A short time ago we started fostering small dogs for the CaliCan Rescue Foundation. They are a wonderful non-profit organization that brings small, unwanted dogs up from California to get a new lease on life in Edmonton. Our first foster, Cinn, was adopted on August 16th and promptly renamed Sam. He was a cute little chihuahua but not exactly the type of dog I would have wanted to keep for myself. First off, he was male, and secondly, he kept trying to eat our cat Bubba!
This week I’ve been getting to know Sandy – a 2+ year old chihuahua mix (perhaps terrier?) – who’s had quite the interesting life so far. The shelter she was being housed at burnt down when the CaliCan Founders were in California to pick up dogs that were slated to be euthanized so they made some last minute room in their plans and rescued her as well. After one adoption fell through, she remained with Rene and Kari waiting for her forever home. We don’t know too much about her history – so I’m hoping Rene and Kari can keep me honest and correct anything I’ve gotten wrong here – but she seems to have perhaps been abused somewhere along her short life.
Me, I’m a sucker for sweet tempered dogs who’ve had a rough start. Our oldest (Fenris is 13+ years old now) was severely abused, underweight, and terrified of men when we adopted her. Hypnos (now 6+) was a throw away dog. Animal control found him and the rest of his litter mates in Elk Island park wandering around campgrounds. He was the only one to survive 4-5 months in the wild.
Zoe (greek for “Life”) is a gentle and sweet dog who needed a forever home. She’s not the usual dog I’d pick. I’ve learned that I definitely have a type when it comes to breeds. Usually I’m all about shepherds. However, she’s got a gentle temperment and, giant bonus, seems to have no interest in making a snack out of our remaining cat Bubba (13+ years).
Drew and I have talked a lot over the past few years about getting another dog. Fenris is getting older and may soon go off to the great dog park in the sky. Hypnos will be devastated when that time comes. Since they day we brought him home he has been fast friends with Fenris and he’s never been alone. When she has a bad day and doesn’t want to move around much now, he doesn’t want to leave her side. When Fenris was younger, perhaps about 10, I had considered getting a puppy. At the time, Drew thought it was too soon to get another dog but we both agreed that Hypnos would need to bond with another dog long before Fenris passes away (hopefully not for years and in her sleep) or he might just pine away without her. And I, who have a type bias when it comes to dogs, wanted an Alsation (GSD). Drew wanted a smaller dog, but one that had some shepherd in it, perhaps about the same size as Fenris and Hypnos (45-55 lbs). He thought an Alsation would be far too big four our little mouse house. He’s probably right.
Fast forward 3 years. Fenris is getting much older and it shows in her walking and a bit in her personality. She’s getting old and crotchety like me. She doesn’t like long walks anymore and prefers to just toddle around the block before yanking your arm out in her haste to come home. Some days she doesn’t seem to want to get out of her dog bed in the morning. On colder days she doesn’t move around much and last winter was very hard on her. I expect this winter will be the same.
Fenris is too old now to bring a puppy into the home. She doesn’t need a little dog that can’t respect her space to crawl all over her all the time. This summer we realized that we’d waited far too long to bring a young dog into the home. Fenris could have easily handled the stress of a new puppy at 10 years old. Now it would be asking a bit much of her.
Enter my friends at CaliCan Rescue. They were in desperate need of foster homes for the dogs they are rescuing. We were in need of a dog that Hypnos could bond with. So I decided to open our home to as many fosters as we could to help out. CaliCan dogs are usually older dogs (2+ years) and are already full grown. Some have behavioural issues – but that’s old hat when you’ve had nothing but rescue dogs all your adult life – and they’re smaller breeds. Cinn/Sam was only 7lbs and 1/2 the size of our cat! Rene and Kari knew I had an ulterior motive in my generosity. They knew I was hoping to find my own little dog to rescue and keep permanently. The downside of this, of course, would be that we couldn’t foster dogs for CaliCan once I’d found one to adopt. The City of Edmonton has a very strict 3 dog maximum rule.
They brought Sandy over to my house last Sunday. We wanted to know how she’d fare in a home with a cat. At close to 20lbs, she’s much larger than Cinn/Sam was and there’s less worry about accidentally tripping over her. She’s big enough to play with Hypnos. And cuddle with him too! Oh, and she’s female. That was one of my “make or break” requirements for a new dog. I wanted a female instead of a male. One male (Hypnos) in the house is more than enough!
She was a bit skittish at first but the introduction with Bubba went well. She didn’t seem all that interested in her and Bubba was fine with that. As the cat that frequently crawls all over Hypnos and grooms him, she’s more than happy to hang out with dogs as long as they don’t try to eat her! We had a few little growly moments during the week, but overall both dog and cat are slowly warming up to each other. This was a very good sign.
Over the week we’ve all gotten to know each other better. I warned Rene when he dropped her off for her home visit that if I decided to keep Sandy, I’d be promptly renaming her Zoe. She seemed to like this idea since I could not get her to answer to Sandy at all but she immediately came running when I started calling her Zoe. Magic!
Today we are finalizing the adoption for Zoe. I sent Drew pictures of Zoe earlier in the week and spoke with him this morning about her. He’s agreed that she sounds like a good fit for our home and is eager the meet her when he’s home from his tour break in November.
As sad as I am to no longer be able to foster dogs for CaliCan, I’m thrilled to be welcoming Zoe into our home on a permanent basis.
If you’re looking for a new dog to add to your family please adopt a rescue dog and give them a second chance. For small dogs, CaliCan Rescue Foundation should be your first choice. Larger dogs (and sometimes puppies) can be adopted from HART or SCARS. All of these excellent organizations can also use foster homes for rescue dogs and, of course, financial support. Please consider helping them in any way you can.