Archive for June, 2011

Chester Clover

June 30, 2011

Pulled: Wednesday May 25th, 2011 from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter

Adoption commitment: Monday May 30th, 2011

Meet our first foster GIRL, Chester Clover. I went to pick up my next foster while Arina was in school. Howard was at the shelter, and he said that he had just the dog for me. They had been calling her “Poodle Mama,” because she’s a cockapoo, or spoodle, and had just delivered a litter of pups. Because she was spayed immediately after the delivery, she wasn’t able to nurse them, since she needed to heal. She was very sad and in need of some TLC. “I know you’ll love her,” Howard said.

“Perfect!” I said. I put her on a leash and let her walk with me to get Arina at the bus stop. Arina saw us coming and broke into a run; she was so excited. Arina understands adoption well, having been adopted herself, and she has never cried to give up a foster dog. “We’re the adoption agency, helping them find their forever homes,” she chirps. But, she’s always delighted to meet the next one. Her only worry is that the world will run out of dogs for us to foster.

As soon as I put Chester C.’s photo up on my facebook page, I started getting responses. The first two homes she visited, though, weren’t the homes for her. The first home she visited was an elderly gentleman’s. But Mr. Boise had his heart set on a beagle and was intimidated by the thought of having to get Clover groomed. And, as you can tell from the following photo, Clover must be groomed in order to see.

The second home she visited was also home to an elderly poodle, that Clover proceeded to bark and growl at nastily. Naughty girl.

I was beginning to notice that Clover had extreme separation anxiety. She would only go out to the bathroom if I went with her, she followed me around constantly, and, when I left, she was waiting at the window for me when I got home. “Oh dear,” I thought.

But I was thrilled to get a facebook message of interest from Jenny, a family friend. Her son and I went to school together, 5K through high school graduation, and I knew that Jenny stayed at home and could give Clover the attention she needed. Jenny said she fell in love with Clover’s sweet face, in the photo below:

So, Clover, Scott, the kids, and I set off to my hometown of McBee. Jenny called soon after I was at my parents’ house, and asked, “Is my baby there?” When they met, it was love at first sight. Clover ran to greet her when she drove up, and put her little paws on Jenny’s knees.

I didn’t do as well saying goodbye to Clover as I did with the other two, for a few reasons: 1) I’ve always been partial to curls, whether on dogs or people. And, quite simply, I think I missed petting Clover. She reminded me of one of those really expensive curly teddy bears; 2) Clover was the first foster that I felt really missed me. She adjusted to her new home quickly, but it was in her nature, anxious and loyal and smart little dog that she is, to wonder what had become of me; and 3) I made the mistake of asking Jenny what had happened to one of her dogs, that had been hit by a car, and I had anxiety nightmares of the same thing happening to Clover. (This is an anxiety trigger of mine, having lost dogs to cars myself, but I shouldn’t have worried about this with Clover. She and Jenny are so devoted to each other that they rarely leave each other’s sight).

BUT, Jenny is such a mother that she knew exactly what I needed, and what Clover needed. She corresponded with me, keeping me updated constantly about Clover and her transition. She gave Clover a toy kitten, after asking me to rub it against myself, for my “scent,” and she gave her lots of cheese. Needless to say, we were both content in no time.

Clover has found her place. She walked in and barked to tell the cat and dog and husband already living there that she was top dog. And, fortunately, they’re all sweet enough to let her be just that.

The final photo is of Clover, guarding the pool chair that she thinks is hers.

Adopted by: Jenny Rhoad

Renamed: Carley

Chester Berkeley

June 30, 2011

Pulled: Monday May 2, 2011 from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter

Adoption Commitment: Sunday May 22, 2011

Meet Chester 2. To start with, we called him Chester. But, after Chester 1, the name didn’t feel right to us. How would we distinguish our Chester dogs? After all, we planned to have a lot. — 22 to 28 of them. Because Scott travels throughout the state of South Carolina with his job, we decided to give the dogs a second name, based on SC towns/cities/counties. We’d start with the second letter “B” for our second foster and go alphabetically from there.

So Chester 2 became Chester Berkeley.

Arina and I went to the shelter after Chester, the First to pull our next foster, but Howard wasn’t there to help us. Perhaps he was there somewhere — the shelter was busy that day — but he wasn’t at the front desk, like I had hoped he would be. A very nice lady, Marion, was there, but she was busy answering the phone and helping other people. When I told her we were there to adopt, she asked us to go look at the available dogs. This is something I had said I would not do, but I didn’t want her to think I was hanging over her shoulder, and Arina was getting restless.

We went back to the kennels, and I was impressed by how clean and pleasant they were. The walls were painted a pale pink, and dogs could choose to be either inside or out. Still, many, if not all, of them were stressed. — more so, because of the barking that inevitably erupts when visitors walk the halls.

There was one dog, in particular, that knocked over his food bowl in his eagerness to break through the chain-linked door to his kennel. A white Eskimo Spitz/Corgi mix. But there was a sign on his door that said, “I have a home.” “But you have a home!” I told him every time I walked by, and he jumped and climbed and whined.

When Marion was free to help us, I asked her the same question I asked Howard. “Which dog do you most want to see in a home?” She immediately gave me the kennel number of the white Spitz. “But, I thought he had a home!” I said. She told me that he had been selected for adoption earlier that day, that he had been so excited to get out, but that he had been brought back an hour later, because he wasn’t “small enough” for the adoptive parent’s girlfriend.

Marion gave me a leash, and Arina and I went straight back to get Chester Berkeley. He was so excited that I had to run a bit to keep up with him. His story is a strange one. Marion said that he showed up in their drop kennels with another dog that had already been adopted. He had been neutered already, which suggests that he had been cared for at one time. Marion explained that most of the time, people who have to take their pets to a shelter because they’ve fallen onto hard times and can no longer care for them do so during the daytime hours, so that they can talk to the shelter workers about how special their pet is. Or, if they drop them after hours, they’ll leave a note. Not so with Berkeley.

Scott, Arina and I created all sorts of stories for Chester B., but the one we kept going back to was that he had been lost, or was brought to the shelter by family members once an elderly owner died. Berkeley ran into our house with enthusiasm, and went from room to room as if looking for someone. When he didn’t find him (or her), he hid under our bed for two days, refusing to eat.

Finally, on the second night, my husband pulled him from under the bed and forced him to sit on his lap while he watched tv and petted him. After that, we couldn’t keep Berkeley off the couch.

He continued to look for his previous owners, though. An escape artist, Berkeley got away from Arina once, me once, and out of the fence a couple of times. Each time he ran from house to house, pawing at a door begging to be let in, or simply going through an open door if he found one. My neighbor across the street had left his door ajar. He said that he went back inside to sit down at his computer, when he noticed Berkeley, stretched out on the floor by his computer desk. Another time, Berkeley was waiting for us on the front porch after we came back from shopping. Neighbors walked by and said he spent at least an hour at their house before asking to be let out to wait for us.

For some reason I expected Chester B. to be like Chester, the First. A shelter dog from the beginning, Chester had thought that everything we offered up to him was amazing, including the different brand of dog food we had. Berkeley knew the difference between dog food and people food and was a picky eater. He only wanted to eat chicken, and not chicken flavored dog food. He wanted the real thing.

Unlike Chester, Berkeley was also house-trained. — here. Of course, when he met his first two prospective adoptive families, he immediately pooped on their floors, turning them off immediately, no doubt. I think that he knew who his people were and deliberately sabotaged every other meeting until he found them.

And find them he did. He had charmed his beautiful adoptive mother, Federica, from the start. She saw his handsome photo on facebook and was in love.

His adoptive father, Chris, was a harder sell, as the following photos show.

Chris and Federica kindly agreed to Chester. B.-sit for us while we went out of town for the weekend. This is the first photo of Chester B. and Chris, which Federica aptly titled, “Wife! This dog cannot stay!” He was sitting down in his chair, saying those words, when Chester B. jumped into his lap and started grinning.

And here’s the next photo, which I like to think is the visual representation of Chris’s resolve melting.

Chester B. smiles all the time now. He loves walks more than anything, and he has an adoptive father to take him whenever he wants. He loves spaghetti more than anything, and he has an adoptive mother who is Italian and who makes the best spaghetti in town. Add to that a feline and a canine sibling, and life couldn’t be better. One of my favorite photos of him is after his first spaghetti dinner. Federica’s caption reads, “Suddenly, after my first taste of parmigiano cheese, the world seems to smile at me . . .”

It does indeed, Chester B. And you deserve it.

Adopted by: Federica Clementi and Chris Holcomb

Renamed: Chester Bark

Chester, the First

June 30, 2011

Pulled: Tuesday April 12, 2011 from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter

Adoption Commitment: Saturday April 16, 2011

Meet Chester, the first. On a Tuesday, after my six-year-old daughter, Arina, got home from school, we got in the car and drove to the City of Columbia Animal Shelter. I told the shelter worker that we were there to adopt, and I asked him to pick out the dog most in need. He said that all the dogs were in need and was clearly hesitant to identify one in particular.

Finally, I said, “Look, I can’t go back there or I would adopt them all. I don’t care what kind of dog — young or old, large or small — so long as he’s in need, and that he’s good with children and young pups [my mother had just adopted a mini dachshund pup].” I asked the man, whose name I later learned was Howard, to go get the dog he most wanted to see in a home.

And he did. He went through the door to the kennels and came back with a terrified, 6-month-old lab mix. “He’s a good dog,” Howard said, “But he’s not doing well in the kennels. He won’t eat. He doesn’t even get excited to go on walks like the other dogs do. He just cowers.”

“Perfect!” I said. I took Howard brownies later as a thank you.

Chester didn’t have a name. He was identified by his kennel number. He rode with me, in a crouched, terrified position, to take my daughter to dance class and to pick up my seventeen-month-old son, Jack, who was delighted to see a new “pup pup” in the car.

Soon, Chester was eating with relish. He remained skittish for several days, as he navigated his new environment. One memory that sticks is the first time he wagged his tail in the kitchen. He wagged so enthusiastically that his tail made a loud “WHACK” when it hit the oven door, and Chester nearly jumped on the counter-top in fright.

He had to learn everything, including how to walk on a leash. Our first foray, to pick up my daughter from the bus stop, was so fraught with imagined dangers that Chester continually darted between my legs for safety, the result of which was both of us on the cement, bleeding. I scraped my knee, and Chester scraped his chin.

Within the week, though, he was walking on a leash so well that I took him to a rally, in honor of the Chesterfield 22. I carried a sign, courtesy of one of my best friends, Natalie Leppard, which read: “Meet Chester. Adopted in honor of the Chesterfield 22.” He was recognized by the speaker at the rally and was a general hit overall.

Also, within a week, he was doing well with his puppy potty-training. The last accident he had in our house, before going to his new home, was early one morning. He slept on the floor in our room, on a blanket, and I woke up to his big furry paws in my face. “Go to bed, Chester” I said. He went over to my husband’s, Scott’s, side and stuck his big, furry paws in his face. “Go to bed, Chester” he said. Chester paced back and forth a couple of times, and then proceeded to poop on the floor. We did not scold.

I had an adoption commitment for Chester the Saturday after I adopted him, from a friend of a friend. She came over to meet him and said, “Yes. That’s my dog.” To make the transition as easy for Chester as possible, I talked about Sabra, his new mommy, often and took him for several play-dates, during which he was spoiled with undivided attention and doggie treats, before the hand-off.

When that day came, I thought I’d cry but I didn’t. I couldn’t when I saw his big doggie grin as he leaned out of Sabra’s car window. I know that Sabra is the perfect mother for him. She’s active. She goes on walks and runs, which this lab puppy will love. She plays water polo, and I’m interested to hear if Chester ever takes up that sport. He’d be great at it, I know.

Adopted by: Sabra Smith

Renamed: Jethro

Why I foster dogs

June 30, 2011

In March 2011, twenty-two dogs in the Chesterfield County Animal Shelter, a high kill shelter, were taken to a field and shot. This crime, once exposed, has received national attention, prompting a SLED investigation (currently still on-going), petitions and rallies. picked up the story:

I grew up in Chesterfield County. I love dogs. After reading the story and researching shelter dog abuses, I decided to start fostering. Originally, my goal was to foster twenty-two dogs in honor of the Chesterfield 22. Then, I found out that in Richland County, where I’m currently a resident, each family of four would have to adopt twenty-eight dogs in order for the shelter to be a no-kill shelter. We are a family of four. So, now the goal has moved to twenty-eight.

And I should mention other goals: to keep my husband, my kids, my job, my sanity, etc. throughout the process.