The Puppies are Coming! (tomorrow!)

The puppy excitement is increasing and so is the number of puppies! We are now expecting SIX puppies tomorrow night!

Mindy, from OPH, emailed that there were two siblings whose planned adoption had fallen through. Would we be willing to take two more? Uh….I tried to remember her words from my final interview (or maybe it was in an email when I got word we were approved as fosters). She said something like, “Now, always know that you can say no. I might sound desperate or pushy, but it’s okay to tell me no.” Hmmmm…..uh……sure! What’s two more puppies when you have four already? And what kind of meany would separate siblings who just lost their mama? (Okay that’s written there in black and white for all of you to toss back in my face in a few days when I am up to my eyeballs in puppy poop!)

This thing is getting huge! It’s very distracting which is the last thing I need! My gardens are overflowing with weeds and produce, the Japanese beetles have descended a week earlier than usual, the horses haven’t been ridden in over a month, it’s blueberry season (AHHH!), I’ve started a wifi-reduction program amid protests, and I have exactly five weeks to re-write my latest novel before I’ll have to begin the promotional craziness of the novel about to be released (August 4!!!!!). So six puppies? Why not? Look at me juggle. Continue reading The Puppies are Coming! (tomorrow!)

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Vacations Over – Time to Get Back At It! (Puppies! Really?)

Back from vacation and Carla and I had a SLOW run today (more of an amble). The humidity gets us both. For once, she wasn’t leading the way and there was no sprinting or any kind of bounding. I thought she might like a dip in the creek but when we got there, the weeds were high and she took a look at the stickers and gave pause, so we even skipped the swim. Lazy, lazy summer.

DSC_9194Carla is made for lazy summer. She’d look gorgeous lounging on anyone’s porch, but has been on mine much too long. I can’t help but worry that it will be a difficult transition for her once again when her forever family finally finds her. C’mon, people, pick her! She is so ready to shower her dedication, love, and solid snuggle with you.

Carla’s become such a part of the scenery around here that we decided to jump in and get a new foster from the next transport. As it turns out, we’re getting not one, but four new fosters.

We were on vacation riding the Cape May Lewes Ferry on a gorgeous hot sunny day when I irresponsibly took advantage of the free wifi to check e-mail. I could blame it on the rum drinks or the heat or the high of being on vacation with good friends, but when the pictures appeared in my feed I had to have these puppies.

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I know. You want them, too. My kids were over the moon about fostering them. I’d promised them we would foster a puppy this summer, so why not four? The way I see it is – if we have to quarantine one puppy for two weeks, why not four? I’m sure you’ll hear many stories of me eating those words in the weeks to come.  We’ve had Carla so long, the memory of cleaning up poop has faded, much like the pain of childbirth, and I’m ready for this. (I think.)

The puppies arrive on the 26th so we have a week to get things ready. This will be the push that finally forces me to clean out my large cluttered mudroom. I have everyone’s word that they will help with this adventure. I’m hoping that their word is better this time than it has been in the past. I distinctly remember hearing similar vows in regards to the gecko, beta fish, and bird that led to prolonged reminders on my part and eventual abdication on theirs. Sadly, all the small critters in cages lived short, tortured lives in our care. Everything will be different with the puppies! (cue the pretty music and birds singing.)

The first thing we had to do in preparation for the puppies was re-name them. With over 4800 dogs in the system, their Winnie the Pooh names were taken long ago. I was sad when I heard this news because the Winnie the Pooh names had been the clincher for me. We are a Pooh family. The baby nursery was all Pooh, the first videotapes (dating myself here), cds, books, and even computer games were all Pooh. I sang the song, “Christopher Robin” to my little cherubs when I tucked them in at night. My oldest son’s middle name is Christopher after you-know-who, which was a compromise because I seriously considered naming him Christopher Robin. (I told him about that this weekend and my now 18-year-old, said, “That would’ve been pretty cool.” Only my kid.)

So, I posed the question of names to a group of my dear friends while sitting around a table in our favorite brewery (Dogfish Head in Rehoboth). We considered using the names of the beers we were sampling, but decided that they didn’t sound like puppy names. No one would want to adopt Noble Rot or Hellhound.

After very little deliberation, we chose Jillie Bean (childhood nickname for one of the kids we were traveling with), Chick Pea (it just sounds cute), Lug Nut (a friend once had a dog named this and I’ve wanted to use it ever since), and Marzle (the main character in would-be Christopher Robin’s newly self-published book).

I’m sure it’s going to get pretty exciting around here, so stay tuned. And please send your positive juju out in the hopes that Carla finds her forever home before the puppies take over. She’s too big to get lost in the scuffle, but she deserves her own place and her own people to love. If you’d like to touch her gorgeous velvety ears or get a slobbery (but polite) kiss in the kissing booth, she’ll be at Codorus State Park on Saturday for the Codorus Blast. Just look for the OPH booth.

Home Alone

Can I share a secret?

I really hate summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fresh vegetables and blooming flowers, but that’s about it. I don’t like heat, humidity, or blaring sun. I hate the disrupted schedules, packing and planning for a vacation that rarely leaves me rested, and long days with no regular routine. I don’t like to travel much and in the summer there’s a pressure to get out there and get on the road, but I’d rather stay home, tinker in my garden and stick to my regular running schedule.

I am tired even before the last bell rings of kids home all day doing nothing unless I prod them into it. I take away the screens to get their attention and then they spend the hours growling at me and resentfully picking up a book or drumsticks, and sometimes even a bicycle. Dishes grow on the counter like mushrooms in the dark corners of our barn. No one knows where they come from. Food disappears from cabinets, laundry multiplies, the recliner is left forever in the open position. Even when it’s quiet, it’s never really quiet. It’s hard for a person to think (or write). The rhythms are more disjointed jazz and less marching band.

DSC_8464Carla senses this. Her routine has been disrupted. We haven’t gotten out for our regular walk/run 3 out of the last 7 days. Thanks summer. She’s barking more. I know she’s saying, “Hey, we had a good thing going, what happened?” I’d ask the same thing if I didn’t have to be the adult.

She missed her run this morning so that I could meet with the horse/house sitter and now it is HOT. I don’t run in the heat, which means summer runs happen at 6am or not at all. So she’s on the back deck barking at my son and his pack of teenage friends who are huddled over a strategy game of some sort, oblivious to her barking. Finally, she is quiet, but a moment later the pizza delivery guy roars up the driveway. Who ordered pizza at 2pm?

If I had a genie in a bottle, I would wish that Carla’s forever family would show up TODAY and claim her. It will be a tough week for her while we are gone. She will be one more worry for me while I attempt to relax on the vacation that seemed like such a good idea six months ago. I love to camp and I love the beach, why not do both? And then why not invite any kids who want to come? It’ll be fun.

It will be fun. Once I’m there. It’s getting there that’s tricky. So I’m packing and Carla is underfoot. Like all dogs, she senses the impending vacation. She knows something’s up. Gracie is my constant shadow. She’s seen this show before. She knows what’s about to happen. I wish we could take them with us, but that would probably be more stressful for them than leaving them here. They’ll survive. I will, too.

DSC_8463So Carla will have seven lonesome days lying on the porch (or under it if it’s hot) with only Gracie for company and a young adult to care for her who will have her own schedule to keep. There will be no long walks or runs. No snuggles on the lounger. I’m certain she will bark. A lot. Sorry neighbors. (Luckily, the house next door is empty. Let’s hope no potential buyers are turned off by the constant calling of the next-door coonhound.)

Hopefully, she’ll win over her caretaker. After all, who can resist those huge velvety ears? And she’s such solid company on the couch, even allowing herself to be an excellent pillow or arm rest. I don’t know this young person who’ll be looking after the place well enough to know if she’ll take Carla out for a walk as I mentioned she might enjoy. She’ll be busy enough with the horses, chickens, and other chores, but maybe Carla will be able to finagle a long walk down our shady road, even a dip in the creek. She’s nothing if not persistent.

DSC_8983 - CopyMy husband listens to my stress and reminds me that the dogs are not people in little furry suits (or big furry suits as the case may be). They aren’t, but sometimes that’s hard to remember.

Fat, Happy, but NOT Permanent

The end of the school year is a crazy time. It’s doubly crazy when you have a senior. That’s my excuse for not posting this past week.

Carla is still here. She’s gotten fat and happy. Not kidding.

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I took her to uber vet/neighbor/friend/general good guy Chris to get her rabies shot. (Her records finally caught up with her and it turns out her rabies was out of date. Rabies shots are good for only three years, just so you know.)

Before giving her the shot, the technician weighed her and Dr. Chris gave her a quick lookover. She’d gained five pounds in the five weeks she’s been with us! She’s up to 75 pounds! I feel horrible about this. Chris said that the feeding charts on the dog food bags actually encourage you to feed your dog more than she needs. (That way you buy more dog food!) We agreed that I would cut her food back by a ½ a cup per day.

So she is fat, but she’s also happy. She barks a lot less. I’ve begun to realize that all that frantic barking in the first few weeks she was here must have been part of her grief and her transition. She still barks if the UPS guy comes up the driveway or the neighbor’s goats dawdle in the gap between the trees that is visible from our porch (where Carla likes to lounge away her days), but otherwise she saves her barks for important things like letting us know she needs to go out/in or as a gentle reminder that dinner is late.

I’m also happy to report that she learned the invisible fence territory super quick (smart dogs are like that), so she’s able to go outside whenever she wants to roll in the grass clippings and follow the scent of any passing varmint.

If she’s still here when school gets out later this week, I’ve got the kids lined up to make a documentary to help promote her. I’m certain that if you could see her in action, you’d all want to adopt her. She is amazing. And she needs to get adopted before my will gives out. Everywhere I go my neighbors, friends, family, and now my vet, ask, “So when are you going to decide to keep her?” Continue reading Fat, Happy, but NOT Permanent

It’s a Dog Party!

We had two charming visitors for the holiday weekend. After surviving ten days of three dogs, I was confident we could handle four, especially on a gorgeous weekend with no actual plans, just lots of ideas. Kylie and Hitch (sounds like a movie title) are foster dogs we dogsat over the holiday weekend while their foster parents went camping.DSC_8826

Kylie’s endless energy kept us from relaxing too much and Hitchcock’s quiet, gentle presence reminded us to slow back down.

IMG_1732Kylie was over-the-top excited to be here, but I soon learned that Kylie was over-the-top excited to be anywhere, meet anyone, do anything. She is one overly enthusiastic 2-year-old puppy.

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Hitch’s foster mom, Erika, explained that Hitch was very timid and “hand shy.” When you reached for him he cowered and if he was loose he ran from you.

The first few hours went fine. I walked both dogs (or Kylie led the dog-person-dog train) around the yard. Carla was not impressed with either dog and spent the afternoon lounging on the porch, occasionally lifting her head to watch the antics of Kylie when she spotted a BUG! or a BIRD!! or a CAT! or a OMG-SQUIRREL!!!!

Because Kylie was so demanding of my attention and arm strength, I decided to take Hitch out on his own. Turns out the little guy is excellent company. Perfect manners on the leash, happy to go wherever I wanted to go, and quick to do his business. He was happy to be out on a little explore and seemed to be relaxing around me, although he still froze when I reached for him. I can’t imagine what circumstances of life brought him to this point. Seeing his terrified face when I reach down to scratch his ears, broke my heart. We sat in the sunshine for a bit, side by side, but me keeping my scary hands to myself, and then it was time for me to get back to work, so we headed to the house.

As we approached the door, Hitch balked. Luckily, he was wearing a “martingale” collar so when he stopped and I pulled, he didn’t slip his collar. (After watching Carla charge away without me this morning after slipping her collar on our morning run, I’m going online to order one!) I explained to Hitch that we had to go back inside, but rather than pick him up (since he was afraid of my touch), I pulled a little stronger on the leash and stepped into the house. Hitch didn’t move and I tugged again, this time the collar snapped and Hitch took off like a shot up the hill away from the house. Bizarrely, the nylon martingale attachment had simply broken off. Hitch weighs all of 10, maybe 15 pounds so it wasn’t his brute strength or size that snapped it. I didn’t have to time to wonder about it.

I grabbed Kylie, figuring Hitch knew her and we took off up the hill after him. I wasn’t sure if calling his name would make him run faster or bring him back. I could hear Erika saying how hard it was to catch him in a fenced yard. Now, I’d have to catch him in Southern York County, unless he made it to Maryland, since that was the direction he was running.  I was already picturing me and the rest of the search party out with our flashlights that night tromping through the surrounding fields. And then tomorrow the girl scouts would organize search teams and maybe bring us bottled water…..

Dreading making the call, but knowing I had too, I called Erika. She doesn’t know me very well, so I’m sure her first thought was, “Why did I leave my little dog with this idiot?” To her credit, she didn’t say that, she said something like, “He won’t go far, he wants to be with you. I’m sure he’s scared. Just try to get him to follow Kylie.”

We spotted Hitch at the top of the pasture just on the other side of the fence. As Erika predicted, he ran gleefully towards us, tail wagging. Erika stayed on the phone with me and talked to me as we walked back to the house with Hitch running big looping circles around us and Kylie practically levitating on the end of the leash in her joy at the adventure.

Following Erika’s advice, I led Kylie (and Gracie who had joined us at this point. Carla couldn’t be dragged into our drama and just thumped her tail as we passed) into the house, leaving the door open for Hitch to follow. We kept walking without looking back and I hid around the corner in the hall, leaving Kylie in view. After several tries, Hitch followed her in and I quickly closed the door.

When the kids got home from school, I told them about my afternoon’s adventure and said, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to let this dog out of his cage. Then I went and bought a small blue harness for Hitch to wear.

I thought our crisis for the day was over, but as usual, I was wrong. Continue reading It’s a Dog Party!

True Confessions of a Faux Foster Fail

It’s a chaotic month in this house. My oldest is graduating, my youngest is playing two sports, my daughter just finished one show and auditioned for a new show that begins rehearsing this week, and my garden went from arid desert to out-of-control weed-infested jungle in less than an hour. My husband is spending hours online lusting after used tractors and scheming about all the things he could do with that tractor once he has one. There are three horses wasting away (well not technically, but what’s the point of having a horse if you don’t ride it?), the graduation party yet to be planned, and then there’s the beach camping trip to follow (did anyone air out the tent after the last trip?). Want more? The deadline for my next novel is a week or so away, the house is trashed and the relatives arrive momentarily. So, of course, my hubby and I took a little three-day vacation last weekend. But now it’s time to pay the piper. And that goes for Carla, too.

At this point, it’s looking like Carla is with us indefinitely. She’s been here a month and there are no applications on her. We’re realizing that it’s time to start treating her as our dog even if she isn’t our dog.

DSC_8819For the first few weeks she was here, we babied her. She was sad. She was lonely. She deserved to be indulged. Wrong (always having to learn this the hard way).

This week I am weeding – in every sense of the word. I’m weeding the gardens that have finally gotten the rain that didn’t come for weeks. I’m weeding the final edition of my manuscript – taking out the parts that don’t work, even knocking off an entire character! I’m not weeding the house, though, it is what it is. But I am taking my weeding metaphor out on Carla, too. It’s time to weed out the bad behavior.

Because we’ve occasionally allowed her to be on the furniture, she doesn’t realize we mean it when we shoo her off the beds/couches/chairs. So all the furniture blocks are back up, the doors are closed, her access is restricted. I see this as an ongoing battle, one we may have to reach a compromise on. Her inclinations are entrenched and she is a wise dog. She knows when no one’s looking, and for a dog so large, she can slink around this house quieter than a cat.

While we were gone last weekend. Carla had more than a few accidents in the house, barked incessantly and was simply, underfoot. My mother, who was staying with the kids, wasn’t happy.  “When are you going to get rid of that dog?” I defended Carla – her schedule was disrupted, she wasn’t getting exercise, no one was paying attention to her needs….but secretly I was frustrated! This dog is housebroken. She’s been so good here! What happened?

Knowing this situation could happen again (when we are gone for the beach camping trip in a few weeks with twelve teenagers! I know, nuts.), we need a better solution. Carla can’t come with us; I’ll have enough to do keeping track of other people’s teenagers. And Carla is not a house dog.  Or at least she isn’t a house dog if someone doesn’t take her for a four mile run every morning. The housesitter might find that fact overwhelming. All this has led me to make the decision to treat her as one of our own but that does not mean she is a foster fail! It simply means we are preparing for a summer of Carla – just in case! (If my twelve year old is reading this – we are NOT keeping her, no matter what it looks like!)

So I’m going to reveal something that could earn me more hate mail than my unfair rant on Westie rescues
because we are treating her as our own, we’ve started training Carla to the Invisible Fence. Continue reading True Confessions of a Faux Foster Fail

Dogs in Need of Rescuing? (or vineyard hopping with the dogs)

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. IMG_1209In fact, on this day they were overrun with Westies. For those of you unfamiliar, these are small wiry-haired white dogs that yap.images

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.

Upon further investigation I discovered that it was Westie Rescue day at the winery. Continue reading Dogs in Need of Rescuing? (or vineyard hopping with the dogs)