Monday, April 6, 2015

The State Of The Pack, April 2015

Guardians Of My Gate

Tanya the Destroyer has to find a new home. No, not like right now, but I don’t think she’s a good match for us, at least not right now. The pack has been destabilized by loss, by grief, and we, collectively, aren’t ready to fall in love with another dog right yet. There’s a lot to be said for this little girl dog, I mean more than just her ability to tear large things into much smaller pieces. But there’s also more work to be done here than can be done by a wounded pack. The family is not yet whole. It’s not Tanya, it’s us.

Yet Tanya is still a dog and she is still at least the greater part of a Pit Bull, and I am of the Pibble People. She loves to play and she loves to play hard, and I do so love playing hard with a Pibble. Tanya learned quickly how hard not to bite when playing with a frail human and she seems to enjoy showing off that skill, “See! I can bite you just hard enough!” and she means well too.

Of course, Lilith the Aloof doesn’t like her a bit. Oddly, Lilith is the one dog one earth none of the fosters, not even Tyger Linn, has ever challenged, even though Lilith is quite laid back. Tanya seems to want to prove to Tyger Linn she can push her around and this will end poorly. But no one messes with Lilith. A curled lip and a low growl is usually enough to send the fosters looking for the crate or easier prey.

Wrex was as close as I got to a foster dog with zero issues. He had come from a good home and they gave him up because their cat kept trying to kill him, poor puppy. But each foster since then has walked in with one or more issues caused by being alone, being abandoned, being abused, or simple neglect. Tanya the Destroyer is no different. She has no manners and isn’t used to trying to function within a family or a pack. Tyger Linn came in the same “gimme mine” attitude and she’s finally learned there is enough for everyone and everyone gets enough. Tanya still tries to steal food from her sisters and it’s a pain to try to keep her from it. Worse, she runs from me when she knows she’s done wrong and that’s a hard thing to keep a dog from doing. She also doesn’t like the crate and she uses an odd day even day system as to if she is leash trained or not. That I really do not understand. Saturday we walked around the property and everything was right in the world and she acted like she has been walked on a leash all her life. Sunday it was a scene from the “Exorcist”.

Since December Tyger Linn has gone from a combative street fighter who grabbed treats and ran like hell with them to a slightly feisty little sister who likes body warmth when she sleeps. It’s taken a lot of time and a lot of training and a lot of love to negotiate with Tyger to talk her out of her tried and true defense mechanisms and to bring her to trust that I will take care of her. The introduction of a quasi-feral Tanya who has no manners has pushed Tyger back into the street, just a little, and it has been destabilizing. We need to find this girl a home and we need to get back to our routine for a little while.

The fostering has to continue. Tyger Linn and Lilith both have to understand that fostering, and only fostering, saved their lives. Lilith was the first dog I got from a rescue group and Tyger Linn was my first foster failure. But Tyger Linn was either going to stay with me or be put down. Her issues were too deep to be adopted out to anyone without the right space and the right place.  Hickory Head is a great place for the damaged and the deranged to find a home, it would seem.

I don’t do a very good job at selling fostering as a hobby do I? It’s hard. Sometimes, the needs of a new dog, fresh out of the shelter and right off the streets confound all logic and reason. I don’t intend to lie to people about what all of this means. It is hard work. It’s never easy to bring a stranger into a family. There’s going to be some arguments and there are going to be fights. Tyger Lynn nearly killed Sam. Hell, Lilith nearly killed Sam. Sam nearly killed Lucas. You have to be ready for anything and everything all the time with a new dog.

Fostering is all the difficulty of owning a new dog with few of the instant rewards. You have to house train a foster, leash train a foster, you have to teach the dog to be nice, to sit, to listen to you, and then someone adopts the dog and all you have left is an empty crate and an aching heart.

But you will save lives. Every dog that leaves your home and leaves your heart finds a family. Every family that takes one of your dogs keeps that love alive. Every time you take a dog into your home there is another space open in the shelter. Every time you solve a problem with a dog or take care of one of its issues you learn a little more about how to do it right next time. You learn to live with those discarded souls that want only a home and a family to love. You are their guide. You are a guardian angel in the truest sense of that term. In a life where most people pass by strays and the unwanted never to look back, you are the front line between slow death and deep compassion.

Take Care,



  1. I don't think the dog rescue world could function without fosterers. It is admirable that you have continued to give of yourself during your time of grief.
    I hope it get easier for you soon.

  2. Hey, don't you know Pibbles are vicious killers, it's in all papers.
    I don’t see that it’s possible to foster more than one at a time, no matter how big your property or your heart. Unfortunately they come by the litter.

    1. I wasn't looking to become an All Girl All Star All Pibble Pack, Bruce.

      But I admit they kinda grow on ,me