Friday, December 28, 2012

About Giffy, Pt. 1: How I started working with dogs

To be honest, I really was a cat person all my life. It wasn’t until I found myself adopting a 5-month-old Pomeranian puppy that I started to explore the world of dogs. That was nearly 20 years ago. And, sadly, Mandy lived a short life for a Pomeranian. She fell down the stairs when she was 8, suffering some “major neurological episode,” and died. I was devastated.

Distraught by the emptiness of my home, I couldn’t stop feeling Mandy’s absence, and then it occurred to me that I needed to do something. Because I decided I wasn’t ready to love another dog just yet, I decided to try fostering, to give another dog a chance in Mandy’s honor; I checked into local rescue groups, and after several people recommended Second Chance Animal Rescue, I contacted them. I think the year was 2000.

At first, my foster dogs were highly-adoptable puppies and small dogs, wriggling bundles of energy and fur. Some of them literally lasted hours before they were adopted, but over time, I developed a reputation as a person who could work with more challenging dogs, and more challenging dogs I got.

It began, innocently enough, with a call from the dog coordinator asking me if I could try working with a dog that had some challenging behaviors. She probably prefaced her comments, “I’m not sure this dog can be saved,” a line that has led many a rescue dog to front door. To be honest, I’m not even sure which dog it was—perhaps the Lhasa Apso whose person had committed suicide or the stray 14-year-old Pekinese with a spinal condition and dry eye or the Pekinese cross that had proptosed its eye squabbling with another, larger dog in its previous foster home. Maybe it was Wally, who lived with his siblings in the walls of a house, completely unsocialized. Or Maude, the Neapolitan mastiff that had been fed carcasses and had to have 18 inch tumor removed from her kidney. I no longer remember which dog started my journey, but I am so grateful for it.

So, I became the difficult dog foster, the person who could handle aggression, shy-fearful behaviors, submissive wetting, separation anxiety. The list became longer over time, and then when I began working with a holistic vet, Dr. Pomeroy, I began to work with allergies, too.

Since 2000, I’ve fostered approximately 170 dogs!

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