Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fabulous Fozzie

As you may have picked up, I have suffered from some ambivalence about finding an adoptive home for Fozzie. 

But as I think about Lamar's well-being, and as I obsess about cattle dogs, and as I think about all the dogs that need homes out there, I am coming to terms with the fact that it would be best for Fozzie to find his perfect forever family. 

In that spirit, (Fozzie) Bear with me while I describe for you what a fantastic dog he is. 

Fozzie was on death row, and his time on this planet was very short when I found him at Prince George's County shelter. Apparently he had been a stray, and had been briefly adopted from the shelter but returned because the adopter had some sort of family crisis. 

He was described as a "Mastiff mix" because the staff at PG County--bless their hearts--were being creative about how to get "Bullet" around PG County's Pit Bull ban so he could live a little longer (there are always a lot of suspiciously broad-chested and short-haired "labs" at PG County shelter).

They saw his potential to be an amazing dog, but unfortunately they also saw that he was a bit of a wild man and when he failed his temperament evaluation, they could only release him if a rescue came for him. I got there just in time. 

The day we brought him home was the day of the Great East Coast Snowstorm of 2010. We got back from PG County just as it started to snow. I don't know how long it had been since he had a good run, but I do know that when I created a figure-8 racetrack for him through the deep snow in my yard the next day, I had never seen anything more joyful than this dog running around it again and again and again.

Back then I knew nothing about pit bulls and I have to admit I bought into the hype about them. So I was worried when I saw that he did indeed have some issues with impulse control and intensity. The first few nights I had Florian sleep with him in the living room, because I was worried about what a big tough-looking bully would do to Tashi and Lamar while we slept. 

 I spent the first few days buying tough chew toys, reading American Pit Bull Terrier magazine, talking to rescue friends and acquaintances about what to expect and, in all honesty, whether they might take him off my hands!

But it was less than a week, once we really began some structured training, before I saw that it was going to be okay. I saw that this dog is a textbook example of how eager-to-please this breed is, and that once he knows what his person wants and has some structured, positive guidance in how to do it, he is more than willing. 

I also learned that notwithstanding my early fears about his mouthiness, his mouth is just about the softest one I've ever come across. While it may make contact with human flesh, the sensation when it does is of soft velvet caressing the skin like a whisper. Or of fresh whipped vegan butter spread on a fragrant blueberry scone. Or of a mountain stream gurgling gently over rocks as it rolls toward the sea. Or of...never mind. 

Now, Fozzie has really made his mark on our family and has impressed us with feats of goodness that we have literally seen in no other dog. There was that night last May when he broke out of my yard to take off after something; by the time I caught up with him he was standing in my neighbor's yard a few feet away from a scrawny white shepherd, both of them grinning ear to ear.  That dog became my beloved foster dog Lars, who is now in a loving home of his own. I think it's fair to say that Fozzie saved Lars' life.  

I love Lars, but he was not an easy dog either. Much less trustworthy with his mouth, there was a time when my niece Ursula was getting a bit too close to him for comfort. His lip had barely started to curl when Fozzie literally threw himself between Ursula and Lars. That's what they say about pit bulls--the quintessential nanny dog.

There were many times when Lars and Lamar were about to have one of their tense greetings as one of them entered the front door, and Fozzie got there in time to insert himself between the two of them. 

Another high point was Fozzie's Reactive Agility class. For me, the best part was watching how much he longed to cuddle with the teacher...and it was hugely affirming to me to have other friendly people who love dogs say how great he is. 

Not that that has ever been in doubt. 

There is no question that Fozzie is a special dog, who will require some thoughtful guidance from a patient, loving, and energetic human. If that human turns out to be me, then so be it. 

But if there is a human out there who is generous, stable, calm, and Fabulous enough for Fozzie, we'll know you when we meet you! 

There is a lot of joy in your future. 


  1. What a nice tribute to a great dog. Best of luck - it sounds like he will end up in a wonderful place, no matter what.

  2. Fozzie was certainly lucky to have found you. I hope he'll be happy, wherever he calls his furever home. :)

    Woofs & hugs, <3

    ~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

  3. Fozzie sounds wonderful and what a handsome guy he is.

  4. Yes, a beautiful story about a handsome dog. I hope he finds a wonderful forever home.


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