Sunday, September 23, 2007

Charlotte, Day Fifteen - girls in love

Well, Kevin and I both knew that we would love whatever dog we took in to foster. That wasn't very hard to predict. Since I was old enough to catch just about any animal, I found a way to make it mine. Cats, dogs, bugs, worms (hey Oscar the Grouch had a pet one, why couldn't I). My dad used to called me Elly May. My husband calls me Dr. Doolittle.

What we didn't expect was for Seka to love our foster just as much as we do. I've never seen this side of our girl. Until now, she could be classified as a dog snob. She's not antisocial, she just comes off as if she somehow knows her breed is superior to all other dogs we encounter and she doesn't have time for them. No rough housing. No drooling. No jumping. No wrestling. No tug-of-war. That is for all other dogs at the dog park to partake in. Seka hangs back with mom and dad, waiting for us to throw the ball so she can show all the other canines the speed that they will never be able to achieve. I'm not sure where she gets the superiority complex (it's not from her racing record). Maybe I've told her she's the most beautiful girl in the world one too many times.

Now that Charlotte is opening up and becoming a bit more comfortable, I've witnessed the girls playing in the backyard like puppies. PUPPIES! Charlotte on her back - all four feet in the air - with Seka on top of her, mouthing and wrestling like they were litter mates. Seka rarely play bows. This week I've seen both of them chasing each other, play bowing, playing hide and seek behind the hot tub. It's been a riot.

So a warning to all of you potential fosters out there. You may be able to prepare yourself and your heart when you take one in, knowing it will be hard to let the foster pupper go when it is time. But think about how you're going to explain it to your fur baby. I've got to figure this one out!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Charlotte, Day Eleven - I can play

Charlotte can play. She really can play. She has been practicing for a few days alone. I could hear her squeaking on a toy in the living room while I was in the kitchen cooking or eating and it was killing me not to sneak in there and watch her, but I knew she would show me when she was ready. I just kept bringing the stuffies and squeakers outside with us every time we went out to play. And yesterday, she decided to come out of her shell and I happened to have the camera with me. And of course I couldn't leave Seka out of the shot either (that's her running for .1 seconds). Who doesn't love watching a happy dog play! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Charlotte - Day Seven, tunder really stinks

It's official - Charlotte hates thunder. HATES IT. I've noticed the following pattern in just the last couple of days:

She becomes a little weather dog hours before a storm comes in, ears perking up at every noise. Then, the pacing begins as she looks out every window searching for something that I cannot hear or see and nothing seems to calm her down. Then as the first rumbles of thunder are heard in the distance, the whimpering and shaking begins. As the storm gets closer, the real crying begins and she suddenly wants to become a lap dog (as seen here, please excuse the laundry). It's not enough to be close to you if the storm is bad. She wants to be in your lap and NOTHING will stop her.

Since the real weather man predicted that the weather was going to be really bad here on Thursday and Friday, and grandma was coming over to dog sit on Friday night because we were at Chastain Park seeing Stevie Wonder (yes, it was AWESOME), I decided to give her some Rescue Remedy (or Drama Drops as I like to call them). They don't work for Seka very well, but they really seemed to help Charlotte quite a bit. She still cried through the storm, but the shaking was minimal and she didn't tackle anyone. So, the good news is the thunder phobia seems to be manageable. We're still working on the slick floors and playing with toys though.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fostering Day Five - GreytBlackDogs Sunbathing

The girls took in some late afternoon sun while I took a break from proofing a 250 page benefits guide this afternoon. I remembered to bring out the camera and caught them on film. Enjoy their Internet film debut. It's G-rated.

Still no success with Charlotte and toys. But I did put both girls in the car tonight for a field trip to tractor supply. She rides well, but shook the whole time while she stayed wound up in a tiny little greyhound ball. Seka didn't mind. More room for her in the back of our four-door Honda.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Charlotte - Day Four, I am Velcro

Charlotte is a Velcro dog. And when she is not attached to my leg, she is attached to Seka's side. There is not anywhere she won't follow me and she is very dependent on Seka to show her what is right and wrong, where to go when mom is in the shower, what to do when there is a sonic boom (we live near an air force base), and what should I do with this Kong thing. Seka, so far, is happy to show her the ropes and even share her bed. When she can't find one of us, it's not a pretty sight or sound.

We've made some progress on our obstacles. Check stairs off the list. My back, neck and shoulders thank you, Charlotte. She's walked across the kitchen floor three or four times, tentatively, but successfully with a lot of encouragement. One obstacle that I didn't list originally, but was a big one was using the water bowl. We have a few in the house, but the one that EVERYONE (cats, dogs, bugs, you name it, it drinks from it) in the house drinks from is in the living room and she wouldn't drink from it. Just too scared to go over there and drink. So I was playing butler and bringing her water in bed. But today, she got up and went over to the bowl, no problem. Still, no accidents and she paces and whines to let me know that it is time to go out. I'll introduce the bell training (ring the bell to go outside) next week.

I'll take some video of the girls outside tomorrow if it isn't pouring. They are funny as they go out and soak up the sunshine together. Not too much free running yet. Charlotte isn't quite comfortable yet. But they did some synchronized rolling in the grass today that I wish I had caught on tape. We're going to introduce some toys tomorrow to see how she does. Seka has pulled out every toy she owns (and that's a lot) to show her how they all work, squeak, shake, rattle, roll, etc. It's just a little much for the sweet pea right now.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Charlotte - Night One, sleepy success

Did I say dog beds were an obstacle? I guess she figured them out by the time we went to bed at midnight last night, because she laid down right next to Seka (who usually sleeps in bed with us, but chose to have a sleep over party in the floor instead) on her bed. SUCCESS! I think I woke up and checked on them every hour on the hour last night. I just wanted to be sure there wasn't any sleep/space issues with either of them. At one point they were head to head and no one seemed to mind.

We decided not to make her sleep in her crate last night, which is located downstairs, near the back door (two floors away from us). She has such trust issues with people. If the crate door is open, she's in there and it is all I can do to get her out. Treats won't even do it! So we figured putting one of my t-shirts on her would help and braced ourself in the event of a potty accident. She slept through the night and woke me with a cold nose in the face at 6:30a to be carried down both flights of stairs - which isn't an easy thing to do without contacts (note to self) - for a morning potty.

We came back in, Seka had already stolen my warm spot in bed and Charlotte and I decided to hang out downstairs. We watched TV, which she is fascinated by, and I knitted a bit. She cried some. Scared and lonely I guess. Seka came down like a good sister to keep her company as soon as she heard her whimpers. That helped. I fed them breakfast. And we all three fell asleep until Kevin woke us up around 10:30a.

We had to run some errands, so it was time to crate up for the first time and, most importantly, our first KONG! I gave her the peanut butter covered treat and she tasted it cautiously at first. She then looked at me like she had never had something so good in her entire life.

Still no accidents. She followed Seka down the stairs twice, but she won't do it if I ask her. It was like it was an accident. We're going to attempt our first walk tonight. I'm going to try to do it myself. She's not great on a leash, but Seka is, so we'll see how she falls in line. She seems to do whatever sis does. More later.

Charlotte - Day One, the obstacle course

I picked up Charlotte at noon today. She was the only greyhound in the very busy kennel quietly laying down, taking all the activity in. I secretly had hoped she would remember me, but I knew that she wouldn't. The day I had picked her up from her previous owners was traumatic for her, so maybe I should hope she had forgotten all of that.

The ride home was uneventful. She barely turned her head to look at me the whole way home. She was happy to get out of the car and her tail immediately went up and started wagging when she met Seka. Lots of sniffing and happy tails between the two girls. Charlotte stuck close to me, but Seka is a mamma's girl, so she was right next to her too, which I think helped calm her nerves. After a short walk, it was time to introduce her to the house.

Obstacle 1: hardwood kitchen floors. Our girl went across these like a champ the first time. We totally took this for granted. Poor Charlotte looked like a deer on roller skates. Needless to say, after she successfully, and slowly, made it across the kitchen, she hasn't tried it again.

Obstacle 2: stairs. We only have 5 stairs that lead down to the back door from the mid-level of our home (we live in a split level home). Again, Seka - from day one - has done stairs like it was no big deal, and she never lived in foster. Poor little Charlotte wouldn't stop shaking when she saw the stairs. Seka and I both tried to help her several times, but the fear is just too much at this point and we're doing some heavy lifting to go down. Going up doesn't seem to be a problem.

Obstacle 3: cats. She was cat tested to be cat safe. I think a more accurate description would be cat terrified. And the cats know it. They swarm her like sharks almost while she is laying down. If she wasn't so scared, it would be funny. There's been no snapping or chop-licking, so we're doing ok in that department.

Obstacle 4: dog beds. She obviously never had a dog bed. We bought her a new one all of her own and she won't go near it. She's totally afraid of it. Seka has shown her how to use every bed in the house so far. She prefers to just lay on the carpet near the bed (that's her in the blue collar). That's a little progress.

Obstacle 5: the pool. We have an in-ground pool and it took Seka falling in it when we moved to this house three months ago for her to learn to stay away from the edge. We knew Charlotte would have to do the same. I just didn't think it would happen on day one. But I guess sooner is better than later and in she went and Kevin went in after her. She still has gone near the edge, but no more dips so far.

Needless to say, she is exhausted after her long day. So am I. I'll give the bedtime report tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Charlotte - Our First Foster

Fostering has been something I've always wanted to do. There's just something special about taking in an animal, loving it, teaching it the ways of the world and then turning it over to a loving home with a little piece of you attached to it. Sure it's sad when they leave, but you've done something very special that not everyone can do. I think that's an important gift.

When we moved into our new house this summer, Kevin and I knew that we wanted to eventually expand our little greyhound family from one to two, but I liked the idea of fostering instead. Seka loves company, but we weren't sure how the cats would do.

Then Charlotte came into our life a few weeks ago. An ad in the Macon Telegraph read "Two female greyhounds, free to a good home, 4/5 yo." Of course I called. They only had a little black female, who they believed was four years old, left. She wasn't spayed, and had been living outside for the past year and a half. After a call to the SEGA kennel to make sure there was room for her, I picked her up and took her to Ackworth on Sunday, August 26.

On the Ride to Ackworth

Daydreaming, her official racing name, would only be three on September 20. She was incredibly shy. A total spook. But she could be Seka's twin sister, which totally made me fall for her instantly. She was in good shape for having lived outdoors for so long. While she wasn't sure about the leash I put on her, and she couldn't get in the car, she did know how to lean. I love that characteristic.

Settled into my new kennel

She tested cat tolerant and small dog tolerant just a few days ago. We'll pick her up on Saturday morning and enter into our first fostering experience. I'm so excited. Kevin is very nervous. For us, it's like bringing a new baby home from the hospital, although we don't know what that's like.