Unsung Rescue Heroes & A New Training Tool

I’d never want to be an adoption coordinator. Seems like an exhausting, frustrating, thankless job.

As the foster mom, I get all the glory for taking care of the puppy or dog in question. But the adoption coordinator is the one who has screened the applications, asked the hard questions, gone over the extensive adoption contract (for the bazillionth time), and made the final decision. Not having firsthand experience, I could be wrong, but it seems like ACs put in hours of effort for each adoption, and for a litter that is tenfold.

Puppy adopters are like new parents – they have lots of questions, good ones, silly one, odd ones, but lots. I get a few of those, but the AC for my litter gets most of them. Adopting a puppy is a big deal, as it should be, and puppy adopters can sometimes get cold feet and back out last minute, change their minds about what kind of puppy they want or get impatient with the lengthy adoption process and the hold time. Some adopters have lots of lines in the water (they’ve applied for several puppies at several different rescues or shelters). All of this means that the ACs are juggling many, many people and puppies at once and the winds change on whims.

As I said, I wouldn’t want their job, but I am VERY grateful that there are these odd people who enjoy being ACs and do a tireless job for OPH.

This litter had more than its share of switcheroos and moving targets. Deb had her hands full. Last fall when I had Edith Wharton and her darling dozen, I actually had to have two ACs because the job was so enormous. I’ve worked with probably a dozen different ACs with OPH and every time, I’m amazed at the work they do. So, I just wanted to mention them in a post—ACs, along with reference checkers, are the unsung heroes of every adoption.

[If you’re one of those people who read my posts and think—“I wish I could foster, but it would be too hard, messy, heartbreaking, etc.,” but you’d really like to help, consider being a reference checker or even an adoption coordinator for OPH. You do all the work from your home with your computer and your phone. If you’d like more information, click here.]

Okay, enough of my shameless volunteer recruitment. What happened this week in this foster house? Continue reading Unsung Rescue Heroes & A New Training Tool

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My Dog Year

I’m a big fan of new year resolutions and reflections. In these long, dark, cold days I do a lot of pondering and journaling and assessing and dreaming.

When it comes to my dog world, 2017 was not an easy one. It began with the miracle and magic of Fruitcake.

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Helping that pup to walk was an amazing experience, and it prepared me for the bigger task of saving Darlin’s babies. The heartbreak of that experience was only softened by the community that emerged around us, giving their time and efforts to help those pups survive and then thrive. It was a hard, rich, exhausting time. Every time I hear from Darlin’s or her three surviving pup’s adopters, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Gala came to us not long after that and she has colored our lives ever since.

My heart ping-pongs back and forth in regards to Gala. She is not easy, but she is so amazing. Her devotion knows no bounds, but it can be all-consuming. I love that dog, but she cannot be my dog. I had a conversation this week with a trainer who offered Continue reading My Dog Year

Holiday Happiness: Foster Pup Version

When my children were young, Christmas was such a huge deal. Not that it isn’t a huge deal, still. It’s just a different kind of huge deal. Christmas is no longer baking cookies or endless shopping or matching jammies or teacher’s gifts or Christmas concerts.

And truth be told I only miss a few things on that list. Now, Christmas is more about all of us being in the same house at the same time paying attention to each other in the form of eating meals, playing games, sharing music, teasing, and giving, yes, still quite a few presents (but none that came from a maddening trip to Toys R Us).

We didn’t decorate the tree until Dec 23, even though the tree had been in the house for over a week. On Saturday morning, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for decorating-the-tree to fit into everyone’s schedule. Frankie and I began decorating without them. His job was to reinforce the “Frankie zone” so I didn’t hang ornaments where he (or a loose puppy) could reach them. We’d been at it for about five minutes, when my oldest son, Brady walked throught the room on his way out and asked, “Are you decorating the tree?” Continue reading Holiday Happiness: Foster Pup Version

Who Wants a Puppy for Christmas?

A house full of teenagers returning home from war school with laundry in hand, holiday chores, high-maintenance foster-dog, an as-yet-undecorated Christmas tree, zero Christmas cookies made, gift-shopping incomplete, gift-wrapping not-yet-a-thought, book edits due, and impending relatives – what else could we pile on?

How about puppies?

Great idea.

And yet, it is.

These four little girls are absolute loves. Well mannered, happy, loving, healthy, and precious. The perfect escape from the holiday load. Once again, my mudroom is full of puppies. All is well in my world.

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These puppies are the Giving Tuesday Pups. They got that name because all four have sponsors who donated at least $150 to OPH on Giving Tuesday in exchange for the naming rights of these puppies. Isn’t that cool? Doesn’t it make you want to donate $150 now so you can name a pup in my next bunch? (I can make that happen.)

These girls are three months old. They hail from my favorite rescue operation in North Carolina – Old North Canine Rescue, who took great care of them and sent them northward healthy, clean, and happy. The breed guess on this bunch is all over the place. They’re listed as terrier-beagle, but that’s really just an idea. No one knows, and they aren’t talking. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter. What they are is gorgeous puppies. That’s all any of us need to know. At between 10-15 pounds, they are not going to be huge dogs, especially the smaller two.  Let me introduce you…. Continue reading Who Wants a Puppy for Christmas?

People Save Dogs, but Dogs Can Also Save People

Sharing Gala’s situation last week triggered an avalanche of reaction. Many, many suggestions for trainers, meds, herbal supplements, etc. And more than that—lots of support and encouragement, which is maybe what I needed most. Sadly, it did not trigger any adoption applications.

I want to be clear, I was not suggesting that it is time to euthanize Gala. I don’t believe she’s out of options. And I ABSOLUTELY believe she can be successful and happy in the right adoptive home. What drove my frustration and sadness is that I’m pretty certain our foster home is no longer helping her. Her anxiety is up, not down. Yes, she has improved in many areas – she is better on the leash, she is accepting of her crate, she knows commands like sit, stay, and come. She is not trying to escape our house.

In other ways, though, I feel she has peaked and is regressing. Her reactivity to people has increased, and I believe that’s a combination of her becoming attached to us (and feeling she needs to protect us), and my nervousness when she meets someone new. I always worry how she will react. Gala is an extremely sensitive dog. And Gala loves me beyond reason. This combination becomes combustible when we are in public places where her anxiety is already ramped up.

This realization is what drove me to tears. I wrote that I don’t think I can save her, but I didn’t mean that someone else couldn’t. Continue reading People Save Dogs, but Dogs Can Also Save People

I Don’t Think I Can Save Her

I’ve started and restarted this post again and again. I like to be positive and helpful and inspiring. I really don’t want to be a bummer on your day. But today, finding a positive note isn’t easy. And maybe that’s a message worth writing. Fostering isn’t all roses and puppy breath. It can be hard and it can be heartbreaking.

When we set off on our fostering adventure, my biggest fear was that we would get a dog that would never be adopted.

Lately, I feel as if we are living that fear. Yes, yes, I tell myself, Gala’s family will come. They always do.

But for now, for this week, it doesn’t seem evenly remotely possible.

When I write about Gala, I’ve tried to focus on the positive Continue reading I Don’t Think I Can Save Her

Best of the Blog

Hi blog readers!

I’m traveling in England and Cyprus this week, but I thought I’d share a few of the best moments of the blog this year.

Of course Fruitcake takes the cake (so to speak).

Here’s a post explaining his Swimmer Puppy Syndrome.

And here are a few pictures of Fruitcake (now Brodie) from his adopter, showing a very different dog nearly a year later. Continue reading Best of the Blog