Hello everyone!

When we got back from New Zealand last month, we gathered ourselves, and went in search of a new foster dog. Joe had left a giant hole where all of our love and dog attention went to and it was time to bring in the next recruit. I had decided to let JD pick out our newest focus since I was having trouble choosing. I had been up to the kennel with my friends Robyn and Sue who run the rescue group that we got Joe from, 4 Paws Rescue, the weekend before we left town. There are so many great dogs who need homes and as I was finding out, some of these dogs have been at the kennel for a long time.

“Hank” was one of them. This cutie pah-tootie grabbed my attention right away. He had been there for two years, ever since he was a pup and watched all his litter mates and his mother get homes. I can’t imagine why he didn’t get a home before we came along since I have never seen such an out-going, happy little soul. Every time you came up to his cage he was so glad to see you, like you had been his best friend forever. He would lick your hand like his life depended on it and maybe he knew it did.

The volunteers at this particular place have a lot to do, so not a lot of time is spent with each dog. They are let out into a run for approximately 10 mins a day while their cage floor is sprayed down with disinfectant and the waste is removed. Then they are fed and put back in. When we first got Joe, he was scared to death to be out of a cage and he was only there for two months. I find it a miracle that Hank has the personality that he has. However 10 mins of the chance to get exercise a day doesn’t help keep you fit. Hank is a Staffy cross or Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Smaller (and in my opinion cuter) than a pit bull and bred in Australia to be family dogs. These guys are low to the ground and pack on weight quickly. Most of the ones I have seen trotting around Sydney are like little sausages with short legs. Hank is no exception. Although he is taller and bigger boned than a true Staffy, he is as round as Buddha and just as happy.

Are you my new mom?

After JD had a good look at all the dogs, we agreed that Hank had the best chance of getting a home quickly. So we found a collar that would fit over his neck rolls and away we went.

From the start I couldn’t believe what a champion this dog was. He had never been in a car or if he had it had been a very, very long time, but he acted like it was no big deal. He was just as happy and accepting in the back of the car as he had been in his cage. We drove to a pet store to get food, toys, and bones and he followed around on his lead like he knew exactly what to expect. It wasn’t until we pass by some large refrigerators that he showed any sign of uneasiness. We had to remember that EVERYTHING was going to be a brand new experience for him. We let him go in another direction and tried him a little later going by the same place. This time he stayed with JD and walked past it, although he gave it the evil eye as he went. We stopped again later on to get a bite to eat at an outdoor restaurant and he made friends with everyone that passed by our table. When we got out to the car he hopped into the back without any help, like he had always been doing it.

Over the next few days, we found that he was nothing like Joe. I didn’t need to lock him in the bathroom when I left, because he didn’t have any anxiety about being alone. He wouldn’t seek out things to destroy while I was gone and would wait patiently on his blanket until you came home. He has never once made a mess in the house. If he chewed on something you only had to tell him “No” once (maybe twice a few times) and he would leave it alone whether you were home or not. He learned to sit and lay down on command very quickly.

The personality that we saw at the kennel was just the tip of the iceberg. JD taught him to jump up on the brick railing on the front balcony so they could do neighborhood watches together. Where ever I go, he trots behind me like we are on the best adventure ever. He has taken to wriggling around on his back when the mood strikes him. He dives and rolls over shoulder first and then twists his body back and forth, all the while growling and snorting with great relish. Case in point:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmbAriOz09E . If he catches you watching him, he gets sort of a sheepish look on his face as you can see in the video and he pops up right away.

I've got my eye on you!

He loves walking to the beach to eat ice cream and knows that Friday is Pizza night. He will cuddle with you at the drop of a hat and knows not to lift his leg on the tomatoes. He doesn’t bark at anything or anyone and very gingerly will take his treat out of your fingers. This is no ordinary dog. He is one in a million and JD and I are beside ourselves.

We recently had to make the decision that Chubby is not coming. It’s heart breaking, especially to JD who feels he owes his life to that dog. When he was going through rough times, Chubby was the reason to get out of bed and go to work. Chubby loved him unconditionally when he needed it the most and made him whole again. When I first met him, it was apparent that she was indeed this man’s best friend. Our original plan was to have her go through the 5 months of tests and then come on over to be in quarantine for 30 days. Chubby is a Bull Mastiff and 8 years of age. That’s kind of old, especially for a mastiff, to be on a trip that lasts roughly 24 hours. Then you have to think about her being even older and having to do it all over again when we come back. When we started running into one problem after another with her transport plans, JD started to second guess his determination to have this dog come over. When he talked it over with his parents, his Dad insisted that she continue to stay with them. Like father, like son, he has gotten attached to having the old girl around. After all how do you think she has learned the term “Snickerdoodle”? It’s tough to be without your dog but JD knows that she is loved just as much there as we could here.

I talked to JD about keeping Hank since we are both so attached but the experience of trying to get Chubby over here has him scared to death to keep Hank. What if we can’t take him back with us? It’s better to find him a great home here before a few years pass and we are that much more attached and have to scramble to find him a new home. No, this is for the best.

Sunday we went to the Sydney Olympic Park to participate in the 2010 Million Paws Walk to raise money for the RSPCA. We plunked down our $15 a piece and took Hank on a 5K walk with Robyn and two of her three German Shepherds. JD took Hank, I took Katie and Robyn took Kane and off we went. There were roughly 5,000 people and their dogs and we saw every possible breed and mixture. Some had on cute little costumes and some just had a balloon tied to their collars. Kane and Katie started out with leis but Kane broke his early on, so Katie had a pink lei and Hank had a cute bandana. We walked the 5K like a bunch of champs and then milled around amongst the vendors. We saw beds and toys for sale. We even saw a doggie ice cream company who gave us a few free samples for our pooches. I think an ice cube has a longer existence in hell than this ice cream did. We got dog tags that said “I did the 2010 RSPCA Million Paws Walk” and were handed tons of flyers by each vendor. Hank got lots of compliments and pats like always and although they all look longingly at him, no one that we have run into has been ready to take on a dog.

Keep those doggies rollin…

That may have all changed today, as I got a phone call from a very nice couple in New Castle. They are going to come down on Thursday to look at him and it looks like a perfect home from what I can tell. I hate to part with him but it would be selfish on my part to not share a dog this great with the world.

Stay classy America and please consider adopting a dog or cat from your local shelter. They need you!