Look Around You, You Can Save These Dogs

The dogs and shelters are beginning to blur together.

Thank goodness for Lisa, who is traveling with me and taking copious notes, asking the questions I forget to ask, and handing me crackers with cheese as I drive the behemoth van between stops. Our days and hearts are filled to the brim.

If you knew Lisa you would be surprised and not surprised that she is traveling on this journey with me. Lisa is not a dog-person, but she is a Cara-person. When she visits my dog-filled house, the dogs will flock to her and she will inevitably say, “I don’t even like dogs, but this one is nice.” (every time)

Here’s what this trip is doing to her – she is often the last one out of the kennels as we finish our visits, lingering in front of cages, tears on her face, snapping pictures. One dog, at Anson, stole her heart – a fluffy, older white dog, not one likely to be pulled by OPH or many rescues. One likely to spend its final days there. She keeps bringing her up and yesterday said tentatively, “I would foster her.”

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On Wednesday night we stayed at my friend Melanie’s Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary. Melanie and Jim have eight dogs – every single one friendly and sweet and engaging. After seeing so many dogs through chainlink kennel doors, it was wonderful to finally get our hands on some dogs.

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Tuesday morning we stopped at Anson County Animal Shelter, an hour outside of Charlotte, NC where we met Maureen who is single-handedly trying to save every dog she can. She has no fosters, no volunteers. No one comes to walk dogs or play with the kitties or take pictures or help Maureen with moving dogs out through rescue. This is a one woman show.

There are too many dogs at Anson, which like all the shelters we have visited is at capacity. This is Oreo, a 45 pound male boxer mix whose kennel I came back to over and over. He was starving for a human touch. If you put your hand against the kennel, he would place his face against it and stay still as long as you would stand there. He just wanted to be touched and loved. Continue reading Look Around You, You Can Save These Dogs

AGD on the Road: Stories, Faces, Heartbreak and Hope

Where to begin. My heart is so full and my body is exhausted and my soul is simply worn-through.

And we’re only on day three of this tour.

Can’t promise that this post will make complete sense as I’m writing this from the Comfort Inn in Lumberton, NC in an exhausted state with a thousand images and a million thoughts swirling through my mind.

Here’s the cliff notes of this week in my foster world:

Friday, right after I finished packing the van (a feat that took the entire day), Grits’ family came to meet him. Frankie (and I) will miss him, but he’s headed for a great life with his new family who were thrilled to take him home.

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My dear friend, Lisa and I took off on Saturday morning in a cargo van crammed to the ceiling with donations that included over a thousand pounds of dog kibble and over a thousand cans of dog food, plus cat food, cat litter, bleach, sheets, towels, blankets, cleaning supplies, collars, leashes, toys, and treats.

The generosity of my dog-hearted community is overwhelming. I have over a thousand dollars in donations and Amazon cards to buy supplies to send directly to the shelters. Because I’m visiting 8 shelters, in addition to a foster-based rescue OPH partners with, I’m waiting until I’ve seen it all to distribute those donations.

Over the weekend, we attended two book events where we hung out with adoptable dogs and OPH volunteers. On National Dog Day at the Barnes & Noble in Richmond, Homeboy came to sign books with me. It was such a treat to see her and she spent the entire event sleeping at my feet between signings. Her wonderful mama, Jennifer, was so gracious to drive her to Richmond and hang out for two hours while Homeboy (now Nahla) helped me sell books!

I met Scrooge, a very special sweet senior beagle who has been in foster care with OPH since March. He has a sponsor so that his adoption fee is only $50, plus his adopters will get $700 in reimbursement for medical care since he’s an older dog with old dog issues. I loved sharing treats with him and pray that someone special out there decides to take him home and give him the life he deserves.

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Billie Jean was adopted on Sunday. Nick had to handle the adoption since I was out of town on this trip. It hurts a bit that I didn’t get to tell her good-bye or meet her new family, but when I think about it in relation to all that I saw today, it seems minor. Still, we were so bonded that I worry that she is sad now and hope her adopters are patient with her as she makes the transition. What a special pup she is – I know someday soon I’ll be hearing about her happy new life.

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On Monday the hard part started. We visited Lenoir County SPCA where we met Continue reading AGD on the Road: Stories, Faces, Heartbreak and Hope

Another Good Dog ON THE ROAD!

I am the queen of best laid plans. I almost always assume the best. The way I see it is – why waste all that negative emotion dreading and worrying and stressing something when you can instead bask in the view from your rose-colored glasses?

Or – more simply – as the poster in the guidance office says, “Save your drama for your llama.”

Save the drama for your llama

We are now four days away from the start of my southern book tour and Billie Jean and Grits are still here.

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Still not adopted.

Billie Jean is Continue reading Another Good Dog ON THE ROAD!

Being (kind of) Famous

I’m still figuring out this being famous gig.

Not that I’m famous in the everyone-knows-my-name way, but famous enough to have my bad-hair picture splashed across the centerfold of the New York Post, my book mentioned in People Magazine, a live interview with the “most listened to pet talk radio show in the country” and lots of dear family and friends turning out for my book launch.

It’s exciting and overwhelming and humbling.

I don’t know how to say thank you enough, and truth be told, I feel a bit guilty. I know of SO MANY amazing people at OPH and its partner shelters who are doing so much more than me and my little foster home. But I’m grateful that I can do what I do, knowing that it’s only because of so many other people, not the least of which is my husband Nick and my three kids who have suffered through the poop and the plunder. Just this morning Grits destroyed one of Brady’s socks and Billie Jean got the other.

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Before I give you the reality of my past week, I have to say one thing – I AM NOT COMPLAINING.

I’m not.

Seriously, I’m beyond thrilled.

But while it might have looked great online, there were plenty of moments when I was well aware that I’m really not that important! The dogs helped out a bit in hammering home that point. Continue reading Being (kind of) Famous

A Pup You Don’t Want to Miss

The excitement level in this house is working its way off the charts, so having four puppies and three dogs in our midst just seems appropriate.

Dear friends stopped by Sunday night for an impromptu supper and as we talked, we had to raise our voices over the excited yipping of the breakfast pups (Grits was hiding under the raised bed again – which makes his sisters go nuts. I think maybe they believe he really is gone when he does this.).

When Snoopy jumped up on one friend to assist him with his plate, he laughed and gently nudged him away. And when Frankie’s excitement veered towards the out-of-my-control level, they waited while we crated him.

I love that I have the kind of friends who don’t bat an eye at the dog chaos that has become my life.

The Breakfast pups are sweet, goofy, houndish pups who I am truly enjoying. They are affectionate (with tongues instead of teeth!) and happy and as puppies go, pretty easy to manage. Barkalona (aka Snoopy) is still a dreamboat (although he did figure out how to wiggle under the fence yesterday and had a happy runaround, cautiously checking out the horses, but thankfully, coming when I called!)

They are finding their adopters, and as soon as we get their tummies right, they will begin leaving. (Grits is still available if you’re looking for a super-sweet pup with houndish habits!)  Amongst all the puppy-ness, Continue reading A Pup You Don’t Want to Miss