Introducing Our New Foster Dog: Donald Sutherland

Meet Donald Sutherland the dog. Last night we decided to give fostering another go (our second time ever), so we went to the PSPCA in search of “Buster,” who we saw listed on their website as being shy, old and blind. After waiting two long hours, we finally met this little wiry haired guy, who has the body of a Dachshund and the combover-esque hair of a terrier.

We fell in love and scooped him up and now he and Betty White are in cahoots (and by “cahoots” I mean he sniffs her and she  runs away and escapes to higher ground). We’ll see how well he and Betty end up getting along before I consider hiding him in my pocket and keeping him for good.

We’ve renamed him Donald Sutherland because we think the resemblance is pretty uncanny, but maybe you have to meet him to see it.

Likes: Rubbing his face on our shaggy rug. Romping around in the backyard. Artfully peeing without lifting his leg. Being mistaken for a member of the Sutherland family. Devouring Beggin’ Littles. Trying to get Betty White’s attention by playfully barking at her in a guttural tone.

Dislikes: Being returned to the shelter for “not being very playful” after just one day of readjusting to a new home. Not being tall and limber enough to jump on the couch. Being mislabeled as “blind” when he really has nuclear sclerosis (which in his case, doesn’t affect vision).

He isn’t doing a ton of smiling in these photos, but I’m sure that will change once he’s grown more comfortable here. We get attacked with tail wags and kisses whenever he’s not sleeping, so we think he’s pretty happy (even though we I dress him in a sweater sometimes).

I’m looking forward to sharing more about Donald Sutherland as we get to know him better. Do you think we picked an appropriate celebrity to name him after or would you have gone with a different long-haired gent?

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{So Happy} Charsi’s Forever Family is Here

For those of you who have been following our adventures as a first time foster dog family since late September (here and here), we have exciting news! Charsi has found a forever family, and they seriously couldn’t be any nicer. We met up with the lovely couple and their cute dog, Pebbles, today at Cooper River Dog Park. I got uber lost because my GPS and iPhone refused to believe me when I told them the intersections in Pennsauken, NJ. Thanks to the help of Charsi’s new parents (!!), I managed to finally find my way to the pooch park after driving in circles and cursing Jersey’s crazy U-turns for far too long.

Seriously, how cute is Pebbles? Charsi has loads of energy, but she hit it off really well with Pebbles, who is full of adorable sass. The family has decided to rename Charsi (originally named Mariah from the shelter) “Charlie,” which I think is a great name for a girl, plus it makes me think of my favorite character from Lost, so it’s a win-win.

I’m going to look past the Charlie Sheen connection, since I was absolutely obsessed with him after I was an extra in Major League II. Below is surprisingly the least embarrassing photo of Charlie and I during the course of my days as an extra. I may or may not have several t-shirts/sweatshirts with iron-on transfers of these photos that say “Shannon Loves Charlie” (if you want proof, comment below and I might be convinced to pose in a photo while wearing the t-shirt I still have). I also may or may not have refused to wash my hand after he kissed it. For weeks. I even knew he kissed prostitutes with the same mouth, but I still loved him anyway, and my entire fourth grade class knew it. Unfortunately, he’s no longer “winning” in my book, but we’ll always have 1994.

Anyway. Enough about Charlie Sheen and more about puppies, please.

I like catching Charsi Charlie in the most unflattering poses, thus a picture of her scritching herself.

I am so so excited to send Charsi off to her happy home early next week. I’ve grown quite attached to her (she totally spooned me in bed this morning after Pete left), but I’m really looking forward to sending her off to such a friendly family. I can definitely tell they will spoil her with lots of love and she seemed to fit in perfectly with them during our doggy date in the park.

Has anyone else fostered pets before? How many families did it take to find the right fit for your foster friend?

A Diary of Betty White

Supposedly absence makes the heart grow fonder, but for my shelter dog, Betty White, that is not the case.

An average day in the life of Betty White consists of nervous foot licking (what was once a white dog is now half brown because she has gnawed at her feet so much), hovering underneath me and watching my every move, hiding from dog toys and shaking uncontrollably at foreign noises. Needless, to say, my boyfriend, Pete, and I have been taking baby steps to try to help her.

When I leave our apartment to head to work, Betty White can be found in her crate, whining and scratching at her cage as soon as I’m out the door. When left to roam the apartment freely, she becomes even more afraid.

These are all signs and symptoms of separation anxiety, which tends to be more common with second-hand shelter dogs like Betty White, who was previously abused by her last owner. My boyfriend, Pete, and I have tried to promote independence and make her more comfortable while alone at home. We’ve tried everything from exercising her in the mornings to taking “doggy Prozac,” per recommendation of our veterinary hospital. Doggie daycare seemed like a good idea until upon my return to a local kennel I was told that Betty White scaled an 8-foot fence, where she then proceeded to hover on a small ledge and shake for hours in her private room (they compared her to Hannibal Lecter, which is never a flattering comparison). It was becoming more and more apparent that we had to turn to a professional for our favorite four-legged friend.

As the Editor-in-Chief of Bucks & Montgomery Living Magazine, I have had the pleasure in working closely with David Cugno, owner of David Cugno’s Canine Center in King of Prussia. Desperate for advice, I sent David a novel-sized e-mail about Betty’s behavior problems and asked if he had any upcoming availability in his boarding and training classes. Luckily for us, he was able to fit her into a two week-long boarding and training program where she was guided toward interaction with other dogs.

I recently had my initial consultation with David and his friendly staff, where they assured me that I wasn’t the only one with this problem. When you’ve had a dog for over four years and she is still as anxious as the first day you adopted her from the SPCA, it can feel a bit disheartening— like you aren’t giving your pet the best possible life. David assured me that I was not alone and had me instantly smiling by saying, “If you knew what to do, I wouldn’t have a job!”

During Betty White’s two week-long stay, David and his talented staff helped Betty muster up the courage needed to join the pack and realize that she can lead a perfectly happy life without us being there with her every step of the way. Over the next few months I will be documenting Betty White’s journey at Cugno’s Canine Center, from boarding and training to private classes and how life at home has changed.

I encourage my fellow bloggers to comment with their dog training success stories. Thanks to David Cugno’s Canine Center for helping to create a safe and happy home for our irresistible (yet slightly neurotic) dog, Betty White.