About The Foster Zoo

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We have decided to blog our adventures again. So much has changed since we last blogged. Bella and Shiloh both went to their forever homes and they are in wonderful families. June Bug got adopted. We quit fostering dogs after those adoptions because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. We quit doing therapy dog work because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. Tanker passed away June 9th, 2013. We adopted a senior border collie named Shania Tankerbelle in his memory. We still have our two cats, Sweet Pea and Little Bit. Wes has started rescuing pitiful bettas from Wal-Mart and we currently have seven. We have a camper. We camp. We have focused on giving our animals the best lives possible. We are The Foster Zoo Crew and we like to have fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Day of Work for TnT, Part 1: Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon

Yesterday was Topher and Tanker's first official day of work as therapy dogs.  We had two scheduled events: the 2011 Marine Corps Half Marathon in Fredericksburg and our first day at Snowden.  It was a long day, but the dogs LOVED it!

The Marine Corps Half Marathon was AWESOME!  We loved cheering on the runners and Topher and Tanker seemed to enjoy it too.  They were completely relaxed.

Topher laying in the backseat on top of all our bags, towels, chairs, equipment, etc. on our way to the race.  We normally have the barrier up and the dogs ride in the very back, but we have not yet completely cleaned out the car and put everything back together since coming home from Alabama.  I guess Topher figured if the puppies can lay in the seats, he can too.  I think he really just wanted to be closer to us.

We arrived at the race at 6:35, five minutes after we were supposed to get there.  We were both a little flustered because we hate being late to anything.  We had to park a little farther away from the other Blue Grey Therapy Dog teams because the roads had already been blocked off.  Just as we were about to get the dogs out, we realized that we left their canvas bag at home that carried their harnesses, leashes, and vests.  Then we were double flustered.  We were afraid we wouldn't be able to stay without their vests.  Fortunately, since the dogs both have their Delta Society IDs on their collars, and Wes and I both had our Delta Society picture IDs on us, they were both still legal.  One of the other Therapy Dog teams had extra leashes and an extra harness for Topher.  In order to be covered under Delta Society's liability insurance while working, we have to have the same equipment on them that we tested in.  Thank goodness that Rhonda had extras!  We were so thankful!

Topher sometimes has issues with other dogs.  I was a little bit nervous about this event because there would be other therapy dog teams there.  I spent about 15 minutes across the street from everybody else to properly introduce Topher to the other dogs.  He sniffed the air, sniffed where other dogs had walked, and gradually got used to them from afar.  We eventually got closer and Topher ended up being fine.  Actually, one of the dogs is a big Cane Corso named Diesel.  I was afraid Topher would not like him since he was so big, but he ended up being Topher's favorite!  They stood next to each other the entire time.

Not long after we got there, the first runner came along.  We cheered, hollered, encouraged, and congratulated him as he ran by.  Soon, more followed.  As we cheered, I encouraged Topher to do his "Howl On Demand."  The runners got a kick out of that!  He howled to cheer them on!  Everybody loved him!  He became known as the singing dog.

We sat at about the halfway mark of the race.  These were some of the first runners to come along.

There were runners from all walks of life.  We saw an elderly couple that had to be in their 70s or 80s.  We saw elementary school children.  We saw teenagers, college aged kids, and adults.  There were even people who ran the race in custom wheelchairs.  We saw people running and walking.  People were there to have a fun time!

A few runners carried full sized flags in support of our country and the Marine Corps.

There was even a Vietnam Vet who runs the Historic Half every year carrying a flag.

Howling and cheering on runners is a lot of work!  Must rest up so we can meet and greet people at the end of the race!

There were 7,000 runners at the race this year.  That's a lot of runners to cheer on!  People came from near and far.  We saw one of Wes' coworkers running and that was really neat.  We spent four hours cheering people on.  It was exciting to be part of such a big event!

Once the last runner passed, trucks came through to pick up the cones.  They were mostly Marines in uniform volunteering at the event.  I hadTopher howl at them in support as they passed by.  They smiled and loved it!  It was really, really cool!  We then got in our cars and drove to the end of the race to meet and greet all the finishers.  Topher, Tanker, and the other therapy dogs were given medals for volunteering.  Topher and Tanker were proud to wear them! 

At the finish line after getting their 2011 Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon Medals.

Yes, we are cute, and we felt super special to be rewarded with a medal for volunteering at the race.  We kind of feel like we cheated the system since we didn't even run, but howling and wagging our tails for four hours was a lot of work!  I guess we deserve a medal.

We got to greet many runners at the end.  Many of the runners remembered Topher howling at them and thanked him for the support.  A few runners told us that seeing and petting the dogs was the highlight of the race.  That made  us feel good.  Since people came from out of state to run, they were missing their own dogs at home.  Topher and Tanker gave out lots of their cards and people seemed appreciative of it, especially the kids!

Blue Grey Therapy Dogs is a big Therapy Dog group in Northern Virginia.  They are well known and have a good reputation.  Of course, because of the work they do, even reporters wanted their pictures.  We all posed with the Marine Corps Bulldog and had pictures taken.  I don't have access to any of the professional photographs yet, but here are a few I took on our phone.

Sitting, staying, and waiting our turn to get our picture taken with the bulldog.

I hope this one gets published somewhere.  Aren't they cute?  Topher and Tanker listened to our commands very well, even when we weren't next to them.

Wow, you have some big paws there!

At the end, we were all tired!  We needed to sit and take a break.  Wes had forgotten to take his pain medicine for his back that morning and he ended up being in a lot of pain.  I forgot to take Lyrica for my nerve problem and my arms were red and on fire from so much clapping.  Topher and Tanker didn't have their vests or any of their equipment.  Despite everything we forgot, we had a GREAT day!  We had ourselves and our dogs.  That's all we need to spread love and make other's smile!

You can't go to the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon without meeting somebody famous.  Drew Carey ran the marathon.  He was there with his wife and son.  They petted Topher and Tanker and received pet therapy from them!!  Not that they needed it.  They were the nicest people.  They were very friendly and happy.  His son was adorable!  Wes shook his hand and thanked him for the time he got to meet him while deployed overseas several years ago.  Drew Carey's face lit up when Wes said that.  I think he thought it was cool that he made a difference.  What a great man and what a cool experience!

That is Drew Carey's son with him.  His son adored him.  He wanted to be by daddy's side the entire time.

After we left, we stopped and at the closest gas station.  There were two runners there that recognized Topher in the car.  They said, "hey, isn't that the dog that was howling and cheering us on?"  We told them yes!  They thanked Topher and Tanker for their support and told us how encouraging it was.  How cool is that?!  First day on the job, first therapy dog event, and TnT made a difference! 


  1. Lindsay and Wes....what you're doing with your dogs is so cool! I love reading about them!! We're hoping to get a dog soon after we move. Any advice on a breed? We'll get it from the Humane Society, but any advice you have would be appreciated! I love to hear your stories from your mom, Lindsay! She always has a funny dog story to share!! Keep up your great work! (Think I could train our cat to do what your dogs do?!!!!) Kathy Andrews

  2. Thank you! We love what we do with the dogs. It is so addicting too. The more we do with them, the more we want to do! Yes, you can train cats to do what we do! There are therapy cats. Delta Society, which is the organization we are certified through, certifies all kinds of animals for therapy work. We helped do evaluations the other day and a bunny was certified. All they need is the right temperament and the right training. As for the right kind of breed to adopt, it really depends on what your lifestyle is and what you want to use it for. I can recommend adopting from Georgia Humane Society. That's where we adopted Topher from. I have remained friends with the President of GHS and Topher's old foster mom. It is a great organization. They are who donated all the dog food for the tornado victims in Alabama. Look them up online. I know of two GREAT dogs they have right now that are up for adoption.


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