Dog-hearted People

It feels weird not to have a foster dog. That’s what this has come down to—my normal is extra temporary dogs running underfoot. Yes, Gala is still here, but as of today, she’s officially been here six months, so she’s less of a foster dog and more of a long-term boarder.

I’m torn about asking for a new foster dog. The only dogs I can take with Gala around are puppies, but I’m traveling a fair amount this month and asking my family to take care of Gracie, Gala, Frankie, and a few random puppies who poop, might be pushing it.

And yet….I really want to be doing something. Continue reading Dog-hearted People

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This is a Special Dog

In less than a week, it will be six months since Gala arrived at our house. At this point, she believes she is our dog.

She is not.

I don’t know why she hasn’t found her family. I keep telling people who ask, that her family must be pretty special people if she has to wait this long. But then again, she is a special dog.

Part of me questions whether I am helping or hindering her adoption effort by writing about her, but it would seem insincere not to share her stories. And there are many. Because this is a special dog.

“Latest circus trick,” I say to Nick as we watch Gala Continue reading This is a Special Dog

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).

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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

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.

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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.

Houdini and Houseguests

It’s normally pretty busy around here, but this weekend the dogs drove us to a new normal. In addition to Edith who was recovering from her spay operation (and still insisting that someone please throw this ball for me!),

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our own darling Gracie (who maxed out on her putting-up-with-guest-dogs limit),

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three puppies (one of which turned out to be a Houdini of sorts and another of which developed exploding diarrhea for about 36 hours),

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we had houseguests who brought their own adorable muppet dog (at my invitation, cause, you know, there’s no such thing as too many dogs….).

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The initial arrival of Chewie (short for Chewbacca), brought a full chorus of welcomes (or warnings) from all five of our canine residents. Gracie was surprisingly more friendly to Chewie than she’s been to the three rascals in the puppy room. (Although, she has stopped snarling at the puppies and now simply pretends they don’t exist, avoiding the room altogether.) Edith was thrilled to welcome five more humans, cozying up to each of them in turn. She now has five more fans. The only evidence of any increased stress for Edith was that she upped her intake of stuffed pumpkins, obliterating five of them while our guests were here. The puppies LOVED Chewie, but he found their enthusiasm a little too much as he is a grown up one-year-old and all.

Lucky for us, everybody who lives here is pretty much immune to the noise and chaos and our friends are easy guests, so it worked. They weren’t the least bit fazed when I told them we’d put a new jumbo pack of earplugs in the guest bath for their use. Sure, sleep was at a premium and I’m not certain anyone (except perhaps my college age son who was home for the weekend and didn’t get out of bed until 3pmish on Saturday) got a restful night’s sleep. Continue reading Houdini and Houseguests

Second Chances

Now that I’m back to walking (YES! MRI revealed lots of damage, but nothing to stop me from moving forward and continuing to heal on my own!) I’ve had a chance to catch up on my thinking. So much was backlogged in my brain – ideas, worries, dreams, questions, stories. Lucy and I have increased our walk time each day this week and this morning we wandered the back roads for nearly an hour.

I’m still mulling over the book Rescue Road and pondering the enormous challenges to dog rescue in the US (and in the world). I had begun to feel the same way I did when my elementary school science teacher explained how far away Pluto was – it seemed like an insurmountable distance.

My teeny, tiny part in rescuing dogs couldn’t possibly put even the idea of a dent in the problem. Probably my thoughts were colored by my inability to move without pain. But now, the world looks different. I’m ready to get back in the game. I’m ready to save some more dogs.

I’ve had my moments of frustration with Lucy these past few weeks. She has come so far – she’s no longer scratching and her beautiful tri-colored coat is coming back in, her energy levels are rising (and rising!), and her happiness quotient somehow went even higher.

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Here she is playing with the filling for the Frank bed.

My frustration springs from the fact that she is not accustomed to living indoors. It hasn’t been an easy transition. Part of me wants to put her on a line outside. She’d probably be more comfortable. That’s what she’s known. Instead, we keep her in the kitchen and walk her frequently. We reward her when she pees outside and admonish her when she pees inside.

I think she finally understands she shouldn’t pee on our floor, but this morning when she evidently couldn’t hold it a moment longer, she peed on the Frank bed. I was so angry! Why would she do this? Why? Why? Why? I took her outside and then I closed her in her crate. Continue reading Second Chances