Foster dogs, rude roommates, and lease renewals
Hi, I'm sorry for the length of this message but this has been bothering me for quite some time. This is a pet-related issue, but given the nature of our living arrangements I believe it belongs in this section. Please correct me if I�m wrong.
In June I made contact with a girl (Ailis) over the university forums regarding apartment hunting. We both had exotic pets and I thought it would be a good idea to team up and find a place together rather than independently trying to find (rare) pet-friendly apartments. We got together and found a WONDERFUL three bedroom apartment in a perfect location for a reasonable monthly fee. The landlord was genuinely interested in our animals, owned three other adjoining properties, and did a lot of his own maintenance. There was one other girl (Cristyn) already attached to the apartment (and seeking roommates), but we got along well with her so we signed the lease and made our security deposits. We spent a lot of time together over the summer and in August we were joined by my roommate from last year, Nadine, who commutes from two hours away. She is not on the lease but pays a portion of each of our rents (so the lease is split four ways rather than three), contributes to utilities, and does the majority of the cooking.
In August Ailis went to pick up Lola, a pit/shepherd mix. We had discussed fostering a dog or two during the school year and Nadine and Cristyn both liked the idea, though we had agreed that the responsibility for any dogs would fall on the person(s) whose name was on the foster agreement. Everyone got on well with Lola and things were very easy going. I did attempt to help with advertising Lola and with her daily needs, but Ailis politely stated that Lola was her responsibility and she wanted to be the only one playing any role in her placement.
At this time I approached the girls about taking in my own foster. I suffer from severe depression and bipolar 2 disorder and my psychiatrist had suggested animal therapy when I mentioned the fostering. In theory, having someone other than myself to care for would force me to get up and play an active role in my day. My caged animals weren�t interactive enough and because I am so predisposed to introversion and hanging out by myself, she thought taking on a dog would provide me with both companionship and a sense of self worth. So, with the girls agreement, Ailis and I brought Lola to the shelter, had a few dog meets, and brought home Marcy. Marcy is a young pit mix and much more submissive than Lola. She is endlessly happy, very cuddly, and generally stays out of harms way.
Things were going GREAT for a long time. The dogs were an endless source of entertainment and I was doing much better emotionally. I was in fact considering adopting Marcy if my finances were in order at the end of the semester because she had had such a positive influence on my health and had mentioned this to all of the roommates. And then around December, randomly, Lola started getting a little more aggressive. She had always been more pushy than Marcy but she started guarding the hallway, not letting Marcy into her own crate, stockpiling the toys and not letting Marcy near them� it all culminated when we were playing outside one day and Lola was getting some love from Ailis. Marcy trotted over, displaying no direct dominance or overt confidence, and Lola leapt on her. They came away with a few holes each, but Marcy�s lip had been bitten clean through and she had a number of bites on her shoulders and neck. I chose not to make a big deal out of it and wrote it off as an isolated incident. After this we were much more careful with them and were sure to manage Lola�s increasingly rough behaviors, feeding the dogs in entirely separate rooms and limiting the amount of toys they had access to.
And then Lola attacked a Yorkie at Ailis�s parents home. The dog required a huge number of stitches and was in ICU for three nights. Ailis was told Lola was no longer welcome in her parents home and, with winter break approaching, this meant that if she did not find a home in time she would have to go back to the shelter. With a bite record, she would be put down within 48 hours. As a favor to my friend and roommate, I launched a facebook campaign to get Lola adopted into a dog-less, cat-less, child-less home by December 23rd. In the weeks following the campaign launch, Lola lunged and attempted to bite three more dogs (on and off leash) and jumped at a small child. Nevertheless, the campaign was relatively successful and I was preparing my list of potential adoptees to show Ailis on the 19th (she hadn�t even joined the FB group and had had no involvement in the campaign) when Cristyn approached me and told me she was going to adopt Lola.
This meant three things:
1. Lola, a dog with a bite record whom I no longer trusted, would be staying in the house until June 1st at the least.
2. I would not be able to keep Marcy since Lola was officially only appropriate for single-dog households and her adoption would be processed before I was able to determine whether I could actually adopt Marcy
3. I would not be able to take in another foster when Marcy was adopted.
I attempted to reason with her, pointing out that Cristyn had no animal experience and that Lola was not an appropriate dog for a first timer (she argued that she had Ailis to help her) but they turned it around and told me that for a while they�d been struggling with the whole two-dog thing and that I needed to get Marcy out ASAP. Naturally I was annoyed and argued that I wasn�t going to settle for just any home for Marcy so that they could have their way. Given my previous assertions about adopting her and the therapeutic nature of my relationship with her, I felt that my feelings were being entirely disregarded. Cristyn said I wasn�t about feelings but about saving Lola�s life, but didn�t change her stance when I pointed out the list of people I had gathered who were also willing to save Lola�s life. She attempted to give me a deadline, which I laughed at, and then begged me to have Marcy out asap and made me promise to "really, really try."
Since then things have been very tense regarding the dogs. Lola has become increasingly aggressive with other dogs and has begun to demonstrate aggression towards people. She growls at almost all men who come into our home (familiar and not), has attacked Marcy several more times, and today I overheard the girls discussing Lola lunging and snapping at a random passerby on the street. Ailis shrugged this off as "she just doesn�t like anyone but her family anymore" and suggested that whoever walks her just "pop her collar" in that situation. I have started keeping Marcy as far away from Lola as possible to avoid fights (which are almost always instigated by Lola guarding the hallway or the couch or something), which means she and I are basically sequestered in my room 90% of the time. I must make it clear that Marcy is exceptionally mild mannered. She stays at my heels and keeps to herself. At times she tries to play with Lola, but it is very restrained and gentle. Lola tends to bang Marcy on the head with a toy until Marcy reacts and then, if Marcy tries to play WITH the toy that is being waved in her face, Lola becomes defensive and attacks.
I have asked the girls numerous times to feed Lola in a closed off room because they leave her bowl down and I can�t take Marcy down the hallway to go outside without her getting attacked over the food bowl, but every day the bowl is left down and half full of food. Whenever I ask them to put Lola away for a while so Marcy can come out of my room, I have to make sure we set up somewhere obnoxious because if we are off to the side or if Marcy wanders into my room or the bathroom they just let Lola out again and we have problems.
At this point I am having to leave Marcy in my room to shut Lola away and pick up her bowl and make sure the coast is entirely clear before taking Marcy out to the bathroom. Lola has forgotten her housetraining and they will go out and leave Lola at the house (rather than putting her at Cristyn�s parents house) without telling me and then when Lola poos on Cristyn�s carpet fuss at me for not letting her out when I�m usually not home or aware that they are gone. They have all started considering Lola the golden child and if I dare comment at all negatively on her behavior I�m given a snide response about how Marcy isn�t perfect either. But any problem Marcy had (housebreaking, crying, leash manners, garbage rooting) was fixed extremely promptly and hasn�t resurfaced. They never even see her any more. Lola cries at all hours of the morning, has snarled at my boyfriend and brother, and at this point makes me very uncomfortable. I do not trust her and I am not comfortable living with her. To top it all off, Cristyn�s parents just bought a yorkie.
Now Marcy is getting adopted by a wonderful family this Saturday and while I am very excited for her and am glad to not be shut in my room defending her all the time, I am very uncomfortable with Lola remaining in the house and am distraught over the prospect of not being able to bring home another foster. I am very concerned about my emotional health when Marcy was so exceptionally healing and am concerned about how my body will function without that extra reason to get up.
The most logical option would be to move out, but with my other pets that could be difficult and this location is so ideal. Ailis might also be graduating this year (she hasn�t decided whether she�ll be moving or not) and Cristyn has stated that if Ailis leaves so will she. Nadine is transferring. So I might be in a position to pick my own (quieter) roommates next year and begin fostering again. But that still leaves me with 3 months of the lease and a lot of tension. Furthermore, I have kept exceptionally quiet about Ailis�s cockatoo. The bird screams constantly and while Ailis knows I openly dislike the bird I have refrained from asking her to get rid of it because of our friendship. At this point, however, I feel like we�re not really friends. I hide out in my room all day so Marcy isn�t on her own and grimace my way through the day. I am very hesitant to ask them to get rid of Lola just because of the drama it would cause. I�m much more comfortable sitting back and taking it, but at this point I�m going nuts. I am very resentful of having an extremely effective mode of therapy taken away from me and of having to deal with all the constant noise from Lola and the bird.
I haven�t even started on the issues I have with the girls themselves.