Foster Dog Stories - TANK
Tank by name, tank by nature
He happened all at once, but in slow motion…
It’s Springtime in New York City, and our founder is living in downtown Manhattan whilst on assignment with the large beauty company that he used to work for. Now ‘Noo Yark’ (hereafter NYC) is famed for its convenience, vitality, speed, occasional brusqueness and… its love of dogs. Oh yes, the pampered pooches of Gotham really do live the high-life (literally, since many are in skyscraper apartment blocks).
So it felt only natural to really participate in local life by fostering a dog… trips to the groomers, walking down Fifth Avenue, playing in Central Park, shopping for clothes - with a dog, life in NYC just lifts up a gear. And you’re never alone (like many big cities, it can be a lonely place)
Ever wondered why in the movies it’s SUCH a big deal when a dog ends up in ‘the pound’? Well, in many States in the USA, a dog only has a few days to be reunited with their owners, or re-homed, before they are destroyed. ‘No-kill’ policies are becoming more popular, but as a dog if you end up in the pound, you’re officially IN. BIG. TROUBLE.
Which is why so many amazing people, charities and organisations have grown up to collect abandoned dogs from the pounds and relocate them to places like NYC where there is a high demand for rescue dogs. Just like Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, at Sniffe & Likkit - rescue really is our favourite breed!
Fostered from the amazing team at ‘Best Friends Animal Society’ (on the corner of Broadway and Lafayette, in case you’re passing…), Tank burst into our lives and changed things fur-ever.
Things to know about Tank
He’s an American Pit Bull (red-nose variety). So we are talking some serious dog here.
He has a bit of a biting problem. Nothing alarming, he just likes to use his mouth a lot, possibly having been insufficiently schooled by his Mom, or just inadequately trained by his humans. He came with some specialist behaviour training on this, and plenty of chew toys. Which were destroyed in moments.
He’s from The Bronx. Look it up.
He’s a stray, found abandoned in the streets.
All of the above should tell you that Tank is a tough dude. And he is. But he’s also affectionate, friendly with new people, polite, easy to train, cuddly, occasionally soppy, hates being left alone, wants to make friends with every single dog he meets and can run very, very, fast.
He loves a good zoomie (the running around like a thing possessed, not the interminable video conferencing tool)
He quite likes dressing up. Through a few seasons, and a Hallowe’en party, ‘Tank Couture’ became a thing - from raincoats to sweaters to fancy dress (just the once, OK?!), Tank was the mutt-to-strutt the sidewalks of Manhattan
He loves the ladies (two-legged variety). Tank is a frightful flirt and displays all of his tricks and discipline if there’s a female audience to impress
He would do anything - anything - for (i) Peanut Butter and (ii) Chicken Wing bones. Now chicken wings are a big thing in NYC, often scattered on the sidewalks in the early hours of the morning having sustained weary drinkers heading home. This is a nightmare for dog-walkers in the morning and as much time is spent scanning the horizon for discarded bones as watching the traffic when crossing the streets. [Somewhere on the internet there will be footage, one sunny September morning, in the middle of Broadway - as in half way across it - of an Englishman desperately extracting bones from the mouth of a give-it-back-to-me Pitbull surrounded by rush hour commuters horrified by the sight of a would-be lion tamer prizing open Tank’s jaws to pull out what he’d just discovered lying on the street]
He absolutely hated water. Would jump over the smallest puddle, would fully cross the street to avoid a hose, whined and complained at the merest splash as if sprayed with molten lava, totally refused to walk in the rain and above all, absolutely, completely and utterly despised having a bath. Which was an issue, because NYC’s sidewalks aren’t the cleanest of surfaces, and Tank could get ‘a little funky’ in the aroma department.
Bath-time became a stealth military operation…
Towels had to be hidden well ahead of time.
He would be taken out to his favourite dog park (specially enclosed areas just for dogs - well, and plenty of passers by looking at the pooches at play). He had be worn out chasing balls and making friends.
Treats had to be secreted around the bath-tub. Anything recognisably associated with bath-time, especially the shampoo, needed to be hidden and positioned within arms reach of the shower head in advance of his return.
Peanut Butter would be smeared on tiles.
Bedroom doors would be firmly shut and anything perishable or personal in the bathroom (toothbrushes, clothes, ornaments) would have to be removed for fear of damage or at least, being covered in a revenge shake of foam and water.
but we learned how to Tank
Weeks became months and Tank got some extra special training to improve his concentration, discipline and reduce his interest in biting. Peanut butter helped a lot (top tip: know what motivates your dog! It’s the key). The charity requested that he stayed longer as his behaviour was improving, and pitbulls can be a tricky breed to re-home. Settling in, inevitably the possibility of relocating back to the UK with our founder was an option. Unfortunately, due to ‘Breed Specific Legislation’ here, there was a strong probability that Tank would be rejected at the airport Border, and then returned to NYC. The stress that this would cause was felt to be too much of a risk, and so just before Thanksgiving 2019, Tank was placed in a new home, north of Central Park
the farewell… and the comeback
Fostering is tough because separating from your dog is part of the deal. But it’s all about the dog, not the humans - however much having a rescue dog might bring joy and companionship, the task as a Foster parent is to prepare your dog for their permanent home. So when the day came for Tank to be re-homed it was sad, but his new Mum was very excited to have him home in time for the holidays.
However, it didn’t work out and right after Christmas, Tank was back in the shelter. Already noticeably deteriorating in behaviour in a few days, it was decided he should come back to his Foster home again. He was very keen to get back to ‘his’ apartment, pulling on the lead for the entire 15min walk and even ignoring a pile of chicken bones along the way (for the first time). With enthusiasm on his side, he even endured a quick bath without too much drama.
finding the right home
Eventually the right parents came forward and Tank transferred to Harlem, to spend his days with an art gallery owner as acting ‘head of Security’ (ie. sleeping in the window), a role that he could relish. And with a house near the beach, plenty of space for long runs and zoomies in the sand. With parents committed to continuing his training and development, he quickly settled in and the videos and photos they shared of his new life demonstrated how relaxed and happy he had become.