Runaway Gala (& The Pepper Puppers)

This time I really thought I’d seen the last of Gala.

That was my thought, anyway, as I watched her disappear through the woods in pursuit of a herd of deer. She was headed in the general direction of Maryland, and I was pretty sure she would make it.

We were about a mile and a half away from home on our regular run when the deer appeared. Gala did what she usually does – leapt in the air after them.

Because we run with the Easy Walk harness, this usually means that as she reaches the end of her lead, the harness forces her to do a lovely pirouette in midair and land facing me again.

This is the point where I say, “Leave it,” in my firm, take-no-prisoners voice, and then she does not leave it. Most days it takes three or four pirouettes and reminders before she gives up and simply prances for a quarter mile or so.

On Friday, she had done about four pirouettes, when she went airborne for a fifth. This time, though, Continue reading Runaway Gala (& The Pepper Puppers)

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The Excitement at Our House has Reached Epic Levels

I’m out of breath just thinking about them. My two new pups, Yin and Yang, bring a whole new meaning to the words ‘whirling dervish’.

They are billed as lab-mix puppies, but I’m gonna walk that back a bit and say lab-mix is overshooting it. I’m not any kind of expert, but my personal experience with lab puppies is that they are playful and fun – but not manic and bouncy. I’ve yet to be able to get a decent picture of these pups thanks to the constant motion. Even when I try to sneak up on them (I know they can be still because I see them on my puppy cam), they sense my presence and become airborne before I even reach the doorway.

(be sure you have the sound up on this video clip – that’s the best part) Continue reading The Excitement at Our House has Reached Epic Levels

Fact: Horses Kick Dogs

This is the post I always dreaded.

The first week Gala was with us, I wrote about how she was prone to adventures. Excited to be here and curious about the really large dogs in our pasture, she found many ways to escape our house.

Each time we managed to catch her just in time and then reprogram everyone to lock that door, not let her on the deck, etc. On one of her early escapades, she raced for the barn area and chased the horses around the field, ignoring our pleas to come, only leaving them when she caught a hoof to her side from my elderly mare. I breathed a sigh of relief, hoped she’d learned her lesson and got much better at keeping Gala contained. I wrote: “If she had gone after one of the other horses, I’d be writing a much different post today.”

Well, three months later, here’s that much different post. She escaped again, and no, she didn’t learn a lesson that first time. Continue reading Fact: Horses Kick Dogs

Capybara, Hamster, or Darlin’? You decide! (Plus updates on Gala, Punkin, and missing dog, Cindee)

The brown dogs are still here.

Seems like brown dogs are not in style this spring.

I have faith that their families will find them, but the longer they are here the more entrenched they become in our lives. Darlin’ is embarrassingly attached to me. So much so that when I leave, she whines and pines and generally annoys everyone left behind. When I return she is beside herself with happiness circling me and begging for my attention. She needs to find her person soon, so she can aim her endless devotion on the right soul.

Addie has decided Darlin’ looks like a giant hamster. I asked her why and she said, “She just does. Look at her!” Another OPH foster’s teenage daughter, who was here to help with the puppies, said Darlin’ looks like a capybara.

Thinking of the capybara brought memories of sitting through the videotape (yes, I’m that old) called “Baby Animals” which my preschool age children wore out with their constant viewing. The announcer tells them all about the Capybara. In fact, if it weren’t for that videotape I, like my OPH pal, would have thought she was making up the animal’s existence. I reminded Addie of that video and how she loved the capybara and she had no memory of ever seeing it. One more reminder that my version and her version of her childhood bear no resemblance. But Darlin’ does kind of resemble a capybara, doesn’t she….. Continue reading Capybara, Hamster, or Darlin’? You decide! (Plus updates on Gala, Punkin, and missing dog, Cindee)

Fostering By the Numbers

Nelson went home on Saturday morning.

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His story illustrates how the foster dog system works when all goes well:

  1. Nelson is selected from the dogs in a shelter in Virginia as an adoptable dog that just needs more time than a shelter has room or funds to provide. OPH pulls him and after a vet determines there is no medical treatment needed for his eye (it was an old trauma), he is neutered, tested for heartworm (he was negative), vaccinated, and microchipped. Then he waits in a local foster home until he can catch a ride north with an OPH transport.
  2. I pick Nelson from a list of dogs in need of fosters, but can’t meet the transport van, so other OPH volunteers step in to pick him up and house him for two nights until I can take him. (Thanks Karie and Evan!)
  3. Nelson arrives here and we assimilate him into our home, walk him, feed him, and get to know him.
  4. I write up a bio about him saying that yes, he is housebroken and yes, he is crate-trained, and no, he isn’t a threat to cats. I write that he’s an easy-going sort of dog who is very lovable to everyone he meets but can counter-surf despite his size. Information like this is something you can’t get when you pick a dog out at a shelter. (And not to discourage ANYONE from adopting from a shelter, I’m just pointing out that there is much good about the foster system that makes an adoption match more likely to be an informed one.)
  5. Nelson is with us for just under two weeks. He is adopted by a family who discover him via the OPH website and have already applied and been approved to adopt a dog. They bring their current dog with them to meet him at my house, adore Nelson on sight, and take him home.

Many, many foster experiences happen just like that. But a few don’t. Continue reading Fostering By the Numbers

A Visual Tour of Nelson, One-of-a-Kind Dog

Our latest foster dog is one interesting canine. He is a hodge-podge of dog parts, scrambled together to create complete adorableness. Today I’m going to take you on a visual tour of Nelson.

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Nelson is listed as a 2-year-old heeler mix. That description is a bit misleading, but it’s the official line, so we’ll go with it.

First off, Nelson is not a heeler. Sure, he’s got gorgeous heeler coloring, but in so far as heelers are energetic, semi-neurotic, herding dogs, Nelson is none of those things.

Energetic is not a word I’d use to describe Nelson. He’s very ‘chill’ as my daughter says. He has a happy little jaunt and is perfectly pleasant on a leash, but the most energy I’ve seen him call up is when we pass the fox den at the top of our pasture. He would very much like to climb right down the hole and visit with the fox family (and he’d probably fit). I have to drag him away from the hole each time we pass it.

Neurotic, also is not a word I would use to describe Nelson. He is super easy-going, gets along with the other dogs, and while curious about the cats, he can’t be bothered to make a big effort to chase them. He spends his days lounging nearby and doesn’t even bark at the UPS guy (despite Gracie’s theatrical performance of “kill-the-guy-in-the-brown-suit” which she stages every time the big truck lumbers up the driveway).

As far as herding, well, although Nelson likes to be with people, he certainly isn’t going to nip at your heels and collect all the people in one place. He doesn’t even cast a second glance at the horses when we walk by them and only feigns a passing interest in the chickens (mostly because Darlin’ gets so excited at the sight of them).

So, let’s assume the heeler label is in name only as a nod to his awesome markings.

Speaking of markings, let the visual tour begin. Continue reading A Visual Tour of Nelson, One-of-a-Kind Dog

Things Happen for a Reason

Finally, finally, maybe, we are out of the woods. Knock on wood. Fingers crossed. Prayers sent.

I still wake up every morning and hold my breath until I see all the pups breathing, and pause at the puppy room door numerous times during the day to be certain I see a steady rise and fall of sleeping puppy bellies. I have a feeling, this paranoia may be hard to shake. I’ll probably be poking and prodding sleeping puppies for years to come.

Bogo is still very congested, breathing like a tiny darth vadar, so I put her in the nebulizer treatment center (aka, the cat carrier covered in a quilt) several times a day. She doesn’t last in there long, whining after a few minutes and then going into full-on howl mode after five. I don’t feel too horrible letting her scream a bit ever since a pharmacist friend told me that when she’s screaming she’s actually taking in more of her treatment.

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Doodlebug sleeps much more than a normal puppy her age. When I enter the room, Puddin’ hops to his feet and attempts to tackle my toes and Bogo lifts her head and watches the action. Doodlebug simply snores away unless I wake her. Of course, this was reason for me to case the internet in search of some mysterious puppy condition in which 4-week-old puppies sleep nonstop – Sleeping Beauty Syndrome? I’m hoping this excessive slumber is only due to a tiny body trying to grow. The pups seem to be at least a week or two behind developmentally, so Doodlebug sleeping like a two-week-old pup is hopefully normal.

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All three pups Continue reading Things Happen for a Reason