Bring on the Good Times!

DSC_0674John Coffey is quite the dog. It took me awhile to figure out what to call him. Originally we thought we’d go with ‘JC’ since he looks like such a slick character, but upon meeting him and spending some time with him we decided he’s WAY too puppy for such a laid back name.

We picked up this newest foster dog from another OPH foster on our way home from Virginia. (Sigh. So wish we were still on vacation – the wine, the weather, the oysters were all wonderful. If I hadn’t done a face plant during our first hike it would have all been perfect.)

Livia and Nick told us they’d been calling this little guy, ‘Coffey.’ He was one squirming bundle of happiness. It comes out his pores, I believe. He can’t wag fast enough to express his joy and emits tiny little whimpers of ecstasy when you pet him. This dog just wants to be LOVED.

We had no room in our car for a crate (we brought home five cases of wine – who’s up for a little happy hour?), so John Coffey was given a section of the back seat. That just would not do, not when there were TWO people less than an arm’s length away who could be petting him. He rode the entire hour and a half posed like a hood ornament on the console between our seats, alternately licking a face or nuzzling a shoulder.

IMG_2104 (1)

When we got him home, we discovered that the energy does not dissipate. In fact, it seemed to increase. Luckily, he has smarts in equal measure to his energy and is SO eager to please that he’s a quick study. Currently, we’re working on the not-jumping-on-everyone-at-all-times trick. I’ve decided that his full name fits him, as in “John Coffey get down. John Coffey that’s enough. John Coffey DOWN.” He’s like a small child whose mother uses his full name when she means it. And so I believe he won’t be JC or Coffey, but John Coffey.

I felt compelled to look up the name to see who John Coffey really was. All the early hits on google describe the role played by Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile based on the book by Stephen King. That John Coffey is a much more complicated character than our John Coffey.

The next bunch of hits are about a punk rock star from the Netherlands named John Coffey. We’re definitely getting warmer. He’s most famous for his amazing beer catch last June. Here’s a video of the catch and then an explanation of the physics behind it.

The next John Coffey I found is a professor with a PhD n Positive Developmental Psychology. I’ve decided that this is the John Coffey our John Coffey is named after. All his papers on Linked In are about happiness. You could never encounter a more positive pup. Such an appropriate namesake!

We’re looking forward to hanging out with John Coffey. He’s quite the entertaining character. Left alone for twenty minutes in the kitchen this morning, he rearranged the furniture. He moved the Frank bed to the middle of the room, ostensibly so he could lie on it and still see around the corner to where I was in the living room. He pulled a dictionary (a big dictionary, think unabridged, hardback) down off the kitchen table and I found it, unmutilated, but open to the J’s! Maybe he was looking up who he was named after. He dragged the toy basket to the center of the room, right next to the Frank bed which made it easier for him to sort through the plethora and take out all the yellow dewalt plastic tool casings and make a separate pile of them by the door. (Nick brought these home for Frank and Tennessee – great free chew toys.)

rearranging the furniture
rearranging the furniture


John Coffey isn’t a big dog; he could use a few more sandwiches. When Livia told me that he’d gained nine pounds in his three weeks with them, I was astounded. He’s so skinny. I can’t imagine what he looked like previously. She said he was a ‘skeletore’ and I believe it. We’re trying to pile on the pounds, but he prefers to eat his food scattered across the floor so I’m not sure how much he’s taking in. When I put a bowl of food down, he promptly dumps it. Not sure if this makes dinner more interactive for him, or he is complaining about the service.


Today I ran him three miles. He’s excellent on the leash, a pro at pulling his leg out from under the leash when it gets tangled. I appreciate this, as I had to stop every time this happened with the last few fosters and that makes for a choppy run. John Coffey has no time for that, he can’t take in life fast enough.

So far the cats are giving him a wide berth. After Chism and Kylie, they are mentally scarred but hopefully not for life. John Coffey is curious about them but only in the way he is curious about pretty much everything. He watches them, but when they run away, he moves on to more interesting things – like bounding after a leaf or tackling a tennis ball. He’s got much bigger fish to fry.DSC_0677


I May Need a Twelve Step Program

IMG_1982 (1)We’re dogless.

(Except Gracie. I need to remember her. In fact, this week is make-up-for-ignoring-Gracie-week and everything is all about Gracie. She’s gonna get fat on treats. I’m even letting her lie her next to me as I write EVEN THOUGH I know she will fart. I can take it.)

I miss my puppies. Yesterday, Nick observed my sadness and said, “You’re jonesing for a puppy, aren’t you?”

I am. Continue reading I May Need a Twelve Step Program

Last to Go

DSC_0581And looks who’s left…..

I thought Chism would be the first one to go. I did. I figured a dog like her – gorgeous, unique with a HUGE personality – she’d be scooped up quickly. But now it’s just me and her.

Without her herd, she’s a much calmer dog. She actually sleeps. Her manners are much improved. I just checked and her morning breakfast is only half-eaten. There’s no need to gobble it all down in 20 seconds if there’s no competition. Left alone, she’s much more mellow. I may have to take back all that stuff I wrote on her profile about her being such an INTENSE, HIGH ENERGY dog. She’s taken to lounging on the Frank bed for hours at a time.

All of this behavior makes me think she’d be better off as an only dog.

Chism has gone from ADOPTABLE to ADOPTION PENDING and back two or three times now. She scared off two adopters because she has a mild obsession with cats (as in – she’d like to chase them down and lick them all over and probably won’t kill them. Probably.) If she sees or senses or even imagines a cat on the porch, she’ll bark nonstop and claw at the door until she’s put in restraints. I’ve wondered if she might chill out if she finally got to meet a real cat. Maybe she’d find out they aren’t really that interesting and they have pointy parts. My cats are not game to take part in the intervention. They aren’t interested in a relationship with Chism of any kind, at all, ever. In fact, since Chism moved in one of my porch cats has moved in with the barn cat who isn’t so happy about sharing her domain. Continue reading Last to Go

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!