One Month With Bella

1monthToday, Monday, is exactly one month since we picked up Bella from BARCS, and to say that she has changed a lot would be an understatement so I’d like to share her progress with you and hope to get some feedback.

Walking – She did not know how to walk.  She pulled every which way, and she was so bad at it that while attempting to walk her a day when we had a lot of snow on the ground, I ended up flat on my back while holding on for dear life to her leash and at that moment I said, “That’s it, I give up on this dog.”  Yes, I actually said that.  I never had a dog be that bad at walking.  That day while talking to my girlfriend, Cynthia, she mentioned me flat on the white snow while dressed in dark clothes and you know what we did?  We laughed like crazy.  Nowadays, Bella, for the most part, walks next to us.  That is progress:-)

Feeding – While I put their food together, at the beginning, Cynthia had to put a leash and collar to restrain her from going to the other dog’s area while they were still eating.  Bella also used to make this grunting/piggy noises that would start as soon as she saw me take our their dishes.  What about now?  She still makes those funny noises, but not until she hears the kibble going in her little dish, and we restrain her by using voice commands.

Pacing – Even after we took her out for a walk, she would pace in a frantic way.  She had a lot of anxiety and pent-up energy in her.  Now she seems to be much more relaxed and comfortable, and the amount and intensity of her pacing has greatly decreased. I love to see her walk around the house relaxed and content.

Training – Bella is attending a Basic Training class that will last 5 weeks, and to be really honest, I thought she was going to be the worst student ever.  Sorry, but that is how I really felt, but you know what?  On our first class, last Saturday, she did great.  She got almost all the commands correct, received compliments from one of the trainers, interacted well with people and one child.  I was so proud of her.

1month2Doggie manners – She almost stepped over Alex when they were sunbathing on the deck.  Right now she is more aware of her surroundings, but she still needs some fine tuning in this area.  She also, once, took a Nylabone from Alex’s mouth.  Alex just looked at me like, “What was that?”  I don’t allow Bella to do that because that can cause a fight.

I will probably start taking her to BARCS adoption events in the near future.  With that in mind, let me share this with you.  A student from Animal Behavior College told me that she volunteered for an adoption event for, I forgot the name of the organization, sorry, and the dog she was handling after a couple of hours made her hands red and raw from pulling.  That is something I want to avoid with Bella.  When she is ready to go to an adoption event, I want people to see the amazing girl she really is and not walk away because all they see is a hyperactive, crazy, out of control dog.  I will not set her up to fail.  It is up to Cynthia, Alex, and I to do the best that we can to get her ready to go to her forever home, but not until she is ready.

If I were asked, how’s it living with a foster dog?  I’d reply, “You will never have a dull moment, and you’ll have plenty of laughter, lessons learned, tears shed, frustration, and moments when you question your own sanity for embarking in such a difficult, arduous, sometimes, heartbreaking journey, but this was something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I am fortunate enough to be able to do it now.”  So, the succinct answer to your question would be, “Challenging, heartbreaking, and rewarding.”  I know, I know.  I could have started with that.  Have a great week.

29 Comments Add yours

  1. Sara Jane says:

    Reblogged this on cefni German Shepherd rescue and commented:
    If anyone is contemplating becoming a fosterer for Cefni have a little read and get a flavour of the challenges and rewards of what fostering a rescue dog.

  2. Paula says:

    Bella is one B-U-T-ful dog! You have done so much with her, i am impressed. I feed my x-foster, now mine, dog in her crate. she is not aggressive, but will take the little one’s food. i have taught her not to be food possessive. I can take any toy or food away from her, safely. I do this with all my foster dogs in case they go to homes with children. i am at the end of my rope with her walking, literally. LOL she has a bad habit of chewing her leash when walking. i got a harness that fastens to her leash on the back, so that helps a lot. if she bites the leash, we just don’t go anywhere until she stops. i know dogs need to focus on you when training. that works great in the house. she has such a high prey drive, food or nothing gets her attention to listen to me when i try loose leash walking outside. i love her dearly. we are working on some other issues, too. like jumping on ppl and barking when someone comes to the door. gotta love them. 🙂 again bella is gorgeous!

    1. Marcela says:

      Wow! You have a lot to work on. You know what? It makes me feel better. Why? They say, misery loves company, and that is so, so true:-) Bella also has a strong prey drive and her previous pet parents did not walk her so we are still working on loose leash walking. At the beginning, it was so bad that I ended up flat on the floor holding on to her leash. Nowadays she, walks next to us, but we have to make corrections for the first 20-30 minutes. After that she walks better, but she is not at a point where I think she’ll go ok with someone that does not know how to walk dogs. She has progressed a lot, but she has much more to go. I am hoping that she finds her forever home and that she improves more and more as days go by. Keep working on loose leash walking. She is the only and first dog that has taken so long to train to walk properly. Most of them pick it up pretty fast. Happy Valentine’s Day and thanks for your input and your compliments to Bella.

      1. Paula says:

        All my foster dogs have been very difficult to walk! I was beginning to think it was me. 🙂 When I got my last foster, she was scared of her collar and wanted to chew the leash. I got her used to her collar. I do not know what her last parents did to her. But I think she holds the leash in her mouth to protect herself. then she plays tug o war with it. i notice now, she grabs the leash on walks, when she gets excited. i am standing there with 65 pounds of muscle pulling me. 🙂 great work out! I can’t just let go of the leash.

      2. Marcela says:

        Lol. Omg, I am glad I am not the only feeling awful for not having Bella walk properly. She is the only dog that walked so horribly, and I am still working on it. Maybe your foster associated the leash with something unpleasant. That is just a guess. When I started to walk Bella, I realized that she probably was never walked before because even though she has beautiful brown tiny eyes, they get huge in amazement of being outdoors. She is a pit mix and nothing but muscle. 52lbs. of muscle pulling. I know how you feel, believe me:-)

      3. Paula says:

        That is great if you have only had trouble walking one dog. Sydney, my X-foster, definitely associates her collar and leash with something unpleasant. It is much harder to re-train after something has been instilled in them. Sydney is a staffy/lab/shepherd mix. She is very smart and stubborn when she wants to be. 🙂 You are doing great! Keep up the good work.

      4. Marcela says:

        Bella is my first foster dog, and although I have trained and helped pet parents with behavioral issues I can certainly say that she is truly a challenge and I am learning a lot from her. Yes, it is hard to re-train a dog after something unpleasant has happened to them, but we just have to keep going on, right? The smartest dog I’ve met so far happen to be a GSD, Luca, and a gorgeous Aussie, Walter. They learn so quickly. If you don’t mind my asking, how many dogs have you foster so far?

      5. Paula says:

        No, not at all. This last one was 3, but i had each for nearly or over a year. my daughter fostered for a small dog rescue and fostered 5 within 6 months. she adopted her last foster dog, too, Dec. 2012. I will be getting another foster dog at the end of feb. from a different rescue. yes, we just keep going. 🙂 the rewards are priceless!

      6. Marcela says:

        Omg, you and your daughter are, for a lack of a better word, angels. I’ve had Bella for almost 6 weeks. Will I foster again in the future? Yes, but I am not sure if I’ll do it right away. Why? My girl is about to turn 12 years old in May and I don’t want to stress her about by bringing a dog that needs a lot of work in the mix. Alex is amazing with dogs although she prefers humans. Thanks to her, I have been able to rehabilitate dogs that no one else wanted to pet sit for or walk for that matter, but at almost 12 years old I think she really needs a break. Keep up the amazing work you and your daughter are doing.

      7. Paula says:

        Thank you for the compliment! I hear exactly what you’re saying Sydney was going to be my last dog from this rescue because it is a pit rescue and the dogs were too hyper and powerful to be around my Lexis. They were not mean or aggressive. Syd would run into her and I felt bad for Lexis. Unfortunately Lexis passed before Syd left, so I adopted Sydney. She was now an even bigger part of my family. 🙂

      8. Marcela says:

        Wow! Bella, when we got her was a little chubby, but now she is solid and when she runs into Alex, which was only once, she can easily knock her down. Alex is also recuperating from an ACL injury so after Bella I’ll probably stop fostering for a while. We’ll see. I am not 100% sure yet. I just want to make sure that her senior years are uneventful and relaxed.

  3. Louie is a great walker, he doesn’t pull or go nuts when he sees another dog. Someone at Saving Grace must’ve spent some time with him while he was there. Dudley and Zoe were not good walkers. They pulled and once when an “ankle snapper” was running loose with her human desperately chasing her, D&Z pulled me to my knees and when they lunged, my chest hit the ground and they were off. Slowly, but they dragged me across a yard before I got them under control. I left knee and boob prints in the grass LOL. Good Luck, I know Bella will be fine with you, Cynthia and Alex to help her.

    1. Marcela says:

      Lol. Omg, thanks for sharing. I am so sorry, but just picturing all that you’ve wrote had me laughing. Poor you. Well, they say misery loves company, therefore I am glad other pet parents have had their own “walking accident” with their dogs. A knee and boob print? Ok., I could not have come up with that. You are the best:-)

  4. thestormie says:

    She’s so beautiful, and you and she are doing so well. We had a pittie at our shelter that just got worse until he went to the right foster. He’s great now and we have high hopes.

    1. Marcela says:

      Thanks. I am so glad he went to a foster home. Shelter dogs can greatly benefit from being in the right foster home, and they have a greater chance at being adopted.

  5. edjessie says:

    Congratulations on your success with Bella! Like children, dogs require love, patience, but most of all consistency. Good luck with Bella’s progress😉!

    1. Marcela says:

      Thanks a million for all your encouragement and well wishes:-)

  6. Will and Eko says:

    Awesome work! And great progress considering the short amount of time. The reward is well worth the effort.

    1. Marcela says:

      Thanks Will, and Eko, of course:-)

  7. fredrieka says:

    I adopted Fred in May 2013. I took her to obedience training for many of the same reason you list her. To socialize her was important because my goal was to use her as a therapy dog. She would fling herself at the other dogs. It took a while to get her past that. I posted something on my blog you may be interested in I called it the perp walk. Fredrieka still paces once in awhile but for the most part we can get her to settle. As of October she is an official Therapy Dog. You are doing a great service. I posted pictures today of our visit to one of the facilities we visit. Take a look.

    1. Marcela says:

      Wow! I am so glad Fred is a Therapy dog. Congratulations to both of you. Thanks.

  8. I really wish the people who had fostered my two puppies had taken this much time with them. I was handed two puppies that were abused and have so many issues that I am not prepared to handle. But I have commited to them and will somehow figure it all out.

    1. fredrieka says:

      Ask around in your are for an obedience clinic which will help socialize them and teach you some ways to have them settle. It takes time but it is so very worth it. If you need pointers leave me a message I would be glad to help with the little I know. One thing I found to help is a web site It gives insight to breeds and their quirks and yes you will have separation issues with those who have been abused and neglected . No different then children

      1. thank you for the link. I will check it out. I have been told that the were boxer/aussie shepard mixes? And apparently my older dog had issued I did not see in her as an only dog—-

      2. Marcela says:

        There will be things that you’ll only be able to see in your dog once he/she lives with other dogs.

      3. fredrieka says:

        Fredrieka is Greyhound/boxer
        The aussie loves to have a job, actually needs to have a job. They are GREAT at agility. Fred and I do agility in our front yard. I tip over a couple of chairs and tell her to jump. I put slender posts in the ground and am teaching her to weave. Learn how to teach is the important thing. Special treat, fun voice, when they do something right a happy YES!
        Boxers with swat at your feet and absolutely love doing. We play broom where I touch her toes and we dance that way.
        Fred and I took a month off due to flu season. She is a Therapy dog. I noticed within 2 weeks a change in her needing more attention and such. We went back to work yesterday and she is back to her old self. Boxers and Aussies are extremely intelligent. They need a job. The want to learn new things. Very awesome fun dogs you will have fun learning with them

      4. Marcela says:

        Totally agreee with you. Boxers and Aussies need a job otherwise they’ll get in trouble.

      5. fredrieka says:

        they are fun to train and watch as they enjoy agility

    2. Marcela says:

      I am sorry to hear that. I also had a pet parent that got a dog from an organization that placed him with a foster family, but when I went to take him out for a walk he looked terrified. I asked the pet parent about it and the information she was given was quite limited. She is an amazing pet parent and her dog is nothing like the one that she got. When I finally decided to foster a dog, I knew that I would do everything possible to get her to a point where she knows how to live in a home environment. That is what I am doing with Bella along with Basic Training and addressing some behavior issues that are starting to go away.

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