Thursday, December 21, 2017

Two Orphan Dogs In A Christmas Tale

First off, let me tell you this is a story with a very happy ending! You may shed a tear along the way, so I want you to know there's joy at the end. After all, it is a Christmas story! 

Our Hero Answering A Call To Foster "The Leftovers"

Don't we all like a good Dickens Christmas story with a happy ending when it concerns cold, neglected, raggedy little orphans finding themselves torn from an over-crowded orphanage...a terrible place...but the only home they've ever known?

I'm changing the names to protect their identity. Let's call our orphans Molly and Max.

Molly and Max arrived in a crate and huddled together,
 too shy and scared for eye contact and refusing to come out

Our story starts in a rural area in an unnamed state, where an animal-hoarder was found to have over 100 dogs in her house, referred to here as The Orphanage. 

A call went out across the state asking larger towns to help shelter the dogs. Our daughter's city dispatched volunteers to pick up 8 dogs and bring them to the city's shelter. Right away they held an Adopt-A-Thon and a few were adopted, but not many.

The problem with rescues like this is that the dogs are often overwhelmed and unsocialized, sad and shy as was true in the case of Molly and Max. Not many people who come for a happy healthy puppy can see the wonderful soul hiding inside a raggedy older orphan, right?

So a call went out for "Fosters"... people willing to take in a traumatized dog or cat and help them learn to trust again -- to feed them, warm them, and eventually cuddle them when the animals are willing enough to accept a warm hand in friendship.

Sad Note: If a dog can't be socialized, or if there are too many excess dogs, the only alternative is euthanization, which most animal shelters avoid at all cost.

Our daughter and son-in-law already have two adopted dogs and two adopted cats, but still they were willing to spend their holiday time off fostering a dog until after New Year's when the shelter will be up and running again. 

When they arrived at the now closed Adopt-A-Thon, they were told to choose from the "leftovers" who had been passed by. A "bonded-pair" of chihuahuas -- shivering, shaking, and clinging to each other -- caught our daughter's eye. 

Bonded pairs (dogs that grew up together and are only adopted out together) are especially hard to find homes for since most people only want one dog. Daughter decided the bonded-pair were the most in need of a loving foster home, and our story picks up from there.

The first night Molly and Max huddled together, too shy to come out of the crate, so newspaper, water and food were placed outside the opened-door crate and the laundry room door was closed to give them some peace and quiet.

Next morning, the two were carried outside for a potty break. Chihuahuas are cold sensitive and poor Max had come from the shelter the night before without even a little sweater to keep him warm. 

Although they both shivered like crazy in the far reaches of the yard, they would not come near the back door or the two "foster" humans, so unfortunately a madcap chase ensued until the two were corralled and carried inside.

Hearts racing, the pair were placed in a blanket on the couch where they curled up and buried their heads into the blanket and avoided eye contact.

On Monday, the orphans were approached only with kindness by the family dogs and the humans until they all ended up within petting distance of foster mom. 

Our daughter's first attempt to pet the pair can be seen in a  video, but I need to work on the connection to get it to run. 

Here she shows us the size of the two and how close she managed to get to them without panicking them again.

It breaks my heart to see dogs try not to show any reaction when they're being stroked by a loving hand when most will turn right over and hope for a belly rub! If you look at the picture below you can see Molly stares straight ahead when being petted.

At the end of the video, Molly actually glances a little sideways to see if the hand is maybe coming back for another loving stroke. I think this is the place where the ice started to melt around that little pink heart!

Sorry! Working On Getting The Video To Run

On Monday afternoon, the first order of business was a trip to the store to buy Max a blue hoodie to warm him up, and to give him a little sense of protection. 

Molly's hand-me-down sweater someone found for her at the shelter was a little smelly, so she got a new bright pink one too!

At first, they just stiffened and stared straight ahead, but little by little they softened a bit.

Max has a loose snaggle tooth on the left here, it will have to be removed

With a new warm sweater to comfort him, Max allowed our granddaughter to hold him on her lap and pet him, but his stiff legs just couldn't relax. 

Sweet Lily accepted that Max just couldn't relax those front legs!

The two dogs are very skinny. Food in a crowd of 100 at the orphanage must've been hard to get at when you're as little as these two are!

That must be why, from the very start, whenever meals and snacks are served these two desperately shy little ones are the first to get right in the chow line as quickly as they can!

As they blossomed, these two bravely started out running even Lucy (affectionately known as Phat Taters) who is down to only 7 pounds overweight and has been on a "gentle diet" ever since she was adopted last year. 

Lucy, Who Has Been Reducing Since Her Adoption, Provides "Butt Warmth"

Errands had to be run on Tuesday afternoon, so with a blanket wrapped around them, the pair went on a trial run to determine how well they can handle a car ride.

Foster parents create an analysis sheet to help the shelters find the right homes for the fostered dogs. 

They're Loving The New Bed Bought For Them On Their Ride And Placed In Their Favorite Spot On The Couch...The Luxury Lifestyle Indeed!

Things foster parents often consider are how other animals are tolerated, how the dogs relate to kids, whether they need plenty of exercise, or (like these two) are they couch potatoes that might do well with a senior?

Waiting Outside The Kitchen Praying For Dinner To Be Served

As you can imagine, our whole extended family has fallen in love with these two by text messages and phone pictures all day long since they were brought home. One daughter was away from her phone and found 178 messages when she returned!

"I'd Like A Second Serving Please!"

Our daughter and granddaughter had to go out for 4 hours and when they returned, they found two lively dogs on the couch jumping up and down and whining because they were so very happy to see the humans return! 

They're still a little shy, but daughter feels they've made it over the hump so to speak...

We have a feeling that one of our homes might be a match, and they'll be part of our "fur-ever" family.  At any rate, even if they go to an unknown home, this will be the Christmas our family will remember as The One With Max And Molly!

Max Got A Second Sweater Too "Just In Case"

I'm posting this story to highlight the need for foster homes and to help spread an understanding of how fostering works for animals, the trials and rewards associated with fostering, and why foster homes are so badly needed.

Thanks for dropping by!


  1. I'm terrified of dogs (I know what a hero) but I admire people who do care for them. Lovely story.

  2. Love this story! We are on a list for foster for Berner rescues in CO.

  3. That's wonderful Laura! I admire all you who are able to foster the little guys. All our kids/grandkids live out of state so we travel too much to foster, but we do try to donate needed items like towels and rugs and $$ to help our local shelters and rescues.

  4. They are adorable and deserve the forever home they have found. A heart warming story.

  5. I do like a story with a happy ending. : )

  6. This is the sweetest story! You have a wonderful caring family. I can see the change in the two little dogs at the end of the story. They looked so shy and afraid in the first few pictures. Hope the two stay in your family.

  7. This is a fantastic story! Our Chihuahuas were rescued at a few weeks old because the mama was run over by a car. A lady who raised Pomeranians took them in and hand fed them until they could eat on their own and could be adopted. We've had them six years and love them to pieces! My daughter is active in the Dallas-Fort Worth pug rescue group. Our four-legged furry friends deserve a loving furever home. I won't say what should be done to people who mistreat them. Max and Molly will have a very Merry Christmas indeed!

    1. We're getting reports that Max and Molly are now leaning up against their foster mom and sleeping. They won't get on her lap yet, but they have come quite a ways in just 5 days. They are going to need a home with an older person or couple who are home all the time.

  8. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Max looks like a Manchester chihuahua I grew up with. So sweet. I am a big believer of adopting pets that need homes. That is how I came to have my kitten Lily in June.

  9. Beautiful story, thanks so much for sharing.

    I have two rescued dogs and I couldn't love them more. They have a forever home with me.

    Merry Christmas.


  10. A beautiful Christmas story, thanks for sharing with us. My grand daughter's chihuahua died this year and I have to say that we miss him heaps. I'm so pleased there will be a happy ending for Molly and Max.
    Christmas blessings.


  11. aww, Merry Christmas to Molly and Max

  12. What a wonderful story....we housed a vey abused dog who became our furever child. It takes time for them to feel safe and loved once again...A very beautiful Christmas Story and wishing you and your family a merry Christmas.

  13. What a heartwarming Christmas story! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  14. Many thanks to your daughter and family...they are special:)