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Pet Fostering: Nolan teaches us about faith

Hi my name is Elisa and I am a volunteer pet foster parent, a Twitterer (@STLSeniorDog), a Facebooker and now a blogger as well. This is the first in a series of guest posts that I will be doing here at Grouchy Puppy and I am so excited and honored! In the coming months I will be sharing with you mostly my own adventures in pet fostering (and pet adoption!) but also stories shared from other pet foster parents.

I found out a few days ago that November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month so I will inaugurate my series of guest blog posts with the story of Nolan, a senior Australian Cattle Dog our family fostered last winter.

This old guy was left in an abandoned house and the St. Louis Senior Dog Project took him in after Animal Control picked him up. Nolan was in a pretty bad state and they could not tell if he was a boy or a girl because his hair was so matted.

Nolan had to be completely shaved and I can’t imagine the relief he must have felt at getting all that matted hair off his body. Ellen the leader of St. Louis Senior Dog Project first fostered Nolan and then he came to live with our family.

In the beginning Nolan was a bit grouchy. Not only was he in a new place but he was also recovering from a bad skin injury that had not been treated because it was hidden by all of that hair. On top of that he was showing signs of arthritis.

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5 Tips For a Perfect Pet Party

Is your dog more family member and constant companion than pet? When you're with friends, do you refer to your pet waiting for you at home as your "fur-baby" or "fur-kid"? Hey, no judgement here! We just want to know so we can invite you to the party!!!

This year we talked about planning a homecoming birthday party for our own baby girl. Our one and only Cleo is our adored rescue German Shepherd-Husky dog, whom we probably fuss over too much. Fortunately for us our enthusiasm for all things Cleo is not that unusual these days.  Dancing Dog Blog found that Americans each year spend billions on their pets. The pet industry had projected more than $45 billion was spent by pet lovers in 2009.

DSC01813 How would you throw a dog a party? The last party Cleo attended was her graduation from the SPCA basic obedience class five years ago. Clearly by her face in the photo she had a good time.

We love these four-legged members of our family.  They give so much unconditional love, protection and tolerance. Once in their short lifetime, I believe that celebrating this joy they bring to you with a party is not such a strange idea or desire. 

With that in mind I've searched the internet and spoken to lots of friends with dogs (and human kids) for the best elements to a fun party.  Each of these ingredients can be over-the-top, homemade, eco-friendly and green or omitted entirely.  REMEMBER: The best party is all about you and your loved one, and having a great time together!

Here are five key ingredients for a great party:

  • Gift Bag - who doesn't love to take home a fun reminder of what a great time they had at your party!  Depending on your guests & how much time you have, bags can have tennis balls, dried treats, party hats or homemade dog cookies!
  • Pet Friendly Space - if you don't have a big enough backyard, take a page from the kids parties and find a dog friendly park like the Upper Douglass Dog Park or maybe you have a friend willing to share their big basement.
  • Amazon Wish List for the guest of honor - tailor the perfect gift list ahead of the party. If you're using Evite, you can include the Amazon link with the invitation. This gives guests plenty of time to decide if they want to choose from the list or bring something from their neighborhood pet shop.
  • Polaroid Photos of your canine guests - a fun party favor is always a cute photo taken during the festivities. Borrow an instant camera or use your digital camera and email photos as you take them! NICE TOUCH: $1 or free iPhone Apps like CameraBag, Poladroid and ProjectPolaroid allow you to turn your digital photo into the look and feel of a Polaroid.
  • Games like fastest fetch, highest jump & cutest trick - if your party is outside, a great way to keep your party guests entertained are with fun tricks and jumps. For the older dogs or distracted puppies, skip the jumps and complex tricks instead go for cutest "attempt at fetch" or best "shake".


There are needy shelters and rescue groups in every community. If you don't have an organization already in mind, check Petfinder for an animal shelter or animal rescue in your area. 

Consider skipping gifts and having guests make a donation in your pet's name instead.  All year there are national campaigns to help raise money for worthy causes.  Iams Home 4 The Holidays is going on now.

Some organizations like Pets Unlimited in San Francisco, or senior dog rescue Muttville need supplies as much as monetary donations. 

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