I’m a big fan of new year resolutions and reflections. In these long, dark, cold days I do a lot of pondering and journaling and assessing and dreaming.
When it comes to my dog world, 2017 was not an easy one. It began with the miracle and magic of Fruitcake.
Helping that pup to walk was an amazing experience, and it prepared me for the bigger task of saving Darlin’s babies. The heartbreak of that experience was only softened by the community that emerged around us, giving their time and efforts to help those pups survive and then thrive. It was a hard, rich, exhausting time. Every time I hear from Darlin’s or her three surviving pup’s adopters, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.
Gala came to us not long after that and she has colored our lives ever since.
My heart ping-pongs back and forth in regards to Gala. She is not easy, but she is so amazing. Her devotion knows no bounds, but it can be all-consuming. I love that dog, but she cannot be my dog. I had a conversation this week with a trainer who offered to help with her. After I’d told him her long journey with us – the heartworm, broken jaw, injuries from a dog fight, inability to get along with Gracie, and her extreme devotion to us – he said, “She already is your dog.”
And he’s right, at least in her mind, Gala is our dog. More conversation with this trainer about her interactions with Gracie, also helped me to see that her continued presence here is simply not fair for Gracie. Gracie has tolerated some dogs, enjoyed many of them, ignored a few, but Gala is a real threat to her. That was clear this past week while Gala stayed with another foster temporarily so she could avoid the chaos of Christmas here, and so I could focus on the latest litter of puppies.
With Gala gone, Gracie relaxed. She stopped spending her days napping in her crate or patrolling the yard. She began playing with Frankie – running and smiling and wrestling like I haven’t seen her do since she was a puppy. She followed me from room to room, looking for snuggles and pets. She reclaimed the Frank bed. She felt safe and happy.
With Gala’s return, Gracie is back to her crate or outside, despite the frigid temperatures. As I talked with this trainer, I realized that Gracie doesn’t feel safe in her own home. And that is more than not fair. That’s wrong. Much like the frog in the kettle, the past nine months with Gala have slowly eroded Gracie’s security and confidence. When I hung up, I hugged Gracie and had a good cry. How could I have failed my own dog, so?
It’s not Gala’s fault. She is the dog she is. She just takes up a lot of the air in a room. She has a big personality and an even bigger heart. She LOVES her people and she doesn’t want to share them. But this is Gracie’s home, not Gala’s.
So my commitment to finding Gala’s people is renewed, but a countdown has also begun. I will not allow her to pass the one-year mark here at our house. If by the time March 1 rolls around, Gala has still not found her family, she will have to move to another foster home or a boarding facility if there isn’t a foster home available for her. I promised Gracie. We cannot become Gala’s sanctuary, we were only meant to be her foster home.
All of which means that 2018 may break my dog heart much the way 2017 did. And that’s part of the deal, I suppose. No one said this dog rescue business is for the weak-hearted. So I am ready (or I will be).
There’s much to look forward to in 2018, too. It will bring my 100th foster dog. In fact, the very next foster to make its way to our house will be the 100th.
But something even bigger is happening in 2018. My writing career and my passion for saving dogs will collide with the publication of Another Good Dog by Pegasus Books in August.
Not only will a portion of my proceeds go to saving more dogs, but Pegasus has also offered to sell the book (a hardcover that retails for about $25) to non-profits that benefit dog rescue (like shelters and rescue groups!) at a 50% discount so they can resell the books as a fundraiser. I’m excited to work with a publisher who understands that this book can not only tell a good story, but it can also raise awareness and hopefully funds that can make a difference.
We fostered lots of great puppies in 2017 – the beautiful Highway puppies,
the Pepper Puppers,
and, now the Giving Tuesday Pups,
but one puppy in particular has changed my life with his gentle, playful, uber-loving soul.
Later this winter, Frankie and I will begin training classes with an ultimate goal of him becoming a therapy dog. I’m also hoping to take him with me to promote the book, participate in Muttigrees programs with OPH, and continue to be my best assistant as we foster more dogs, including welcoming our 100th.
Giving Tuesday Puppy Update: Three out of four of our pups went home with their forever families this past week. Freida is the only one left, which surprises me since I’ve never seen a dog with more beautiful markings. In fact, I believe she is simply stunning. But on top of that, she’s a crazy-smart puppy. Of the litter, she was the most outgoing pup. Friendly and fun, but also able to settle and listen. Pretty much a near perfect puppy. She’s been doing a lot of crying since being left all alone for the first time in her short life, but luckily there are plenty of teenagers home from college at our house (or visiting them), so there’s no shortage of people to comfort her. Still, I’m hoping her family comes for her soon.
LOCAL PEEPS: This Saturday January 6, I’ll help OPH present a program at the Paul Smith Library in Shrewsbury at 10:30am. We’ll be teaching kids (of all ages) how to safely interact with dogs and also about the importance of dog rescue. My former foster Edith Wharton will be there, along with Frankie, and possibly Freida, for hands-on demonstrations. There will also be stories and crafts. Please spread the word!
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.
Happy New Year!