dog rescue, Flannery Oconnor, fosterdogs, Hula Hoop, poop, puppies

Our Gated Community

Our little pack has settled in. Brady calls them my entourage, as all four dogs—our Frankie and Gracie, plus fosters Flannery and Hula, follow me from room to room. As I sit at my desk now, Hula is lounging in her crate behind me, Gracie has claimed the sun spot on the carpet near the door, and Frankie and Flannery are squeezed together on the dog bed.

Normally, we live in a gated community. One baby gate sections off the hallway to the puppy room, in addition to the fence that fills the doorway of the puppy room (the flannel sheet hanging over it traps the heat inside and keeps the room warmer, it also allows the pups to get away with all manner of naughtiness).

These gates will come down in just a week and a half when all three pups go to their forever homes.

Another baby gate separates the kitchen from the rest of the house.


This is where our adult foster dogs usually reside. That gate will remain closed until the foster earns the right to explore the rest of the house by proving that she/he is house-broken and upon approval from Frankie and Gracie.

Frankie’s approval is a given, as he has loved every dog that has ever entered our home.

Gracie is another story.

At ten, Gracie has settled into her role as resident grump. She welcomes each foster dog with a growl. How they respond to that growl usually tells me a thing or two. Hula ignored it, happily smiling and wagging, assuming the Gracie would accept her (which Gracie did). Flannery barked back a few times, but like Gracie, she is just a talker. When we finally allowed them to meet, not a cross word was spoken.


And so peace has settled over our little world. All four of the dogs rumbled in the snow this weekend. Leaping and twisting and chasing (with Gracie running behind barking at the frenzy).

Inside, Frankie and Hula have serious young-dog hard core play battles, dragging each other by the scruff of their neck, full-body tackles that sound painful (especially when they slam into an obstacle like the coffee table), and endless games of chase.

Flannery usually joins in chase – it’s her favorite. She especially likes to be the chasee. Otherwise, she and Gracie are generally enthusiastic spectators, Flannery tailing them everywhere occasionally jumping into the frey with a what-the-heck, and Gracie barking excitedly from the sidelines unsure how to join. Gracie has always been that awkward kid who doesn’t quite know how to relate to others.

Flannery and Hula love to play tug-of-war. They’ll battle happily over anything, and lately are enjoying the remnants of a braided toy made from old t-shirts. There are bits of bright blue t-shirt scattered all over my house as they shred it in their efforts. When restricted to the kitchen, the two snuggle on the substitute Frank bed. If Frankie’s in the room, it’s a happy threesome.


Hula Hoop finished weaning the puppies and started on a new wormer. She is finally gaining weight and her coat is shining up. She is also gaining energy and romps around the house like a puppy, occasionally chewing on things she should not chew on. She is listed on her forms as two, but I’d wager she’s much younger.


The puppies continue to grow—they are all eight pounds now at six weeks! This puts them on track to grow to be close to 50 pounds, a bit bigger than their mom who is currently 39 pounds, but needs to gain a bit.


They’ve discovered the joys of shredding puppy pads, which is perhaps the most disappointing moment in fostering puppies. It’s usually a sudden discovery. I open the puppy room to discover it is covered in shredded white bits, smeared with poop, that stick to everything (including the puppies themselves) and random puddles everywhere since the pads have been eviscerated and there’s nothing to soak up the endless urine.

Lucky for me, a remarkable OPH volunteer named Joanne made homemade puppy pads for me. They consist of a bath towel stitched with a sheet of nylon on one side and linen on the other. Virtually impossible for the puppies to destroy and even hard for them to move, due to their weight. I’ve tried using bed pads, but they don’t have the heft of Joanne’s pads so the puppies drag them around and scramble them into a pile when there’s a good game of chase on. I couldn’t survive a litter without Joanne’s pads. (I’ve told her I think she should patent them.)

Other than the puppy pad destruction, the pups are a joy. They are well-mannered and loving, quieter than some of the other litters I’ve had, and not just because there are only three. Scooter loves to be snuggled and Hopscotch would like me to be her endless playmate. Kickball is full-on puppy until he konks out and then nothing can disturb his nap, even puppies trampling them as they play.

We’ve enjoyed watching ‘Six Puppies and Us’ on Netflix this weekend, although we missed a bit of it thanks to Frankie. Whenever the puppies run across the screen he leaps at the television barking (which is pretty often since this is a show about six families each raising a puppy – some doing better than others). If you’re thinking of getting a puppy, there’s some good information (and entertainment) there, although I was a little bothered that they didn’t advocate strongly for spay/neuter. It’s a UK show and many of the dogs were purebreds, and perhaps they don’t have the issues we have with overcrowded shelters.

This Saturday, I’ll be speaking and signing books at Carroll County North library in Hampstead, MD. Edith Wharton, my fiftieth dog, and Nancy Slattery, the photographer who took the cover photos will be with me. Come out and see us! We’ll be there from 10-11am.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter (which is rarely monthly, but I’m working at it…everybody needs a goal).

_dsc0082-01If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, check, where you can find more pictures of the dogs from the book (and some of their happily-ever-after stories), information on fostering, the schedule of signings, and what you can do right now to help shelter animals! You can also purchase a signed copy or several other items whose profits benefit shelter dogs!

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more pictures and videos of my foster dogs past and present, 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.



Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now

Another Good Dog cover




6 thoughts on “Our Gated Community”

    1. This is good to hear because when I finished it yesterday I thought – this is one of the boring ones! I’m so enmeshed in the dogs’ lives that it’s all interesting to me, but I worry others might find it not so interesting!


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