Is Anyone Getting Anything Done Around Here?

DSC_0512Having a house full of puppies is like having several hundred toddlers pop in for a visit.

It’s loud. It’s messy. Things break. But gosh, they’re so darn cute. (Thank God they’re leaving.)

We are entering week three of the puppydom. Some of us are growing weary of the efforts. As veteran parents, we are accustomed to the work that comes with caring for toddlers. We even understand that sometimes a toddler might bite you. They can pee on the floor on occasion. They don’t take direction well. These are known facts accepted.

Even so, with all that cuteness, one still can become resentful. Shut up, I think, when I hear Chism holding forth. Sure, she’s barking at a butterfly or a cat wandering across the yard. Cute. Yes. But loud. And I’m trying to write, here. Continue reading Is Anyone Getting Anything Done Around Here?


Our Home – Castle or Assylum?

DSC_0362It was after dark when we finally found our way to the house north of town. We’d missed the transport because we were attending Family Weekend at our son’s college. Now we were following sketchy GPS directions in search of our newest foster dog at the house of another OPH foster who was graciously holding “Rollie,” a ten month old shepherd/lab mix. “Why are we getting another dog again?” asked my husband. “Because I’m weak,” I told him. Which I am.

When I knocked on the door, a chorus of dogs started up. It sounded just like our house! I’d set off the “dog bell” as my husband likes to call it.

When Christine let me in she immediately began explaining the dogs swirling at my feet – a personal dog and a foster fail. I could hear others barking in another room. Again, it was a familiar scenario. I’m always explaining my own swirling dogs to friends, neighbors, the milkman, even the UPS guy. Partly, it’s because for me the dogs are part of the family and thus, require an introduction, and partly because I want to explain that I’m not completely nuts, there’s a reason I have fifty-three dogs (it only feels like it.).

Sidebar: I’m one of over 85 authors exhibiting at the York Book Expo coming up in two weeks and the featured NYTimes Bestselling author is David Rosenfelt. He has personally rescued over 4000 golden retrievers, which is impressive, but what is CRAZY is that he currently lives with 27 golden retrievers IN HIS HOME. Don’t believe me – check out the video. Anyway, he’ll be there, so if you want to meet the freak show in person, you should plan to attend the York Book Expo on Saturday October 17. (Yes, that was shameless self-promotion and no, I don’t really think Mr. Rosenfelt is a freak show. I’m just jealous because he’s a NYT bestseller.)

Okay, back to my story. Christine led me into her kitchen through the gates to retrieve Rollie who was front and center in a large crate alongside another large crate holding another adorable foster dog. Christine released Brownie so we could visit. (Someone should adopt this crazy sweet pup! You’re missing the boat!) These crates took up serious real estate in their kitchen.

This is the first time I’ve been in the home of another OPH foster and I have to say, it was a relief to know we are not the only people who live like this. In fact, I think a tour of Homes is in order for OPH. I’ve love to see what other foster families are doing to preserve their homes and their sanity. Something you learn very quickly when fostering dogs is your home will never be the same. So if you’re seriously into home décor and such, fostering is probably not the gig for you. On the flip side, one bonus about this situation is that you never have to explain why your house is a mess. You have a dozen foster dogs – of course, your home is a mess. No one has any expectation otherwise. Continue reading Our Home – Castle or Assylum?

Pick a Puppy….but Know What You’re Getting Into!

There are monsters in my kitchen.

This is how close the monsters can's not easy getting a clean shot.
This is how close the monsters can get…’s not easy getting a clean shot.

Okay, they’re just puppies. But they have sharp fangs, make odd noises and have other worldly energy. In only one week, they’ve outgrown our mudroom which housed six puppies for three weeks this summer. These are BIG girls with BIG needs.

I’m super excited to say they are already mostly housebroken which speaks to their extreme smarts and not my superior training ability. That, and they’ll do ANYTHING for a treat.

DSC_0268I’m partial to Charm but that’s only because I have to rescue her so often from Chism’s extreme energy and lack of empathy. Chism doesn’t get that when she has a good hold on Charm’s ear and Charm is emitting a high pitched squeal for long periods of time that translates as “Excuse me, but you’re HURTING MY EAR!” Charm is the Laurel in this Laurel and Hardy act. She’s sweet and clumsy and so very forgiving.

DSC_0269Chism takes up all the air in the room. She is ON all the time and if you catch her taking a quick nap on the Frank bed, all you have to do is think, “Ah, there she is sleeping” and she will leap to correct your assumption. Whoever adopts this pup better know his/her way around a dog training manual.

Here’s the thing about Chism. She will either be the coolest dog you ever owned or the most difficult dog to ever rule your life. It will very much depend on the effort and time put in for the next two years. Consistent training and challenges are what she needs. That and plenty of exercise. Plenty. Continue reading Pick a Puppy….but Know What You’re Getting Into!

Our Busy B&B plus PUPPIES!

DSC_0156Puppies! We have puppies! I once again have a house fused with puppy energy, puppy happiness, and of course, the smell of puppies. Charm and Chism are both over-the-top happy girls who beg for my attention every time I walk by the mudroom, clamoring against the puppy pen and whining. Most times I can’t resist their velvet soft ears and sheer joy, so once again, not much is getting done around here.

These puppies are about the same age as my last puppies, except they are twice the size of the last puppies. And let me tell you that cleaning up after two BIG puppies is much more work than cleaning up after six small puppies. This time around OPH had puppy pads for me, which would be awesome if C&C realized that they were meant to be peed on, not torn into a million tiny plastic shreds. Fun times.

DSC_0164But let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about the cuteness level of these two girls. Obviously, Chism steals the show with her splashy, crazy coat. What kind of dog looks like this? Your guess is as good as mine. Her file says ‘hound mix’, but she hasn’t got the hound bark and I don’t really see any hound characteristics at all. She seems more lab-mutt type. Where she got those markings is anybody’s guess.

Chism is in charge of Charm, bossing her around and stealing her food. Charm takes it really well, seemingly happy to share. There are none of the battles of the last batch of puppies. In fact, it’s pretty quiet in that pen unless someone happens by. Both of these girls LOVE people. They don’t snuggle together, but they don’t wrestle either. Every now and again a tug of war breaks out over a toy, but Chism’s got about five pounds and a couple incles on Charm, so she wins that battle every time.

Charm is a love. She’s still light enough that I can pick her up and she will snuggle right into my shoulder and be still. If she moves at all, it’s only to give me a few kisses on the cheek. She won’t stay snuggle-size for long, though, with her mile long legs and good-sized paws. I’m partial to hounds, so when she broke out in a long hound bay the first morning, I loved it. The two of them back up Gracie every time she sounds the alarm that maybe, possibly, there could be something as scary as a leaf blowing around on the driveway. It is not a quiet house. Continue reading Our Busy B&B plus PUPPIES!

Can I Have Just a Word with Adopters?

When I get an email from the adopters of one of my dogs it always makes my day. I don’t know if after I’ve fostered hundreds, I’ll still feel the same way. So far we’ve fostered fourteen dogs & puppies. I still wonder and worry about all of them. And hearing they are doing well and are loved never ceases to plant a smile on my face that lasts for hours. I share the news with my husband and children and patient friends who indulge me as I regale the latest tale of my foster furbaby.

DSC_7920Galina was our first and will always hold a special place in my heart. I can still picture her sweet little self snoring on the futon beside my desk. She had such energy and taught us quickly how destructive a foster dog can be – especially a beagle!

DSC_8233And adorable Wheat Penny, how could we not love that sweet face. She was our first taste of puppy and what a treat she was. And then came Stich (Symphony) who was easy and fun and adorable. I remember thinking, “How could anyone not want this dog?” Her big smile and her pile of hoarded stash in her crate were a constant source of amusement.11053290_935900013116211_8762747800097371945_o Continue reading Can I Have Just a Word with Adopters?

Dog-less (for now…)

We’re dogless. Well, that’s not exactly correct. We still have Gracie.

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But she doesn’t count.

Okay, that’s not fair. She counts, but she already has her forever home, for better or for worse, so no worries over her.

This week I said good bye to three dogs. I think I’m getting better at this, because instead of being a wiggly-hearted sap, I was excited for my dogs – proud of them and so very happy for the families that lucked into these good dogs.

Frank was the first to go. And the hardest. I still miss his wide soft head, always there, right next to me at the perfect height for petting. I worried and fretted and second-guessed myself, but in the end it was the right home for him. Continue reading Dog-less (for now…)

Chhhhhhanges……Adjusting and Letting Go

Texas and Tennessee keeping tabs on the horses for me.
Texas and Tennessee keeping tabs on the horses for me.

Wasn’t sure I would write this week. We still have no answers with Texas and my heart is tired of thinking about it. Did I miss something? Could we have done something? If only I’d been home….all these thoughts swirl around me when I watch Tennessee and Frank playing without Tex. I’ve always hated mysteries. Living with this one frustrates me, but I guess I’m going to have to make peace with it.

My favorite quote when it comes to parenting, training horses, writing, and now fostering dogs is from Maya Angelou – “You did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.” Simple words, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to them for comfort. Regretting not doing something you weren’t capable of doing at that time is pointless.

Tennessee has morphed into a different dog. I guess none of us realized how much of a calming influence Texas was on my little pack. Left to his own devices, gated in the kitchen, he’s managed to remove the entire top edge from my hard plastic laundry basket, destroy the zipper and strap (the two most important elements) of my daughter’s book bag, and gnaw the corner off one of her school owned textbooks. Continue reading Chhhhhhanges……Adjusting and Letting Go