And not just any forever home. So many times I've said that Star would need to go to a very special adopter, one who would understand her issues and work with her in only positive ways, one who wanted a dog who was a bit of a project, one who had a lot of energy and would give her tons of exercise and spend time with her during the day, as she is much more manageable in the evenings if she hasn't spent the day in a crate.
She found exactly that! Over the weekend of the 23rd, Florian and I went on a little trip to NY and CT and decided to leave Star with another foster mom while we were away. Two days before we left, Star broke out of my yard--apparently by jumping up, reaching her paw over the gate, and undoing the latch (which was on the outside of the gate) and went after a neighbor's dog. No major harm done, but the neighbor was not too thrilled.
My little Houdini must have realized that she could be in trouble as a dog with no permanent home and a bite history on her record, because she somehow worked her magic on the universe and in the next few days I got emails from four people who fell in love with her online. It may also have helped that we had changed her name online to Suzie, as Star just wasn't seeming to pull in the adopters.
The first person I talked to was undeterred by anything I could tell him, but just seemed to grow more intrigued as I impressed upon him the project he would have on his hands. He loved how Star had such a resilient spirit after all she's been through, and she reminded him of his recently departed black pittie mix, who also was not the most easygoing sort. And, his wife is a personal trainer and wants a little high-energy companion to go on runs with her.
Florian and I went off on our trip, the adopter met Star at her temporary foster home, and it was love!
I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing couple last week, and we got a chance to go over how to work with Star's excitement and get her to be calmer when she sees other dogs. The strategy we discussed is BAT, Behavioral Adjustment Therapy, which I have explored but never formally implemented with a dog.
The wonderful trainers Alison and Marika, who have worked with Star in the past, demonstrated the steps for working with frustrated greeters--and I would say that both Star and Fozzie fall into that category.
It was a thing of beauty to see how quickly Star was able to calm down!
Of course, it helped that Alison had some peanut butter on hand.
I believe Star will progress so quickly in a home with dedicated parents who love her little joyful spirit, will spoil her and have fun with her and have no other little monsters to distract them, and are armed with some great techniques to help Star gain more mastery over her impulses. Her adopters report that she is doing great in her new home, exploring and settling in and curling up in a tiny ball in bed with them.
Star was really a special little foster dog and one I got especially attached to despite--or maybe because of--her behaviors and energy. I know that I have a "type"...the petite female dogs who snort and snore a lot, and the ones who tend to get in a lot of trouble.
But I also know that Star is not the last of that type I will know, and that maybe someday I'll foster another little scrappy snorty pup and that one will end up staying. Right now it is wonderful to know that Star is in a home that can keep up with her, and that with the attention and care she'll get there she will blossom into a happy, healthy young woman...and maybe even one who is less of a troublemaker.