A familiar face bounded out Katie’s jeep and wiggle-waggled her way to me. I was so happy that Mia remembered me!
We are babysitting Mama Mia this week for her foster mom, Katie. She looks so much better than the last time I saw her when she was still recovering from hookworms and nursing eight puppies.
She is still the same madly-in-love-with-you pup who struggled to raise her babies in my puppy room, but now she’s added some serious energy to power that affection. We named Fanny Wiggles for her crazy wigglebutt joy, but Mia might give her a run for her money on the butt-wagging competition.
Mia is installed in our kitchen giving everyone a you-just-returned-from-war quality greeting every time they pop in to grab a glass of water. She spends the rest of her time at the gate, forlornly watching for company and whining when she hears the possibility of it.
She is such a smart girl – figuring out the dog door and bells-to-go-out in moments. She’s got a solid sit and down, but holding still for long is a challenge. Her treat-motivation is off the charts though, so I have no doubt she could be doing calculus if we put in the effort to teach her.
Mia needs a family who can handle that kind of energy – she loves long walks and would probably make a good running buddy. Her intensity won’t do well in a home with young children, and she would most definitely chase a cat to no end. She is only 40ish pounds, but those are some powerful low-riding pounds when she spots a squirrel, another dog, or a possible new human friend, so we’re working on using a front-leading harness and may try a head collar next.
This is the first time she and Fanny have met since the last time Mia was with us, she was living in our puppy room. So far, so good. They are well matched and will hopefully be good playmates. The kids are enjoying her, although the leg licking can be too much sometimes (Mia is full of kisses and plants them wherever she can reach).
If you or someone you know is interested in adopting Mia, click here.
Part of the reason we haven’t had any new fosters in the past month is the launch of 100 Dogs & Counting, but the other reason is we have been very busy putting the finishing touches on the cabin we bought a year ago.
It’s a little log cabin on 6 wooded acres in Bentonville, VA. We purchased it knowing it needed a complete rehab, but never imagined it would take us an entire year to complete.
The cabin had been neglected for twenty years, had not been finished inside (no window or door trim, no molding, little insulation), had lots of wear and tear, and the previous owner had basically allowed the woods to nearly swallow it whole. Plus, there were several feral cats and at least one bear used to stopping by the steps for their meals.
We’ve battled water leaks/stains, BUGS of every kind, not to mention the effects of household neglect, smoking, and not-cleaning (ever). I’ve learned so much about cleaning, especially the power of TSP to remove smoke stains/smell/water stains and just about any kind of grime. I feel like I could write a book called, “How to Get ANY Stain out of Wood”.
We’ve taken down walls, installed window frames, doors, appliances, fencing, and most recently built a deck. Nick created all kinds of built-in touches like unique bed frames, shelving from wood we salvaged from the shed we tore down, steampunk lights, and (my favorite), a dog house under the stairs.
We’ve tried to make the house not just dog-friendly, but dog-welcoming. We’ve also tried to make it the kind of place we would love to rent ourselves. After staying in dozens of rental houses in the area over the years, we think we know what will make a stay (especially with a dog) a good one.
We named the cabin, Chateau Frankie. Our site, called Shenandoah Dog Friendly Rentals, is now live, and for the time being, we are renting directly without a service like Air BnB. This keeps our rates from being too high and by renting to people we have some connection with, we hope we’ll get the kind of renters we can trust with our dream cabin.
The pictures on the site were taken by the incomparable, Nancy Slattery. The dog models you’ll see on the site are Nancy’s dog Edith Wharton, our Fanny Wiggles, and with cameos by none other than Flannery O’Connor and Tennessee Shenanigans.
I wanted you all to be the first to know since our target renter is someone who likes to go places with their dog (but you can always rent without a dog and we won’t hold it against you!).
I’m still contemplating our next move in terms of foster dogs and keeping our space available for a couple possible returns. If that changes, you’ll be the first to know.
Thanks for reading!
If you’d like regular updates of all my foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips from OPH training, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com where you can also find more information on my new book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, (Pegasus Books, July 2020) or on the book’s very own Facebook page and Instagram account.
And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit WhoWillLetTheDogsOut.org.
Our family fosters through the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes, a network of foster homes in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and south-central PA.
If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs . It’s available anywhere books are sold.
I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact: email@example.com.