Dec 1 2012
My name is Lori and I am a foster mom for MARQ. I am a “Shepherd Girl”. By that I mean German Shepherds, particularly mixes, are my breed of choice. I offer to foster one after another for Erin, and she indulges me. We’ve placed many German Shepherds in the past year together. We have shepherds in homes with infants and in Search and Rescue training, we placed 125 pound Tater after he lost his daddy in a tragic accident and Shepherd mix, Graham Crackers who very nearly didn’t make it out of the shelter because he was scared.
It was in honor of my beloved Bacchus, GSD/husky mix, that I began fostering in the first place. I have found my niche!
And then came Pepperoni….
Pepperoni the Pointer came into my life in the most unexpected scenario. Pepperoni was a shelter dog. He had been at the KC shelter long enough to be on the dreaded “urgent list”. I never saw him on that list because I limit my attention to shepherds. Pepperoni was one of the lucky ones that day. He was offered the safety of a foster home. He was heartworm positive and a foster had volunteered to get him through his treatment. This next part is a little fuzzy, but it appears that Pepperoni was returned to the shelter and was in fact, adopted.
In the meantime my new organization Doghousing, Inc. had a foster home that was fostering a beagle for MARQ. Petal was adopted! When Erin posted the new happy family on her website, as she often does, people from the shelter actually recognized them as the people that had adopted Pepperoni the week before. What had happened to Pepperoni??? Erin called the adopters and I got on Craig’s List to take a look around. Unfortunately it was on Craig’s List that I first saw Pepperoni. He hadn’t worked out in his new home because he is quite active, anxious and could jump their 4 foot fence. Rather than return him to the shelter they opted to rehome him.
Knowing the danger of Craig’s List to dogs Erin sent me over to purchase Pepperoni from these people. Which we did and he came home with me that night. He is about as far away from a German Shepherd as a gal can get. He is a hunting dog. He is bright white with a perfect pepperoni on his side. He is intense, very very intense. He has a ton of energy and was so full of anxiety that he chattered his teeth. He had no outlet and no mama. He desperately needed both.
We definitely have gone through growing pains. A high energy hunting dog is not what I’m used to. I didn’t know how to help him. We settled in with lots of exercise and plenty of snuggles. I fell in love with a Pointer! Who would have thought? Even loving him was not enough to prevent what happened next.
Pepperoni has a sad story. Nobody thinks he’s cute. Nobody comments on his pictures. Nobody wanted him at the shelter and nobody wants him now. To make up for all that, I loved him more. He snuggles me at night, he didn’t like to be crated so I didn’t crate him. He needed exercise so I let him pull on the leash until he was exhausted. Unbeknownst to me I had set Pepperoni up for failure.
I foster, and with no interest in Pepperoni, I brought in another foster. Two actually, one Dobie/lab mix and a small terrier who was only to stay a day or two. Weasley (the dobie mix) is a pup of about a year. He had no manners. Everything is fun fun fun to Weasley! Bringing in the new fosters changed my whole pack. Pepperoni’s teeth chattering was back. He took it upon himself to teach Weasley manners. Having a small dog in my house changed things for me as well. I was fearful for little Brillo, he was just so little. My whole house was nervous.
The inevitable happened a few days later as I was getting ready for work. A pack fight. A pack fight in my hallway! 5 dogs all at each other’s throats. I followed my instincts and started grabbing collars. Yes, I was bitten. Twice. I don’t even know which dog or dogs got me. It doesn’t matter because it was my fault.
I made a call to Melissa French, dog trainer extraordinaire! I moved little Brillo out of my home and in with Erin. Melissa is remarkable. (she is a whole other story that I will tell one day). I’m a foster, for crying out loud, I own German Shepherds, I foster German Shepherds. What is a trainer going to tell me that I don’t know? Well, it took about 15 seconds of Melissa French being in my house for her to figure it out. Pepperoni was stepping into pack leader position BECAUSE I WASN’T.
Melissa worked with him that evening. She changed his life and I suspect she changed mine too. The truth is I don’t know jack about dogs other than I just love them. The biggest mistake I made was feeling sorry for Pepperoni. With all the changes he has been through these last 6 months, he didn’t need a hug from me. He needed a leader to take the pressure of just “being” off of him. He needed to know that there was someone to take care of him now and he could relax and just breathe for a minute. He was finally safe.
Now Pepperoni is crated when I’m not here, he sits on command, he kennels on command and we’re working on leash work- if he pulls we go home. He sleeps with me again now, but that privilege is taken away from him for misbehavior. He isn’t allowed to focus on my front window nor is he allowed to bark past a warning when a squirrel passes by. He has never been happier!
So, before all this, I wrote Pepperoni’s bio as needing an active home with a runner or a hunter. He had to have an outlet for his energy. But a confident, secure Pepperoni with a strong pack leader, is a totally different dog. Yes, he still needs exercise as all dogs do. But what Pepperoni is really looking for in a mama and daddy is a strong leader so he can finally relax.
Pepperoni is available through Erin’s Midwest Animal ResQ. As a shepherd girl let me highly recommend to you that you take another look at a Pointer.