Dog-hearted People

It feels weird not to have a foster dog. That’s what this has come down to—my normal is extra temporary dogs running underfoot. Yes, Gala is still here, but as of today, she’s officially been here six months, so she’s less of a foster dog and more of a long-term boarder.

I’m torn about asking for a new foster dog. The only dogs I can take with Gala around are puppies, but I’m traveling a fair amount this month and asking my family to take care of Gracie, Gala, Frankie, and a few random puppies who poop, might be pushing it.

And yet….I really want to be doing something. Continue reading Dog-hearted People

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This is a Special Dog

In less than a week, it will be six months since Gala arrived at our house. At this point, she believes she is our dog.

She is not.

I don’t know why she hasn’t found her family. I keep telling people who ask, that her family must be pretty special people if she has to wait this long. But then again, she is a special dog.

Part of me questions whether I am helping or hindering her adoption effort by writing about her, but it would seem insincere not to share her stories. And there are many. Because this is a special dog.

“Latest circus trick,” I say to Nick as we watch Gala Continue reading This is a Special Dog

Frankie and OGGA

This time adoption day was a little weird for me. After all the puppies were adopted…..

Instead of cleaning out the puppy room, putting my feet up and opening a bottle of wine…. Continue reading Frankie and OGGA

Foster Fail

Ninety-five dogs later…..I’ve finally found the one.

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It’s not that I haven’t loved the ninety-four that came before him, but this guy seems to belong here. As my husband would say, “He ticks all the boxes.”

He’s a boy.

He’s got very short hair.

He’s a Catahoula (swoon).

He’s very mellow and unflappable.

He’s not gonna be huge.

He’s friendly, but not in-your-face.

He’s not a whiner. He’s happy for my attention, but doesn’t demand it.

He’s happy to play with siblings, but also happy to play with his toys.

Maybe it’s the fact that he’s grown up with five sisters, but this Continue reading Foster Fail

Runaway Gala (& The Pepper Puppers)

This time I really thought I’d seen the last of Gala.

That was my thought, anyway, as I watched her disappear through the woods in pursuit of a herd of deer. She was headed in the general direction of Maryland, and I was pretty sure she would make it.

We were about a mile and a half away from home on our regular run when the deer appeared. Gala did what she usually does – leapt in the air after them.

Because we run with the Easy Walk harness, this usually means that as she reaches the end of her lead, the harness forces her to do a lovely pirouette in midair and land facing me again.

This is the point where I say, “Leave it,” in my firm, take-no-prisoners voice, and then she does not leave it. Most days it takes three or four pirouettes and reminders before she gives up and simply prances for a quarter mile or so.

On Friday, she had done about four pirouettes, when she went airborne for a fifth. This time, though, Continue reading Runaway Gala (& The Pepper Puppers)

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP

Here’s an amazing fact I learned recently from Kim Kavin, author of The Dog Merchants:

If just half of the people who decide to get a dog this year were to adopt one from a shelter or rescue instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store, we would empty out the shelters and rescues.

Problem solved. As Kim explained in an e-mail, what we have in the US is not a dog overpopulation problem, but a marketing problem.

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Kim’s a journalist and an engaging author who has now written two well-researched and yet from-the-heart books. The first (Little Boy Blue) tells the story of the rescue puppy she adopted and all that she learned when she decided to investigate the story behind how he landed in her home. The Dog Merchants is about the big business of dogs – not just breeders and pet stores, but rescues, shelters and consumers. As is always the case, where there is big money involved, there are generally people taking advantage and people being taken advantage of, and sadly, many times the dogs pay the real price. Both books are fascinating, entertaining, and will likely make you cry. Kim has been gracious and generous to me, reading the manuscript for a book I’m working on (aptly titled, Another Good Dog) and sharing her experiences and knowledge of the world of dog rescue.

One of the topics we’ve discussed is the wide range of rescues. She’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, but probably a lot more of the bad and ugly than I have. Her experience fostering dogs has been a bit different than mine. I’m very proud to say that the rescue I work with, Operation Paws for Homes (OPH) does rescue right, in a world where many well-meaning rescues get it terribly wrong.

I’ve tried to remember how I discovered OPH, but think it came down to dumb luck and Facebook. I just happened to see a post at just the right time and found my way into this amazing organization. Hearing Kim’s stories only makes me more committed to doing all I can to promote this fabulous organization that is not only passionate about dog rescue, but professional in how they treat volunteers, adopters, fosters, and shelters, but most importantly, dogs.

One of OPH’s mottos is “Together we rescue.” And there’s not a truer sentiment. Together we can rescue, but we need more people so that we can rescue more dogs.

Right now shelters all over the south are overwhelmed with a deluge of dogs. It’s also puppy season -the time when many dogs are giving birth and they and their offspring are being dumped at shelters daily. The brave people at OPH and other rescues who have the job of fielding the requests from shelters and then deciding which dogs we will pull, are receiving near daily emails asking for help. The more dogs we can pull, the fewer these shelters have to euthanize.

It weighs on a heart. I see the posts and the pleas and the pictures of these deserving dogs and I feel anxious. I want to do more, but right now my house is at capacity with Gala and Darlin’ and my own dog, Gracie.

I want so badly to take one of these mamas and/or their puppies, but I have nowhere to put them. I consider asking another foster to take one of my pups, but then I look at their sweet faces. Darlin’ has been here over three months and Gala nearly a month and a half. They have finally settled and feel like they are home, even though they aren’t. Both of these girls are sensitive souls- their next move must be to their forever homes. I feel my soul tap, tap, tapping impatiently. Time for them to move. There are too many dogs to rescue.

I used to hesitate to use the hashtag #adoptdontshop, but I’m ready to tattoo it on my forehead. Yes, I understand that sometimes allergies dictate the kind of dog you get, and yes, I know there are responsible breeders out there, and yes, I realize that sometimes a rescue dog needs more time to develop trust or requires an extra effort with training. But here’s the bottomline – until we no longer have to decide which dogs must die each week because no one wants them and no rescue has room for them and no shelter has the funds to continue to house them, we need to keep shouting it from the rooftops:

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!

Please, please, please, adopt your next best friend from a rescue or shelter. Let’s fix this fixable problem. Let’s make the next problem be – we don’t know what to do about all these empty shelters.

If you’d like to part of the solution, get involved. If you’re looking for a dog, adopt. If you have room, foster. If you have time, volunteer. If you have money to give, give.

If you’ve ever considered fostering dogs for a rescue, I would encourage you to give it a try. The need for foster homes this time of year is huge. If you are in Maryland, Virginia, DC, or south-central PA, click here to find out how you can foster for OPH. If you live elsewhere check out a rescue or shelter near you – they all need foster homes.

OPH (and all rescues and shelters) always need more volunteers to check references, transport dogs, organize events, and a hundred other jobs, so if your home can’t hold another dog, but you’d like to help, jump right in. To volunteer for OPH, click here.

If you’d like to help OPH, consider making a donation. Adoption fees don’t begin to cover the cost of medical treatment and transport. In addition, OPH rescues pregnant dogs, litters, and heartworm positive dogs, but also pays to keep dogs in boarding when there are not enough foster homes available. Without fundraising, they could not do these things. Click here to donate to OPH, or look up a rescue near you.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Go for a hike with your dog!

Blessings,

Cara

P.s. If you’d like to know more about my writing (or my next novel coming out JUNE 6!!), visit CaraWrites.com.

Of Puppies and Pumpkins

I just forced myself to stop playing with the puppy-doll and get back to my desk. Obie is VERY hard to resist. He loves to be held. I wish I’d kept my baby-sling because I’m positive he would be super happy snuggled in it accompanying me about my day. Being the lone puppy is not easy, even despite the bags of toys he received this weekend!

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It was just like Christmas for Obie this weekend when he finally got some new toys to play with! (thanks Mindy and OPH!)

This morning I lunged him in the side yard with my longest leash. If you’re a horse person, you might be familiar with that term. It’s when the person stands still and a horse on a lungeline works in a circle around the person. Obie lunges very well, also. He zooms around and around and around. When he really gets going, he almost looks like a rabbit because his hind legs are reaching in front of his front legs at times.

Kind of like a wind-up toy, this burst of energy expels itself fairly quickly. When he’s finished, he’d like you to pick him up and carry him around, thank you. All day, would be his preference. Obie is pretty much THE best snuggler I’ve encountered. I think that’s remarkable considering he’s a puppy (and most puppies prefer to keep moving). But if you’ll just hold him against your heart with his head tucked under your chin, he’ll be content forever. Yup, definitely a puppy-doll. He’s great therapy for this mom who is missing her oldest kiddo who just left for his second year in college.

Rooney has found her forever family, but is hanging out with us an extra week to complete a course of antibiotics to hopefully clear up the secondary infection she developed after her UTI. No one minds because Rooney is a most gracious guest. Ever since the end of the pee wars, she has been a model foster dog. Continue reading Of Puppies and Pumpkins