dog rescue, fosterdogs, Gingersnap, oph, shelters

A Fixable Problem

WARNING: This is not a happy or funny post. It might bum you out, or maybe it will inspire you. I’m taking my chances sharing my grief and frustration.

IMG_3629Today is the day Ginger will leave. I feel unprepared. Every other time, when a dog was leaving that I knew would break my heart, I had a plan in place. A new foster on its way or already in our house, or I had somewhere to go or be that would distract me. Not today.

Because I’m still waiting to see a doctor who will have the answers, I can’t commit to a new dog/puppy. I’m not a good patient or a patient person, so my hurting knee is dragging me down. Lucy is still here, but we’re finding our routine and she’s ready to go to a forever home as soon as her people find her.

Today is different than other adoption days. Without my usual props in place, I already feel the tears gathering and I hate that. This is the hardest part of fostering. This heart-cratering pain that is so completely unavoidable- if I just didn’t foster dogs. It’s self-inflicted, preventable, and yet, I know it’s nothing compared to the pain of all the dogs that never make it out.

I’m currently reading Rescue Road, the story of a man named Greg Mahle, who drives a tractor-trailer full of rescue dogs from the deep south, to foster homes and adopters in the north twice a month. He’s helped rescue over 30,000 dogs and driven a million miles.

I’m trying to read it as fast as I possibly can because it is unbearable. Every time I have to close the book and move back into my world I feel sad, unmoored, frustrated. How can there be people in this world, in this time, who would dump a litter of newborn puppies in a trashcan or worse yet, set that trash can on fire?

How can there be state-run ‘shelters’ that are no more than concrete holding pens completely exposed to the elements where dogs are dumped all together (young, old, sick, neutered or not) to wait for no one (or maybe a rescue) to claim them before they die of preventable diseases or state mandated euthanasia? This book breaks my heart. Reading it this weekend, knowing it was our last with Ginger, made for a sad, sad few days.

Yes, I know, Ginger is going to a GREAT home. It’s the only happy thought available for me to hold on to. Only that great home isn’t mine. It can’t be. Technically, it could be, but reading Rescue Road this weekend underlined again for me exactly why it can’t be—there are too many dogs still down there. Too many dogs dying every day because of ignorance, cruelty, apathy, and lack of resources. This is a fixable problem. Maybe that’s what makes me most crazy. Parvo, mange, heartworms, overpopulation—these are ALL preventable or treatable.

All of my mixed feelings and sadness is complicated by the fact that my knee is not healing. It limits me. Just this morning, I fell, once again. Even though I had on my brace and my new super grippy shoes that my husband insisted I buy, my unstable let still slid out from under me on a stick that fell in last night’s storm as I made my way down the hill with Lucy. Ouch.

And then there’s Lucy.
Continue reading “A Fixable Problem”

Bambi, dog rescue, foster dogs, fostering, Gingersnap, Lucy, oph

Our Present Pack of Pups

My trusty co-pilot and helper (read: the only kid without a driver’s license or a job this summer) and I met the Lucy train in Hagerstown last Wednesday and picked up our latest charge. She’d been riding shot-gun for the last leg with a very nice person named Terri. When I opened the hatch of my SUV, she hopped right in, settled in the crate we’d brought and went to sleep. Obviously, she wouldn’t be a high-maintenance guest.

This poor pup has been through it—I can’t say exactly what, but she is riddled with scars, the worst one being a permanent necklace from where a collar was embedded and/or she was left chained up for a long period. Despite all that, she is a happy, friendly, easy-going girl. The resilience of dogs is something to behold.

Thankfully, she doesn’t appear to be pregnant. As exciting as that would have been, the last thing this sweet girl needs is puppies. Her skin is inflamed and hot and covered in some form of eczema that requires us to keep a cone on her 24/7 so she won’t chew herself bloody. It’s a testimony to her good nature that she handles her misery so well. She scratches at the cone trying to get to her neck and chest, where the rash is worst. She chews at her side, biting the plastic cone that prevents her from a reaching her itchy skin. It may not help, but maybe the effort brings a mental relief. I remember scratching at my riding helmet covering my itchy head when I was in the middle of a competition or lesson. It’s psychological; you feel like you’re doing something. I would shake my head, too, which I’ve seen Lucy doing.


If you’ve ever had poison ivy or hives covering your entire body, you might have some sense of what this pup is going through. The urge to itch is all-consuming and yet—she can’t reach it. She’s headed to the vet on Wednesday to confirm that she isn’t pregnant and hopefully get a prescription for some serious drugs to help her out. The vets that examined her before she came north diagnosed a flea allergy. While there are no fleas on this girl now (I’ve given her enough oatmeal baths to verify that), I would assume at some point she was infested with them. Continue reading “Our Present Pack of Pups”

dog rescue, fosterdogs, fostering, Gingersnap, oph, Uncategorized

Revolving Door of Foster Dogs

Wow, hang on tight, the musical chairs/foster dog switcheroo is on warp speed this week.

Friday night instead of a pregnant mama (didn’t work out this time), we picked up the two foster puppies we volunteered to host for the weekend. We planned to take them to boarding on Monday. I’m not sure why I call anything a plan since it rarely resembles one and most times ends up looking nothing like the original. So, let’s call it an idea.

I had a ‘white’ weekend (nothing on the calendar), so the idea was to give these two little girls some runaround-with-Ginger time, make sure they got their wormers and flea/tick treatments, and hope some dogs got adopted and another foster home opened up. If not, we’d take them to boarding on Monday. Great idea, right? Sure it was.

When we arrived home with our pups on Friday night, Brienne galloped around the yard, her nose on overdrive. At six months, she is all hound. Eight month old Little Lady, on the other hand, didn’t move. We pulled her from her crate and when we set her on the grass, she immediately flattened herself against it and then tried to burrow in.

When Brienne did a fly-by, Lady got up, took a few steps and then dove back into the grass, rolling and rubbing her nose and belly against the grass, as if she was trying to get as close as possible to it or maybe disappear. When I set her on the pavement, she dove for the grass and again pressed herself against it. Had she never touched grass before? Finally, I picked her up and carried her into the house.

The next morning, when I opened the crates, Brienne bounded out and smothered me with kisses, while doing the happy hound murmur. Brienne is vocal like a real hound. The only other hounds we’ve had who made such constant commentary were Carla and Whoopie. I love the sounds and the constant wagging tail. Brie is one happy girl.


Lady hung back in her crate until I took Brienne out of the room. When I shut the door and sat down outside her crate, she cautiously crept out and then leaned into me, pressing her long nose against my side, wagging her backside (she has no tail). I was gone—hook, line and sinker. What happened to this precious pup? No matter; from here on out, there will only good things.

When I picked up a leash, she scrambled back into her crate, so I sat back down and waited.


Continue reading “Revolving Door of Foster Dogs”

adopters, dog rescue, Fannie, foster dogs, fosterdogs, fostering, Gingersnap, Nowzad dogs, Okeriete, oph, Pit bull, puppies, shelters

Getting Serious About Dog Rescue

Are you as afraid as I am to turn on the news? I feel obligated, but at the same time a heart can only take so much. This past weekend I finally heard some GREAT news. I was privileged to attend OPH’s seminar for volunteers. I learned even more about this fabulous organization I’m a part of and left feeling motivated to do more.

The highlight for me was a presentation from two women from one of the shelters that OPH partners with in south western Virginia. I went to school in southside Virginia a million years ago, so I remember that part of the country as rural, blue-collar (when there are jobs) with field after field of tobacco. I worked at a pub in Danville where I served mill workers who called me “Yankee Girl” and never missed an opportunity to remind me that Danville was the last confederate capital of the south!

Rachel and Ashley traveled north this past weekend to share with OPH the impact our organization has had on their shelter in Scott County, VA. I couldn’t hold back tears as I listened to the statistics they shared. I think it was the best news I’ve heard all summer, actually all year, and it renewed my desire to help more dogs and my admiration for the people who work so hard to save them.

OPH began partnering with the Scott County Human Society shelter in mid 2015. Take a look at the impact we are having on this one shelter- Continue reading “Getting Serious About Dog Rescue”

fosterdogs, Gingersnap, oph, Pit bull, Whoopi

Whoopi Finds Her Family (and Ginger Claims Ours)

DSC_4109Whoop! Whoop! Whoopi found her forever family!

She left early Sunday morning for the 6 1/2 hour drive to her new home in Rhode Island!

We’re already hearing how well she is fitting in and how much she is loved! She has a big fenced yard near the seashore, two kids of her very own, and two fursiblings (weiner dogs! Can you imagine the trio they make?). It’s a great story that makes my heart very happy. Continue reading “Whoopi Finds Her Family (and Ginger Claims Ours)”

adopters, fostering, Gingersnap, oph, Whoopi

Adoption pending? Maybe. Maybe not.


Just picked up Whoopi and Ginger from their vacation. They are tired, fat, and happy – the way everyone should be when returning from vacation.

While we were gone they stayed with OPH superstar foster Juanita who spoiled them rotten. They had free run with her pack in Juanita’s big, shady, fenced yard; were allowed ON THE BED for naps; and even had a swimming pool to cool off in.

Ginger’s chocolate coat is shiny and sleek, with the extra pound or two she picked up, she looks much like a seal. Whoopi’s sporting an extra roll around her shoulders now. As Ian says, “You could fit another dog in all that extra skin.”


Her nails look fabulous. Juanita took her for a mani/pedi at the local spa where they even offered ear cleaning service. (Her huge bloodhound ears are just fine. I forgot to ask what they thought about the fact that she has shotgun pellet in one ear – you can actually pick the ear up with a magnet!)

Here are a few vacation photos and videos of their adventures.

This is the picture Juanita texted me after their first night. Oh yeah, commence spoiling!

Continue reading “Adoption pending? Maybe. Maybe not.”

adopters, Gingersnap, oph, Uncategorized, Whoopi

Leaving Town and Leaving Us

We’re headed to the beach THIS Saturday which is so totally awesome. An entire week with two of my favorite families and most, possibly all, of my kids. Yay. No stalls to muck or weeds to pull.

Here’s the problem: I still have two foster dogs.

Two foster dogs who are very dear to my heart. What to do. What to do. At first I panicked and considered having our house/horse sitter take care of them, but then I realized that was crazy and unrealistic because only a crazy person like me is happy to deal with a 75-pound bloodhound AND an over-the-top enthusiastic dog like Ginger AND a snarly, grumpy, poop-rolling personal dog AT THE SAME TIME. I couldn’t ask this of my very nice college-age house sitter who I’ve hired to care for the horses and water the plants.


So, I started begging and I managed to find two babysitters for Whoopi who will tag team the extended week, but Gingersnap is headed to boarding at this point. Which breaks my heart. But hopefully, not hers.

Everything was more or less set, but then—an adopter for Whoopi appeared out of thin air! Continue reading “Leaving Town and Leaving Us”

Breeds, fosterdogs, Gingersnap, oph, Pit bull, returned dogs, Whoopi

Last Ones Picked…

Many of my foster dogs have come and gone quickly. So quickly, that we barely got to scratch the surface of their personalities. This is not the case with my two current dogs whom I think may still be with us at Christmas.

Not because they are bad dogs – quite the contrary, but here’s the complications involved with either of them finding a forever family quickly….

First, take Whoopi.

Considering her kingdom

She’s a hit at events. Even a non-dog lover easily proclaims, “Look at the bloodhound!” They’ve all seen them on TV and in the movies, because what screams redneck, hillbilly, sidekick as loud as a bloodhound?

I took Whoopi to the Petapalooza on Sunday and she was wonderful.

Here she is posing with the Mary Kay lady in the next booth (“Mary Kay is so powerful it can even take on these kinds of wrinkles!”) Continue reading “Last Ones Picked…”

fosterdogs, Gingersnap, oph, running with dogs, Whoopi

Hound Dog Workout for One


Hound dogs drool, but you probably knew that. I did, too. But did you know that when the drool starts to reach the floor, that’s the cue to do the shake?

What’s the shake, you ask?

It’s when the hound dog flings her head back and forth, batting herself with her mile-long ears, her face literally smacking her face, and flinging dog drool over anyone in the vicinity.

To be fair, Whoopi really only seriously drools when she drinks water. So, we’ve taken to watering her on the porch. Better for all of us because who wants to step her bare foot in a slippery pile of dog drool? (trust me on this one)

Hound dogs also bay. Like seriously loud. Ian says that when Whoopi is really barking he can feel it in his chest.

Ian and Whoopi have been spending a lot of time together. This is because he is the only person in the house large enough and strong enough to walk Whoopi on our property without great personal risk. (Ian is only 13, but he is 6 foot, 180 pounds of shot-put tossing muscle.)

As I’ve explained before, we live on a hill. Six acres of lovely countryside, but not a level spot of ground anywhere. Walking up the hill with Whoopi is nice. She is a sturdy tow-rope and it’s fairly easy going. Walking back down is another story. Once she has momentum on her side, I’m a goner. I stumble/run/ski along behind her like some kind of looney-tunes character, yelling “whoa” and pulling with both arms.

Walking both ever-enthusiastic Ginger (who is still here!) and Whoopi together is a silly idea.

I know this and yet this morning in a momentary loss of sanity, I decided that I’d take them both for a three mile jaunt up the road and back. Continue reading “Hound Dog Workout for One”

Gingersnap, oph, Pit bull, Uncategorized

Pit Bulls – the Good, the Good, and the also Good

We had friends over for dinner and drinks on Saturday. Food was fabulous, wine was flowing, kids were enjoying themselves (always iffy when we’re talking about teenagers thrown together for the sake of their parents’ social life). Gingersnap greeted them in her you-are-the-most-exciting-guests-we’ve-ever-had way. She eventually settled down and observed us from her perch on my favorite lounge chair, but I let it slide because GS barely sheds (a VERY nice change after a run of hairy black labs at this house).

It was all going swimmingly until someone commented on the fact that GS was a pit bull. I don’t think it was meant as a slight, but I took it as one. I said, “She’s listed as lab mix” on the website.

“I’d bet that dog is 90% pit bull,” my guest replied.

I didn’t think too much of it, but then I did. So what if she’s a pit bull? Is that a really bad thing?

All the next day while I gardened, I thought about my own feelings about pit bulls. Not Gingersnap, but pit bulls. I don’t know anything about pit bulls. Not really. When I hear the term, I think ‘fighting dog’. I suppose my feelings about them are influenced by the bad associations. I know when we toured a few shelters before we decided to foster, I was astounded at the number of pit bulls. I didn’t want one, but it wasn’t because of some personal experience, it was simply their bad rap.

Gingersnap is the first pit bull I’ve come to know and love. And I mean love. She reminds me of my most beloved dog, Lucy, who was a foxhound and not the least bit pit. But she adored me as Ginger does. She was nothing but love, like Ginger is. And she always had a big smile for me, just like Ginger.

(This is where the picture of Ginger’s dog smile is supposed to be, but every time I try to capture it, it comes out blurry because she is in motion racing towards me. No Mona Lisa is this pup. The one below is the sort of forced smile that kids give just so they can get it over with – in this one, Ginger is much too preoccupied with a cat crossing the hillside.)


I decided I should learn more about pit bulls and stop wandering around blindly ignorant. So I looked them up. Here’s a few things, I learned – Continue reading “Pit Bulls – the Good, the Good, and the also Good”