Violet (known as Mariah at the shelter), came into our Fulton County Animal Services shelter scared and defeated. She was living in the woods with multiple other dogs when we were finally able to catch her. When she first arrived, she is what we would call a "semi-feral" dog.
And although Violet is still looking for her forever family, Violet's life changed forever the day she was placed into a loving foster home. Here's what her foster mom had to say about Violet's amazing transformation:
Can you give any details about Violet's background?
Violet was found as a stray roaming in the woods, and I believe it took them several days to trap her. She was described as semi-feral when FCAS took her in, and she was clearly not used to human contact.
What made you decide to foster her?
LifeLine shared a video of her on Facebook and it just broke my heart... She was clearly terrified in the shelter, and wouldn't even walk on a leash to go outside. They explained she was found in the woods and not used to people, which was the exact same story of our 2 dogs story when LifeLine found them over 5 years ago. Not many people are used to dealing with such a scared pup, and since we are, we knew we had to step up.
Can you tell us about your experience fostering for LifeLine so far?
Violet is such a joy to have in our home. The first day with her was a breeze- she was in such shock about all the new things that she didn't fight us on anything, and so tired (I imagine she didn't sleep much with all the noise at the shelter) that she slept for almost 24 hours straight. The next few days were more work. She's smart, so she quickly figured out our tricks about things like taking her medicine and going in the car or her crate. The crate was a real challenge- she HATED it, so we didn't want to force her into it and create a bad association, but when you have to leave the house, you have to leave the house. And although she walked great on leash from day one, I found out the hard way that crossing busy streets was too much in the beginning (even though the cars were stopped for us). She definitely found comfort in our two dogs, even though she didn't try to hang out with them much, and followed their lead on everything.
By the end of the week, she started to settle in. She wagged her tail here and there, tried to snuggle up with our dogs, and didn't fight us as much on going into the crate (think passive-aggressive freezing, then reluctantly trotting in when we started to pull her collar, instead of panicked, full-body thrashing). She was pretty curious around the house, much more than our dogs ever were, and wasn't fazed by loud noises like they are. And even though the shelter staff thought she definitely wouldn't be housebroken, she only had one accident in the house, and that one was my fault. I knew she had to go, but the landscapers were blowing leaves outside, so we had to wait. She even made sure to go on the wood floor instead of the rug. In fact, the only issue we had was that she didn't go to the bathroom enough. She would hold it for hours and hours, no matter how often we went on walks.
A week into her stay with us, we went to my parents' house in the burbs for Christmas. She spent the day with 7 people and 5 dogs, and could not have cared less about the new surroundings or all the noise. She just laid on the carpet, occasionally wandering around or jumping on the sofa when no one was looking. She even let everyone pet her, and didn't care about the giant fireworks happening on the next street until one went off while we were outside.
She's now been with us 3 weeks and is really starting to blossom. She gets super excited when we come home and wags her tail when she sees us in the morning. She comes to us for attention sometimes, and tries to play with our dogs once or twice a day (but still doesn't quite know how... it's hysterical, I need to get a video). She goes in her crate voluntarily, even at night when we leave the door open and she could sleep in her new fancy bed. She's gotten used to the car, but still only goes in after our dogs and prefers the left side over the right (lol). She's getting used to being handled, and even lets us pick her up sometimes, but can be reluctant to walk places she doesn't want to walk on leash. She's still particular about where she goes to the bathroom, but she's going more frequently now (not holding it all day). And she's been totally fine with every new place we've taken her. I could keep going, but you get the picture- she is AWESOME!
Has Violet had to overcome any hardships?
Everything about living in a house with humans was brand new to Violet, but the biggest thing has been getting her used to the crate. With two other dogs in the house, it's just a necessary safety precaution when we're away. We did a few different things to help her get used to it. 1) We put her food bowl in the crate for every meal. We left the door open, put our other dogs in another room, and just give her space to go in by herself and eat. 2) We already had a crate pad, but we put blankets in there to make it extra comfy and covered the crate with a blanket to make it feel more den-like and cozy. She seems to like having some visibility though, so now we just keep the top and back (wall) side covered. 3) We gave her a treat every time she went in the crate, even if she had gone in kicking and screaming and was too scared to eat the treat. 4) We bought an all-natural "soothing" spray with pheromones that is supposed to be calming for pups. Not sure whether it made a difference, but it didn't hurt.
I never thought I'd say this, especially because our own skittish dog never got over her fear of the crate, but Violet now LOVES her crate! She goes in it on her own every night, even though we leave the door open and she could sleep anywhere she wants.
What is your favorite thing about Violet?
She is so chill around the house- just give her a comfy bed (or couch, preferably) to lay on and she's happy as can be! She's also really goofy when she gets excited. They say she's about 3 years old, but she is so clumsy you'd think she was a puppy.
What type of family is Violet looking for?
Violet is looking for a laid-back home with patient people who will wait for her to come out of her shell. She'd love to have another canine friend or two to keep her company, too! She's been fine with kids and cats she's met on walks, but I think she definitely needs a place where she has some quiet space to be left alone when she needs it.
For people looking to foster from LifeLine, what advice would you give them?
Do it! The LifeLine staff are awesome and will support you the whole way. As long as you take the time to pick a dog who is a good fit for your household (high-energy dogs, for example, would not do well with our dogs or lifestyle), it will be a great experience. It's so incredibly rewarding to watch them learn and grow every day, and I know it will be wonderful seeing Vi find a forever home.
If you do take the plunge, USE. SOCIAL. MEDIA. It's such a powerful tool and the easiest way to get word out about your foster pup... just share the photos and videos that you're inevitably already taking! We even set up an Instagram just for violet – @violet_the_foster_pup – so that people can follow her progress.