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Fostering is new to me and I'm wading into it slowly. This first one, with Keaton, is only going to be for two weeks until he gets his appointment with the vet to have some oddly growing extra teeth removed after which he'll be put into general adoption at Toronto Animal Services South.

When we show up at Toronto Animal Services with Smitten, I've forgotten how young Keaton is. I'd gotten it into my head that Keaton was an adult male black German Shepherd but I find out quickly enough that he's only a juvenile at eight months. He was brought into a vet clinic by his previous owner for a neuter and vacs and then the owner never returned for him, deciding she didn't want him after all. The clinic hung onto him for four weeks to see if they could find someone to adopt him but there were no takers and so he ended up at TAS-S healthy, snipped and ready to go into adoption - until his extra teeth were found. Then it was decided that the teeth had to be extracted before he would be placed in a new home.

When I bring him outside to meet Smitty, she sniffs him then gives him a you've-got-to-be-kidding look and turns away.

I take him to the dog park where he's carefully introduced one at a time to the half dozen dogs there. He's a bit anxious, some hackling, but then quickly relaxes and does some social sniffing. I get the sense he hasn't met a lot of other dogs so I'm going to try to do a good amount of socializing with him over the time he's with me. He doesn't end up playing with them much but maybe that's because it's all a bit too overwhelming for him.

We leave the park and on the drive back to my house, Smitten growls at Keaton a couple times when he gets too close to her.

Back at home, Smitten is still not terribly impressed with the intruder. There are a couple of minor incidences and that's enough for Keaton to know that she doesn't want him to bother her. Keaton makes more of an effort to stay out of her face for a while. Again, a good indication that he's reading her signals appropriately.

I haven't taken care of a pup in a very long time. Keaton can't seem to settle. I know he's tired but it seems he only ever lies down for a few minutes then gets excited about something and has to go exploring. I follow him around the house off and on for the afternoon and he doesn't do anything that needs correcting.

The few times I don't follow him around, though, he

1. collects socks to chew on.
2. empties the garbage can.
3. eats half a bag of buns which were on the counter.
4. pees on the carpet going up the stairs, the only carpet nailed down in the house. (Each time I've brought a new dog home, there's been a moment when I ask myself, Why did I sign up for this?, and this was definitely the moment)

Being a pup, Keaton likes to test his boundaries. He soon realizes that even though Smitten growls a fierce growl, she doesn't back it up with anything harsher so he starts to bug her again. He picks up her ball and waves it in her face. He runs by her and bumps her as he passes by. He walks up to her and mouths her jowls. He basically makes a nuisance of himself around her, trying to get her to play. I think this is going to end badly because she's obviously losing patience with him. But then something clicks.

They tussle over the ball and then with each other and then they're off. They run full tilt through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the back addition, out the door to the patio. Smitten leaps off the edge of the patio down the five steps and lands and keeps running. Keaton, a half stride behind her, copies her and leaps off the patio as well and lands but his front legs give out on landing and he does a faceplant but it doesn't stop him and he recovers and chases Smitten to the end of the backyard where they tussle for a moment and then run back the way they came. I'm half thinking I should stop them for the preservation of the house but what fun would that be? So, they riproar back and forth through the length of the house and the long backyard five or six times before they suddenly realize they're tired and stop for a drink and some panting.

I'll let you know if we all survive the two weeks.

For adoption information on Keaton and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

13 Comments to “Little monster in the house”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm in love- how GORGEOUS is he!! A lot of people also don't realize that GSDs are VERY high energy .... and take a LONG time to grow up LOL. He looks like an absolutely gorgeous pup- don't know how anyone could just abandon him... not letting me post this (it's selkie)

  2. deva says:

    He is beautiful. And just a reminder, Fred - "if you think puppies are easy to foster, you're doing something wrong"! Once he figures out what the rules are, he is going to be so much fun!

  3. Fred says:

    Hopefully, I'll figure out what the rules are first.

  4. Rika says:

    This guy is so beautiful. You'll be fine. :)

  5. The problem with fostering is learning to give them up :-).
    Deva hit it on the nose with "if you think puppies are easy to foster, you're doing something wrong" *LOL*.
    He's absolutely beautiful, and between you and Smitten he should acquire some puppy manners, making him eminently adoptable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How fun! Are you sure you don't want to keep him? Sounds like he and Smitten are off to a great start. :)

  7. mel says:

    When fostering, I find that things start to settle after day 3. The new dog is starting to get comfortable, and everyone has found their places.

    When did you adopt Smitten?

  8. Laura HP says:

    Exciting, your first foster! Enjoy it!
    While obviously I don't do dogs, I often find myself complaining about everything a foster animal does that I'm not used to dealing with - and then missing most of that stuff once they're gone.

  9. Fred says:

    We adopted Smitten last summer. Seems like yesterday. I must be getting old.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to the Wonderful World of Foster Care. You might as well print up a card that say "Why did I sign up for this?", because you will ask yourself that regularly, especially in the early part of any given foster.

    Then, when it comes time to return the foster, you won't want to let go. That's the time for another card, "If I don't give this one to a good home, how will I have room for the next one?" Because there are never, ever enough fosters for all the animals who need them. It can be hard, and heart-wrenching, but, oh, the joy of seeing *your* dog or cat go to its new home, happy and healthy and loved, because *you* cared enough to help.

  11. So, so, so, how's it going?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Good on you for fostering. Keaton reminds me of my 8 y/o middle aged guy who still has that silly puppy smile and energy. I guess you have to have a sense of humour with these guys. The fancy Tudor leg of my dining room table got resculpted by puppy teeth, and I just look at it and think that there are so many folks that are missing a wonderful magical creature that can do this. *I made a shape with my teeth!* Someone is going to inherit this great table some day.

  13. Fred says:

    Hey Soche, well, Keaton's incredibly smart. I've been clicker training him and he now knows sit, shake paw, down, stay and come. Some of it, I'm sure, is from previous training and he's not 100% in his responses but he picks things up fast. He's also testing his boundaries, as puppies do, with me, other people and dogs. Smitten thinks he's a pain and the two of them got into a scuffle yesterday but maybe they worked something out because today they played their favorite bezerkers chase game through the house and yard. Overall, it's going pretty good.

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.