dog rescue, foster dogs, fosterdogs, Gala, Giving Tuesday Pups, oph, puppies

Holiday Happiness: Foster Pup Version

When my children were young, Christmas was such a huge deal. Not that it isn’t a huge deal, still. It’s just a different kind of huge deal. Christmas is no longer baking cookies or endless shopping or matching jammies or teacher’s gifts or Christmas concerts.

And truth be told I only miss a few things on that list. Now, Christmas is more about all of us being in the same house at the same time paying attention to each other in the form of eating meals, playing games, sharing music, teasing, and giving, yes, still quite a few presents (but none that came from a maddening trip to Toys R Us).

We didn’t decorate the tree until Dec 23, even though the tree had been in the house for over a week. On Saturday morning, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for decorating-the-tree to fit into everyone’s schedule. Frankie and I began decorating without them. His job was to reinforce the “Frankie zone” so I didn’t hang ornaments where he (or a loose puppy) could reach them. We’d been at it for about five minutes, when my oldest son, Brady walked throught the room on his way out and asked, “Are you decorating the tree?”

I said, “I’m putting ornaments on this tree with no music and nobody helping but Frankie.” (Remember, I’m a professional mom and I’m highly skilled in the art of guilt.) In only minutes everyone was helping, the Squirrel Nut Zippers Christmas album was playing on the stereo, and Nick dragged out the ladder to put the star on. It turned into a beautiful, impromptu pause in our day and we spent the next hour laughing about the homemade ornaments and the beloved Peter Pan characters and brought back from some of our favorite trips. Ian is so tall this year that he was able to hang most of the high ornaments without the ladder.

 

Having Frankie and the puppies (that sounds like a pop band of some sort) did bring back a little of the chaos and excitement of the holiday, though. Frankie (and Gracie for the first time in many years) enjoyed opening his present. Frankie got a tree with nine squirrels and Gracie got a brand new flat fox (Gala has spent the last nine months stealing the old fox at every turn and all that is left is a few remnants – a tail and part of the head)

 

The puppies didn’t get any special presents beyond a few treats, but they got more romp around time in the kitchen since there’s nothing else pressing to do beyond watching puppies play. The pups had a few visitors and discovered the wonders of the woodstove. This is maybe my favorite foster puppy picture all year –

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We’ve gotten to know these puppies and are enjoying their sweet natures. They are remarkably gentle puppies for 3-month-old pups – not mouthy or nippy. They are curious and love to chew. My kitchen chairs have a few new notches on their legs and more than one stuffed animal has ended its life on the floor of the mudroom. These little girls are serious eaters, which may be a nod to their beagle heritage, and Honey Bun is well on her way to becoming an accomplished counter-surfer.

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Little Ears is the instigator, always looking for someone to play chase with or nagging Frankie into a wrestling match. She is the busiest puppy and the slowest diner, possibly because she has to pause to growl at the other puppies, just in case they may be tempted to share her bowl.

 

Emma Girl loves her sisters, but likes her me-time, too. When her sisters get in a brawl over a coveted toy, she will slyly sneak away with the toy while the other pups are too busy wrestling. She’ll settle on the Frank bed with the toy and enjoy it by herself while the others race around the kitchen, toy forgotten but battle still raging.

Freida is bright and smart and the first one to discover a forgotten sock or an unlatched gate. She bounds around the kitchen on her long legs, her curious eyes searching out the windows for the cat or a bird, or following me as I work, always looking for attention. She’s a very people-oriented pup.

Honey Bun lopes around on her long, lanky legs, but if the cat is in the vicinity, that’s where her explorations stop. She is single-minded in her quest to convince the cat to play and she is undaunted by the swipes she’s taken to the nose. She’s also very good at slipping through the gate behind me to race through the house and bug Gracie (who has ZERO patience with eager puppies).

Soon, we’ll be back to regular life, but for a few more days we can enjoy the non-schedule, the friends stopping by, the kids hanging out, the puppies in the mud room. All of the puppies have adopters and will go home this weekend. Gala will also return. She’s been on a holiday of her own visiting with her other favorite family. Pam has, no doubt, spoiled her rotten. I’m so grateful that she was able to go to Pam’s because while we love Gala, she would have been overwhelmed by puppies racing around the kitchen and strangers showing up on the porch and a living room crowded with people.

I didn’t get my biggest wish – Gala didn’t find her family for Christmas.

christmas gala

I’ve thought a lot about it in the absence of Gala this week. She is such a special, beautiful, funny, loving dog and it still makes no sense to me that no one has picked her yet. But maybe it’s not Gala who’s not ready, maybe it’s her family who isn’t ready for her yet. I know that this dog deserves the most wonderful of families, so perhaps that means we have to wait a little longer. So Gala will be back and we’ll continue to love her and rearrange our home and our days to make her comfortable and safe. I’m still hopeful that she can find a more suitable foster home in 2018, but until she does, we’ll find a way to make it work for her here.

OPH has plans in the new year to send Gala to training and I know both Pam and I are committed to making sure she finds her family. OPH is also committed to helping Gala be successful and is in the midst of developing a training reimbursement program to ensure that dogs like Gala can continue training in their new homes. As the new year wraps, I’d like to share a video of all that this amazing organization has accomplished this year. If you’re looking for a worthy cause for your last minute tax-deductible donations, please consider OPH. I’m proud to be a small part of this amazing organization that saves dogs like Gala and commits to seeing them through safely from shelter to forever home. Together We Rescue.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more regular updates of foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me through Facebook, twitter, or Instagram.

Blessings for a wonderful new year!

Cara

9 thoughts on “Holiday Happiness: Foster Pup Version”

  1. Cara, I so look forward to reading your blogs every Tuesday. They remind me of Erma Bombeck’s books and blogs. You are so talented. I feel so bad that Gala hasn’t found her forever home. Every week, I hope to see that she has been adopted. I adopted Potcake Riley from OPH 1 year and 1/2 ago.

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    1. Thank you Janice! High praise to be compared to Erma Bombeck! It has been a long road with Gala, but she’ll find her people. She’s an incredible dog, it’s just taking a bit longer. Thank you for saving Potcake Riley. I’ve always wanted to foster a potcake, but haven’t had the chance yet. Thanks for choosing to rescue. have a wonderful new year!

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  2. Hi Cara – I’m new to your blog but love what I’ve read so far. Gala’s situation really caught my attention as we have a 2 year old foster pup who has extreme reactivity towards strangers. She (like some of our other dogs) is from Iran and has endured unspeakable cruelty before being rescued. Unfortunately her aggressive behavior has resulted in her being moved to multiple foster homes, and now she is with us. She too has come a long way within our family (from being almost feral when she first arrived) to being a loving family member now. Outside with strangers is a whole different story! We are beginning training on Jan 7th with a trainer who specializes in working with traumatized rescue dogs and I am both cautious and optimistic to see how this will go. I will follow your progress with Gala as well! I really appreciate your honesty too, with telling Gala’s story – I think it is natural to feel discouraged at these times especially when we care so much for our pups! Wishing you and Gala all the best and hoping she finds her forever home soon.

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    1. Wow, Anne, my hat is off to you for taking on your foster dog knowing its history. I wish, so desperately, that Gala could move to a different foster home that would be a better fit, but no one seems willing to take her on. I’m certain she could progress in a calmer, quieter, more stable atmosphere, but we are what she’s got, for now. I’ve also just been put in touch with a trainer, who has already been very helpful, so fingers crossed.

      We’ve had only one international dog (from Iraq) and she was such a mystery. I hear regularly from her adopter and he adores her but still wonders what she went through – some of her odd behaviors have persisted. She remains my son’s most favorite foster (and we’re about to break three figures). She was remarkable. Best of luck with yours – please let me know how the training goes and if you learn any great tricks!

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  3. Sounds like you had quite the holiday. Are there any paid staff working for OPH? Or is all of the paperwork done by volunteers from their computers and phones. The organization is doing a good thing. It must have been quite the racket when people would knock at your door and the dogs would get excited. Do Frankie and Gracie bark when someone comes to the door? Perhaps you could film them at a time when someone comes to the door so we can see and hear how you handle these two spirited furry friends of yours?

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    1. OPH does have a few paid staff. As they grow, there’s been a need to add more. Currently they place about 1000 dogs a year. Frankie and Gracie do get excited when anyone comes to the door, but I try to keep them away from the door through the use of gates so they don’t overwhelm visitors. It always goes better if the person can get in the house and the dogs can see/hear/smell them but not touch them and then eventually be allowed near them after everyone has settled.

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  4. Wise move. I guess most of your visitors enjoy their happy antics? You mentioned in a past post about how some friends you had for dinner one night were entertained by the antics of one of your litters of puppies. Perhaps you could film your dogs’ excitement when someone who lives at your home comes in the door? Just a thought. I like your videos.

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