There are good days and bad…

There are good days and bad days, but mostly good days.  Some days crazy, hectic and wild… but still good.  I have to say, I don’t really remember many ‘bad’ days of fostering.  I think we had our second really hard day a week ago.  (Our first really hard day was sending UPS back to BARCS after she came to us during Hurricane Irene).

Last Monday I did something stupid.  After only having Ariel for 24 hours I allowed the dog walker to take both she and Knox for a walk together… but they never made it out the front door.  Ariel was excited (as was Knox, I’m sure), and though I wasn’t here I can only assume that her excitement turned into aggression and went after Knox.  Now Ariel is a hefty gal!  And she was cooped up in the shelter for quite some time.  Clearly her doggie manners (or lack thereof) got the best of her, but what a humbling day for us humans.  Knox was pretty tore up, but he is recouping just fine!

It took me a long time (a week in the blog world IS a long time) to share this with everyone.  Mainly because the last thing I want anyone to do is jump on the ‘aggressive pitbull’ thing.  What we’re trying to do… save this type of dog from the dead end road of the shelter, and from the bad reputation they already have… how would this possibly not do any more harm?  But the truth is, well, I’ve always promised to share the truth here.  This adventure of fostering is quite the adventure, and we’ve learned so much, how could I not share this difficult lesson with all of you???

The other reason it took me so long is the obvious huge mistake the humans (ehem… ME) made.  We get a big F (for FAILED).  For those of you who don’t foster, there’s this introduction period that is important.  Crucial. Not to be skipped!  We’ve had such luck (9 angels in our home) with our past fosters that we let our guard down, big time…and it bit us in the butt.  We’ll Knox’s butt specifically.  Our boy is a trooper and the morning after their blowout, he went running up to Ariel’s crate, waiting for me to let her out with his tail wagging like crazy.  (IF you were curious, I didn’t!)  Another day in the life, apparently.

We learned some important lessons, or were reminded of the ones we already knew.  Ariel is not here anymore simply because I think it wasn’t a great match.  She’ll probably do best in a home as an only dog… and what’s wrong with that anyway?  We’re an only dog household if you don’t count the fosters here and there.  It’s a limitation we have, not having a yard and living in a fairly small rowhouse.  It doesn’t make it impossible, but it makes this type of situation particularly hard.  And as soon as Knox is all healed up we’ll have a new foster in no time.

Lesson learned.


25 thoughts on “There are good days and bad…

  1. Jess,
    You did a beautiful job of conveying what I know was such a difficult time for you – and Knox and Ariel! It was brave of you to let others learn from your experience even if it was tough for you to share!

  2. That’s tough — we had an incident like this with our first foster Lollie Wonderdog, also because we tried to go too fast. We kept her, and eventually she and Chick were just fine together. We still had to moderate their interactions and avoid high levels of arousal, but I think it did a lot for her (and for him!) to be able to learn to be together. She now lives in a forever home as an only dog, but has several doggie friends who she plays with!

  3. Thank you for being honest about your experience. It would be great if rescuing and fostering dogs was all doggy kisses and smiles, but the reality is it is hard work. Dogs have quirks, allergies, and misbehaving sessions. But the positive does greatly outweigh the negative. What you are doing, helping these dogs has no words. These adorable creatures need love, and are insanely lucky to have a kind, giving person like you open your home to them.

    Do you have any more information about the introduction period? Any tips? Thanks!

  4. Thanks for sharing this Jess. It’s very brave and respectable for you to write about this to the blog world! You are a great foster parent and learning from this incident will only make you even better. Say hi to Mr. Know for me!

  5. Oh Jess, I heard about the incident with Know and Ariel last week. I am glad to hear that Know is on the mend. I hope Ariel is doing well too and that she is with a new foster. That had to be so scarey. We have Indy (Winter) at home now, as a foster. And although he gets along very, very well with the other three dogs, we have yet to let him out and about in the house. I hope that day will come soon, but I just don’t think they are ready yet, and I know Tim and I aren’t.

  6. Thanks for sharing Jess – what a scarey day. So glad to hear that Knox is doing better and healing! What a trooper! What you all do is amazing, and kudos to you for thinking ahead to the next foster!

  7. Awwww Jess! My heart still breaks for you reading this because I know how upsetting this entire experience has been for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you can look at the positive that you were trying to have her not be crated all day and having a dog walker come in, she lived with other dogs which makes me think immediately, ok she doesn’t hate dogs (even though that’s not always the case, it’s still a natural thought), they did GREAT together during their first meeting… Honestly if you ask any foster parent who has been doing it for a while everyone has “their story”, that one awful incident that became a life lesson in future fostering. We learn from it, accept that we do our absolute best for our dogs and the fosters, and know something to do/not to do for the next foster, or two, or three. Personally, I have about 3 of those stories, I am a slow learner… 😉 But over 40 fosters later I have lots of lessons and lots of lives saved through those lessons, you will too! You guys do an amazing thing saving all of the dogs that you do and showing us all your journey along the way, keep your chin up! You and Brian are amazing foster parents!! Knox is an awesome foster brother, too 🙂

  8. I adopted a handicapped pit from BARCS two years ago. I hired a trainer and a dog walker and it took a while but now he is just a big love bug. And over this past summer I sucessfully fostered two pitties who went to wonderful loving homes. (I miss them) I also helped rescue two little rug rats who went to their furever homes.
    But I had a similar experience with my third foster. I let my guard town, my pit jumped on my foster and he, naturally, defended himself. I was the one who got hurt breaking up the battle but it was nothing that a little ampicillin couldn’t fix. As long as the dogs were not seriously injured I didn’t care.
    But the woman who was mentoring me took my foster to an adoption event and then retuned him to BARCS – for the third time. He was put on the euthansia list because I let my guard down, my dog attacked him and he defended himself. It was completely my mistake and I accept the blame.
    So now I am responsible for the death of a pittie who just wanted to cuddle and be loved. BARCS does not want to deal with me anymore and the whole resuce network I was building has cut me out.
    Apparently I could not make one mistake no matter how many successes I had.
    I learned a lot because of my mistake. I would never make it again. I cry almost everyday for the sweet dog that lost it’s life because of me and the others that will die because I can’t foster anymore.
    My heart is broken.
    I wish all of the other fosters success. I have fallen in love with pit bulls and maybe some day when I am not paying the vet bills for two handicapped dogs – I also have a crippled lab – I can adopt another pittie.
    It make me happy to read about your successes. I just wanted to share MY experience.

    • I think that if you are truly involved in animal rescue and throw your heart into it, it is inevitable that there will be some situation where you couldn’t help as much as you wanted to or something goes wrong and you’ll blame yourself. That dog would have been euthanized sooner without you, most likely–you can’t blame yourself because of a system that penalizes pit bulls so unfairly for being who they are.
      I’ve been through a few rescue groups myself, but eventually found my way back into fostering with people I can work with. I hope you’ll give it another shot. shotshot

      • I love the rescue we work with— so much so that they were able to do some switching around and Ariel is now in a fabulous foster home where she gets to be the only dog some days (other days there’s total separation). Ariel’s going to get lots of training and assessing. She absolutely a doll with humans and will need to be adopted as an only pet, but hopefully her forever family is somewhere out there… and of course we’ll have a new foster as soon as Knox is all healed up!

    • Judy, don’t be so hard on yourself… we all make mistakes..not sure if what you did could even be called a mistake.. it could have gone the other way and nothiing could have happened.. sounds like you dogs have a great mommy who cares…

  9. Recently found your blog and love it! Your life and fostering situation reminds me so much of my husband and I. I am so sorry to read about Ariel, I know how hard it is to have to give back a foster- but sometimes it is far more important to look out for your own residence pooches best interest. Keep up the great work, can’t wait to read about a new foster!

  10. OMG–I’m so glad I found your blog! I had such a similar experience recently, and haven’t written about it in detail because I hope my blog will be read by potential adopters, etc. But the fact that your pitties and my pitties had a little scrappy doesn’t mean that they are bad people, it just means that they needed a little more space than they had at the time.

    We all make mistakes, and sometimes when we try to save as many dogs as we can accommodate, we don’t have enough time or attention left over to do every little thing by the book every minute. And of course its natural to assume that since things have always been OK, they will continue in the same fashion.

    Anyway, thank you for the inspiration and the camaraderie. Don’t let this scare you off fostering for good. I see stories like ours–where Ariel and Knox, and in my case, Fozzie and Sandy, were ready to play right after getting into it with each other–as further testament to the resilience and good nature of this breed.

    • I’m amazed beyond belief about the support and responses that have come out of this post. Individual emails, checking in on Knox and Ariel, support for us, it this tough adventure. The community is amazing. I’m so glad you found us, Kristen! We’re going to go find you now too. What a wonderful extended community this is. 🙂

      • I feel the same way–it’s so great! And I posted on my blog some directions to the amazing hike we took 🙂 You can find others on my blog too, under “local hikes”…thanks for visiting!

  11. Aww Jess 😦 I’m so sorry to hear about this. I think about it all the time – how lucky I’ve been with every single one of my fosters. When you’re so lucky for so long, it’s extremely easy to let your guard down so don’t beat yourself up about it. It was an honest mistake. I’m so glad Know is feeling better and that you shared this story with everyone. Fostering isn’t always easy, but it’s SUCH a wonderful thing that it makes those bad times seem a little less important in the grand scheme of it all. You’re awesome… remember that!! 🙂

  12. I hope my lover boy Knox is feeling better. We were so upset to hear our sweet boy was on the wrong end of a situation. He is a lover and not a fighter. He must have been so stressed to have to defend himself. It is not his nature to hurt a fly.

    We will give him extra love, kisses and tug games when we see him next.

    I hope the humans are recovering as well.


  13. Dog-dog interactions are so stressful. With four permanent (terrier!) residents here, plus a foster dog most of the time, it’s very rare that everyone gets along. Normally, they get along enough that I don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving a door open or not latching a crate properly (which is a huge relief!) but there is still tension and strife that I don’t like.

    Managing dogs is hard work, and Knox sounds like he copes with his turbulent life very well. Every day with a foster is a lesson learned.

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