Saturday, 5 November 2011

First Came Adam

Today marks the end of a two week journey into canine companionship. I have had my heart set on fostering and one day adopting a rescue dog. I had put the thought out of my head for all sorts of logical reasons, but my heart kept pulling and here we are.

His name is Adam; he is a three year old Griffon/Poodle mix. Maybe. Being a stray it was kind of difficult to confirm breed specificity.

I got him from a rescue group called Tail From Greece, an organization that rescues stray dogs and cats from Greece and provides them with rehabilitation and then eventually provides them with foster or forever homes in Toronto.

I had heard of this group from time to time and was pretty interested in what they did. I visited a friend in Greece a couple of years ago and basically wanted to fill my backpack with every stray I cam across - and there were a lot.

I'll spare the month-long back and forth it took to eventually arrange for Adam to come to Toronto, but he got here safe and sound and as cute as his pictures. Being a person living with a disability and having many similar people in my life I felt particularly attracted to the Tails dogs because so many of them were bottom of the barrel in terms of adoption. This was mostly due to the fact that many of them had been quite violently injured at one point or the other and needed some extra care. Adam had had a run in with a gun a couple of years ago which left him mostly paralyzed in his back end. To help him get around he had a little dog wheelchair...that I am pretty sure he had a crush on because every now and then he would go over and lick it for a few minutes.

Dog with a disability wasn't a problem for me in considering to foster dogs. I asked a lot of questions about what he was like, capable of, needed help with and then sided those things up against my own abilities and struggles to see if my body could handle the extra responsibility I was giving it. Based on what I learned, it was a perfect fit and I waited semi-patiently for him to arrive.

He did, and he was DAMN cute (pictures to follow) and we got along from the jump. When I went to pick him up at the vet and get him ready to go he was so caught up in the excitement that he had an accident. No big, it was a total change of environment and he had been on a plane for a long time. I bundled him up and carried him home to meet my cats Sydney and Pika.

Sitting in the back of the car with him wrapped up in a towel should he get excited again, I began to dream of how our life would be together. We would get along super well, I knew he liked people so I knew he would get to meet my friends.  I imagined, a couple pf years down the road, working as a team of therapy clown and dog. Or something like that. We got home, everything with the cats was awkward and tense but then everyone fell asleep and it felt so good! All three pets competing for air space with their measured snoring.

By the end of the second day though, I began to have some questions about information I had been given. Long story short - I had been lead to believe that I would be fostering a small, happy dog who was socialized around people and other dogs, didn't mine cats, was housebroken and neutered.

So many of those facts were just not true. About half way through the first week, we (my partner and I) had worked our mop to death from following him around and cleaning up the puddles of pee which he would promptly walk through and trail along where ever he went. At this point we weren't sure if was just still nervous, or not house trained or incontinent. These are answers that are hard to come to on your own.
Things started breaking down from there and the endless email correspondence with the rescue organizer began. I emailed her asking if she could remind me if was incontinent or not as I had been told that he had control over that part of his system.
By the end of week one this is what I had learned:
- he was definitely not housebroken and his incontinence was unconfirmed
- he was not cool with cats - there was a lot of chasing and growling and hissing - very stressful.
- he was not neutered (this one is funny because the moment I saw him I asked, so, he's neutered right? as I stared at his uncomfortably noticeable testicles and constant boner. Oh yes, oh yes the ladies in Greece assured me. Ooook dog lady, I thought the balls went out with the bathwater but what do I know.

He peed and pooed indiscriminately and without much recognition across his face of what he was doing. We of course had to keep a constant eye on him just to catch where he might be headed so we didn't step in a present later on. This, and some other more physical elements of caring for this cutie were proving pretty difficult for me as I have a disease that causes major pain and fatigue. I have known and walked/lived with dogs on a number of occasions so this decision wasn't made without consideration. It just turned out to be that the little guy I had been promised that I felt I could take care of turned out to be so much more than I could handle in this body of mine.

doggie diapers everything got a little easier in terms of keeping the place clean. Except for the poops, those were hard to predict and hard to stop once he was in motion.

Despite having a pretty rough and uncaring part of his life Adam was just the sweetest guy and we got along so well. Spending lots of times just cuddling him or him trying to groom me or just resting his head on any part of me he could reach.

Sadly though, it turned out that our competing disabilities were not best suited and I had to call it in and confess that I would not be bale to provide all of the things Adam would need in the next little while to become adoptable. This included a few vet trips for neutering etc as
well as fitting him for a new wheel chair.

In the end he ended up going to a very loving foster home with someone who has many dogs and years of dog experience and is much more capable to take him for his physio and all of the things to get him going.

He left this morning. My body was relieved but I was so sad to see him go.

As expected the experience has left me with many thoughts and feelings around fostering/adopting rescue animals, or children for that matter.
I struggle with debilitating anxiety and that became part of the problem of taking Adam for walks. I like my neighbourhood but it has a heck of a lot of violence within its boundaries. Factor in being a trauma survivor, black, queer, and not too tough looking means that I mostly like to be out in the day, or with friends, or even on my bike because I can get away. The threat of serious violence being perpetrated against me is a very real instinctual trigger. All that to say that sometimes it was difficult to get myself outside to walk with him at night as all of my sensors were flashing DANGER! DANGER! ACTS OF OPPRESSION AHEAD! And for the first time I had the thought that, had Adam been a larger more fierce looking dog (disabled or not) I might not be so scared out there on my own. Then I began to think about how the dog relationship that I have been imagining was that of mutual respect, care, and protection. So I sat there watching him sleep and dream and unpleasantly imagined how much more secure I would feel if I could go for a night time walk with a dog that has my back as much as I have theirs.

I have wanted a dog for ages and so am always grateful when I get to house sit for my friends with dogs. I was pretty set on a Saint Bernard for a while. Bulldogs, mastiffs, boxers...I love love LOVE those drooly hang down faces. Practical considerations brought that to a stop, and so now I am taking some time to go over what being a dog's person could look like if I imagine myself as I am, and not as a super woman able to triumph at every experience.

So that's this blog...I want to learn about dog life, about my life, about family and care relationships. But also, I want a dog in my life stat.
Until that happens keep reading and lookout for updates on potential puppies.

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