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Griffin's Journey

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May 27

Please meet Finley Silas Winitt. 💙

He was born on February 4, 2023 and came home with me on April 1st.  He is a big boy, weighing 27lbs at 16 weeks old.  Finley is an F1b Goldendoodle (75% standard poodle, 25% golden retreiver), just like Griffin. 

I don’t think Finley looks like Griffin at all, but there are lots of similarities.  Finley is a quick learner and a mama’s boy.  He loves to play fetch and charm people wherever he goes.  He’s not a fan of the loud hustle and bustle of our busy street, but he does well in the quieter parts of our neighborhood.  He comes to work with me and loves to explore along the Hudson River (we are lucky to be walking distance both at work and home).  His long legs and bunny hop are ridiculously cute.  I’m looking forward to many years of laughter and love with Finley!

Finley and I met a tripawd, Lily, in our neighborhood yesterday.  She is about a week out from her surgery, which was done at the same hospital (Animal Medical Center) as Griffin’s.  She was with her uncle and grandmother basking in the sunshine.

Her uncle said that she was recovering well but had not yet attempted to get up or walk unassisted.  I shared a bit about Griffin’s recovery and cautioned that each dog would follow their own timeline, especially since Lily is 13 years old.  I urged them to join Tripawds and he said that AMC had also made that recommendation – which made me feel fantastic since AMC didn’t know about Tripawds before Griffin.  As we continued to chat and Finley played fetch, Miss Lily decided that hearing about Griffin’s story would inspire her to get up and walk not once but twice.  Amazing! 🎉

Today I met Lily’s mom, Kim, while Lily continued to practice walking on 3 legs.  We talked about exercise routines and the importance of physical therapy.  I learned that Lily has now survived 3 different bouts with cancer – she is a warrior indeed!  We spent a couple of hours chatting in the sun while Finley practiced becoming accustomed to bikes and scooters and was rewarded by sharing an icee with me.  It feels so good to pay forward all the support and encouragement I received during Griffin’s tripawd journey!

Finley and I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend, our official start to a fun summer!  🌞  

Finley at 9 weeks – he takes up a lot more space on the couch now!
May 26

My last update on Kilo was July 2022, and for months, things were status quo.  We made a good team and had a routine that worked well – walks in the morning, daycare for Kilo, work for me, and quiet evenings at home. My handling skills improved greatly, and Kilo reached a level that earned him off leash privileges during our morning walks when the park was mostly empty.  Pro tip – a silicone shampoo travel container is an excellent and non-messy peanut butter treat dispenser which helped tremendously with Kilo’s recall. 😉

Kilo lived with me until mid-December when he was adopted for a second time.  His new family had 2 little boys, and I expressed reservations about Kilo’s fit for a family that might not have time to continue his training.  The adoption proceeded and I stayed in touch with his new family.  I even visited Kilo in March, thrilled that he so clearly remembered me and seemed to be doing well with his family.  Unbelievably, just a few weeks later his adopter reported that there had been 3 bite incidents since my visit and they notified the rescue that Kilo would be returned.

There is a lot I could say about where blame should be assigned – both on the adopters who did not maintain appropriate boundaries and the rescue that did not follow through to ensure Kilo was continuing his training – but ultimately, the past cannot be changed.  It was not safe for Kilo to remain with that family and having just brought home a new puppy, I was not in a position to foster Kilo again.  Thankfully, his daycare providers were happy to have Kilo board with them for 5 weeks and I was able to spend some time with him before he left for a 6-week training program in Florida.  He’s been with the trainer for 2 weeks now, and I follow his progress on Instagram.  Kilo is incredibly smart and it looks like he is enjoying his training and the abundance of exercise he’s receiving.

Truthfully, I’m not sure what the future holds for Kilo.  He is a large, powerful dog with a bite history.  He is also a loving goofball who adores his humans and other dogs.  While I am excited that he is receiving what appears to be excellent training, that training needs to be continually maintained.  Adopting Kilo is a commitment and a lot of work.  I hope that someone sees how very much he is worth it. 🧡

Jul 29

My last update on Kilo ended with, “It wasn’t ever easy, but for Kilo, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”  And I guess the universe took me seriously because Kilo came back to live with me on June 10, 2022.  He spent just over 8 weeks with the family that was supposed to be his forever, but things did not work out that way.

As I’ve learned firsthand, the Cane Corso breed is a powerful, guardian one and requires a family who will establish boundaries that protect both the dog and others. Kilo was not set up for success with those protective boundaries, which resulted in an unfortunate incident.  A man who was not well known by Kilo was permitted to enter unannounced through the back door of the house and Kilo bit him, breaking skin but not causing a serious injury.  Kilo did his job and he was repaid with a one-way return ticket to Rescue City.

While frustrated and upset with the circumstances of his return, I am happy to have Kilo back in my life.  Aside from having gained 16lbs in the time he was gone (which we have been making diligent efforts to shed), Kilo does not seem worse for the wear.  We have been working on improving his overall conduct when faced with life’s disappointments, which for Kilo means not being able to form a friendship with every dog we come across.  I am incredibly proud of how well he walks on a leash on the bustling NYC streets – and I’m proud of myself for learning alongside him, providing both management and correction as needed.  We are currently working on his guarding behaviors of my apartment building, with neighbors who adore him becoming willing guinea pigs to test Kilo’s restraint on the stairs and by the front door.

We are so very lucky that Kilo’s beloved walker made room in her schedule immediately to accommodate his return (I was given one day’s notice). We are doubly lucky that we discovered another local dog walking company that has boarded Kilo a few times this summer and where he now attends daycare 2 days a week. I am thankful for the support of these additional caregivers who love Kilo, making it possible for me to work full-time and go on vacation while fostering him – and I know the 4 young men who run the company love the street cred that walking Kilo in our neighborhood brings them. 😉

With his return, I’m continually asked if I’ll adopt Kilo and the answer is no.  I adore him and will gladly care for him for as long as it takes to find his true forever home.  But Kilo deserves a family that embraces the Cane Corso breed and celebrates how magnificent they are.  And my dog needs to be one that I can take to work and on family vacations without having to worry about setting protective boundaries.  Genetically, that is not who Kilo is nor how he was designed to behave, and it would be both unethical and cruel to try to make him into something he is not.

For now, Kilo and I are content with our little family.  He motivates me to walk each morning (even the unbearably humid ones) and makes me laugh with his antics.  He brings me joy and livens up our quiet apartment.  And one day his forever family will come along, and I’ll let him go again, trusting that we got it right this time around.  I will miss him terribly and tell everyone that for Kilo, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 🧡

Apr 15

I am thrilled to report that Kilo has found his forever family!  In my last post about Kilo, I described his ideal adopters – has large/guardian dog breed experience (✓), a backyard (✓), is home for most of the day (✓), lives within driving distance of New York City (✓), and another dog would be icing on the cake (🎂).  Sara, Todd, Izzy, and Schuyler (Sky) welcomed Kilo (now Aries) to their family on Monday.  They live in upstate New York in a quiet neighborhood with a huge backyard.  Sara works from home and has reported that Kilo is super helpful around the house with chores like laundry. 😊 Sky, an almost 3-year old Saint Bernard, wasn’t too sure about her boisterous younger brother at first, but she is showing him the ropes and even learning a thing or two from him about playing with sticks in the yard.

In recent weeks, Kilo and I had settled into a good rhythm.  With the weather trending warmer, our morning walks become even more enjoyable and our evening walks after I returned home from work stretched out longer with the daylight.  Kilo’s guardian angel, Kim, loved her afternoon walks with him and always gave him extra attention.  We took two trips out to Long Island – once for a play date with Juniper and another time to hang out with Dad and Donna (I finally got to meet Sparky, the pup that they adopted from Rescue City in January!).  We played lots of fetch, and Kilo made new human and doggo friends.

The first Sunday in April, we headed out for our regular morning walk in Griffin’s park.  It was the first day of Little League, and upon entering the park, we saw families starting to gather.  I reflected on how far we had come together because even just a month earlier, I would have turned around and found a different morning walk route that would have avoided crowds of people.  Instead, Kilo became a bit of a minor celebrity.  A family sitting on a bench was admiring Kilo as we walked by, and the mom called out that he was a beautiful dog.  I turned to smile at her and she exclaimed, “I’ve seen you walking him in the neighborhood.  You have him so well trained!”  I laughed and replied, “You clearly did not see us in January or February!”  The dad and 2 little kids loved on Kilo, giving pets and hugs, when another family walked behind us.  That dad asked, “Is that a Cane Corso?”  It’s rare that people pronounce the breed name correctly, so I was a bit surprised when I replied that indeed he was.  He then asked why I chose that breed, and when I shared that Kilo was a foster dog, the mom warned him, “Don’t even think about it!”.  She explained to me that they had recently lost their pit bull, a large male dog with similar brindle coloring to Kilo.  Their little bog was laying across Kilo while hugging him, and then looked up at me to share, “My dog died, and I miss my dog.”  That broke my heart and I was glad that Kilo brought him some comfort.  And by this point, a small crowd of people had gathered to pet and admire Kilo.  It was so gratifying to see Kilo accepted and loved for the sweet boy he is, a far cry from the early days when people crossed the street to avoid us.

We spent our last weekend together soaking in the sun and eating lots of treats.  Of course, Kilo needed to leave a lasting imprint, chewing off a corner of the quilt on my bed on Saturday morning, which he thankfully pooped out on Sunday afternoon.  On Monday, after 11 weeks together, Kilo met his forever family and rode off into the sunset.  His mom has been wonderful with providing updates that confirm he is exactly where he is meant to be.  Of course I miss him tons – we had to work hard at our relationship which I know made our bond stronger – but I’m starting to get used to my quiet (and clean!) house again. 😉

It wasn’t ever easy, but for Kilo, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  I love that boy and I wish him a long, happy life with his family. 🧡

Mar 07

Meet Kilo, my 2 year old, 100lb Cane Corso (kah-nay core-so) foster pup!  Kilo came to live with me on January 23rd, 5 days after Griffin’s birthday.  He was surrendered to a shelter on Long Island and the coordinator there reached out to Rescue City to ensure that he was adopted by a family that would be extensively vetted due to his breed and size.  We do not have a large pool (any size pool?) of fosters willing to take big dogs, so Kilo came home with me!  Kilo is a gorgeous brown brindle, with shades of espresso, mocha, and café au lait, and a white patch on his chest.  His head is enormous, and he has a solid, athletic body.

The first few weeks with Kilo were extremely challenging.  He is a powerful dog who had poor leash manners, which is quite an issue in New York City.  Due to his looks, many people were intimidated by Kilo and refused to allow their dogs to say hello, which caused a lot of frustration.  He became reactive on leash, regularly lunging at people and dogs.  Walking Kilo was unbelievably stressful, and both his walker and I were ready to give up because he was just so difficult to handle.  We adored him indoors – Kilo is sweet, silly, and smart – but we were at a loss as to how to improve his behavior outdoors.

On February 9th, Kilo and I had a session with a dog trainer who showed me that the prong collar I had been given was put on incorrectly and thus wasn’t working properly (I had stopped using it after 3 days when it didn’t seem to have any effect on his behavior outside and we have since upgraded to a better version).  The impact was immediate and that night I was walking a different dog.  The trainer also taught me how to use a bite pillow and explained that Cani Corsi (how cute is the plural version?!?) need the release of biting and playing tug of war as a means of giving a safe outlet for their protective, guardian instincts.

I now adore walking with Kilo.  I will always need to be vigilant because of his size and power, but he is very well mannered outdoors.  We walk 2 miles each morning, his walker takes him for a 45-minute stroll each afternoon, and I take him out again after work for 15-20 minutes to stretch his legs (and then a final pee break before bed).  We can greet people and their pups without incident, although he will throw a tantrum if he is not allowed to say hello to a dog that passes close by us (we are working on better handling our disappointments in life), but I’ll take that any day over the previous behaviors.  He is unfazed by loud noises, joggers, and bikes.  I took Kilo on a play date last Saturday, visiting Jody and Juniper.  He had a blast running around the huge yard and played so well with Juniper who is one-third his size.  I’ve played fetch with Kilo at our park, but always with a 50 foot lead, so it was heartwarming to see him running and playing without any restraints at all.

Despite his regal good looks, Kilo does have some faults.  When a side door to his crate wasn’t properly latched one day, Kilo ate a shoe, my Kindle, and unbeknownst to me, the fuzzy lining of a Croc that sat in his stomach for 8 days before making its way out the other end (that was a shock to wake up to on a Sunday morning!).  He also recently took a small bite out of an area rug (thankfully, a relatively inexpensive one that I had purchased to give Griffin traction after his surgery).  He counter surfs and thinks my dinner should be shared.  His version of indoor parkour (zoomies) moves furniture.  Kilo is currently blowing his winter coat and my house never seems to stay clean for longer than a day, but hopefully he’ll be done shedding soon.

I joke that Kilo should have been named 45-Kilo (how much he weighs), Goober, or Wiggle Butt.  While he is a LOT of work, he is totally worth it.  He is incredibly smart and eager to please.  Kilo loves people and dogs of all ages, genders, and sizes.  When met with aggression or fear from other dogs, Kilo keeps calm and does not react in turn.  He is a happy boy who loves being outdoors, playing fetch, and making new friends.  I have learned so much about the Cane Corso breed and how to better handle powerful dogs (and how to use a prong collar correctly!), and while I’ll never love the drool of the mastiffs, I wouldn’t shy away from fostering one again in the future.

The ideal adopter for Kilo has large/guardian dog breed experience, a backyard, is home for most of the day (Kilo is currently crated for 8 hours a day while I’m at work), and lives within driving distance of New York City.  Having another dog would be icing on the cake.  Please share about Kilo with anyone you may know who loves the Cane Corso/Mastiff breeds and would love to share their home with this special boy.  Kilo is available for adoption through Rescue City.

I hope the videos below convey the many facets of Kilo – sweet, goofy, and athletic!