Two days ago we sent a $300 adoption fee to Pound Hounds Res-Q, the place that pulled Smiley from Brooklyn’s high kill shelter, NYACC. We had originally planned on fostering Smiley, the cute 6 year old pit mix who was abandoned because his former owners got pregnant. We were in no position to get a dog – we don’t make enough money and live in a small apartment, but we couldn’t let Smiley die.
We ended up adopting Smiley after just two weeks of fostering, mostly because we fell in love with our foster boy and also because of Pound Hounds Res-Q. In addition to the fee, we also gave a small donation because of everything the rescue has done for us. Donating to rescues helps them save more dogs so I encourage everyone to do the same!
The amazing thing about fostering, is that it’s practically free and saves lives! Shelters such as the NYACC become overcrowded and put animals on the kill list very quickly. They barely get a chance to get adopted! If you foster a dog, a rescue will cover the vet bills and any necessary training. Then you help the dog get decompressed, preferably crate trained and then you help them find a new forever home.
Fostering is a great way to help animals without making a lifetime commitment, that many people can’t do. If we hadn’t ended up adopting Smiley, we would have likely kept fostering, because it has been so rewarding. Let me tell you a bit about it!
Smiley went from the NYACC to the vet to get neutered, then a special service was hired to bring him to us. We had never met him or even see him in real life! Smiley was friendly and curious but he wouldn’t look up at me or make eye contact. He also didn’t respond to commands, although we were told that he knew to sit, stay and come.
When I brought him inside, he explored the place, sniffing every corner and demanding to know what was behind every door. It took over an hour to get him to slow down and rest on his doggy bed. He lay there for a while until I tried to put his harness on for a walk. He wouldn’t let me put it on I’m and bared his teeth, so I backed off and let him sleep. A few hours later, after my husband came home, he let us put the harness on without any fuss.
On his first walk with us, he pulled like crazy, giving us rope burn. He was so strong and wouldn’t listen at all outside. We immediately ordered a front pulling harness, but got dragged around painfully for three whole days. We also watched some videos on how to get a dogs attention on walks and we tried to implement them, which only half worked.
The first evening while we watched TV, we saw him watching us from his bed. It was the first time he looked at us. Not surprising after being handed off from one person to another for ten days. He was scared and confused.
We crated him that first night as instructed by the rescue. People want to adopt crate trained dogs and we had to try our best although we didn’t like the idea of him being in a small cage. He barked a bit but quickly went to sleep. The next morning he woke up wagging his tail at us, it was progress!
The second day he acted like a spoiled child, pushing his boundaries. He would jump on the sofa, demand treats and he pulled me even harder outside. I may have had one or two breakdowns that day because I couldn’t connect with him. I couldn’t see anyone adopting a dog that was this crazy and I also didn’t know how long I could spend with him, but I didn’t want to disappoint him like humans have in the past.
That night he barked more in his crate at night, and I was stressed knowing that we would have to leave him alone for up to six hours the next day. Everyone reassured me that he would be okay, as long as he wore a cone – he was recently neutered and could rip his stitches.
When we came home after our trip, that we couldn’t cancel although we had wanted to, we found his cone out of shape and he was practically hanging by it because a piece got stuck in his crate. It was around his neck so tight that he coughed when I cut it off. He seemed fine otherwise and extra friendly, but I was traumatized by the experience. I was too scared of putting him back in the crate while he had his cone, so we let him sleep in our bedroom on his bed.
When he woke up that Sunday (we had gotten him in the afternoon on Thursday) he was a completely different dog. He was so calm at home, looked at us, asked us for pats and actually listened when we gave him commands. That day we took him to a beer festival because we didn’t want to leave him home alone.
We had been told that he shouldn’t be around other dogs or kids so we were extra careful. But he was calm around kids, accepting treats gently and he wagged his tail when he saw other dogs. We let him sniff a few and it seemed fine, we were starting to doubt everything that the kill shelter had said about him. We found a quiet spot at the chaotic festival and he sat with us, observing. People came over to meet him and he was so friendly and loving to everyone. No one believed that we had just rescued him.
The next day we had received a front clipping harness and the moment we put it on him, he stopped pulling on walks. He still got distracted outside but he was so much better at walking calmly. We let him sniff more dogs and discovered that he was super friendly but couldn’t tell between dogs that wanted to play or fight.
The following week he started to feel at home. We let him sit with us on the couch but still kept him out of bed. He behaved better every day. Except the one time he jumped on the bed when I screamed because I saw a spider – but that’s because I screamed and I assume that he was trying to protect me.
During the week we also let him play with some dogs while leashed. He seemed to get along with everyone, ignoring the dogs who were aggressive and he backed away when an angry cat jumped out at him. He was clearly a good gentle boy!
We also took him to the vet that week to check his ears (he was super itchy) and his stitches that he had licked more than he should have. He was so calm and let the vet do very invasive things to him without showing an ounce of aggressive – and I grew up with labs that growled at the vet…
That second weekend we had him, we took him to an amazing day care Petbuddy Services for a trial day. We were nervous to see how he would get a long with other dogs but it went really well! After a day of playing with dogs, he was even calmer on walks and less jumpy when he met new dogs.
The day he spent at doggy daycare we went out, but came home before picking Smiley up. Our home felt so empty without him even though he had only been there for ten days! That’s when we decided that we’d be keeping him. But we wanted to wait in case there were any issues with our landlord, although those were unlikely.
On Wednesday we took him to the vet again, and even though the rescue knew we were 99% likely to adopt him, Pound Hounds Res-Q paid his bill. Later that evening, we officially paid his adoption fee and he became a part of our family. The next day, I let him play off leash with a bunch of friendly dogs at the park and he did so well, people didn’t believe me that he was a new rescue.
Since getting Smiley there has been more stress in my life – we need to figure out where he will be while we’re on holiday. We need to worry about him getting sick, hurting himself or feeling lonely when he’s alone at home. I also have a companion at home now, a smiling face that makes me happier and I can’t walk him down the street without him getting compliments left and right. Oh, he also gets me out of the house more and breathing that fresh New York air! I’ve even met a few local dog owners that are quickly becoming friends.
Of course I’m already worrying about Smiley dying one day, but that’s just how my brain works. He has already made my life so much better and more worthwhile. As much as I think that everyone should adopt a dog, or five, immediately, I understand that not everyone is int he position to do so.
Foster! If you can’t adopt. Donate to rescues, if you want to help but can’t foster. Dogs, and animals in general, bring so much happiness and unconditional love to our hectic lives. They deserve our help and love, they should all feel safe and happy – the same way they make us feel. Please consider donating to Pound Hounds Res-Q today, without them we wouldn’t have this beautiful dog as a part of our family!