In early 2019, the shelter reached out to me about helping foster another puppy. By now you should know that I'm not going to pass up that kind of opportunity! As it turns out, a family was fostering a littler of puppies and needed help since they were getting to be a handful as they got older. So, Saul and I drove to their house to meet the little rascals. Here we are getting to know the puppies.
I mean seriously, have you seen anything this cute? It looks like a Disney puppy!
They asked us to take home Blizzard, he's the one that looks like a baby Polar Bear. Once home we introduced him to Luna, Nova and Millie and gave him a quick shower.
One of my favorite parts about fostering dogs is slowly getting to see their personality start to shine through as they get comfortable with you and your home. Blizzard, also called Monsieur Floof, was a very playful puppy. But he did come with some challenges that I was not used to. Blizzard had a tendency to occasionally nip at Saul and I unexpectedly and would sometimes react negatively when we tried to pick him up or hold him. Additionally, he was also showing some signs of resource guarding. As a foster parent this was the first time I ever dealt with this type of behavior and honestly it was a bit demoralizing because I felt like I was failing him. When adoption weekend came around I told the shelter that he was not ready and that we really needed more time together to work through some of the behavioral issues I was seeing.
I decided to contact Luna's old dog trainer in LA, who I am a huge fan of, and have reached out to multiple times for training sessions whenever I return home. Side note, if you're looking for a great dog trainer, I highly recommend Jessica. She offers virtual training sessions or in person if you are in Los Angeles. Here is her website with more info. I explained what I was seeing to Jessica and she gave me fantastic advice. She recommended a series of handling exercises with Blizzard. My brother and I would take turns scooping him up and rewarding him heavily as we were doing it. Over time he learned to love getting picked up since he knew it meant a treat or toy was coming. Once we were holding him, we would do other handling exercises to get him loving hand pressure. Eventually Blizzard became so comfortable getting picked up and held that he would fall asleep in our hands.
For the resource guarding, Jessica provided more great advice! She recommended I feed Blizzard after Millie, Luna and Nova. What this does is it builds positive association seeing other dogs get food because it means he will be fed next. As a result, Blizzard would get excited seeing other dogs getting fed which worked wonders for his behavior as you can see in the video below. Don't worry, I taught him to Say Please By Sitting, and soon after the behavior issues were addressed!
One thing I'd like to emphasize is that Blizzard is a great, great dog. I don't want readers to get the wrong impression. When you foster or adopt a dog from a shelter there are going to be challenges. If there is one piece of advice I can share, it is: please don't give up and find a support network to help like I did with Jessica. If you and your dog work through those challenges you'll be better off for it. Blizzard was one of my favorite and most rewarding foster puppies. When adoption weekend finally came around I felt like a proud parent. He had made such great progress and was on his way to being a great dog. To make matters even better, he was adopted by a wonderful family who I knew would give him lots of love. Here is happy Blizzard on adoption day, ready for his next adventure!