The weather here has been perfect for the last week or two, in the mid-80s every day. Scott and Sue finished opening their pool, and as usual they’ve generously let us “test the waters” for the season by bringing the dogs over. Sheba and Max both love swimming, and had a blast. We only ended up leaving because Kathie was getting mosquito bites — we’re out of practice with our summer routine of sunblock, bug spray, etc.
With life getting somewhat back to normal post-chemo, we started fostering for Labrador Retriever Rescue again… something we’ve done for years, but took a break from during the six months of chemo. Hunter (pictured below) joined our household almost three weeks ago. He’s a very sweet dog, and I don’t expect we’ll have too much trouble finding a forever-home for him. The worst thing that can be said about him is that he’s too affectionate, following us around everywhere hoping we’ll pet him some more. If that’s the biggest complaint, I think we’ve got a winner!
Winston ended up being quite a unique foster dog for us. Not only did we get him twice, but he almost ended up becoming part of our pack.
Winston was part of a military family who also owned an older Dalmatian mix and when they had to pack up and move, they had no room in the car for the dogs, so they were taken to the shelter and the shelter called us to pick him up. When Winston first came into LRR, he was so overweight that the director said he looked like a walking coffee table: “large, brown, and square”. Due to his extra weight, lack of activity, and probability that he spent a lot of time laying on very hard surfaces; he had calluses on his elbows and any other part of the body that would regularly rest on the ground. Unfortunately they became infected, so he was on antibiotics for a while.
We received Winston just after his time at the “fat farm” (one of the foster homes specializes in weight loss for new chubby fosters) and had lost almost 40 lbs. While Winston loved to play fetch, he still didn’t have much energy and was clumsy on his feet because of the lack of exercise at his previous home. Winston has a rather endearing/disgusting habit of spitting tennis balls at you. What made it disgusting was that he would chew, chew, chew on that ball until it became slippery enough to spit straight at you, often with bulls-eye accuracy! So we started taking a small towel out with us when we would play with him. During his first stay, he was still building up his energy, so when he chased balls, he would sometimes overshoot the ball, or else slip and fall when trying to turn, but that wouldn’t stop him from playing until he was panting as loud as a train. Then we’d go inside, and he’d flop down on the couch right on top of us. He loved to be on couches, beds, pillows, anything soft and he loved cuddling right next to us. Unfortunately Winston loved being on the bed with us, and while three dogs and two humans on a bed is a tight fit, we squeezed him in – until he started to snore. Not dog snores, but real, live, shake-the-wall snores! It was so bad the first night for me (since I’m a light sleeper), that I picked up my pillow and went into the guest room to catch some sleep. After that, we tried to make Winston sleep on the dog bed next to the floor. Unfortunately Winston knew I was such a weak-willed dog lover, that he started whining at 3am regularly to be let up on the bed. Since I didn’t want Winston to wake up Mike, I would often let him right up on the bed and the snoring would start.
We found Winston to be so endearing that we asked the director to move him to a different home since we had become so attached to him. The day before the move, we noticed his hind leg had swollen up, and there was a large red area. So he was taken to the vet where they found he had bruised himself (probably slipping in the snow fetching) and the blood had begun pooling into his leg. The vet went in surgically and cleaned the area out, and also found a mass of cellulitis which she removed (apparently happens to overweight dogs sometimes). He spent the time recovering and worming his way into the affections of another foster home during this time.
After a month, Mike and I seriously discussed adopting Winston since he was such an amazing dog, so we got to get Winston back for a two week “try and buy” period. When we got Winston back, he gained more energy and would play outside without stopping. When inside, he continued to play as long as he could find anything that could be thrown (kongs, stuffed animals, balls) until we would put everything into the dog bin; then he learned how to open the bin, so we would have to start putting the bin into the closet. Winston’s favorite toy inside ended up being a huge novelty tennis ball we had received as a housewarming gift. Winston would get his jaws into the ball and would bring it to us to throw. Sometimes he would have to open his jaws so wide to carry the toy that it would get stuck and we’d have to pull it out for him! He was just as cute as we remembered from before, but he wouldn’t cuddle quite as much as he used to, because he always wanted to play; up until bedtime where he would get on the bed and sleep right next to us (often snoring right into our ears). After our two weeks were up, Mike and I discussed the pros and cons of getting a third dog and decided that although Winston is a great dog, he wasn’t the perfect dog for the family (didn’t interact with Sheba and Quinn at all), and we’d miss fostering other great dogs that would come through LRR. So Winston then became available for adoption to the public, but the good thing was that we were allowed to keep fostering him until the perfect home was found for him. It was tough to give him up when Winston found his perfect family, but we knew he was going to a great home, so it made it easier.
When Gabby came home with us, we fell for her right away! She’s a really adorable dog, with lots of cute “puppy” traits. She’s probably around 18 months old. Probably the first thing we noticed about her was that she was very mouthy. She’d nibble your hands, ears, anything she could reach, to show affection. We’ve been trying to break her of that habit and she’s gotten much better. Gabby’s also a voracious chewer. The first day we went to work and left her in her crate, we came home to find the dog bed in the crate torn to shreds! She’s chewed up virtually indestructable hard rubber dog toys, and tears through stuffed animals in minutes.
Gabby is very submissive to a stern voice. A “NO!” will have her crouching on the floor and smiling at you. She’s still growing and has a very healthy appetite. She doesn’t generally go on furniture, but will jump onto the bed for a few minutes when she wants some attention or affection. Speaking of affection, she’s like most labs, and can’t get enough! She’ll roll on her back for her belly-rubs, and complain if she doesn’t get enough. You may be wondering how she got her name – it turns out Gabby is also a “talker”. She doesn’t usually bark, but she talks in a calm, quiet voice. Sometimes it sounds like she’s honking like a goose, which can be really funny!
We got Sophie soon after she came into the LRR system. The director actually only had Sophie for a few days to check temperament and get her fixed and tatooed/microchipped. Sophie was a stray taken in by the shelter. She already had some basic obedience and knew sit, and down. She was only about 50 lbs, so definitely quite a difference from Webster. However she was also a big lapdog. She loved nothing more than to snuggle right next to you and lay on her back while you just keep petting her. When she first came here, she was quite timid, but I think playing with our dogs, she’s learned a lot more confidence. Whoever had Sophie before LRR really spoiled her. When we first got her, she didn’t really eat her dog food much and would be the first in line for our human food scraps, so we think her last family probably gave her lots of human food. However she learned pretty quickly that if she didn’t eat her dog food, she was going to go hungry. Now she eats her food almost as fast as our dogs do. But she still begs like a champ.I think she’s the first foster we’ve had that’s shown absolutely no interest in the tennis ball! I find it so hard to believe. When we first got Quinn, he wasn’t interested in the ball, but after a while, he started to love it, so I figured after a little while, she’d start to show more interest in retrieving….nope, not at all. She does love to antagonize our dogs when they’re fetching though. She’ll run right at them and body slam them if possible and block their way back to us. It irritates Sheba to no end, and Sophie has knocked Quinn down a couple of times because of his bad leg. But she settles down after about 10 minutes of playing and will just wander around outside sniffing things.
We’ve noticed that she seems to want to move up in our family pack hierarchy. She keeps trying to dominate Sheba and she’s marked a couple of times in the house, but crating her during the day seems to have fixed the problem. Sophie is such a silly girl and is definitely a velcro dog. She’ll stick close to whoever is at home. She climbs (not a good jumper) onto any couch or bed you’re on to lays right next to you for security. Whenever we’re petting a different dog, Sophie will come right to us and butt her way in for her share of attention. She loves to sleep on the bed, but due to the alpha issue with Sheba, we make her sleep on the floor. It is a bit of a struggle. I’ll get on the floor and coax her off the bed. As soon as I get off the floor she’ll use that time to jump right into the bed. It usually takes about three tries before I can hop into bed without her jumping in first.
Sophie has definitely given us a couple of humorous stories. One time she was crawling under our bed to probably get a dog toy and got stuck halfway! Mike had to lift up the bed while I pulled her out. She was just fine, but it was a bit ridiculous. Then a couple weeks late, we woke up in the middle of the night to Sophie whining and moaning. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, so I got off the bed to see what happened. Apparently during the night, she had wiggled around the blankets and wedged herself half under the bed again (back end this time)! So I pulled her out gently and she went right back to sleep…silly thing. She also seems to have no problems with water. I was in the hottub on the far side and Sophie came up to the tub. She saw me and jumped right into the water! I grabbed her and lifted her out of the tub, but she didn’t seem to mind her dunking at all. Actually, when I moved back to the other side, she looked like she was getting ready to jump back in again!
When Sophie came to us, she was a bit timid and so I think she attached herself to me pretty quickly. I love giving tons of attention to our dogs, so she probably loved all the petting and kissing she got. But it got to the point where if she couldn’t find me in the house she would become frantic. She wouldn’t leave my side even if someone was pulling pretty firmly on her leash or collar. Since she got so attached, we thought it was a good idea to move her to a new foster home. So we moved her on Sunday and got our next foster dog.
Looks like Sophie is going to get adopted this week by an elderly couple. They came to visit her at our house and really liked her size and personality. They seem like really nice people and I’m sure Sophie will love the attention she’ll get as the only dog in their house.