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30 Jan

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What Baci Taught Me About Fostering

14 Dec

Recently, we asked our friend Rennie if she would like to write a guest post about fostering for Bully Project. This is the result.

I’ve been a short-term foster mom for three of Bully Project‘s adoptables, and each of the dogs couldn’t have been more different from one another.

 First came Hunny, who I’m sure was part bulldog. She loved nothing more that long, loud naps on the floor. This dog could snore!

Then I had Ethel, easily the snuggliest dog I’ve ever met. Between her love of snoozing on me and her penchant for playing fetch in my one-bedroom apartment (not an easy feat), I’m convinced that she was part Chocolate Lab.

Finally, I housed Baci, who is clearly part cat. And I mean that in the best way – I’m not talking about the aloof quality of a feline … far from it. Case in point: this dog actually followed me into the bathroom once and sat at my feet while I did my business, with her back turned to me for privacy. Baci is nothing if not polite.

She also taught me a whole lot about what it means to foster a dog, for any amount of time. The first two, Hunny and Ethel, were exceptionally adaptable. Both made themselves at home in my apartment literally within minutes, plopping down for a nap and a cuddle.

Baci was a slightly different story.

Baci doing down at the vet

Baci doing down at the vet

Full of pep and puppy energy, she had lots to do the first night that Josh dropped her off. She rubbed her body across each piece of furniture in my living room, paced between the dining area and the kitchen, and sniffed every corner of my rug. After devouring a 12-inch braided Bully Stick in the short time before Josh left, I didn’t have much left at my disposal to calm her down.

A quick run-through of her behaviors (Baci was great at “sit” and “shake” and was working on her “down”) resulted in nothing but excitement.

Oh my gosh, we’re SITTING! Now we’re throwing ourselves DOWN on the floor. Ooh, and speak. I can SPEAK! Josh doesn’t like it when I speak but I can show you, new foster person. Listen to me SPEAK!

Maybe this wasn’t the best time to go through Baci’s tricks. I tried giving her a belly rub, always a favorite of the other two fosters, but that, too, was incredibly exciting for this one. Baci wiggled her way across my floor, rubbing her head (and probably her irritated eyes, poor girl) across my legs, rolling around like a nut.

After a somewhat relaxing chew on her antler to settle things down, I put Baci to bed in her crate. When all else fails, go to sleep, right?

The next morning I had a slightly more chilled-out dog on my hands. We went on an early morning walk and Baci was polite and sweet, checking in on me often and eagerly sitting at my feet for a training treat every couple of blocks. When an unexpected shower hit, she gave me that look.

Um, new foster person? It’s raining. Why are we outside?

I hurried us back to my walk-up, dried Baci off with a towel (no surprise: she loved it) and fed her breakfast while I ate my own.

As the next two days wore on, I saw quite a change in Baci: I watched her settle in. There was really no process like this with the last two dogs, and it was interesting to watch Baci relax and enjoy her downtime. I figured out a couple of tricks, too: petting Baci’s head made her much calmer than the belly rubs. Rubbing Baci’s floppy ears put her into a practically trance-like state, and then we could move on to a nice massage/belly-rub, with me whispering “shhh” to make it a calm activity, not an exciting one.

Worked like a charm.

Soon, I had a snoozing dog at my feet, and one who was eager for mini training sessions without getting overly excited. I discovered that she was confused about the difference between “shake” and “down.” Ever-willing to present her paw in greeting (see? Such a polite girl!), it took several repetitions for her to get that she didn’t need to shake before moving down to the floor. Her own particular version of “down” is perfectly Baci. It’s a swift drop to the floor, followed by a wiggly Army crawl. But she got it. I showered her with praise for that, and for everything she did that I liked, such as the naps and the sitting quietly with me at home!

Whenever I went into my bedroom and closed the French door behind me, Baci would wait patiently on the other side, her face (framed by a soft cone to protect her healing eyes) smushed against the glass. She sat like a statue waiting for me, happily greeting me upon my return just a couple minutes later.

When I had to bring Baci back to Josh after just a few days, I felt the familiar pang of sadness. Giving up a foster dog feels like losing a friend, no matter how happy you are that they’re moving on to a good place and a famiy to call their own

I loaded her into a cab and she tried to do her usual trick of crawling underneath my legs (again­—such a cat) to rub her back. When the cabbie gave us a sideways glance, I made Baci sit and had to correct her several more times to keep her from rubbing her head and eyes on me.

Finally, with a contented sigh, she rested that sweet, pretty head on my knees and sat quietly for the rest of the ride. I rubbed her ears and she closed her eyes.

And in that moment, I wasn’t sad at all. Quite the opposite, actually: I felt like I’d done my job as a foster mom. After being in two other foster homes before me, I helped teach Baci that new situations are OK. And laying quietly on the floor and taking a snooze is, too. I don’t know how a dog’s brain works any more than the next guy, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lesson that sweet Baci would take with her.

Not that she needed it—she was lucky enough to be adopted just days later. But I’ll never forget what Baci taught me about fostering a dog. As sad as it can be to say goodbye, giving an abandoned or unwanted dog a stable, happy, supportive place to live, for any length of time, is the best thing that you can do to help them.

Knowing that Hunny, Ethel (who I still miss the most!) and Baci will have warm, happy holidays in their forever homes is truly a gift.

And I have that sweet, goofy, thinks-she’s-a-cat pittie to thank for it.

Rennie Dyball is a People.com editor and co-author of three books. She is a currently dog-less New Yorker who has been known to hang out in the occasional dog park anyway, just to make four legged friends. (That’s not weird, is it?) Follow her on Twitter: @renniedyball and check out her blog at renniedyball.com.

Wordless Wednesday

3 Oct

Wordless Wednesday

26 Sep

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Ah, City Life…

17 Aug

Life in New York City is incredibly unpredictable. From skyrocketing rents, to fun flash mobs, to throngs of non-English speaking tourists, to…sudden arrivals to constructions sites immediately outside your front door!

In the past four days, my street has quickly become a bustling construction site, complete with Caterpillar machines, bulldozers, tons of lumber, and chain link fences. This is a full-on “Hard Hat Area,” folks. And it’s literally right outside my front door:

My apartment is on the ground floor of my building, and on the street side – so every weekday at 7am, the noise begins and lasts throughout the day. Thankfully, it’s not too bad…yet. Soon, the blasting will begin. The water mains, sewers and underground electrical wires will be updated, repaired and replaced, which means they will have to dig up the entire street. It’s going to be so much fun an absolute disaster!

But there is a silver lining to this whole debacle: I will be bringing Lucy to work with me everyday for almost two months! Lucy is so calm and collected with loud noises and the like, so this really isn’t necessary. But it does serve as a good excuse – I wouldn’t want to make Lucy endure the mayhem if she really doesn’t have to, and she doesn’t! I have a very dog friendly office and work only four blocks from my home, so the universe is simply telling me that August and September are “Bring your dog to work months.”

Not only will this make me immensely happy, but it will give me lots of opportunities to work on specific training with Lucy that I have been meaning to work on for a very long time. I can finally focus on teaching her how to more appropriately greet people when they come to say, “Hi,” and work on settling in more exciting situations. There will be jars of dog treats at the doorway, for sure!

But there is another downside: I wont be able to foster dogs for a little while. You see, I share my area of my office with 4-5 other people depending on the day of the week. As much as they love dogs, I don’t feel it would be neighborly to impose two medium to large sized dogs on them. At the same time, it wouldn’t be fair to impose a new dog, with unknown issues and comfort levels, to the thunderous noises that may upset them. So, the Blye household is taking a self-imposed fostering break.

In the meantime, we will be certain to keep you up to date on the whereabouts of Bully Project’s adoptable dogs. Hunny & Chester are both still available for adoption (Interested? Email bullyprojectnyc@gmail.com).

And I’m sure there will be more in our future. There are still lots of stories to tell, so stay tuned!

Uptown Girl

2 Aug

How excited am I? I finally get to foster a pittie. Okay, not exactly foster BUT I am helping out my friend who is fostering Hunny! I am always so jealous when Josh has a foster. My ark is full and no fosters for me at this time…But, I get to see this smile everyday!

Hunny in Inwood

Hunny’s first foster momma, Rennie, had to leave on vacation. What started out with a one week first time fostering “assignment” ended up being longer because who doesn’t want to wake up to Hunny’s big smile? If it wasn’t for Rennie seeing Hunny’s picture on the Facebook page of Trixie and Peanut (thanks for sharing!), we never could have rescued Hunny. And, everyone knows how much Josh and I wanted to pull her. So when it was time for Rennie to go away, we needed a second leg for Hunny’s journey.

I was so grateful when Cindy, a local dog owner who recently sent her heart dog, Bear, to the Rainbow Bridge, called me asking if Bully Project needed fostering. Of course, we did! So that’s how Hunny became an Uptown Girl (or should I say an Upstate Manhattan girl?).

Best part is that I am giving Hunny some afternoon walks! We have learned a lot more about Hunny! She loves to be with dogs, but sometimes she she can get overexcited. She is learning how to control herself around four-legged friends! She desperately wants to be friends with my scruffy terriers!

Hunny wants to be Alice’s friend, so badly!

Hunny can walk and walk  but as soon as she is home? Asleep! Hunny seems to be fine with cats, too. She met the mayor of 207th street, Dino, the dog-savvy Siamese at Furry Fiends. She was very appropriate with him.

Hunny Loves Furry Fiends!

She also likes Bravo’s dehydrated Duck Feet.

Off to walk Hunny! I have special frozen treat for her!

Adoptable Pittie of the Week: Hunny

23 Jul

Our newest adoptable was discovered at Manhattan’s Animal Care & Control by one of the top behaviorists at the ASPCA. We’re fortunate to count her as one of our friends, because she called us immediately and said we “have to get this dog!” And boy, are we grateful!

Hunny

Hunny is one of the most even tempered, calm and sweet dogs we have ever met. At just 2 years old, she settles easily at your feet in any situation. She’s about 55 lbs, and very short and stocky. She’s already been fully vaccinated, spayed and microchipped, too!

Hunn

She also loves people! Like, LOVES people. Especially Broadway & TV legend, Bernadette Peters, who she got the opportunity to meet at this year’s Broadway Barks!

Hunny loves Bernadette Peters!

Hunny is an absolute breeze and a joy to have around. She’d be a wonderful pet for a first time owner, and a family of any size. Not only is she friendly with dogs, she doesn’t mind cats, and she certainly adores kids, as you can see in this picture:

Hunny loves kids!

And that pittie smile is simply infectious! Wont you help Hunny find the forever home she is so incredibly worthy of? Email us today to adopt her!

Hunny

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