My Heart and House is Full

My heart is so full this morning that tears seem to turn up on my face without warning.

Sunday night was the official ‘end’ of my tour, although there are still a bunch of events this month and I’m hoping to get more opportunities to talk about the book, its purpose, shelter dogs and how we can all make a difference. (So feel free to toss my name/contact in any direction you want!)

My last event was sponsored by an awesome person, Karen Johnson and Paws Go. She designs and sells fabulous t-shirts and gives away much of what she makes to dog-related causes. During August and September that cause was OPH.

Sunday night, Karen hosted a book signing for me at Nectar Wine & Coffee Bar in Alexandria, an adorable little spot with great VA wine selections and amazing food. Rooney came to sign along with me (thanks Lauren!).

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The generosity and kindness of so many overwhelmed me as I drove home from Nectar through the growing darkness.  Not only Continue reading My Heart and House is Full

Welcome to the World, Puppies!

The last time I whelped puppies, it didn’t go so well. It’s been over 18 months since that tragedy, but it still crept into the back of my mind when I watched Dixieland in the whelping box.

Fostering a pregnant dog is exciting and amazing, but it is also terrifying. These dogs come with no history, no prenatal care, lots of stress (theirs and yours), and normally no timeline. I was lucky to have a general idea of when Dixie’s pups were due because of the x-ray she had to check out her broken back leg.

As the days ticked past the ‘due date’, Continue reading Welcome to the World, Puppies!

Progress Can Be Noisy

Our house is noisy.

Well, our house is normally noisy, but this past weekend, especially so.

Gomer has much to say, particularly about anyone playing without him.

Plus, two lovely ladies moved into the puppy room on Saturday. They are surprisingly quiet, but their movements are monitored by the other three canines in the house, and their fondness for squeaky toys pushes several of those canines over the edge.

The dawn chorus is really something. Yesterday Brady remarked that Gracie has a very nice quiet bark. That’s the point we’ve been driven to—we qualify all of the barking.

Frankie is LOUD. For such a gentle guy, he sounds ferocious.

Gomer is shrill. His barks are laced with excitement, he just cannot miss out on any party.

Which leaves Gracie (who initiates almost every choir rehearsal). Her bark is low and steady and I’ve begun to wonder if she doesn’t just start barking to get the other dogs in trouble.

 

DSC_1883Okay, okay, I’ll tell you about the new puppies! (it’s always about the puppies with you people!) Continue reading Progress Can Be Noisy

The Value of a Dog

Gala. The million dollar dog.

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Okay, not a million, but certain the several thousand dollar dog. Between her rescue, heartworm treatment, four months of foster care, and now the broken jaw, this dog is costing some serious money.

I’ve been thinking about this fact. Why do we pour all this money into a stray dog from South Carolina? She’s just one dog, and a difficult one at that.

And then I think—it’s just money.

That’s the same thing I tell myself when my children cost a fortune or we lose money on something stupid or we need an expensive repair on the car or the house.

Because it is just money. And doing right by this dog is far more important than money.

A noble thought, but it won’t pay her bill. She’s not the most expensive dog OPH has rescued, not by far. I’ve watched much more expensive efforts be made by this organization to save a life. Not that they throw money around willy-nilly; they certainly consider each penny before it’s spent and they’ve made more than a few hard decisions. But it’s rare that money is the only consideration.

Dogs are expensive. That’s a fact that seems to slip the minds of plenty of people. And for whatever reason – ignorance or arrogance—there are plenty of people out there who don’t think a rescue dog should cost a lot. After all, a purebred dog could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. There’s a mindset that since you’re saving a dog no one wanted or possibly a dog someone threw away, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

OPH’s adoption fee is $335 ($375 for puppies, but you get a $60 rebate after you spay/neuter). This includes spay/neuter, vaccines, wormings (with puppies this can be 6-8 times or more), and microchip, not to mention the expenses most adopters don’t consider like the original health screening and treatment, transportation, and food. And with many dogs there are other expenses.

Dug had to visit the vet and be treated for demadex mange this week.

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(And before you freak out at the word, mange, Continue reading The Value of a Dog

A Hamilton Birthday Party

Every time I have the opportunity to see one of my former foster pups, I always wonder if they will recognize me, and pretty much every time I go away both sad and glad that they don’t. Or if they do, they keep it to themselves.

I’m sad they don’t recognize me because I still love them and remember the bond we had. Some of them were with me for months. At the same time I’m so very glad that they are happy in their new lives and not pining for me. As I said to someone who asked me about it at the Hamilton puppy birthday party over the weekend, “If they did, there would be 70 dogs roaming around the mid-atlantic (plus one in Indiana and one in Massachusetts) feeling depressed.” I’m glad they’ve moved on. I’m grateful dogs are so resilient.

On this past Sunday, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Schuyler and six of her nine pups a year after they consumed my life and solidified my puppy addiction. When I agreed to foster Schuyler and her newborn puppies, through a simple miscommunication or perhaps an assumption on my part, I thought I was getting a mom dog and three pups. That seemed manageable and my husband was game.

Then, a day before I picked them up I discovered there were actually nine puppies coming. Luckily, my marriage survived it. And I do still wonder if I would have ever volunteered for that many puppies had I known. Either way, it set my course and explains why since then I’ve fostered 26 puppies in less than a year.

When they left my house, the Hamilton puppies weighed 10-12 pounds and now they are all between 45-65 pounds. They are still a happy bunch and took over the dog park where the party was held. The Hamilton pack was back in action. They wrestled over sticks, just as they had in the puppy pen last spring.

Continue reading A Hamilton Birthday Party

Fruitcake’s Happily Ever After Thanks to YOU

Ever since our little cow puppy emerged, clearly different from the rest, it has been a magical journey.

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Not only was his color different, but his hair was longer and softer, his head shaped differently and his body, well, wider is the kind way of putting it. His enormous hind feet sported six toes and he seemed to need to sleep much more than the other pups.

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As the other puppies grew up, he grew out—flat as a pancake. Continue reading Fruitcake’s Happily Ever After Thanks to YOU