foster dogs, fosterdogs, Hadley, oph, Uncategorized

Hadley Goes Home

IMG_2317Just like that, Hadley is gone.

I’m missing her. Nick is missing her. Ian is still not happy with me for letting her go. She is a quiet dog, and I never heard her make a sound in all the time she was here, but somehow the house is quieter now.

Everyone else went to see the new Star Wars on Sunday, but I stayed home to dig out my desk. My mind kept finding its way back to Hadley.

I forgot to ask the adopters what they will call her now. I couldn’t stop picturing her sweet, terrified eyes the night we brought her home only five weeks ago. I kept trying to replace that image with the playful gleam she had when she was wrestling a puppy or the way she glanced up at me so often when we walked at the park – just checking that I was still there. Maybe it’s because she was the most broken dog we had the privilege of fostering, maybe that’s why it hurt so much this time. I can’t help but worry about her.

So I’m busying myself by organizing. I’m even making a new journal because crafting homemade journals always soothes my soul. This one is dog-themed and I’ll use it to document the dogs of 2016. We fostered 25 in 2015. If we’d had one more, Pennsylvania would have required us to have a kennel license. So in 2016 we’re already signing up for a license. This journal will help me keep the details straight on the dogs for the inspector. Continue reading “Hadley Goes Home”

fosterdogs, Hadley, Lilliana's puppies, oph, puppies, Uncategorized

Hadley 2.0: the evolution of a frightened foster dog

DSC_1764So, everything I read said we should wait for Hadley to come out of her crate on her own. And I get that. She is insecure and needs to know she has a safe place to go to, but here’s the thing – some of us need to be pushed from the nest.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of change. I like to have my little routine in my little world. Things like software updates, new technology, attending public events, even parties make me anxious. There’s no avoiding most of them, so I plunge ahead, stuffing my worries and nerves aside. And you know what? Almost always it goes well. And then I’m happily chatting with new people or marveling at how much easier my work is with this new whiz-bang system. I wasn’t going to venture out of my crate on my own, but once you force me – hey, this is pretty great!

I think Hadley and I are kindred spirits on this one.

Three days ago, I let her out of her crate in the morning and then I closed it behind her. At first, she seemed worried. She clamored up on her couch cushion cave and hunkered down. But now it’s been three days and she is boldly trotting through the kitchen, snagging a bag of cookies abandoned by some kid, and slinking back to the couch, hoping we don’t notice. Nick follows her out and retrieves the cookies and a moment later she is back, sniffing around the backpacks.

I had to shut Gracie’s crate also because Hadley would only take up residence there, so Gracie claimed the Frank bed. The first time Hadley attempted to join her there, Gracie snarled and Hadley scooted away, but an hour later, Hadley boldly claimed her portion of the bed and Gracie backed down.


Taking Hadley out this morning, she fearlessly approached one of the cats and was game to chase it if it weren’t for that silly leash. Next she grabbed a stick and carried it around with her as we toured the yard.

Who is this dog?

The puppies have also been key to Hadley’s recent blossoming. She LOVES the puppies. As Looney Tunes Abominable Snow Rabbit would say, she’d like to hug them and love them and name them George. To keep the puppies safe from Hadley’s overly enthusiastic affection, we take the same approach we did when an older sibling wanted to hold the newest baby we brought home. We get her comfortable on the couch and then we hand her the swaddled infant, or in this case the wiggling bundle of happy. Then we supervise the interaction.


For their part, the puppies LOVE Hadley, climbing over and under her, lounging on top of her, chewing her tail, and giving her all manner of kisses. We have to keep all the action up on the couch and supervised because Hadley can get overly excited and forget her size, plus Gracie is pretty much the neighborhood bully who trots by, snarling mean threats at them.

Sneezewort REALLY loves Hadley
Foxglove and Pigweed playing tag overtop Hadley
Snap Dragon and Foxglove doubleteaming Hadley


Pigweed gets a little too wild and is subjected to the big dog smack down

It’s so awesome to see Hadley’s fun side, it makes up for the walks where I have to carry her back because she is overcome with what can only be described as a panic attack and she flattens herself against the ground and refuses to move. Fear still rules her days, but hopefully when forced to face a few of her fears, she’s learning that her fear is pretty unfounded and once more, there’s treats out there in the big bad world, plus gentle touches, cats to chase, puppies to wrestle, and ear buds to munch.

The puppies have all now been claimed by adopters, so there’s no pressure to advertise their cuteness, still I can’t resist and regularly toss out the better pics on Facebook and twitter. They have a growing number of fans all over the world

Foxglove – big handsome boy
Pigweed – can’t take a bad picture of this gorgeous pup
Begonia and Sneezewort
Everybody’s sleeping but Snap Dragon – he’ll make the best watch dog.
My favorite sight of all!
Begonia, fosterdogs, Foxglove, Hadley, Lilliana's puppies, oph, Pigweed, puppies, Snapdragon, Sneezewort


The puppies have arrived! The cuteness is pretty much unbearable, so it’s good that they stink pretty bad.


At five weeks, they have no qualms about walking through, playing with, or even sleeping upon each other’s poops. I’m trying to stay on top of it (so to speak), but with the Christmas chaos, visitors, my own work, Hadley, GRACIE (no, we haven’t forgotten our own personal pup), and the fact that I have to bake six dozen cookies and package them beautifully for a cookie exchange tonight, it’s pretty much impossible to keep them poop-free.

My five little charms are half of the litter of pups that I witnessed Lily give birth to back in November. They are growing fast and resemble little bear cubs. While I’ve only had them 24 hours, here’s what I can tell you about them as individuals- Continue reading “Puppies!!”

fosterdogs, Hadley, oph, puppies

Erratic Progress Before the Puppy Invasion


Hadley’s progress seems to have stalled. My mother-in-law is visiting and my college age son just got home, so the household dynamics are shifting and perhaps our little sensitive girl is picking up on that.

She’s back to staying in her crate for hours on end. She runs for the crate every time anything frightens her or makes her nervous. I’m trying to counter my own impatience and leave her be, but it’s frustrating. I’d like to shut the crate up during the day, but I know it’s her safe place. We all need a safe place.


I thought the rate of progress would increase, not decrease, since she seemed to be getting so comfortable with the house, the people in the house, and Gracie. That evaluation is relative, since anything probably seems like progress when you start with a dog who was curled in a ball for three days unwilling or unable to engage with us.

She still slinks around like she’d prefer to be invisible, startling at any sudden movements or noises and making a beeline for her crate. She runs when any of us reach out to touch her. She does love to be petted and cuddled, but only on her terms.  Continue reading “Erratic Progress Before the Puppy Invasion”

fosterdogs, Hadley, oph

Curiosity is More Powerful than Fear

IMG_2176So, the gloves are off. Hadley may be a traumatized little soul, but she still has powers beyond her little thirty pound self.


This week she ate the remote control, destroyed Ian’s favorite set of ear buds, and obliterated countless nerf darts. She seems attracted to things that smell like us – shoes, devices, playing cards, etc. I was forced to put away my puzzle and now there will be no puzzling for the duration. I like to keep a puzzle going on the coffee table in the wintertime. It’s great for occupying my busy mind while watching football/basketball/whatever nonsense hubby has on the tube and is the perfect activity to do by the woodstove. But, alas, Hadley also likes puzzles. Eating them. Continue reading “Curiosity is More Powerful than Fear”

fosterdogs, Hadley, oph, Uncategorized

Tipping the Scales

IMG_2162 - CopyI keep wondering at what point the scales will tip for Hadley.

Will this treat, this snuggle, this walk, or this ear rub be the one that makes the difference? Maybe this will be the one that pushes her over the edge into a place where people are good and every sudden movement or noise doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

I figure we have to keep piling up the positive interactions, and at some point she’ll trust us. And then maybe she can begin to trust the world.

As far as I can tell, she’s had only two negative encounters since she’s been in our care. One was Gracie’s initial snarly greeting on her first night. Since then, Gracie has reigned it in. I guess even she senses that Hadley is a fragile soul. The second truly scary moment for her was when my ipad mini fell on the dog bed next to her. It confirmed for her the sky was falling rather than her foster mommy is a bit of a clutz.

At the same time, I know the bubble wrapping is nearly impossible, so there will be a few unintended and inevitable scale tips the wrong way.

It’s been nearly a week and Hadley still spends her days anxiously curled up in one of her three “safe zones”. These are the Frank bed in the kitchen, the dog bed next to my desk, and on the sofa behind the couch cushions (which are flipped down to keep Gracie off the furniture). Continue reading “Tipping the Scales”

foster dogs, Hadley, Momma Bear, oph

A Painful Goodbye and a Difficult Hello

If you stopped by our house, you might not notice our newest foster puppy. That’s because Hadley never moves, unless forced. She’s like a little frozen statue, curled in a ball and hoping you won’t notice her.


Watching her this weekend has been heartbreaking.

We picked her up Friday night from transport and she cowered silently in her crate the whole ride. When we got home, I coaxed her out of the cage, clipped on a leash, and set her on the ground, where she froze. I tugged on the leash and she followed me, moving close to the ground, eyes darting every direction. She’s freaked out from the long ride, I thought and picked her up.

She was filthy and smelly, so the first order of business was to bathe her. She sat still, trembling in the tub as I scrubbed her all over and the water ran brown. Finally clean, I carried her to her crate in our puppy room, turned on the nightlight, and spent a few minutes with her. She retreated to the back of the crate, burrowing under the blankets and towels, avoiding eye contact with me.

The next morning when I opened her crate she pressed herself against the back wall. I knew she had to be hungry and thirsty (she’d refused food and water the night before), so I left the crate door open and the bowls nearby and went for my run.


When I came back she hadn’t touched either. I reached in to pet her and she allowed it, but she was tense and wouldn’t look at me. We left her alone for the morning, figuring she was just shellshocked after her long journey from South Carolina. When she still hadn’t emerged from the crate by afternoon, I pulled her out and took her outside. She followed me, crouched close to the ground as if we were under sniper fire. Continue reading “A Painful Goodbye and a Difficult Hello”