dog rescue, foster dogs, foster fail, fosterdogs, fostering, Hops, puppies

Puppy Play Yard

My husband Nick and I are a pretty good team. I’m the ‘idea’ person and he does all the work.

This weekend, though, Frankie and I were his helpers on a project that has been on my wishlist ever since we began fostering.

I’ve been angling for a ‘dog fence’ for quite some time. Our little hillside farm has six acres, plenty of room for a dog to run, but those acres are surrounded by farmer’s field, woods, one testy neighbor, and a road. It’s rare the foster dog (like Hops) that I can allow off-leash.

I worry too much about losing a dog in the woods, the endless cornstalks, the gun-owning neighbor’s property, or chasing the goats across the road. (The goats live in an invisible fence which makes them readily accessible to the dogs. I’m pretty certain it’s only a matter of time before the wolf or coyotes that have been spotted in our area nab them.)

Ever since Frankie discovered the vultures on the top fence line, he can’t be trusted outside. I keep him with me when I’m working in the gardens on a 60-foot lead which he is expert at tangling around trees and weed buckets, and occasionally, me. He’s chill about it though, he never complains. Once he’s so wound up his movement is restricted, he just sits down and waits. He knows eventually I will notice and come rescue him.

We have a nice level area beside the house where the kids swing set resided until just a few years ago when they became too big and it became too rickety. Up until a month ago, I had two raised beds there to camouflage the lid to the septic tank, but I was willing to sacrifice those beds in the name of dog safety.

I’ve steadily built my case and finally this weekend the ‘puppy play yard’ became a reality!


Well, almost. We still need to build one more gate and do some finish work on the fence, plus the grass isn’t quite all filled in where the raised beds were removed. I also have to do a little research and be certain that none of the perennials in the garden along the house are poisonous to dogs.

Frankie supervised the fence construction.


Frankie kept busy assisting in hole digging, chasing down moths, reminding us not to prop up boards or leave the ladder upright, and determining whether or not the strawberries that grow along one side of the house are safe for dogs to eat (apparently they are!).

I’m excited about designing the play-yard. I’ve dreamed up a little playhouse that Nick will build to cover the septic tank lid for puppies to hide in. A neighbor gave us a fire hydrant sculpted out of scrap metal (he teaches welding at a technical school). I’m scouting out yard sales for a sandbox or pool to make a ball pit, and I already have a tunnel and a sprinkler. I still have to read up on the toxicity of peonies, iris, hen&chicks, mums, lavender, and hostas.

Now all I need are some puppies.

We are currently fosterless. Hops went home with a wonderful couple who are over-the-moon to have him as their first dog. I warned them that he is not a normal dog and they are going to be spoiled. Rare is a dog as easy and sweet and naturally well-mannered as that pup.

We’ll wait to get another foster dog until after we return from my nephew’s wedding in Oklahoma this weekend.

I’ve never been to Oklahoma so this visit will leave North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin as the only US States I’ve never visited.

Maybe I’ll get to those on my book tour for Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. The tour is slowly taking shape. So far, I’ve got a bunch of stops in MD, PA, and VA, and I’m working on stops in Fayetteville, NC, Columbia, SC, and Atlanta, GA. If anyone has a good contact in Nashville, TN or has a great place for me to visit in between the towns listed above, please let me know. I’m really hoping I get to meet some of you (and your dogs!) in my travels.

To try to spread the word and encourage pre-orders (which are GOLD in terms of media attention and marketing for the book), I’ve created little promotional cards with the cover and information.


If you’d like one for yourself or you’d be willing to share them with dog-lovers you know, I’d be happy to send you one or more cards. Just shoot me an email with your mailing address ( and I’ll get them right out to you!

Thanks for reading, but most of all thanks for rescuing!

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

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 extra puppy pictures, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.



COMING AUGUST 2018 from Pegasus Books and available for preorder now:

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9 thoughts on “Puppy Play Yard”

    1. I can’t wait to have it all set up. No more dragging out puppy pens! Very excited – I’m sure I’ll say the same thing after the first litter – I don’t know how I got along without it! But I did – for three years! About time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, can I ever relate to that pen dragging, lol. It will be completely amazing, trust me on that one! I went about a year before getting mine setup and I don’t know how I ever managed without it. One of those things that are really needed for puppies.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. When did you get it finished? I don’t recall reading about its continued development on your blog, but I think (having a bit of a mental block) you’ve finished it as you seem to mention it frequently when you’re fostering a dog or puppies? Guess you’re really enjoying it. I think having something like that is a good idea… when we had the two retrievers my mom and aunt got in 2008, my mom had to keep them in her garage behind a baby gate for most of the day until they’d been housebroken. It helped that it was the summertime (we live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada so it’s not as warm here as it may be in PA, but we can still have our hot days), and the dogs seemed to enjoy being outside. They sure attracted a lot of dog-loving neighbors and people passing by the house, and helped to speed up their housebreaking. I was sixteen, and unlike Ian, I tried to avoid the puppies when they were full of energy, enjoying the hour or so around mid day when they’d nap… and we’d sometimes join them too. We had both puppies, Gabby (my mom’s) and Mindy (my aunt and uncle’s) because my aunt and uncle went on a cruise to Alaska they’d planned before any of us knew about the puppies, and my dog-loving mom (interesting combo, her and me, huh?) volunteered to have Mindy until they returned. It made for an eventful 30 days at our home. I wrote a story about it to share with our family and friends that Christmas. Puppies… not for me. If I have to be around dogs, I’d prefer them to be older.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We actually finished the play yard in one weekend, the only hold up was waiting for Nick to build the gate. It has been a wonderful addition, especially when it’s bitter cold as the dogs can use it for a quick pottying and I don’t have to go outside. It’s also been great to have to take pictures of the fosters off-leash and to do introductions with Frankie so the dogs don’t have to be on leashes (sometimes that makes them more reactive).


  2. Ps: One thing I find ounteresting about the puppies (I hadn’t been around too many puppies before Gabby and Mindy came along) was how when I’d try to pet them, they’d still keep wiggling and moving around. To me, when they were new to our place, they felt like a little ball of fur with claws. I don’t recall getting mouthed by them a whole lot. Sometimes I’d soften towards them and give them some attention, other times I’d retreat to my “girl cave.” Typical teen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Puppies put everything in their mouths – including your hands when they are playing/excited. I’ve found that certain breeds are worse about it than others. Retrievers, like yours, tend to be more gentle, less mouthy. While, terriers are all mouth. Hounds are somewhere in between.


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