fosterdogs, oph, Schuyler puppies, Uncategorized


DSC_3351Every day reveals another layer of Schuyler. She’s no longer Mama dog – as we’d taken to calling her when she arrived with her brood of nine pups. Now she’s Schuyler or Sky. Her mothering duties are over and she’s even beginning to regain her girlish figure.

She’s ready to be a dog instead of a mama. This means she tearing up toys/stuffed animals/pens/pencils/egg cartons (plus the eggs inside them – who left that on that counter???). She is not just a chewer; she is a destroyer. So far, the saving grace has been KONG toys – she can’t make a dent in them and is happy to gnaw away for hours in her efforts.


When we are asked her breed, I always say “dog” because other than her kind-of-lab-like appearance there hasn’t been anything to suggest a particular breed. Lab mix is the default breed for rescue dogs with short, dark hair and a medium-large size. We’ve had lots of ‘lab mixes’ and they’ve covered a range of personalities and sizes. I’m not suggesting she isn’t lab, but I could easily agree she’s nearly any breed you want to suggest. She’s a classic mutt. I happen to love mutts, so I see that as just one more of her many attributes.

All of that said, I’m beginning to think there could be some kind of border collie/shepherd in her, short hair and all. I have two pieces of evidence to suggest this.

First, she is devoted. I’ve read/heard that working dogs tend to fixate on one person and give their complete attention/devotion/affection to that person.

Schuyler loves me. Nevermind that Nick spends more time with her than any of the other dogs we’ve fostered, and suggests almost daily that we should keep her (we won’t). Schuyler likes him very much, even giving off a little squeal when she sees him pull in the driveway. She likes Ian, too, greeting him with happy wags when he appears. She even likes Addie, who takes loud offense at Schuyler’s friendly, snuffly nose.

But she has chosen me.

When I work in the kitchen, I can feel her eyes following my every move. When I go outside, I have to lock the door because she quickly figured out how to work the lever handle door so she could let herself out to follow me. While I do barn work or garden work, she waits at the kitchen door, watching, vigilant. If she catches sight of me, her excitement spills over. Here’s a video of Schuyler reacting to spotting me moving around outside: Continue reading “Introducing….Schuyler!”


They’re Really Lovers, Not Fighters, Honest!

DSC_9994I need to find a way to harness all this dog energy to power my house. Two border collies, the Amazing Frank, and my own over-anxious, awkward personal dog, Gracie, have turned our home into something of a three-ring circus.

Lucky for us the boys are all super good at coming when they are called, so they can have regular romps outside. This is a video of the craziness…

It’s so entertaining that one of my new favorite activities is to retire to the top of our hillside in the evening with a glass of wine and watch the shenanigans. The only problem is, just like boy children, boy dog play can sometimes graduate to boy dog fights.

Usually this happens when somebody (the “senior” member of these musketeers) gets tired and has had enough. Texas, who has endless energy and can outrun all the others, just never quits, but since he is too speedy for Frank to grab him, Tennessee usually ends up on the bottom of the pile. Unlike Texas and Gracie who will both take their licks and slink away, Tenn hangs in there for a moment too long probably protesting with growls that say, “Hey! That wasn’t me! It was him! He did it! He’s the one you want!” but either Frank is color blind and simply sees an annoying black dog or he enjoys kicking a little Tennessee butt on occasion.DSC_0059

There’s only been one serious incident which resulted in a small cut on Tennessee’s face. It’s one more nick on his sweet face that was already covered with tiny tooth sized injuries when he arrived at our house, so I’m guessing he isn’t a stranger to these scuffles. I tended his wound and chastised Frank and kept them apart for a few days, but finally relented. They really, really, really wanted to play. And up until that point, they’d done well together, wrestling for hours without it breaking into bloody battles. Besides, Texas needed some relief as he was limping from one too many top-speed full-body slams with Frank. Continue reading “They’re Really Lovers, Not Fighters, Honest!”


One Dog, Two Dog, Three Dog….Four?

imagejpeg_0Texas and Tennessee have landed! What sweet boys these two are. Couldn’t find better mannered guests. (Well, guests who were housebroken might be better…) They are gentle and eager to please. They watch my (and everyone else’s) every move. Sadly, they both cower when anyone raises a hand above their waist, moves quickly, or picks up anything large (Ian has to keep his baseball bat hidden). I am guessing not every human has handled them kindly. No matter, they seem ready to give just about anyone a chance, loving on every person who walks through my door.

Texas - isn't he a stunner!
Texas – isn’t he a stunner!

These guys seem grateful for every kindness thrown their way. They’re like that visiting relative who is always saying, “Please don’t got to any trouble….really, I’m fine.”  They still haven’t figured out what a treat is and Texas kept running into glass doors, so they seem a bit new to this living-in-a-house-and-being-loved thing. But they are both smart as whips, so they are picking up very quickly on everything, even the don’t-pee-in-the-house rule. We’ve outfitted them with “male dog wraps” which sounds kind of cosmopolitan but is actually a glorified diaper. Male Dog Wraps are my new favorite thing, ever.

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Here’s Tennessee modeling the latest in dog wrap fashion – a nice gray nylon number.

It’s very good that T&T are such model guests because the house is overflowing with dogs. T&T arrived late Friday night and at 8am on Saturday morning Frank returned to us. He could not make the adjustment to his new home and his wonderful family. It just wasn’t the right fit. I know it was a heartbreaking week for both Frank and his adopters. It was very hard to hear the stories from afar, only able to offer advice when what I wanted to do was run down there and move in and help all of them. In the end, they made the difficult decision to return Frank to OPH and Nick and I knew immediately he had to come back to us. We are wrestling with that decision – the one I said I wouldn’t write about again in this blog. I’ve thought all along that it was up to us to choose a dog, but I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t actually up to the dog to choose us. We shall see. Meanwhile, we are loving on Frank and he has happily assimilated right back into our world and is currently lying behind me watching every word I type (and hopefully not reading this and thinking his little plan worked…). Continue reading “One Dog, Two Dog, Three Dog….Four?”


What’s a Little More Madness?

Whew. It’s been a crazy month. Sleep is tough, my mind is always spinning. Food isn’t easy either, since my stomach is constantly churning. So much to do that most days I’m overwhelmed like a deer in the headlights and simply surf Facebook and wander around the gardens trying to figure out where to begin. Not much gets done. Sigh. I know it’ll get better. The kids start school this week and the college bound kiddo departs next week. Life will resume. I’m ready for that.

I long for my solitary days alone with the computer and the cats. And I miss Frank. He was such constant quiet company these last few weeks. He felt like my body guard and devoted friend, never leaving my side and always happy to listen to my ramblings. Such loyalty is a rare and beautiful thing. I’ve been praying fervently that he’s forgiven me for letting him go and discovering a new love in Margarita and Terry.

I’m sure it’s a confusing time. That’s another tricky aspect of fostering. You love on these dogs and they grow attached. And then you send them off to their new home, never to see you again. It must be confusing and maybe a little painful for many of them, especially when they’ve been with you more than a week or two. It’s a necessary step in the foster care process and probably for many dogs it’s a healing step. It allows them to catch their breath, accept a little affection, and get their feet back under them before launching into their real lives. I get that it’s unavoidable, but I still wish there was some way to explain it to the dogs so they understand whats going on and don’t think I’m one more person deserting them. It does help to see the pictures that many adopters send a few weeks later of a happy dog who’s long forgotten me.

I just wish I didn’t get so attached. I’m serious about my purpose here and I know going in that these dogs are not staying. You’d think I could do a better job of keeping my heart in check. I wish I could stop falling in love time after time. It’s quite a work out emotionally.

My new goal in fostering is to move my dogs fast. No more dogs hanging around endearing themselves to me. This Friday my two new boys are arriving on transport and I will be hotly advertising them the moment their sweet little feet hit my porch.

The energy level in this house is near manic lately with school starting for two kiddos, my oldest getting packed for college (and feeling the need to fill our house daily with a pack of his friends), plus my book’s launch. So why not add a little more madness to the mix? Two border collies under the age of two should do the trick….

My next guests are Texas and Tennessee.


Handsome, aren’t they? Be prepared for WAY too many pictures and posts. Everyone wants a border collie!

Taking two seems especially crazy, but as they appear to be related, it felt like the right thing to do. I purchased a leash divider in the hopes that I will be able to walk them both at the same time. In my previous life, I foxhunted and remember the hounds happily coupled together. I’m envisioning T&T having the same experience. Yes, this may be another of my naive fantasies, but I’m going to give it a go. (I promise to post pictures, even if they’re embarrassing!) Their combined weight is pretty substantial, but I’m counting on them countering each other and hopefully never truly setting off for the same hills at the same time.

There are no OPH events near me this weekend, so if the dual leash idea pans out, we’ll hit the Farmers Markets, baseball practice, soccer practice, pet store– anywhere I can get them out and available. If necessary, I’ll bribe a kid to hold a leash. My goal is two adoptions one week from Saturday.

And in the meantime, I’ll try very hard not to lose my heart or my footing.

Frank with his new Mommy and Daddy
Frank with his new Mommy and Daddy