Carpe Diem Because There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Puppy

DSC_1959Never a dull moment. That’s what I can say about fostering. Especially puppies.

Two of my puppies have been playing musical chairs in terms of adopters the entire time I’ve had them. First they have an adopter, then they don’t. I’m always extra nice to the currently unadopted puppy- as if they know it – more snuggles, extra treats.

There’s been one puppy available for adoption pretty much the entire time I’ve had the bunch, but which puppy it is has changed too many times to count. First it was Begonia, then Snap Dragon, then Pigweed, then back to Snap Dragon, and now we’re back to Pigweed. But Pigweed may be available just a wee bit longer. She’s going to need a special adopter.

Let me back up. Continue reading Carpe Diem Because There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Puppy

Hadley 2.0: the evolution of a frightened foster dog

DSC_1764So, everything I read said we should wait for Hadley to come out of her crate on her own. And I get that. She is insecure and needs to know she has a safe place to go to, but here’s the thing – some of us need to be pushed from the nest.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of change. I like to have my little routine in my little world. Things like software updates, new technology, attending public events, even parties make me anxious. There’s no avoiding most of them, so I plunge ahead, stuffing my worries and nerves aside. And you know what? Almost always it goes well. And then I’m happily chatting with new people or marveling at how much easier my work is with this new whiz-bang system. I wasn’t going to venture out of my crate on my own, but once you force me – hey, this is pretty great!

I think Hadley and I are kindred spirits on this one.

Three days ago, I let her out of her crate in the morning and then I closed it behind her. At first, she seemed worried. She clamored up on her couch cushion cave and hunkered down. But now it’s been three days and she is boldly trotting through the kitchen, snagging a bag of cookies abandoned by some kid, and slinking back to the couch, hoping we don’t notice. Nick follows her out and retrieves the cookies and a moment later she is back, sniffing around the backpacks.

I had to shut Gracie’s crate also because Hadley would only take up residence there, so Gracie claimed the Frank bed. The first time Hadley attempted to join her there, Gracie snarled and Hadley scooted away, but an hour later, Hadley boldly claimed her portion of the bed and Gracie backed down.

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Taking Hadley out this morning, she fearlessly approached one of the cats and was game to chase it if it weren’t for that silly leash. Next she grabbed a stick and carried it around with her as we toured the yard.

Who is this dog?

The puppies have also been key to Hadley’s recent blossoming. She LOVES the puppies. As Looney Tunes Abominable Snow Rabbit would say, she’d like to hug them and love them and name them George. To keep the puppies safe from Hadley’s overly enthusiastic affection, we take the same approach we did when an older sibling wanted to hold the newest baby we brought home. We get her comfortable on the couch and then we hand her the swaddled infant, or in this case the wiggling bundle of happy. Then we supervise the interaction.

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For their part, the puppies LOVE Hadley, climbing over and under her, lounging on top of her, chewing her tail, and giving her all manner of kisses. We have to keep all the action up on the couch and supervised because Hadley can get overly excited and forget her size, plus Gracie is pretty much the neighborhood bully who trots by, snarling mean threats at them.

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Sneezewort REALLY loves Hadley
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Foxglove and Pigweed playing tag overtop Hadley
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Snap Dragon and Foxglove doubleteaming Hadley

 

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Pigweed gets a little too wild and is subjected to the big dog smack down

It’s so awesome to see Hadley’s fun side, it makes up for the walks where I have to carry her back because she is overcome with what can only be described as a panic attack and she flattens herself against the ground and refuses to move. Fear still rules her days, but hopefully when forced to face a few of her fears, she’s learning that her fear is pretty unfounded and once more, there’s treats out there in the big bad world, plus gentle touches, cats to chase, puppies to wrestle, and ear buds to munch.

The puppies have all now been claimed by adopters, so there’s no pressure to advertise their cuteness, still I can’t resist and regularly toss out the better pics on Facebook and twitter. They have a growing number of fans all over the world

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Foxglove – big handsome boy
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Pigweed – can’t take a bad picture of this gorgeous pup
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Begonia and Sneezewort
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Everybody’s sleeping but Snap Dragon – he’ll make the best watch dog.
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My favorite sight of all!

Puppies!!

The puppies have arrived! The cuteness is pretty much unbearable, so it’s good that they stink pretty bad.

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At five weeks, they have no qualms about walking through, playing with, or even sleeping upon each other’s poops. I’m trying to stay on top of it (so to speak), but with the Christmas chaos, visitors, my own work, Hadley, GRACIE (no, we haven’t forgotten our own personal pup), and the fact that I have to bake six dozen cookies and package them beautifully for a cookie exchange tonight, it’s pretty much impossible to keep them poop-free.

My five little charms are half of the litter of pups that I witnessed Lily give birth to back in November. They are growing fast and resemble little bear cubs. While I’ve only had them 24 hours, here’s what I can tell you about them as individuals- Continue reading Puppies!!

Erratic Progress Before the Puppy Invasion

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Hadley’s progress seems to have stalled. My mother-in-law is visiting and my college age son just got home, so the household dynamics are shifting and perhaps our little sensitive girl is picking up on that.

She’s back to staying in her crate for hours on end. She runs for the crate every time anything frightens her or makes her nervous. I’m trying to counter my own impatience and leave her be, but it’s frustrating. I’d like to shut the crate up during the day, but I know it’s her safe place. We all need a safe place.

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I thought the rate of progress would increase, not decrease, since she seemed to be getting so comfortable with the house, the people in the house, and Gracie. That evaluation is relative, since anything probably seems like progress when you start with a dog who was curled in a ball for three days unwilling or unable to engage with us.

She still slinks around like she’d prefer to be invisible, startling at any sudden movements or noises and making a beeline for her crate. She runs when any of us reach out to touch her. She does love to be petted and cuddled, but only on her terms.  Continue reading Erratic Progress Before the Puppy Invasion

A Puppy in Paradise

 

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I’m trying to prepare Foo Foo for the weekend. It’s gonna be a biggie. Especially if you’re a puppy. There will be eight (yes eight!) college students camped out all over the house for the weekend. This will be huge for the puppy on so many levels!

First, there’s the obvious food droppage. Foo Foo is the queen of food droppage. In fact, I haven’t needed my robotic vacuum since she was installed in the kitchen because she does regular and thorough sweeps of the floor gathering all crumbs and dust-particles-that-smell-like-food, and bits-of-paper-and-trash-that-could-be-food, which really just leaves dirty socks and school papers. These she chews on as after supper snacks.

I know her breed is listed on her paperwork as “lab-mix” (the catchall phrase for dog rescue I’m learning) and I’ve claimed she looks like a miniature weimeriener (spellcheck doesn’t know what to do with this word, but I know I’ve got it wrong). But I’m gonna go with hound.

This girl is some kind of hound. Nothing eats like a hound and I’ve never met a dog more devoted to food. Here’s a video of Foo-Foo eating dinner. I wish we’d gotten a better one. Sometimes she is so frantic, she shoves the bowl all over the kitchen with her excitement. This time the bowl was pretty stationery.  Addie’s been timing her and so far her top time is 35 seconds start to finish, but I think she beats it on this one since she didn’t have to chase after her food bowl (I found one with rubber grip feet). Continue reading A Puppy in Paradise

Of Miracles and Magic

It was quite a weekend! At least in terms of dog fostering, but definitely not exciting in terms of regular clean-the-house-be-mom-drive-kids-everywhere. Pretty yucky weekend for all that, plus I made the mistake of finally getting on the scale after several months of too much wine and too many new recipes to discover I’d gained five pounds since summer. Ugh. Let’s not think about that – let me tell you about my amazing weekend instead!

First up, John Coffey went home on Saturday with a family that is perfect for him. He knew it immediately. Three boys – all for him!! And fun parents- dad’s even a runner, so score there, too. Sometimes when an adopter turns up, I have to simply trust that OPH did their due-diligence and the pup is the right match, but sometimes it’s completely clear that there is magic at hand. John Coffey was so anxious to get going with his family that he leapt in their car as soon as a door was opened. We had to bring him back out to take a picture, but you can see from the picture how happy he was – what a smile!

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So, super duper awesome adoption. Now I have all my fingers and toes and anything else that can be crossed, crossed that he is not overwhelming them with his happiness and enthusiasm, and that he has NOT broken into the lego room that their youngest son told me about!

Just before John Coffey’s family arrived, I got word that the puppies were being born!

What puppies? (you sound just like my husband!) Continue reading Of Miracles and Magic

Adding Chaos to the Calm

Why I keep adding chaos to an otherwise calm situation is beyond me. We’d just settled into a routine with John Coffey and Gracie (who have become great buds) and then I go and answer a plea for a foster home for a returned puppy.DSC_0775

Not sure what made me take this one. Maybe it’s my puppy addiction. I’m owning that now. Puppies are my crack.

Or maybe I just want to ease the heartbreak that surrounds any return. I know the puppy will be confused. I know the adopter will be in turmoil. It’s not an easy thing for any reason. I see the dogs and puppies listed as returns and I want to just swoop in and take them all. Make it better. This is my third return and the heartbreak in the eyes of the returner was evident once again. Poor people. Poor dogs. But it’s for the best and I’m just grateful a decision was made. No dog should have to stay where she isn’t ABSOLUTELY wanted and loved. And no adopter should keep a dog out of GUILT. Not healthy. Not good. For anyone.

This made me think whether or not I keep Gracie out of guilt. There may be a sliver of it there, but it’s mostly that I made a promise to this pup (and the kids that love her). She is absolutely wanted and loved by four out of the five people living here. Fostering has given me a new appreciation for her. She’s consistent. She’s trying. She’s doing the best she can.

Gracie, our personal puppy
Gracie, our personal puppy

So on Wednesday, Foo Foo (who had been named Daisy and seems to answer to it despite only being with her new adopter barely two weeks) moved in. She came with a plethora of pink – pink collars (2), pink leashes (2), pink toys (many), pink harness, pink sweater, even a puffy pink jacket. There was a hot pink crate, but I declined it as we already have three crates cluttering up our space and no pink room to match. Continue reading Adding Chaos to the Calm