This has been another busy week for us in The Foster Zoo. Wes received his final grade in his World Religion class and passed with an A. He made a 92 on his final research paper. He is now able to apply for graduation through the Community College of the Air Force. He is taking off between now and January to work with our dogs, take a breather, and just have some fun. Of course, that means doing a lot of volunteering with the dogs.
Tanker and Topher volunteered as R.E.A.D. Dogs at the library on Saturday. They both pretty much slept the entire time. Tanker usually sleeps. Topher usually enjoys it and interacts with the kids. He seemed to have no interest on Saturday. I did get him to interact with a boy who read us a book about how to care for cats. The book really geared towards rescuing and adopting cats. I loved hearing it. Topher perked up and laid watching the boy every time he turned the pages to show Topher pictures. I told the boy that we have rescued cats at home and that Topher loves them, so he really enjoyed being read that particular book.
I have begun to wonder if Topher is stressed out, if he is losing interest in his work, or if he is he depressed. Topher had a rough week with a kid a the psychiatric hospital we volunteer at a couple of weeks ago. Topher has not been the same while working since. He has been more withdrawn. I have decided to pull Topher out of doggy therapy for a little while and let him just be a dog and have fun. I talked with some of my therapy dog friends and they have mentioned that they won't take their dogs to the psychiatric hospital because it is too unpredictable and stressful of an environment for their dogs. Topher is a very sensitive dog. He can read my emotions like a book. Maybe the stress at the psychiatric hospital is too much for him. Some weeks are easy weeks and the patients are calm. Some weeks are harder with emotional people or patients who are a little out of control, like the kid that Topher had a stressful experience with. I don't want to ruin Topher. My mom used to work in Special Education in the elementary school before she went into counseling at the high school. She left special education because she needed a break. Maybe Topher needs a break. Sure, he is a great dog, a very well trained dog, and an extremely calm dog, but as my mom reminded me, he has been through a lot since we adopted him a year ago. Wes and I adopted Topher in Georgia right after our dog, Blondie, passed away. I was in Georgia taking care of my terminally ill grandmother. Right after we adopted Topher, Wes left and went back to Virginia. Then my grandmother passed away. There were new people coming and going. Topher went from living at my grandmother's house briefly, to my parents' house, then down to my hometown in Florida where we stayed at my aunt's house for a while, then back to my parents' house, then finally back to Virginia. Once back to Virginia, we started training him to be a therapy dog. We fostered several dogs and a cat. We rescued Bella and Shiloh. Tanker has been in and out of the hospital a couple of times with his epilepsy. Topher has been an excellent dog through it all and not once stressed. However, his life has been very inconsistent since we adopted him. Once he got certified as a therapy dog, we went straight into working in one of the more tougher areas to work from the get go. Maybe Topher needs a change. Maybe Topher needs all fun for a while. He may eventually be able to go back into the psychiatric hospital, but he is only maybe three years old and still has a lot ahead of him. I don't want to ruin him at a young age. Topher is my first responsibility, not the volunteer work.
That being said, Topher and I did not work at the psychiatric hospital on Sunday. Wes and Tanker went in and worked while Topher and I sat out in the car and read a book. It was better that way. Topher was a bit upset when Tanker put on his vest and he didn't get to go. Wes told me that it was a very active day in the units, so it was better off that Topher wasn't in the midst of it all.
After Wes and Tanker finished working, we took the two dogs for a walk along the Rappahannock River. There is a nice walking trail in Fredericksburg that runs alongside the river. We figured it would be good to get them out and walk without puppies. Everybody deserves a nice relaxing stroll every once in a while. We walked six miles total and really enjoyed ourselves.
On our way home, we ran out of gas down the street from our house in the neighborhood. We laughed about it. We called it our BS Adventure without Bella and Shiloh. Life is too short to not laugh at your mishaps.
Someone mentioned to me that maybe the puppies were causing Topher too much stress. Topher is the puppy police with Bella and Shiloh. He plays a lot with them, but he also herds them and keeps them in line. I also cannot have Topher's favorite toys out when Bella and Shiloh are out because they will destroy them. In order to give Topher some fun hedgehog time, I have been taking time to crate Bella and Shiloh and having fun time alone with Topher, Tanker, and Tango. Topher and Tango have really bonded and they enjoy each other. I guess because they are so much alike. They play with Topher's hedgehogs together. Tango does not shred them. They will throw them up in the air together and play fetch with them. Topher and Tango play like herding dogs. I think they speak their own language.
Topher and Tango really have become pals. Not only do they look alike, they also think alike.
Tango is a smart girl. We have an elevated water bowl in our breakfast room. I keep a pitcher on the counter that I use to fill the water bowls with. They were out of water one day, so Tango jumped her front feet onto the counter, grabbed the pitcher by the handle, and carried it over for Wes and I to see. We laughed!
Tango is the only dog small enough to crawl under the bed. She crawled under there and found a giant bone recently! Who knows how long ago Bella or Shiloh hid that under there!
What have Bella and Shiloh been up to? They have been up to their usual selves. Fun, playful, puppy-like selves.
I have been working on doing tricks with Topher. He loves doing tricks! Once I get Tango trained up in basic obedience here at home, Wes and I may take Topher and Tango through a freestyle class. How much fun would it be to have two dancing Cattle Dogs? Patients would love that!
This is Topher's new "beg" trick.
Lastly, we got some free postcards printed up at Staples to hand out at the Jingle Bell Walk/Run in Richmond on December 3rd. We hope to see a lot of our friends there.
Overall, this has just been kind of a down week. We just had fun and did nothing too serious. Wes and I are thinking about cutting back to twice a month at the psychiatric hospital as opposed to every week. Wes worked all night Friday night, did Paws for Reading at the library Saturday morning, and then the psych hospital Sunday morning. Between his work schedule and our volunteer commitments, we don't have a lot of time at home. We can always pick up extra volunteer time in the hospitals during slow weeks. The hospital is a little less stressful on the dogs anyway, so it may be a nice break for them.
Peace. Love. Rescue.
About The Foster Zoo
- Lindsay, Wes, and The Zoo Crew
- 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.