die and who knows what else. But you are also worth rescuing and quite frankly, the only person capable of rescuing you and helping you to have a better life is you.

    Please take everyone’s counsel to heart. You have a loyal and caring fan base who wants to follow you for years to come. So get that last dog in shape and put an out of fostering business sign up – at least for one full year.

    You are a creative and wonderful writer and photographer, ready for the next phase of how you use you talent and skills. This sabbatical will be your launch pad.

  19. I went to the link you provided for SAINTS, because I was curious about who would take a dog like Blue. What a special place this is…
    There is a story on their blog right now about how she tried to get all the dogs off of her bed that is just priceless.
    I enjoy reading your blog tremendously. Take care of yourself!

  20. I realize you’ve had a million bits of feedback already that are all telling you to break, to spend time with your many wonderful dogs, and to rest up. I agree with all of those, but I also understand the drive to keep doing, to keep trying, to keep…well, to keep on keepin’ on, as the saying goes.

    For what it’s worth, you could very likely use the physical rest. I’ve had plantar fasciitis for nine months now, and not being able to run (with or without a dog) is killing me. Even when I’m resting I’m not resting :) I say take the opportunity, listen to your body, and settle into a rhythm that is maybe a few beats less per minute than what you’re used to. The last thing any of us want is to watch our beloved food lady and her action pack suffer from any sort of exhaustion. Put those feet up, ice that shoulder, and pull up a Tweed or a TWoo and take a well-deserved break!

  21. I’m thinking.. dog bites… dog tries bites multiple times??? Why not get him put down… only sensible safe thing?? What about the poor people at All saints.. how many of them are gonna have to feel his wrath? Only kind thing for the pooch would be put him down.

  22. “I’m thinking.. dog bites… dog tries bites multiple times??? Why not get him put down… only sensible safe thing?? What about the poor people at All saints.. how many of them are gonna have to feel his wrath? Only kind thing for the pooch would be put him down.”

    Because, Marty, this is not a young, healthy, vibrant dog with an aggression issue we are talking about. This is an ancient, demented, crazy old dog who, other than some arthritis, is still remarkably mobile and alive. He doesn’t really deserve to die because he is old and cantankerous alone, IF there is an alternative for him. And SAINTS is exactly that alternative. The staff there are more than accustomed to dealing with old, snarly, bitey, irritable dogs, cats, horses etc. I am fortunate they had room for the old man dog.

    I think you should read Carol’s SAINTS blog (which I have linked to, many times, and also in this post) before you pass that kind if judgment on whether or not his life has value and especially before you pass judgment on whether or not I should have passed him on to another rescue. As someone who takes my rescue responsibilities very seriously and has euthanized my fair share of dogs who were too dangerous to adopt out, I kind of resent the suggestion that I did something unsafe and/or irresponsible by transferring Blue to SAINTS. I made a decision that allowed Blue to keep his life, but in a SAFE way in an environment that understands dogs like him. I think it was a great ending to an otherwise kinda crappy story.

  23. Want! Although I would change his name to Terry (as in pomme de terre – my little potato-fry). And I chime in on the side of taking a break from fostering for a few months.

  24. OMG! blue is an ass but he is a sweet ass. he is an old dog with hearing, sight and mobility deficits who has been thru a very long life with whatever kind of crap an old dog has to go thru in bis lifetime. but blue is not suffering (he is on good meds) and he may be old but he is not dead.
    blue is already happy here, and he will get happier. he may still bite if we are not careful and miss something that might get us bitten if we tick him off…but we are ok with the occasional reminder that he is a very, very old dog and needs special and gentle care.
    sheena did absolutely right in sending him here..this is our area of expertise…extreme seniors with medical and/or behavioral issues….we love them! they don’t have to be perfect, they don’t have to be nice, they just have to be happy and we are happy enough with that!
    the food lady can keep those crazy runaway three year olds and send us the old cranky ones any day. good job sheena…we love the old fart already.

  25. You need a break and everyone else has already said what I thought about at 3am last night. You have done an awesome job for a lot of dogs and you will continue to do so in all sorts of other ways. If you don’t take a break you may end up losing your creativity and your spirit!

    All of the things that are happening right now are little flags that are signaling you to slow down, take a deep breath and take better care of yourself and your family of five. You each deserve to have time alone with one another for awhile.

    Taking a break will be hard for others to accept because you have done such a good job. They may try to guilt you into taking just one more for awhile; to saying that if you don’t the dog may die and who knows what else. But you are also worth rescuing and quite frankly, the only person capable of rescuing you and helping you to have a better life is you.

    Please take everyone’s counsel to heart. You have a loyal and caring fan base who wants to follow you for years to come. So get that last dog in shape and put an out of fostering business sign up – at least for one full year.

  26. I agree wholeheartedly with the ones saying that you need a break. You’ve been going through a lot lately (car crash, car crash, car crash) and you already have a bunch of dogs. Seriously reconsider fostering a dog for the time being, you need a rest and everyone would understand it.

    I saw Dexter trials and for me he was awesome in all them, I also don’t have a clue about the subject, but if you say he did some mistakes but overall he did great I trust you. Thanks so much for posting the videos. :)

    And seriously take a break you already have half a dozen dogs, I don’t know how you manage to work, with that “extended” family.

    Best wishes. :)

  27. Ok… just from the description, and I understand your frustration… it sounded like he was really working overtime to bite you. I understand about crabby old animals… I have an old diabetic cat that most folks long ago would have parted ways with…but I rearrange my life for him so I can keep him around to purr at me every night after pitifully crying for me to lift him to the bed since he can’t get there on his own any longer…. just 1 more vial longer, God… just 1 more vial ….

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