Feb 012013
 

If you have been following our blog for a bit, you may remember a very special foster dog, Bella, who came to us under extraordinary circumstance.
It all began with a sweet, courageous pup named Shy. 
Everyone was so taken with Shy’s sad story, the community rallied together to raise funds to save her eyesight and help her find her forever home. In a strange twist of events, Shy unexpectedly passed away just as we had raised enough money to fund her surgery. 
This amount helped us rescue 2 broken and overlooked pups in honor of Shy. You can catch up on the story with this post.

Bella was just a little puppy with a broken leg and a huge chemical burn and little chance of making it out.
Here is an update about the great life she is now living with her Dad and is named June:

June has been good. She’s about 65lbs now. She recently took a week long vacation by my parents because my twin brother Vince and I had to drive the band’s equipment out to California and our older brother came with as well. 
She’s learned some new tricks too. She knows “side” where she’ll lay down and turn on her side. That was the gateway trick to get her to learn “back paw.” Once she is on her side, we say “back paw” and she’ll give us her back paw. She is starting to learn “back paw” when she’s standing up as well. 

She’s also getting stubborn with the colder weather. On some walks, she’ll stop dead and and pull the opposite direction to go home. We need to work on that because she still needs longer walks in the winter. We ended up getting her a new hoodie.

It has been so great seeing this overlooked pup, with a broken leg and huge chemical burn, living such a great life with her family.
Again, thanks so much to all of you who made this possible.


Also:

Matchmakers
Miss M hazes
Original update

Jan 162013
 

We know how fostering does directly save lives, but we also know that not all pups are going to work for all homes. 
Even for us.
And it makes us feel like we’re letting everyone down.
During break, we were so enamored with little Jack Frost and his heartbreaking story we thought we could take him on while we were not at work. We have a soft-spot for older pups, and we thought this little Elder-Shi was the perfect fit. He blends right in.

But we didn’t follow our own rule. And while the dogs all get along amazingly, and we love having the little guy, we’re realizing we may not be the best foster fit. 
Here’s our story about admitting when things aren’t working, and what we need to remember to continue having positive foster experiences.

Know what you and your pups can handle

Jack Frost is ‘Too Sexy’ for his Santa Outfit

We know fostering should be a positive experience for all the pets and people involved. We recognize the types of dogs that do and don’t work well with our own pooches. We do know Mr. B gets nervous if dogs try to play with him, so we don’t foster younger playful dogs or puppies. We also try to choose males who are more likely to get along with Miss M and her bossiness. 
When we introduced Jack Frost to our pups we realized they all got along. He respected Mr. B’s space, eventually chose to lay with Miss M, and he enjoyed hanging out with the pack.
The biggest thing we always check before fostering is making sure we can crate train the pup. Mr. B is allowed to roam free when we’re not home, and we don’t like leaving pups who are still getting to know each other alone all day. In our excitement over having a smaller dog, we made the terrible stereotype that all small dogs could just be put in a crate or in a room. We soon realized how much our little Jack Frost was just like Mr. B. All he wanted to do was hang out in the house without being contained. And exactly like Mr. B, crates, closed doors, even baby gates made him nervous.

Realize What Can be Worked On…and What isn’t Working

We know foster dogs are adjusting to new experiences, and how important it is to help them through the transition. We did work on crate training and trying to see if there was a way we could partition both of the dogs while we were gone. Seeing how neglected he was, I’m guessing Jack Frost spent much of his life contained and even behind a baby gate he was completely miserable. Mr. B also gets anxious if he senses a dog in distress behind a closed door. We knew each dog was completely fine just hanging out in the house, and they had never had a single negative interaction, but I also didn’t want to take that 1% chance that unattended Mr. B could race down the hall and smoosh little Frost, or even accidentally sit on him. They are still in the getting-to-know-you phase also.
While we were working on all of this E, who is allergic to cats, realized he was allergic to Jack Frost. As Jack’s hair was growing back, E just kept getting more allergic. And we wouldn’t be able to have him in the bedroom where all the dogs slept because E was becoming so sick. While we struggled with trying to make it work, we realized the discomfort of E, Mr. B, and Jack Frost might not be worth it.

Work with a Rescue Group you Trust

We know there are some situations where once you commit to fostering, you need to make it work even if it is uncomfortable for the pups and people involved. We unfortunately know someone who was berated when they felt a foster they tested–and didn’t even begin fostering–was not a good fit with their dogs. We understand it’s disappointing, but it’s also not a good idea to force situations.
So many of our positive foster experiences can be attributed to Miss M’s rescue group, New Leash on Life Chicago. They recognize the importance of matchmaking–making sure it’s a good fit for both the people and the pups–rather than just trying to adopt out dogs. They don’t over-extend themselves and they really just want to make sure the fosters are a good fit and they are very honest with their fosters and adopters. They even become familiar with the foster homes and actively seek out dogs knowing what would be a good fit for that home.
While we were sad we couldn’t make it work, the rescue group has been working for another placement.

Right now he is staying with a friend, where he can just hang out all day at home. Since she travels a lot, we were hoping to find a more permanent foster home…or even better adoptive home!
We have had some weekend visitation, though we are beyond disappointed that we couldn’t see him through to his adoption.
Jack Frost is our 6th foster dog, and I guess we are still learning about what can work in our little home. (Ironically, it was our 90 lb foster pup who was our best fit).
We felt like we were letting little Jack Frost and everyone down.

Also:
How much our pups love Jack Frost
Working on Crate Training with a Foster Pup
How we choose Foster Dogs 
Adding a second dog to your home

Jan 112013
 

                                                        Miss M feigns innocence.
Whenever we bring a new foster pup into our home, people start betting when Miss M will make them into her own personal headrest. 
Our newest tiny foster, adoptable Jack Frost, was no exception.

So tiny we let him stand on the table!
It seems Miss M has been perfecting her skills, as we documented her moves (via iPhone!) on an unsuspecting Jack Frost.
As Miss M creeps closer, Jack Frost suspects there might be someone behind him.
Mission aborted.

 Seeing an opportunity to sneak up on a sleeping Jack Frost, Miss M not-so-stealthy stands behind him. Pretends to be a statue.

Then she quickly sneaks into Mr. B’s bed, knocking him off of the cushion.

Confused by a change in location over the holidays, Miss M convinces Jack Frost to share his tiny bed.

Which has opened the door allowing her to get closer…

And eventually make little Jack Frost her own personal pet:

Meanwhile…Mr B maintains his fear of little dogs, and just decides to take the small bed.

 Want to make adoptable Jack Frost your own? He is available for adoption from New Leash on Life Chicago.  Special thanks to Tiennot Knits Sweaters for knitting him some tiny sweaters to keep him warm!

Also:
The one that got away!
Where it all began
Sneaky!

Dec 312012
 


 If you’ve been following our Facebook page, you’ve probably seen some glimpses of our tiny little foster pup. With some extra obligations this year, we weren’t sure if we could take on another foster pup this soon, but we were so taken with little Jack Frost’s story, we knew we could at least take him while we were on break.

When Miss M’s rescue group, New Leash on Life Chicago, stopped by Chicago’s Animal Care and Control to rescue one more pup for the holidays, they stopped dead in their tracks when they saw Jack Frost. His cage card showed he had been given up by his “owners” a mere day before, looking like this:

  His neglect was so severe, that his fur had matted fusing his ears to the back of his head and his legs to his sides. With this type of matting, every movement, or attempt to walk, is severely painful literally tearing at his flesh. On top of that, his toenails were curled under themselves, and he was missing several teeth causing his little tongue to hang out the side of his mouth. His entire underside was molding and soaked in urine, and he had feces stuck throughout his fur. 

This type of condition doesn’t just happen in a matter of weeks, or even months, but it seemed like he had been living like this for his entire life. Long-term volunteers (who have seen a lot!) literally started crying when they saw him. 
Though New Leash wasn’t expecting to take an extra pup, and they didn’t have a foster home lined up, they knew there was no way this little guy, who had never led a regular life, could be left behind.

Jack Frost received a medical groom removing approximately 4 pounds of fur; this was nearly half of his body weight! 
They said the removal was almost like an archeological dig discovering unbelievable things stuck throughout his fur and leaving his skin very sensitive and cold. He is taking antibiotics for his teeth, and they will be running further tests to see if his condition has impacted him internally.

 Despite all he’s been through, Jack Frost is just loving life! Each morning he wakes with a roll almost as if to remind himself what it means to have sensation on his body. Now that he has been freed from his mattes he absolutely loves going on walks and works to keep up with our pups’ longer strides. He absolutely loves being around people and he was quite the showstopper coming to E’s family’s holiday celebration complete in Santa suit. He is just a laid-back little guy who loves hanging out with his people…and Miss M.

Please, please share his story. We’re hoping to find him a home before we go back from break.
You can see more photos of his rescue (and his sister Chestnut) here. 
Tax-deductable donations to help with his recovery can be made here (plus an incredible donor is matching donations made today!)
And you can  complete an adoption application here. 

Also:
Check our Facebook page to see even more photos of Jack Frost hanging with our pups.
Isn’t it funny to think this was our foster last year? (Size HUGE!)
Our second smallest foster.

Oct 052012
 

I remember in high school our Psychology teacher told us about the power of positive thinking. He told us about all kinds of studies where just thinking about someone gave them a greater chance of recovery. Right now, former foster Bessie Belle needs our thoughts. She had to go in for some emergency surgery, but we’re all hoping to have some better news.

Bessie Belle was the foster we weren’t supposed to have. While it was a busy time for us, it was actually E who met Bessie and knew we needed her in our home. She was the only foster dog he ever picked, and the one who it was hardest to imagine leaving.

Though we couldn’t be happier with her new family. She has a mom who loves her more than anything, a huge fan club in her neighborhood, and a sweet sister who has regained confidence because of Bessie:

Please think good thoughts for sweet Bessie Belle. You can let her family know in the comments section here, or on our Facebook page. 

Remember when Bessie first came to stay with us and let us parade her around the city in a New Year’s hat?
And how happy Bessie was to go to her new home (and meet the kitty siblings!).

Sep 142012
 

Last weekend Miss M’s rescue group had a huge alumni & supporter appreciation party. Her group is a 100% volunteer rescue, and they were so excited to celebrate their 500th dog (he’s the little guy below who looks like a fox). It was a fun afternoon at a dog-friendly bar with an outdoor space for grilling and hanging out. We loved seeing foster families reunited with pooches, dogs adopted several years ago happy and in their prime, and people learning more about the group. Plus, did we mention there was a kissing booth?

Mr B had a great time in the booth which made the pooches a bit higher than the people who came to see them. Though the power went to Miss M’s head, and she was often very excited being so high up. Anyone recognize the familiar faces that joined in the kissing booth?

Also: Details on How to build a Doggy Kissing Booth
Dog Rescue Family

Sep 062012
 


 We all know Miss M is typically not impressed. Though the one thing that really makes her smile….meeting people and giving them smooches. You can see our little kissing bandit in action here.
This weekend Miss M’s rescue group New Leash on Life Chicago, a 100% volunteer-run rescue, is celebrating their 500th dog! They are gathering all supporters, alumni, and anyone interested in learning more about the group to an event at a dog-friendly bar with a great outdoor space for grilling, drinking, a raffle, and debut of the new merchandise.
Knowing Miss M has a talent for smooching, she decided to use her skills to raise awareness and donations to help rescue more pups like herself, SuperLevi, Bessie Belle, and Boris the Bachelor. We had seen doggy kissing booths across the web, and we thought we would try building our own. Our booth is still awaiting final decorations, but this is what we figured out:

Dimensions:

We had the dogs practice sitting on a bench, and we measured that a comfortable space for them would be about 4 feet wide. We also measured that the dogs’ average height is about 2 feet sitting or standing. Based on these measurements, we wanted to make the booth high enough where the dogs’ faces would be the same height as an average person.  We built a platform that was 3 feet high, so when the dogs sat up straight they would be at human level. The surrounding painted walls are a foot higher than the platform (4 feet) to create the wall.
We were able to go to Home Depot (dog-friendly!) where they cut the boards to the heights we estimated. The workers were very, very helpful discussing the idea and the measurements we made.
We found some of the materials in their scrap wood section. We used the thiner boards for the sides, but we made sure the platform was reinforced with a thick base. One important thing we learned is to make sure the boards are cut as a size to fit into our car.

Making it Comfortable for the Pooches:

(Inside view of the Kissing Booth)

We wanted make a type of bench that was high enough for the pooches to peer out, but also long enough for them to lay down. We’re going to put a bed or blanket on the platform to make it even more comfortable. We made a type of table using a thick plywood board (3/4 inch) supported by 2 x 4’s which were screwed into the side walls for extra support.

(Platform table being reinforced by the walls)



Transport and Decorations:

These photos are still of the booth as a work in progress. When assembled, it’s much too big to fit into our car, so we need to take it apart and rebuild it at the event. E wrote on the back of each board to remember which board is the front, left and right side and the top vs. the bottom. With the holes already in place he is just bringing the drill and screwing them in.
Once at the event, we thought we could either use colored circular stickers or paint over the screws to help them blend in. One of the volunteers is also currently working on painting the “Kissing Booth” sign at the top. And maybe a banner. Check out our facebook page for our final product!

We are keeping the pooches safety and comfort in mind. They have practiced sitting in the assembled booth. The booth at the event will also be away from the other action and dogs. And of course we will be watching to make sure they remain comfortable.

If you are in the Chicagoland area, we would love to see you at the event! You can find more information here on New Leash on Life’s Facebook page.
PS. We know former fosters SuperLevi and Boris the Bachelor will also be attending!

Aug 232012
 

Long, long ago, before we had Mr. B, and even Miss M, I would troll Petfinder hoping to find my perfect match. I will always remember one profile I kept coming back to about a dog who was pulled by the rescue group just as she was scheduled to be euthanized. The profile said “This would have been a great loss for Jackie’s future forever family as she is a fantastic dog! She is super-snuggly (as bully breeds tend to be) and loves her people above everything!”

I kept imagining this other family, and how their life would have turned out so differently if this dog hadn’t been saved.
Little did I realize, this “other family” would be me:
Since then I have always been so grateful that New Leash on Life did take a chance on the overlooked Miss M, just like they continue to take chances on pooches like SuperLevi, Bachelor Boris, and Elderbull Bessie Belle (also slated to be euthanized!)
Though I’m also learning how expensive rescue work can be, especially when unexpected medical costs come up. Since New Leash on Life does rely completely on donations, they can only rescue as many pooches as they can finance. Which means there are often pooches like Miss M or Bessie Belle left behind. Luckily, there are some very talented people donating their time and talents, where money supporting the rescue also gets you something cool in return!
I had long been cyber-stalking the talented  La Familia Green  who designs the most clever greeting cards, including cat and dog-themed cards inspired by her own cat Lemur and pooch Stickers. I have wiled away many the afternoon cyber-reading the hilarious cards in her shop  (Meerkats in pumpkins! Smooching mimes! Cute NYC city rats! Rescue pets!)
So we were so excited when Mollie volunteered to design the new T-shirts and bandanas for New Leash, including a very familiar face:
Not only are these great rescue t-shirts, but all of the proceeds go to help save more pups! The t-shirts are a unique, super-soft 3 fabric blend just like the fashion t’s you find in certain stores. They come in a men’s and woman’s cut, and we recommend ordering one size up, as they are fitted.
They are currently taking pre-orders, and limited sizes and quantities are available. They also ship!
T-shirts are $25, bandanas $10 (+$5 shipping)
T-shirt + bandana $30 (+5 shipping)
Family Deal (2 t-shirts + 1 bandana) $50 (+$5 shipping)
To order, follow the instructions here and make sure to indicate your size and whether it’s men’s or women’s. Orders can also be picked up at the upcoming New Leash on Life Alumni and Supporters Appreciation party (If you come, you can see Miss M and Mr B in a kissing booth!)
Orders can be made by using this donation button.
We are also so excited that New Leash on Life has been chosen as the first monthly for Yellow Brick Home’s pet shop!  This was another focus of our cyber-stalking and we just can’t stop staring at our own little portrait that really captures the essence of our pooches (the eyes are so realistic!). We know a lot of people have been waiting to order, but we have just heard the holidays are only 4 months away, so this would be the perfect time to order your portrait, with a percentage going back to help pooches at New Leash!
Also available, and because we can’t stop staring at him, adoptable Count Chocula from New Leash on LIfe.

Let us know in the comments if there are any questions or if anything is unclear!

Miss M’s Original Petfinder Profile (Is it just me, or does she look like a vampire?)
Aug 172012
 

With his rough start on life, we knew our foster Boris “The Bachelor” would need some extra help finding his future forever family. During his time with us, the little guy got all dolled-up for a day in the city, went on a couple of group dates, stopped by some friends for some one-on-ones before going on a 2 week long ‘overnight date’ and finding his future family. (We never announce  on the blog when the dogs are in their foster-to-adopt periods because we don’t want to put too much pressure on the family).
Just like I enjoy predicting who the TV show Bachelor will choose out of all the prospects, sometimes I like to guess if our fosters will end up with anyone we know. He did remind me so much of a certain dog crush from our SociaBulls walks, but I wasn’t sure if they were looking for another pup…
Here is Boris’s–now Radar’s–story of how they met the perfect match:

 We weren’t really looking for a second dog. If we decided to add another pup, he would have to be a perfect match, we said. The universe snickered.
Our perfect match: adult, easy-going, well-adjusted, connected and eager to please male. A dog who would be happy to join us on adventures, but with a good off switch for lounging about the house. He would be a playmate and companion for Maria, but respectful of her both on account of her age and her queen of the universe tendencies. Happy, silly and a good snuggler with bonus points for cute.

Enter Bachelor Boris.
Email 1
From: O
To: A*
Subject: “Meet Our New Foster: Boris “The Bachelor” 

Maria would love a look-alike brother, wouldn’t she?

From: A
To: O
Subject: Re: “Meet Our New Foster: Boris “The Bachelor” 

He looks adorable. We could let him meet up with Roo [Maria’s nickname] sometime and see where it goes. 😉
If we were to adopt him, maybe we could make him some ear extensions?

(Maria is perplexed by Radar’s ‘bat ears’)

 We asked a lot of questions about Boris during that Sunday’s Sociabulls walk. After the walk we introduced the two potential life mates. Everyone was smitten.
Text 1 (slightly edited)
From: O
To: A 

Hi A! Thanks for visiting yesterday; it was great to see you both. Just wanted to let you know that we talked it over and think Boris would be a great fit.

During our foster-to-adopt period we wanted to make sure that Boris would integrate easily into our daily life. He received the seal of approval from our dog-walker, the cleaning lady and from my parents and their dog; who dog-sit for us on occasion.
His goofy, sweet nature is the other half to Maria’s sassy personality. He continues to charm us with his silly antics and makes friends wherever he goes. Most importantly, he fulfills all the major points on the perfect-for-us list and adds a whole lotta happy to our house. We are so glad to make Boris, now Radar, a part of our family.
*Email A is the SO; text A is Boris’ foster mom 

 We are so excited for Boris/Radar, Maria and their family. And the best part is, we will still get to see him on SociaBulls walks!

PS. Our favorite memory with Boris

Jul 272012
 

Even though Miss M is my very own pooch, and we lived together as bachelorettes, I still don’t feel like she is my dog. My dog in the sense that she gets excited to see me, will follow me around, and is loyal to just me. Because Miss M is the type of pooch who wants to be the life of the party and will go home with anyone she meets. Sometimes I think she is, not so secretly, auditioning to find a new, better family:

See, Mr. B is very loyal to E. When E enters the room, his whole face just lights up:

Though I never realized what I was missing, until I did get my very own Mr. B. New foster dog Bachelor Boris is the first pooch I’ve had who just loves me. My Mr. B sleeps on the floor next to my side of the bed. He gets up and follows me when I leave the room, even if it’s just for one minute. And he always has a big smile when he sees me.
While it is nice that Miss M is such a social butterfly, it is also nice to have a pooch who is so into me.
Do you find most dogs to be social butterflies? Or just really into one person like our Mr. B’s? Or could it just be a boy dog thing?

PS. Why we will never own 3 dogs.
PPS. Join our facebook page to see more funny photos of the pooches with Bachelor Boris.