Valentine’s Day Love Story with a Happy Ending, Starring 2 Pit Bulls from the York County Animal Shelter
My husband and I met these 2 dogs at the York County Animal Shelter on June 16, 2019 at 10:19 AM. It was a blistering 91° with a 61% dew point, even at that hour. Photographing dogs out in the midday sun for hours was excruciating and physically recovering from the 20-30 dogs per 90 minute sessions averaged 10 days.
I had been quite ill for nearly 2 years with a serious chronic illness, visiting a doctor and/ or hospital 2-3 times/ week. One of the side effects of my medications was sun exposure and heat sensitivity.
My husband’s assistance was very helpful since he was the only one who knew I was not well. It’s just not something I normally talk about. When you’re sick the last thing you want to talk about is being sick. Anyway…
The foster dogs arrive on July 1- a blue nose pit bull and her 6-8 month old puppy
On June 30th the shelter put out an urgent request: these 2 dogs needed immediate rescue out of the shelter or they were at risk for euthanasia because the shelter was out of space. Although we already have 3 dogs, we agreed to foster them for 2 weeks as travel schedules allowed. We made the preparations and picked them up from the shelter on July 1.
The mama dog is very sick with heartworm
It is believed they are a mother daughter pairing, with the blue nose pit bull being the mother and the white one still a baby, maybe 6 months old. The mother was very ill with advanced heartworm and needed to be kept as still and calm as possible.
If you know puppies, there is nothing calm or still about them. So I took the puppy out often to give mama a chance to rest.
How to manage 3 resident dogs and 2 foster dogs in the same house
For this to be successful we devised the cycle system: cycling the foster dogs and our dogs through multiple gates and doors so they never met. We designated separate areas of our house and cycled each dog group throughout the day. When our dogs were outside we’d move the fosters to the common areas for a bit and put them into a private area when our dogs came in. We’d put the fosters in our bedroom while our dogs were in the common areas and so on. Cycle, cycle, cycle.
It was our system and it worked. But it was absolutely exhausting for us and for the 5 dogs.
Training the puppy was a joy
My husband was with them mostly but I took the puppy and trained her. She was a great learner and knew her basic commands when we returned them to the shelter for rescue transport.
We pulled out all the stops to get these dogs rescued. My neighbors even got involved and had their adorable daughters sit for a promo photo for them. The general idea was the little girls and the dogs were going to have a tea and cupcake party. Until the dogs turned out to really like the cupcakes the little girls were eating. The best laid plans…
On July 9th while I was cycling my own dogs inside our bedroom with a double barrier entrance, my 80+ pound Dogo Argentino landed hard on my right foot and I couldn’t walk.
Which landed me in the hospital with a broken foot. I was back photographing shelter dogs in the sweltering heat on one foot 5 days later.
I hopped around ok but it’s difficult to control multiple large breed dogs at the same time. In the meantime it meant my husband had to cycle the dogs in the house without me. He managed to introduce the puppy to 2 of our dogs and they played and interacted well in the yard.
After 2 weeks we returned to our normal schedules and the pair went to rescue. They both took a piece of our hearts with them. My husband and I cried quite a bit but knew they were going to their forever homes Aiken, SC. The puppy was adopted right away. The mother dog was successfully treated and cured of heartworm and was featured on TV!