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)

The Pee Wars

I’ve had about enough of the pee wars. Unbeknownst to you, this quiet war has been waging in my kitchen for three days. I don’t know who started it. I don’t know how it will be ‘won,’ but I’ve had entirely enough of it.

So today I armed myself. I bought a doggie diaper. I’m not sure yet which dog will be wearing it, but I’ve decided to place blame on the dog who should know better, so here she is modeling it for you:

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Let me back up.

On Friday evening, I brought home two new fosters. Continue reading The Pee Wars

Second Chances

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.

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Here she is playing with the filling for the Frank bed.

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

What’s a Week without a Dog?

This week was supposed to be our dog-free week, but you know me. What’s the point of a week without a dog?

All nine puppies are safely set in their forever homes where reports abound that they are LOVED and ADORED and also that they are very SMART puppies a few of which are susceptible to car sickness (just like their mom).

Schuyler is having her spay operation today and then on Thursday she will go home with her forever family.

[And right here, I must do a SHOUT OUT to CAPE HORN VET in Red Lion for the excellent care and discounted rates they offer OPH for our foster dogs’ necessary medical treatments. Schuyler is my third dog I’ve taken for her spay surgery and I’m always impressed at the professional care and the friendly people. They definitely don’t treat us like discount clients.]

After Schuyler goes home, we were supposed to have four days with no dogs (except Gracie, who does count, we’ve been over that….).

No dogs would be a good thing because this weekend Nick and I are joining my brother and his wife for the annual event – Carapalooza! And before you think that there is a festival all about me – let me explain. Each May we travel to our beloved Shenandoah Valley and attend a fabulous Wine and Craft festival in Front Royal, VA. Sometimes other couples join us, sometimes it’s just us. My little brother named it Carapalooza because it almost always falls on my birthday weekend. My sister-in-law even had a sign made – I know it’s a bit over the top. (But it does make a girl feel special)

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Anyway – this weekend is Carapalooza, so no dogs would be a good thing. Except I can’t say no to some dogs. Especially foster dogs who have had three foster homes in 10 weeks and no adopters because they simply have too much happy to be contained. This is Gingersnap: Continue reading What’s a Week without a Dog?

Transformative power of a nerf battle: the journey from cowering misery to leaping happy

Happy to report that Luvie has landed in a wonderful home only a few miles away. My good friend, Allison, adopted her. Her family has been looking for a dog for nearly a year. I’ve tried to talk her into plenty of pups along the way. It’s very easy to rush in and adopt the first cute dog that comes along, so I admire Allison’s patience in waiting for a dog that fits her family best (and her ability to tell me I’m nuts when appropriate). And boy did it pay off. Luvie is one of the nicest, easiest, sweetest dogs we’ve fostered. Super happy to know she’s staying in my life.

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We waited nearly 24 hours to welcome our next foster dog. Meredith arrived in a shaking, terrified, fur-raised and tail-clamped-between-her-legs mess just after 7am the next day. Another foster picked her up from transport for me (at 6:30am! Thanks Debbie!). She texted me that Meredith was terrified and defensive and didn’t want to come out of her crate, so they’d had to dump her out, slip a leash around her collar-less neck and deposit her in their backseat where she cowered the whole ride with fur raised. I waited nervously for them to arrive and when they did none of us really wanted to touch Meredith (and clearly she didn’t want to be touched). So, Debbie’s husband used treats to distract her and slipped a collar on, and I brought her in the house.

I have to admit I was worried. My only other experience with a traumatized dog like this was Hadley and she’d taken hours of patience. Time I simply do not have at the present moment.

I didn’t want to deal with a fragile puppy. I was only looking for company for Lily, but when I thought about it, I realized that it’s surprising more of these dogs aren’t shell-shocked and skeptical of a human touch when they arrive. They’ve just spent the last month or two in a noisy shelter all alone after possibly wandering lost or being abandoned by the only family they’ve known. They’re spayed or neutered, vaccinated and a few days later loaded into crates stacked three or more high in a van and trucked for ten hours north. No pee breaks, no snacks, no water, but plenty of noise and bouncing. On Saturday, it was barely dawn when strangers reached in to drag Meredith out of the crate to what she could only assume would be another scary place. So sure, I’d be reluctant to come out, too.

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The best plan for handling dogs like this is to do a “shut-down” as OPH calls it. Bathe her, feed her, water her, potty her, and leave her alone in a comfy, quiet, safe crate. No stimulation, no forced contact, just me handling her. This can take days, even a week, as long as it takes for her to chill. I followed protocol, giving her a careful bath, taking her for an unproductive walk, and feeding her a watered down mix of food (she refused water). Lily was lying in front of the woodstove on the Frank bed recovering from her spay operation, so I put Meredith in a crate in our warm living room to let her decompress. Then, I went outside to prune our fruit trees in Saturday’s unseasonably warm weather.

When I returned to the house a few hours later there was an all-out nerf war being waged between middle school boys in my house – over, around, and occasionally, inside, Meredith’s crate (seemed dozens of nerf darts managed to get through the grating). Great, I thought. We’re so good at this shut-down thing. I shooed the boys away and carefully coaxed Meredith out of the crate. To my surprise, she’d perked up. Seems the entertainment worked some kind of magic.

By dinnertime she was wagging her tail and by the next morning, she was happily sauntering along next to me on a walk. Since then, her happiness level and energy quotient has grown with every passing hour. Now, when I reach down to pet her, she faints to the ground in ecstasy and whines out her happiness as I scratch her belly. When I return to the room after any kind of lengthy absence (like when I go upstairs to change the laundry or out the door to grab a log for the fire) she leaps in the air with joy and throws herself on me. Never has a dog been so happy to see me (pretty much every few minutes).

Lily is feeling better and while she’s restricted to leash walking and is completely jonesing for a tennis ball, she has been allowed to play nicely with Meredith. Meredith isn’t a puppy, although she’s clearly young. She enjoys tussling with Lily and stealing Lily’s toys for which Lily rewards her by sitting on her. They share the Frank bed, sleeping in a large black lump.

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Oh, and I forgot to mention that Meredith is a mini-me of Lily. Its spooky. If you glance in the kitchen quickly, it’s easy to mistake one for the other. Here’s a side-by-side look:

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Here’s another just because I can’t stop taking their pictures together:

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Now, because you can’t meet Meredith in person, I simply have to share her exceeding joyfulness with you. I’d just left the room to move clothes from the washer to the dryer, so I was gone at the outside, maybe 4 minutes, but this is how my fans greet me EVERY TIME I leave them even for a few moments. It’s nice to be loved. Makes a girl pretty happy.

(Okay people at Saturday’s transport– recognize this dog!? Can I get an AMEN?!!)

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