Monday, August 1, 2011

Is Louise My Foster Dog?

Last week Aleksandra, whose wonderful blog, Love and a Six-Foot Leash, chronicles adventures with dog fostering, emailed me and asked why I foster. I responded, “Am I fostering? I’m not sure!”

And my ambivalence continues.

Tommy and Louise have had two fights. She’s not as submissive as I thought. Tommy is a bully and she fights back.

It's been challenging. I keep the dogs in different rooms. My house is like a zoo: the cats in the three bedrooms, Tommy in the living room, and Louise in the kitchen. I walk them separately. When I return from a 45-minute walk with Tommy in the morning, I set out to walk Louise. In the middle of the day when it’s hot, I let them take turns in the yard. The routine is exhausting.

But there’s positive news, too. My friends have generously given their time to walk Louise while I walk Tommy beside them. And the dogs get along great on these walks. 

Louise is as sweet as can be with me. She's like a duck who has been imprinted by my presence. She adores me. I adore her, too.

Still, this way of life is not sustainable. I need to be able to walk the dogs together by myself. I need to get them to the point where they can be in the same room without fighting. I'd hoped they'd be best buddies, but maybe it'll never come to that.

I'm going to hire a trainer who can help me manage them, and I'll just have to wait and see whether she and Tommy can live in the same house without making me insane. If not, I'll find her a great home. She's a fantastic dog, eminently adoptable, so I'm confident a kind person will fall in love with her as I have.

Despite my uncertainty, Louise and I got featured on Love and a Leash's post about dog fostering. Check it out: Dog fostering – it’s infectious!

If you're a local, can you recommend a good trainer? 


  1. Taking care of a lot of pets that get along is exhausting, taking care of five that don't, I'm glad you're getting a trainer. I imagine they're trying to find out who is top dog? Our cat William is the alpha, Ranger is beta and Keating is, well, Keating. It has taken since October when we got Special K for the three of them to be in close proximity without any negative reactions. But we got there eventually.

  2. A trainer is a great idea. I have a friend who swears by one that worked with her ridgeback. I'll get the name.

    Louise is not alpha, because she's only comfortable when following Tommy, not leading. Plus, she followed Petie around. So it's something else...

  3. Wow, bravo for setting up a routine that is fair to both of them! I dog sat for two days for a dog that hated Skye, and I was beyond the breaking point when she went home.

    Sometimes a match just doesn't work out, and both dogs will lead healthier and happier lives in different homes. Perhaps one of those walking buddies is looking for a pup? I love having fosters go to people I know, so I can see them as often as I want!

  4. Paula, are you saying Special K - the cereal - helped your animals get along?

    I love that William the cat is the alpha in your pack.

    Oh, and I have four in my pack; five would put me over the edge.

    Hiker, I'm glad to hear you say Louise is not alpha. And that's true, she does let Tommy lead. Thanks so much for getting that trainer's name. Does the ridgeback live in Wapello?

    Of Pit Bulls and Patience, so far our walking buddies aren't able to adopt Louise, but I'm going to keep trying. Or maybe it'll work out for her here. I'm trying to keep an open mind about the whole journey.

  5. You have a big heart Susan and good people like you should be recognized for your compassion. Congrats! Brian W.

  6. I think working slowly through their issues is the best plan you can make.


  7. Francis
    Francis Keating McTousle
    Mr Bunnyman
    Special K
    ad nauseum

  8. Susan, this is who I used for Daisy, Jenina Schutter. She works alot with Pit Bulls.

    She helped us alot. Let me know if you have questions, you can email me too.

  9. Dearie Sue,
    Good Luck it sounds like you have your hands quite full! I truly hope the trainer is of help. Love, Cindy

  10. Brian, that's such a sweet thing to say. I'm touched. Thank you.

    Kari, yes, I think going slowly is the best approach, too.

    Paula, ah! Now I understand your first comment. And Mr Bunnyman is quite special.

    daisydog, I would love for my animals to live as harmoniously as yours do, so I'll definitely check out out your trainer. Thanks so much!

    Thanks, Cindy. I think it'll get better.

  11. Hi Susan Lamb:
    Oh darling look at you and your lovely pit bulls. It looks like destiny is here again! You always figure everything out with Grace. Tommy and Louise may just end having a very fun and happy Dog Wedding in your backyard out there in Pasadena. He He.
    Love you til the cows come home.
    PS Thank you for mentioning the kitty cats, Sue I forgot one of their names, Ramona and ---?

  12. Susan
    Have you ever exposed your cats to your dogs? Can one bring in an adult dog and train it not to try to kill the cats?

    I'd like to take Louise on a walk. Does she pull? she doesn't have a mouth contraption on, so does that mean she doesn't bite? when you pass another dog and walker, does she lunge at them?

  13. Oh, Susan, I so can relate! I felt the same way--it wasn't sustainable having Francie here, especially with the 2x walking time. I walked Francie daily for 3 months prior to fostering her. I tried to walk her with Cabana, but I couldn't manage it. I might have been able to with both dogs in harnesses, but I guess on some level, I liked having alone time with them individually.

    I think it's funny that you're still not sure if you're fostering. If you realize that you are indeed fostering, want me to send you Francie's red "adopt me" jacket? I'd be happy to, and it would probably fit Louise well. Then, every walk becomes an adoption fair. I always got lots of positive comments from passersby when Francie wore it, and you just never know where the potential adopter will come from!

  14. I hope the trainer can shed some light, Susan. No matter what, it sounds like being with you has helped Louise regain her spirit and if you do need to find her a new home, she'll be a beautiful addition to the family.

  15. Hey, thanks for putting this out in the open. I bet a lot of people find themselves saving a dog on the fly and then not knowing where to go next. I know your journey will help others feel less alone. Let us know how it goes with whichever trainer you call in to help.

  16. Kristen, the Tommy & Louise wedding in my backyard would make a great children's book. It could go along with your series about dear Puff. Let's talk about it over tea in your kitchen! Frieda is my other kitty cat.

    PA, when I first took in Tommy, I tried to get him and the cats to get along. He was too pushy and it scared them, so for them to feel safe I pretty much try to separate them. If you're thinking of getting a dog I would say most definitely get one who is already cat-friendly. It would take a lot of work to get a dog who wants to kill a cat to stop wanting to - and frankly, I wouldn't ever trust it.

    As for walking Louise, come on over! I'm excited you want to walk her. She's great on a leash, doesn't really pull, but she does react to other excitable dogs. She doesn't bite. I'll email you so we can set something up. Yay!

  17. Mimi and CC Cabana, thank you so much for the offer to send the "adopt me" jacket. You're so generous and kind! Let me sleep on it and figure out what the heck I'm doing. I will keep you posted.

    It's amazing the time you put into caring for Francie even before you got her home.

    Thank you, Shell. I've gotten some good trainer recommendations so I'm hopeful we can work through our issues.

    loveandleash, your experiences with your fosters have helped me immensely. It would be great if my trials with Tommy & Louise help people as well.

  18. Sometimes like humans, animals need to get all the fight & arguing out of themselves before they can live in peace & harmony with each other. And maybe make love. imho.

  19. Sue - all I can say is WOW. It's exhausting to just read about all your efforts that I can only imagine how it feels to be you! Dear, sweet girl! Walter has a torn pad and limping and being a baby about it and just tending to his needs has been exhausting but at least he and Henry and Mac all get along and can be in the same room! You poor dear, you are such a beautiful soul and I can only feel it will all work out! You have so many supporters, too! I am sure thatt is of some comfort. I am sending positive thoughts your way.....xoxo

  20. Cafe, I like the way you think.

    Liz, you're very sweet. Thank you for your kind words, but let me tell you, I don't feel like a beautiful soul. I feel tired and cranky. But I do get a lot of support, and I'm eternally grateful for that - despite my ill temper.

    Poor Walter. A torn pad can't be fun.

  21. I'm going against the grain here, but my advice would be to let her wear that red adoption jacket. You've rescued her, which was an angelic deed, but you're a single parent of 4, with a full time job, a new house to look after and a blog to feed. That's a lot of work. PS I'll drop off those bones on your porch soon.

  22. Do what's right for you, Susan. If that means giving up Louise, that's okay because it'll be right for her, too. You've already saved her life.

  23. Bellis, I love how clear and decisive you are. Not a strong point of mine, as you might have guessed. I hope I'm home when you come by.

    Wise words, Petrea. Thank you.

  24. This is tough, and it just might take some time to figure out. I do know some families where the dogs had to have a few fights to establish who was boss, but then, when they did, all was well. Marsha at Devil Dog Ranch helped us train Scout, and, as I think I told you, Scout was crazy, crazy when she got her.

  25. I admire you! You have a good heart! Look you have much work. I also think that a trainer is a great idea.

  26. Margaret, sorry for the late reply, and thank you for the recommendation. I spoke with Marsha when I was looking for a trainer in my early, challenging days with Tommy. She wasn't available at the time but she gave me great advice and a lot of support. Great to hear she helped you with Scout. I'll definitely contact her.

    Thank you, Sonia. I hope your good heart is on the path to healing.

  27. Tommy's girl is back! walkies walkies (that was Barbara Woodhouse; I think she's dead)