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!


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

The Best Side of John Coffey

IMG_2123John Coffey has been with us now for eight days.  I thought we knew him pretty well, but yesterday I took him to an OPH event and discovered a whole new side of him.

The activity and the other dogs sent him into sensory overload. He’s a pretty intense little guy. I’ve mentioned that he’s paying attention to everything. Well, it’s tough to pay attention to everything when everything includes five or six other dogs, dozens of people, a busy parking lot, yummy food smells, and even an entire bag of tennis balls.

He was frantic, pulling at his leash and barking. The only way to calm him was to pick him up. At thirty-five pounds plus, that didn’t last long. Luckily there were several teens there who have that teenage ability to see right through bad manners and noise. They happily cruised him around the parking lot, hunkered down with him on the far edge of the event, and sat with him in the kissing booth (which he rocked, by the way. John Coffey is a first rate kisser.)IMG_1331

I was frustrated that all anyone was seeing was the bad side of John Coffey. I’d hardly ever heard him bark before yesterday. He’s actually a quiet dog. No one who was in Hanover yesterday would have guessed that.

He rarely pulls on the leash, but yesterday he couldn’t stop pulling and was gagging and coughing from the effort. Not pretty.

He growled and barked at most of the boy dogs. I don’t think he meant anything by it, but again, not an attractive feature. Who wants to take home the bully dog? At our house, he and Gracie have bonded and really enjoy each other. He’s a lover, not a fighter.

I couldn’t even distract him with tennis balls yesterday. When I picked one up, his gaze would lock on to it and he’d chase after it, only to drop it the moment another dog/person/food/noise/car came into his view. He was too distracted to show off his superior catching skills.

So all anybody got to see was a nervous, frantic, barking bundle of snarly nerves. That’s not John Coffey.

Here’s the lesson in this- not all dogs enjoy adoption events. And some dogs would do better to avoid them altogether. John Coffey is one of those dogs. It’s not fair to put him in a situation where his best self can’t be seen. Especially when he has such a great best self.

So, while I’ve got you here, let me tell you about his best self. Continue reading The Best Side of John Coffey

Now Starring JOHN COFFEY…

DSC_0680I’ve gotten in the habit of only blogging once a week about the foster dog of the moment, but John Coffey simply cannot be contained in one post per week. The dog is busy.

First off, if you know anyone looking for a Frisbee-catching, ball-chasing, potential movie star trick dog – send them my way. I’ve got the dog for them. If my nephew/dogwhisperer Brandon lived closer, I’d be adopting this dog and calling an agent.

This dog is crazy athletic, intensely paying attention, and as eager to please as a used car salesman. Throw in a tiny little bit of manic, and you’ve got the makings of dog headed for Hollywood, or at least dock-diving. At any rate, John Coffey needs a job.

I can run him four and a half miles in the morning, and still he’s dancing (for minutes at a time) on his hind legs as I’m preparing dinner.

He will chase a ball ALL DAY. Did I say all day? I meant 24 HOURS A DAY SEVEN DAYS A WEEK UNTIL THERE ARE NO BALLS LEFT ON THE PLANET! Here’s a meager selection of the balls John Coffey can catch (it’s hard to be the photographer and the ball thrower…) Continue reading Now Starring JOHN COFFEY…

Bring on the Good Times!

DSC_0674John Coffey is quite the dog. It took me awhile to figure out what to call him. Originally we thought we’d go with ‘JC’ since he looks like such a slick character, but upon meeting him and spending some time with him we decided he’s WAY too puppy for such a laid back name.

We picked up this newest foster dog from another OPH foster on our way home from Virginia. (Sigh. So wish we were still on vacation – the wine, the weather, the oysters were all wonderful. If I hadn’t done a face plant during our first hike it would have all been perfect.)

Livia and Nick told us they’d been calling this little guy, ‘Coffey.’ He was one squirming bundle of happiness. It comes out his pores, I believe. He can’t wag fast enough to express his joy and emits tiny little whimpers of ecstasy when you pet him. This dog just wants to be LOVED.

We had no room in our car for a crate (we brought home five cases of wine – who’s up for a little happy hour?), so John Coffey was given a section of the back seat. That just would not do, not when there were TWO people less than an arm’s length away who could be petting him. He rode the entire hour and a half posed like a hood ornament on the console between our seats, alternately licking a face or nuzzling a shoulder.

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When we got him home, we discovered that the energy does not dissipate. In fact, it seemed to increase. Luckily, he has smarts in equal measure to his energy and is SO eager to please that he’s a quick study. Currently, we’re working on the not-jumping-on-everyone-at-all-times trick. I’ve decided that his full name fits him, as in “John Coffey get down. John Coffey that’s enough. John Coffey DOWN.” He’s like a small child whose mother uses his full name when she means it. And so I believe he won’t be JC or Coffey, but John Coffey.

I felt compelled to look up the name to see who John Coffey really was. All the early hits on google describe the role played by Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile based on the book by Stephen King. That John Coffey is a much more complicated character than our John Coffey.

The next bunch of hits are about a punk rock star from the Netherlands named John Coffey. We’re definitely getting warmer. He’s most famous for his amazing beer catch last June. Here’s a video of the catch and then an explanation of the physics behind it.


The next John Coffey I found is a professor with a PhD n Positive Developmental Psychology. I’ve decided that this is the John Coffey our John Coffey is named after. All his papers on Linked In are about happiness. You could never encounter a more positive pup. Such an appropriate namesake!

We’re looking forward to hanging out with John Coffey. He’s quite the entertaining character. Left alone for twenty minutes in the kitchen this morning, he rearranged the furniture. He moved the Frank bed to the middle of the room, ostensibly so he could lie on it and still see around the corner to where I was in the living room. He pulled a dictionary (a big dictionary, think unabridged, hardback) down off the kitchen table and I found it, unmutilated, but open to the J’s! Maybe he was looking up who he was named after. He dragged the toy basket to the center of the room, right next to the Frank bed which made it easier for him to sort through the plethora and take out all the yellow dewalt plastic tool casings and make a separate pile of them by the door. (Nick brought these home for Frank and Tennessee – great free chew toys.)

rearranging the furniture
rearranging the furniture


John Coffey isn’t a big dog; he could use a few more sandwiches. When Livia told me that he’d gained nine pounds in his three weeks with them, I was astounded. He’s so skinny. I can’t imagine what he looked like previously. She said he was a ‘skeletore’ and I believe it. We’re trying to pile on the pounds, but he prefers to eat his food scattered across the floor so I’m not sure how much he’s taking in. When I put a bowl of food down, he promptly dumps it. Not sure if this makes dinner more interactive for him, or he is complaining about the service.


Today I ran him three miles. He’s excellent on the leash, a pro at pulling his leg out from under the leash when it gets tangled. I appreciate this, as I had to stop every time this happened with the last few fosters and that makes for a choppy run. John Coffey has no time for that, he can’t take in life fast enough.

So far the cats are giving him a wide berth. After Chism and Kylie, they are mentally scarred but hopefully not for life. John Coffey is curious about them but only in the way he is curious about pretty much everything. He watches them, but when they run away, he moves on to more interesting things – like bounding after a leaf or tackling a tennis ball. He’s got much bigger fish to fry.DSC_0677

I May Need a Twelve Step Program

IMG_1982 (1)We’re dogless.

(Except Gracie. I need to remember her. In fact, this week is make-up-for-ignoring-Gracie-week and everything is all about Gracie. She’s gonna get fat on treats. I’m even letting her lie her next to me as I write EVEN THOUGH I know she will fart. I can take it.)

I miss my puppies. Yesterday, Nick observed my sadness and said, “You’re jonesing for a puppy, aren’t you?”

I am. Continue reading I May Need a Twelve Step Program

Last to Go

DSC_0581And looks who’s left…..

I thought Chism would be the first one to go. I did. I figured a dog like her – gorgeous, unique with a HUGE personality – she’d be scooped up quickly. But now it’s just me and her.

Without her herd, she’s a much calmer dog. She actually sleeps. Her manners are much improved. I just checked and her morning breakfast is only half-eaten. There’s no need to gobble it all down in 20 seconds if there’s no competition. Left alone, she’s much more mellow. I may have to take back all that stuff I wrote on her profile about her being such an INTENSE, HIGH ENERGY dog. She’s taken to lounging on the Frank bed for hours at a time.

All of this behavior makes me think she’d be better off as an only dog.

Chism has gone from ADOPTABLE to ADOPTION PENDING and back two or three times now. She scared off two adopters because she has a mild obsession with cats (as in – she’d like to chase them down and lick them all over and probably won’t kill them. Probably.) If she sees or senses or even imagines a cat on the porch, she’ll bark nonstop and claw at the door until she’s put in restraints. I’ve wondered if she might chill out if she finally got to meet a real cat. Maybe she’d find out they aren’t really that interesting and they have pointy parts. My cats are not game to take part in the intervention. They aren’t interested in a relationship with Chism of any kind, at all, ever. In fact, since Chism moved in one of my porch cats has moved in with the barn cat who isn’t so happy about sharing her domain. Continue reading Last to Go