What Difference a Day Makes

What a difference a few days make in the life of a foster dog home. We started this week with two fosters and the certain knowledge that Vera was going home on Friday to her forever family who had come to visit and spent a good hour with her -walking her, playing with her and falling in love. Estelle would leave the next week after her spay surgery with a delightful family who live just over the line from us in Maryland.

Fast forward two days—there is an urgent plea for fosters. Could I take a pregnant dog or a litter of nine puppies who could be flown in (yes, flown in) on Thursday? My puppy room was empty and my two fosters all set. Another litter? A pregnant dog? Either option would be fun and sure, I could use a break from the editing grind to drive to the airport in my favorite state.

I decided to go with door number one because door number two was nine definite poopers and door number one came with the excitement of delivery and the possibility of many fewer puppies. A gamble, I know, but I was taking my chances and going with the devil I didn’t know.

So yesterday, I drove to Warrenton, Virginia to pick up my newest mama dog. She is not a spring chicken and this is not her first rodeo, but gosh, doesn’t she melt the heart?

I had all kinds of silly names picked out (with the help of my family the night before), but upon meeting her silly didn’t seem appropriate. She’d been Darla at the shelter and I took to calling her Darlin’ so that’s her new name—Darlin’. I’m going to give the pups ‘pet names’ like schnookie-puss and sweetems. Anybody got a good one for me?

Darlin’ liked the whelping box and hopped right in upon arrival. She’s been there ever since and her temperature has dropped to 98.9, a sure sign that labor is imminent! I’m spending my day with my laptop on my lap in the puppy room, waiting.

But wait! Isn’t it Friday? Isn’t Vera leaving today? Nope. Sadly, her wonderful adopters had a health emergency. Everyone is going to be fine, but they won’t be adopting a dog at this time. No one in my house was upset at the idea that Vera would have to stick around. That said, four dogs plus who-knows-how-many puppies is pretty much my capacity so please spread the word that I have a 60-pound, cat-chasing lovebug looking for a home!

And if you want to follow the birth, as it happens, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook page where I’ll be posting updates and maybe even do a live feed after everyone has arrived.

If you’d like to know more about me and my writing, I’d be thrilled if you checked out my website, CaraWrites.com, where you’ll find links to all my books, my other blog, and far too many pictures of dogs!

 

Of Miracles and Magic

It was quite a weekend! At least in terms of dog fostering, but definitely not exciting in terms of regular clean-the-house-be-mom-drive-kids-everywhere. Pretty yucky weekend for all that, plus I made the mistake of finally getting on the scale after several months of too much wine and too many new recipes to discover I’d gained five pounds since summer. Ugh. Let’s not think about that – let me tell you about my amazing weekend instead!

First up, John Coffey went home on Saturday with a family that is perfect for him. He knew it immediately. Three boys – all for him!! And fun parents- dad’s even a runner, so score there, too. Sometimes when an adopter turns up, I have to simply trust that OPH did their due-diligence and the pup is the right match, but sometimes it’s completely clear that there is magic at hand. John Coffey was so anxious to get going with his family that he leapt in their car as soon as a door was opened. We had to bring him back out to take a picture, but you can see from the picture how happy he was – what a smile!

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So, super duper awesome adoption. Now I have all my fingers and toes and anything else that can be crossed, crossed that he is not overwhelming them with his happiness and enthusiasm, and that he has NOT broken into the lego room that their youngest son told me about!

Just before John Coffey’s family arrived, I got word that the puppies were being born!

What puppies? (you sound just like my husband!) Continue reading Of Miracles and Magic

Now Starring JOHN COFFEY…

DSC_0680I’ve gotten in the habit of only blogging once a week about the foster dog of the moment, but John Coffey simply cannot be contained in one post per week. The dog is busy.

First off, if you know anyone looking for a Frisbee-catching, ball-chasing, potential movie star trick dog – send them my way. I’ve got the dog for them. If my nephew/dogwhisperer Brandon lived closer, I’d be adopting this dog and calling an agent.

This dog is crazy athletic, intensely paying attention, and as eager to please as a used car salesman. Throw in a tiny little bit of manic, and you’ve got the makings of dog headed for Hollywood, or at least dock-diving. At any rate, John Coffey needs a job.

I can run him four and a half miles in the morning, and still he’s dancing (for minutes at a time) on his hind legs as I’m preparing dinner.

He will chase a ball ALL DAY. Did I say all day? I meant 24 HOURS A DAY SEVEN DAYS A WEEK UNTIL THERE ARE NO BALLS LEFT ON THE PLANET! Here’s a meager selection of the balls John Coffey can catch (it’s hard to be the photographer and the ball thrower…) Continue reading Now Starring JOHN COFFEY…

The Dangerous Privilege of Loving a Dog

11260843_10155902566435411_3526323269060517134_nTuesday was a hard day.

I thought it would be a hard day because it was my first ever live TV interview. I was nervous and excited. I spent extra time with the dogs in the morning giving them an extended playtime outside because I knew they would be cooped up for a good portion of the day. They had their usual crazy runaround and tackle game for a good 20 minutes. Then I leashed Frank to end the shenanigans and took them for a walk.

Tex and Tennessee swirled around us as we walked the perimeter of the pasture. Then we ventured into Gracie-land and they were very polite and respectful, keeping their distance from the grumpy girl dog. At the bottom of the property, Tex spied my neighbor’s goats and immediately assumed the low crouch of a herding border collie, scuttling off towards the road. I panicked for a moment worrying that he would dart across the road to herd the goats, but when I whistled he immediately spun around and raced back to me. Such a good dog.

My interview went fine. It was interesting to see the inner workings of a TV studio and meet the other guests. It was over before I knew it and I was back home again. I took the boys out for a romp, but they tired quickly in the heat and we went back inside. I double checked that there was no food on the counter and nothing I didn’t want chewed to bits within reach and left all three boys gated in the kitchen to go run a quick errand.

When I came home, Frank and Tennessee greeted me at the door. I knew something was wrong the moment I stepped inside. There was an eery smell I can’t describe and the energy felt all wrong. I found Texas lying on the giant Frank bed with his chin on his front legs as if asleep. Only he wasn’t asleep. He was gone.

I still can’t believe it. I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening calling people, looking for clues, trying to figure out how Tex could have just lay down and die. “It happens,” said my neighbor/vet/friend after we’d talked through every possibility. But it still makes no sense to me. He was healthy, happy. Just that day I’d noticed what a shine his coat had gotten. He ate well, had learned to love treats, played and ran and smiled his big border collie smile. He loved wrestling with Frank, always going for Frank’s ankles, probably well aware Frank was too strong and big for him to out-and-out tackle. Watching Tex creep up on my horses, letting it go as far as I dared before calling him off, were some of my favorite dog-moments.

That night when the tears finally slowed, I was angry. One of the reasons I got into fostering was because I didn’t want to ever watch another dog die. Losing my beloved Lucy a year ago just hurt too much. I didn’t want to do it again. I’d rather suffer through a thousand goodbyes than bury another dog. And now that’s exactly what I was doing. I didn’t sign up for this. I was done fostering. No more.

But this morning, walking Tennessee and Frank I reflected on how risky love is. And not just dogs. If you love hard, you will grieve hard. And life wouldn’t be nearly as rich if you didn’t love hard and deep and honest. So that’s what you sign up for when you open your heart to anyone – dog or human. For the privilege of experiencing the beautiful, amazing, unconditional love of an animal you are signing up for the pain of an ending. Is it worth it?

I know it is. Nothing is more worth it.

I’m comforted by the fact it seems Texas didn’t suffer. Dying is inevitable, so a peaceful passing is more than you can ask for. He was a beautiful, amazing, sweet dog. I know by the way he cowered at loud noises and sudden movements that his life didn’t start out so peaceful, but I’m glad that in the end he knew safety and love and happiness. I feel blessed that we were able to give him that, but mostly I feel blessed to have had the privilege to love, even for a short time, such a good dog.DSC_0002