dog rescue, foster dogs, fostering, Gala, oph, running with dogs, training

This is a Special Dog

In less than a week, it will be six months since Gala arrived at our house. At this point, she believes she is our dog.

She is not.

I don’t know why she hasn’t found her family. I keep telling people who ask, that her family must be pretty special people if she has to wait this long. But then again, she is a special dog.

Part of me questions whether I am helping or hindering her adoption effort by writing about her, but it would seem insincere not to share her stories. And there are many. Because this is a special dog.

“Latest circus trick,” I say to Nick as we watch Gala teeter all forty-five pounds of herself on the arm of his plastic Adirondack chair. She just wants to be as close as possible to him. She did the same thing the other day to a friend who was standing near my kitchen step stool. She got all four feet on the top of the step so that she could be closer to my friend’s face- the better to lick her love. This is such a special dog.

“Stay!” I command, holding my hand up like a stop sign and backing away from her. I watch her mind focus. She knows what I want, but she also WANTS to be near me. Six feet. STAY! Nine feet. STAY! Twelve….here she comes.


We’re working on it. She gets better every day, but all Gala really wants is to be near me. All. The. Time. This is a special dog.

The heart of this dog can only be described as ENORMOUS. She just loves. And loves. And loves.


She is special, but she is not easy. But which one of us is?

Anything really good takes work and Gala will require an adopter who is willing to work. To set boundaries (and enforce them). To help her exercise all that endless energy. To challenge her mentally. To help her feel safe. But mostly, to love her. Because that’s what she needs more than anything.

She wants to take a few laps around your living room, but then she wants to lie by your side (or in your lap) for hours.


She will bound onto your bed and burrow under your pillows (sometimes when she does this, she will freeze with only a leg or a tail hanging out from under the pillows and I’m certain she thinks she’s hiding), but then she will lie still all night long, content to be near you.


She will walk or run miles and follow you anywhere. She would be more than happy to train you for a 5K or even a marathon, but you need a strong arm and an easy-walk harness so that when she catches sight of a deer or a cat (or a blue heron), you can keep her safe.


She will leap for joy when she spies you coming with her food bowl and gobble up anything you offer her, but it will be important that she stay a good weight so you don’t stress her heart which once housed heartworms.

She will love meeting your friends, but some people bring back scary memories, so she needs a slow introduction to thin men who could be mistaken for teenage boys. Once she knows someone, though, she will love them with all her might.

She can easily jump objects and figure out dog puzzle toys and would love to be a backyard agility star, but you will need a solid fence or an e-collar to keep her safe in your space.


So she’s not simple, but rock stars never are.

I’m going to stop checking Gala’s OPH adoption page so often because they say that when you finally stop looking for something it will find you. Gala is more than ready to be found.

Frankie update (not that you asked): Frankie has serious focus when it comes to food. When allowed off-leash, he runs for the gardens where he eats tomatoes, peppers, and snap peas. He saw me pick a pear off one of our fruit trees, watched me eat it, and now leaps up at the branches trying to reach any low hanging fruit. He has consumed every kind of nut the woods has to offer (despite my best efforts to pry them out of his mouth). So far, so good, but I envision years of practicing toddler-caretaking vigilance to keep him safe from his own appetite.

We took Frankie on a road trip to meet my daughter Addie at college. The smiles he elicited wear well worth the long drive (and the three times he got sick on the way there).

He trotted all over campus until I worried about his little pads and began carrying him. He encountered his first fire hydrant.

22089708_10213179798800797_7163360461699889370_n (1) On the advice of one of Addie’s roommates, I held him on my lap on the way home. He never got sick once. Either he prefers the front seat or he was too exhausted to notice the car’s motion. The next day I took him with me to watch Ian’s soccer game, buckling him in with a car harness. He curled up and slept the whole way there, then spent the game flirting with a pack of high school girls on the sidelines.

I adore my little pup. As much as I enjoy my fosters (and plan to continue to as soon as Frankie’s vaccines are in effect- one more week!), this is different. Frankie is my boy. I feel incredibly blessed.


Thanks for reading!

Hope you have a marvelous week.  I’m headed out on a road trip for a book festival in Williamsburg, Virginia (without Frankie, sigh.).

If you’d like to know more about how you can volunteer, foster, donate, or adopt Gala (or a number of other deserving pups), visit If you’d like more regular updates on foster dogs past and present, join my Facebook group, Another Good Dog. (There’s a picture of one of Darlin’s pups on there this week – spitting image!)

If you’d like to know more about my writing, books, blogs, and appearances, stop by

I’d love to connect on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram. I also love to hear from readers via comments on this blog or by email carasueachterberg @



13 thoughts on “This is a Special Dog”

  1. I think the more you write about her, the better! Much better chance of a successful adoption when people know what they’re getting into. Plus, the stories make her special and stand out, rather than just another pretty dog face with an ‘adopt me!’ sign. They’ve definitely made *me* fall in love with her, but I also know I would not be a good fit because of them.


    1. I suppose you’re right, I just don’t want to scare everyone away. She is an amazing girl and there are ways to work with her – she just needs someone with the time and motivation to do the work. She’ll be so worth the effort.


  2. I was thinking of Gala today as I watched our 7 year old insanely energetic GSD Jake jump and run and play in his very first snowfall. That’s how Gala will be when she’s older – still like a young pup. Yes, it takes a special person to cope with such an energetic dog but it is sooooo worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gala will find her home in time! We just had an (untrained) 5 yr old Yorkie, who had been with us for 7 months find her forever home this past weekend. After multiple other adopters changed their minds about her last minute. She was hard to handle and impossible to confine. So Gala’s perfect family is out there somewhere too!


    1. I keep telling myself that and I’ve seen the adoption magic before, but my, this dog is all in, all the time. I’m sure when her people finally find her, it will be a big day and I have no doubt they will discover quickly how much life Gala brings to a life and love her.


  4. Nice post. Why would you worry about Frankie’s paw pads? Can a dog’s pads become sore after a long time of being used, i.e. after his long time of walking around on the college campus? Dogs seem like animals who usually never tire of exploring new places, so reading this was new for me. Glad that Frankie’s been able to find many fans from early on.


    1. I only worried about his pads because he hadn’t done so much walking on concrete before. dogs can and should do a lot of walking, but those pads need to work up to it as they toughen with age. Up until this point, Frankie had done all his walking on trails/grass.


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