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When I started this blog in 2009, I had no idea if anyone would read it. I started out writing about our first house (the “bungie” in our name is short for bungalow, which is the style of house we live in) and I occasionally received comments from my mom or one of my friends, but I didn’t really think anyone really cared about what I had to say. Then one day I wrote about the book The Lost Dogs and how owning Turk, a pit bull mix, had changed my life. I received just a couple of comments, one of which was from Aleksandra, who wrote, “this is beautiful.” I am pretty sure that up until that point, no one had said anything that I wrote was “beautiful.” I was floored.
I wrote a few more posts about my dogs and began to receive more positive feedback from readers. When I began volunteering with an animal rescue organization (a lifelong goal of mine) and took in my first foster dog, Ginger Rogers, my passion was realized.
Since I began my foray into the animal rescue and dog blogging world, I have been lucky enough to get involved in so many different ways. I’ve fostered four beautiful pit bull-type dogs: Ginger Rogers, Ginger Jr, Lucy Lou, and our current foster, Polly Pocket.
I co-founded a structured pack walking group, KC Pittie Pack & Friends, with fellow blogger Crystal of Wayward Dogs after seeing the benefits of pack walks from groups like Chicago Sociabulls and HikeaBull. Since January we’ve hosted almost 20 walks!
I have been able to help raise awareness (and money) for pit bulls in need, like Kimba, who touched so many hearts that our amazing community was able to raise nearly $1,500.00 for her care in 72 hours!
Most certainly my proudest moments have been when I’ve heard from a blog reader that they have started volunteering with an animal rescue. Most recently, my next door neighbors took the plunge into fostering with Lucy-Carolina, and I relish every moment I see that pup playing happily in their backyard. I feel lucky to have played a small part in Lucy-Carolina’s rescue – and love that my neighbors are now spreading the word to their friends about fostering too.
If anything I write can help to inspire one person to volunteer at a shelter, do a leg of a transport, or foster a dog, then I feel like I have done something of value. I have given back some of the good I’ve received from this world. I hope to continue writing about volunteering, fostering, responsible dog ownership, and pit bull advocacy for years to come. I feel like I have a lot more work I can do and a lot more to say – if you all will continue to indulge me by reading this blog.
In an effort to continue the work I’ve been doing on the blog, I recently entered the Bloggers for Good contest.
The grand prize is $1,000.00 for the blogger’s favorite charity and $500 for the blogger to continue his/her advocacy work. The charity I will contribute to if I win is Unleashed Pet Rescue – a Kansas City rescue group that focuses on rescuing dogs who have run out of time at local shelters (especially pit bulls) and reaching out to neglected dogs and their owners in the city by providing lightweight tie-outs instead of heavy chains, medication, food, and dog houses. This rescue is dear to my heart because I fostered Lucy Lou through them and because they pulled Kimba when she was running out of time at the local shelter. As for the $500 – I would use it to further my pit bull advocacy efforts. I want to leave my options open so I can put that money where it is needed the most – helping a pit bull get vetted before going to rescue, purchasing supplies for a shelter, etc. So, if you have a moment today and you believe in the work I’m doing, please vote for me in the Bloggers for Good contest and share the link with your friends. Oh, and while you’re at it, vote for That Touch of Pit too, who also entered the contest and is doing amazing work with The Bully Project in New York City.
Thank you for letting me share my life with you… I truly appreciate each and every one of you for letting me blog about my life’s passion day after day!
I am sure you all have been wondering how Miss Lucy Lou is doing with her new family.
I’ll admit I’ve been a bit hesitant to share any updates because I was worried she may be returning to our care at any moment. Let me explain…
Lucy is adjusting very well. Chunga will not leave her alone. I hope the newness wears off soon. He won’t let us love on her, he wants her all to himself. She’s been good with the cats. She is curious and barks at them, but when we correct her she quickly stops.
Chunga and Lucy are finally settling down. I think he realizes that she’s staying and is starting to give her her space. She still barks at the cats, but we are seeing an improvement. We are having a few accidents. I’m currently training her with the bell, but I keep missing her signals. Do you know what her signals are or what she is used to for going potty? The play biting has gotten better. They are still vocal when they play. We interrupt it when ever we can. She hasn’t really snapped at him. She does let him know when she is done playing. Today have been really good. Chunga has calmed down a lot and the separation barking has stopped with him. She still can’t stand it when Chunga and I are out of sight. She barks.
Then it came. The email every foster parent dreads. About two weeks into Lucy’s adoption, Carrie emailed me this:
We have a few concerns. Since the newness has worn off she has started to really go after the cats. She barks at them and chases them. We are afraid if she gets ahold of one. She is also still biting Chunga when they play. I am having a hard time breaking her focus. Alex (trainer) is coming over this week to evaluate. We might have to give her back.
Ouch. That last line sent me into a mini panic. I prayed over and over that the evaluation with their trainer (who owns pit bulls herself) would prove helpful in dealing with the various issues Lucy was having. I had my suspicions why Lucy might be acting out in this manner, but since I am not a trained professional, I hoped their trainer might be able to confirm what I was guessing. A few days later, this email arrived:
Alex (trainer) came over yesterday to watch Lucy, Chunga, Jason and myself interact. She stated that Lucy does not trust us and that is why she is not responding to us. She said that since she has been bounced around it will take awhile to earn her trust/respect. She also thinks Lucy needs a dominant personality for training, which I am not. I have to admit that there is very little bond between Lucy and myself. She is not the type of dog that wants to please – which Chunga is. I think it is taking me a while to adjust. She is responding well to my husband’s deep voice and we have seen improvements the past few days. She is a lot better with the cats. I believe that she had a hard time adjusting when I went back to work. It was a rough couple of days and I became extremely frustrated. Alex gave us some tips on correcting some problems and had some insight to why Lucy snaps at other dogs when she is on a leash. I decided that I want to give her more time and see if things get better for her and me. Can you tell me anything about her previous life before she ended up in foster? I think this would help me see things as Lucy sees them.
So my suspicions were correct. I mean, I can’t really blame Lucy Lou for struggling to adjust. As I’ve stated before, Lucy Lou never really had a home to call her own in her two short years on earth. Bounced from shelter to crappy adoptive home to rescue to foster to foster to her new family, the longest Lucy ever spent in one place was the three months she lived with us. As you can imagine, she learned to rely on herself instead of humans, and is very slow to bond with people. It took her nearly a month with us before she would cuddle with me on the couch, and even then, I could tell she still had her guard up. But she didn’t want to be alone…ever. She would bark if we left her sight. She desperately wanted to be loved but didn’t seem to know if she could trust it would last.
This is not a problem that is unique to Lucy, though. If you adopt from a shelter, your new dog has been living in a highly stressful environment for awhile (Shelters are usually very loud and full of foreign smells. Dogs are usually only taken out a handful of times in the day, leaving them to sit alone in a cage the rest the time.). If you adopt someone’s foster dog, it is going from living in a house it knows (and maybe the first time it has felt safe) to a foreign one – possibly having to contend with other pets and/or children in your home. Imagine if you were in one of these situations and then expected to behave perfectly and bond instantly with people you’ve only just met. I doubt it would be easy. Some dogs handle it better than others, but there is always some level of adjustment as the dog learns about their new forever home.
I also couldn’t blame Carrie for being frustrated. I think we all
expect hope that the dog we adopt will fit seamlessly into our home. We all want our new dog to bond with us instantly and get along perfectly with our other pets. When that doesn’t happen, it can be stressful and frustrating, and dogs will feed off that energy, possibly acting out even more. Even the most patient of us might begin to doubt our decision to take in this particular dog….“maybe this one just isn’t the right ‘fit’ for me.” It’s happened to the best of us (shoot, I even considered returning Turk to the shelter in the first few weeks after I brought him home). Sometimes it can feel like too much to handle. These feelings are not unusual and they do not make you a bad person.
Because my job as a foster mama doesn’t stop once my fosters are adopted, I sought advice from my foster mentor on what Carrie and her husband could do to help Lucy begin to bond with them and adjust to her new life. They were willing to seek help (which is awesome!) and I wanted to able to aid them (and Lucy) any way I could. Check back tomorrow to see what advice I passed along and what happened next for Lucy Lou…
Dear Lucy Lou,
I still can’t believe you have been gone with your new furever family for a week already! It has been so quiet around here without you. From the moment you arrived, you let us know that you wanted to be the center of attention…and everyone immediately fell in love with your gorgeous face!
You made friends wherever you went, from the weekly pack walks to the St. Patty’s Day Fun Run and the Brookside Barkery Paw-rade. You even had lots of eligible fur-bachelors vying for your love on Valentine’s Day!
Your facial expressions are probably my favorite thing about you. You always made how you were feeling abundantly clear, like when you went through the five stages of grief after I made you wear a backpack for the first time…
…or when I told you that scary story about how some people want to ban pit bulls…
…and finally, how you felt about the dreaded bathies.
You even managed to convince me to take a week off just to snuggle with you after you showed me this face… (okay, I had the week off for spring break anyways, but this face probably could have swayed me regardless!)
I was worried that we would have a hard time finding the right family for you – a family that would be mindful of your allergies and be patient enough to work with you on training so you can be the best dog I know you can be. But most importantly, I really wanted to find you a fur-sibling to play with. You love to play so much, and the best that Turk and Rufus would give you was a co-naptime.
But then we met Carrie & Jason and their fur-kid, Chunga, for a trial intro to see how everyone got along. You were a little leery of Chunga at first, but after a few minutes, it was like you and Chunga had been best friends your whole lives – you wrestled and sat on each other and wore each other out! While you were playing, I found out about how Chunga has similar allergies to you so Carrie & Jason know exactly what to feed you, and even better, Carrie is a general manager at Petco so she will shower you with all kinds of toys and treats! You had the biggest pittie smile on your face – and I knew in that moment that they were your furever family.
I am so proud of how far you have come and I know that you will do awesome with your new family – your new mom even mentioned that she is planning on taking you through canine good citizen training! Good luck, Lucy Lou! I love you and will miss you like crazy!
Your Foster Mama
Hello! This is Lucy Lou, and I’ve got some news for you…as most of you guessed on Friday…
I’M A.D.O.P.T.E.D!!!! I went to live with my awesome new family last week and I am having the time of my life! My new mom and dad are really cool – my dad is in law enforcement and my mom is the general manager of a Petco (Score – lots of treats and toys!). But the best part of my new family is my new baby brother, Chunga!
Doesn’t he look just like my foster brother, Turkey?! But unlike Turkey, Chunga actually wants to play with me! We instantly became best friends and get into mischief all over the house – knocking cushions off the couch, wrestling on the floor, and playing tug-of-war with our toys. We are having so much fun!
Chunga’s been showing me how good he is at sitting nicely and waiting for a treat (even though he’s only 7 months old, he’s already been through two obedience classes! He is so smart!). My new mom is going to take me to obedience class so I can become as polite as Chunga, but I’m trying to learn from him for now.
I know that you all will miss seeing my pretty face around the blog, but I’ll ask my new mom to check in with foster mom from time-to-time so you can hear about how well I am doing in obedience class and what kind of trouble I get into with Chunga. But for now, here’s one last photo of my gorgeous mug to tide you over until then… XOXO, Lucy Lou