Griffin, fostered by Melissa Mariner-Loos for Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue in Southampton, Pa., after his surgery
Our friends at Mohawk Flooring are dedicated to helping find homes for pets in need. Not only do they donate $2 to the Petfinder Foundation for each new “like” on Facebook (“like” Mohawk’s Facebook page here!), Mohawk has also very generously gifted five wonderful pet foster parents around the United States with a new pet-stain-resistant SmartStrand rug.
Congratulations to Melissa Mariner-Loos from Pennsylvania, Billie Jo and Ray Weatherford from Indiana, Cindy Gruppen from Michigan, Lisa D’Annibale from New York, and Farrah Ader from Maryland! And thank you, Mohawk! We asked each foster family to send us the story of their favorite foster pet. Here they are, in their own words!
Foster Success Story: Griffin
Fostered for: Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue, Southampton, Pa.
Story submitted by: Melissa Mariner-Loos
Griffin [pictured above] is an approximately 2-year-old Pit Bull pup who has seen more than any dog his age should see in a lifetime.
This very sweet boy most likely lived an abusive life from the start (possibly being used as a bait dog). He was found tied to a pole at a church in Camden City, N.J., left for dead with the left side of his beautiful face and neck area hanging off and terribly infected. He had pellet wounds all over him. His ears had been chewed raw, along with part of his mouth. He was extremely emaciated at only 39 lbs., so it’s safe to say a good meal was not part of his past.
Fortunately, his past has not broken his spirit! Griffin is the biggest snuggler. From the moment Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue picked him up from the shelter, he started wagging his tail and giving kisses. When you look at him, it is so clear that all he wants is to be loved. Even with all the pain he was in, he has an amazingly sweet and gentle disposition.
After being seen by our rescue vet, it was determined he needed reconstructive surgery on his facial and neck areas. Because the wound was so infected, it was flushed out for a week prior to surgical repair. Griffin was also anemic from so much blood loss that we wanted to be sure his blood work was normal before he underwent anesthesia.
Griffin is now at a healthy weight, neutered, microchipped, heartworm tested (negative), up-to-date on all shots, and on monthly heartworm preventative. He has made a 100% recovery and continues to live a happy and healthy (not to mention SPOILED) life with his foster “failure” parents!
We consider Griffin’s story to be the reason Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue continues to do what we do.–Melissa Mariner-Loos, founder and president, Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue
Rudy and his forever mom
Foster Success Story: Rudy
Fostered for: D & R Rescue, Inc., Paris, Ill.
Story submitted by: Ray and Billie Jo Weatherford
While we have many, many stories to share about the wonderful little foster dogs we are so privileged to help find forever homes — stories that will bring tears to your eyes — we have one story about a tiny red Dachshund named Rudy that makes us smile over and over!
Rudy was abandoned at a rest area on I-70. He obviously had lived a very hard life, perhaps on the road, perhaps not — only Rudy could tell us his past history of the last two or three years … but of course, he’s not talking!
Rudy was brought into the Doberman and Rottweiler Rescue for help. He was flea-infested and his hair was dry and flaky. His general overall condition was not healthy. He was groomed and after a quick trip to the chop shop, where he became a sports model, he was ready to come to our home for fostering before being put up for adoption.
Rudy was a small, red doxie, standing all of seven inches off the ground and very much full of pride. One would never know just many people he could touch in such a “short” period of time. He came to stay with Milo and Pearl, both doxies too but more than three times his size. I need to interject here that Rudy does NOT know size — please keep that in mind. He just knows what he wants, and being a doxie, he usually figures out how to get it!
All our foster dogs sleep in their crate at night; this makes their transition to their forever homes much easier for the dogs as well as the new owners in the event they must crate during the day or at night. It’s a rule we follow closely. Well, Rudy wasn’t about to embrace this new rule. Anybody who has a doxie knows they are well known for snuggling far down under the covers by your feet. When Milo and Pearl scurried under the covers at bedtime, tiny Rudy was right with them; he hardly made a wrinkle in the blankets. I think at that point we knew Rudy was different and a “tad” headstrong. Needless to say, the crate rule went by the wayside.
Rudy’s potty habits needed LOTS of work — I guess at the rest stop, any place works for potty. So we spent a couple of weeks working on what’s good and what’s bad. He seemed confused by the new rules and would cock his little head as if to listen, but he wasn’t sure he was buying into the new house rule: Peeing on Mama’s floor IS NOT GOOD! Whew, was he headstrong.
We retired on a small mini-farm outside of town. It’s located on a dead-end road to a creek in one direction and a walk park in the other, so the location is ideal for our twice-daily walks of the dogs. It was on these walks that Rudy met his now owner, a friend of our neighbor. The neighbor walks her dog with our dogs, and her friend just walked along for fun. Soon she was walking Rudy to help us out. Rudy didn’t know that walking could be so fun; he did lots of smells in the wooded area and learned to howl like a typical doxie. He pulled like a bull when he wanted to investigate something new, planting his tiny paws and throwing all 7 lbs. down to tug! Again, I think we knew Rudy was different and really headstrong. During these walks, the lady fell in love with Rudy and he with her.
Well, as we all know, timing is everything. The rescue called and said “Rudy has a forever home.” He would be getting adopted on Saturday. When everyone gathered to walk that evening, I said that Rudy had a forever home and would be getting adopted, providing they liked him, on Saturday. You could have heard a pin drop. The lady had planned on telling us that evening that she had fallen in love with Rudy and wanted to adopt him. She had tears in her eyes, our neighbor had tears and I could hardly swallow as I could feel tears welling up in my eyes too. They were perfect together and Rudy loved her so. I contacted the rescue immediately but unfortunately the adopters had very good references and the couple were set on getting Rudy and that was that — Rudy would be gone! No more walks at the farm, no more snuggles; Rudy would be GONE!
While we are always thrilled when foster dogs get their own forever homes, it’s always a little sad when they move on, but this time more so. The next day when everyone was telling Rudy goodbye, I lifted his little ear and whispered, “Rudy, be bad and come back to us. She loves you so much and wants you to live with her forever.” Well, I believe that Rudy believed that too!
On Saturday morning I waited and worried about Rudy. Did they like him? Did he interact with them? Finally the call came and the rescue reported back that the new adopters loved Rudy and he seemed to respond well to them, which is always a good sign. It all sounded like a wonderful ending for a foster dog and Rudy’s new home would be happy forever; he would be loved. Well, there’s something we knew but didn’t really understand about Rudy: He’s EXTREMELY headstrong!
Sunday afternoon, one day later, I received a call from the rescue. The new adopters had called and had a problem: Rudy, all 7 lbs., had chewed through their bathroom door. They had gone to church and left Rudy secured in the bathroom. Rudy decided he didn’t like being locked up, so he chewed through the hollow-core door. I guess living at the rest stop trained Rudy never to be locked up! I said, “That can’t be possible — he’s so tiny; he’s only 7 lbs. and seven inches tall! Remember me mentioning that Rudy does NOT know size? This proved it. The rescue said, “Billie Jo, they sent pictures, and he did it!” GADS! OH NO!! Needless to say, after further discussion with the rescue, the recent adopters decided they wanted to trade Rudy back in for a less-destructive, not-so-active dog! What??? While it truly isn’t funny, I was thrilled beyond words. He did exactly like I, his foster mom, had whispered in his ear the morning he left. That tiny little headstrong doxie was coming back!
I drove to the rescue (one hour each way) to get him. I didn’t alert Rudy’s now-forever mom that he was coming back, nor that she was going to get to adopt him. I just showed up at her door with Rudy in my arms and asked if she was interested in adopting a tiny little loving and very headstrong doxie! We half-laughed and half-cried as I told her what he had done. She was elated and Rudy was adopted that very day … three years ago! Rudy has a perfect home, is an only dog, and has never been crated or locked in a room since! The best part is, we get to see him and occasionally get to feel him snuggled by our feet when he sleeps over. He still doesn’t make a wrinkle in the blankets!–Ray and Billie Jo Weatherford
Macy as a puppy
Foster Success Story: Macy
Fostered for: Humane Society of Muskegon County, Muskegon, Mich.
Story submitted by: Cindy Gruppen
Having to choose just one story to share is a daunting task for a foster parent. Every foster dog has touched my soul and left their paw prints on my heart. But there is one very special girl that completely changed my life. She is the one that started it all and it is her story that I feel most compelled to tell.
It was late in my 12-hour shift as a 911 dispatcher on Saturday, March 12, 2011, when a call came into our center from a citizen in need of animal control. The caller’s daughter had left him a litter of puppies that he had no interest in keeping. Unfortunately, our animal control officer was done for the day and the caller was advised to contact the county shelter on Monday. Unhappy with his circumstances, the caller threatened to “take care” of the puppies himself. When his words were repeated to the room, I couldn’t help myself. I called him back, not caring how many puppies he had or what breed they were, I was not going to allow him to hurt those innocent babies.
During my conversation with the caller I was informed that there were eight 3-month-old pit bull-mix puppies that had been left with him because his daughter no longer wanted them. The mother of the puppies had been killed by the owners for attacking another dog while protecting her puppies. I was absolutely disgusted and I knew those poor things would meet the same fate if they were not removed from his house. Arrangements were made for my husband and myself to pick the puppies up after my shift and I would get them to the county shelter on Monday.
When we arrived at the apartment, the puppies were locked in a bathroom where the homeowner had been keeping them. To my surprise, the puppies were much younger than he had stated; they were hardly old enough to be away from their mother. My husband and I gathered all eight puppies and headed for home. What in the world was I going to do with eight puppies and the two dogs of my own? Well, it was just for two days … so we thought!
First thing on Monday, I contacted the county shelter and explained my situation to them. Unfortunately for me, they did not have space for eight 6-week-old puppies. The shelter was going to work on finding foster homes for the puppies but could not promise a place for all of them. Now I was the one going into panic mode. I had promised my husband that the puppies would be gone that Monday, but that was not going to be the case. In the week following, the shelter had found foster homes for six of the eight puppies. It was then decided that our family would foster the remaining two, Gunnar and Macy.
It did not take long for Gunnar to find his forever home, leaving his sister Macy the last of the puppies to find her own place. My heart ached for her and it was then that I realized she had already found her family, with us. The thought of her leaving was unbearable, so we decided to make it official. On May 10, 2011, we signed the adoption contract and Macy became a part of our family permanently.
I realize Macy’s story may be typical of many shelter animals and foster dogs; however, it is the events that followed my experience with her that make this story so much more. Our fostering experience was so rewarding, we opened up our home to more dogs in need and it didn’t take long for me to realize what I wanted to do. Almost one year to the day later, I turned in my resignation from my position as a 911 dispatcher. That 10-year journey had come to an end for me and it was time to start a new one. I wanted to save more lives — the ones with four legs! I left dispatch and began volunteering more at the shelter while continuing to foster when needed.
Our family has opened our home and our hearts to 32 fosters since that day in March,h and Macy has been here to greet and comfort every one of them. Some have stayed for weeks and some for years and are still waiting for that perfect family to come along. We have affectionately named our home “Macy’s Grace,” a place where all are welcome while waiting to begin their new journeys.
Thank you for your time and consideration and all that you do to help the abandoned, neglected and unwanted find their new leash on life.–Cindy Gruppen
Betsy Ross with her new dads, Jason and Brian, the day she was adopted
Foster Success Story: Betsy Ross
Fostered for: Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS)
Story submitted by: Farrah Ader
It’s hard to pick a favorite foster story, but I think Betsy Ross is a great story of how fostering can make a difference! In January of 2013, I had three of my own dogs and was already fostering my first BARCS foster dog, Rockstar. However, BARCS was low on dog space so I offered to take another foster. I went down to the shelter and was shown a few of the more urgent/long-term dogs. There were two I was considering, but Betsy Ross was more urgent, so I took her home.
Betsy had been at the shelter since the previous November. She had come in with her puppies after being attacked by another dog in her home. Betsy saw all her puppies get adopted, but she was still waiting for her forever home. She had five adoption applications put in on her, but they never followed through or didn’t work out. She was dog-social and loved being in play group or even just playing in the play yard with her favorite toy, a deflated basketball. She was sweet, friendly, and an all-around fun dog.
The day I took her home to foster, she looked like she was smiling the entire car ride back to my house. Once she settled in and recovered from her spay surgery, she quickly won everyone in our house over, although she really bonded with my son and seemed to love kids in general. They would play ball or Frisbee until both were worn out. She was definitely a higher-energy dog, and although she and Rockstar enjoyed playing together, she would often wear him out. She was such a joy to have around because she just embodied what “love for life” means. She appreciated every toy, every bit of attention and affection, and was so happy and excited about everything.
We began marketing her, and within two weeks had a few interested applicants. She met her perfect match in Jason and Brian, who had recently lost one of their dogs and fell in love with her picture when they saw it. She met them and sealed the deal, and they took her home a week later!
She has been a great addition to their house and a great playmate to their other dogs. Her adopters are also amazing, and we are friends on Facebook, where I get frequent updates with pictures and even videos of her playing in the snow or playing with their cat! They take her for walks every day, and sometimes even hikes, and are totally in love with her! Her story really shows how a great dog can be overlooked in a shelter environment, and sometimes needs the benefit of a foster home to help them get adopted and find their perfect forever home!–Farrah Ader
Matilda (right) and doggie sister Leah
Foster Success Story: Matilda
Fostered for: SPCA of Tompkins County, Ithaca, N.Y.
Story submitted by: Lisa D’Annibale
One Saturday in June of 2005 I walked into the shelter for my routine dog-walking shift and was greeted by somber staff members huddled around a wee bundle. It seems that someone had found a small black-and-white puppy, estimated to be 6–8 weeks old, on their lawn in the middle of the night during a rain storm. The puppy was hardly moving, in severe distress and in fact barely alive.
Upon first examination it was evident that she had a badly deformed front leg, but that was overshadowed by the fact that her mouth and sinus cavities were severely inflamed due to what appeared to be burns. The only explanation that could be given was that she had chewed through an electrical cord.
Thankfully, the SPCA of Tompkins County is a no-kill shelter and, even though she had only a 50/50 chance of survival, they gave her a “wait and see” status and asked me if I would take her home to foster.
For the next three days, I rocked the baby and did my best to comfort her whimpers and cries. I gave her cool water with a syringe and hand fed her bits of canned food to try to keep her strength up.
All the while I kept thinking that this puppy needed a name. I was watching TV one evening with her in my arms and a show came on about amazing dogs. One of the spotlights focused on a three-legged border collie who was an amazing agility and Frisbee-catching athlete. Her name was Mattie. I looked up Mattie and saw that it was short for Matilda, which means “strength in battle.” Since our little one had quite the fight ahead of her, Matilda she became!
The next morning I woke up to find Matilda in the front of her crate, eyes wide open! I wrote to the dog-care manager at the shelter and said, “Matilda wagged her tail for the first time today! I think she’s going to be okay.”
Off to the vet for another examination, only to find that the head trauma she sustained caused severe damage to her right eye. It was blind. And now that the swelling was starting to subside in her mouth, they could also see that Matilda had a cleft palate. Everything was still in a “wait and see” status, so I just took her home, did my best to care for her and loved her up some more.
Matilda thrived! She continued to get stronger and stronger and her personality blossomed! She was a happy-go-lucky, energetic little thing, playful with my dogs and cats and yet quite the snuggler too.
With time, the burns in her mouth completely healed. The vets didn’t think that her eye caused her any pain, so they did not remove it. But her deformed front leg would not grow.
Matilda’s mobility was impaired as she tried to use her stumpy leg to get around, so it was decided to amputate it. They figured while she was under anesthesia they would do her spay surgery and fix her cleft palate as well. But, lo and behold, her cleft palate had closed and completely healed on its own!
Matilda, our wonder puppy, recovered from her leg amputation and adjusted very well to life with three legs. In fact, so well that her speed and activity level proved to be too much for my home and it was time to find her own forever family.
Everywhere I went I asked if anyone was interested in meeting and potentially adopting “an amazing, loving and wonderful, one-eyed, three-legged puppy recovering from severe burns.”
And someone said yes! Matilda’s new parents came to meet her and fell instantly in love and adopted her. It was a match made in heaven.
We kept in touch and the new family came for a visit about a month later. They met my newest foster at the time, a collie-mix pup named Leah. And as fate would have it, the two puppies became fast friends and Leah became Matilda’s sister.
Matilda and Leah, celebrating their ninth birthdays this year, continue to have a wonderful life with their devoted and loving family. We do see each other every now and then and just last year the girls came for a visit. It was very clear that Matilda’s rough start many years ago was completely forgotten.–Lisa D’Annibale