Chesters 79 and 80

January 21, 2016

12164481_835168428657_1223932940_o (2)_Fotor

Meet Taylor, foster dog #79. But don’t let him fool you. He looks like such a calm puppy, yes? Um no. This guy is a treeing walker coonhound, although he looks like the offspring of a beagle and a giraffe (seriously: his legs are crazy long). This past fall, I sprung (sprang?) Taylor from the Clarendon County Animal Shelter in Manning, SC and delivered him to my foster-in-crime, Brianna, who said she’d be his foster-momma during his heartworm treatment, which had to be completed before he headed to a waiting rescue up north. Enter: a month of me carting him back and forth to vet appointments and Brianna taylor-proofing her house.

Photos on the end table? Moved, b/c his wagging tail kept knocking them over.

Couch cushions? Moved, b/c couch cushions (especially white ones) are.his.favorites.

Double-stacked baby gates? Deployed, b/c it takes two to keep this dog from jumping from one permissible room to the other prohibited one.

The last time I took him to the vet, for his health certificate, before seeing him off … I told the staff about the fabulous-Brianna, whose first foster was a treeing walker coonhound, that she fostered in a teeny-tiny apartment.

Gasps all around.

Vet tech: “Her first foster was A WALKER?! In AN APARTMENT?!”

Yep — (1) b/c she’s awesome; and (2) b/c I’m a disaster (I *could* have picked an easier one); and (3) b/c Taylor’s big goofy smile and adventurous spirit made (nearly?) every minute completely worth it.


Meet Beth, foster dog #80. Right before Christmas, Beth and four of her furry companions were liberated (thank you Chesterfield County Animal Shelter) from a dog-fighting ring. Beth was a breeding dog, not a fighting one, but you can tell from the photo that she had been starved and neglected.

However, she’s gaining weight like a champ and is learning how to be a pampered pooch. Because of her dire former circumstances, she’s been among our most challenging but most rewarding fosters. Here are three examples:

1. Beth as an inside dog: the first time I brought Beth inside, she was *terrified.* She went flat on her belly with her legs splayed out beside her. I had to pick her up, put her in a room with food and water, and let her be, b/c she had some major sensory-overload going on. She learned fast, though, that inside is better than out, and the next challenge was getting her to go outside to potty, which required much wrestling.

2. Beth and potty-training: We assume Beth had been chained most of (if not her entire) life, b/c — at first — she would pee (and poop — yuck!) wherever she was standing. The luxury of being able to sniff around and find a spot seemed completely new to her. Thankfully, she mastered this new skill quickly.

3. Beth and toys: At first, she ran from the strange squeaking balls of fluff, but now she *loves* them. Playthings that appear solely for her amusement = proof that, somewhere, there is a benevolent doggy god with whom she has found favor.

More proof that there is a benevolent doggy god with whom she has found favor? Dog. beds.

It would be fair to say that Beth’s a fan.



Chesters 77 and 78: Tiger and Harley

August 15, 2015

So, I’ve been writing for Daily Kos and trying to consolidate my THREE (i.e., too many) blogs. Therefore, I’ll link diaries relevant to fostering here. And I just wrote one!

GOD GOT A DOG: Another Book That Evangelical Christians Should Read

You’ll notice that I mention 78, rather than 76, fosters. Here are some quick details that didn’t make it into the admittedly-already-too-long post.

Chester 77: Tiger (who we called “Tigress,” b/c: Hunger Games!) is a lovely 2-year-old large-sized mixed breed dog. Although heart worm positive, she received her treatment while with us and has a clean bill of health. She spent her time in Holly Hill, playing the part of gentle giant, content to stroll along beside us and wag her tail. Another favorite activity included lounging in the backyard while monitoring squirrels.  She *never* jumped on us, even when excited. She’s a pack-follower and wants very much to please all around her — both her pet and human companions.

Normally, I foster small dogs (b/c of all the kids and pets) but I was perfectly comfortable fostering both Tigress and Harley (described below), despite their size. I could tell, though, that people were nervous to see me walking her — which was maybe my first glimpse of the prejudice that people have towards dogs of Tigress’s admittedly imposing stature. I tried to explain to one guy, who jumped aside to let us pass, that she really is very sweet and that he would more likely be bitten by my cyborg wiener dog that *everyone* tries to pet, b/c: least imposing stature ever.

Poor Tigress. Also: poor Tigress, b/c she’s . . . umm . . . not very bright. She kept getting sucker-punched when she pawed the bird feeders in our yard, and she panicked when she thought she was locked in her kennel (without realizing that she had only to push her way out through the unlocked door).

but! ^all of the above^ made us laugh — which made her even lovelier. Currently, she’s with the fabulous people at Virginia Paws for Pits, her adoption agency that will find her the perfect forever family.

Arina and Tiger_Fotor_Collage

Chester 78: Harley is a handsome 2-year-old medium-sized mixed breed dog. Although heart worm positive, he received his treatment while with us and has a clean bill of health. He spent his time in Holly Hill, playing the part of crazy man, running from person to pet to person to pet, hoping to play. Another favorite activity included trying desperately to catch all the squirrels.  He *always* jumped on us, even when in more subdued moods (rather than his usual “tasmanian devil” state of being). He’s a pack-follower and wants very much to please all around him — both his pet and human companions, but he always seemed to think that (despite our protestations) we’re most pleased by bear hugs that come at the end of full gallops.

Two memorable moments: (1) Harley, riding on my 79-year-old grandmother’s lap, for his final heart worm treatment; and (2) Harley, on transport day, being asked by no less than five people why his snout had a great stripe. Answer: grass stain from wrestling with our dog, Annie Cresta, that a.m.

He was my perpetually disheveled child of a dog. Things are a lot calmer and quieter without him. And, of course, we miss the joy-in-the-chaos. Currently, he’s with the fabulous people at Home Sweet Home Animal Rescue, his New Jersey adoption agency that will find him the perfect forever family.

Note in the photo, below, the amazing transformation of scared shelter pup into happiest dog-face on the planet . . . which is *exactly* what makes it all worth it.


Chesters 67 through 76; or Molly Weasley and her brood

April 4, 2015

11073133_10206124392852689_5028857813200543914_nA couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite people in the world (Kara Hughes!) tagged me in a Facebook post, because one of her favorite people in the world (Francine Vitagliano, of LuLu’s Rescue) was trying to save a South Carolina dog and her pups from the euthanasia table. LuLu’s Rescue was willing to take the dogs, but the shelter was out of room and couldn’t hold them the required couple of weeks. (Fostering Fact #1: there are travel restrictions across state lines for shelter dogs, including two week quarantines after being released from animal shelters.)

I looked up the location of the animal shelter (Manning, SC), and saw that it’s only 30 minutes away from our house. In fact, I had even been there on one of my missions to find the perfect pup for a prospective dog owner! This particular shelter was a temporary home for Fisk Foster dog: Kimball/Jagger.

Here was the problem, though: I couldn’t commit to fostering for *2* weeks, because I was scheduled to leave for an academic conference in New Orleans in *1* week, and I already had to beg my mother to house sit and watch my: 5 dogs, 3 chickens, 2 fish, 2 kids, and 1 cat. I knew that adding a Mama Dog and her three pups would push her over the edge to “NO” and that she would not be swayed even by puppy-cuteness. 11073191_10206124393572707_9167723372585389829_n

So, I posted the photos on my Facebook page and tried to find someone willing to split the 2 weeks with me. Crickets. And, then, Francine noticed my post and called me.

Francine: “Umm . . . I noticed in your FB post you mentioned 3 puppies. There are actually 9. I’ll understand if this changes things.”

Not only do I teach close reading (note the “p [for pups] 3, 4, 5” in Annie’s photo), but also: I’ve fostered two Mama dogs of similar size, one of whom had 7 pups and the other 14. I should have known. Pups 3, 4, and 5 were bound to be 3, 4, and 5 of a bigger litter; and, Fisk Foster Mama dogs do not have litters smaller than 7.

10835313_10206167166722009_3320554129164350645_oI promptly took down the Facebook solicitation. I was getting no bites for fostering 1 Mama + 3 puppies for a week, let alone 1 Mama + 9 puppies. Most people do not buy into my version of puppy math (i.e. 1 large dog bed = 1 dog, despite how many it takes to fill it). See the photo of the puppies? 2 dog beds = 2 dogs, in puppy math.

Still, I couldn’t stomach the idea that ten dogs were going to be euthanized, because of a logistical glitch. So, Francine and I decided that I would pick them up, take them to be vetted, foster them for a week, and then . . . figure something out. We could board them at that point if we had to do so. (Fostering Fact #2: if you ever wondered where the $$$ goes in animal rescue — why they always seem to be needing donations — think of situations like this: multiply how much it costs to board your 1 dog x 10 of them, and then donate to a rescue.)

The litter-of-9 rather than litter-of-3 was the first upset. The second also came via phone from Francine.

Francine: “We just found out that there is a PARVO case at the shelter — not our puppies, but still: PARVO. I’ll understand if this changes things.”

Oh, Francine. Those who know me best know that such upsets make me more determined. Plus, I thought of Fisk Foster pup, Hazelle/Ella, who also had Parvo and is a healthy, happy girl three years later. The only thing the Parvo-upset changed was that I left to pick up the pups ASAP, since it’s such a highly contagious disease. Even though I knew the shelter would be “on it,” with bleach and cleaning scrubs in hand, I knew the pups’ best chance of not getting sick was being out of that environment altogether. (Fostering Fact #3: have you ever thought, “why don’t rescues just leave the pups in the shelters, so they can get adopted?” If so, the answer is: for the same reason you wouldn’t take your newborn baby — with his or her nonexistent immune system — to an anti-vaxer’s “Measles” party.)

11075005_10206136527276042_6103581604351139833_nA few hours later, Fisk Fosters 67 through 76, or Molly Weasley and her biological&adopted brood (Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred & George, Ron, Ginny, Harry & Hermione) were waiting patiently to be vetted. For, like, a second. And then they weren’t patient and went all kinds of potty on the vet’s floor, as though to impress me with their ability to synchronize. So, for the next 20 minutes or so, I was cleaning up puddle-of-pee after puddle-of-poop after puddle-of-pee after puddle-of-poop ad infinitum, while Molly watched me sympathetically. As soon as I thought I was closer to order than chaos, I would notice poop-footprints from this-or-that pup who wasn’t careful about where he or she was stepping; or a couple of pups playing tug-of-war with a doorstop; or a pup who had accidentally fashioned himself a noose from a dangling cord. And, then, I’d have to rescue the doorstop or interrupt the “game” of puppy-hangman. (Fostering Fact #4: sometimes, vets will offer special rates to rescue organizations, without which a lot of the magic couldn’t happen . . . hence, the pressure to not be a bother at the vet’s office . . . hence, my commitment to the Herculean task of leaving the vet’s floor in the same state in which I found it.)

11043435_10206138739171338_5617707264023103985_o_Fotor_CollageAfter Molly and her pups were fully vetted (and diagnosed with intestinal worms, of course, which is a surprise to no one who picked up on the puddles-of poop reference, above), we headed home. Soon, the pups were in their outside-puppy-playpen, and Molly was positively gleeful to get a much-needed break from her brood. All mothers everywhere recognize that expression. Also: don’t let the white splotches under her nose fool you. Molly is a young girl — only a year-or-two old — so virtually a pup herself. Despite her sweetness, she was owner-surrendered by someone who was willing to keep her until she got knocked up. (Fostering Fact #5: dogs that are “owner-surrendered” get even less time in overcrowded shelters than their stray counterparts, since the latter could technically belong to someone and are consequently held in “lost and found” in case someone comes to reclaim them. So, “owners” — and I use that term loosely — care for your pets, which includes spaying&neutering; if you can’t, take them to a no-kill shelter; at the very least, don’t pretend that they were ever creatures you cared about and address them instead as strays, since that will at least buy them a bit more time.)

10478510_10206156109565587_2769899756533551478_oAnyway: we became the fun neighborhood home for only a few days, since Francine was able to find a closer rescue (Brother Wolf in Asheville) to meet us in Greenville for a puppy pickup. Kudos to Brother Wolf, because they stepped up despite the fact that the pups had been exposed to Parvo . . . actually, they stepped up because of that, since they knew they were in a better financial place than LuLu’s (at the moment anyway, since that’s always how these things go — bankruptcy is always one-litter-of-Parvo-puppies away) and able (at the moment anyway) to afford medical treatment, if needed. And good thing too: one of the puppies who had started to turn his nose up at food tested positive for Parvo as soon as he arrived at Brother Wolf. He’s the one the kids and I had named Harry Potter, though, so I’m fully confident in his ability to persevere. He shall be the-boy-who-lived.

And the pups shall henceforth be known as both Molly Weasley’s brood, and the puppies-with-the-poop-problems. Kudos, too, to Scott whose shop floor has been sanitized, soiled, and sanitized as often as a vet’s floor, at this point. This was a for-real conversation when he came home from work on day two of this particular fostering adventure:

Scott: “What are you doing with poop in your hair?!”
Me, frantically checking my hair: “Oh gross — really? Well . . . I do have nine puppies with diarrhea. I’ve already had two showers today.”
Scott, pointing to the Pig-pen pup of the group: “No. I was talking to the dog. But eww.”

If you’d like to show your appreciation for either Lulu’s Rescue or Brother Wolf — or both! — please do so, in honor of Molly and her brood, and with our thanks.

In other news, Scott and I are on our way back from New Orleans. Our official business there was: academic conference. In between finishing my presentation, though, Scott and I started watching Pit Bulls and Parolees. You only have to watch the trailer to understand why this is our. new. favorite. show. of. all. time:

Sad people that we are, we don’t have cable and first learned about Tia Torres and Villalobos from Jon Stewart, who we watch religiously each night via the Comedy Central Web site:

But our hotel room had cable! And Season 4 of Pit Bulls and Parolees was playing on Animal Planet! So Scott and I watched it, and then jumped in a cab, and then rode the roughly 9 miles to the rescue center while regaling our cab driver with foster-dog-stories, and then waited the 40 minutes to get a tour. But our tour guide was none other than our favorite parolee, Earl!


We weren’t allowed to take photos of the cast (probably because the tours wouldn’t actually happen if so, because everyone would be taking photos of and with the cast). But, Earl was as charming off camera as he is on camera, and the dogs were too. See the bottom right photo? That’s me reaching through the links to pet the dogs, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I was *the only one* from our group loving on each of the dogs. You’d think everyone else was there just to be on tv or something. One other girl finally knelt down dog-level too, but didn’t scratch any ears that I could see. Scott said he was afraid that he wasn’t allowed and would get in trouble, which means that he wasn’t listening to Earl who told me it was *fine.* Sheesh. Earl and I are surrounded by amateurs.

10854859_10206283251144047_775112451199310038_oNote, too, the middle photo in the top row, featured here again. Those are chains that were removed from pit bulls abandoned in yards, because sometimes people suck. But, then, as is always the case: other people, like Tia Torres and Earl, come along, are awesome, and the chains fall away.

And ^that^ fact reminds me of what one of my favorite writers, Robin Meyers (who is a professor of rhetoric in the Philosophy department at Oklahoma City University and the senior minister of a UCC church) says about the real meaning of Easter (which is, appropriately, tomorrow):

“[Jesus] was remembered as talking about the kingdom here and now—a way of being in right relationship to God and to one another that could be both present and future tense. It was both now, in his wisdom, and yet to come, when that wisdom would rule the whole earth. In his parables he sought to reverse human expectations of rewards and punishments, and he audaciously proclaimed that the first would be last, and the last first. Insiders would be outsiders, and the rewards of faith would be intrinsic, not extrinsic.

In the end, what right do human beings have to expect eternal bliss for being good—or on the cheap, for just believing the right things? And what single idea is more shameful or horrific than to project our human longing for vengeance upon God by claiming that in God’s infinite mercy God has made and maintains a place of eternal torment? It is no wonder that so many good people avoid the word ‘Christian’ like the plague. It has become synonymous with hypocrisy, mean-spiritedness, and conspicuous consumption.

Yet some churches do not just celebrate Easter; they live it. There are Jesus followers who live as Easter people every day and provide more proof of the resurrection than any literalized metaphor of an empty tomb. They are all ‘untimely born,’ but they have no need to boast of an ecstatic vision or cover their doubts by touching wounded hands or pierced sides. They accept the laws of nature yet refuse to live in a universe devoid of mystery or stripped of all enchantment. By following, not by believing, they remain open to the possibility of resurrection in this life, not just in the next.”

Chesters 64, 65, and 66; or Jasper, Chester, and Annie Cresta

December 23, 2014

It’s three days till Christmas, and to celebrate I have not one/not two/but THREE rescue puppy tales! But first, here’s a brief explanation of my long absence (2+ years since the last rescue puppy post):

Reason #1: Remember Scott’s one foster at a time rule? Well . . . we still have the one-foster-who-never-found-a-home: Morven, or Marvolo Riddle, as Scott likes to call him. Both are, admittedly, two truly horrible names: Morven, as in the town of Morven, NC (which my foster-in-crime and I noticed on a road sign the day we got him) and Marvolo, as in He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.


^Here^ he is in typical Morven-Marvolo form — dirty, stinky, and tangled (despite our best efforts) after having robbed a frozen chicken egg from our hen house, which he was trying to eat atop our hot tub, when we busted him. We’re *shocked* he hasn’t been adopted.

Reason #2: Remember Scott’s one foster at a time rule? Well . . . we still have the one-foster-who-came-back: Quinby, or Q the cyborg wiener dog. Q-fans will remember that she was being fostered by a Dachshund Rescue of North America representative; but, unfortunately, Karen became arthritic and unable to care for her, and the organization was unable to find someone else to step up. Um, what? Clearly, Q’s worth was being underestimated, so we picked her up, built her an outside pen with heated dog house (b/c, um, I just. can’t. do. the. doggie. diaper. thing / sorry Q), and oiled up her wheelchair.

So, she spends her days wheeling around the backyard, chasing squirrels, and generally being a badass. One day, she was annoyed that we didn’t let her out before leaving on an all day mini-break (to our credit, it *looked* like rain), so we returned to find that she had fashioned the metal wire around her pen into a Q-sized hole and escaped. She was having trouble getting back in, though, to her food&water — so we arrived to find her eating dirt, with a newly killed possum by her side. Consummate survivor that she is, she had dirt and possum’s blood for dinner that night.

Luckily, she is kinder to our chickens than the possums. She barks to let us know whenever a snake is sneaking an egg, or whenever a chicken has gotten herself stuck behind the doghouse (which happens more often than you might think). And, in her spare time, she dresses up as a seal and wins Halloween costume contests for wiener dogs.


Reason #3: We have chickens, who get into scraps now and then. AND a cat. Meet CiCi, who is the first Fisk family rescue kitty — b/c I lost a friend unexpectedly and knew that she’d want me to take care of her cat (no animal shelter for friends’ pets, thank you very much). Plus, she likes books, which is a win.


So, ^those^ are the three reasons I haven’t updated this blog in a long, long time. Here are the three reasons I’m back!

Reason #1: My parents lost their much loved fourteen-year-old dachshund, Gracie. *I* purchased Gracie for them fourteen-years-ago . . . from a breeder (sigh) when I was young and stupid. Young and stupid but very cute, Scott says (this is back when we were dating — what a difference marriage, 2 kids, and 63 foster dogs makes in terms of grey hair and wrinkles):


Anyway, Mom and Dad have adopted my philosophy of productive grieving. While you can never replace the one lost, rescuing a dog in need forces you to focus that grief/love for one into care/love for another. (Crazy enough, when my grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I made the decision to adopt an orphan, using the same line of reasoning. Enter our Arina). Again, not a replacement, but a new recipient of the love.

Meet rescue dog #64, Jasper: a three-year-old Pom mix from the City of Columbia animal shelter.


My friends at the shelter told me that Jasper (named after my great-grandfather) was running around as a stray with a couple of other fancy dog breeds — all unaltered, which makes me think puppy mill breakout. He’s a friendly, scrappy little guy — quick to roll on his back for belly rubs (the friendly part) but able to come out top dog in a wrestling match with his new brother, Joe (the scrappy part). Also, he’s a consummate survivor like Quinby. He hasn’t resorted to drinking possum blood and eating dirt yet, but he *does* hide a bite or two of food from every meal. Mom has been finding bits of Kibble everywhere . . . under a dining room chair, under her bed, and even under the Christmas tree. Clearly, Jasper has been hungry before and doesn’t plan to be so again. I imagine that after a few more weeks in McBee, and a few more visits to my grandmother’s house, he’ll be cured of *that* anxiety — because MaMa Shirley is quick to give ANY dog extra treats but ESPECIALLY her late father’s namesake.

Reason #2: My parents *met* me at the animal shelter instead of letting me do what I do best. I told Mom and Dad that I’d pull a rescue dog for them when they were ready. Then, at the last minute, they decided to meet me at the shelter, and they asked me to pull two dogs that they then decided between.

To be fair, this is probably the way most people do it . . . the responsible, thoughtful, logical way to go about adopting the right dog (that’s the right fit for your particular family) from a shelter.

But this is how do it: I walk in, hone in on one dog, and only interact with that one dog. It’s an absolute go-with-my-gut feeling, but that’s the only way I can bear it. Before I leave, I pet the other dogs, pass out dog biscuits to all, but I only take one dog out of its cage. I never ever put a dog back in its cage, and I just couldn’t shake the awful feeling of having done so.

Mom, Dad, and I pulled Jasper on a Saturday. I was back at the shelter the following Monday morning for the one left behind. Meet rescue dog #65, Annie Cresta: a 1-year old terrier mix from the City of Columbia animal shelter.


Annie, originally named Jazzy, was owner-surrendered. Apparently, the woman who surrendered her had just given birth, and she no longer wanted a dog in the house. She confessed that Jazzy was a gift from her sister, and that she had never really wanted a dog in the first place. Since the person who never really wanted you shouldn’t have the right to name you, I’ve renamed her Annie Cresta in honor of my Hunger Games themed 101 class. My students think this is the perfect character-name for this particular foster, because she is sort of “bedraggled” and unlovely but is certainly capable of transformation when in the right person’s care.

Enter Finnick, or me, since I’m Finnick to my Annie. She is always at my side, or shoulder:

Photo on 12-10-14 at 9.34 PM #2

I’m convinced that she knew I had come back for. her. when I showed up that Monday. I opened her kennel door, said, “let’s go,” and she followed me sans leash and sat patiently at my feet while I checked out.

Even Scott admits that we’ve never had such a well behaved dog, foster or otherwise. He insists that she must have some collie in her or something, because she waits for commands (come, sit, stay, etc.) and obeys them immediately. My kids should take lessons from her.

The only trouble she’s caused: she chased one of our chickens and pulled a few tail feathers. Scott caught her in the act, though, and scolded accordingly. Annie hid under the bed, and, for the rest of the day, our other dogs treated her like the ostracized kid who badly misbehaved on the playground — which she kinda was. We haven’t had any problems since (knock on wood), although for the sake of our chickens’ mental health, we’ve started alternating their recess time and Annie’s.

Still, I’ve decided I want to keep her . . . mum’s the word, b/c Scott says I have to find a home for Morven if I want to keep Annie . . . but I think it’s sensible for each Fisk to have a dog: Annie for me; Morven for Jack; Knightley for Scott; Emma for Arina; Quinby for the chickens! Perfection! Also, they’re all half-sized dogs, which = only 2.5 full-sized dogs. And 2.5 dogs per family is *totally* normal.

Reason #3: I took my hometown friend (and recent college graduate) Lauren to the animal shelter with me, because I was hoping she’d let me pull a dog for her — and she did! Meet rescue dog #66, Chester: a 2 year-old Norfolk Terrier mix from the City of Columbia animal shelter:


I win for best graduate presentation ever. Chester, originally named Bro, was another owner-surrendered dog. To say that he was a handful for us at the shelter is an understatement. He fought his leash, jumped all over us, and gnawed our hands. But within 10 minutes of working with him, he was sitting on command and looking longingly after Lauren if she left his sight for a second.

Lauren decided to rename him Chester, in memory of the Chesterfield County shelter dogs that were shot in 2011. And I approved, of course, since that horrific event marked the beginning of my adventures-in-fostering. We lost 22 dogs that day but long live all the Chesters, their namesakes! May everyone have the opportunity to adopt a shelter dog at some point in their life, if only to see the transformation from sad pup at the shelter to happy pup on the car ride home.


Happiest of holidays from the Fisk family dog pack: Emma&Knightly, Morven&Annie Cresta, and Quinby. Also — please God — let us know if you’d ever be willing to dog sit, along with which one . . . or two. 😉

The Return of the Q

July 14, 2012

Pulled: Thursday September 22, 2011 from City of Columbia Animal Shelter

Rescue commitment: Sunday October 16, 2011 by Dachshund Rescue of North America

Rescued, again: July 13, 2012 from Dachshund Rescue of North America

Apologies that it’s been so long since I updated my fostering blog! As I’ve mentioned, we moved to a new house, and my fostering has subsequently come to a halt. Scott’s new house rule is 1 foster at a time, and since Morven seems to be the permanent foster (much to Scott’s chagrin), I have only been able to pull dogs for people who request them. So, it’s pull and immediate transfer, although that’s worked out nicely for Chesters Jude and Kimball.

But, alas, I was forced to break my one foster at at time rule on Friday. I’m sure my readers will remember Quinby, but for those of you who are just catching up, here are some highlights:

1) Way back in September, I was at the City of Columbia Animal Shelter to rescue the wayward Kincaid a second time (which is a long story in itself) when I met a man who brought in Q to be euthanized.

2) Q was paralyzed from the waist down, although I could tell by looking at her that she was this dog in spirit (despite her rather pathetic, flea-ridden appearance at the time):

3) So, I brought her home, Scott made her a wheelchair, and voila! Only the leaves are missing.

See the video here:

4) I surprised all by getting a rescue commitment for Quinby faster than I’ve been able to get an adoption or rescue commitment for Morven. I contacted Dachshund Rescue of North America, because I knew they had experience caring for disabled dachshunds; DRNA agreed to take her, and then homed her with one of their best and most capable fosters. We were grateful and thrilled, as was Q and all of her Fisk foster siblings.

Six months later: I received an email from Quinby’s foster mother, Karen, who said that she was becoming more arthritic and facing knee surgery, both of which were making it more and more difficult to care for Q. She told me she was leaving DRNA but that she was trying to find Q a new foster home before she did.


Three months later: I received another email, asking if I would take Q back. Scott, of course, said “no.” He pointed out that (1) we have foster dog Morven and family dogs Mr. Knightley and Emma; (2) we have two kids; (3) we have a longer commute now from work; (4) Q has special needs (some of which include diapers when inside and assistance when getting in and out of her wheelchair); (5) we would have to board her, b/c of her special needs, and we can’t afford to do that every time we go away for the weekend. And there are probably more, but I zoned out after a certain point.

I related all of the above to Karen and asked if we could foster her for DRNA, thinking that being able to depend on the larger organization for reimbursement of boarding, etc. would take away some of Scott’s objections at least. Here is Karen’s response:

“I’m afraid DRNA told me to have her put to sleep, so I doubt they would assist even with medical needs, and they don’t usually pay for boarding of fosters, special needs or healthy. I have the same problem that no one will take care of her while I am going to be incapacitated. I have not been able to consider putting her to sleep, but if you can’t take her, I’m afraid that is her fate. I don’t say this as a threat, but fact. Please don’t feel guilty if that is the way it has to be. She had a second chance because of you. I’m the one who feels I let her down.”

I read S. the email, and he didn’t tell me not to go get her, so I took that as a yes and made arrangements (unbeknownst to him) to pick her up at the end of the week. I made sure she looked her best for her reunion with Scott, which was very sweet:

I heard all five points (about why this is a bad idea) again; in response, I read S. the email again. He listened. Then, he said: “I’m glad you got her back. They don’t deserve her.”


And I have to believe there is value in sacrificing a bit of comfort to make life better and kinder for someone (or something) in need.

Who knows? It may be easier than we think. Tracy has suggested that we train Morven (who is butting into the photo, below) to take care of Quinby. I think that’s a brilliant idea: a service dog for a handicapped one.

Welcome back, Quinby.

Chester3 Kimball

May 5, 2012

Pulled: Friday, May 4th from Animal Shelter of Clarendon County

Adopted: Friday, May 4th by Betty Taylor and renamed Jagger

Meet Chester Kimball:

Kimball is an energetic 1-year old Chihuahua/Dachshund mix. I named my 63rd foster after Rudyard Kipling’ s hero in the novel Kim . . . which, I’ve never read. It’s been on my list for a long time, though, and since  (1) I’m on the letter “K” in my literary characters system of naming and since (2) character-Kim/author-Kipling is a double “K,” I couldn’t resist.

I pulled Kimball by request. One of my former students has her own apartment and is ready for a dog, and she knew I would be able to find her the perfect one. Her one request was for a smaller breed dog, since many apartments have limits. When I saw Kimball, I knew he would be perfect. Small breed. Big personality. And perfecter of the “I’m so cute you should give me everything I want” stare.

We delivered Kimball (renamed Jagger) to Betty after pulling him from the fabulous Animal Shelter of Clarendon County. Why is the Animal Shelter of Clarendon County fabulous? For many reasons, not the least of which is that one of their employees is hand-raising three baby possums. I snapped a quick photo with my phone and only regret that the possums’ mother is cut out of it. I wish you could have seen the proud and adoring look on her face, as she looked at her possum.

Best of luck Kimball/Jagger! And, remember: if you come across a possum, treat it kindly as it may be your shelter sibling.

And, now for an update! April 12th, 2012 was my one-year anniversary as a dog foster mother. 63 dogs in 1 year. Patting myself on the back, although I would have liked to have reached my lofty goal of 100. Perhaps I can reach my 100-in-a-year goal from April 2012-April 2013. Alas, Scott says no.

To mark the one-year anniversary, I took two recent donations: one from the fabulous Susan Prior and another from someone I don’t even know (but who I suspect is a friend of the fabulous Sabra Smith) and donated them to the following:

1) Nelly, from the Richmond County Animal Shelter, who is being treated for burns. By moving to Holly Hill, I’ve moved farther away from my friends at Richmond County Animal Shelter, though I try to keep in touch (sorry, Allison, that I forgot to call you back until now — sigh) and to help financially when I can.

Nelly is a complete sweetheart, despite her misfortunes (she also has wounds from being bound too tightly around the neck). She always poses when Allison asks for a photo, and I can imagine that she was very annoyed that her roommate was so inconsiderate with her tail.

And, Chrissy, from another NC shelter, who is being treated for heartworms. Like Nelly, Chrissy is a prim and proper lady, as you can tell from the polite way she crosses her paws:

Thanks so much to Susan and Sabra’s friend for helping these sweet girls!

In other news: If you remember why I started fostering in the first place (, you’ll be happy to read the following update from The Link. written by Leighton Bell:

So, in short, County Councilman Chairman Matt Rivers sums things up well: “This time last year, we were battling news crews to get (into the meeting) because of negative publicity. Now, we have nothing but good news to report about the shelter. In a year’s time, we’ve gone from the shooting to becoming a no-kill shelter.”

He says, “We’ve come a long way in a year’s time.”

Indeed, Mr. Chairman.

Chester3 Jude

March 6, 2012

Found: Sunday March 4, 2012 near Holly Hill, SC

Adopted: Sunday March 4, 2012 by Shannon Blake

Renamed: Dundun Borges

Colleague and friend Shannon Blake mentioned that she was thinking of getting a puppy for her 5-year-old son. “Done,” I said, and I set off the following weekend to find the Blake puppy. And, yes, it took me all weekend.

On Friday, I went to the city of Columbia animal shelter (Columbia Animal Services), and caught up with my friends there. They said that they had some wonderful adoptable dogs (and they do; I walked a couple of them), but they didn’t have young puppies, and Shannon was looking for a puppy that would grow alongside her son.

Next, I went to Chesterfield, SC to Sandy Crest Kennels, where one of my rescue partners, Whitney, boards and vets dogs from kill shelters in the South before taking them to New York. I knew Whitney would have some puppies and that freeing up space would allow her to pull more in need. I also wanted to visit, because she had talked to me about fostering the following adult dog:

A midnight black Cocker Spaniel — with one eye. I was salivating over him.

Scott: “No.”

Me, wailing: “But I‘ve never had a one-eyed dog! I need a one-eyed dog. I’ll get him an eye patch and call him Captain Jack Sparrow” (I am on “J” in literary names, after all — um, is Johnny Depp’s CJS based on a literary character? Tracy Bealer?).

Scott: “No.” — though he sounded intrigued.

Me: “Or Captain Jack . . . Spaniel?”

I knew that Scott would be unable to resist this face (or those furry legs):

But alas: By the time I got to Chesterfield, Captain Jack had found a girlfriend. At first, he would let no one touch him, which is why Whitney contacted me; she knows I love “Heathcliff” dogs, the hard cases. He warmed up quickly, though, to one of the ladies at SCK and was literally eating out of her hand and growling at me. Thus, I decided to let him spend his remaining time in SC with his new girlfriend, before he heads north, rather than uproot him again. He seemed very appreciative:

I turned my attention to the pups: cute black and white Spaniel mixes. Unfortunately, they were all recuperating from a nasty cold, and they needed to stay at SCK for awhile to finish their medication.

I had to get a puppy for Shannon asap. Her little boy was waiting for his pup!

Knowing that there are ever-so-many puppies in need of homes, I decided to find a pup that needed a home right away. So, I went to the Kershaw County Animal Shelter in Camden. They had pups, but all of their pups were on hold for days. They were unwilling to release them until they had been vetted properly.

Day 1 of the Blake puppy search: Fail.

On Day 2, I visited a Chesterfield County rescue, but the person in charge wouldn’t let me take one of her pups without filling out an application and being approved. SIGH. I’ve never had such a hard time getting my hands on a pup . . .

. . . until Day 3. Dejected, I sat down at my computer Sunday morning, remembering what Dr. Hutto, the local vet, had told me. He explained that Holly Hill is the perfect place for me. A rural area, Holly Hill has a stray dog problem (hello Izzy). He said that there are always strays in need of care, and litters being born and dumped.

I remembered that, and I looked on a community web page, and sure enough: a farmer about twenty minutes from my house was asking for help. Someone had dumped a litter of six puppies on his farm: one had passed away, two were having trouble walking, and three were healthy and in need of homes — asap. He didn’t want to take them to the pound. I knew I had found the Blake puppy.

As my Chester J3, I decided to name him Jude, as in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. After all, he was difficult enough to find. And, like Jude, his story thus far had been unfortunate, to say the least.

* For the record, I’m not a fan of Jude the Obscure — reading it made me want to gouge out my eyes with the pen I used to annotate it — but to this day I’m convinced that the definition of “ridiculously tragic” (Hardy’s forte) is the following image of Jude: always wanting to go to the University, Jude instead stands outside of the University, selling cookies shaped like it. *

I was very excited to see Jude when I met his sister:

Jackpot,” I thought. Clearly an Australian Shepherd mix: fluffy, colorful, cute. And then I met Jude:

“He looks like a pig,” I said. The straw didn’t help. Shannon had said she wanted a boy. I looked at Arina, who had already scooped him up.

“He’s so cute!” Arina said.

Me, doubtful: “Uh huh.” And, then, I thought that on the plus side, he wouldn’t shed as much as his prettier long-haired litter mates.

So, I told the farmer that we’d give a good home to Jude. I looked at him again . . .

. . . and phoned Shannon as soon as we left. “The girl is so pretty,” I told Shannon. “And the boy?” she asked. “Helookslikeapig,” I blurted out. And then I tried to describe him — the pink around the eyes and nose, the red markings on his face that sort of look like bags under his eyes. “My mother would say that he’s so ugly, he’s cute,” I said hesitantly; then, hating myself, I said, “I’ll go back and get the girl, if you want.” Thankfully, though, Shannon was intrigued by the boy.

Her first words after seeing him: “He’s ADORABLE!” And, I have to admit, I think that he’s much more handsome as Dundun Borges (his new name) than he was as Jude the Obscure. Here he is, a more confident pup already, now that he knows he’s home and loved:

Here he is, being sweet:

And being curious (I wonder how pine straw tastes?):

And being playful (yes, I think I will use your hand as a chew toy, thank you very much):

And being . . . just . . . pretty darn adorable:

Forgive me, Dundun, for not recognizing that blue eyes, with red diamond patches, and a speckled nose is the height of adorableness. And thank you, Dundun, for reminding me that love is transformative. You went from a scared pig to a handsome pup, though kudos to the Blakes for recognizing your adorableness from Day 1. But, then again, recognizing your adorableness from Day 1 is something that the family to which you belong will always be able to do.

Congrats, Blakes, on your newest addition! And best of luck, Dundun Borges! You deserve it!

Chester3 Isadora

February 24, 2012

Rescued: Thursday February 23 from my front yard

Retrieved by owner: Tuesday March 6th

Meet Izzy:

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post — a month! But, there are several reasons for that,one being that I’ve been focusing attention on some previous Fisk fosters. I was distracted by Hazelle (Ella), who came down with and eventually recovered from Parvo (yay for recovery!), and also by Edwards who was a return foster. Poor Edwards. Penny, who was trying him out as a member of the family, adored him. Penny’s cats did not, and they were wrecking havoc on the house in protest. I’m happy to report, though, that Edwards — handsome boy he is — was snatched up by Dog World Rescue and has three families vying to adopt him. Here’s hoping they have only dogs or dog-friendly cats.

The main reason for the absent posts, though? We’ve moved, and anyone who has ever moved knows that the process requires hitting the pause button on pretty much everything else. So, when I found out we were moving, I contacted faithful donor Ashley Smith and asked that she hit the pause button on her monthly donation, since Fisk Fosters was on hiatus.

And, honestly, I wasn’t sure when we’d come back, or if we would at all. I was planning the farewell post, a last “where are they now,” along with a thank you to all who had adopted, encouraged, and contributed financially (speaking of that last part: special shout out to Rebecca Pomeroy Shores whose December donation paid for the neutering of three male dogs AND enabled us to hire a pet-sitter for the pack and travel as usual for the holidays). I had figured everything up: 60 dogs in 10 months, which averages 6 dogs a month. And I calculated our expenses. I was happy to report to Scott (who, at one point, had shown me a chart that suggested we spent 60% of our income on foster dogs) that we in fact spent about $300 in all. Many good people hit the “Donate” button. Again, thank you.

Here are a few of the photos I planned to share:

Remember Clover, renamed Carley? What a Cinderella story!

Remember Gilbert and Hampton, renamed Romeo and Cooper? Here they are, enjoying the day on their porch.

Remember York and Daphne Bordeaux, renamed Pepper and Sissy? Here they are, watching Harry Potter on Mom’s bed:

And here’s a closeup of Daphne Bordeaux/Sissy:

And, remember Abbie Faith and pups? Well, just look at them now! We have Abbie and her human, co-sleeping.

We have Abbie’s and Hilda’s reunion:

And we have Fairfax (Otis), the pup who pulled through!

And, finally, in what may be my favorite canine photo of all time, we have Gregor (Trigger) in his raincoat:

I had planned to announce that I would still get a dog for anyone who wants one. But, I planned to do more behind the scenes work, reach in my bag, and pull out another of my social justice issues to address: orphans? (maybe Scott would allow me to adopt 60 children) or the human rights violations in North Korea? (maybe I could drop 60 copies of The Hunger Games for the people there to read — seriously, read about the censorship in NK).

But, then Izzy showed up in our front yard:

It was dark outside — around 8:00pm or 8:30. At first, I thought Izzy was a deer. She’s that big. She was limping, and I noticed two healing wounds on both her front legs. Also, she has a lump protruding from her chest. I wondered if she had been hit by a car and broken a rib, but the lump isn’t sensitive to touch, so I suspect it’s a hernia. She was flea-ridden, and we could see her ribs.

Arina said, “Well you have two choices, Mom: leave her out here, where she may get hit by a car. Or, put her in the backyard and let her get better.”

Of course, I chose the latter. So, as Arina says, we have three “healthy” dogs and one “wobbly” one. Casey’s response: “Well, Nicole, you needed a wobbly one.”

Izzy is OLD, as you can see in the photo below. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog with age wrinkles, but Izzy seems to have them:

When I opened her mouth to age her by her teeth, I saw that many of them had fallen out and the others were discolored with age. I’m thinking 10+. And the limp? I’m beginning to think it’s arthritis. Even Izzy’s bark sounds old. She thought about protesting when I put her in the dog pen out back, but she just made three raspy-sounding barks before shrugging, settling down on the bed I made her, and falling off to sleep, as quickly as my grandfather used to.

Still, you can tell by her profile, that she must have been quite the dog in her prime:

We’re on a literary system of naming, so I thought about Isolde initially. It seemed perfect in a way, since she “Is Olde.” But, she looks more like an Isadora, we think — Izzy, for short. Isadora is the . . . um . . . sexually motivated protagonist in Erica’ Jong’s Fear of Flying. I don’t know if Izzy was ever similarly motivated, but she doesn’t have a spay scar, so I can only imagine the number of litters she’s had. /sigh

And Scott? He didn’t complain, probably because he was so amused by the fact that when I called to tell him about Izzy, I also confessed that I had somehow managed to lock myself with Izzy in the outside dog pen that conveniently came with the new house, and I needed his advice about how to get out.

Happily, I escaped. And, so far, the only other memorable mishap has involved chasing Morven around the neighborhood, after he managed to get under the house and push away a piece of the brick foundation in his eagerness to explore the new neighborhood. He got into so much trouble that, since then, he’s been content to pretend that he’s Mr. Knightley’s fuzzy blanket:

So, welcome, Izzy: Foster #61. And, thank goodness, you’re not like Morven.

If any of my readers would be interested in being Izzy’s retirement home, send me a message!

Update: Izzy has been reunited with her family! The longer she stayed with us, the more I became convinced that she had belonged to someone who loved her. She had a spay scar after all, and she knew how to catch a frisbee — well, she was too old to actually catch it, but she hobbled after it, picked it up, and brought it back.

I began to think that she had wandered off to die, honestly, and then changed her mind. Maybe she wanted to catch a frisbee a few more times, and eat a few more dog treats.

I visited the local vet and was thrilled to learn that someone had reported a missing female Lab. I left my information, and Audrey, Izzy’s mother, called me this past Tuesday! Like us, she has recently moved to Holly Hill, and — like Morven — Izzy (henceforth called by her given name: Daisy) escaped from the backyard fence. Being in an unfamiliar area, she got lost and has been lost for the entire month of February.

After hanging up with Audrey, I called Daisy to come inside, and I swear she knew she had been found when she heard her given name. “Your Mom is on her way, Daisy,” I said. Pure excitement. We waited together, and Audrey pulled in the yard within five minutes. The reunion was beautiful to watch.

Daisy’s age: 16 years

The lump on her chest: a fatty tumor (one of several apparently). When first diagnosed, Daisy was given a year to live. That was 5 years ago.

Our farewell? Audrey and I chatted awhile; then, Audrey asked, “Ready to go home Daisy?” Daisy turned to look at me and barked four times.

“You’re welcome, Daisy. And, yes, I know you have to go. It’s okay.”

She bumped her big head against me, wagged her tail, and was off.

Farewell, Daisy! You were a lovely house guest. Feel free to visit, though next time: ask your mother first.

Hurrah for Chester3 Gregor!

January 28, 2012

Pulled: Friday December 30 2011 from Richmond County Animal Shelter

Adoption commitment: Wednesday January 28 2012

Gregor has been adopted at last! I’m shocked that I had this little guy for nearly a month before I was able to find a home for him. Scott says that I’m getting tapped out at last. Nearly all of my facebook friends and blog readers who are able to adopt a dog from me have done so at this point.

Or, more likely: Gregor was meant for his adoptive mother Jen Fowler, and only Jen, so he just had to stay with us until she figured that out. And what a stay! Gregor quickly became Scott’s favorite of all the foster dogs we’ve had so far (except for, maybe, Quinby). And not because Gregor was easy, but because . . . well . . . how can you ever stay angry at such a teeny tiny baby face?

Incident: pee/poop in the house.
Scott, affectionately: “Oh Gregor!”

Incident: chewed up paper all over the floor.
Scott, affectionately: “Oh Gregor!”

Incident: too much barking for too long.
Scott, affectionately: “Oh Gregor!”

After 60 foster dogs, I found this behavior from the normally-reluctant-and-always-complaining spouse mind-boggling. He’d chide Gregor patiently. And, then, he’d pick him up and place him out of trouble, on his lap! Scott has played many a round of America’s Army accompanied by a sleeping Gregor. Mind-boggling.

I think it’s because that Scott, a funny guy himself, appreciated Gregor’s humor. Or maybe he appreciated his spunk (it’s a well known fact that the smallest creatures often have the most spunk, me included). Or maybe he finds Gregor’s spunk humorous. See, below, Gregor’s attack dog response to Scott’s teasing:

Whatever the case, Scott likes Gregor. Favorite moments?

1) Gregor vs. David: One sunny and warm January afternoon (global warming, anyone?), Scott and I decided to leave Gregor and Morven in the backyard to play. We were careful to close the gate, but it’s easy to forget that Gregor is SUCH a little dog, because of his big case of the Napoleon complex. Physically, though, Gregor was easily able to squeeze under the gate — like a rat or a squirrel. Apparently, he did this throughout the day, for the sole purpose of barking at our next door neighbor, David, who was working in his front yard. Gregor would bark loudly at David, bounce around in circles for awhile, and squeeze back under the gate. I imagine an interaction with Gregor starring as a cuter and less annoying Scrappy Doo:

Our apologies, David.

2)We currently have a return foster — Chester Edwards (more on that later) —  but Gregor didn’t understand that Edwards had been here before. In Gregor’s mind, he was here first and was therefore in charge, despite the fact that it would take about a hundred Gregors to make one Edwards.

If we gave Chester Edwards a Gregor-sized bone, we’d soon see Gregor dragging it behind him. If we left Gregor in the yard to “play” with Edwards, we’d watch him prance through the door later with white tufts of fur in his mouth. Oh, how I wish I had thought to take photos of Gregor, looking simultaneously proud and ridiculous, with his white beard.

3) Favorite moment #3? Getting the following message from Jen:

“I am so happy with our new family member Trigger (Aka Gregor). He has put plenty of smiles on my face. His cuteness is what will always keep him out of trouble. He went potty outside for the first time last night. We were so proud; it took Kevin taking him for him to do it. Lol. He loves his toys, doesn’t like it when Daddy leaves for work without a proper goodbye. He saved my life from the vacuum cleaner and my shadow. He likes his car rides as well. Thank you guys for the gift you gave us. He is a blessing. We will post pics after the kids see him; we have not told them yet! That should be epic!”

Keep protecting Mom from vacuums and shadows, Chester Gregor Trigger! And, Jen, enjoy your new red-headed bodyguard. Love to you all!

Adopted by: Jen Fowler and Kevin Richmond

Renamed: Trigger

An Ella Update

January 21, 2012

Pulled: Friday December 30 2011 from Richmond County Animal Shelter

Adoption commitment: Saturday December 31 2011 by the Headley Greenlaw family

I’m happy to report that Ella, who was diagnosed with the dreaded Parvo, seems to have made a full recovery. See the “before” photo of sick Ella:

And the “after” photo of Ella, playing with her much bigger canine sibling, Red:

Thanks to all who donated to her treatment. We raised $485, 81% of the $594 total! I know how much the Greenlaw family appreciates the help and no one is more deserving. Both of their dogs are rescues, although they affectionately call the big red dog, above, their $2000 dog.

Jeff, a military man, noticed Red on base and assumed that one of the people with whom he works was bringing his/her dog to work. “No dogs on base,” he reminded them. “He’s a stray,” they said. “Then why is he hanging around?” Jeff asked, “and why is he so well-fed?” Apparently, several men on base were taking turns driving Red through the drive-through each morning for his daily meal.

(And, yes, R. does bear a striking resemblance to Clifford):

So, Jeff did the only thing a softie can. He brought Red home, paid heftily to treat his heartworms and other ailments, and made him part of the family.

When their rescue #2, Fisk foster Ella, got sick, my first thought was “no good deed goes unpunished.” But, then I remembered how wonderfully supportive most people are, and my blog readers especially, and I knew that the Greenlaws and Ella would be okay.

So, again: thank you, thank you, thank you! From the Fisks, the Greenlaws, and, especially, from Ella and Red: