It’s nice having a dog to welcome you home. There’s nothing quite like seeing a big ole wiggle butt heading your way.
However, Mr. Bruno has started to get possessive of me, so we are nipping that in the butt right away. “Tough love” they call it. I need to become higher up on the chain of command, and show that I do not need protection (#independentwoman). No couch snuggles, no praise unless in training mode and he makes a good choice, no furniture, he has to work for his food (sit/stay). I tell people about this, and I get he look that means “You’re doing that to a dog you just rescued?”
Sounds mean – but it WORKS!
In two days, I’ve noticed a marked difference in our walks and his behavior in the house. He looks at me, he listens when I get him to sit/stay. He follows me with his eyes, but no longer needs to be in every single room with me wherever I go.
Progress is a wonderfully powerful motivator.
As for the cats… we’ve made many strides in the week he’s been at our house. Bruno has not yet accepted that the cats are higher up on the totem pole then he is… but he will. We’ve made strides thanks to my Mr. He did what I couldn’t – he started the integration. During the periods that we’re home, Bruno wears a leash so that if we need to grab for a correction, we can.
I feel terrible for quarantining my little furballs to cat prison the basement when we’re not home. I keep telling myself, it’s for their own safety. I know it is. In all actuality It’s a mostly finished basement, with their food, litterbox, two bedrooms and lots of cat toys to play with. So I know they most likely are not looking like this.
We need to teach him to ignore them. This will work.
I don’t need them to be best buds, I just need to him to learn that cats are not for eating or chasing. Bruno is still stressing out when they are near, and will always get up to look for them when they leave the room. He doesn’t trust them. They can be jerks, but I can’t wait for the moment when I can relax with all of my animals present. It may be a year… maybe 2, but I’m determined that it will happen.
BFW rescue has been fantastic, answered all of my questions tirelessly (and there have been many). What a bunch of gems.
Stay tuned for more on Bruno’s progress. Slow and steady…
I know, I know – I’ve been extremely slack on this. Well, that’s all about to change…..
National dog day, one of my favorite days – August 27th – It usually means that I get to “like” everyone’s super cute social media pictures of their dog.
This year however, it brought us the “unofficial” email announcing that we were selected as new parents to this guy.
Meet Bruno. He’s a four year old Bernese Mountain dog currently fostered the next province over from me.
He was surrendered to BFW (Bernese Friends Worldwide) because his family recognized that they no longer had time for him. Sadly, a story we hear all too often. However, I’m thankful his family recognized this, and saw his potential to have a fantastic future with another family that had the time to give.
What a ragamuffin he was in his “before” pictures. After countless grooming hours he became the beautiful Berner he was meant to be. His painful mats were finally cut away, he received a bill of good health from the vet – and finally he was up for adoption.
His adoption photo got around on facebook (YAY Social Media), and I had about 5 different people send me his bio. (I meant LOOK at that face)
The process was more intensive then I thought it would be. Being on the receiving end of this was much more emotional than I thought it to be. An emotional rollercoaster that lasted a week! It brought up so many memories and learnings from Newton. As they asked our past dog ownership history, I used the only examples I knew.
The committee questioned me on everything from training methodologies to my opinions on vaccinations, emergency situations and dog food preferences. It was evident, they want the dog not to go to the best home on paper – but the best fit for the dog in question.
As intensive as it was, the process went fairly quickly (After two interviews, a Skype house visit and references checking out), and we found out on August 27th that we were the chosen as Bruno’s new forever home.
I haven’t met Bruno’s foster parents yet, but I have to give a HUGE shout out to them. I’ve asked about a million questions already, and they have patiently answered enthusiastically. Selflessly, they’ve given Bruno a home, albeit temporary, loved him and cared for him and facilitated the process that allowed us to find him. A process that we are very grateful for. WTG Foster parents – you rock!
There’s a odd sense of guilt associated with the process of bringing another dog into your house. I was prepared for that, especially today of all days. Timing is a weird little duck. Today August 29th, It would have been Newton’s 4th birthday, we signed the papers to adopt another 4 year old Bernese Mountain Dog.
Dates are always weird for me – Certain ones stick out. Today, in another lifetime, I would be shopping for Newton’s 4th birthday present(s). Instead I’m in the store choosing all of his favorite things for another. (Thanks Newton for showing me how valuable a stuffed Kong could be!).
However, with time comes clarity. For me, that meant getting to a place where I could celebrate his life and be grateful for the time Newt-dawg was with us.
The totally over the top factor for us is that we’re giving a new home to rescue pup. It makes both me and my Mr. get a little misty eyed when we chat about it over wine. In our own way, paying back to what helped us through a very tough time. As ridiculously excited as I’m getting, I’m attuned to what lay ahead.
Stay tuned for more on our next chapter…. Starting tomorrow!
I’m going to change the pace and write something that will hopefully give you happy tears for a change – Imagine!
This weekend I had the pleasure of volunteering at an Adopt-a-thon. PetSmart and SPCA teamed up all weekend long to host PetSmart – NB’s first ever Adopt-a-thon – How exciting! We paired experienced SPCA volunteer handlers with an adoptable dog to create an interactive experience. There were also four SPCA cats up for adoption – you should see their adoption space, there’s even a play space in the back!
PetSmart partners with non-profit animal shelters like the SPCA to create an interactive space for adoptable animals. Plus, they get tons more animal lovers coming through naturally. Our hope was to expose these little fur babies to a great experience and more – people who may be interested in giving them their forever home.
I believe PetSmart is only in Canada/US. Here’s a bit of background for my European/Aussie peeps! They are an all-in-one pet warehouse where they welcome you to come shop WITH your pet! Some locations may also have some of the following: Grooming, Overnight boarding, Training and Doggie Daycare. I’m usually all for supporting the little guy – i.e. small business, but I love me some PetSmart!
Back to the Adopt-a-thon!
To reduce the amount of returns completed like a Wal-Mart customer service desk, we ask a lot of questions up front. After all, we hope for a forever home, not a weekend stay.
Temperament testing sheets were available
Vaccinations were up to date
Volunteers were on hand to call references immediately (including 3 non family members and current/past vet contact)
Training: PetSmart trainers were present to speak to potential owners about helpful hints on whatever concerns they had. They also volunteered to help socialize any new adoptees to any new furry brothers/sisters.
Second thoughts? We were urged to tell people to think it through, take the night to think it through or bring their families in for a second visit.
Financials – PetSmart had these savvy sheets that outlined financial costs associated with dog ownership.
Spaying contracts – As all the dogs had been neutered we did not require spaying contracts to be signed.
We were ready. Doors opened, and it was time.
Meet the dogs
I had a lovely 8 year old German Shepherd named Chance – appropriately named! His family had him for 8 years before surrendering him due to moving. A sad story, and one seen too often.
Chances new parents saw him, and we took him for a walk outside together. I heard their story. They only adopt Senior’s, and call themselves the “Golden Oldies”. They’re mission is inspiring. They adopt Senior dogs and cats and give them a safe and happy place to live out their golden years. How AMAZING is that?
Chance had never lived with other animals before. They currently owned a 9 year old Bernese Mountain dog (*sigh*), a 7 year old Shepherd mix and 2 cats (14 and 16 years) on 20 beautiful acres of country space. Once we called their references, including their current vet, Chance went home with them. The lovely couple brought all 3 dogs in later the afternoon for a bath, so we got to see him again. Who doesn’t love a SPA DAY! They said Chance went into the house, sniffed everyone, grabbed a football and jumped up on the couch to have a nap.
Enjoy your new home my friend!
This little lovebug is 3 year old Lab/Retriever/Shepherd mix Mishka. Mishka’s been with us since November. She’s a sweetheart, with the focus and smarts of a Shepherd. What a terrific combo.
Mishka was found as a stray. Posters were put up, she was announced on the radio and a profile was made on the SPCA website and Facebook page. No responses. During testing, we found she can be slightly reactive to other dogs, but appeared fine other then that.
Mishka’s new family had been looking for a puppy. When they came in for catfood, they took home more then they had initially planned on. The connection they had was instantaneous. They’re references checked out, they had budgeted appropriately and their vet gave a glowing report! Mishka was adopted!
They also bought adult training sessions for Mishka to start working on her reactive nature, starting this week. Wins and tail wags for all.
I know I’m not supposed to play favorites, but too bad – he’s it!
This dog has a better resume then I do! Pepsi is also our longest resident. He’s been with us since June 2012. He had been microchipped and spayed – proving he had been taken care of once. His family was contacted and they said they do not have the time/energy and did not want him back. He found the shelter a highly stressful environment and was put into a Foster home in December. Pepsi has come a LONG way. He’s extremely social and loves people and big dogs.
One small fault – Pepsi tries to herd anything smaller then him – it’s the Border Collie in him. What a great agility dog he would be!
-Border Collie/Lab mix
– 3 year old
– High Energy
– SMART! This dog learned sit, sit/stay for 10 mins, down, paw, dance, crawl and beg in the matter of a 2 month span.
Pepsi did not get adopted, but is still looking for his forever home. I added him into the mix as I adored working with him and I wanted to showcase how amazing Foster Care can be. What a difference to the anxious dog I met months earlier.
These were the three dogs that I worked with during Saturday/Sunday. There were many others in attendance – Here are just a few others!
I’m proud to say that all in all, 8 new furry family members are sleeping in warm new beds as of Sunday. Meeting all these families first hand, I have no doubts that they will be amazing parents. It was an amazing experience to participate in.
I know all over Canada and the US, most PetSmart’s are partnership with a local Animal Shelter of their choice.
If you’re interested in participating – please do not hesitate to contact your local PetSmart to find out more.
Thanks for reading !
*If you’re interested in any of the other dogs listed, please see monctonspca.ca for more information!
It’s been a month without Newton. I had a difficult time this weekend focusing the good times we had- and there were many. As time grew closer and closer to the one month mark, I found myself retreating into sadness. This was not an anniversary to celebrate.
I miss him.
I find myself opening up in baby steps, but unable to make the leap. Maybe I’m rushing this. He’s left such big shoes to fill that I’m not ready to put another dog up the challenge – yet. I’ve discovered that as far as I’ve come, I am still not ready to bring another life into ours. I know I will someday. For now, it’s not fair.
When we are ready, I know I’ll be open to the right rescue or another Bernese from the same reputable breeder that we got Newton from. The reason, friends, that I would go this route again is when Newton fell ill, I relied on my support system. This system housed close friends, family and also Newtons’ breeder.
She’s been there for every single step in his life. In fact, the night before we said goodbye to him, we went to visit her, along with Newton’s brother and sister. It was one of the best decisions we made. Almost like he was waiting to say goodbye to his Berner family, a family he had spent so much time with.
We cried together as Newton greeted all with happiness upon his arrival, knowing it was going to be his last visit. He didn’t let on how bad he most likely felt, until he was home. We’ve been lucky in the fact that when we went away, and were unable to Newton with us, he went and stayed at his original Grandma’s house with his furry brothers and sisters. We were also lucky that our support system included my sister, her fiance and their two dogs, whom I know he also shared a very special bond with.
Since we said goodbye, the breeder(s) have taken it on to find out more about the disease, sending his slides to the leading Pathologist in North America to find how more about his particular form of disease: If early detection is possible, how to save Kidney function earlier, any preventative measures, and scientific trials that may be available should it happen ever again. All of Newton’s littermates are having ultrasounds and urine tests as preventative measures. In conclusion, even after going though everything, I still believe in their breeding program. They will only breed dogs with good hip and elbow scores (reducing chances of early hip/elbow dysplasia), eye and blood work clearances. They are trying to better the breed. As I truly love everything about Bernese Mountain dogs, their sweet temperament most of all – If they can be healthier & longer living then all the better. Our Newton was a lemon that slipped through their program, he was our lemon though, and as one of my friends like to say –
“Although Newton was a lemon, he made the sweetest lemonade”.
This is not to say I do not support rescuing a dog from a shelter. If you read my blog, you know these are the only two types of programs I support. The rescue dogs I work with now are helping me heal in little pieces. I definitely do not consider them a “second choice” as they’re truly wonderful in their own right. Further, I feel like I owe it to them to give one (or many more throughout my lifetime) of them a home one day.
It comes down to a connection and I believe – the timing. If and when I’m ready, if the connection is there, they will hopefully become a part of our family. I’m open to either way. Perhaps both, if the time is right.
There is a guilt that sets in when you start to even think about moving forward, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I had hoped. I don’t want to replace Newton, and that’s kind of what opening ourselves up for another dog feels like. My head wants to move forward, never forgetting but continuing forward momentum. My heart is another matter, still deeply entrenched in the grief of losing him. In short friends – I am still not ready as these two pieces do not align.
I will be ready one day, and I can’t wait to experience life with a dog again. Many parts of our life feels empty without one. Newton however, as many of your dogs are, was much more then “a dog”. He was my companion, my confidant and fellow adventurer. There weren’t many places we went, that he did not follow (or lead in some cases). I felt that I understood what he was “saying” or feeling, with just one look at his face. I knew how he would react before it would happen. I trusted him in most any situation and with any person. In short – he was what some people call a “heart dog“.
“Every now and then, a very special dog comes into your life and changes the way you think about things forever. Sometimes these dogs don’t stay very long. Sometimes they’re not even your dog, but leave footprints on your heart, nevertheless.”
Newton was also our first dog together. Which could be one reason why the bond built so deep. I’m not worried that we won’t love another dog. However, I’m wondering, Is there something different about a first dog that does this to a person? Is this bond possible with every dog you have? Or is it only a small percentage of dogs in a persons’ lifetime that you will have this with?
I like to think, if you’re open to it, the bond will happen building on the first connection. For now, I’m not open – but I’ll get there.
I’ll leave you with something that makes me smile, and think of Newton every time I’ve had many people send me this particular link to this youtube video! I’ll leave you on a happy note. Friends, In case you haven’t seen this one – What’s cuter then this puppy and a lemon ?