Some of Us Are Remedial Learners

Sometimes I’m slow on the uptake. This week’s adventures have reminded me that I am still a rookie foster mom over here. The lesson is a repeat from Galina days, but it appears I needed to learn it again. And the consequences may mean more than a three-dog weekend, they may lead to a three-dog month.

Here it is: Never look a gift-adoption in the mouth. Or something like that.

On Wednesday the perfect adopters (and I mean perfect like I made them up myself) were approved to adopt Carla. I had a lovely conversation with her future adopting mama. We made plans for the family to meet and adopt Carla on Thursday. Hooray!

And then, because there were actually two other applications in the system on Carla, I made the bold move of agreeing to take a new dog from this week’s transport.

Symphony is adorable and part Border Collie – a breed I have always coveted.ec8a4b9e7073391214973fb2f291133d22d9073b

She even has a great story (a street dog picked up by paramedics), reminds me of the dog on the Little Rascals, and looks to be the perfect size playmate for Gracie. Carla is too big, Wheat Penny was too small, but Symphony looks just right. All was well with our dog world.

And then Thursday morning I received an email from the potential adopters saying there had been a drastic shift in their situation and they would sadly be unable to adopt Carla at this time. Whoosh. (That was the rug being pulled out from under my carefully laid plans.) Continue reading Some of Us Are Remedial Learners

When the Easy Choice is the Right Choice

A very wise horse-whisperer friend of mine, a cowboy named Brad, once told me that when training any animal you need to make the right choice the easy choice. This concept was a great help to me while training my independently minded horse and even applied nicely to teenage children. I’ve recently discovered it is an excellent strategy with Carla as well.

Carla has earned the nickname Goldilocks at our house because she likes to try out all the chairs, sofas, and beds in search of the best spot.

In my office….

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On a kid bed…DSC_8423

In the playroom… (amidst the noise)

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In the living room…DSC_8364

On my bed! (this picture gives you a point of reference as to her size – this is a queen size bed) Continue reading When the Easy Choice is the Right Choice

I’m With the Coonhound

Carla and I have gone running several mornings this week. She is an enthusiastic companion. As she has emerged from her time of mourning, her energy has increased. She continues to challenge me to run faster than my well-worn knees would like to travel. (I use the word ‘run’ loosely, it’s more like a ‘jog.’ I just like to say run because it makes it sound much more impressive.) On steeper spots of my regular run when I might normally be tempted to slow to a walk, I can’t bear to ask it of Carla and push on through, sometimes letting her steady pull propel me forward.

There was a time, early in my running career when men in trucks (there are many here in Pennsyltucky roaming about checking their fence lines or looking for a good fishing hole at the early hour at which I typically hit the roads) would slow and note my progress, sometimes even chatting me up. Those days are past now and the only man in a truck who stops to visit with me on my runs is my hay-guy Kevin and we usually just talk about hay.

This week with Carla by my side, pretty much every pick-up truck, mud-splattered four-wheel drive or vehicle built prior to the 1980s slows as it passes me. They aren’t checking out the middle age woman on my end of the leash, they are all about the gorgeous coonhound on the other.IMG_1128

Continue reading I’m With the Coonhound

Mixed Emotions of Foster Dogs and Dog Fosters

DSC_8427After all the exuberant happiness of our last two foster girls, it is quite a different story with Carla. My best guess is that she is mourning. She misses her family. After all, she was with them for four years; it’s a big loss for her.

Every now and again I catch a glimpse of the happy girl that’s buried in there somewhere, but most of her time is spent lying around, looking sad. To be fair, she is a hound and forlorn is the default expression on most hound faces, especially ones with droopy eyes and long ears.

The appetite that we were warned about is not in evidence. She barely eats her meals and refuses all treats. She has yet to attempt to even counter surf (although she has the height and reputation to excel in this sport). When I’m bummed out I don’t eat either, so I get it.

Today she is talking a lot. She gave me some hound mutters when she first woke up and then spent the afternoon standing on the deck barking at the woods – certain there was something afoot in there. Hounds, maybe particularly coonhounds, have a lot to say. Carla was quiet during her first few days, but now she is vocal. Maybe she’s decided we’re worth protecting or maybe she has simply found her voice.

I took her for a run and was delighted to discover that she is an excellent and inspiring running partner. We did the fastest 3 ½ miles I’ve done in months. She was all business, never stopping for her personal business, and only a few times tugging towards an errant squirrel. I truly hope her forever family includes at least one runner.

And maybe a camper or hiker or hunter. She’s all about the woods and most especially, the stream. That’s when I see the real Carla. She lights up and pulls towards the creek when we approach, happily splashing in it as I do my best not be dragged in behind her.IMG_1638

On Monday, Wheat Penny (now Ladki – Hindi for lady) left for the high life as a spoiled only child of a super loving mama. She must have a wind at her back. She is one lucky dog. I spent the day keeping her close, even letting her destroy a pen in honor of her leave-taking. Such a sweet puppy. I will cherish the time we had with her and hope for periodic updates.DSC_8371

At least two people in the last few days have expressed to me how much they wish they could foster, but don’t think they could stand to give up a dog. I’ve thought a lot about that. It does hurt, but for me, it’s a sacrifice worth making so that we can help more dogs. I know there are plenty of great homes out there and people who can love a dog as well or better than me. So I’m willing to be a link between a sad, possibly terminal life in a shelter and a happy forever home even if sometimes that tugs at my heart and leaves a lump in my throat. I don’t have to be everyone’s forever home.

What’s making me re-think this foster idea is Carla. She is almost exactly the dog I’m looking for, the one we spent all those hours visiting shelters in search of. But I don’t want to be a foster fail (foster lingo for a foster mommy who adopts her foster dog). I want to help more dogs. It is very tempting to hold on to Carla. I know we could make her happy here, but I am also certain that there is a forever home out there waiting for her. Someone else looking for a dog just like Carla.

So for as long as we have her, we will love her and nurture her and work very hard to bring out the happy dog I’m certain is there beneath the surface of all her present sadness. Because she is not a young dog (she’s six), she may not be as quick to be adopted. And that’s okay because she is a welcome guest here for as long as she needs us.DSC_8421

Three Dog Weekend

It’s been a three-dog weekend. Which means that I’ve spent a lot of time on the other end of a leash. This morning I successfully walked “big dog” (new foster Carla) and “little dog” (old foster Wheat Penny) at the same time. We made it just over two miles before Wheat Penny began dive-bombing Carla. Carla was unfazed, ignoring her full body pelts and then simply dragged the varmint along after she grabbed Carla’s leash and attempted to fling her about (effectively flinging herself about instead.) Carla’s got a few pounds on Wheat Penny.IMG_1625

Let me introduce you to Carla. She has a regal way about her, rising above the other dogs snarls and craziness. She is a gorgeous 65+ pound Treeing Walker Coonhound who was surrendered by her owners (previous OPH adopters) after four years. The owners are expecting a fourth baby and Carla became too much for them. As her previous owner put it, “Carla is just existing here, she’s not living.” Here was this enormous hound dog trying to be a suburban pet in a busy household who increasingly had no time for her. I can’t resent these owners for surrendering her, only be glad that they did. Carla deserves a better life and they knew that. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision. Because who could toss out a face like this- Continue reading Three Dog Weekend

Survival of the Cutest

I think God made puppies cute so they could survive.DSC_8262

Otherwise, how could you forgive them when they do things like…..

Eat the hard-earned check you received (more than a month ago) for tutoring some kid in math after school? (Just because your mom told you to put it somewhere safe, i.e. the bank, doesn’t give the little poltergeist permission to destroy it.)

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And what can you do but forgive the puppy whose innocent chewing sharpened the tip of your baseball cup to a painful self-mutilating weapon. (I know – hysterical! Except to the innocent ball player who can’t be bothered to put away his gear after a scrimmage and who is horrified that a puppy touched his cup, yet is the kid who slips it off on the drive home and leaves it on the carpet in the hall. When I showed it to him he said, “Gross! I can’t believe the puppy touched that!” LOL.) Continue reading Survival of the Cutest

Fostering is Family Friendly

It appears as though Wheat Penny has already found her forever home. That was fast! After all the ups and downs of Galina’s adoption, we weren’t expecting WP to be swooped out from under us in mere days!

Actually, it can’t be that quick because OPH requires puppies to stay with their foster home for at least two weeks. This means WP will be here for another week.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wheat Penny’s new forever mommy, Jana, will be here to take her home in exactly one week. This has changed the status of our little darling.

No longer is she a potential long term guest, now she’s more like a visiting grandchild. We are having lots of fun with her, maybe more so because we know she’s not staying.  Really, fishing that cat turd out of her mouth or changing the puppy pad isn’t so hard to do when you know it might be the last time.

I indulge her on the couch, wrestling, tummy scratches, ear kisses, because I know these days will be gone in a flash. And because, truth be told, she is crazy-adorably cute. Greeting card cute. No one can resist-her cute. See – DSC_8161 - Copy

Which is why I knew before Jana even arrived on Saturday that she would be smitten. (And she was.) No one can resist the charms of Wheat Penny.

Plus, she’s a whole lot of fun. Brady let her help him with some writing. Continue reading Fostering is Family Friendly