Yang, the Clever One, Goes Solo

Yang is a solo puppy now, although she’s been trying out the role all week.

DSC_8715

Last Friday, she discovered she could jump the puppy fence in the puppy room. Ever since the night we put them in there and she stood on her hind legs and peered over the top of the fence, everyone has wondered why she hasn’t jumped out. It wouldn’t be a great feat.

DSC_8560

I suppose she had no motivation to jump because she didn’t know us or our scary house, she only knew her stubby sister who couldn’t jump the fence, so she was sticking with her.

After Yang jumped the fence and then celebrated by unloading as many shoes as possible from the shoe cubbies across the hall from the puppy room, I installed our tallest fence.

Five minutes later Continue reading Yang, the Clever One, Goes Solo

She’s BACK…..(+how YOU can rescue dogs with paintings and wine!)

Now that Gala is back in working order, she’s making up for lost time.

chew toys

Her jaw has recovered so fully, that she’s been able to destroy a dog toy we’ve had for over two years (a friend sent it to us after our very first foster chewed through our house), several beanie babies (how these missed the goodwill pile is beyond me – I’ll be vacuuming up those tiny beans for weeks), tennis balls, pencils, and anything that Gracie touches (she most especially wants Gracie’s stuffed fox and we’ve all had to rescue it from the clutches of Jaws several times now).

Despite the relentless heat, we’re back to running, walking fast, hiking in the woods, and visiting the fox holes in the field above our pasture. Thanks to the loan of an Easy Walk Harness, we’re even more under-control.

easy lead

Unless the Blue Heron is in the creek and then nothing stops her. Gala is a serious bird dog. This is one of the reasons I think she might make a good frisbee dog – she’s always looking up. Sometimes we scare up a flock of finches that hang out at my neighbor’s barn and she will leap vertically in the air, certain she could catch one if I’d just let go of that pesky leash. Gala is great company. There is certainly never a dull moment.

Gala sits on the bed behind my desk as I work, always ready to distract:

gala contorting

Gala does eventually settle, but she finds reading on the couch just a bit too boring: Continue reading She’s BACK…..(+how YOU can rescue dogs with paintings and wine!)

Starting Over (Again)

First, the good news – Gala is muzzle and cone free!

Her jaw has ‘knit itself back together’ as the doctor put it. She’s cleared for all activities – running, playing, even eating regular dog food!

The transformation was instantaneous. On the drive down to see Dr. Walker, she stood nervously behind me in the back seat. The last time we took this trip, she had a crate to ride in, but my big crate didn’t fit in the only car available for me to use and she refused to stay in the ‘way back’ where she would have been more comfortable. She fretted and I worried she would hurt her jaw being jostled around back there, but eventually she fell asleep as close to me as allowed. (I promise I took this picture while stopped at a light and not driving!) Continue reading Starting Over (Again)

Forced Stillness Takes a Toll on the Soul

Gala has lost all hope.

I know that sounds horrible, but that’s the only way I can describe it. Up until now, she’s done really well with her forced confinement. (To catch anyone up on why she is in a crate 24/7 except for short potty walks – Gala has multiple fractures in her jaw after being kicked by a horse. You can read the awful story here.)

Personally, if I was forced to be still and quiet for a month and everyone was taking care of all my needs, giving me a comfy bed on which to rest, and stopping by frequently for visits, I think I just might enjoy it (except the endless streaming of Parks & Rec, that might make me feel as Gala does). All that lounging and catching up on my reading and eating fancy food someone else prepared and cleaned up – what’s not to like?

I didn’t think for one minute think Gala would enjoy or even be able to endure this, but for the first two weeks she surprised me.

She was sad, but resigned. She was happy when any of us crawled in her crate with her (it’s big enough for all of us).

IMG_1228

When we took her out for walks, she was happy to get out, and slammed her cone into everyone looking for attention. She went back into her crate reluctantly and waited for her next walk or visit. She slurped up her gruel and watched what was happening around her intently. She seemed to sense this was ‘only for now’ and soon enough she would be back living amongst us.

But now after three weeks, she has changed. It is as if she’s given up. Continue reading Forced Stillness Takes a Toll on the Soul

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

Safe Harbor

Dug has arrived.

And it’s been a long time coming. (According to Ian.)

Not long after we started fostering dogs, maybe eight or ten dogs in, my youngest son began calling all our foster dogs, “Dug.”

When I asked him why, he said. “I can’t remember all the names, so they can all just be ‘Dug.’”

Dug-upDug is the dog from the movie Up. If you haven’t seen that movie – you’ve missed out. Dug is the ADD dog the main characters encounter on their journey. Dug is searching for the bird Kevin, but is easily distracted. You’ve probably heard people say, “Squirrel!” followed by a quick head turn to indicate how easily they’re distracted. They’re referencing Dug.

With each litter we’ve fostered, Ian has campaigned to name all the puppies Dug. (Dug 1, Dug 2, Dug 3, etc.)

So, when I told him we had the chance to name our next foster puppy, he insisted we name him Dug.

I agreed and he immediately tracked down his older brother and sister to tell them we were finally getting Dug!

Dug arrived Saturday morning and it seems he really did get here just in time. He is not what you would term a postcard-pretty puppy. Continue reading Safe Harbor

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP

Here’s an amazing fact I learned recently from Kim Kavin, author of The Dog Merchants:

If just half of the people who decide to get a dog this year were to adopt one from a shelter or rescue instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store, we would empty out the shelters and rescues.

Problem solved. As Kim explained in an e-mail, what we have in the US is not a dog overpopulation problem, but a marketing problem.

marketing problem.jpg

Kim’s a journalist and an engaging author who has now written two well-researched and yet from-the-heart books. The first (Little Boy Blue) tells the story of the rescue puppy she adopted and all that she learned when she decided to investigate the story behind how he landed in her home. The Dog Merchants is about the big business of dogs – not just breeders and pet stores, but rescues, shelters and consumers. As is always the case, where there is big money involved, there are generally people taking advantage and people being taken advantage of, and sadly, many times the dogs pay the real price. Both books are fascinating, entertaining, and will likely make you cry. Kim has been gracious and generous to me, reading the manuscript for a book I’m working on (aptly titled, Another Good Dog) and sharing her experiences and knowledge of the world of dog rescue.

One of the topics we’ve discussed is the wide range of rescues. She’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, but probably a lot more of the bad and ugly than I have. Her experience fostering dogs has been a bit different than mine. I’m very proud to say that the rescue I work with, Operation Paws for Homes (OPH) does rescue right, in a world where many well-meaning rescues get it terribly wrong.

I’ve tried to remember how I discovered OPH, but think it came down to dumb luck and Facebook. I just happened to see a post at just the right time and found my way into this amazing organization. Hearing Kim’s stories only makes me more committed to doing all I can to promote this fabulous organization that is not only passionate about dog rescue, but professional in how they treat volunteers, adopters, fosters, and shelters, but most importantly, dogs.

One of OPH’s mottos is “Together we rescue.” And there’s not a truer sentiment. Together we can rescue, but we need more people so that we can rescue more dogs.

Right now shelters all over the south are overwhelmed with a deluge of dogs. It’s also puppy season -the time when many dogs are giving birth and they and their offspring are being dumped at shelters daily. The brave people at OPH and other rescues who have the job of fielding the requests from shelters and then deciding which dogs we will pull, are receiving near daily emails asking for help. The more dogs we can pull, the fewer these shelters have to euthanize.

It weighs on a heart. I see the posts and the pleas and the pictures of these deserving dogs and I feel anxious. I want to do more, but right now my house is at capacity with Gala and Darlin’ and my own dog, Gracie.

I want so badly to take one of these mamas and/or their puppies, but I have nowhere to put them. I consider asking another foster to take one of my pups, but then I look at their sweet faces. Darlin’ has been here over three months and Gala nearly a month and a half. They have finally settled and feel like they are home, even though they aren’t. Both of these girls are sensitive souls- their next move must be to their forever homes. I feel my soul tap, tap, tapping impatiently. Time for them to move. There are too many dogs to rescue.

I used to hesitate to use the hashtag #adoptdontshop, but I’m ready to tattoo it on my forehead. Yes, I understand that sometimes allergies dictate the kind of dog you get, and yes, I know there are responsible breeders out there, and yes, I realize that sometimes a rescue dog needs more time to develop trust or requires an extra effort with training. But here’s the bottomline – until we no longer have to decide which dogs must die each week because no one wants them and no rescue has room for them and no shelter has the funds to continue to house them, we need to keep shouting it from the rooftops:

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!

Please, please, please, adopt your next best friend from a rescue or shelter. Let’s fix this fixable problem. Let’s make the next problem be – we don’t know what to do about all these empty shelters.

If you’d like to part of the solution, get involved. If you’re looking for a dog, adopt. If you have room, foster. If you have time, volunteer. If you have money to give, give.

If you’ve ever considered fostering dogs for a rescue, I would encourage you to give it a try. The need for foster homes this time of year is huge. If you are in Maryland, Virginia, DC, or south-central PA, click here to find out how you can foster for OPH. If you live elsewhere check out a rescue or shelter near you – they all need foster homes.

OPH (and all rescues and shelters) always need more volunteers to check references, transport dogs, organize events, and a hundred other jobs, so if your home can’t hold another dog, but you’d like to help, jump right in. To volunteer for OPH, click here.

If you’d like to help OPH, consider making a donation. Adoption fees don’t begin to cover the cost of medical treatment and transport. In addition, OPH rescues pregnant dogs, litters, and heartworm positive dogs, but also pays to keep dogs in boarding when there are not enough foster homes available. Without fundraising, they could not do these things. Click here to donate to OPH, or look up a rescue near you.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Go for a hike with your dog!

Blessings,

Cara

P.s. If you’d like to know more about my writing (or my next novel coming out JUNE 6!!), visit CaraWrites.com.