Monday, March 14, 2011


Callie at Sixish Months

I had once again promised to take a break from fostering. It was April, which meant not only was it final exam time, we were also moving out of the house at the end of the month into a small one bedroom apartment. I really don't know why Ryan tries for this whole "take a break" thing because it never works out. Think he'd get with the program by now. I made it about half way through April when I got a call from one of the volunteers saying she had just got a call from the local shelter about a young dog utterly terrified in her new surroundings. She was cute and very sweet but would not stop shaking in the back of the kennel. If the rescue couldn't take her, she was going to have to be put down. Do you really expect me to say no to that?

Since I had an exam that night the volunteer offered to go to the shelter, pick her up for me, and watch her for a few hours until I was finished. I tried to study and cram for the last exam but I was SO excited. Getting a new foster has always been one of my favourite moments. You never know what their personality will be since each dog is so different and I love getting to know a new dog. I've always been a good test taker so the exam went well and I got home and called the volunteer to bring me my new dog.

At first sight she was gorgeous. A pretty tan/orange colour with white feet and markings, sideways flopping ears, and huge doe eyes. The shelter thought she was a Collie mix and very uncreatively named her "Callie the Collie." When she walked into the house we let the leash drop and talked about the first impressions. The volunteer told me she was a complete sweetheart but was scared of pretty much everything. The only thing that had stopped little Callie from cowering was the volunteers friendly little Jack Russel who wouldn't take no for an answer when he wanted to play. I didn't have a second foster around but thankfully a good friend of mine was staying with us temporarily and her almost-a-year old Golden Retriever, Cooper, was staying with us also. The volunteer finally left and I was alone with Callie for the first time. Although she liked to sit by me and get petted when I'd leave the room she would go and hid under the living room table or squeeze herself between the couch and wall. Sudden movements scared her, strange noises scared her.  Finally I made an executive decision and went to get the overly excited Cooper, who had been stuck in the basement watching TV with the roommates all night. He was just about to die of anticipation and exploded into the living room to see a bewildered Callie who didn't seem to know whether to stay or run away. Coop's charms are rather hard to resist and like I suspected, Callie had just found a new best friend. They played and played as we all gathered to watch. We eventually left them upstairs and were soon surprised to see Cooper racing down the stairs with a timid Callie following slowly behind. Play soon turned to worry when we found blood all over Coop's fur. We searched the two of them all over in panic (a lot of blood!) and soon found that Callie was loosing her baby canine teeth! I had suspected she was pretty young but now I knew for sure.

Callie and Cooper eating some doggie icecream

Callie had a transformation that night. After Cooper brought her out of her shell she was a lot happier. She was still scared of strange things and shy with strangers but she was no longer cowering in the shadows. What was interesting is that, like a lot of rescues, she was already pretty much perfectly house trained and knew a few tricks, like sit and shake paw. You would not believe the amount of fosters I take in that already know a few tricks like that. Anyways Callie and I really grew on each other. She took the move to the apartment like a champ and after a few puzzled looks she didn't even mind the elevator ride. She became to be known as "Calzone" and was a favourite to everyone in our new building. We formed this really cool relationship built entirely on trust. When she was scared of something, she'd look to me, and all I'd have to do is nod and she'd be fine. When something really scary happened, like big sewer grates or automatic doors, I'd show her first by walking on it or walking in the door and she'd follow happily along. Within a few weeks she was on her way to being pretty well adjusted  and someone from a couple hours away applied to adopt her. It was a nice home, a young girl who understood Callie would need to be introduced to new and interesting things to keep up her progress.

The woman asked for a time to meet and possibly adopt Callie. I replied with a "Sorry she's been adopted" and offered other similar dogs up for adoption. Then I filled out the adoption application and sent the rescue the adoption fee. I called Cooper's mom and we went to get Callie a new "I have a home" collar and tag. Then I avoided telling Ryan for a while and offered little hints here and there. Finally, after Ry's graduation I told him I had just adopted Callie as his graduation present. He called my bluff since he had a feeling for a while I had adopted her but was actually pretty happy about it.

What made Callie perfect for me and not any of my other fosters is hard to say. We just kind of connected in a way that was different from the others. When other fosters had been adopted it mae me sad, a little anxious, and I hated to see them go, but I knew it was for the best. When Cal got an application, the thought sent me into a complete panic.We had very similar personalities and have always seemed to kind of understand each other without much effort. I love everything about her. She's a complete couch potato inside, but loves to run and play outside. She's a constant shadow where ever we go but I like to encourage a bit more independence. She has these little eyebrows that make her face so much more expressive and you can almost always read what she's saying. She still needs work and still scares easily but the transformation has been amazing.

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