November, 2012. As bad off as our previous foster dog Barbie was at first, our next foster, Brighton the Border Collie mix, was far worse. He was completely (and I mean completely) shut down at the shelter. It took me almost a week working with Brighton to finally get him on a leash to go potty outside in a still very fearful state.
But once I got him in our garage I let Boomer take charge and bring him inside. Boomer has mad skills with special needs dogs. Like flipping a switch, Brighton trotted around following Boomer and wagging his tail.
Like many strays Brighton had a fear of someone trying to grab him and would instantly go into keep-away mode if you gave the slightest indication of trying. So no leash or crate for the first few days (he was thankfully housetrained). I basically had Boomer take him outside and bring him back in.
Unfortunately Brighton had developed a cough on his last day at the shelter so I had to give him Doxy each morning. He would spit out the pills no matter what it was in, so I had to grind them into a liquid and gently force feed it into his mouth for a couple of days. Not the ideal way to gain trust.
After some experimenting I finally discovered the secret ingredient to making them edible: sticky goat cheese. Brighton started to warm up to me after that and would follow me from room to room and finally started seeking affection.
We had company spend a couple of days at our place with their two dogs and Brighton did well with them. Then more company came to visit, making it a five dog and nine person house. Brighton did pretty well, walking around from room to room, interacting with the dogs and letting several people pet him. But after too much commotion he would go find a quiet place to chill.
One curious behavior occurred when Brighton had a stomach ache and didn't want to eat. But he took the biscuit I offered and tried to dig in the carpet in several places to bury the treat for later, and did the same thing outside the next day. Brighton had been living as a stray near a graveyard so this was apparently something he did.
Unfortunately we needed to leave town for Thanksgiving so Brighton had to go back to the shelter for a day and a half. I had been able to leash him to go for walks before we left, but he backslid on his fear of being leashed for a few days. But he eventually let me leash him up again with no problem.
The next challenge was to go visit the shelter to get more at ease with his future interview processes. For the first few times I brought Boomer to give him some support. He did pretty well, a real night-and-day switch from before. He would actually jump up into the car after Boomer.
Finally he was ready to go solo a few times, and while still somewhat skittish in places, he progressed pretty well. Since he did even better with Boomer, I continued to bring them together.
Back at home Brighton had become an affectionate dog who loved to frolic in the backyard. He was one of the best matches for Boomer we've fostered, and the two were happy play and sleep buddies. This is a very endearing doggie.
After a month with us Brighton was ready to go up on the shelter’s website for adoption while we continued to foster him. As expected, there were immediately several people interested in him and he was quickly adopted. Its good to be a pretty dog.
While I know Brighton will bring a ton of brightness into his new home and moving on was the best thing for him, of all the fosters we’ve had BriBri was one of the toughest to see go. We’ll miss him very much, and so will Boomer! Pass me the Kleenex please...
Brighton update. After getting back from vacation we found out that Brighton had quickly escaped from his new home and was running free for awhile. He was eventually caught and the new owners had a second go at it. About six weeks later we got a happy update that Brighton, renamed Cooper, was doing well in his forever home.
"He likes to go on walks and gets excited when meeting dogs in the neighborhood. He is good on the leash. He still likes to be by himself sometimes, but other times he will come and sit next to me downstairs or lie next to my feet when I am at my desk. He loves playing in the snow and he wags his tail when I walk in the door. Cooper is such a sweet dog and I know with time he will come out of his shell even more."
Way to go BriBri!