What goes through a dog’s mind? This week, as I watched my three musketeers – Gracie, Estelle, and Vera, following me from room to room, up and down the stairs, my three furry shadows, I’ve wondered what, exactly, are they thinking?
Vera has only been here about ten days, but she has easily stolen our hearts.
In the past year she’s been rescued from death in a shelter, arriving in her first OPH home testing heartworm positive and bearing a ghastly embedded collar wound. After her neck healed (with a scar so deep you can sink your finger in it up to the first knuckle) and she was treated for heartworm, she was adopted. Yay, happy ending, right?
Rooney finally went home with her new forever mom after a long wait. They met over a week ago and fell in love, but we had to wait for Rooney to finish her antibiotics and be 100% healthy so she could go home. Which she did on Friday. And we all miss her. My little brother will be very happy to know Rooney is in the Air Force now! Her mom is one of America’s finest.
Before she left, she, Lucy, and Obie had a fun week.
I just forced myself to stop playing with the puppy-doll and get back to my desk. Obie is VERY hard to resist. He loves to be held. I wish I’d kept my baby-sling because I’m positive he would be super happy snuggled in it accompanying me about my day. Being the lone puppy is not easy, even despite the bags of toys he received this weekend!
This morning I lunged him in the side yard with my longest leash. If you’re a horse person, you might be familiar with that term. It’s when the person stands still and a horse on a lungeline works in a circle around the person. Obie lunges very well, also. He zooms around and around and around. When he really gets going, he almost looks like a rabbit because his hind legs are reaching in front of his front legs at times.
Kind of like a wind-up toy, this burst of energy expels itself fairly quickly. When he’s finished, he’d like you to pick him up and carry him around, thank you. All day, would be his preference. Obie is pretty much THE best snuggler I’ve encountered. I think that’s remarkable considering he’s a puppy (and most puppies prefer to keep moving). But if you’ll just hold him against your heart with his head tucked under your chin, he’ll be content forever. Yup, definitely a puppy-doll. He’s great therapy for this mom who is missing her oldest kiddo who just left for his second year in college.
Rooney has found her forever family, but is hanging out with us an extra week to complete a course of antibiotics to hopefully clear up the secondary infection she developed after her UTI. No one minds because Rooney is a most gracious guest. Ever since the end of the pee wars, she has been a model foster dog. Continue reading “Of Puppies and Pumpkins”→
Now that I’m back to walking (YES! MRI revealed lots of damage, but nothing to stop me from moving forward and continuing to heal on my own!) I’ve had a chance to catch up on my thinking. So much was backlogged in my brain – ideas, worries, dreams, questions, stories. Lucy and I have increased our walk time each day this week and this morning we wandered the back roads for nearly an hour.
I’m still mulling over the book Rescue Road and pondering the enormous challenges to dog rescue in the US (and in the world). I had begun to feel the same way I did when my elementary school science teacher explained how far away Pluto was – it seemed like an insurmountable distance.
My teeny, tiny part in rescuing dogs couldn’t possibly put even the idea of a dent in the problem. Probably my thoughts were colored by my inability to move without pain. But now, the world looks different. I’m ready to get back in the game. I’m ready to save some more dogs.
I’ve had my moments of frustration with Lucy these past few weeks. She has come so far – she’s no longer scratching and her beautiful tri-colored coat is coming back in, her energy levels are rising (and rising!), and her happiness quotient somehow went even higher.
My frustration springs from the fact that she is not accustomed to living indoors. It hasn’t been an easy transition. Part of me wants to put her on a line outside. She’d probably be more comfortable. That’s what she’s known. Instead, we keep her in the kitchen and walk her frequently. We reward her when she pees outside and admonish her when she pees inside.
I think she finally understands she shouldn’t pee on our floor, but this morning when she evidently couldn’t hold it a moment longer, she peed on the Frank bed. I was so angry! Why would she do this? Why? Why? Why? I took her outside and then I closed her in her crate. Continue reading “Second Chances”→
I remember a similar feeling after giving birth to my own first born. The world seemed maybe not so simple, while at the same time it was much clearer to me what matters.
Berneen (or Bernie as we’ve taken to calling her as she is also a bit of a rumpled underdog) has clearly been a mama. Her body would testify to that, but so would her heart.
I picked her up from boarding on Sunday in the rain. She ducked her head as I herded her to my car, but I know now it wasn’t because of the rain. That’s been her way. She’s an incredibly humble dog, always wanting to get out of your way, not claim too much space. She still crumbles to the floor when I reach for her collar to snap the leash on and whimpers in gratitude once it’s clear we’re going for a walk.
She spent the first two days here sleeping. She lay on the Frank bed (covered with a blanket because I worried when she hadn’t peed for hours – although she has yet to have any accidents). She lay with her legs tucked under her so that she resembled a seal. She seemed exhausted, not even raising her head when we moved about the kitchen. I wondered if she was mourning something or someone or if the last months of being a stray and a shelter dog were very hard and finally she was in a safe place where she could sleep.
She’s clearly been someone’s dog before. She’s housebroken and well-mannered. She reminded me of Carla when she first arrived – another heartbroken 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”→
So now that Lily’s been here nearly a week and demonstrated that she’s more or less housebroken, she’s been given the run of the place. This is good and bad.
Good – Lily is a BIG dog. I know she doesn’t look that large, but she’s SOLID and has a tail more like a beaver’s than a dog’s. That appendage is strong and can hurt you or anything else in its path. Plus, it’s basically set on nonstop wag due to her happy heart. Now she can run full-out through the living room, up and down the stairs, before coming to a sliding stop on the wood floor in the kitchen. (She’s getting better traction since I took her over to visit Chuggy, and Jim trimmed her nails for me! Big shout out to Four Paws Pet Shop & Grooming – thanks a million! I’m terrified to trim nails so Jim and Rosie may regret the day they said to bring my fosters in for free nail trimmings!)
Bad – Lily is like an over-sized puppy. Fun, right? Ahuh, until she gets ahold of your slipper. She’s got adult size teeth with a puppy-sized urge to chew. Bad combination. So far, besides my slippers and my gloves, she’s destroyed pretty much every dog toy we’ve given her. At first, this was a good thing since we had accumulated WAY too many worn out dog toys and needed to get rid of a few anyway. But now we’re running out of toys. All, I’ve got to give her are old sneakers and tennis balls, which are totally uninteresting after a minute or two unless someone is flinging them for you – here’s Lily in action:
Good – Lily is a whiner when left alone. Now that she can continually check-in with everyone, she whines less. That is, until she realizes that no one wants to play.
Bad – Now Gracie has to deal with Lily full-time. Gracie is a grumpy, snarly, socially awkward dog who is about as tall as Lily, but 20 pounds lighter. What Lily wants more than anything is for Gracie to PLAY with her. C’mon, just one game of tear around the house? Ya wanna, Ya wanna, Ya wanna? Here’s what happens: Continue reading “The Good and the Bad of Liliana”→
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”→
It was after dark when we finally found our way to the house north of town. We’d missed the transport because we were attending Family Weekend at our son’s college. Now we were following sketchy GPS directions in search of our newest foster dog at the house of another OPH foster who was graciously holding “Rollie,” a ten month old shepherd/lab mix. “Why are we getting another dog again?” asked my husband. “Because I’m weak,” I told him. Which I am.
When I knocked on the door, a chorus of dogs started up. It sounded just like our house! I’d set off the “dog bell” as my husband likes to call it.
When Christine let me in she immediately began explaining the dogs swirling at my feet – a personal dog and a foster fail. I could hear others barking in another room. Again, it was a familiar scenario. I’m always explaining my own swirling dogs to friends, neighbors, the milkman, even the UPS guy. Partly, it’s because for me the dogs are part of the family and thus, require an introduction, and partly because I want to explain that I’m not completely nuts, there’s a reason I have fifty-three dogs (it only feels like it.).
Sidebar: I’m one of over 85 authors exhibiting at the York Book Expo coming up in two weeks and the featured NYTimes Bestselling author is David Rosenfelt. He has personally rescued over 4000 golden retrievers, which is impressive, but what is CRAZY is that he currently lives with 27 golden retrievers IN HIS HOME. Don’t believe me – check out the video. Anyway, he’ll be there, so if you want to meet the freak show in person, you should plan to attend the York Book Expo on Saturday October 17. (Yes, that was shameless self-promotion and no, I don’t really think Mr. Rosenfelt is a freak show. I’m just jealous because he’s a NYT bestseller.)
Okay, back to my story. Christine led me into her kitchen through the gates to retrieve Rollie who was front and center in a large crate alongside another large crate holding another adorable foster dog. Christine released Brownie so we could visit. (Someone should adopt this crazy sweet pup! You’re missing the boat!) These crates took up serious real estate in their kitchen.
This is the first time I’ve been in the home of another OPH foster and I have to say, it was a relief to know we are not the only people who live like this. In fact, I think a tour of Homes is in order for OPH. I’ve love to see what other foster families are doing to preserve their homes and their sanity. Something you learn very quickly when fostering dogs is your home will never be the same. So if you’re seriously into home décor and such, fostering is probably not the gig for you. On the flip side, one bonus about this situation is that you never have to explain why your house is a mess. You have a dozen foster dogs – of course, your home is a mess. No one has any expectation otherwise. Continue reading “Our Home – Castle or Assylum?”→
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.