Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Introducing Jasmine

Some people have said to me they don't know how I do it, fostering dogs. As if it's such a difficult thing. I think what I do is nothing compared to what people like Dana, a volunteer with the Merced Animal Shelter, does. She is the one who compiles and sends out last-plea emails on behalf of the dogs at the shelter whose time has run out. I have never met Dana personally, but she seems to know each of these dogs. The Merced Animal Shelter is one of the many rural shelters notorious for always being overcrowded, and there is a never-ending stream of dogs earmarked for death.

Some of these dogs are saved, either adopted at the last minute or pulled by rescue. But I know many are not. The unlucky ones mostly remain faceless to you and me. It's easier that way. But to dedicated people like Dana and so many others who come into contact with these dogs, they have a face, a name, a personality. And their death isn't just a statistic, it is the death of someone they knew. When comparing the emotional impact, the stress and frustration, sometimes the joy but ultimately the sadness, what I do in fostering is very little compared to what the Danas of the world do.

Our dog, Boomer, came from the Merced Shelter. We were told he had been on the euthanasia list when he was ultimately pulled by Tuffie's Rescue. Our first foster dog (the first one we didn't keep, that is), Bella, also was rescued at the very last minute. She was set to be put down that day. Gigi was another, who went to be fostered by a wonderful woman named Robin in Sacramento. And thanks to Robin, today, there is Jasmine.

Jasmine, aka Jackie Carter, had been at the shelter since November 19. She was one of the ones scheduled to die. But because Robin stepped up, Jasmine will have a second chance.

I went to pick Jasmine up this morning in Pleasanton, from one of the Merced Shelter volunteer transporters, enroute to San Francisco. She was panting in her crate, drooling, obviously overwhelmed. Yet she jumped down and walked very prettily with me. She was nervous about getting into my car, so Lucy, the transporter carried her up. For the entire hour-long ride, she layed down quietly in the middle of the backseat, not even bothering to look out the window. I couldn't help but compare her to the last dog I picked up from a shelter--Bandit. Bandit, who happily jumped into my car with a look that said, "Ok, where we goin' now?" and stared out the window the entire ride home with eager interest and curiosity.

Speaking of Bandit, is it me or is there a slight resemblance?

When we got home, Jasmine, still curled up, was hesitant to get out of the car.

But an ever-so-gentle tug at the leash and she came out and followed me to the yard.

I think Jasmine is quick to trust people, but probably didn't have a lot of exposure to other dogs in her previous home. She has so far been a generally subdued dog, very quiet and timid and submissive. With other dogs particularly, she seemed very much on her guard.

I always let Phoebe out to meet the new dog first because Phoebe is an extremely unintimidating dog to other dogs. She reads them very well and reacts appropriately. She can, when called for, be super playful with them or almost groveling in submissiveness. Phoebe came up to Jasmine with her tail wagging like crazy. They sniffed each other's noses for a few seconds, and when Jasmine had no reaction, Phoebe went off to search for squirrels.

Next was Boomer. Boomer generally doesn't care very much about new dogs. He usually shows a few seconds of interest and then he's done. Neither Jasmine or Boomer had any particular reaction to each other.

Then came Bandit. Always interested in other dogs, Bandit is super good-natured but reacts in the same way with every dog. "Let's play!" That Jasmine was reserved and a bit on her guard, Bandit had no recognition and no concept of personal space. I had to start throwing tennis balls to get his focus off her.

And finally, barking in the background the entire time, came Popeye. Interestingly enough, Popeye was the one dog that Jasmine felt relaxed enough with to show an interest.

Of course, that was before Popeye went into Devil Monster mode. Some growling, snapping and baring of teeth later, Jasmine soon learned that Popeye isn't as sweet as first impression might have led her to believe.

For most of the day, Jasmine remained apart from the other dogs. She is, of course, Bandit's new favorite dog.

And he is wearing her reserve down. Here she is inching closer and closer to him on the bed as he plays with his ball.

As far as me & Tyler go, Jasmine is a very people-oriented dog. She is unsure of her surroundings, quick to back away if you approach her in too threatening a manner, but just as quick to follow you and trust. It will be interesting to see how she changes as she gets more comfortable while we have her and then when she goes to stay with Robin this weekend.

BTW, she's definitely used to being on furniture.

Did I mention I think she might be in heat? Fix your dogs, people!