I don’t know where to begin.
I guess I’ll start with the biggest news –
GALA GOT ADOPTED!
I am so incredibly happy for Gala, and yet, when I heard the news I had to swallow my tears. At that moment, I was distracted by my other big news and had the company of OPH foster and friend, Deb Landers, so I just shoved those tears back inside and carried on. And yet, they are still hovering on the edges of my heart, even now.
Three weeks ago, Gala moved in with a new foster who has done a tremendous job with her, taking Gala to training and working with her daily. The training, the quiet atmosphere, the focused attention paid off and now Gala is in her forever home. Finally. Happy ending.
I do recognize that my tears are selfish tears. When you foster, the one thing that makes letting your dogs go easier, is seeing your dog find her family. That’s the pay off for ruined carpets and chewed up chair rungs, endless potty walks and brokering the peace in your household. Seeing how happy and excited the new family is to have this dog that you have loved makes the letting go easier. After all we have been through together, missing out on that piece with Gala hurts ferociously, even as I knew that was the way it had to be.
I’m hopeful that Gala’s new family will stay in touch with Sue, her foster, and that Sue will let me know what she hears. I was telling this to Nick and he reminded me that I need to focus on the dog and the outcome. And he’s right. I have to push me and my selfish need aside and focus on the dog.
It’s all about the dogs. I tell myself that again and again when I am inconvenienced or annoyed or exhausted – it’s about the dogs, not me. I think that shared belief is what makes it possible for so many different people with vastly different backgrounds and beliefs, to work together to save so many dogs. It is not about us, it’s about the dogs.
And speaking of dogs…..my 100th dog finally arrived!
And here’s the weird part—she looks eerily like Gala. She even weighs the exact same amount (49 pounds) and comes from the same state. She is the same age Gala was when she arrived (2) and she recently had puppies (which Gala had also, although she arrived sans pups).
When I was asked to take a mom and pups, I didn’t hesitate to say YES! But when I saw the pictures and the unmistakable Gala-likeness, I admit it wigged me out. Like lay-in-bed-and-wonder and miss-your-exit-because-you’re-preoccupied wigged me out. I didn’t know if it was a sign or a prediction or ground hogs day happening.
I named her Willow Wonka because she has six solid brown pups. So they are Willow Wonka and her Chocolate Factory (I’ll introduce you to Augustus Gloop, Mike Teavee, Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard, and Oompa Loompa later in this post – if you hang in there that long!).
Willow was to arrive on an emergency transport flight on Saturday just after lunch. We prepped the puppy room and I recruited Deb’s help. I didn’t know what to expect. Would Willow be like Gala? Would she be protective of her pups? Would she be cautious about new people? A million what ifs ran through my head, even as I was also processing the news that Gala had a meet and greet scheduled with her adopters for just about the same time that Willow’s flight was due to arrive.
The transport almost didn’t happen. There was some last minute scrambling due to mechanical issues, but thankfully our newest OPH volunteer pilot, Michael (with help from another pilot Jerry) was in the air by 10:30 Saturday morning! I loaded the car with a crate and towels, packed up the chocolate chip cookies I made for the pilots, and called Deb. Another minor miscommunication led to Deb and I having an extended wait, but she was great company and the controller at Tipton Airport was a good sport. As we awaited the plane’s arrival, I got a text that Gala was adopted.
If you know me well, you know I believe in signs and jinxes and magic. The fact that Gala went home at the exact time that Willow was winging her way to me seemed like more than coincidence.
I fought back tears all that day and night, and it wasn’t until the next morning when I was hiking with January, that I wondered if Gala had sent me Willow. Willow’s gorgeous, happy presence and her immediate bonding with me, was so very much like Gala’s arrival in my life. Maybe Gala knew I would need a distraction as big as this little brood to help me through losing her. I didn’t get to meet Gala’s family, but I have Willow, now.
Most of the time, I’m able to be stoic about the fostering business. Save one, let it go, then you can save another. That’s how it works. There isn’t time for tears – this is about the dogs. But this past year that began with the loss of Darlin’s babies and was consumed by Gala’s Odyssey, has not been an easy one for this foster’s heart (or her family!). There have been plenty of tears and more than a few curse words. And then to have not been able to see Gala to the finish was more than I thought I could bear. So maybe, just maybe, Willow’s presence is a sign—from Gala or the adoption magic or one big It’s-going-to-be-all-right from the universe.
At least that’s how I’ve decided to take it.
So let me introduce you to Willow Wonka and Her Chocolate Factory and her amazing journey from South Carolina to us.
Willow herself is quite a personality. She is clearly a teenage mom—much more interested in me and the noises outside and the cat and FOOD than she is in those babies.
In fact, I’ve yet to get a picture of her nursing them (although she must since they are fat little chunkeroos). As soon as she hears me (or anyone) approach she leaps to her feet to greet us excitedly at the gate, leaving the puppies squalling in her wake.
She bounds around my yard like a puppy herself, nearly pulling me off my feet. (She will be learning all about head collars as soon as I get a moment to order one for her!)
Inside, she is a climber and explorer. She’s restricted to the puppy room and the hall outside the puppy room, but this hasn’t limited her capacity for trouble. She managed to reach my plant bench (beyond a fence and a barricade) and toppled a tray of seedlings. She climbed on the worktable in the hall where I mix up the magical concoctions of puppy mush (but thankfully she isn’t aggressive enough to open treat bags or coconut oil containers or the food vaults). She even sits on top of the crate that brought her here. No lounging about on the comfy bed I provided her. I can tell we will have lots of fun with this silly dog in the weeks to come. I can also tell that weaning these babes will not be a long and drawn out process.
The puppies are BEYOND adorable.
I waste hours just staring. Or trying to stare, because when I sit down beside the box, Willow wants my attention. If I lean into the box to look, she will jump in the box, trampling puppies in the process to be sure I’m looking at her. If I ignore her, she’ll lick my face, nudge my arms, insist. She seems to be love-deprived and is stocking up as fast as possible.
I have hundreds already, but here are a few of my favorite pictures of this fun bunch of feisty pups. I’m guessing most of them have their mom’s personality, but I’m also guessing that their daddy was a hound dog.
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 and daily doses of puppy pictures, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.
COMING AUGUST 2018 from Pegasus Books: