Meet Meg, the pup with the broken leg

Photo by Jo LyonsI just took delivery of a charming little lady by the name of Meg. She is a 14-week-old cattle dog, and she is just gorgeous. When she and her sister arrived at the local pound, everyone thought the two of them would find homes very quickly.

The sister did. Meg didn’t.

Why didn’t Meg find a home? Because she has a broken femur (thighbone). Why does she have a broken femur? Because apparently the person who rescued her inadvertently dropped her from shoulder height. Okay, that can happen. What’s tragic is that no-one noticed anything amiss until she had been in the pound for a week and she suddenly stopped using the leg.

The call went out for a special foster carer. Because I have experience with nursing a dog with a smashed leg, I volunteered.

When her statutory holding period in the pound was over, an x-ray was taken of the leg. It is indeed broken, but it is a clean break, and already there are signs of calcification around the bone, which means that it has started to heal. The bone is not out of alignment, so the decision was made not to operate or bandage, but simply to keep the pup quiet for the next four weeks.

So little Meg may be the very first dog ever to stay inside with me. It’s too cold at the moment for her to stay in the garage at night (which is where she would normally sleep), so I am setting up an area in the house where she can be crated, able to see me, and warm at night. I’ve never had a dog inside before. All my dogs have been strictly outside dogs, so it’s going to be a new experience.

Welcome, little Meg! I hope we can help you heal cleanly over the next few weeks.

The rescuer at Rainbow Bridge

I’m not the author of this story. I don’t know where it came from, but I think it is beautiful. If you are the author of this story, please contact me so that I can give proper attribution.

Unlike most days at the Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray. All the recent arrivals at the Bridge did not know what to think, as they had never seen such a day. But the animals who had been waiting longer for their beloved people to accompany them across the Bridge knew what was happening, and they began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge.

Soon an elderly dog came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. He approached slowly, and though he showed no sign of injury or illness, he was in great emotional pain. Unlike the animals gathered along the pathway, he had not been restored to youth and vigor upon arriving at the Bridge. He felt out of place, and wanted only to cross over and find happiness.

But as he approached the Bridge, his way was barred by an angel, who apologized and explained that the tired and broken-spirited old dog could not cross over. Only those animals accompanied by their people were allowed to cross the Bridge. Having nobody, and with nowhere else to turn, the dog trudged into the field in front of the Bridge. There he found others like himself, elderly or infirm, sad and discouraged. Unlike the other animals waiting to cross the Bridge, these animals were not running or playing. They simply were lying in the grass, staring forlornly at the pathway across the Rainbow Bridge. The old dog took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting, yet not knowing for what he was waiting.

One of the newer dogs at the Bridge asked a cat who had been there longer to explain what was happening. The cat replied, “Those poor animals were abandoned, turned away, or left at rescue places, but never found a home on earth. They all passed on with only the love of a rescuer to comfort them. Because they had no people to love them, they have nobody to escort them across the Rainbow Bridge.” The dog asked the cat, “So what will happen to those animals?” Before the cat could answer, the clouds began to part and the cold turned to bright sunshine. The cat replied, “Watch, and you will see.”

In the distance was a single person, and as he approached the Bridge the old, infirm, and sad animals in the field were bathed in a golden light. They were at once made young and healthy, and stood to see what their fate would be. The animals who had previously gathered at the pathway bowed their heads as the person approached. At each bowed head, the person offered a scratch or hug.

One by one, the now youthful and healthy animals from the field fell into line behind the person. Together, they walked across the Rainbow Bridge to a future of happiness and unquestioned love. The dog asked the cat, “What just happened?” The cat responded, “That was a rescuer. The animals gathered along the pathway bowing in respect were those who had found their forever homes because of rescuers. They will cross over when their people arrive at the Bridge. The arrival here of a rescuer is a great and solemn event, and as a tribute they are permitted to perform one final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort all those poor animals they couldn’t place on earth across the Rainbow Bridge.”

The dog thought for a moment, then said, “I like rescuers.” The cat smiled and replied, “So does heaven, my friend. So does heaven.”

The Advance-Retreat Method of Bark Control

Yesterday I blogged about a new method of reducing barking at feeding time that I tried out.

I am pleased to report that this advance-retreat method of bark control might be having a positive effect.

I have now tried it three times: yesterday at breakfast, yesterday at dinner, and this morning at breakfast. It is getting results faster each time. The dogs seem to be remembering that I am not coming to feed them as quickly as usual. It is still a struggle, and I really need to be patient, but it might be a way of getting attention from them that has not been in evidence for some weeks now.

Giving a muted cheer – a cheer because it might be working, and muted because it might just be a response to my new behaviour that will not continue.

Bark bark bark bark bark – I’m going crazy!

I have five dogs on the premises. Two of them are foster dogs. The other three are mine.

I love them all, but their barks are driving me CRAZY!

  • Every time I open a back door, they bark.
  • Every time I appear at a window, they bark.
  • Every time I go outside for any reason, they bark.
  • Every time a visitor arrives, they bark. Well, that one’s acceptable – I like to know there’s someone there before the doorbell rings.
  • Every time the goat comes close, they bark.
  • Every time I go out to feed them, they go into a frenzy.

It’s driving me crazy. My brother-in-law who lives next door is being driven crazy. I’m sure the neighbours are being driven crazy.

Oh, and the dogs bark at night and wake me up. When I get up to look, I can’t see anything.

My dogs barked before I started fostering other dogs, but the current fosters are making it much worse. I bought a (very expensive) Outdoor Bark Control device that emits an ultra high frequency sound in response to barking, and I think it had a favourable affect the first time I turned it on at night. One of my dogs crept up to me the next morning, so I think she heard the sound.

However, it’s making not one whit of difference when the dogs are barking from excitement. They not only bark, they chase each other up and down the dividing fence between the two pens, even though the gate is open between them, and even though they are with the other dogs 24 hours a day. When they chase each other, it’s impossible to get their attention, and the Outdoor Bark Control has no hope.

I asked the Rescue Lady if she had any ideas on how to reduce the barking. She gave me some suggestions.

So this morning I tried her advice. I got the dogs’ breakfast ready, and opened the back door. Took one step out, and they erupted.

I turned and went back inside. The dogs were puzzled. Where did she go?

I tried again. Same result, same consequence. The dogs thought this was weird behaviour.

Third time lucky? Nope.

The fourth time I managed to walk a few steps before the din started. Went back inside, checked my email.

Tried again. And again. And again.

Finally they were totally quiet when I was inside, but were watching the door closely.

Eventually I managed to feed the foster dog in the top pen. When I started to go towards the other four dogs, it started all over again. I stopped moving. Every time there was quiet, I moved forward. If chasing started, I went backwards.

One dog in particular kept looking at me. She twigged first. The others followed after a few times of advancing and retreating.

Finally I managed to get inside the pen. Of course, the usual fencing chasing started up. Now I don’t mind fence chasing, but I abhor the barking and growling and yipping that are part of it. I know it is pure excitement – there is no aggression – but the point is that THEY ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO ME.

Once the fence chasing and noise started, I moved to one side of the pen and just stood there. One of my dogs came up to me and sat in front of me. I offered her some food, and she took it from my hand. After a few moments of this, the foster dog came up and sat down. I gave her a handful and started to move towards the food bowls. That set her off again, and the fence chasing and noise started again.

To cut a long story short, the dogs eventually figured out that they were not going to be fed while they were noisy. It was bliss to feed four dogs in silence, but it took four times longer than usual to feed them.

Lessons Learned

  1. You have to be patient.
  2. You have to be consistent.
  3. It will take time for the new behaviour to stick.
  4. Maybe I have a chance to reduce the barking if I keep it up.

I’ll keep you posted.

Hello world! New blog about fostering dogs before they are rehomed.

This site is a brand new blog about fostering rescued dogs before they are rehomed.
It is intended primarily as a record of the problems and joys I encounter as I foster rescued dogs.
It will include information and stories on:

  • how to greet your new foster dog
  • what to expect when fostering dogs
  • what to feed your foster dog, and issues with eating
  • aggression issues
  • integrating your foster dog with your other pets and your family
  • how to choose the rescue group that is right for you
  • factors to consider before volunteering to foster dogs
  • costs of fostering dogs
  • benefits of fostering dogs
  • lists of rescue groups
  • toys for foster dogs
  • making sure you are set up properly for fostering dogs
  • and lots more

I will also be looking for stories from other people, so if you have experience fostering dogs and have interesting, useful, sad or funny stories that you would like to share, please email me at .

I am hoping that this site will end up as a valuable resource, not only to people who foster rescue dogs, but also for the organisations that arrange fostering for their rescue dogs. To that end, I also intend to set up a network of organisations and fosterers, because I have discovered that the best adoption rates are from those rescue groups that network extensively.

If you want to be involved with any of this, please email me .