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Reason For My Blog: The Not So Secret Life Of The American Foster Mum

I’m a new foster mom(temp mummy)for Kitsumi. I am also a permanent fur mummy for 2 babies. I need a place to rant rave and just generally let it all out. I might be offensive, I might be mean, or just rude. This is my place to vent, primarily about fostering, but also about life itself. If I offend you, that is not my intention. If you dont like me or what I post, that’s okay, you dont have to. All I ask is if you stumble on my blog that you be respectful. If you think I’m an ass please just carry on, it is nothing against you personally.

This is Kitsumi! She is 1 years old and a Shiba Inu mix! She is my foster pup!!

This is Zoey. She is a lab mix. She is 2 years old.

I also have Riddick. He is a senior.

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Foster Awareness

          Do you know what fostering is? You might remember a time when you seen a sign or commercial about becoming a foster parent for a kid in need. Have you seen the television commercials about how abused animals need your help? About how much your donation will help? About how they get a new life with their adopted family? Have you heard about how much medical attention or money it takes to help them? I know I have. I haven’t seen a commercial or much advertising about animal fostering. Animals, meaning not just dogs. But dogs are the focus of my topic.

          When you think about getting a dog, or decide a dog might be the right fit for you, what do think of? Animal shelters? Rescues? Breeders? The cute puppy in the window of a pet shop? How about a foster dog?

          When you decide you want to help a dog by adopting it, that’s great. Some people want only purebreds of a certain breed. They’re rescues and shelters that lean toward one or even a few certain breeds. Some mainly take in small or big dogs, etc.

          There is nothing wrong with wanting to adopt, actually it’s a great thing!

          What have you heard about fostering a dog? I hadn’t heard much. I did know that, I could get a troubled dog dropped off at my house, and then love them before getting my heartbroken when they get adopted by someone else.
That’s not true!! I didn’t know what I know now! I also didn’t know that every life you save from a shelter is 2 lives you’re changing. One when you take the pup into your home temporarily(fostering), and another, because the spot you opened up will be another place for another dog in need.

          So what is foster? That’s the question, right? Well I suppose everyone has their own opinion on what fostering is to them. To me fostering is yes, opening your home to a dog that you will fall in love with, and get heartbroken when they leave to their forever home. But it is so much more.

          My first (and current) foster, Kitsumi, comes from animal control in Chicago. It isn’t a great place from what I’m told. It’s probably one of the worst, at least this is what I am told, in our area. I was informed by a senior foster mom, that it might take Kit a while to open up, and mellow out, that it’s “a rough shelter”.
Kitsumi has not been with me a month yet, and she is bouncing around with my lab mix, Zoey. They are the best of friends.

          I have watched Kit come out of her shell. She isn’t all the way there but we’re getting there. So Fostering means when kitsumi finds a home (which I am even able to not only help find, but also be there to meet them and interview them) she will get just that, a home, a home forever. She isn’t going to get a few years home.
When you get a dog from a shelter kennel, you don’t know a lot about them. You don’t know if they are potty trained, if they are friendly with other animals, their moods, their energy levels, and so on. Sure a few of the kennel assistance could tell you that when they go for a walk all they do is pull, and when they go in to put their food bowl down the dog goes in the corner and shakes or on the opposite side, that they jump on them while trying to knock the bowl out of their hands. That doesn’t mean that the dog isn’t a “good” dog. Nor does it mean that the dog is a high strung speed racer with issues. The only people that dog gets to see daily is the ones that come into his house (or whatever enclosure he is in). So he might be jumping because he thinks you will think its cute, and stay longer to pet him because you do think that so he does get his reward of more of your time, therefore he is getting reinforced.

          With kitsumi, she was dumped off at animal control allegedly because the owner had “too many dogs”. It was written down that the owner said “she sleeps on the porch with the rest of the dogs.” Kit was scared after everything she had ever known what ripped away. So she growled at some “nice” people at the shelter. They told her that they understood by removing her from the adoption floor and placing her in the back to sit on death row, you could go see her. She wasn’t one of the dogs you could even ask about, she was put under that only a rescue group could take her (which isn’t easy to find on their website, or anywhere for that matter).

          I found kitsumi on a website that said she was in danger of being euthanized any day. I talked it over with my mom, and when we agreed, I took action immediately. I emailed the contact on the website (that was all the info I could get, the animal control in Chicago doesn’t have a phone number you can call or talk to someone). I received an email back later that day, and was directed to find a rescue to help, and then that’s when everything began.

          I can tell a future owner that Kitsumi does have an off switch, but it’s after Significant play time. She would rather sleep with you in bed, but she will go in her crate. A plus is that she is crate trained, if you prefer to crate train, if not that’s okay too. Kit loves to train. She likes learning new things, and she picks them up fast. She doesn’t appear to like staying in the kitchen. She isn’t great with cats, but is bff’s with dogs. She likes to play rough, so if they have a dog, it needs to be the same energy level. She doesn’t pull hard on leash, but she could stand to do a little more training, as she doesn’t pay much attention to where your feet are and ends up trying to trip you. She is very destructive with toys. I could go on, and on.

          A dog that comes from a foster family, is more likely to get a forever home versus a dog that comes from the shelter. Does that mean I don’t think you should get a shelter dog? No, shelter dogs are not bad, they don’t all get taken back, some dogs go from shelter to homes and get a forever home with a patient loving family.

          It is just that you know what you’re getting with a foster pup. Therefore, it is easier to make a better match. It is also less frustrating for the owner and gives them more confidence.

          If a dog cowers in the corner, for a few days, that makes an inexperienced dog owner nervous and unsure of themselves. If Kitsumi was the dog in this situation, she would growl if this person came too close. What do you think an inexperienced dog owner will do with a dog that they can’t get near (so it is going to the bathroom all over the place.) and now she is growling at said person. If I play this scenario in my head, I don’t like the conclusion I come to.

          Fostering doesn’t cost anything, is what rescues say on their websites. That is true for the most part. It also depends on the rescue. With my rescue, and I think every other, the vetting is billed directly to the rescue. They provide the food, toys, crate, etc. But I free feed, and long story short, it’s easier to have everyone on the same thing, so I buy the food for her. They didn’t bring toys, I bought some of those because I wanted kit to stop chewing on everything else (they did bring some later though). I also borrowed a crate, because while they did bring one, it didn’t work right. They brought a thin crate mat and sheet. I donated blankets I had.

          I know that it might hurt to give her to someone else, but I know that without my help, she would be put to sleep by now. I know that fostering her, helped make her chances at not only survival better, but the chance to have a long and happy life, with a family that will provide not only the basics (a warm and dry place to sleep, food, water, etc.) but love her, cuddle her, and give her a life that full of meaning, and happiness. I feel like if more people knew more about fostering, they could be better educated and know more about what fostering really is. Consider fostering, if you can’t give up your foster, that’s perfectly okay. Many people fall in love and decide to adopt them that they even have a name for it. It’s called foster fail.

          What does fostering mean to you? Do you have a foster story? I do, and I am willing to share. Have questions? If I know the answer, I will be more than happy to pass it along, if not I might be able to find out from fellow moms.

The Magic Of Pumpkin

The magic of pumpkin, that should say it all. I love pumpkin. The dogs go nuts for anything I make with pumpkin. They even love it straight out of the can.
I can’t emphasize it enough though, it should be plain pumpkin! Not the stuff for pie. The pumpkin mix in the can looks like the same thing, and might even smell better, but all the spice and things that they add in that make our pies yummy, are not great for the dogs.

So getting normal pumpkin in the can, can be expensive and in some places hard to find. It does last a while though. I get mine at the superstore by my house around thanksgiving. I can normally find it for a little more than a dollar. Any other time of the year it is anywhere from $2.50-$4. So I stock up.

On to why pumpkin is so great! For one (and for me it’s the best reason) its great for digestion! I recently had to change dog food, and I had to specially order it from a store. It wasn’t going to work out where I had enough of the old food to mix for transition. Zoey has a sensitive tummy on somethings, mostly she gets diarrhea. So for this instance, I made some bowls with pumpkin, enough that it coats all the kibble. My pups will eat this like they haven’t had food in days. No upset tummies. I mixed this for about 2 days.

They also love a spoonful as a treat. For them it is a very yummy treat.

Also it hides pills great. Kitsumi is having complications with her insides after her spay, and is now on antibiotics which she won’t eat in a pill pocket, or any other way. I don’t like to even think about forcing it down her throat. The trust you thought you had, yeah gone. The vet said I could take the medicine in the capsule and mix it in something. “As long as she gets the medicine, it doesn’t matter” said the vet.

Kit also loves peanut butter. With pumpkin, it can be watery, so I mix 50/50. I dump her pill with pumpkin and peanut butter and mix in a small bowl. I spoon a small bit at a time to kit, and she takes it. Success!!

It is also watery, as I said above! That’s great, because dogs can get dehydrated from any number of reasons. Pumpkin (and wet food) is a great way to get extra water. You can also freeze it then in the summer they get a great treat!

I have mixed flour (you can use any variety you like), peanut butter, pumpkin and made a dough. Roll it out and make shapes or however you want to cut it up. Bake. 350 degrees, how long depends on how big your shapes are and how think, as well as how crunchy or soft you want them. You really can’t go wrong.

Don’t be afraid to cook for your dogs. They don’t care if you left something in a bit too long and it’s a little browner than normal (at least dogs that don’t have sensitiveties). They also don’t care if it’s chewy, or dry. Some of my best recipes for my family have come from practicing on dog biscuits. My cinnamon rolls are a bigger version or the small ones I make for the dogs.

A bit of advice for people on budget: Don’t get the transition pumpkin canned food that they offer for $4 at the pet stores!! All it contains is pumpkin!! I got suckered into buying a jar. You know how someone puts you into a position where if you don’t get it you look like a turd, or a cheapskate? Yeah that’s exactly what I mean! When I got home I was so disappointed. Have your own pumpkin recipe? Let me know, and we can swap!

Canine Thyroid Disease

Zoey is a black lab mix, with what else I have not idea. It’s not rare but it is uncommon for dogs under 2 years old to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It is very similar to hypothyroidism in humans. I know to some people that word might sound like a mouthful, and well, it isn’t the easiest thing to repeat.

Hypothyroidism in dogs is when their thyroid doesn’t function properly. The thyroid is a butterfly gland in the neck that secretes hormones. Its regulated by the pituitary gland, which is located on the base of your brain. The hormones that the thyroid secretes are a vital part of making your body function the way it should. The thyroid regulates your energy levels and regulates our metabolism. It can also effect your mood. It also does a lot more, but this is just for a basic over view without going too deep.

 

A blood test is the only way to truly diagnose a thyroid disease. Hyperthyroidism in dogs is rare. Hypothyroidism is the most common type of thyroid problem in dogs.

It’s said that fixed dogs have a higher risk, and certain breeds are more genetically likely to get this disease, but it can affect any dog, at any point in their life.

Some of the symptoms of a thyroid problem are:

  • Lethargy: which means that they lie down, don’t really play around like they usually do, and basically sluggish. Zoey did have this symptom. She also stopped holding her tail up high, which is normally higher than her butt and slightly curled.
  • Skin/Coat Problems: You will know if your dog has a problem in this area. Believe me! Zoey started off super itchy. Then she started pulling out her fur. We tried to stop her but I couldn’t watch her 24/7.  When we took zoey to the vet, I thought she had mange.  I was calling a few vets to get prices, and they were all the same for a skin scrape.  (their coats and skin won’t be red or irritated like with allergies.)
  • Weight Gain: Zoey didn’t gain much weight, if she did at all. She also wasn’t finished growing, so what I thought might have been normal growth for a developing puppy, might have been thyroid related.
  • Muscle loss: Zoey isn’t very muscular to begin with so I didn’t notice this either. (Also the developing puppy thing.)
  • Intolerance to cold: Yes! Zoey didn’t like to go out in the rain. She normally was fine, then one day she just started to refuse to go to the bathroom in the rain. I tried everything. In the end I was soaked, she stayed dry under the awning on the deck, she didn’t go to the bathroom and I was frustrated and confused.
  • Recurring Infections (skin and ear): Zoey didn’t have any issues with this one.

There are other symptoms, but these are the most common. If in doubt, just have the vet check it with their physical or the next time you’re at the vet.

The difference with this disease is that in dogs they take a pill twice a day (every 12 hours). Whereas in humans, we would take it once a day.
I know so much about both because Zoey developed hypothyroidism, than a month later I did. I know it might seem weird right? It truly is “like dog, like owner”.  No it is not contagious, but it does seem rather funny.

Does your dog have these symptoms? Do you? Is your dog less active than normal, for no apparent reason? Is your pup losing all her fur? Do you have more questions? Feel free to ask me, I will let you know, if I know the answer or give you my opinion. I’m not a vet, just an experienced dog owner.

Qumy

These are the boots we got. For my pups they are great! They are really easy to get on, even if they do squirm a little. There is two straps on the top, which is nice. if you fit the boot on all the way, they stay on and don’t come off when they move around. They do take the dog some getting used to, but that’s going to be with anything. They don’t take them that long, but I used a lot of treats, when trying them on, and we went really slow, so when we need them for winter, they are ready and can walk in them. They are not very tall but I don’t think they need to be very big for my pups with what I want them for. I need them for Riddick, and Zoey (as well as Kit) because they both freeze up in the winter and I have had to carry them from the back yard into the house. With warm coats and shoes they should do better this year. Riddick is older and has a bit of arthritis, so he needs to have something to keep his paws warm and dry.

Qumy Dog Boots

Shiba Inu

Kitsumi is a mix of Shiba Inu, and something else. I am not sure what, that’s not important. So Kit does have some of the personality that a Shiba Inu tend to have.

Shiba Inu is a small dog breed originating from Japan. It is actually their smallest breed. The breed was brought to america as recently as 60 years ago. So they haven’t been state side for a very long time, like some of the other imported breeds we now have.
The Shiba Inu have a very distinct coloring and build. Their colors vary of red, red sesame, or black and tan, each color would have their white markings.

Their personality traits are alert, active and attentive.  This is very much Kit in every way. She is alert to any noise, she ping pong’s from couch to couch in our living room, and can keep going for hours, she probably wouldn’t stop if I didn’t make her calm down for a few. She also follows me everywhere. She has tripped me a few times because she is trying to stay by my side, and she will wake from a dead sleep to get up and follow me to where ever I am.

Energy level for a Pure breed is listed as active, and again totally Kitsumi! You are advised that your pup will need lots of exercise and daily walks, even though they are on the small side, I can definitely vouch for that.

Good with children: Pure breeds are supposed to be but I don’t have kids and haven’t tested Kit yet, so I can say more on this.

Good with dogs: with supervision is what they say as a breed standard but I think this goes with every breed. It’s all about your dog, and whether they like the other dog or not. Just like with people not everyone is going to be friendly and not every one is going to like each other. And not every dog is a bully.

Shedding is listed as seasonal, I can say that Kitsumi doesn’t shed a whole lot, she has fur about an inch long, with her face being softer and shorter. I don’t think you would need to worry about this too much, Kit doesn’t have hair falling out, really at all, but maybe as winter approaches faster and faster, her coat will change and she might a little. We will see. Grooming is also listed as occasional, and I think what I said a few sentences ago, covers that.

Trainability is listed as independent. Okay so what does that mean? I’m not sure but I do know that Kit doesn’t like to sit when asked when I train the other dogs. She tries to jump on me, take the treat out of my hand, and so on. I can’t be sure if that’s because of her previous owners or breed. When she finally does sit (We have sat a total of 4 times in almost a month if that says anything.) she lowers her head. I immediately give her a treat and praise as well as a good jackpot. I have to believe the more I work with her that this is starting to be her previous owners, but I could be wrong.

They are a small dog, breed standard is 14-17 inches for males and 13-16 inches for females, with males weighting 24 max, and 20 max for females. So they don’t get very big. Kitsumi is a mix so she is a little heavier at 45 after her spay, but she isn’t much taller than the higher side of the male breed standard.

Life expectancy, as with smaller dogs is 12-15 years.

Bark Level is listed at quiet, kit isn’t quiet, but she isn’t a pure breed either. Maybe the pure breeds have less tendency to bark than if they are a mix, but kit doesn’t know when to stop with her voice. She also isn’t very into her quiet training, but that’s okay, we will keep working, and trying different things and approaches.

In Japan the breed was originally bred to hunt by sight and sent, in the dense forest of japanese mountains. They are said to be agile and alert, making them great watch dogs as well as companions.

Its said that the Shiba Inu is weary of strangers but loyal and affectionate to those who gain their trust. I can say on this topic, that yes this is true!! Kit has never growled at me, EVER!! But I have seen and heard her growl at people, including my mom, who feeds and plays with her. You need to have a very stong bond with her, she needs trust and care, not just an owner who provides a roof, warmth at night and food. Kit needs A LOT MORE!! She needs me to tell her when Zoey has had enough, when there needs to be a break in their games, she needs me to set guidelines and boundaries.

It is said alone time for them is fine. With Kit, no. She needs to be out of her crate more than in. She isn’t in her crate very often now. She goes in when we have to leave the house, but that isn’t forever. There is almost always someone at home. I would disagree whole-hearted till my face turned blue on this.

 

Fun Facts:
1992 was the year that the Shiba Inu breed was recognised by the AKC.

According to the AKC they are the 44th most popular dog.

There were only 3 remaining blood lines left after WWII when the breed almost became extinct.

They are considered the oldest breed in Japan. They are also the #1 dog companion in Japan.

While they are still used as hunting dogs, back when they were bigger, many upon many of years ago, they were used to hunt large game. In modern time they are used to hunt smaller critters.

Source Website

 

 

Barks A Lot

Kitsumi has finally found her voice! And boy does she use it. She is learning a lot from the other dogs. She watches them and reacts according to them. For a few days Zoey’s bark had an echo! Zoey barked at something, Kit would bark, even if Kit had no idea what she was barking at! It’s the cutest thing ever! She barks when she wants anything now, from your attention to out of her crate. Although she is getting better in her crate. She doesn’t get to come out of her crate until she is quiet, and she is learning that very quickly. She hasn’t caught on to “quiet/hush” but she is learning some things. She has massive amounts of energy! She could go on a walk through the woods or park by our house for HOURS and still be ready to play, and in GO mode! She will make a great companion for a family who likes to exercise, be outside, or just be active period, whether outdoors or in. She makes sure I get enough exercise though, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Anything I can do to get her energy out, I do with her, she isn’t bug on fetch, so I am hoping Zoey and Riddick can help with that. Zoey can play fetch forever, and ask for more.

Pawz Dog Boots

We have gotten Pawz dog boots. I need something to keep Riddick, Zoey &Kitsumi’s feet dry and warm. Well these will certainly keep their feet dry. They are made out of a rubbery material that reminds me of a really thick balloon. Riddick is wearing green ones, with Kitsumi in the size small, wearing black. I couldn’t get them on Zoey. She wasn’t feeling it!
The package they come in gives you information on how to put them on your dog. You might need another person to help if your dog will run from you. Riddick did good!! He let me put them on him. They are a little “saggy” by the sides of his feet. What I mean by that, is there is space but no feet or toes to fill the space. It’s not a bad thing, just weird-looking.  The dogs adjusted to having them on their feet really quick. with some feet wear for dogs, it feels weird(or so I assume) to them and they move strange and get very upset, very quick. The package says not to leave them on unsupervised, which is smart. If I left them on with our dogs, they would bite them off when my back was turned. Seems very durable, while giving the water-proof function. They are much easier to get off than they are to get on. I am not going to give this a star rating because I’m not even sure what I would rate these as. I like them, but they do have their drawbacks. For disposable and cheap price, I think they are a great product. In some environments they would definitely have some more effectiveness. If we took the dogs to the beach, I would try them. I am not sure how well they would work but I will definitely try when the weather is better, some time next year. I am flippy floppy on this brand, if you can’t tell.