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!!

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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

Curiosity is More Powerful than Fear

IMG_2176So, the gloves are off. Hadley may be a traumatized little soul, but she still has powers beyond her little thirty pound self.

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This week she ate the remote control, destroyed Ian’s favorite set of ear buds, and obliterated countless nerf darts. She seems attracted to things that smell like us – shoes, devices, playing cards, etc. I was forced to put away my puzzle and now there will be no puzzling for the duration. I like to keep a puzzle going on the coffee table in the wintertime. It’s great for occupying my busy mind while watching football/basketball/whatever nonsense hubby has on the tube and is the perfect activity to do by the woodstove. But, alas, Hadley also likes puzzles. Eating them. Continue reading Curiosity is More Powerful than Fear

Tipping the Scales

IMG_2162 - CopyI keep wondering at what point the scales will tip for Hadley.

Will this treat, this snuggle, this walk, or this ear rub be the one that makes the difference? Maybe this will be the one that pushes her over the edge into a place where people are good and every sudden movement or noise doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

I figure we have to keep piling up the positive interactions, and at some point she’ll trust us. And then maybe she can begin to trust the world.

As far as I can tell, she’s had only two negative encounters since she’s been in our care. One was Gracie’s initial snarly greeting on her first night. Since then, Gracie has reigned it in. I guess even she senses that Hadley is a fragile soul. The second truly scary moment for her was when my ipad mini fell on the dog bed next to her. It confirmed for her the sky was falling rather than her foster mommy is a bit of a clutz.

At the same time, I know the bubble wrapping is nearly impossible, so there will be a few unintended and inevitable scale tips the wrong way.

It’s been nearly a week and Hadley still spends her days anxiously curled up in one of her three “safe zones”. These are the Frank bed in the kitchen, the dog bed next to my desk, and on the sofa behind the couch cushions (which are flipped down to keep Gracie off the furniture). Continue reading Tipping the Scales

A Painful Goodbye and a Difficult Hello

If you stopped by our house, you might not notice our newest foster puppy. That’s because Hadley never moves, unless forced. She’s like a little frozen statue, curled in a ball and hoping you won’t notice her.

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Watching her this weekend has been heartbreaking.

We picked her up Friday night from transport and she cowered silently in her crate the whole ride. When we got home, I coaxed her out of the cage, clipped on a leash, and set her on the ground, where she froze. I tugged on the leash and she followed me, moving close to the ground, eyes darting every direction. She’s freaked out from the long ride, I thought and picked her up.

She was filthy and smelly, so the first order of business was to bathe her. She sat still, trembling in the tub as I scrubbed her all over and the water ran brown. Finally clean, I carried her to her crate in our puppy room, turned on the nightlight, and spent a few minutes with her. She retreated to the back of the crate, burrowing under the blankets and towels, avoiding eye contact with me.

The next morning when I opened her crate she pressed herself against the back wall. I knew she had to be hungry and thirsty (she’d refused food and water the night before), so I left the crate door open and the bowls nearby and went for my run.

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When I came back she hadn’t touched either. I reached in to pet her and she allowed it, but she was tense and wouldn’t look at me. We left her alone for the morning, figuring she was just shellshocked after her long journey from South Carolina. When she still hadn’t emerged from the crate by afternoon, I pulled her out and took her outside. She followed me, crouched close to the ground as if we were under sniper fire. Continue reading A Painful Goodbye and a Difficult Hello

When the Guest Becomes Family

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Just the other day, I was shocked to retrieve Addie’s red polka-dotted slipper shoe out of Momma Bear’s mouth. For some reason, known only to the canine world, those shoes are the best tasting ones in the house. Pretty much every foster dog has favored them. Somehow they’ve survived the onslaught, although several dogs ago, Addie had to use blue flowered duct tape to re-secure the liner to the bottom of the shoe.

Momma Bear’s paperwork says she’s between 2 and 5 years old. I’m betting she’s on the low end of that scale. As she’s finally begun to relax at our house, we’re seeing more puppy-like behavior.

Next was Brady’s forgotten croc and then Ian’s stinky sneaker. And the children thought they could stop putting their shoes away since there wasn’t a puppy in the house. Think again!

It’s not just the shoes she’s begun chewing. She’s gnawed on the directions for my new iphone, multiple ball-point pens, and yesterday she found a box of packing peanuts. That was pretty funny. They were the kind made of cornstarch which disappear when wet. She’d poke her long snout into the box in the corner of my office and fish out one peanut and then take it to her favorite spot only to discover it was gone! So she’d return to the box and grab more, repeating the process until I put the box up because I didn’t know if cornstarch was poisonous to dogs (it isn’t). Continue reading When the Guest Becomes Family

Best Foster Dog Evvv-AAAAA!

And we have a winner!

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Best foster dog EV-AAAAAAA!

This is what I tell my children when they plead with me to adopt Momma Bear. I’m very clear that she is still a foster. Yes, I love her. Yes, she is the nicest mannered dog we’ve encountered. (Including our own dog.) And Yes, she is happy here. But NO, we are not adopting her. We’ve been over this. (And over this.)

Momma Bear wins the Best Foster Dog Ev-aaaa Award for many reasons.

First, she’s got perfect manners. I mean perfect. Better than most of my kids. Okay, she does chew up nerf darts, but I think that’s a plus, not a minus. (Less darts for me to pick up.)

She may be a big dog, but she is careful to stay out of your way. She’s attentive to the whereabouts of everyone and is never underfoot. She’s the first foster dog who never climbs on furniture. Never. She won’t even lie on the dog bed.

She’s quiet and saves her barking for important things like the UPS guy on the porch waiting for a signature or my 19-year-old son when he’s locked out at 2am (his father forgot he was home for Thanksgiving break). Continue reading Best Foster Dog Evvv-AAAAA!