fosterdogs, Meredith, Okeriete, oph, puppies

There’s Always Another Good Dog

Fostering has so much become our way of life that all my kids (and most of their friends) always close the baby gate behind them when they leave the kitchen, even when there’s no dog about. They are careful when they exit/enter the house, looking all around them like soldiers averting land mines. No one wants to chase a foster dog up the hill.


Visitors don’t bat an eye at the keys hanging out of the front door lock (on the outside) because they know that some of our fosters (Meredith, Tennessee, John Coffey, and Frank) know how to work a lever handle door. Even if you’re only going for a piece of wood for the fire or to throw some scraps to the chickens, LOCK the door behind you.

The stacks of towels, bags of food, and random collars that litter the landscape of our house don’t look so out of place to me anymore. I just dust around them (if I were to dust).

Best of all, there’s no need to explain the random crates, assorted dogs, or that funny smell to anyone who stops by because they know all about my dog habit.

Meredith took off for her forever home on Monday after being a ROCK STAR at the Hanover OPH event. She was a much different dog than the frightened little girl who hid behind me on her first visit to the pet store. Continue reading “There’s Always Another Good Dog”

Chuggy Alabaster, Meredith, Okeriete, oph

Rescue Dog Fill in the Blank

IMG_0631I just returned from a much-too-quick trip to Florida to meet with a book club. (Shout out to the fabulous ladies of the Forest Lakes Estates Book Club! Smart, interesting, fun women! Thanks for having me!)


I don’t think that there has ever been a dog more happy to see me come home than Meredith. She nearly lost her mind – leaping through the air, yelping with joy, only to throw herself on the ground and wriggle around, before tearing around the house and repeating the process ad infinitum. Gosh, she breaks my heart – would somebody please adopt this girl already??!

Meredith has the biggest, happiest heart. That was hard to see at first because she was so terribly frightened of people. Because she can’t tell us, we can only guess where her fear comes from, but she’s quickly overcoming it and learning to trust more every day. I promise you that if you take this girl home and love her, even a little, you will have a devoted disciple all your days.


Add to the loyalty factor- she is gorgeous and has the most velvety coat imaginable. It’s like permanent puppy fur. We fitted her with a harness and solved most of her leash issues – she still gets on a happy tear occasionally and bounds around in sheer joy, but it’s much more controllable with the harness.

I’ve taken her for a 4+ mile run and she is stellar – great manners, no monkeying around, cordial to all we encounter.

And, she’s so smart we were able to house break her in one day! She’s not a huge chewer, although she will inspire you to keep your counters clean. She’s trying very hard to make friends with Gracie, but Gracie has no patience for her exuberance.

Meredith’s also over-the-moon excited to get to know Okeriete, but we haven’t put them together yet because I fear she will squish Okeriete. The energy level alone with the two in one room could power a football stadium.

Speaking of Okeriete, I know you’re dying to know something about our tiny little buddy. Continue reading “Rescue Dog Fill in the Blank”

fosterdogs, LIly, Meredith, puppies

Ch-ch-ch-changes…a foster dog’s life is full of them

I’ve moved more times than I care to remember in this life. And I know that each time I relocated, there was an adjustment period. Unloading boxes and setting up utilities and discovering the idiosyncrasies of each new house and neighborhood was stressful in many ways – both good and bad. It always took at least a week or two before I really felt like I had my feet on the ground and could begin my new life.

I’ve learned that my foster dogs go through even more stress when they move in with me. And it’s not just the flying nerf darts, grumpy Gracie, or the swatting and suspicious cats. I know the dog I bring home from transport will not be the same dog I hug goodbye after a few weeks.

I wrote last week about Meredith’s miraculous transformation and it was that, but she continues to transform. As she has gained confidence, her energy level only increases. It’s dangerous to update your foster dog’s information on the public website right away because like a guest who has just arrived, the dogs are many times just being polite. They don’t know you well enough yet to let down their guard.


On Meredith’s page, I wrote “excellent leash manners” because she seemed to have those. She trotted carefully next to me, always glancing up to see if I needed anything. But a week later, Meredith has settled in and realized that nerf darts don’t hurt, Gracie is all bluster, and the cats don’t really mean it. Now she lunges out in in front of me, straining against the leash in her excitement to head off for a hike in the woods or around the pasture. Because she is only 30 pounds or so, this isn’t necessarily dangerous (unless it’s barely light out and you’re wearing slippers and headed downhill on frost-covered grass when one of the cats taunts her by casually appearing just out of reach). Her leash manners need some work. I deleted any mention about leash manners on her OPH page.

At press time, Meredith is still a little on the shy side with new people, but I’m fairly certain that will change. When new people reach for her, she backs away and ducks her head. Yesterday when we popped in to the OPH event at the pet store, she cowered behind me at first, but after store workers, OPH volunteers, and potential adopters began offering her treats, I could see a light go on – Ah! People=treats! She began greeting everyone who entered the store wondering if they, too, came to bring her treats. I have no doubt that the overly enthusiastic love that Meredith showers on me will soon be offered to all people.

Here’s a picture of her hanging out with my little brother and his wife last evening. She’s learning that people won’t hurt her and many of them have treats in their pockets. Continue reading “Ch-ch-ch-changes…a foster dog’s life is full of them”

Dogs with Issues, fosterdogs, Meredith, oph

Transformative power of a nerf battle: the journey from cowering misery to leaping happy

Happy to report that Luvie has landed in a wonderful home only a few miles away. My good friend, Allison, adopted her. Her family has been looking for a dog for nearly a year. I’ve tried to talk her into plenty of pups along the way. It’s very easy to rush in and adopt the first cute dog that comes along, so I admire Allison’s patience in waiting for a dog that fits her family best (and her ability to tell me I’m nuts when appropriate). And boy did it pay off. Luvie is one of the nicest, easiest, sweetest dogs we’ve fostered. Super happy to know she’s staying in my life.


We waited nearly 24 hours to welcome our next foster dog. Meredith arrived in a shaking, terrified, fur-raised and tail-clamped-between-her-legs mess just after 7am the next day. Another foster picked her up from transport for me (at 6:30am! Thanks Debbie!). She texted me that Meredith was terrified and defensive and didn’t want to come out of her crate, so they’d had to dump her out, slip a leash around her collar-less neck and deposit her in their backseat where she cowered the whole ride with fur raised. I waited nervously for them to arrive and when they did none of us really wanted to touch Meredith (and clearly she didn’t want to be touched). So, Debbie’s husband used treats to distract her and slipped a collar on, and I brought her in the house.

I have to admit I was worried. My only other experience with a traumatized dog like this was Hadley and she’d taken hours of patience. Time I simply do not have at the present moment.

I didn’t want to deal with a fragile puppy. I was only looking for company for Lily, but when I thought about it, I realized that it’s surprising more of these dogs aren’t shell-shocked and skeptical of a human touch when they arrive. They’ve just spent the last month or two in a noisy shelter all alone after possibly wandering lost or being abandoned by the only family they’ve known. They’re spayed or neutered, vaccinated and a few days later loaded into crates stacked three or more high in a van and trucked for ten hours north. No pee breaks, no snacks, no water, but plenty of noise and bouncing. On Saturday, it was barely dawn when strangers reached in to drag Meredith out of the crate to what she could only assume would be another scary place. So sure, I’d be reluctant to come out, too.


The best plan for handling dogs like this is to do a “shut-down” as OPH calls it. Bathe her, feed her, water her, potty her, and leave her alone in a comfy, quiet, safe crate. No stimulation, no forced contact, just me handling her. This can take days, even a week, as long as it takes for her to chill. I followed protocol, giving her a careful bath, taking her for an unproductive walk, and feeding her a watered down mix of food (she refused water). Lily was lying in front of the woodstove on the Frank bed recovering from her spay operation, so I put Meredith in a crate in our warm living room to let her decompress. Then, I went outside to prune our fruit trees in Saturday’s unseasonably warm weather.

When I returned to the house a few hours later there was an all-out nerf war being waged between middle school boys in my house – over, around, and occasionally, inside, Meredith’s crate (seemed dozens of nerf darts managed to get through the grating). Great, I thought. We’re so good at this shut-down thing. I shooed the boys away and carefully coaxed Meredith out of the crate. To my surprise, she’d perked up. Seems the entertainment worked some kind of magic.

By dinnertime she was wagging her tail and by the next morning, she was happily sauntering along next to me on a walk. Since then, her happiness level and energy quotient has grown with every passing hour. Now, when I reach down to pet her, she faints to the ground in ecstasy and whines out her happiness as I scratch her belly. When I return to the room after any kind of lengthy absence (like when I go upstairs to change the laundry or out the door to grab a log for the fire) she leaps in the air with joy and throws herself on me. Never has a dog been so happy to see me (pretty much every few minutes).

Lily is feeling better and while she’s restricted to leash walking and is completely jonesing for a tennis ball, she has been allowed to play nicely with Meredith. Meredith isn’t a puppy, although she’s clearly young. She enjoys tussling with Lily and stealing Lily’s toys for which Lily rewards her by sitting on her. They share the Frank bed, sleeping in a large black lump.


Oh, and I forgot to mention that Meredith is a mini-me of Lily. Its spooky. If you glance in the kitchen quickly, it’s easy to mistake one for the other. Here’s a side-by-side look:


Here’s another just because I can’t stop taking their pictures together:


Now, because you can’t meet Meredith in person, I simply have to share her exceeding joyfulness with you. I’d just left the room to move clothes from the washer to the dryer, so I was gone at the outside, maybe 4 minutes, but this is how my fans greet me EVERY TIME I leave them even for a few moments. It’s nice to be loved. Makes a girl pretty happy.

(Okay people at Saturday’s transport– recognize this dog!? Can I get an AMEN?!!)