A Stranger in a Strange Land

Bringing a strange dog home isn’t my favorite part of fostering. The first 24 hours, heck the first three days, even first week, the dog is a foreigner in a strange land. She doesn’t know how to act. She doesn’t know the rules. We don’t know what to expect from her. Will she get along? Will she pee all over my house? Can she be trusted? The cats are never happy. The answers are all over the place.

Pretty much each of the dogs we’ve brought home, with the exception of Wheat Penny (who was a puppy and had no expectations, baggage, or attitudes) has seemed like a completely different dog after a few days compared to the dog we brought home from transport.

Symphony is no exception.11090842_935901093116103_4658826510233429709_o

The dog I picked up on Saturday morning was much smaller than we anticipated. She was nervous, unsure, and peed pretty much every few minutes everywhere she went as if she were marking her territory. (It’s also possible she had a urinary tract infection from the long time spent in a crate for travel from South Carolina.)

She growled at Gracie and threatened the cats. She pulled on the leash when I walked her and escaped out of the house twice (she is a door opener which means she is no dumb cookie). She refused her dinner, was silent, wary, watching us. I never saw her sit down – not once – the whole day. She walked from room to room keeping track of everyone. Although she looks more like a Boston Terrier than a Border Collie, I would guess there is some kind of herding dog in there somewhere.

The first night, I went to bed exhausted from taking Symphony outside to pee every fifteen minutes, walking Carla, supervising all the interactions between the dogs, and cleaning up after Symphony’s efforts to establish her presence. Here’s the thoughts that raced through my mind and kept me from sleeping, I can’t do this. What have I gotten myself into? Two foster dogs is too much for me. I am a wimpy foster mommy. How the heck do these people have three and four dogs? They must be nuts. I must be nuts. This is the last dog. Ever. Continue reading A Stranger in a Strange Land

I’m With the Coonhound

Carla and I have gone running several mornings this week. She is an enthusiastic companion. As she has emerged from her time of mourning, her energy has increased. She continues to challenge me to run faster than my well-worn knees would like to travel. (I use the word ‘run’ loosely, it’s more like a ‘jog.’ I just like to say run because it makes it sound much more impressive.) On steeper spots of my regular run when I might normally be tempted to slow to a walk, I can’t bear to ask it of Carla and push on through, sometimes letting her steady pull propel me forward.

There was a time, early in my running career when men in trucks (there are many here in Pennsyltucky roaming about checking their fence lines or looking for a good fishing hole at the early hour at which I typically hit the roads) would slow and note my progress, sometimes even chatting me up. Those days are past now and the only man in a truck who stops to visit with me on my runs is my hay-guy Kevin and we usually just talk about hay.

This week with Carla by my side, pretty much every pick-up truck, mud-splattered four-wheel drive or vehicle built prior to the 1980s slows as it passes me. They aren’t checking out the middle age woman on my end of the leash, they are all about the gorgeous coonhound on the other.IMG_1128

Continue reading I’m With the Coonhound

Fostering is Family Friendly

It appears as though Wheat Penny has already found her forever home. That was fast! After all the ups and downs of Galina’s adoption, we weren’t expecting WP to be swooped out from under us in mere days!

Actually, it can’t be that quick because OPH requires puppies to stay with their foster home for at least two weeks. This means WP will be here for another week.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wheat Penny’s new forever mommy, Jana, will be here to take her home in exactly one week. This has changed the status of our little darling.

No longer is she a potential long term guest, now she’s more like a visiting grandchild. We are having lots of fun with her, maybe more so because we know she’s not staying.  Really, fishing that cat turd out of her mouth or changing the puppy pad isn’t so hard to do when you know it might be the last time.

I indulge her on the couch, wrestling, tummy scratches, ear kisses, because I know these days will be gone in a flash. And because, truth be told, she is crazy-adorably cute. Greeting card cute. No one can resist-her cute. See – DSC_8161 - Copy

Which is why I knew before Jana even arrived on Saturday that she would be smitten. (And she was.) No one can resist the charms of Wheat Penny.

Plus, she’s a whole lot of fun. Brady let her help him with some writing. Continue reading Fostering is Family Friendly

Galina Gets Her Forever Family!

Galina is gone.

The house is very quiet. For the past month, whenever the house was quiet I would panic – what has she found? What is she chewing?

I have to confess that it’s somewhat nice to get dressed and not worry about setting your socks down on the chair for a minute and having them disappear to the far reaches of Galina’s crate. It’s also nice to finish writing a note and leave the pen on the coffee table with no worries about that loud crunching sound you hear a moment later.

But I miss her. I miss the happy little whimpers she made when I opened her crate in the morning and she crawled out like a soldier under fire to lay as a little fur ball of ecstasy at my feet. So happy to see me, she couldn’t even stand up.

I watched basketball last night with no little snuggle muffin to make it worth my while (and also prevent me from snacking on the couch).

There were no late night dog-chasing-dog shenanigans. Gracie went to bed uneventfully. It’s too quiet.

But…reports are that Strider, the dog formerly known as Galina, is happy as a little clam in her new digs with her forever family.  Her new mommy sent me a video of Galina rolling in the leaves of her new yard which is fenced in so she can run leash-free and reach the speeds she could only attempt while she was here which inevitably led to such a sudden end that I worried the leash would snap her neck.

It was a topsy-turvy weekend for us. We discovered Friday afternoon that Galina’s newest adopter had chosen another dog. Once again, hopes dashed. This seemed to be a repeating pattern for our little girl. But by Friday evening I received an e-mail that there was a new adopter approved! I was in the middle of a presentation at a nearby college, so I sent a quick note to the potential adopter.

I knew that Donna and Geoff were the perfect parents for Galina when in response to my honest warning about Galina’s chewing habits, Donna wrote, “We know about the chewing. Our previous beagle mix chewed through our home. I didn’t own a pair of flip-flops without teeth marks in them!”

Sometimes this world seems utterly random and at other times, like this weekend, I see fate clear as crystal.

In preparation for Donna and Geoff and Galina’s new brother, Gimli, to arrive, we put Gracie in the garage. It seemed like a cruel thing to do, but Gracie, you will recall, has social issues with other dogs. I didn’t want her to dominate the meeting of these two little soon-to-be-bestest-buds-ever. And it was too many G-dogs in one room. Kidding. Gracie seemed to sense she was about to reclaim dominance of her domain, because she was surprisingly calm and quiet in her quarantine.

Gimli was Galina-size and cute as button with those crazy taco-bell dog ears. Donna and Geoff worried he would be protective and aggressive with Galina, but she won him over in mere minutes. That’s my girl.

I was super happy to see Galina warm up to Donna and Geoff even faster. When she meets new people, Galina generally hangs back, shy and unsure, until she gets to know them. Not with these two. It was almost like she recognized them. Hey, it’s Mom and Dad! She was all over them, completely relaxed and happy to follow Geoff when I gave him her leash so we could take the dogs for a walk.DSC_8057

Now that she’s gone, I keep thinking of things I should have told Donna and Geoff. Sometimes when you’re walking her she’ll duck from certain cars and then spring after them when they pass. I did remember to warn them that she loves to eviscerate toilet paper rolls, so they should never be left loose and available. (Sadly, Galina was not able to train my children to put the roll on the holder in her time here, but I had been hoping…)

I forgot to tell them about her favorite toy – the one that you can hide a treat inside. We used it whenever we needed to keep her out of trouble and occupied for at least ten minutes.DSC_7937

Before they left, Ian selected one of Galina’s stuffies from the toy collection and her favorite sock that had not yet been completely unraveled and gave them to Donna and Geoff, along with the rest of the bag of her favorite bacon-flavored treats and the probiotic powder that OPH gave us when she arrived (my husband calls it “puppy PCP” because that’s what it looks like and he’s a Neanderthal).

DSC_8043 - CopyI’m sure it won’t be all smooth sailing, Galina is an imp, but I do believe she’s found her forever family. I had a lump in my throat all day, but no tears. I think I held on to a piece of my heart throughout our whole time with Galina because I knew this day was coming. I had to remind myself again today that Galina leaving meant we could help many more dogs. She was the first and so she’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Maybe that’s the part I was holding on to.

[New foster comes this Friday. She looks like Gracie’s mini-me!]

My Little Debutante

11072537_10155242343030411_328043549526161166_nThis morning I took Galina for a run with me. We went without Gracie, who has proved herself to be a less than ideal running partner. G did great, keeping up with me for 3 ½ miles. I’m used to running with much larger dogs. Maybe the best thing about running with a little firecracker like Galina is that when the Asplundh trucks roared by and she set off for the hills, I simply held tight to her leash and she ran at warp speed in place like Wylie Coyote.

G has had several days of firsts recently.

On Sunday she was scheduled to attend her first OPH “Meet and Greet” in search of her forever family. It was to be held at a local pet store. I wasn’t going to be able to accompany her for big debut because I was already committed at the exact time (of course) to give a presentation on my new book about 30 minutes away. Although I’d love my fulltime job to be fostering sweet little puppies, it’s actually writing and selling books, so my event trumped Galina’s. Bummer.

All week I worried about her upcoming event. Many times when Galina meets new people, she is nervous and hangs back until the new friend either produces a treat or gets down on her level to greet her. I know G is a happy, adorable, lovable, super-smart, fun little beagle, but would strangers be able to see that in a busy pet store with lots of other dogs/people/toys/treats/activity around her? I worried she wouldn’t shine.

I was feeling like a mom who was going to miss her child’s little league debut, so we spent Saturday afternoon preparing her. Continue reading My Little Debutante