Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adventures in Fostering

Reggie arrived on a  Tuesday, freshly neutered and having spent the better part of the week in the shelter. This may have actually been an improvement over his previous not-so-great living conditions. He was surprised to be invited inside the house and reluctant to accept, but once inside, busied himself inspecting every corner.

He was especially fascinated by Tucker's basket full of toys. He soon settled onto a dog bed (we have one in almost every room) to chew on a plush "tree stump" that comes with squeaky squirrels.

After an hour or so, we wrangled him into a harness for a walk where we would hopefully introduce him to Tucker. He pulled relentlessly on the leash and peed on everything within reach in a typical male dog fashion. The meet-and-greet involved lunging and growling, so we opted to keep the dogs separated via a gate between kitchen and living room. Reggie could have the kitchen and garage, Tucker could have the rest of the house. One at a time in the back yard.

This is our first venture into dog fostering and despite being responsible owners of a well-mannered dog, we were immediately and woefully unprepared for the demands of an unruly pit bull. Foster friends provided a crate (that after a week remains unoccupied), harness (necessary to control a strong dog), and gate tall enough to not be jumped over. Our yard contains Tucker who has no desire to go anywhere (we adopted him from the Humane Society and it didn't take him long to figure out this was a pretty good place to be), but there are numerous structural weaknesses that even a novice escape artist could crack.

Having lived in his own poop for quite sometime, Reggie was smelly and in need of a bath. But the instructions from the neutering demanded no baths, running or jumping for nearly two weeks. I used a warm washcloth to give him a sponge bath so we could stand to pet him.

Reggie's most apparent trait was a strong desire to hump. Give him a hint of attention and he wraps himself tight around your leg. This was mildly amusing until I was in the back yard with him and thought I might not break free. After a mighty struggle, I regained control and sent him to the garage for "time out."

At suppertime, I gave him a scoop of Tucker's food and sat with him while he ate. He seemed to enjoy the company and didn't react at all when I rubbed his face and had my hands near his food. When his bowl was licked clean, he expressed his extreme gratitude by trying desperately to hump my leg again.

That first night was a little rough. We couldn't allow Reggie in the bedroom with Tucker and weren't sure what he might destroy if left alone in the kitchen, so we relegated him to the garage with a bowl of water and cozy dog bed. We learned that he has a tendency to squeak when he wants something, but he finally settled down and we didn't hear much from him til morning.

I had to leave early the next morning for a four-day work trip, so set my alarm in time to help with dog duties before I left. Scott did the usual routine for Tucker (breakfast NOW) and I let Reggie outside and fed him breakfast. He was eager for attention and responded by jumping up and giving kisses. The most-used phrase in our house this week was "Reggie, OFF!"

I was sad to leave the sweet boy so soon but knew he would be in good hands with Scott. We also have a neighbor who owns a pit bull and agreed to come by every day to let Tucker in and Reggie out.

Most disturbingly, he had an occasional cough that worsened overnight. He was hacking continuously and coughing up piles of foamy mucus. Foster friends to the rescue again: Charles picked up Reggie and took him to the vet. I was anxious to see him again on Friday evening.

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