A Foreigner in a Foreign Land

I got a new foster dog.

And he’s not a puppy.

And he’s not a mama (obviously).

He’s Gomer Pyle… Continue reading A Foreigner in a Foreign Land

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Homeless or Humanless?

I’ve been reading a lot of dog books lately. Partly, it’s because my upcoming book will be my first in this genre, and I want to get to know what’s already out there and the writers who publish these books. But mostly, I’ve become a bit addicted. I love reading about people’s experiences with dogs. It’s not just educational and entertaining, it’s also inspiring.

Rescuing Penny JaneIn Amy Sutherland’s book, RESCUING PENNY JANE, she writes about her experiences volunteering at a shelter, sharing a perspective I’ve never heard since I meet my dogs after they’ve left the shelter. I like to think that there are volunteers like Amy at the shelters where our dogs come from. Sutherland is a shelter volunteer, walking dogs every Friday for a local Animal Rescue League. She’s also a journalist and author, so of course, she overanalyzes and writes about her experience.

While it can be momentarily dense with information on shelter dogs, Rescuing Penny Jane is an exploration of the rescue dog world, but also Sutherland’s story of adopting a difficult rescue dog and sticking it out. She writes that she won’t be one of ‘them’, confiding that in becoming a regular at the shelter she is privy to the staff’s feelings about people who return dogs. And so, even though it strains her marriage, she sticks it out with Penny Jane, a fearful and more or less, feral dog.

Sutherland’s words remind me of my own experience with more than a few of my foster dogs. I write in this blog about the funny, the touching, the messy, and occasionally the heartbreak, but each story eventually culminates in one happy ending after another. What I rarely write about is how sometimes I reach my limit and more often sometimes my husband reaches his limit. There have been teary late-night walks waiting for a foster dog to just pee, already. There have been mornings spent on my knees scrubbing carpets and grumbling mangled curse words and masked threats (who am I going to offend? The dogs?). There have been plenty of words typed and then deleted, planned posts that never materialized, and frustrations outlined in detail for my husband even as I stroke the furry head of the offender. For a few hours, sometimes a day or two, I’m done. “Once this one is gone- no more fosters!”

So when Sutherland’s husband says, “It would be easier to return Penny Jane than to get a divorce.” I don’t laugh. I know he’s not joking.  Sutherland’s frustration and tears are familiar, and I read her story with a lump in my throat. I’ve thought so many of the same things.

There is one comment she makes relatively early in the book that struck me so much that I got up to find a pen so I could underline it. She wrote – Continue reading Homeless or Humanless?

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

Looking for Lucy

Arriving home from the vet’s office, where I had just deposited Gala, I called Nick to tell him what was going on and said, “She just can’t catch a break.”

Later after picking her up and watching her sleep off her sedative, I thought more about it. Maybe Gala’s stream of mishaps and misfortunes have more to do with how fully she lives her life than any kind of black cloud hovering over her.

My little brother was the same way. He broke at least five bones (maybe more I lost count) when he was a kid – falling out of a tree house, taking a header over an unexpected wall, pretending to be Evil Knievel. Seems every summer he had a plastic bread bag over his casted arm as we swam at the beach. As a teen he totaled at least three cars. And later he became a fighter pilot in the US Airforce, flying F-15s all over the world including Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I always enjoy his company because it’s never boring and he usually has me laughing so hard I pee myself. Tommy lives his life full-on.

That’s how Gala lives. She has an exuberance for life that may sometimes lead her into trouble, but Continue reading Looking for Lucy

All This Good-Bye Saying is Wearing on a Soul

20953348_10154856620492405_641604796664883125_nThe house feels so very quiet and calm despite the fact that all three kids are still here and we have a border collie puppy in residence. Without Gala, the energy is different. I dreamed about her last night waking at 3am with an uneasy feeling. I lay there imagining what she’s thinking, worrying about her tender heart, and sending up silent prayers that she would blossom in her new setting.

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As has been the case for me of late, sleep did not return. I tossed and turned and debated getting up and cleaning something instead of wasting so much time growing more impatient at my inability to get back to sleep. And then I became absolutely sure I could hear the puppy crying downstairs. Continue reading All This Good-Bye Saying is Wearing on a Soul

Record Breaking Dog

Gala has broken the record.

Longest foster dog we’ve ever had.

At nearly five months here, Gala easily surpassed  Whoopi, Ginger, and Carla,  our other longest fosters.

She’s also the dog with fewest applications. (Currently that would be zero applications.)

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In the past five months, she’s only had four interested potential adopters. All changed their minds. None ever met her in person. Continue reading Record Breaking Dog

It’s Hard, Every Time (but that’s not the point)

“Isn’t it hard to give them away?”

If you foster dogs, this is a question tossed at you on a regular basis. I hear it so often, that I thought I’d just take a moment to set the record straight.

Yes, it is hard to give them away. Every time. Sometimes it’s harder than others.

For instance, I won’t miss cleaning up after twelve puppies, but I will miss each of these precious pups who I’ve come to know and love. I will miss George’s impish ways and Zora’s constant need for hugs. I will miss Louisa May’s soft, soft coat and the quiet way Eudora leans in to me wanting my attention but not demanding it like the others. I will miss all these pups. Just like I miss all the dogs and puppies that came before them.

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So, yes, it is very hard to give them away. But I know when they arrive at my house that the day is coming when I will watch them leave. I don’t ever think of these dogs as ‘mine.’ I think of the time they have with me as a sort of a grace period. It’s my gift to them- a safe place to get their feet underneath themselves and know love and security so they are ready to go to their forever homes.

In the beginning, fostering for us was about having fun with a new dog, we even flirted with keeping one or another. Continue reading It’s Hard, Every Time (but that’s not the point)