This weekend we were in Virginia wine country and decided to do a little winery-hopping. We stopped in Chrysalis Vineyards where OPH will be hosting their big fundraiser Bark, Wag, and Wine this September. It’s a gorgeous place with excellent wines, so we very much hope to attend. (You should, too!)
The day after we visited Chrysalis, we stopped into Barrel Oak Winery whose very name invites dogs (BOW – get it?) BOW was a bit over-the-top-dog-friendly. In fact, on this day they were overrun with Westies. For those of you unfamiliar, these are small wiry-haired white dogs that yap.
There were Westies everywhere you looked and it made for very intentional foot travel as I didn’t want to step on one.
There were a few dog-sized dogs visiting the winery as well and compared to the somewhat frenetic Westies they seemed like large, lumbering behemoths. I don’t sound like a dog person, do I? I’m probably exaggerating and maybe it was just that I missed my BIG foster dog of the moment.
Nick and I kept whispering, “We should have brought Carla – she would shut these little guys up with a single booming bark.” Bringing Carla would have been like showing up the mini-bike rally with a tricked out Harley.
And just like that, Stitch is gone. I’d be sad, except she’s found the perfect family. She’ll have kids to adore and be adored by, an active mommy, and no cats that are never in the mood to play anyway. This one was easier. I don’t worry about Stitch. I know what a good dog she is. I know she’s sweet and obedient and smart as a whip. Who wouldn’t love her? Especially cute kids like these…
I’m happy for Stitch, so the lump in my throat is a little easier to swallow. What a great dog. What a lucky family. Amy e-mailed me tonight and said they’ve decided to keep the nickname we gave her, Stitch. We’re honored to have named such a stellar pup. Happy trails my little Stitcheroo!
Carla is still here. She may be here for a while. We’re okay with that. I want her to also find her perfect home. She will be harder to place and I’ll definitely worry more for her. She needs this next move to be her last. A dog can only have her heart broken so many times.
Carla will need someone who will give her plenty of exercise, indulge her affinity for soft beds, and not mind the fact that she barks. (And barks.). She has a lot to say.
When I’m slow mixing up breakfast, she swirls around my feet, chastising me excitedly, “Get a move on lady! My granny could whip that up faster than you with one hand tied behind her back!” The sheer volume is stressful and makes it hard for me to focus. Does she get the coconut oil in the morning or the probiotics? No matter, I’m certain she’d eat anything I served. Continue reading Waiting for the Right Home
I think it’s time to be honest about what it takes to be a foster family for all these deserving dogs. Maybe I’ve made it sound glamourous and exciting. Sure, it’s all that. Kind of. But beyond the sweet faces, fuzzy snuggles, amusing antics, and happy endings, there is some serious work. And sometimes there is a little bit of frustration and a tiny tad of aggravation and occasionally there are moments when you groan and say “Why am I doing this again?” to a clueless dog who looks at you with complete unadulterated innocence. You need to be a determined and patient person to foster dogs. And you definitely can’t take your house (or belongings) too seriously.
For me, the hardest part has not been the getting attached or the rearranging of our family schedule or the late night and early morning walks. What makes me the most nuts and causes my husband to growl, are the messes. And I’m not talking about the shredded newspaper, the upended ash bucket, or de-stuffed stuffed animals. I’m talking about pee. The latest foster dogs are pee-ers.
When you first meet someone that you like, you show all your good sides. You’re polite, respectful, careful not to say anything too offensive or expose how much you don’t know about say, football or lawn mowers. But as your relationship solidifies you can cut loose a little. I think that’s what’s happening with Stich (Symphony).
She’s reasonably confident that we aren’t going to kick her to the curb so she’s relaxing and letting her real personality out. A personality that is hysterical. It matches her goofy smile. Somehow the shape of her head and her enormous mouth combine to make her look like she is always grinning – literally ear to ear. She looks cartoon like. You can’t be in a bad mood when you’re hanging out with this dog. She’s just too funny.
I am her chosen person, but she keeps careful note of where everyone else is, rarely does she lie down unless we’re all in the same room. Nick and I have offices on opposite ends of the first floor, so when he works from home she spends her days in the room between us, keeping herself busy accumulating a cache of belongings in her crate (just in case?)
Maybe it’s the fact that she was living on the streets prior to coming here, but she is a hoarder. I was talking with another OPH foster a few weeks ago and listening to the funny story of how their dog, who was also a street dog, was an incredible hoarder, piling up everything she could gather and then nesting upon it. This has been Stitch’s strategy.
She accumulated her stash very quietly. I rarely saw her moving things around, but the shoes in the back of her cage piled up. She didn’t chew them like Galina, she simply gathered them. I applauded this activity because it saved me from nagging children to put their shoes away. Then she began rounding up all the dog toys and loading them into her cage. Next were any abandoned socks, a few random pens, and Ian’s graphing notebook.
Yesterday afternoon I noticed her crate had been cleaned out. There was only the blankets we’d put in there originally, none of her loot. I was the only one home, so I know it wasn’t a child with a sudden case of I’ve-got-to-clean (not that my kids have EVER had this little known condition). I looked in the living room and found Carla’s bed piled with Stitch’s stash. She’d even added two pairs of snow pants she’d pulled out of the Goodwill box in the hallway. Continue reading Making Yourself at Home
Bringing a strange dog home isn’t my favorite part of fostering. The first 24 hours, heck the first three days, even first week, the dog is a foreigner in a strange land. She doesn’t know how to act. She doesn’t know the rules. We don’t know what to expect from her. Will she get along? Will she pee all over my house? Can she be trusted? The cats are never happy. The answers are all over the place.
Pretty much each of the dogs we’ve brought home, with the exception of Wheat Penny (who was a puppy and had no expectations, baggage, or attitudes) has seemed like a completely different dog after a few days compared to the dog we brought home from transport.
Symphony is no exception.
The dog I picked up on Saturday morning was much smaller than we anticipated. She was nervous, unsure, and peed pretty much every few minutes everywhere she went as if she were marking her territory. (It’s also possible she had a urinary tract infection from the long time spent in a crate for travel from South Carolina.)
She growled at Gracie and threatened the cats. She pulled on the leash when I walked her and escaped out of the house twice (she is a door opener which means she is no dumb cookie). She refused her dinner, was silent, wary, watching us. I never saw her sit down – not once – the whole day. She walked from room to room keeping track of everyone. Although she looks more like a Boston Terrier than a Border Collie, I would guess there is some kind of herding dog in there somewhere.
The first night, I went to bed exhausted from taking Symphony outside to pee every fifteen minutes, walking Carla, supervising all the interactions between the dogs, and cleaning up after Symphony’s efforts to establish her presence. Here’s the thoughts that raced through my mind and kept me from sleeping, I can’t do this. What have I gotten myself into? Two foster dogs is too much for me. I am a wimpy foster mommy. How the heck do these people have three and four dogs? They must be nuts. I must be nuts. This is the last dog. Ever.Continue reading A Stranger in a Strange Land
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.
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
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.