Wheat Penny Has Arrived (despite unfavorable conditions)

The puppy pick up did not start out so well from our end. Friday morning, my oldest son reported that the Honda was making a weird sound. What kind of sound? A “not good” flopping sound. Flat tire? No. So I took it out for a spin and hadn’t gone a mile before I was seriously worried I wouldn’t make it home again. But I did.

Because there was no flat tire and no flames coming from the engine, I could only assume this was a problem I could not handle, so I parked it to await my husband’s return from his business trip later that day. As fate would have it (or maybe it had more to do with the fact that it’s a holiday weekend) his plane was delayed. He would not arrive home before I needed to leave for the transport (this is rescue lingo for the hand off of foster dogs to foster people).

The Pilot is our only car large enough to hold the dog crate. Wheat Penny looked small in the pictures, but I wasn’t convinced she would fit in our cat carrier and didn’t really want to jam her into it after her long ride up from South Carolina. Instead I recruited my teenage daughter Addie to come with me for the pick-up. She could hold Wheat Penny on her lap for the ride home.

This seemed like a grand plan at the time. Addie was enthusiastic about the adventure. We’re picking up a puppy late at night in the parking lot of a bowling alley? She donned all black clothing for the trip and planned to snapchat (what?) the entire thing.

When we arrived at the parking lot and I told her we had to wait for an unmarked white van to pull in, she grinned and said, “Seriously?” Continue reading Wheat Penny Has Arrived (despite unfavorable conditions)

Foster Number Two – An Entirely New Adventure

The next foster dog is actually a puppy. Which complicates things. Because OPH is such a top-notch organization, there are some pretty strict guidelines in place for fostering puppies to protect everyone involved. Puppies coming from unknown origins with questionable vaccination histories can carry dangerous, hard to kill viruses. Because of this, OPH requires foster homes to take safety precautions.

That all sounded like a good idea until I read the guidelines – sheesh! This ain’t gonna be easy. When I explained to my husband that Wheat Penny (I know, the names…) would have to be quarantined in our house and wouldn’t even be able to go outside he was worried. When I told him she had to stay in an area of the house that we could potentially treat with bleach, he blanched. When I told him this might go on for as long as nine days, he asked, “What’s the return policy? Couldn’t we put this one back and chose a different one from the transport – preferably a dog?”

The thought did cross my mind, too. There were more than a handful handsome black labs available, but I’m nothing if not committed. I said we’d take this puppy and we will. Besides, she looks just like Gracie, see….

Here’s Gracie at 4 months-

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And here’s Wheat Penny –

wheat penny

Anyone who knows me well, is probably scratching their head and saying, “Why would you want another Gracie?” The dog does drive me nuts, what with the farting and not coming when she’s called and jumping all over everyone and her inability to run with me on a leash without almost dislocating my arm. All that is true. I don’t want another Gracie, but I do want another Gracie-as-a-puppy. She was the sweetest little thing and we didn’t know she’d grow up to be Gracie-who-can’t-be-trained-to-do-anything-and-farts-all-the-time. The plan is that this adorable puppy stays with us for two weeks and then gets adopted lickity-split, before any true Gracieisms can emerge.

Silly name, resemblance to Gracie, and crazy quarantine requirements aside, Wheat Penny looks adorable. She’s a 7 month old beagle/spaniel mix. I know! The chewing! But I think of it as a way to lessen the withdrawal symptoms from Galina (aka Strider who is doing SO WELL and is SO HAPPY and SO LOVED! See video at end of this post for one last Galina laugh). I mean she’s not mostly beagle, she’s just part beagle. There is spaniel in there. Of course, the only spaniel I ever knew personally “piddled” every time she got excited and that could be a problem much worse than chewing.

The real reason I chose this puppy is the last line on her description. “Almost completely housebroken.” Now, I haven’t been in the foster system long, but even I’m not naïve enough to think that phrase will hold even an ounce of water, but….a girl can dream.

So I’m readying our guest bathroom (tile floor) for her arrival. A friend gave me some leftover puppy pads and I’m going to set the tub up as a cozy little bedroom for her. Because of the quarantine rules, she’ll be inside and contained to a restricted area until her vaccinations can be verified, but I have OPH Medical Director Jen’s word that she’ll try to spring her as soon as possible. Because she’s an older puppy that could be a lot sooner than nine days (fingers crossed, candles lit, juju sent).

The transport is again a late evening drop. This time I won’t have the company of my tire-changing husband, so I’m hoping the car will make it there and back without incident. (He’s returning home from a business trip that night and has already said, he’s not up for the late night puppy handoff.) But what a fun thing for him to wake up to on Saturday – a bathroom-bound excitable puppy! And just in time for Easter!

Bonus: Here’s a video of Galina at her new forever home with her new best bud. This is what happens when they try to take Gimli out without her!

Galina Gets Her Forever Family!

Galina is gone.

The house is very quiet. For the past month, whenever the house was quiet I would panic – what has she found? What is she chewing?

I have to confess that it’s somewhat nice to get dressed and not worry about setting your socks down on the chair for a minute and having them disappear to the far reaches of Galina’s crate. It’s also nice to finish writing a note and leave the pen on the coffee table with no worries about that loud crunching sound you hear a moment later.

But I miss her. I miss the happy little whimpers she made when I opened her crate in the morning and she crawled out like a soldier under fire to lay as a little fur ball of ecstasy at my feet. So happy to see me, she couldn’t even stand up.

I watched basketball last night with no little snuggle muffin to make it worth my while (and also prevent me from snacking on the couch).

There were no late night dog-chasing-dog shenanigans. Gracie went to bed uneventfully. It’s too quiet.

But…reports are that Strider, the dog formerly known as Galina, is happy as a little clam in her new digs with her forever family.  Her new mommy sent me a video of Galina rolling in the leaves of her new yard which is fenced in so she can run leash-free and reach the speeds she could only attempt while she was here which inevitably led to such a sudden end that I worried the leash would snap her neck.

It was a topsy-turvy weekend for us. We discovered Friday afternoon that Galina’s newest adopter had chosen another dog. Once again, hopes dashed. This seemed to be a repeating pattern for our little girl. But by Friday evening I received an e-mail that there was a new adopter approved! I was in the middle of a presentation at a nearby college, so I sent a quick note to the potential adopter.

I knew that Donna and Geoff were the perfect parents for Galina when in response to my honest warning about Galina’s chewing habits, Donna wrote, “We know about the chewing. Our previous beagle mix chewed through our home. I didn’t own a pair of flip-flops without teeth marks in them!”

Sometimes this world seems utterly random and at other times, like this weekend, I see fate clear as crystal.

In preparation for Donna and Geoff and Galina’s new brother, Gimli, to arrive, we put Gracie in the garage. It seemed like a cruel thing to do, but Gracie, you will recall, has social issues with other dogs. I didn’t want her to dominate the meeting of these two little soon-to-be-bestest-buds-ever. And it was too many G-dogs in one room. Kidding. Gracie seemed to sense she was about to reclaim dominance of her domain, because she was surprisingly calm and quiet in her quarantine.

Gimli was Galina-size and cute as button with those crazy taco-bell dog ears. Donna and Geoff worried he would be protective and aggressive with Galina, but she won him over in mere minutes. That’s my girl.

I was super happy to see Galina warm up to Donna and Geoff even faster. When she meets new people, Galina generally hangs back, shy and unsure, until she gets to know them. Not with these two. It was almost like she recognized them. Hey, it’s Mom and Dad! She was all over them, completely relaxed and happy to follow Geoff when I gave him her leash so we could take the dogs for a walk.DSC_8057

Now that she’s gone, I keep thinking of things I should have told Donna and Geoff. Sometimes when you’re walking her she’ll duck from certain cars and then spring after them when they pass. I did remember to warn them that she loves to eviscerate toilet paper rolls, so they should never be left loose and available. (Sadly, Galina was not able to train my children to put the roll on the holder in her time here, but I had been hoping…)

I forgot to tell them about her favorite toy – the one that you can hide a treat inside. We used it whenever we needed to keep her out of trouble and occupied for at least ten minutes.DSC_7937

Before they left, Ian selected one of Galina’s stuffies from the toy collection and her favorite sock that had not yet been completely unraveled and gave them to Donna and Geoff, along with the rest of the bag of her favorite bacon-flavored treats and the probiotic powder that OPH gave us when she arrived (my husband calls it “puppy PCP” because that’s what it looks like and he’s a Neanderthal).

DSC_8043 - CopyI’m sure it won’t be all smooth sailing, Galina is an imp, but I do believe she’s found her forever family. I had a lump in my throat all day, but no tears. I think I held on to a piece of my heart throughout our whole time with Galina because I knew this day was coming. I had to remind myself again today that Galina leaving meant we could help many more dogs. She was the first and so she’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Maybe that’s the part I was holding on to.

[New foster comes this Friday. She looks like Gracie’s mini-me!]

Counting the Days and the Blessings

Galina’s days are numbered. Well, her days with us. We knew it was coming, I mean, that’s what this is all about, right?DSC_8043

I know we will be sad, but my worry is more for Galina now. I love that her potential forever mommy referred to her as a “floppy-eared princess.” Makes me think she will be treated like royalty and that warms my soul. [NOTE: Since this was posted, Galina’s potential adopters opted for a different dog and never had their audience with our little princess. Once again, she’s left alone at the ball….]

This little dollbaby deserves nothing less, except when she’s chewing up the retainer case. Then, it’s off with her head! No, I don’t mean that, but c’mon, the orthodontist is gonna start charging me for new cases. At least the retainer was in the child’s mouth and not the case at the time.DSC_8040

At the check-out desk at our orthodontists’ office there is a mangled, half-eaten retainer inside a shadow box with a sign that says, “Dogs love retainers!” We’re on our third set of braces, so I’ve been seeing this picture for about seven years. Every time I see it, I think – What kind of person would let their dog chew up a retainer? Hard to believe I was ever that naïve!

We are savoring our little floppy-eared princess now. Snuggling more, polishing up the house-training, teaching her to fetch (she’s all about chasing down the flying tennis ball, not so much about the bringing it back).

Here’s what I will miss most. Every day that Galina has been here, she has made me laugh. It’s been a long, hard winter and my stress-level has been reaching epic proportions between my work and our son’s college search and the mess that is my house. Daily laughter has been therapeutic.

Sometimes it’s Galina sneaking off with something she shouldn’t – like this stuffed elephant that is so big she couldn’t see where she was going and wandered in circles – Continue reading Counting the Days and the Blessings

I’ll Take a Hound Dog Any Day

DSC_7920I love hound dogs. Always have. I think I like them so much because they’re such dogs. They chase rabbits. They follow scents. They’re the kind of dogs that love mud and woods and food. Galina is still puppy enough to chew everything she encounters, but she’s got the hound habits in spades. My daughter says she’s a “cartoon dog” because she does all the classic things dogs do in the funny papers.

Hounds aren’t yappy, but when they do bark – it’s LOUD. That sweet, long bay is music to my ears. Galina’s bays are few and far between, which is probably a good thing. When I was younger I often fox hunted and it was exciting to follow the hounds on horseback. Their steady yips meant they were on the trail and we chased after them over fences and through the woods. But what I loved the most was the sound they made when the fox “went to ground” (went in his hole). The chorus of bays was eerie and at the same time gorgeous.

Hounds do seem to have endless energy, but on the flipside, most hound dogs also love to lounge in the sunshine. Think Rosco P Coltrane and his dog “Flash” on the Dukes of Hazzard. They can sleep for hours and when they wake up they can run for hours.

Hounds are not complicated. There is something so completely honest about a hound dog. And they’re smart. Okay, not poodle-smart, not let me show-you-my-tricks smart or let-me-sneak-the-bag-of-cat-food-I-just-pulled-out-of-the-cabinet-and-eat-it-behind-the-sofa smart. They’re smart enough to know basic expectations. Here’s the food. Time to eat. Here’s the door. Time to run. Here’s the sun spot on the carpet or the porch. Time to sleep. Continue reading I’ll Take a Hound Dog Any Day

Older, Wiser We Are

DSC_7921So Galina is still here. I guess we assumed she’d have a home by now since she’s such a little sweet heart, even if she is a mischievous devil at the same time. For the past three weeks we’ve been treating her like an honored guest – feeding her as much as she wants, letting her sit on the good furniture, and fawning over her at every opportunity.

When you have a guest and they accidentally break something like your reading glasses or computer charger cord or your ottoman, you let it slide. You don’t want the guest to feel unwelcome. Maybe you joke about it, even blog about it.

And when a guest leaves a mess – like an entire deck of cards spread across your living room floor (a few half-eaten) or maybe the guest discovers an irresistible roll of wrapping paper under the bed and decides it would be a perfect snack. You let this slide also. It’s kind of funny, really. And cards are cheap and you never liked that wrapping paper anyway.

But now she’s been here long enough, she’s more like family. So we scold her and grumble at her and yesterday I snapped at her (granted she had just stolen the sock I was trying to put on my foot). It’s become evident that she’s getting awfully comfortable.

So this week it was time to instill a little order, a little discipline. Enough of the free ride.  For the past few days, Galina has not been allowed free reign of the house unsupervised. She’s spent much more time in her crate. I know that seems cruel, but the crate is full of toys and she gets a treat every time she goes in and, most importantly, she goes in happily. She never even whines when she’s in her crate. And yesterday when I snapped at her about the sock, she ran in her crate for safety from the loud woman. Continue reading Older, Wiser We Are

My Little Debutante

11072537_10155242343030411_328043549526161166_nThis morning I took Galina for a run with me. We went without Gracie, who has proved herself to be a less than ideal running partner. G did great, keeping up with me for 3 ½ miles. I’m used to running with much larger dogs. Maybe the best thing about running with a little firecracker like Galina is that when the Asplundh trucks roared by and she set off for the hills, I simply held tight to her leash and she ran at warp speed in place like Wylie Coyote.

G has had several days of firsts recently.

On Sunday she was scheduled to attend her first OPH “Meet and Greet” in search of her forever family. It was to be held at a local pet store. I wasn’t going to be able to accompany her for big debut because I was already committed at the exact time (of course) to give a presentation on my new book about 30 minutes away. Although I’d love my fulltime job to be fostering sweet little puppies, it’s actually writing and selling books, so my event trumped Galina’s. Bummer.

All week I worried about her upcoming event. Many times when Galina meets new people, she is nervous and hangs back until the new friend either produces a treat or gets down on her level to greet her. I know G is a happy, adorable, lovable, super-smart, fun little beagle, but would strangers be able to see that in a busy pet store with lots of other dogs/people/toys/treats/activity around her? I worried she wouldn’t shine.

I was feeling like a mom who was going to miss her child’s little league debut, so we spent Saturday afternoon preparing her. Continue reading My Little Debutante