The night before my first ever foster dog was to arrive, I received a phone call from Hopeful Hearts‘ foster coordinator. She said there was this teeny tiny maltipoo at the same Quebec shelter as my soon-to-be foster, and did I possibly have a room for another furry little body? She warned me that he had little man syndrome, but I thought, how much trouble can a teeny tiny maltipoo be?
While sitting in the Quebec shelter waiting to be adopted, this teeny tiny maltipoo developed kennel cough. By the time the staff noticed how sick he was, he had to be put on an IV and spent the rest of his time in the emergency shelter with the very amazing folks there.
The moment he walked into my home, this teeny tiny maltipoo stole my heart. I was told that his name was Lucky, which made me angry and then incredibly sad. We spent the first few days calling him “Little One”, then moving onto “Lo”, and then finally deciding on the name Snoopy. The first time I called him that he immediately looked at me, so it stuck.
Snoopy was on a buffet of meds when he arrived, so he was barely eating. I bribed him with chicken, hamburger, rice, yogurt.. you name it. He just wasn’t interested. We were fortunate if we could get him to eat a tablespoon of food a day. All he wanted to do was sleep, and he very much resembled a stuffed animal in those days.
I did a little happy dance the first time Snoopy showed any real interest in food. In no time at all he was gobbling down boiled chicken and rice, then wet food, and finally, his beloved Chicken À La Veg Fromm.
After his appetite increased he became more lively, doing twirly little dances when he saw his leash, knowing it was walk time. When Snoopy started doing zoomies around the house, I knew we were in the clear. However as his health began to improve, we got to know the real Snoopy.
The first time he bit me I was completely gobsmacked. I was in the process of claiming my space (thank you, Cesar Millan!) by trying to shoo Snoopy out of the kitchen when he did it. He latched onto my foot with his teeth and started flailing around like a little alligator. After that he bit us for various other reasons — I nudged him when he was sleeping, tried to take away a kleenex that he managed to steal from the garbage can, said “no” to him when he peed on the floor, and once he even bit me because I looked at him funny. No joke.
I was flabbergasted. But then I got a chance to read his intake file.
At six months old, Snoopy was purchased at a pet store by his owner. He was left alone 10+ hours a day, and had only met a total of 2-4 people in his 4 years. It was also very clear that he had never been socialized, as he didn’t understand how to be around other dogs. He had never been taught how to use stairs or to go to the bathroom outside, and he didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with a dog toy. Three and a half years later when Snoopy’s owner’s new girlfriend moved in, Snoopy bit her, and that was it. He was dropped off at the shelter in Quebec and they didn’t look back.
After reading his file, we vowed never to give up on him, and to continue working on his issues no matter what.
The first thing we did was teach him how to use the stairs. Then we started taking note of his “triggers”, and instead of avoiding them, we purposely put him in those situations where he would normally bite. With a lot of patience and a ton of praise, Snoopy eventually went from a dog who bit us a few times a day, to once every couple of days. With the help of some very amazing people (Alana & Marco from Bark Busters), his biting issue is now a thing of the past.
It’s been five months since that teeny tiny maltipoo walked into my life, and I am now faced with the daunting task of having to say goodbye, as he has captured the heart of one very lucky lady. I know that her life will forever be changed, like mine was, the moment Snoopy walks into her home.
Mel keeps a blog where she writes about her life as a foster Mom. You can read it here. And you really should read it – it’s awesome and so inspirational.