Carla, Oh Carla It’s Time to Go Home

I’m hesitating to write this because the last time I wrote about a dog getting adopted before it actually happened, it didn’t happen. But in the spirit of moving past my silly issue with jinxes, I’m writing anyway. (Hopefully I don’t jinx Carla. Wait, there is no such thing as a jinx, right?)

Way back with on our first foster dog Galina, I remember having this same exact moment of insight. I was frustrated and sad for Galina when one after another potential adopter didn’t pan out. Galina was with us four weeks. And when her forever family finally turned up it was clear why she’d been with us for so long and why so many potential adopters backed out – because she had to be available when her real forever family was ready for a dog. Galina’s adopters were so clearly perfect for her and she was such a perfect fit for them, it all made sense. I could see that some kind of larger plan had been hatching and that brought me peace, as it was painful to let her go after an entire month.

Carla has been here for three months! She’s truly become part of the family. We love her and treat her like our dog, even though she’s not. She’s someone else’s dog. I’ve had to tell myself that every day (well almost every day, sometimes she does get on my nerves with her barking and bigness, but only for a moment) because every day that she’s been here, I’ve had to make a conscious decision not to foster fail on her. I remind myself of all the other dogs to come. Dogs who need us. And I have held on tight to the truth that Galina’s adoption taught me – I am not the only good home for a dog. There is someone out there right now who is looking for a dog like Carla. Someone meant to have her.

The coolest part about the special someone named Carol who is adopting Carla is that Carla recognized her. Let me tell you about last Sunday when Carla and Carol met. Continue reading Carla, Oh Carla It’s Time to Go Home

Pup Overload

I’m sneaking away to write this. Everyone’s been cleaned up after, watered, fed, snuggled, cleaned up after again and now they’re having morning playtime which sounds like the soundtrack from How to Train Your Dragon – lots of odd noises, shrieks, barks, and crashing the sides of the pen.

DSC_9254So first let me tell you this is a lot of work. If you think it’s all snuggling and crazy antics and puppy breath, you’re right. But it’s also a lot of cleaning the same space over and over again, bathing puppies that play in poop, laundry like there’s a newborn in the house, and washing hands (again and again and again….).

I really want to tell you the BIG news, but first I have to get the puppy distraction out of the way.

So, they are cute. Crazy cute. And seriously, is there anything like puppy breath? Or puppy snuggles? Or six puppies squealing over the sight of you and clamoring for your attention. It’s only been a few days and I know I will cry when every one of these puppies go. (Well, maybe not Marzle….he’s the source of every bit of trouble they create.)

I’ll brag on them just a bit. Continue reading Pup Overload

The Eagle(s) Have Landed….(or surrender your life to the puppies)

They’re here! OMG, the cuteness. It’s unbearable. I’ve spent an entire morning just looking at them, laughing at them, holding them, and yes, cleaning up after them.

I may be partial, but these are GOOD puppies. Slept through the night in a “puppy rug” as Ian calls it – laying nose to butt to side to foot to any random body part, but all touching. Not a peep all night, but when I opened the door this morning just a crack, they tumbled over each other getting out of the crate for one unison pee fest.

Luckily, Tracy’d told me her clean up trick of moving the sides of the puppy pen so that the pee/poop is outside the pen and the puppies can’t slather themselves in it when they try to assist me by chewing the clean up rags. This worked like a charm. What didn’t work like a charm was the fresh newspaper I put down when I’d finished. It took only about two minutes for the six of them to shred it, add a few extra poops and pees, fight over every shredded bit and turn the entire area into a huge mess. Fun.

I used the movable sides to herd the puppies back into their crate and removed the paper, cleaned the floor again, but this time put the surgical drapes down that Erica brought me at the transport. Much better solution. The drapes don’t absorb, but they are pretty tough to tear apart (not that Marzle isn’t giving it a good go).

It’s funny how unique their personalities are even at this age. I worried I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart, or write up six different descriptions, but it’s clear already that they are individuals. Jillie Bean is the best mannered and seems to own her status as princess of the brood.

Jillie Bean
Jillie Bean

Continue reading The Eagle(s) Have Landed….(or surrender your life to the puppies)

The Puppies are Coming! (tomorrow!)

The puppy excitement is increasing and so is the number of puppies! We are now expecting SIX puppies tomorrow night!

Mindy, from OPH, emailed that there were two siblings whose planned adoption had fallen through. Would we be willing to take two more? Uh….I tried to remember her words from my final interview (or maybe it was in an email when I got word we were approved as fosters). She said something like, “Now, always know that you can say no. I might sound desperate or pushy, but it’s okay to tell me no.” Hmmmm…..uh……sure! What’s two more puppies when you have four already? And what kind of meany would separate siblings who just lost their mama? (Okay that’s written there in black and white for all of you to toss back in my face in a few days when I am up to my eyeballs in puppy poop!)

This thing is getting huge! It’s very distracting which is the last thing I need! My gardens are overflowing with weeds and produce, the Japanese beetles have descended a week earlier than usual, the horses haven’t been ridden in over a month, it’s blueberry season (AHHH!), I’ve started a wifi-reduction program amid protests, and I have exactly five weeks to re-write my latest novel before I’ll have to begin the promotional craziness of the novel about to be released (August 4!!!!!). So six puppies? Why not? Look at me juggle. Continue reading The Puppies are Coming! (tomorrow!)

Vacations Over – Time to Get Back At It! (Puppies! Really?)

Back from vacation and Carla and I had a SLOW run today (more of an amble). The humidity gets us both. For once, she wasn’t leading the way and there was no sprinting or any kind of bounding. I thought she might like a dip in the creek but when we got there, the weeds were high and she took a look at the stickers and gave pause, so we even skipped the swim. Lazy, lazy summer.

DSC_9194Carla is made for lazy summer. She’d look gorgeous lounging on anyone’s porch, but has been on mine much too long. I can’t help but worry that it will be a difficult transition for her once again when her forever family finally finds her. C’mon, people, pick her! She is so ready to shower her dedication, love, and solid snuggle with you.

Carla’s become such a part of the scenery around here that we decided to jump in and get a new foster from the next transport. As it turns out, we’re getting not one, but four new fosters.

We were on vacation riding the Cape May Lewes Ferry on a gorgeous hot sunny day when I irresponsibly took advantage of the free wifi to check e-mail. I could blame it on the rum drinks or the heat or the high of being on vacation with good friends, but when the pictures appeared in my feed I had to have these puppies.

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I know. You want them, too. My kids were over the moon about fostering them. I’d promised them we would foster a puppy this summer, so why not four? The way I see it is – if we have to quarantine one puppy for two weeks, why not four? I’m sure you’ll hear many stories of me eating those words in the weeks to come.  We’ve had Carla so long, the memory of cleaning up poop has faded, much like the pain of childbirth, and I’m ready for this. (I think.)

The puppies arrive on the 26th so we have a week to get things ready. This will be the push that finally forces me to clean out my large cluttered mudroom. I have everyone’s word that they will help with this adventure. I’m hoping that their word is better this time than it has been in the past. I distinctly remember hearing similar vows in regards to the gecko, beta fish, and bird that led to prolonged reminders on my part and eventual abdication on theirs. Sadly, all the small critters in cages lived short, tortured lives in our care. Everything will be different with the puppies! (cue the pretty music and birds singing.)

The first thing we had to do in preparation for the puppies was re-name them. With over 4800 dogs in the system, their Winnie the Pooh names were taken long ago. I was sad when I heard this news because the Winnie the Pooh names had been the clincher for me. We are a Pooh family. The baby nursery was all Pooh, the first videotapes (dating myself here), cds, books, and even computer games were all Pooh. I sang the song, “Christopher Robin” to my little cherubs when I tucked them in at night. My oldest son’s middle name is Christopher after you-know-who, which was a compromise because I seriously considered naming him Christopher Robin. (I told him about that this weekend and my now 18-year-old, said, “That would’ve been pretty cool.” Only my kid.)

So, I posed the question of names to a group of my dear friends while sitting around a table in our favorite brewery (Dogfish Head in Rehoboth). We considered using the names of the beers we were sampling, but decided that they didn’t sound like puppy names. No one would want to adopt Noble Rot or Hellhound.

After very little deliberation, we chose Jillie Bean (childhood nickname for one of the kids we were traveling with), Chick Pea (it just sounds cute), Lug Nut (a friend once had a dog named this and I’ve wanted to use it ever since), and Marzle (the main character in would-be Christopher Robin’s newly self-published book).

I’m sure it’s going to get pretty exciting around here, so stay tuned. And please send your positive juju out in the hopes that Carla finds her forever home before the puppies take over. She’s too big to get lost in the scuffle, but she deserves her own place and her own people to love. If you’d like to touch her gorgeous velvety ears or get a slobbery (but polite) kiss in the kissing booth, she’ll be at Codorus State Park on Saturday for the Codorus Blast. Just look for the OPH booth.

Home Alone

Can I share a secret?

I really hate summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fresh vegetables and blooming flowers, but that’s about it. I don’t like heat, humidity, or blaring sun. I hate the disrupted schedules, packing and planning for a vacation that rarely leaves me rested, and long days with no regular routine. I don’t like to travel much and in the summer there’s a pressure to get out there and get on the road, but I’d rather stay home, tinker in my garden and stick to my regular running schedule.

I am tired even before the last bell rings of kids home all day doing nothing unless I prod them into it. I take away the screens to get their attention and then they spend the hours growling at me and resentfully picking up a book or drumsticks, and sometimes even a bicycle. Dishes grow on the counter like mushrooms in the dark corners of our barn. No one knows where they come from. Food disappears from cabinets, laundry multiplies, the recliner is left forever in the open position. Even when it’s quiet, it’s never really quiet. It’s hard for a person to think (or write). The rhythms are more disjointed jazz and less marching band.

DSC_8464Carla senses this. Her routine has been disrupted. We haven’t gotten out for our regular walk/run 3 out of the last 7 days. Thanks summer. She’s barking more. I know she’s saying, “Hey, we had a good thing going, what happened?” I’d ask the same thing if I didn’t have to be the adult.

She missed her run this morning so that I could meet with the horse/house sitter and now it is HOT. I don’t run in the heat, which means summer runs happen at 6am or not at all. So she’s on the back deck barking at my son and his pack of teenage friends who are huddled over a strategy game of some sort, oblivious to her barking. Finally, she is quiet, but a moment later the pizza delivery guy roars up the driveway. Who ordered pizza at 2pm?

If I had a genie in a bottle, I would wish that Carla’s forever family would show up TODAY and claim her. It will be a tough week for her while we are gone. She will be one more worry for me while I attempt to relax on the vacation that seemed like such a good idea six months ago. I love to camp and I love the beach, why not do both? And then why not invite any kids who want to come? It’ll be fun.

It will be fun. Once I’m there. It’s getting there that’s tricky. So I’m packing and Carla is underfoot. Like all dogs, she senses the impending vacation. She knows something’s up. Gracie is my constant shadow. She’s seen this show before. She knows what’s about to happen. I wish we could take them with us, but that would probably be more stressful for them than leaving them here. They’ll survive. I will, too.

DSC_8463So Carla will have seven lonesome days lying on the porch (or under it if it’s hot) with only Gracie for company and a young adult to care for her who will have her own schedule to keep. There will be no long walks or runs. No snuggles on the lounger. I’m certain she will bark. A lot. Sorry neighbors. (Luckily, the house next door is empty. Let’s hope no potential buyers are turned off by the constant calling of the next-door coonhound.)

Hopefully, she’ll win over her caretaker. After all, who can resist those huge velvety ears? And she’s such solid company on the couch, even allowing herself to be an excellent pillow or arm rest. I don’t know this young person who’ll be looking after the place well enough to know if she’ll take Carla out for a walk as I mentioned she might enjoy. She’ll be busy enough with the horses, chickens, and other chores, but maybe Carla will be able to finagle a long walk down our shady road, even a dip in the creek. She’s nothing if not persistent.

DSC_8983 - CopyMy husband listens to my stress and reminds me that the dogs are not people in little furry suits (or big furry suits as the case may be). They aren’t, but sometimes that’s hard to remember.

Fat, Happy, but NOT Permanent

The end of the school year is a crazy time. It’s doubly crazy when you have a senior. That’s my excuse for not posting this past week.

Carla is still here. She’s gotten fat and happy. Not kidding.

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I took her to uber vet/neighbor/friend/general good guy Chris to get her rabies shot. (Her records finally caught up with her and it turns out her rabies was out of date. Rabies shots are good for only three years, just so you know.)

Before giving her the shot, the technician weighed her and Dr. Chris gave her a quick lookover. She’d gained five pounds in the five weeks she’s been with us! She’s up to 75 pounds! I feel horrible about this. Chris said that the feeding charts on the dog food bags actually encourage you to feed your dog more than she needs. (That way you buy more dog food!) We agreed that I would cut her food back by a ½ a cup per day.

So she is fat, but she’s also happy. She barks a lot less. I’ve begun to realize that all that frantic barking in the first few weeks she was here must have been part of her grief and her transition. She still barks if the UPS guy comes up the driveway or the neighbor’s goats dawdle in the gap between the trees that is visible from our porch (where Carla likes to lounge away her days), but otherwise she saves her barks for important things like letting us know she needs to go out/in or as a gentle reminder that dinner is late.

I’m also happy to report that she learned the invisible fence territory super quick (smart dogs are like that), so she’s able to go outside whenever she wants to roll in the grass clippings and follow the scent of any passing varmint.

If she’s still here when school gets out later this week, I’ve got the kids lined up to make a documentary to help promote her. I’m certain that if you could see her in action, you’d all want to adopt her. She is amazing. And she needs to get adopted before my will gives out. Everywhere I go my neighbors, friends, family, and now my vet, ask, “So when are you going to decide to keep her?” Continue reading Fat, Happy, but NOT Permanent