Rescue Work Overload & the Difference a little Trust Can Make

Every now and again, the dog-thing gets a bit overwhelming. This weekend was one of those times. It makes me pause and wonder if I’m doing too much, asking too much of my family, my own pets, my own heart.

It’s so easy to anthropomorphize dogs. (I toss that big word out there as if I didn’t have to look up the spelling and be sure I was using it correctly. It means to attribute human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects, plants, and animals.)

We imagine we know a dog’s motives, emotions. We think we can read its expressions, sense its moods, understand why it responds the way it does, even interpret its feelings. (I’ve been anthropomorphizing Gracie for years — but who knows what really goes through that little head of hers.)

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This week confirmed for me once again that dogs, like people, are mysteries. It is nearly impossible to know another person’s heart, let alone a dog’s, and twice as easy to imagine that we do. We assume based on our own experiences and bias, but in reality we’re wrong as much as we’re blessed with a lucky guess or two.

Yesterday morning, for the first time in weeks, Gala and Darlin’ had a nasty fight. Continue reading Rescue Work Overload & the Difference a little Trust Can Make

Capybara, Hamster, or Darlin’? You decide! (Plus updates on Gala, Punkin, and missing dog, Cindee)

The brown dogs are still here.

Seems like brown dogs are not in style this spring.

I have faith that their families will find them, but the longer they are here the more entrenched they become in our lives. Darlin’ is embarrassingly attached to me. So much so that when I leave, she whines and pines and generally annoys everyone left behind. When I return she is beside herself with happiness circling me and begging for my attention. She needs to find her person soon, so she can aim her endless devotion on the right soul.

Addie has decided Darlin’ looks like a giant hamster. I asked her why and she said, “She just does. Look at her!” Another OPH foster’s teenage daughter, who was here to help with the puppies, said Darlin’ looks like a capybara.

Thinking of the capybara brought memories of sitting through the videotape (yes, I’m that old) called “Baby Animals” which my preschool age children wore out with their constant viewing. The announcer tells them all about the Capybara. In fact, if it weren’t for that videotape I, like my OPH pal, would have thought she was making up the animal’s existence. I reminded Addie of that video and how she loved the capybara and she had no memory of ever seeing it. One more reminder that my version and her version of her childhood bear no resemblance. But Darlin’ does kind of resemble a capybara, doesn’t she….. Continue reading Capybara, Hamster, or Darlin’? You decide! (Plus updates on Gala, Punkin, and missing dog, Cindee)

Irritation or Grace? You Decide

(Here’s the post originally intended for Tuesday before my world got sideswiped by Crash’s diagnosis.)

One of my favorite mom-writers, Katrina Kennison, writes at length about living intentionally. Saturday morning I read an essay of hers that made the point that we can meet disruptions and disappointments with irritation or grace. She’s right, I thought before embarking on a weekend ironically full of disruptions and disappointments.

I will be the first to confess that my default reaction for years has been irritation, but a funny thing has been happening as I get older, I’m beginning to see that irritation gets me nowhere. And once more, it only makes a situation worse. I feel no better when I’ve handled an inconvenience or annoyance with irritation whether it was caused by strangers, family, dogs, myself, or the universe. I always regret my harsh words or grumpy attitude.

On a much needed date with my husband this weekend, we were enjoying a beer flight at a wonderful restaurant, when our waitress arrived with my salad and promptly dumped a bowl of Caesar dressing down my side. Continue reading Irritation or Grace? You Decide

Two Girls Looking for Great Homes

Way back on February 17 when Darlin’ first began labor, I looked 8 weeks ahead on the calendar and thought, “These puppies will go home on Tax day, April 15.” It was solidly winter, with snow days still to come so I couldn’t imagine that day. And then as the adventure began its wild and tragic ride, it was even harder to imagine.

But come it did. It was a happy day for the adopters and I didn’t want my sadness to dampen their excitement, so I saved my tears until I was alone, clearing out the puppy pen, stacking the towels and washing the toys. In many ways it’s felt like I’ve been holding my breath for the last 8 weeks, just trying to get these puppies to this day. And they made it. They are out of my hands.

Darlin’ is either picking up on my emotions or is also missing her pups’ presence. She is more attached to me than ever, even crying (and baying!) at the door when I take Gala outside without her. She follows me from room to room and is underfoot, leaning against me, wanting my constant attention. Continue reading Two Girls Looking for Great Homes

Fostering By the Numbers

Nelson went home on Saturday morning.

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His story illustrates how the foster dog system works when all goes well:

  1. Nelson is selected from the dogs in a shelter in Virginia as an adoptable dog that just needs more time than a shelter has room or funds to provide. OPH pulls him and after a vet determines there is no medical treatment needed for his eye (it was an old trauma), he is neutered, tested for heartworm (he was negative), vaccinated, and microchipped. Then he waits in a local foster home until he can catch a ride north with an OPH transport.
  2. I pick Nelson from a list of dogs in need of fosters, but can’t meet the transport van, so other OPH volunteers step in to pick him up and house him for two nights until I can take him. (Thanks Karie and Evan!)
  3. Nelson arrives here and we assimilate him into our home, walk him, feed him, and get to know him.
  4. I write up a bio about him saying that yes, he is housebroken and yes, he is crate-trained, and no, he isn’t a threat to cats. I write that he’s an easy-going sort of dog who is very lovable to everyone he meets but can counter-surf despite his size. Information like this is something you can’t get when you pick a dog out at a shelter. (And not to discourage ANYONE from adopting from a shelter, I’m just pointing out that there is much good about the foster system that makes an adoption match more likely to be an informed one.)
  5. Nelson is with us for just under two weeks. He is adopted by a family who discover him via the OPH website and have already applied and been approved to adopt a dog. They bring their current dog with them to meet him at my house, adore Nelson on sight, and take him home.

Many, many foster experiences happen just like that. But a few don’t. Continue reading Fostering By the Numbers

My Dog Problem…

“You know, when you’re hiding how many dogs you have from your family, it’s a sign you have a problem.”

This is what my sister-in-law said to me over a beer Saturday night. I had just confessed to her that we had another dog coming on Sunday, but someone else was holding the dog over the weekend until all the extraneous family left.

We had a weekend full of family visiting to see my daughter perform in YorVoice –  a friendly local a-la-the-Voice competition held at a gorgeous theater in downtown York. (She WON by the way – pardon me while I take a moment to do a proud-mama-brag! You can see it HERE. She’s the third performer.) I told Sherry that I wasn’t hiding the new dog; it was just a crazy busy weekend beyond the visiting relatives and I didn’t want to add to the chaos. (But, really, all our weekends are pretty busy so if I’m honest, the deception was prompted completely by the visiting relatives.)

This would be the first time some of them had been here in a while. Since their last visit, we’ve fostered over 75 dogs. There are now baby gates and dog beds and toys and baskets of laundry creating a new maze of obstacles in our home, similar to when we had three toddlers/preschoolers roaming the land.

There’s a nice, new cozy bed in the guest bedroom, but that doesn’t mask the fact that three whiney puppies are ensconced on the other side of the wall from their bedroom, plus the pushy mama dog who is protesting the onset of weaning and regularly breaks through the baby gate to whine outside the puppy pen. Add to that my snarky, awkward personal dog, and, well, you get the picture. It seemed smarter to avoid having to explain why I could possibly be adding to the chaos.

Eventually I was found out (and teased), but Sherry was right about it probably being wise to be upfront about your problem with your family. I think the days have passed when they could have had me committed involuntarily. For the most part, I distracted them with puppies.

Other than much eye-rolling and head shaking (and the requisite snarling from Gracie), Nelson’s arrival on Sunday went uneventfully. I have many, many excuses for why I signed on to host him. But they are only that — excuses. The real reason is I couldn’t resist him. Because, yes, I do have a dog problem. (Owning that.)

In case you’re interested, here are my excuses – Continue reading My Dog Problem…

Things Happen for a Reason

Finally, finally, maybe, we are out of the woods. Knock on wood. Fingers crossed. Prayers sent.

I still wake up every morning and hold my breath until I see all the pups breathing, and pause at the puppy room door numerous times during the day to be certain I see a steady rise and fall of sleeping puppy bellies. I have a feeling, this paranoia may be hard to shake. I’ll probably be poking and prodding sleeping puppies for years to come.

Bogo is still very congested, breathing like a tiny darth vadar, so I put her in the nebulizer treatment center (aka, the cat carrier covered in a quilt) several times a day. She doesn’t last in there long, whining after a few minutes and then going into full-on howl mode after five. I don’t feel too horrible letting her scream a bit ever since a pharmacist friend told me that when she’s screaming she’s actually taking in more of her treatment.

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Doodlebug sleeps much more than a normal puppy her age. When I enter the room, Puddin’ hops to his feet and attempts to tackle my toes and Bogo lifts her head and watches the action. Doodlebug simply snores away unless I wake her. Of course, this was reason for me to case the internet in search of some mysterious puppy condition in which 4-week-old puppies sleep nonstop – Sleeping Beauty Syndrome? I’m hoping this excessive slumber is only due to a tiny body trying to grow. The pups seem to be at least a week or two behind developmentally, so Doodlebug sleeping like a two-week-old pup is hopefully normal.

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All three pups Continue reading Things Happen for a Reason