September 28, 2015

The Best Laid Plans of People and Potcakes: Keemo's Arrival


Last night my dad and I met two other volunteers to pick up three potcakes from Delta baggage claim. As we approached the Delta office we spotted the dogs. Their crates were stacked on a cart in the aisle and they seemed understandably scared but happy to see some friendly faces. They got a lot of attention as we wheeled them back to the parking lot. The cart clunked along horribly over the seams in the concrete and we felt so bad for them having to endure more scary noises after all they'd been through, but we finally got them to an empty space next to the cars and took them out to stretch their legs. My first impression of Keemo was that he was very much a puppy. He leapt around on the leash and mouthed my hands. I wondered what I'd gotten myself into...

I was surprised that he went willingly back into his crate so soon but thought it best he ride in it in the car, having no idea if he'd been loose in a car before. These guys make such a journey from The Bahamas - they see more in a two-day trip than many dogs do in their lifetimes! On the way home my dad and I strategized about the introduction. It was late and what we most wanted to do was get everyone settled down to rest, but I knew that Ruby would have to meet him or she would be a maniac all night long. I believe her to be reactive partly out of frustration, so dogs she can see and smell but not get to are very hard for her to handle. We decided that my dad would walk Ruby and I would walk Keemo so they could meet side by side. I took Keemo's crate inside so that both girls could get a good sniff before actually meeting him. When my dad came out with Ruby I kept my voice very cheery and said "look, Ruby, a new friend, let's walk!" We walked them around the complex and it was a total non-issue. They both had playful body language (if a bit unsure from Ruby, Keemo is tall and lanky so is quite a bit bigger) and Ruby was even on the disinterested side. I breathed a sigh of relief as I thought the hard part was over - at least the part I'd been most nervous about.


Something I left out of my foster dog preparations was to expect the unexpected, as that is exactly how things happened last night. My reactive dog welcomed a newcomer easily and my calm, social dog wanted to send him right back to The Bahamas. That's right...Boca is not a fan of our visitor, and told him so in no uncertain terms after a great initial introduction. Once I had separated them with Keemo in the kitchen behind the dog gate in order to spend some time with the girls Boca started barking and lunging at him on the other side of the gate. I was shocked - I'd been so confident that Boca would be her sweet and easygoing self that I was completely unprepared to see this side of her. After doing my best to calm things down and comfort a now-frightened Keemo with a stuffed Kong and some calming music, I went upstairs with The Ginger Sisters and lay awake filled with anxiety and doubt, wondering if I'd made a big mistake.

This morning I'm glad to report that things are better - I'm still keeping Keemo and Boca separated but we took them on a walk together and they did fine. She has only barked at him once and seems to have resigned herself to pouting. Keemo and Ruby are playing wonderfully together (and I think Boca is jealous about this even though she has little tolerance for Keemo's rowdy teenaged boy ways). Keemo seems to be a fast learner and although he is bouncy and mouthy, he is already getting the idea that polite behavior earns attention. He is cautiously interested in everything and very food motivated. He slept in the kitchen overnight with no accidents or destruction and has pottied on the patio for which he gets praised and treated. He climbed the stairs hesitatingly but trustingly - I had intended to bathe him but decided not to push things since the stair negotiation was scary for him and opted for a dry shampoo spray and wipedown instead. He is a sweet and eager boy who just needs a patient teacher. I'm excited to try some clicker training with him in the next few days. Meanwhile I am trying to keep things as low-stress as possible (not an easy task for someone as anxious as I can be about my animals) and hope that Boca will warm up to him. Fostering is hard, you guys; each time I do it I wonder if I'm really cut out for it. But look how cute he is...


18 comments:

  1. He's adorable!! Congrats on your new house guest!!
    Is he neutered yet? I know that's something that can set off some female dogs. :-)

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    1. He is *very* recently neutered (less than a week ago) and is erm...randy. That is what pissed Boca off initially. Ruby thinks it's a fun game since she is an awkward humper, too!

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  2. Keemo is so cute! I'm sorry that Boca didn't like him and I hope she warms up to him soon!

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    1. He's adorable. He's really just a big dork.

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  3. He is so cute, and I'm sorry that things didn't go quite as planned with Boca (go figure), let's hope it just takes a couple days for her to figure out this new guest isn't such a bad guy after all. And yes - expect the unexpected, it's never quite as easy or predictable as we think I suppose. I'm definitely optimistic that Boca will settle down soon, here's hoping for the best.

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  4. A slow intro policy really works
    Lily & Edward

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  5. I wondered if Boca would be as cool about the newcomer as you thought. I had the same surprise with Blueberry when we fostered the sweetest senior lab - male. I saw a side of her I never would have believed if I hadn't seen it myself. I think you are doing all the right things - and hopefully things will eventually level off. He looks like so much fun! Maybe once Boca realizes he isn't there to steal her thunder or replace her, she'll relax a little more. It's always those quiet, sweet types that surprise you!

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  6. I've never fostered before, so can only imagine how much anxiety it can cause - especially if you already have 2 at home! But I can't imagine anyone being more prepared and ready to take it on than you. :-) And that face of his... I think I'm in love!

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  7. Dogs have a way of surprising us. On two different occasions we've had dogs at the house and both times I expected Delilah to be the snarky one, but it was Sampson.

    I hope Boca gets used to Keemo so it's less stressful for everyone. It's a great thing you are doing.

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    1. Aw, Kimberly - thank you. I'm not feeling very heroic, though - Keemo actually had to go to a different foster home this weekend.

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  9. I'm fascinated by the idea that the calm and polite part of the duo would be snarky with the newcomer. That must have been more than a little unnerving. I'm hoping it'll be just part of the adjustment process... a little blip in the road.

    Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

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    1. I got some very interesting insights into both my girls during this experience.

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  11. Bless you for fostering ~ not an easy task because you truly don't know what to expect. And you sound like me ~ I'm helicopter Mom to not only my pets but every animal I meet (Including the shelter animals I volunteer with - I worry about them all!). Our trainer/friend is constantly trying to get me to mellow out. ;-) I look forward to following your inspirational journey!

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    1. Mellowing out just isn't in my DNA :) Unfortunately Keemo was not a fit for our household and went to a different foster home. I will have a more detailed update soon.

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  12. He IS so cute. It's funny that what happened is opposite of what you thought! I'm sure Boca will settle - sounds like she already is. Thank you for fostering again. You are so awesome. I really want to get back into fostering next year when Matt and I buy a bigger house and land. I am apprehensive with my disabled cat but I'd feel more comfortable with a huge property and space in the house to separate if necessary.

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    1. As you know by now, I made the difficult decision for Keemo to go to another foster home. I thought I had a pretty good set-up, but each time is a learning experience and I think I probably won't be fostering again in my townhome. The logistics of keeping everyone more separate than I planned just were not tenable, not to mention shared walls and fearing noise complaints from my neighbors. The house of my dreams has a foster dog suite where everyone can have lots of their own space!

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