October, 2012. Our next foster dog was a boxer-mix named Barbie. She had been living semi-feral downtown near a homeless shelter for several months, covered in tar with a badly twisted front left leg. After several attempts a staff member was able to get her in a cage and bring her to the shelter for some TLC.
She was very fearful and untrusting. So I ended up coming in for a few hours everyday for 10 days. After awhile she started to trust me and become more at ease walking around the shelter. She was always in scavenging mode, looking for any morsel of food she could find.
Once we started fostering Barbie she made herself at home fairly quickly. On our first walk in the neighborhood she wanted to pull toward every door she saw. Being outside was not her thing. By the third walk she figured out she had a home to get back to and walked more normally.
For housetraining I treated her like a puppy at first. Time in her cage, then outside to go potty (I often had to use a leash to make her go outside at first), then a few hours loose in the house, and back into her cage. It worked well. After a few weeks she got full access to the house and was declared “housetrained”.
After gaining her trust she started coming to me for affection, instead of just food. She got along well with Boomer, though I was quick to correct any signs of growling or guarding behavior. There was a lot of both dogs getting affection and treats while sitting next to each other to make sure she accepted that type of sharing activity.
Barbie accepted Theresa very quickly, and was running and dancing with her in the backyard by the first day, which was the first time I’d seen her behave that way (since I’d always tried to remain perfectly calm and easy going with her).
We had our nieces over and she did very well, playing with rope and wubba and leaning up on them as if she’s spent time with other kids at some point.
I kept bringing Barbie to the shelter so she could meet new people and stay familiar with the atmosphere there (including walking past lots of cages of barking dogs). She actually jumped up into the car the first time we headed back home.
There was some debate that Barbie might be pregnant, but that was cleared up when she went into heat. She got spayed shortly after and ended up needing to go on meds for two weeks. So our Barbie Dog ended up being the longest foster we've done so far.
I kept bringing her to the shelter to have other volunteers spend time with her while I started working with another dog. Our main issues for the last few weeks were just working on basic manners like not jumping up or being mouthy and not pulling on the leash.
She had a rough and tumble playing style with Boomer and loved wrestling, running around at full speed in the yard and playing tug-of-war with him. It was not "a quiet" fostering but it was great to see that her bent leg didn't seem to slow her down at all.
Barbie had become a very affectionate doggie, eager to go for walks or runs and trips in the car. She trotted around Petsmart with no issues at all. She loved laying on the floor when we watched TV and taking a snooze with her head draped across us. After a few weeks Boomer and Barbie even ended up being sleep buddies.
After working with Barbie for six weeks and fostering her for over a month the day finally came to bring her back to the shelter to go on the adoption floor.
The now very confident Barbie took several weeks to find her forever home, but she seemed to shrive living at the shelter. She became extremely found of chasing tennis balls, and would carry two or even three in her mouth at a time while chasing the next one you threw. She was even featured in a pic by photographer Lise Greil at the Human Society’s webpage. That’s my girl!