Monday, March 26, 2012

Our #13 April Fool's birthday wish: Send some love to your dog's foster home

BADRAP is turning Lucky 13 this coming Sunday, April Fool's Day. The foolishness continues. To celebrate, we're having an Open House during Pit Ed classes from 11-1pm in Berkeley.

There will dogs available for adoption from our group as well as from Berkeley Animal Care Services, and we'll be showing the newest pups for the very first time. (Left: Hugo) Please join us - these events are always a blast. Info over at our facebook page - with advance apologies to you strident non-facebookers!

OPEN HOUSE Event Info.

What do we want for our birthday?

Well, how nice of you to ask. In the past, we've asked you to take your local pit bull rescuers out for a margarita to celebrate their good deeds (here) and many of you followed through and sent great photos of relaxed and happy faces. Thank you!

This year, we're asking for something a little different to bring a smile to your local pit bull fools. We're asking that you use the occasion to contact the group, shelter or foster parent who helped your dog before you found him and give them an update and a recent photo. You will make their day!

Foster parents put so much of themselves into their projects. It's likely that the people who cared for your dog earned some gray hairs during the process of waiting for you to arrive. They probably lost some sleep those first few nights while your dog complained from her crate, and no doubt they spent some time on their knees cleaning up those beginning messes. We're sure that they shuffled their schedule around the job of building your dog's strength back with exercise, designing socializing opps with other dogs, vet appointments and trips to training class. Your dog likely did some damage at their house, too (oh the stories!) and they probably had to turn down fun invitations from workmates so they could get home in time to let him outside. With all this effort and TLC, we're fairly certain your dog will always own a big chunk of their heart(s).

Many fosters sort through medical problems as well as tricky behavior issues in their project pups. My dog's foster mom had a mess of a puppy on her hands. Beaten and kicked for peeing in his first home, puppy Elliot would scream with fear whenever he piddled on foster mom Karen's floor, which made interrupting and picking him up to go outside more than a little tricky. By the time he came to live with us, all of that was completely gone and he was more than proud to show us how he could pee-pee outside. We joked that he thought his name was "Potty!" since Karen and her family had done such an outstanding job helping him re-associate what was once a terrifying event. (Thank you Karen!)

After all the worry as well as the bond that forms from being a homeless dog's important anchor, it's almost certain that your dog's foster parents felt a slight pang of regret when you waved good-bye and drove off with your new companion. They gave you such a gift. Your updates are your gift back to your dog's foster home or shelter worker for those weeks or months of TLC. I'm guessing most of our blog readers have a regular relationship with your dog's first helpers, but you'd be surprised how many foster parents we talk with who don't hear much, if anything, from their adopters. They insist that "it's okay" - they know their former dog is safe, but you hear the longing in their voice for just a bit of news.

So please - for BR's 13th birthday - contact your dog's first helpers with a note, news and photos. Share them with us too and we'll try to post them here and/or on our facebook page.

To all the foster parents out there, "CHEERS!" We heart you.

Above: Becky and Rob fostered the timid Dobby and worked hard to give him enough confidence to go to a new home. It worked - Dobby has blossomed into a great dog - And they're thrilled that his new dad sends regular updates!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Now Taking Volunteer Apps for the Barn Crew!

... Chunk, Bouncer, Atomic Betty, Nita, Ayse, Danny, Clive, Captain Spanky ...

... They're some of the dogs who've spent time in BR's Rescue Barn since we first opened our doors in summer 2010. This modest facility in the Oakland hills serves as a halfway house for dogs in crisis - specifically, victims of shelter overcrowding, cruelty, foreclosures and emergency medical cases. .The quiet environment and natural setting have been ideal for helping stressed dogs get their bearings and allows them to be healthy, happy dogs again. As they relax, we can learn who they are and design next steps in their transition towards life with permanent families.

The handful of dogs that live here at any given time stay for a week or so until we match them up with foster homes, while others stay on for several weeks until they find their forever families. During that wait they're vetted, trained and socialized to several dogs in regular play sessions. It's like summer school meets summer camp.

Our dog handlers become an important anchor for the dogs during this time at the barn. They serve as the dogs' family and provide everything from clicker training to nose work fun to toenail trims to play parties to plain old fashioned cuddling on the sofa -- all of it is crucial to the dogs' well being and recovery. (Left: Donyale bonds with Winnie, shortly after her arrival from a cruelty case in Gadsden County FL)

In addition to meeting the dogs' daily needs, the BR crew works with potential adopters and visitors who want to learn more about the breed, both at the barn and during our weekends at Berkeley Animal Care Services. They're a wealth of information to a world that is waking up to the joy of the American Pit Bull Terrier and its mixes. Does it sound like I'm bragging? I am. This is a very special group of people who give their heart and soul to the dogs.

It's not all hugs and happies though. Cleaning up dog poo is less than glamorous, and the compassion cases that occasionally come to spend their final days with us tug at all our heartstrings. You have to learn to accept the good with the sad with this work, but the rewards are life changing, to say the least.

We're ready to expand our team and hope to add up to six new volunteer dog handlers who value this mission. We'll provide the training and you provide a long term commitment to the dogs who land here on their way to new lives. Interested?

Barn Crew Job Description

We know that your free time is precious so look forward to talking with you to see if this kind of volunteer work is a good fit. Please check out our job description linked above and then contact for an application. We'll be conducting informal interviews at our next Open House Sunday, April 1st. INFO

Thank you!