Friday, June 8, 2012

My name is Kirsten, and I'm a foster-aholic

As usual, I resolved after Collette went to her forever home to give Fozzie and Lamar a rest for a while. 

This time it lasted all of a day and a half. 

I was enjoying a relaxing afternoon of gardening on my day off on Wednesday when I impulsively took a computer break, because, you know, there really might be something important. 

This time, there was: an email from the Washington Humane Society about three very nervous puppies--Isaac, Pagent, and Bella--who were not doing well in the shelter and whose time was up. 

After 45 seconds of thinking it all through very carefully, I emailed to say that I could take one, or all three, if it was a matter of life and death. 

Meet Pagent, 6-months old, skinny, gangly, nervous, and unbelievably sweet.

Florian picked her up while I was at work yesterday, and reported that she was so scared she wouldn't walk with him to the car and promptly peed when she was in there. 

He had to leave once he brought her home, so set her up in a crate in the basement with a nice blanket, food, and some toys. She was so scared of noises, people, and things that he didn't want to leave her upstairs with big scary Fozzie and Lamar.

I went online to, bought A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog, and biked home from work just as fast as I could, knowing I'd have to spend some time working with this pup just to even be able to touch her. 

In the basement, I found a huddled, stiff little bag of bones crouched in the back of her crate, the nice toys and bowl of food untouched. When I came close and saw her terrified eyes, I thought oh boy, this is going to be a tough one, one I may not be able to help. 

I know the best thing to build confidence in a dog like this is to let her make her own decisions, and choose when and how she wants to interact. A few hot dogs to lubricate things don't hurt.

She wasn't interested in the hot dog I tossed in her crate, but she didn't shrink away or snap when I came close by either. Not wanting to leave her in the crate in the basement all night, I opened the crate, put a collar and lightweight leash on her, and squatted just outside. She did look at me, and slowly, gradually, crept toward me.  As she approached, I took a few steps farther away, then crouched down again. She followed again. Like that until we were outside.

Then that little nose took off. Sunlight! Green stuff! Dirt! The whole wide world! Wow! 

While we were sniffing up a storm, Lamar snuck through the dog door and made his appearance in the back yard. 

I didn't even have time to think uh-oh, not the greatest thing to expose a fearful dog to, before I immediately saw that little thing perk up and wag for the first time. She loves other dogs! Even Lamar! And fortunately, Lamar was on reasonably good behavior. 

Over the course of the next two hours, Pagent unfurled like a flower in a time-lapse film sequence, going from immobile to bounding through the grass in the backyard with mouth lolling open and tail wagging ecstatically. 

What a delight to see a little creature open up to the joys of the world. 

And don't worry, the shelter decided to hold on to Isaac and Bella until they can find foster homes for them too. 

Welcome, little puppy-bee! I'm so glad to have you. 


  1. Aw what a cutie! But... No love for the hot dog? Hope she finds oUt they are delicious real soon! Good luck-looks like a great afternoon was had already!

  2. I love it when they see another dog & come out of their shell! Welcome Pagent; we can't wait to hear more about you.

  3. glad she was able to make such progress opening up so quickly. I hope you continue to have such success and Lamar continues to be on good behavior!

  4. What an incredibly rewarding experience for you. Fostering is something I will someday when I have the time to do it right.

  5. Hi Kirsten, Pagent looks a little like Owen and I, except we have long furs. We like Pagent. We hope that she'll get to spend some time with your family before she finds a loving permanent home.

  6. Kirsten, you have such an amazing heart, if anyone can bring this puppy out of her shell it will be you. I wish I'd known, I have a copy of Debbie Jacobs book I would have shot off to you. :-)

    Keep us posted on Pagent, it sounds like this will be fun. Plus she is still young so hopefully the love and devotion you and Florian will give will help her.

  7. Aw, I love her little smile in the last picture!

  8. Hi Y'all,

    Oh, she looks so very happy! Lucky Pagent!

    How y'all doin'? Just stoppin' for a visit. Hope y'all have been enjoying a fantastic week and are planning a fun weekend!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  9. Oh my gosh - what a sweetie! Such an adorable little face! The first part of your story got me all chocked up. The fear those pups felt just breaks my heart. But what an excellent ending! It is amazing how she responded once she was outside. And I am so happy she and Lamar are getting along. The photo of Pagent running is awesome! You are really amazing to open your home and heart to all these dogs, giving them new hope and a new lease on life.

    K and Suka

  10. You are so smart to let her open up on her terms - obviously it has yielded great results - and so quickly! Can't wait to hear more about her!

  11. Just think, if it weren't for you fostering many dogs wouldn't get a real chance

    Stop on by for a visit

  12. You are an angel. SO glad that Pagent had such a quick turn-around. Apparently, she's an outside girl. She'll love your hikes.

  13. I LOVE the picture of her running! Good for you... who needs a break, anyway? ;)

  14. Pagent is an absolute cutie!
    Well done Kristen you are an "absolute star" being a foster holic. We look forward to hearing and seeing how Pagent grows.
    Extra Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx


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