It’s been several months since I’ve had a foster dog. I really think Risa missed having a canine friend in the house but I needed a break after Crash left. On top of that, the rescue I previously volunteered with is on a bit of a break so there were no dogs in need of temporary housing.
I decided that I would be better off with a medium- or low-energy foster dog the next time around. I really don’t have the time to dedicate to a crazy dog that needs to be entertained all the time even though that type of dog is my preference. I like a dog who wants to do things and am less enamored with one who is content to lay around and sleep all day. But I’m fostering, not keeping. It’s important for me to remember that and take in dogs who don’t need more time than I can give them.
Almost on a whim, I decided I could foster for one of the organizations I’ve been involved with from the very beginning. I used to assist them with training classes and I helped train one of the dogs in their Dogs to Vets Program. Due to my work schedule, I haven’t been able to help them as much as I’d like to but I could offer to foster a dog! I also knew that they typically look for dogs who are more mellow so I knew I wouldn’t find myself in a situation similar to the one I had with puppy boy Crash!
I took Augie home with me just over 2 weeks ago. My best guess on breed mix is Australian shepherd and Golden retriever. He’s such a cute boy but he’s very overweight. I know that will not last long; I like my dogs lean! Even in the short time he’s been with me, he’s become much more active and energetic. I love how much easier it is for him to get around and, even though he’s still a chunky monkey, he looks a lot better already. He still likes to nap a lot!
Part of the joy of fostering a dog is the challenge. Augie is my 6th foster dog and he presents different challenges that I haven’t had to deal with before. He does the usual stuff. Barking. He has no self-control and poor loose-leash walking skills. He jumps on me when he’s aroused. The main problem is that he doesn’t like other dogs in his space. Anyone who has followed Risa’s story knows I’m no stranger to this type of behavior. It’s just that he’s the first foster dog that hasn’t been overly excited about Risa (actually, she was much more enthused about meeting him than he was about her). I usually have to watch her to make sure she’s feeling okay about the situation. This time, I need to watch them both!
I don’t feel that he’s aggressive in any way. In fact, I think he may actually like other dogs (he sure pulls hard on the leash in an attempt to meet them on walks!). And he did grow up with two other dogs. I think he is just very space-conscious and insecure when indoors. Perhaps he was bullied and is used to having to growl or snark to get the distance he needs. I don’t know. All I do know is that it has caused some frustration and stress in my home. Fortunately, Risa has been very good about heeding his warnings. There have only been two incidences where they had a nice shouting match through the bars of the x-pen and they were pretty minor and easy to break up. The only real difficulty is when Risa tries to respect Augie’s space and ends up trapped in or out of a room because of it. Due to the setup of my house, there really isn’t a better place to move Augie to so that I could avoid this problem.
It’s difficult to have two space-conscious dogs in the home. I have done some classical conditioning with them both but we’re still in the early stages. Things came to a bit of a head over the weekend with the craziness of the Fourth of July. Risa is terrified of the fireworks and she needs to be able to move around and pace to feel more comfortable. Augie started snarking at her which increased her stress levels since she felt she couldn’t leave the room when she wanted to. I was at a loss of what to do to keep everyone happy (it’s stressful for Augie too!). Thankfully, a friend suggested putting a blanket around the x-pen and it’s been much calmer since. Augie doesn’t have to feel threatened by Risa’s proximity and Ris is free to roam the house as per usual.
I’ll still keep up on some classical conditioning and slowly work on introducing them to each other. I did have them both outside for a brief meet and greet. Considering how excited Augie was seeing a dog on a walk, he showed very little interest in meeting Risa. I didn’t get a good read on him but they did quickly sniff nose-to-nose. We’ll just play it by ear. They don’t have to be friends. I just want both dogs to feel safe and comfortable in my home.