Weim lives matter!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

From the Archives: Jack: Lessons From A Foster Weimaraner

     I found some articles I wrote years ago, before I started this blog, when I first started doing rescue work.  I'm going to reprint them here as new blog entries so those stories are not lost and those dogs are remembered.

     This first article is from the February 2008 issue of the Steel Ghost Gazette, the newsletter for the Weimaraner Association of Greater Pittsburgh.

     Volunteering with Tri-State Weimaraner Rescue (TSWR) as the Weimaraner Association of Greater Pittsburgh's liason with the rescue group was easy for me, I didn't mind evaluating a dog coming into rescue or interviewing prospective adoptive families over the phone.  No problem, not too time consuming and they even provided forms with all the questions to ask, making it very simple.

     As the emails came in asking for foster homes and emergency placements for dogs, I felt safe, all the dogs were in Eastern Pennsylvania, hours away from me and it was just not feasible for me to help out.  Besides, our house is pretty full, two Weims and a lab mix, no room for any other dogs.

     Then a couple days after Christmas it happened, the email said there was a young Weim in McKeesport that was going to be taken to a shelter if a foster home wasn't found for him.  His name was Jack and he was an 11-month-old, intact male.

     I couldn't imagine one of my Weims being in a shelter and the thought of a young Weim stuck in a cage, alone, without his special people was just too much for me.  I emailed TSWR and said I wanted to help Jack, that I'd go get him and let him stay with us.  Then I went and broke the news to my husband, Dan, that we needed to make room for one more dog.

     We picked Jack up on Saturday, December 29th, 2007.  His description had said that he didn't travel well in cars, so I had Dan accompany me so he could help control the dog while I drove.  

     Jack was so cute, full grown, very thin, but also very friendly.  He jumped in the car and rode in the back seat as if he'd ridden in cars all the time.

     On the way home I fell in love with Jack and I cried as I drove, so upset that his original owner had starved and then abandoned such a sweet, young dog.

     Next came the introduction to our pack.  We brought our dogs outside to the driveway, one at a time, and let them meet Jack and check him out.  Everything was going well -- at least for the first week.

     As we got to know Jack we became impressed by his personality and it was very obvious that he was a smart dog who learned very quickly.  He didn't get upset easily and was actually quite calm.  We began to think we'd like to keep Jack and adopt him ourselves.

     I enrolled Jack in a basic obedience class and we worked with him daily, teaching him the rules of our home.  He slept with me at night and I enjoyed taking him on walks, where it seemed that almost everything he saw was new to him.  I was really excited about the idea of having such a young dog to train, a rescue Weim who didn't seem to have a lot of baggage from his past.

     The one concern I had had when I said we'd take Jack in to foster was that our Rocky is an intact male.  The general thought was that Jack was young enough that having two intact males wouldn't matter in this situation.  But Rocky had other thoughts on the subject and, in time, he made it clear that Jack was not welcome in his house.  This was a surprise for me, as I thought Rocky would be thrilled to have someone to play with.

     I was even more surprised when it turned out that my 8-year-old rescue Weim Frankie, a dog I thought didn't know how to play with other dogs, became Jack's playmate and buddy.

     The situation with Rocky and Jack got to the point that we knew the best thing for Jack was to go to another home.  It was a hard decision to make, but one that we knew was best for all involved.

     Once I informed Julie Potthoff, of TSWR, that we would not be able to keep Jack, she did a wonderful thing for me, she asked me to interview a family that she thought might be a good fit for Jack.

     The interviews are done by phone, so the fact that the adoptive family lived in New Jersey was not a problem.

     After spending 45 minutes on the phone with Debbie, the prospective adopter, I knew that Jack would have a great home.  Debbie's family had lost Timber, their 12-year-old Weim a year ago, to cancer, and they were now ready to get a new dog.  Their Weim had been such a big part of their family that he went everywhere with them and was even included in a photo with their son on his bar mitzvah invitations.

     Being allowed to help in finding Jack a home and knowing he was going to a great family made me feel much better about my decision not to adopt Jack.

     Debbie and I became email friends as I sent her some photos of Jack and then emailed her every couple of days to let her know how Jack was progressing in his training and his vet visits.  Even though I loved the little dog, I became anxious to get him to his new home, because I knew he was going to be one loved and spoiled dog, and I also knew our Rocky would be much happier once our house was back to normal.

     Thursday, January 24th, Jack went to the vet to have his neutering surgery.  Debbie and I made plans to meet the next day at the Carlisle Exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where I would give Jack over to his new owner.

     The transfer was bittersweet for me.  Jack has left a mark on my heart that will be there for a long time, but I truly learned that doing what is best for the dog is the most important thing.  Jack will be the center of attention in his new home and will be showered with love for years to come.  From the pictures I've received so far from Debbie, Jack looks contented and well adjusted.

     I learned some other valuable lessons from my first fostering experience, including gaining new insight into dog behavior and interaction.  I learned that I really want a puppy the next time around, even though I also learned that it's going to be a lot of work to have a youngster in the house.  I also learned that three dogs are really enough for us, but that there's always room for one more, at least temporarily.

     UPDATE:  Over the years Debbie has stayed in touch with me, letting me know how Jack is doing.  Although he's had some health problems, Jack remains happy.  They adopted a second Weim and Jack has his own buddy to pal around with.

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