Diary of a Rescue Week Six: Change is Coming

The coming week will mean a big change for Daisy.

I am preparing to leave on the OPH Rescue Road Trip, a weeklong trip with seven other volunteers to visit six of our partner shelters in North and South Carolina to spend our days working in the shelters. Our hope is to not only offer physical help with the dogs and the work, but to learn more about the needs of our shelters and to raise awareness of those needs.

You can follow along on our Facebook group, OPH Rescue Road Trip, where we’ll be sharing pictures, stories, and live videos all week long.

This is an exciting adventure for me, but it means that Daisy will have to leave our home which has been her safe haven for nearly seven weeks. Nick and Ian cannot be left in charge of Daisy for an entire week.

It’s not their safety I’m worried about – Daisy has shown no aggression at all towards any people (although it’s more than clear that she has suffered at the aggressive hands of people). The problem is that she goes into a blind panic if Nick or Ian approach her and I worry for her safety and emotional health if we force the issue. We have made incremental progress, but sadly, there is still so far to go in convincing her to trust them.

She has three options. One would be Continue reading Diary of a Rescue Week Six: Change is Coming

Saving Oreo’s Life

Oreo went to his first adoption event on Sunday. At a jewelry store!

Nelson Coleman Jewelers in Towson, MD featured OPH dogs in their holiday catalog. The pictures are gorgeous (and so are the dogs!). To celebrate, they hosted an adoption event on Sunday.

Oreo was pretty nervous at first—hair raised, clinging to me, but after he realized all that was expected of him was to sit calmly while people loved on him, he did great. He’s such a gentle, well-mannered giant, I forget that he hasn’t seen very much in his four years besides the rural countryside and the inside of a shelter.

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Which is what makes him so remarkable. For all he’s been through and the many, many ways that people have let him down, Continue reading Saving Oreo’s Life

A New Normal in this Foster Home

Our house is very quiet sans Gala.

Not that she was necessarily a noisy dog. Without her, though, the energy level has dropped.

Or maybe it’s the unrelenting gray, rainy weather.

Or maybe it’s because Frankie is out of sorts ever since his neuter and dew claw removal on Tuesday.

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Or maybe it’s just me, missing Gala.

There is no need to Continue reading A New Normal in this Foster Home

Homeless or Humanless?

I’ve been reading a lot of dog books lately. Partly, it’s because my upcoming book will be my first in this genre, and I want to get to know what’s already out there and the writers who publish these books. But mostly, I’ve become a bit addicted. I love reading about people’s experiences with dogs. It’s not just educational and entertaining, it’s also inspiring.

Rescuing Penny JaneIn Amy Sutherland’s book, RESCUING PENNY JANE, she writes about her experiences volunteering at a shelter, sharing a perspective I’ve never heard since I meet my dogs after they’ve left the shelter. I like to think that there are volunteers like Amy at the shelters where our dogs come from. Sutherland is a shelter volunteer, walking dogs every Friday for a local Animal Rescue League. She’s also a journalist and author, so of course, she overanalyzes and writes about her experience.

While it can be momentarily dense with information on shelter dogs, Rescuing Penny Jane is an exploration of the rescue dog world, but also Sutherland’s story of adopting a difficult rescue dog and sticking it out. She writes that she won’t be one of ‘them’, confiding that in becoming a regular at the shelter she is privy to the staff’s feelings about people who return dogs. And so, even though it strains her marriage, she sticks it out with Penny Jane, a fearful and more or less, feral dog.

Sutherland’s words remind me of my own experience with more than a few of my foster dogs. I write in this blog about the funny, the touching, the messy, and occasionally the heartbreak, but each story eventually culminates in one happy ending after another. What I rarely write about is how sometimes I reach my limit and more often sometimes my husband reaches his limit. There have been teary late-night walks waiting for a foster dog to just pee, already. There have been mornings spent on my knees scrubbing carpets and grumbling mangled curse words and masked threats (who am I going to offend? The dogs?). There have been plenty of words typed and then deleted, planned posts that never materialized, and frustrations outlined in detail for my husband even as I stroke the furry head of the offender. For a few hours, sometimes a day or two, I’m done. “Once this one is gone- no more fosters!”

So when Sutherland’s husband says, “It would be easier to return Penny Jane than to get a divorce.” I don’t laugh. I know he’s not joking.  Sutherland’s frustration and tears are familiar, and I read her story with a lump in my throat. I’ve thought so many of the same things.

There is one comment she makes relatively early in the book that struck me so much that I got up to find a pen so I could underline it. She wrote – Continue reading Homeless or Humanless?

Who Wants a Puppy for Christmas?

A house full of teenagers returning home from war school with laundry in hand, holiday chores, high-maintenance foster-dog, an as-yet-undecorated Christmas tree, zero Christmas cookies made, gift-shopping incomplete, gift-wrapping not-yet-a-thought, book edits due, and impending relatives – what else could we pile on?

How about puppies?

Great idea.

And yet, it is.

These four little girls are absolute loves. Well mannered, happy, loving, healthy, and precious. The perfect escape from the holiday load. Once again, my mudroom is full of puppies. All is well in my world.

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These puppies are the Giving Tuesday Pups. They got that name because all four have sponsors who donated at least $150 to OPH on Giving Tuesday in exchange for the naming rights of these puppies. Isn’t that cool? Doesn’t it make you want to donate $150 now so you can name a pup in my next bunch? (I can make that happen.)

These girls are three months old. They hail from my favorite rescue operation in North Carolina – Old North Canine Rescue, who took great care of them and sent them northward healthy, clean, and happy. The breed guess on this bunch is all over the place. They’re listed as terrier-beagle, but that’s really just an idea. No one knows, and they aren’t talking. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter. What they are is gorgeous puppies. That’s all any of us need to know. At between 10-15 pounds, they are not going to be huge dogs, especially the smaller two.  Let me introduce you…. Continue reading Who Wants a Puppy for Christmas?

I Don’t Think I Can Save Her

I’ve started and restarted this post again and again. I like to be positive and helpful and inspiring. I really don’t want to be a bummer on your day. But today, finding a positive note isn’t easy. And maybe that’s a message worth writing. Fostering isn’t all roses and puppy breath. It can be hard and it can be heartbreaking.

When we set off on our fostering adventure, my biggest fear was that we would get a dog that would never be adopted.

Lately, I feel as if we are living that fear. Yes, yes, I tell myself, Gala’s family will come. They always do.

But for now, for this week, it doesn’t seem evenly remotely possible.

When I write about Gala, I’ve tried to focus on the positive Continue reading I Don’t Think I Can Save Her

What it Takes to Raise an Awesome Dog

Frankie and Buford have become bestbuds.

I know Frankie will miss Buford when he finds his forever family. And I’m sure that will be soon, because this is one awesome puppy.

He’s my sweet little shadow in the house, regularly nudging me with his big nose (think Spud McKenzie) asking gently for my attention. I traveled to Hanover with Buford for an adoption event and he slept quietly the whole drive which was hilly and long. At the event, he was calm and friendly—quite a difference from the other overly excitable puppy attending the event. They really don’t make much nicer pups than this. Somebody is going to score bigtime with this adoption.

I know having dogs and puppies coming and going may seem a bit disruptive emotionally for Frankie, but it’s my greatest hope that instead of being a negative experience for Frankie’s little heart, it’ll be a positive one. He’ll discover that there are LOTS of dogs to love and that even though I might be paying a lot of attention to the latest visitor, that dog is just that – a visitor. I’m hopeful it will make Frankie a welcoming, confident, friendly dog who is always ready to make a new friend.

Because that is exactly NOT the kind of dog Gracie is.

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Upon meeting any new dog, Gracie’s assumption is Continue reading What it Takes to Raise an Awesome Dog