Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Dog I was Meant to Foster

By Kinesa James

On May 10, 2011 I was casually browsing the Manitoba Mutts Facebook page when I saw a picture of Ginger (now called Mycah) who needed a temporary foster home. Immediately I knew that I was meant to foster her, long term. I was informed of her aggression and was told that she should go to a home with only one other dog. I wasted no time convincing my grandmother to agree for us to foster her, and ended up picking Mycah up that night. When I met Mycah, it was instant love! She was so gently, loving and appeared to be a little social butterfly. In my truck, she sat back like she did not have a care in the world – this did not seem like a dog with aggression, I was beginning to think that that I took home the wrong dog. After unloading all her things (bowls, food, treats etc.) and got settled we took Mycah into the backyard to meet Akira (my grandmother’s dog). Everything was going fine until Akira came within five feet of her… then aggression came out. However, when I think about it now, it may not have necessarily been aggression but more so fear.

When Mycah showed aggression, I stayed calm and told her that there would be none of that. I took Akira inside to suit her up for her walk, putting on her backpack filled with water bottle and harness. I put Mycah’s leash on her as well and walked with both dogs by my sides. About five feet down the street Mycah put on the breaks – she was extremely scared. I calmly spoke to her then tied her leash onto Akira’s harness. She still put up some resistance but she got better and better through out the walk. Occasionally it took a bit of motivation to get Mycah moving, but overall she was walking much better. When we arrived at Chalmers field I let Akira off leash and watched her chase her ball. After about the fifth time she brought the ball back I noticed that Mycah wanted to play with her. I tied Mycahs leash to Akira’s harness again but noticed that it was not that comfortable for either of them when running. I unattached the dogs and they ran around playing together for a good hour.

When we got back to the house Mycah’s tail dropped between her legs and she hid in the corner of the backroom refusing to eat or touch her water. After a few hours, I was worried about her so I hand fed her and let her drink water from my hand. I took the leash and guided her to the living room where it took her half an hour to settle down. She took favour to one of Akira’s dino-bones. When night came, it took a huge amount of effort and coaxing to get her into her kennel. She hated that kennel – the night was filled with a series of cage banging and howling. In the morning, Mycah greeted us with so much excitement, as if we were the best thing to ever happen to her. We began working with her, teaching her that she does not need to be scared and how to be a real dog.

On May 24th, 2011 it was Mycahs first Adoption Fair at Best Western Foods. She was over whelmed by all the other dogs, puppies and people there. I took her on a couple walk to try and calm her down. She growled at every dog that came near and tried to sniff her, she even snapped at a few of them. With some corrections, her growls were reduced by the end of the Adoption Fair.

The next day we took Mycah to Kincona Dog Park. The moment she arrived she was completely terrified, tail tucked and ready to defend herself. I took the leash and told her to come, we began to walk and each time a dog came up to her I would let them sniff for no more than three seconds then continued walking. Finally I decided to let her off leash and let her run free and play with Akira. By the end of our dog park outing she was allowing other dogs to sniff her without showing any aggression towards them.

On June 1st, Mycah became best friends with an English Mastiff named Gibbs that I was dog sitting for a month. They played together all day, their favourite game was tug-of-war which to my surprise, Mycah won every single time! Gibbs went home on June 24th, she constantly searched the house for him completely heart broken and depressed.

On June 25th at 3:30pm, Mycah was adopted into her forever home. I was so excited when I entered the house and met her new mom. This was the perfect home for her. I fought back the tears watching the dog that I loved and cared for over the past month go from a frightened dog that hid in the corner to now walk into a house confident, wagging her tail knowing how to sit, shake a paw, lay down, sit pretty (beg) and wait at her dish until being told to eat. Watching this little angel who did not know how to be a dog become an amazing dog is one of the greatest gifts of all.

Mycah update: Mycah is a favourite at the daycare where all the kids call her “Baby Mycah”. They play with her and dress her up! She loves being a dog – and loves the snow!

Akira, Mycah & Gibbs

My Happy Foster Girl

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