Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Dedication to Dedication

This post goes out to my friend in Michigan, whom I will refer to from this day forward as “Ten Dog Kerri.” This past week she called to let me know she was considering fostering a bulldog mix mama and her 9 three-week-old puppies that were scheduled to be euthanized at a high kill shelter near her home. Kerri felt so compelled to do something that she was willing to turn her no dog house into a foster home for at least a month just to provide the dogs with their last chance. 0 to 10 in a matter of moments is a big leap.

“Do it,” I told her. “The mom will take care of the puppies and you can take care of the mom. “

Please understand that this support was not offered lightly. When someone feels compelled to act out of love and compassion, and has the time, means, and desire to give their best to help another animal or person, I say, by all means, YES! My “but” in this situation is: try to be as prepared as possible. Before you bring (even one) dog home, or shortly after you bring them home (within a few days), seek out the supplies you’ll need to make the new situation as easy as possible on all involved. There will be a moment of panic with a change of that scale. There can also be enlightenment.

Here is my “grocery list” of new dog preparedness I wish had been given to me:

General Supplies
* Crate – big enough for them to stand up in and turn around, this is as important as food and water. Your dog will thank you. Your furniture and floors will thank you.
* Two leashes, two collars, two tags for each dog.
* Dog Bed – please note this will probably get chewed to some degree.
* Dog Blanket (to go over the bed so you can wash it instead of the dog bed). This is sort of an “extra," but I found it helpful and necessary for my stinky puppy. An old towel works, too.
* A Kong – or similar chew toy.
* A vet – at the very least, the name, number, and personal reference for a friendly, open-minded vet clinic.
* A Potty Zone – dedicate an outside area as the potty spot.
* A camera – you’re going to want to document the cute moments (so you can remember them during the challenging ones). Plus it is a good idea to have a photo to refer to in case the new dog takes off through the neighborhood & for a moment you think you might need to make a poster before they come running back. (Ahem, Rocket).
* A trainer – the name & contact information of a certified, positive-reinforcement trainer whom you can email, take classes from, or contact for answers. There is no shame in asking for help.

* Food – wet, dry, or both, have some ready to go.
* One dish for food, one dish for water.
* Treats – may I humbly suggest freeze-dried liver?

Cleaning your dog
* Shampoo – next to the bathtub with a bag of treats, a towel, and a cup for rinsing. Baths happen without warning, it is better to have supplies ready and waiting for you when you have to throw a poopy, muddy puppy into the tub and pull a dripping wet one out.
* Old Towels – for baths, the back seat of your car, inside the crate, as a cover for the crate or a washable throw for over the dog bed.
* Baby Wipes -- for the small wipey baths your dog will surely need from time to time. Good for wiping paws.

Cleaning your house
* Paper Towels – more than you ever think you’ll use in a lifetime. No, seriously.
* Disinfecting wipes – of any brand, in bulk.
* Plastic bags – there will be poo, and soaked paper towels that will need odor-control.
* A Bissell compact carpet-cleaning machine for pets – this will save your sanity (in my case, up to 6 times per day) while saving your rugs.

For the record, I had little to none of these items when Rocket came home. I panicked before realizing there was no need to. I just needed a moment to think about what would make our everyday life easier (for Rocket, my roommate, and I).

Ten cheers for Ten Dog Kerri for her serious dedication to helping animals in need! The puppies and their mama ended up going to a rescue on the same day she was going to bring them home. Instead, Kerri is welcoming an 8-year-old chocolate lab into her home as a foster dog. It all worked out…probably for the best. There’s no question that it is easier to shift gears when you’re going from 0 to 1. Even then, one can be a lot.

(Me & Rocket, Day one).

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