Phoenix the Miniature Bull Terrier rescue

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Ever wanted to know more about the process of fostering a dog? Melanie Thomas shares her experience fostering Bull Terrier Phoenix, for Victorian Bull Terrier Rescue Inc.

Phoenix is a Miniature Bull Terrier, who we think is around six or seven years old. She was picked up as a stray; malnourished, extremely dehydrated and with sunburn, and given immediate vet care. She was then passed on to Victorian Bull Terrier Rescue Inc. to continue her treatment. She had a bad case of demodectic mange, as well as dry eye and a grade 4 heart murmur, and still has very little fur due to chronic skin diseasefrom long term neglect and untreated skin infections - her skin is basically scar tissue. She is also set to have surgery on a luxating patella in a few weeks.

As soon as I saw Phoenix, I wanted to offer to help her. Luckily my husband loves bullies as much as I do and he immediately agreed that we should apply to foster her. Margy, Morna, Belinda and the team at Victorian Bull Terrier Rescue Inc. thankfully trusted us to care for their girl. It helped that we’d been involved with Bull Terrier rescue for a few years and they were familiar with other dogs I’ve cared for.

We have fostered and adopted several older bullies previously, some that had been terribly neglected, with serious skin conditions, so we knew what was involved with treating a dog with demodex and other health problems and as I am home during the day, I am able to give a dog a lot of attention, much needed TLC and lots of baths!

Settling her in has been a slow, but rewarding experience

When we bought Phoenix home, we kept her separated for a time, to let her settle in, for us to get to know each other a little and build up her trust. She could see our other dogs through the security screen to begin with. We used a crate too, so that they could all meet safely. When we did start face to face introductions, we began with Moo, our bomb proof girl, gradually introducing her to everyone. We like to take time over this and always supervise any interactions – but they all got along beautifully.

We are also careful at meal times. Like every new dog, Phoenix is fed separately, so dines in the laundry. We have never had any issues with any of our dogs, but you cannot be too careful. She gets fed a raw diet and no grains, to help her skin.

Phoenix was and still is, a bit of a wild child. I don't think she had lived inside before, she was not house trained and didn't know any commands or have any social graces. We still have some work to do, but she is getting better. She will still steal anything within reach and will chomp on anything she fancies. She’s hilarious and incredibly cheeky, a typical Bully. 

My main focus has been getting her feeling better

She no longer has demodex (mange), but she still has serious skin problems and is quite smelly at times. We have great vets though, Dr Alice and the team at Maroochy District Animal Hospital have been looking after her, with the support of specialist dermatologists, so we are working on the best plan to manage her skin. She has Scleroderma and her hair will never grow back, we just want to get her as healthy as we can. She is a prickly little hedgehog, but we love her to bits!

Blackmores were kind enough to send a big box of their wonderful skin products to help Phoenix, shampoo, conditioner, vitamin treats, omega oils, skin treatments including Essential 6, which we absolutely love using on her.

Phoenix is such a happy girl, despite all that she has been through and the years of neglect. She never lets anything get her down and loves everyone. We do spoil her, but then, she truly deserves an easy, comfortable life.

Fostering is an important part of rescuing

To help a dog along their journey to good health is a privilege. Whether you foster long or short term, it means the world to help them to get ready for a new life and new family. Phoenix is our permanent foster baby though, she will stay with us forever. She still has the full support of VBTR, who fundraise tirelessly to cover her ongoing medical costs.

I have never once regretted fostering, it can be challenging, but is one of the most satisfying, rewarding things you can do. The love you give is returned tenfold. Nothing beats seeing a dog safe, loved and happy.

Before and After - Phoenix after 6 months of care at Bull Terrier Rescue Inc Vic.


Related Products:

  • Dermoscent® Essential 6® spot-on for Dogs
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    Specifically designed for skin health. Containing omega fatty acids, PAW Dermega aids in the treatment of allergic and inflammatory dermatological conditions responsive to polyunsaturated fatty acids in dogs.