Our Home – Castle or Assylum?

DSC_0362It 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.

For instance, our home now features a lovely gated entrance to the kitchen.

DSC_0439

And in the living room, where once the antique mission table resided, there is now a large dog crate, tricked out with a fancy dog bed that matches the carpet. It is especially handy for holding all the crap you need to remember to take upstairs with you.

This is Gracie's crate - she insisted on having her own when we began fostering other dogs.
This is Gracie’s crate – she insisted on having her own when we began fostering other dogs.

In our entrance hall, you will now discover, not just several bags of dogfood (puppy, personal dog, foster dog), but also the cabinet that used to reside in our mudroom…

The dog paraphernalia just keeps accumulating...
The dog paraphernalia just keeps accumulating…

There’s no room for the cabinet in the mudroom now because it has been transformed into the puppy palace.

Puppy Place/Sauna
Puppy Place/Sauna

Currently the puppy palace/mudroom is doubling as a sauna for our puppies who both have a yucky cough. It’s working wonders and fixing them right up.

And that’s not all! In our kitchen you’ll find another extra large dog crate,

Guest of the week's crate (currently Rollie's)
Guest of the week’s crate (currently Rollie’s)

a decorative basket filled with every chew toy you could ever dream of (if you’re a dog), and the FRANK bed. The FRANK bed is the favorite spot for snoozing, playing, and hoarding toys.

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The FRANK bed tugs at my heartstrings because it makes me think of Frank (now Cooper), my almost-foster-fail-I-still-miss-him favorite foster. (Just in case you’re reading this M & T – we’ve put the bed to good use and it also makes me think of you, hope you’ve found your real forever pup!)

Maybe you couldn’t do this to your own house. I don’t blame you. I’m not too worried about what people think. My house has always had a bit of craziness going on. I’m already dreaming about the next house I have, which will have a real basement and a fenced yard for my foster dog family.

As the fostering habit grew and more and more adjustments were made to accommodate it, I’ve worried that my husband would one day say, “ENOUGH!” There are occasional grumbles, but for the most part he’s a very good sport about this and I couldn’t do it without him.

Recently, we were enjoying a rare date when he said, “I know I give you a hard time about it, but I’m really glad you’re doing this thing with the dogs. It’s fun.” To my mind, sweeter words have rarely been uttered. He’d had a few glasses of wine at that point. Sometimes the honesty of alcohol is a good thing.

Me and my ever patient  LOML
Me and my ever patient LOML
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Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

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