People in Little Furry Suits

What goes through a dog’s mind? This week, as I watched my three musketeers – Gracie, Estelle, and Vera, following me from room to room, up and down the stairs, my three furry shadows, I’ve wondered what, exactly, are they thinking?

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Vera has only been here about ten days, but she has easily stolen our hearts.

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In the past year she’s been rescued from death in a shelter, arriving in her first OPH home testing heartworm positive and bearing a ghastly embedded collar wound. After her neck healed (with a scar so deep you can sink your finger in it up to the first knuckle) and she was treated for heartworm, she was adopted. Yay, happy ending, right?

Wrong. Continue reading People in Little Furry Suits

Second Chances

Now that I’m back to walking (YES! MRI revealed lots of damage, but nothing to stop me from moving forward and continuing to heal on my own!) I’ve had a chance to catch up on my thinking. So much was backlogged in my brain – ideas, worries, dreams, questions, stories. Lucy and I have increased our walk time each day this week and this morning we wandered the back roads for nearly an hour.

I’m still mulling over the book Rescue Road and pondering the enormous challenges to dog rescue in the US (and in the world). I had begun to feel the same way I did when my elementary school science teacher explained how far away Pluto was – it seemed like an insurmountable distance.

My teeny, tiny part in rescuing dogs couldn’t possibly put even the idea of a dent in the problem. Probably my thoughts were colored by my inability to move without pain. But now, the world looks different. I’m ready to get back in the game. I’m ready to save some more dogs.

I’ve had my moments of frustration with Lucy these past few weeks. She has come so far – she’s no longer scratching and her beautiful tri-colored coat is coming back in, her energy levels are rising (and rising!), and her happiness quotient somehow went even higher.

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Here she is playing with the filling for the Frank bed.

My frustration springs from the fact that she is not accustomed to living indoors. It hasn’t been an easy transition. Part of me wants to put her on a line outside. She’d probably be more comfortable. That’s what she’s known. Instead, we keep her in the kitchen and walk her frequently. We reward her when she pees outside and admonish her when she pees inside.

I think she finally understands she shouldn’t pee on our floor, but this morning when she evidently couldn’t hold it a moment longer, she peed on the Frank bed. I was so angry! Why would she do this? Why? Why? Why? I took her outside and then I closed her in her crate. Continue reading Second Chances

Mixed Emotions of Foster Dogs and Dog Fosters

DSC_8427After all the exuberant happiness of our last two foster girls, it is quite a different story with Carla. My best guess is that she is mourning. She misses her family. After all, she was with them for four years; it’s a big loss for her.

Every now and again I catch a glimpse of the happy girl that’s buried in there somewhere, but most of her time is spent lying around, looking sad. To be fair, she is a hound and forlorn is the default expression on most hound faces, especially ones with droopy eyes and long ears.

The appetite that we were warned about is not in evidence. She barely eats her meals and refuses all treats. She has yet to attempt to even counter surf (although she has the height and reputation to excel in this sport). When I’m bummed out I don’t eat either, so I get it.

Today she is talking a lot. She gave me some hound mutters when she first woke up and then spent the afternoon standing on the deck barking at the woods – certain there was something afoot in there. Hounds, maybe particularly coonhounds, have a lot to say. Carla was quiet during her first few days, but now she is vocal. Maybe she’s decided we’re worth protecting or maybe she has simply found her voice.

I took her for a run and was delighted to discover that she is an excellent and inspiring running partner. We did the fastest 3 ½ miles I’ve done in months. She was all business, never stopping for her personal business, and only a few times tugging towards an errant squirrel. I truly hope her forever family includes at least one runner.

And maybe a camper or hiker or hunter. She’s all about the woods and most especially, the stream. That’s when I see the real Carla. She lights up and pulls towards the creek when we approach, happily splashing in it as I do my best not be dragged in behind her.IMG_1638

On Monday, Wheat Penny (now Ladki – Hindi for lady) left for the high life as a spoiled only child of a super loving mama. She must have a wind at her back. She is one lucky dog. I spent the day keeping her close, even letting her destroy a pen in honor of her leave-taking. Such a sweet puppy. I will cherish the time we had with her and hope for periodic updates.DSC_8371

At least two people in the last few days have expressed to me how much they wish they could foster, but don’t think they could stand to give up a dog. I’ve thought a lot about that. It does hurt, but for me, it’s a sacrifice worth making so that we can help more dogs. I know there are plenty of great homes out there and people who can love a dog as well or better than me. So I’m willing to be a link between a sad, possibly terminal life in a shelter and a happy forever home even if sometimes that tugs at my heart and leaves a lump in my throat. I don’t have to be everyone’s forever home.

What’s making me re-think this foster idea is Carla. She is almost exactly the dog I’m looking for, the one we spent all those hours visiting shelters in search of. But I don’t want to be a foster fail (foster lingo for a foster mommy who adopts her foster dog). I want to help more dogs. It is very tempting to hold on to Carla. I know we could make her happy here, but I am also certain that there is a forever home out there waiting for her. Someone else looking for a dog just like Carla.

So for as long as we have her, we will love her and nurture her and work very hard to bring out the happy dog I’m certain is there beneath the surface of all her present sadness. Because she is not a young dog (she’s six), she may not be as quick to be adopted. And that’s okay because she is a welcome guest here for as long as she needs us.DSC_8421

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

Dangerous, Life-changing Love

Here’s my dilemma- just how much should you love on your foster dog? Galina is such a mischievous little love muffin, that we all can’t help but return her affection. And that seems dangerous for all parties involved.DSC_7901

OPH offers all kinds of training for fosters, which has been super helpful, but it occurs to me that I haven’t asked the question I should probably have asked most – just how much affection should you shower on your little charge?

When Galina arrived, she was nervous and shy and we coaxed her to accept our touch. Now it’s been two weeks and she demands it. She snuggles up to us on the couch, races to greet us when we enter a room, jumps up on anyone who fails to acknowledge her enthusiasm.

Should I have withheld some of my attention, kept my distance? That seems like the smart move. But Galina has blossomed under our affection. It’s given her confidence. She stands taller; she’s napping more, and chewing a little bit less. So maybe instead of being a dangerous thing, it was the most important element of our care for her. As important as the food and probiotics and coconut oil that has brought a shine to her coat. Continue reading Dangerous, Life-changing Love