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)

Missing Dog, My Drug Problem, and the Power of Family

On Sunday a dog that had been adopted from OPH by a family near me, got loose and ran off. She’s been missing ever since.

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I’ve sadly been unable to be much help to the searchers as I spent the weekend in a fog of pain. I developed a pinched nerve in my neck on Thursday and it escalated to the point where I felt as if someone was driving a knife in the back side of my head and twisting nonstop. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I’ve read about the kind of people who live with chronic pain and I am most certain that I could never do it. In fact, as I sat (because lying down was even more painful) through the night on Saturday, I understood how a person could become addicted to pain killers.

I had swallowed four ibuprofen and two Tylenols and I was eyeing the serious pain killers that were left from my son’s wisdom teeth extraction. The pain was so far beyond crazy, I really didn’t care if I OD’d; I just needed some relief. I would have traded my first born son (although he’s away at college, so it might be an expensive trade) for the pain to stop. I’d have driven to a dark alley and made any kind of deal to get it to end. Continue reading Missing Dog, My Drug Problem, and the Power of Family

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

I Hate This….

I wrote a really nice post for today. It’s positive and uplifting and all about how I spent the weekend choosing grace over irritation in response to a pile of unexpected (and unwanted) situations. I’ll probably post that one on Thursday because in addition to my Pollyanna dribble, there’s some good stories on Gala, the coolest foster dog we’ve had in some time. (No offense to some of the other amazing dogs we’ve had – she’s just simply the ‘cool kid’ and we are totally enjoying her.)

I’m having trouble posting my intended post because since I finished it, I received some truly awful news. News that has my heart aching and my head distracted. (Fair warning: this is not a fun post; feel free to skip to Thursday.  That’ll be much more uplifting. Promise.) Continue reading I Hate This….

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