Sunday, September 18, 2011

"As we move through life, the force of fate creates events that we only appreciate when we reflect on our existence."

Every now and then, THAT foster dog comes along.  You know?  The one that you just can't stand to let go?  Most people... who have never fostered... are probably thinking that EVERY foster dog is THAT dog.  But when you've fostered... you begin to understand.  Most fosters... you CAN let go... because the need to allow yourself to foster another - to save another life - are much stronger than the need to adopt that most recent addition.  It is when you get the dogs that connect with YOUR dogs that are the hardest to let go.  As a foster mom, I'm often sad about letting them go... but at the same time, I'm so happy that I was able to be a part of their journey in finding their forever homes.  But when my dogs fall head over paws over one of my fosters, it makes me feel terribly sad to let them go.  As human beings, we often think about ourselves - and how bringing a dog into our lives affects us - and how letting them go is such a bittersweet moment.  But what about our own dogs?  How does it affect them?

Each foster dog that enters my home affects my own dogs differently.  As the old man of the family, Jackson takes the longest to warm up to the newcomers.  Brody - well - he wags his tail and introduces himself for a minute... before getting distracted by a toy... inevitably something to fetch... and ends up not caring that much about the newcomer.  Lyla, my foster failure dog, tends to be more interested than anyone.  She throws herself at the newcomer and is more excited than ever!

Well, this time, Lyla fell in love with a foster that I only have for a few days.  His original foster family was going out of town... and needed someone to keep an eye on him.  So here I am.  Brody, Jackson, Lyla... and cats... and all.  Oddly enough, even Jackson doesn't seem to mind Harley.  Brody likes him... and even shares his toys.  Lyla... on the other hand... has fallen in love with him.  They just adore each other!

But... sometimes... life gets in the way of fate.  While all signs point to the fact that Harley belongs in my family... my living situation points elsewhere.  What a shame... because I know for a fact that Lyla is going to miss her "baby" more than anything!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sometimes... you just have to laugh.

If you’ve ever had a dog before, you know that something is bound to get destroyed at some point.  I can’t even begin to count how many pillows and comforter sets Brody annihilated.  Fortunately for me, while the “little things” have been absolutely chewed up or ripped to pieces, I haven’t lost a couch or the blinds or anything of that extent yet.  But, hey, I am only twenty-five.  I’ve got many years ahead of me... in which I’m sure to acquire one of those problem dogs that gets so freaked out that eating the couch is the only way to make it better.

My biggest loss was when Benji was living with me.  Benji didn’t have a great upbringing, so it only seemed fair that he became anxious when I left him alone in the house with the other dogs.  Due to sheer stupidity, I sometimes forgot to shut the door to my bedroom.  I came home one day to find the power cord to my Mac chewed up into tiny pieces.  Let me also mention that I was struggling to pay for anything at the time... as well as the fact that I’m such an internet addict that the thought of my laptop’s battery dying before the new power cord arrived nearly killed me.  I was irate... but what good would yelling do now?  Oh... and let’s not forget to mention that ANYTHING Mac is pricey!  I immediately ordered a new power cord and crossed my fingers that it would arrive before my laptop died.  I swear that I practically proposed to the UPS delivery man when my new power cord arrived just in the knick of time!  I think I had 17% battery life left... or something close.

On top of that, there were plenty of times the three stooges (Benji, Brody, and Meaty) would just get a little too excited and go crazy on whatever they could find.  I remember coming home one time to find that the dogs had gotten into a  container of powdered chocolate milk... which had been spread so kindly all over the carpet in my bedroom.

I’ve come home countless times to find shredded toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls.  Brody got into the habit of taking anything I left in the sink out while I was gone.  After going through puppyhood with quite a few puppies, I’ve even noticed some teethmarks in my coffee table.

My three dogs seem to have finally settled into their own.  I leave the house, and they sleep.  There are foster dogs floating in and out, too, but I usually crate them while I’m gone.  I’ve learned to block off the carpeted rooms.  I’ve learned not to leave anything in the sink.  I’ve learned to put everything away... unless I want to come home and pick up the 3 million remnants of whatever it was that left out.  Cords are all out of reach, too!  When you have free-roaming dogs, you learn to adjust.  I’ve come to the realization that dogs are dogs, and you can’t expect them to always be perfect.  Our intelligence level is much higher - though I doubt that often - so it’s kind of our job to either crate the dogs or learn to pick up and keep what you want safe out of reach.

The creation of this entry was sparked by last night’s events.  It’s my “birthday weekend” right now, so the last few days have been pretty busy.  I haven’t spent as much time with the dogs as I normally do.  Apparently yesterday was the tipping point for the dogs.  Not only had I been out late the night before, but I also had to leave for a horse show in the morning on Saturday.  I left around 9:30AM and was gone much longer than I had expected.  I got home at about 5:00PM.  Since I don’t have a job, my dogs really aren’t used to me being gone that long.  I finally returned home and got to spend a mere half hour with the dogs before it was time to leave again.  Since I didn’t have much time... and had to get ready for a party... I decided against feeding them dinner a little early... and just feeding them later.  Little did I know... I wouldn’t be getting home until about 10:30PM.  Poor Bentley had been in his crate nearly all day... and I was sure that my poor dogs were simply starving at that point!  When I finally returned home and opened the door, I was greeted by antsy dogs and a living room FULL of white fluff.  The pillow that I always leave on the couch had been murdered.  It looked like it had snowed in my living room!  That pillow has been sitting on that couch for months, and they’ve never touched it.  But... I suppose that was their way of saying, “Mom, you totally neglected us today.  Not cool.”  Running on a couple hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, the last thing I wanted to do was come home to clean up the innards of my pillow.  All I wanted to do was let the dogs out, feed them, let them out once more, then go the hell to bed!  But that wasn’t the case.

I wasn’t mad, though.  I was more amused by the fact that that seemed to be their way of saying, “TAKE THAT!  You left us all day AND haven’t freakin’ fed us yet!  Mommy’s pillow must die!”  I walked into my house full of cotton snow and simply couldn’t help from laughing.  With dogs, those sorts of things are going to happen every once in a while.  There’s no use in getting mad.  Technically... it’s your fault.  You should have put your stuff away! 

Sometimes... you just have to laugh.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tied Down

With my impending birthday weekend... in which I’ll be celebrating my 25th year on this earth... I’ve run into a problem.  Well, it’s not that much of a problem for me as it seems to be for others.  Not to mention the quarter life crisis that is sure to come, I feel like I need to discuss something that I hear more often than I’d like to.  That question... phrase... whatever... is: Don’t you hate being tied down by all of those animals?
The blatant answer to that question is... ABSOLUTELY NOT!  “You should really stop fostering...” and “You need to get rid of some of those animals.  You can never do anything...” are the forbidden sentences to cross my path this week.
Yes, having these animal companions in my house does keep me from going places or staying out too long.  Preparing for vacation is almost so stressful that it’s not worth ever leaving.  Let’s not forget to mention that hiring pet-sitters or finding a good place to board is practically as expensive as vacation is.The more I thought about sacrificing vacations and time spent out, the more I realized that I prefer to be “tied down” opposed to having that freedom.  I’m a homebody.  I like coming home to my animals.  I’d much rather spend an evening huddled up on the couch with my dogs than I would out drinking with friends.  It’s not that I don’t love my friends as much as my animals.  That’s not it at all.  I just prefer to relax at home surrounded by my dogs and cats.  Ever since I was a child, I had to have my “quiet time” away from the hustle of life.  I’d spend hours upstairs in the playroom with my animal toys... making them talk to each other and embark on incredible adventures.  I still need my “quiet time” and always have.  That’s just me.
I like going home to tend to my animals.  I’m not angry that I can’t stay out too long or go on vacations.  I have responsibilities to take care of.  While you might think I’m tied down, I feel the opposite.  I’m freer than most of you will ever be.

So for those who understand where I’m coming from, we’ll keep our little secret.  When we say, “I’m sorry, I can’t stay much longer.  I have to get home and feed the dogs...”, I won’t roll my eyes and wonder why you “tie yourself down” with all of those pets.  I get it.  I’m glad that I have dogs... because I love them, and they enrich my life.  But... on top of that... I’m glad I have dogs... because if gives me an excuse to come home, slap on my PJs, and spend some time with the souls that love me most.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Peace in ourselves, peace in the world."

Today was a day filled with both happiness and sadness.  As I drove to the K9 Justice League adoption event, I thought about how much I'd miss Lars when he's finally adopted.  Letting your foster dog go is a funny kind of thing.  Your heart feels so many emotions when the day finally comes.  You're sad because you're losing a dog that you've let into your heart for however long.  You're happy because you helped save that dog's life.  You gave that dog a home and the environment he or she needed to have a chance.  YOU made a difference.  What closes the deal for me - what makes letting these dogs go bearable - is the thought that I'll be able to let another dog into my home that needs just as much help as the one before.  All emotions aside, though, the event went well, and Lars had a lot of people interested him - some that fit... and some that simply didn't.  Lars had a good day and seemed to enjoy all of the attention!  How can you NOT love a handsome boy like Lars?!  I'm shocked that he hasn't been adopted yet... simply because Lars is my "dream dog".  Like the rest of you, I can't adopt another dog.  My house is full... and fostering is important to me.  If I could, Lars would have a home with me in a millisecond!  So... I just have to keep holding out for that 'perfect home' for my Brindle Boy Wonder.  Giving him up WILL be hard.  He doesn't make it easy.  Lars is all about snuggling and looking cute!  He's pretty damn hard to resist.

The other kids were excited to see Lars when I got home... but the poor bugger was so tired that he immediately decided to take a nap.  After everyone got their sillies out (excluding Lars), I decided it was about time for Lyla to have a bath since I had some extra time.  She's all about getting dirty!  Lyla likes sunbathing as much as Jackson does.  Maybe even more!  She heads outside and plops herself down in the dirt without a care in the world.  Lyla - well - she's crazy.  She's a Pit/Lab mix with a lot of energy and attitude... though friendly as all with other dogs... and even cats!  She's just hard-headed.  Anyway, it was time to give the princess a bath.  I placed her in the tub, wet her down, shampooed her, and rinsed her off.  Throughout this entire process, Lyla stood like a statue and cooperated for her bath.  After the bath was over... it was time for the blow-dry... which she also showed no resistance to.  It was then that I started to get all emotional and mommy-like.  That was just the beginning.  While Lyla is still wild and obnoxious... I wondered where the heck my insane dog went.  Whether she was flailing around and growling about having her nails trimmed or jumping through the screen to join the neighbor's party at midnight... I just couldn't believe that my little girl was finally starting to grow up.  I was planning on saving an entry like this for Lyla's first birthday... but it seems to have happened a little sooner.

When did my 4-week-old foster puppy become an adult?!  I remember falling in love with her so clearly.  Brody was a year old... plus some.  I had gone through hell with that dog.  The last thing I wanted was another puppy.  But then this little Pit mix puppy came into my life.  She was adorable, loved Brody, Jackson tolerated her, and I found myself spending a lot more time with her than her two sisters.  I loved them all... but there was something about this little lady that drew me to her.  I couldn't imagine letting her go.  I racked my brain over and over and over again.  Can I afford another dog?  Do I really want to go through puppy hood again?  What the heck am I thinking?!  But I truly loved her... and I couldn't imagine separating Lyla from Brody.  So I adopted yet another dog... and strapped myself down to deal with puppy hood again.  Honestly... it was crazy all over again.  I took some time off from fostering to deal with integrating my senior dog, less than two-year-old GSD mix, and my brand new Pit/Lab puppy.  Everything went well... because I believe that these dogs were all meant to be together.  It wasn't terribly long before I was fostering again.  I'm glad that Lyla grew up like that, too, because she was exposed to a lot of different dogs throughout her maturation.  Now... no dog is a stranger.  She loves everyone!

In the midst of my emotionally strange day, I turned the television to a channel in which Marley and Me was on!  That's NEVER a good idea.  I cried through the book.  The movie?  Even more traumatizing!  I was already all teary-eyed about my Lyla growing up... when I started to think about Jackson as I was watching the movie.  I really should have just turned it off!  Jackson is about 8-years-old - as best as we can estimate.  Jackson was the first dog that was really mine.  I rescued him and restored his health.  He was the first dog that I really saved.  When I say that I'll need to be institutionalized when Jackson goes, I'm not lying!  Don't get me started on how I feel while watching Marley and Me.  It involves bawling, hyperventilating, and clutching my hands over my heart - because the thought of losing one of my babies hurts that much - and it's inevitable when your dogs start to get older... or even if some terrible accident happens.  Either way, it's hard to lose these little four-legged friends.

So what's there to say after my night of tears?  Other than the ones who comforted me were my dogs.  My dogs and my foster dogs both sprung into action and licked my tears away.  Seriously... watching Marley and Me had me bawling like a baby!

Anyway, enough of that.  On a more positive note, I'm very happy to say that I met a lot of pro-Pit folks today... including a 69-year-old woman who had a Pit already... and recently adopted one from AC.  Today gave me hope.  I cringe when I have to say a dog is a Pit or a Pit mix... because seeing THAT look - the look that you get from people who don't know anything about the breed - is kind of hard for me to deal with... simply because I just don't get it.  However, I did meet a lot of people who didn't shy away from the word "Pit Bull" today... and that's more than I could ask for.  I only hope that people continue to educate themselves about the breed and spread the love rather than the hate!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself."

Every foster parent has dealt with the inevitable.  The more you foster, the more likely you are to come across that dog that you really wish could be yours.

It was October of 2010 when three puppies came into my life.  They were Pit/Lab girls... and their mom gave birth to them in the heat of August all while greatly malnourished and tied to a tree.  There were ten puppies altogether, but one didn't make it.  While Hope was stuck in the shelter due to the court case, the remaining nine puppies were welcomed into K9 Justice League with open arms.  Once my first foster dog, Zoe, was adopted, I agreed to foster three of the puppies.  It was then that Sheba, Tiana, and Lush entered my life.  They were about four or five weeks old and a lot of work... but so insanely cute that it didn't matter if they pottied and got poo all over me in their excitement to see that I was home.  How can you be mad or disgusted when puppies that cute are that happy to see you?!

It wasn't long before I noticed Sheba spending more time with my dogs than her siblings.  She loved Brody... and Jackson didn't seem to mind her.  Jackson is a grumpy, old man... so for him not to mind is a big feat in itself!  It wasn't long before I noticed that I was spending more time will Sheba, taking more pictures, talking about her more.  I had no plans to adopt another puppy.  Absolutely not.  Brody was absolute HELL when he was a puppy... and I wanted nothing to do with them ever again.  But all of the signs pointed in the other direction.  Sheba stayed with my dogs, slept or sat in my lap when people came to look at them, and really seemed to have made herself at home... in MY home.  I racked my brain over and over again to decide whether or not I could handle another dog AND still foster.  In the end, I adopted Sheba (now Lyla) and continued to foster.  I'm not sure if I would have adopted her if I couldn't continue to foster, though.  Fostering is near to my heart and so very important to me.  It's almost been a year now... and Lyla has done her job by driving me insane... but being so incredibly cute that I can't stand it... or be mad!  How can you be made at that face?!

I can't believe it's almost been a year since I've added my beautiful girl to my family!  And,  almost a year later, I've come to the same problem.  Not so much a problem since I know I can't adopt another dog... but my heart aches over the fact that I can't adopt my handsome, brindle boy wonder, Lars!  Everything about the situation says, "Emily, you are his mom!"... yet every bone in my body is dedicated to continuing to open my home to foster dogs that need that special place to stay for just a little bit.  I am well aware that Lars will find his forever family soon... and they will be perfect for him.  Fate will be in charge of someone else for now.

For the time, though, I'll love him as my own... and keep my fingers crossed that he's adopted soon. The longer they stay, the harder it gets.  Fortunately I don't really have a choice in this matter... because fostering has become a very important part of my life as well as the people involved in the rescue have, too.

You remember what happened last time I saw a puppy sleeping on Brody like that?

She never left!

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."

Where to begin?  It seems like so much has happened since the last update... though that wasn't that long ago.

Lonnie, my last foster dog, is now living the life with another foster family.  K9 Justice League arranged this situation so I could foster a dog from Paws of Hertford County when it was time for the pull.  Lonnie will be at his current foster home throughout the week... and another foster family during the weekend.  This will be good for him... because he needs exposure after the life he's lived.  It'll be good for him.

I still have Lars.  He had a meet and greet... and the current dog of the house wasn't really having it.  They got along well outside in the yard, but it was a different story once they were inside.  I'm in love with him.  He's going to be hard to let go.  First of all, I love brindle dogs.  I think they are beautiful.  Secondly, he's a Pit Bull.  Strike 2... in a good way.  Strike 3?  He's the best snuggler in the world.  Not to mention the fact that I had him his first night in the rescue.  I know I can't adopt another dog, though, so that makes it a little easier.  He's just going to be hard to see off.  I really do adore the pup... and I really don't like having puppies that much!

We made our trip to Paws of Hertford County on Wednesday afternoon.  I rode with my fellow foster mom and had a blast!  We got there and took a tour, and I realized how hard the volunteers worked with so little that they had.  While they have a few indoor kennels for the dogs, most of them are outdoors.  But... even outdoors in the heat... the dogs seemed happy.  They had baby pools to play in... people to pay attention to them, and seemed quite content.  We got to see the cat/kitten room, too, and they seemed quite happy.  It was clear that the volunteers were working hard to take care of the animals there.

We went to an outdoor yard full of about 10 dogs.  Those were the dogs that needed our help the most... some of which who had been there the longest.  I didn't realized that choosing would be so hard.  One of the K9 Justice League creators was there and in charge of who came home with us... but she was also counting on us to figure out which dogs we thought would do best in our houses.  Tessa was the first dog that caught my eye.  She was a sweet soul... but we soon found out that she wasn't good with cats.  In my house, it's necessary to be good with cats... considering the fact that I have four of my own.  I also really liked Theo, a mix that probably needs to have his eye removed.  Then came Perseus.  I had looked at pictures already... and Perseus hadn't been one of my picks.  I'm a black dog girl... a Bully dog girl... a three-legged dog girl... one-eyed dog girl... not a yellow Lab mix girl.  But little Perseus was thin and sweet and happy-go-lucky.  Perseus and I hung out for a minute... bonded... and that was that.  He came home with me as my new foster.  I didn't know the decision would be so hard... but I was truly picking a dog for my dogs... not for me.  If it were up to me, I would have picked some random Pit Bull... but when you have as many dogs as I do in a house, you have to pick your new dog for your dogs, not for you.  Perseus (now Bentley) came to my house nervous and not so sure about all four dogs in my house.  Soon enough, Bentley and Lars were best of friends.  I was proud of my three dogs... accepting my new foster without a blink of an eye.  Even my cats are used to new dogs coming into the house!

Bentley wasn't thrilled about spending the night in the crate alone.  Once I dragged the crate into my room... he was fine.  He just wants to know that he's with people.  He's been doing well with house-training.  He seems to understand that.  At first, I was worried about training him.  He really didn't seem to comprehend the idea of "sit."  He's just hungry... and wanted to jump up on me all of the time.  Tonight, though, Bentley figured out how to "sit."  I figured that I'd try "down" once he got "sit."  He got it!  It'll take some consistent work... but he knows what he's doing.  He's still young... so I can't expect much... and who knows what he lived through beforehand?  He's truly a sweet dog.  He doesn't have a mean bone in his body.

So... I've got a house full of dogs... and I can't express enough how thankful I am for the Paws of Hertford County and K9 Justice League for doing everything they can to save the lives of dogs.  I'm glad to be a part of it, too.  And I wish that more people would put their selfishness aside and try to foster a dog.  Yes, it's hard to give up a dog you've put your all into... but it's even better to know that you just saved a dog's life... and opened up a space for another once that dog is adopted.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."

It seems quite fitting that Lars may be spending his last night with me - the person who had him for the first night after he was rescued.  The little brindle wonder has a meet and greet with a family tomorrow.  My fingers are crossed that they fall in love with him as quickly as everyone else has!

Brittni spent a little over a month with Lars and did an awesome job!  Puppies are difficult... so props to anyone who can foster a puppy.  He sits very nicely and waits for his treat!  He's definitely been raised for that month and some in good hands!  I've fostered quite a few puppies... and I feel like giving up puppies is harder than giving up the adults.  There's something about raising a puppy that makes that attachment stronger.  I love all of my foster dogs and have a hard time giving any of them up... but there's just something about puppies.  I honestly don't even care for puppies much.  They aren't house-trained, they bark, they have a ton of energy, you have to teach them everything, and they just about drive you insane.  But I suppose that motherly instinct kicks in... and that's that.

Lars spent some time on the other side of the gate while the other dogs sniffed him and checked him out.  They've already met... but just briefly.  It was the typical meeting.  The grouchy old man that he is, Jackson growled.  Lyla wanted to kiss him to death.  Brody greeted, wagged his tail, then headed back to the couch to sleep.  Lonnie was so insanely excited that he jumped up and down... vertically... for probably 15 minutes straight.  Once my crew calmed down, it was time to open the gate.  There was a lot of "talking", wrestling, and pure chaos.  Gloria, of course, was out and about.  I swear that cat thinks she's a dog.  Gloria showed Lars that she was the boss and chasing cats would not be acceptable.  Seriously, keeping Gloria... best decision ever.  She's been great with all of the foster dogs!  Such a good teacher!  Like I needed another cat in my life... but... they pick you.  When they fit in as well as Gloria did... you can't just send them to someone else!

Aside from adding Lars to the family... for perhaps just a short time... everyone is doing well.  I went on vacation for a week and left all of the dogs with different people.  All of their caretakers did a fantastic job with them!  Of course... everyone seems happy to be home.  Lonnie has been doing well.  He seems much more confident these days.  I think spending some time at other houses did him good!  Not quite as nervous in new situations.  Such a happy-go-lucky boy!  Lonnie even got a little media coverage while I was gone!  WTKR, our local news station, has an "Adoptable Pet of the Day" segment at noon daily... and I was able to get in touch with the reporter over Facebook and have Lonnie featured!  I do hope that he finds his forever home soon.  He deserves it.

After hours of playing and figuring out the pecking order, the chaos seems to have subsided.  The cats are all napping... Gloria on the coffee table, Cricket in my unpacked suitcase, and Cali on the bed.  Lonnie is asleep in the crate, Brody, Lyla, and Lars are all asleep on the couch next to me, and Jackson is standing here by the couch wondering why it's not a little bigger.  I need to buy a little chair just for him.  The couch only fits three dogs if I'm sitting on it, too!  Unless they double up... but Jackson is weird about that.  Hmmm... and as I typed that... Brody got off of the couch and is now sleeping on the floor with Gloria.  Cricket has changed his sleeping spot to the coffee table... and Jackson has curled up where Brody had been on the couch.  Compromise is good.

So... like I said... my house is about as chaotic as it can get.  But these quiet moments are moments to remember.  All I see are content dogs... and they are content because they spent the day playing and romping and being happy... and maybe even driving me a little crazy.  I just don't get how anyone could mistreat these sweet souls.  I wouldn't trade my life for anything.

Photo by Brittni Naylor

Let's not forget that K9 Justice League is heading to North Carolina to the Paws of Hertford County shelter to save some dogs!  I'm lucky enough to be tagging along!  How exciting!  I'm not sure if I'll be lucky enough to bring a new foster home or not... but at least some will be saved.  It all depends on the situation with Lonnie and Lars... whether or not I get to bring anyone home.  We'll see!  I'm just excited that I get to tag along and check the shelter out.  The Paws of Hertford County people are good people... so I want to get a taste of their world, too.  Time will tell... keeping fingers crossed...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Chaos is a friend of mine."

My house is pure chaos.
I've stepped in puddles of pee.
I've cleaned up explosive diarrhea while gagging and trying not to breathe.
My days revolve around making sure the dogs get enough playtime.
My days begin between 5AM-6AM and don't end until after 11PM most nights.
Nights are spent contorting my body to a position in which all of the dogs also fit on the bed.
The cats make "music" throughout the night by knocking everything off of everything.
I spend unimaginable amounts of money on litter, meat for the dogs, cat/ferret food, bedding for the ferrets/snake, bowls, toys, paper towels, leashes, collars, vet visits, and so on...
I can't be away from the dogs for more than 4 hours without getting anxious.
I've come home to eaten remotes, rolls of paper towels, plasticware (stolen out of the sink!), mail, dog beds, and quite a few other items.
Vacation is practically unimaginable... and when I do leave... I'm always worried about the animals.
I sweep/vacuum multiple times a day... and there's STILL hair everywhere.
I have to walk most of the dogs separately... and I usually have anywhere between 3-5 at a time!
It's loud, messy, exhausting, and chaotic.

But... I wouldn't trade that chaos for anything.

I'm greeted by wagging tails daily... and Gloria the Cat.
I can't not laugh when I watch the dogs run into the backyard and imagine a herd of horses.  That's what it sounds like!
There's nothing better than waking up to the sound of thumping tails.
Looking outside and seeing all of the dogs sunbathing on the deck makes me happy.
When the dogs are outside, the cats sit around me and purr.
I get a box at restaurants just to bring my dogs home the leftovers.
They know when I'm sad.
They listen when I talk.
They give me kisses, let me hug them, and allow me to torture them by taking thousands of pictures.
Anything obnoxious that they've done before can't outweigh the love they have given me.
I love my pets... whether they drive me crazy or not.
I'd be lost without them.

So, yes, my life is chaotic.  I'm sleep-deprived, my wallet is empty, I feel like I work... but don't have a job, but... most importantly... my heart is full.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"When one door closes, another one opens..."

Mandy's official adoption day was on Thursday.  I started crying BEFORE Mandy's new mommy came to pick her up!  That's never happened before!  Then again, she was a part of my life for a long time.  I feel like it's a little different when it comes to puppies.  Going through puppyhood is a HUGE part of of the process of owning dogs.  If you've ever had a puppy, you know what I'm talking about it!  I love puppies.  I do.  However... after raising quite a few... I have to admit that the adults are just THAT much easier.  The great part about Mandy, though, was that she was never that difficult as a puppy.  She was always pretty well-behaved, rarely had accidents, did well in the crate, and was an overall good girl.  Mandy was truly was a joy to have in my life.  Same with her sister, Candy.  Both of them were great!  But going through puppyhood means you were there for that special part of their lives.  You were there through the tough times - whether it was the potty-training, crate-training, chewing, whining, barking... and all of the other fantastic aspects that come with puppies.  If you can make it through puppyhood, you can make it through anything!  Lucky for me, Candy and Mandy were easy puppies.  Yes, I miss them both, but I know that K9 Justice League works hard to find the right families for the dogs, so at least I always know that my babies are in good hands when they finally leave for their forever homes.

I went a whole 48 hours without a foster in my house.  Okay, maybe it was a little less.  The need for a new foster kicked in just moments after Mandy left.  My dogs were calm and quiet.  They were sleeping.  Lyla wasn't wrestling with anyone.  It was... weird.  It was too quiet!  Jessica mentioned that a shelter from North Carolina was bringing a handful of dogs to an adoption event at one of our local Petsmarts.  She had her eye on Lonnie.  We agreed to meet there near the end of the event.  Go figure... who remained?  Lonnie!  Another dog, Blackie, was also left behind.  For now, the rescue could only take one on, so I had the pleasure of taking Lonnie home with me.

Lonnie is a Hound mix... from what I can tell.  He's quite handsome!  About a year old... spent about a month-and-a-half in the shelter... probably 40lbs or less... and a total sweetheart!  I brought him home yesterday to meet my crazy kids.  He was nervous about my dogs at first... considering that they bombarded him.  He didn't even get into the house before they "greeted" him.  Jackson did his typical growling and acting dominant.  Brody did his sniffing... then insisted that I play fetch with him.  Lyla was thrilled to have a brand new BFF!  She loves her foster siblings!  I sent them out into the backyard... yelled at Jackson some... and watched as Lonnie and Lyla tore up the backyard running in circles.  They had a blast!  So... Jackson stood on the deck, Brody played with his ball, and Lyla and Lonnie played tag with each other.

He's settling in pretty well and figuring out where he stands with the dogs.  Gloria has put him in his place, too, letting him know that cats are nothing to chase or play with or pester.  She's a great teacher!  I'm assuming he's never lived in a house before.  He was very nervous about the ceiling fan.  He'd just stare at it... and scoot a little at times.  He's curious... just not so sure.  He's also nervous about coming inside from being outside.  It's like he thinks the door will shut on him!  He's being really good, though!  No accidents, no whining in the crate, being good with the dogs and the cats... and is generally doing great!

Hopefully Lonnie will settle in well and find a new home soon!  He's great and cute and playful... so I think he deserves a great home.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Happiness is a form of courage."

As Mandy's adoption day nears, I become sadder and sadder and become more attached by the minute.  We snuggle on the couch.  We take pictures together.  We snuggle on the bed in the morning.  We nap together.  Mandy even spends time at home outside of the crate while I'm gone.  I love my foster dogs to pieces, but I'll be the first to admit that they get a little "extra love" when I find out they will be going to a new home soon.

Whether it's for me or them, I think it helps both of us through the process.

Foster dogs are members of your family, but they are also projects.  You bring them into your home with the hope of preparing them for their forever homes.  You love them like they are your own, but you also try your hardest to mold them into a dog that someone would be lucky to have in their household.  My dogs sleep in the bed with me.  My foster dogs sleep in a crate.  My dogs are loose when I leave the house.  My foster dogs stay in a crate.  I love them just as much as I love my dogs, but it's my duty to try to turn them into a "model dog" for a family.

When the time comes for a foster to go to a new family, I find myself letting the dog stay out of the crate while I'm gone on occasion.  I might even let the foster sleep in the bed one night!  At this point, my fosters know that I love them.  Hopefully they know how to act in a house.  They know how to act around dogs and cats and people.  They're ready, and I suppose that's what matters when it comes down to it.

I can't even voice how much I'm going to miss Mandy, but I've taken the pleasure of Face-stalking Mandy's new family, and I feel completely and totally confident that they are perfect for each other, and Mandy is going to have an amazing future.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

One Night Stand (Foster Dog Style)...

First... I'd like to start of with announcing that Mandy is being adopted!  Wow, it's been 2 1/2 months since I started fostering her!  I think I've had her longer than I've had any foster so far.  Just like any other dog that comes through the door, she's become a part of my family.  In the last 2 1/2 months, I've watched Mandy grow both physically and emotionally.  My shy little blob of a puppy has turned into a solid, beautiful, confident lady.  Mandy had her meet-and-greet on Saturday with her potential adopters.  Mandy made herself at home right away!  She wasn't nervous or apprehensive about any of it.  She greeted her people, looked at the cats, and had a blast playing in the backyard!  They looked at Jessica and said, "We want to adopt her."  Music to my ears... as well as a little piece of my heart breaking off.  I'm thrilled, I really am.  Any foster parent knows that the dog being adopted out is both happy and sad.  The more you foster, though, the more you begin to realize that you're doing something amazing for that dog.  And when that dog is adopted to a wonderful family?  Guess what?  You're letting that dog go because, once you do, you get to help save the life of another one.  I actually get to hang onto Mandy for another 2 weeks until her new foster parents are totally ready.  I'm excited for Mandy.  It's been a long time coming.

Onto my day today!  K9 Justice League had a booth set up at Out in the Park (Hampton Roads' gay pride event) and had donation boxes out, dog bandanas to sell, and information to be given!  No better way to get the word out than by being there and spreading it yourself!  I dropped by to visit and buy bandanas.  Rebecca, one of the foster moms, makes them herself!  They are great!  I ended up getting four of them for my kids!  Lyla actually got two.  Somebody's "mommy's little girl", huh?!

As usual, I had a great time hanging out with the wonderful ladies of K9 Justice League.  Jessica ended up asking me if I'd mind holding onto a puppy tonight and taking him to the vet tomorrow.  They were picking up an owner surrender that needed a place to stay for the night and someone to transport to the vet tomorrow.  I was happy to volunteer!  The car ride to pick up the puppy was epic.  Yeah, you know it was pretty amusing if I used the word "epic" while typing this up, huh?!  In a nutshell, we got the puppy and parted ways.  Lars slept quietly on the dog bed in the back of my car for the whole ride home.  He's only about 10-weeks-old.  Looks like a Boxer or a Boxer mix.  He has a sore leg, so he's not allowed to romp around with my pack of dogs.  I had him in a crate at first, but he wasn't thrilled about the situation, so I put him in the area where I usually feed the dogs.  He has about four times the space he had in the crate and seems much happier!  I've only spent the last few hours with him, but I've learned that he does well in the car, thrives on human companionship, seems fine with other dogs (at least from the other side of a gate), takes treats gently, "sits" on command, learned immediately not to mess with the cats, and is as cute as a button!  He's smart, handsome, sweet, and playful.  As long as everything goes well at the vet, I think this little boy is going to be adopted quickly!

My purpose of writing this tonight is to spread the word about fostering!  You don't HAVE to foster a dog for 2 1/2 months.  A lot of shelters, rescues, and organizations will let you foster a dog for a night or even a weekend.  You have no idea how beneficial it is for these dogs to be in home environments... even if it's only for a short time... even if it's just for a night.  Take a weekend and let a shelter dog hang out with you!  That dog will appreciate every minute of it, and you'll know that you gave that to them.

So even though I'm only fostering Lars for one night, it still made a difference.  You can make a difference, too.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dogs, Cats, Facebook, and LiveJournal...

In a nutshell, I still have Mandy (my foster dog), Gloria (the stray cat that gave birth to premature kittens that didn't make it), Coral (newly spayed feral mama cat), and Dory (feral kitten out of Coral).  On top of them, I have Jackson, Brody, Lyla - my three dogs - Clover, Cricket, Cali - my three cats - Baxter and Bella - my two ferrets - and the snake.  Honestly, the cats are all pretty easy.  The dogs keep me on my toes, though!
I'd like to discuss social networking; Facebook and LiveJournal in particular.  My most recent additions, the feral cats, had me fretting due to the lack of funds.  I literally had $12 in my bank account, and I just acquired two more cats - one of which needed to be spayed as soon as possible.  That's when I turned to ChipIn with the hopes of getting donations to help pay for fixing, vaccinations, and homing the feral cat/kittens until they're ready to be adopted out.  I posted the link of my Facebook with a plea for help from my friends.  Some of my friends were able to donate, and I can't begin to explain how grateful I am that they did.  How lucky am I to know people like that?
It was then that I turned to LiveJournal.  Since the arrival of Gloria, I've been posting a lot in there.  I've always gotten great advice from the other cat-loving LJ users.  I figured that I'd post my ChipIn there, too.  I honestly didn't expect ANYTHING.  Why should I expect complete strangers to donate money to something that they don't even know exists or not?  For all they know, I could be a quack stealing their money.  I'm not... but I could be.  The ironic part of it all?  The users from LJ ended up donating enough money to reach my ChipIn goal of $250 within a couple days.  Honestly, I'm floored.  It gives me hope that there are good people out there.  I'm always so hellbent on not having faith mankind anymore that I forget that there ARE good people out there.  Good enough people to donate hard earned money to a complete stranger.
So... this is for you, folks.  This is for all of the good people that are out there, that donate even $5 because it is going to a good cause, and even if they can't afford to help... but do anyway.  You all are good people, and I'm happy to have you in my life... even if we are miles away and have never met in person.  Sometimes I feel closer to those people than some people right here in my life.  I suppose that all I can really say is... thank you.
Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Monday, May 23, 2011

“Celebrate endings – for they precede new beginnings.”

Two months after Candy and Mandy entered my life, I'm down to just Mandy.  Candy has officially been adopted.  I actually haven't seen her since before I left for a horse show on May 8th.  Her temporary foster (while I was gone) considered adopting her, but they decided against it.  Their neighbors, however, had apparently fallen head over heels with this sweet girl.  Can you blame them?!  So... when I returned to town... Mandy was returned... but Candy was not.

She was gone for weeks... but it didn't hit me until tonight... until she was officially adopted.  I'd say that it was about three-months-ago that I first laid eyes Candy and Mandy.  I'm not sure what was so appealing about them.  Maybe I'm just naturally attracted to black dogs since all of my critters seem to be dark-colored?  But they were black... and Pit mixes... and the underdogs.  I always fall for the underdogs.

K9 Justice League had enough fosters to bring a few puppies back from a kill shelter in North Carolina.  These puppies were a couple days shy of being euthanized.  There were not enough fosters to save all of them, though.  Candy and Mandy had not been spoken for, and I was secretly keeping my fingers crossed that someone would come to their rescue.  Fast forward to the day that the rescue went down to North Carolina to pick up the puppies they had agreed to rescue.  They rescued said puppies, then some.  Candy and Mandy were two of the "then some".  I was so relieved to see that they had been saved from certain death!

It was about a month later... once Memphis was adopted... that the girls arrived at my house.  They put up with quarantine.  A week or two later, they put up with being spayed and not being able to play like that wanted to.  More time in a crate.  Just what they wanted... NOT!

They were troopers through it all; always happy and with tails wagging.  They're easy puppies - something I had never had before!  My fosters are all special in their own way, but Mandy and Candy were "my babies" the minute I saw their pictures on the rescue's Facebook.  I don't know what it was about them... or how they ended up with me... but we were meant to be together - even if only for a couple months.

It's so bittersweet when a foster gets adopted.  Part of you misses them more than you can say.  The other part?  Well, the other part is just thrilled that you were lucky enough spend that time with that dog until he or she could find a home to spend the rest of his or her life in.

So, for now, I still have Mandy in my life, and as much as I'd love to keep them all, I'll keep my fingers crossed for the day that she finds someone to love her as much as I do.

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim."

As of Friday, it's been a terribly difficult few days.  Gloria, my pregnant stray cat that I took in two days shy of two weeks ago today, gave birth to two premature kittens on Friday afternoon.  I came home to find two cold kittens in the nesting box and Gloria not paying much attention to them.  The fact that they were cold and Gloria wasn't being motherly sent me into an immediate frenzy.  I tore out of the house and sped to the pet store to buy a bottle and a heating pad.  I texted Jessica (the lovely, young woman who runs the dog rescue I foster through) to let her know what was going on.  She's fostered abandoned kittens a lot before in the past, so she knew what she was doing.  She came over to take a look... and didn't seem terribly optimistic.  Gloria wasn't even producing milk anymore, and the kittens were small.  Like... premature small.  Jessica hung out for hours to see if Gloria was planning on giving birth to another.  But... 3 1/2 hours later, nothing.  It was a restless night... checking on them every few hours... then waking up early to help with the K9 Justice League yard sale.  I went home to check on them... and was actually feeling a little optimistic when I saw them nursing, active, and even mewing.  Gloria was producing milk, and they seemed to be okay.  They were having trouble maintaining heat, so I was periodically heating a sock of rice up to place with them in the nesting box.  The heating pad just wasn't enough.  By Sunday, they were dehydrated and weak.  They made an attempt at nursing... but I guess it wasn't enough.  The black and white kitten, Nemo, passed away at some point that night.  I found him this morning... already gone.  Gloria still didn't seem phased.  Marcel, the black kitten, was still hanging around... but he was so weak and couldn't even nurse.  Bottle feeding was out of the question since he didn't even have enough energy.  I left the house for a few hours, and he was gone by the time I returned.  I actually started bawling on the way to the barn when I saw a dead cat on the side of the road.  I just lost it over the fact that Nemo was gone... and Marcel wasn't far behind.  Marcel was gone by the time I got home.

A whirlwind of emotions hit me like a brick.  Let me not forget to mention the "What if..." questions that ran through my head.  What if I had gone ahead and bottle fed them from the start?  What if they had been born a week later?  Then I try so hard to remind myself that what's done is done.  Gloria came to me a week and a half previously and aside from the large tummy, was actually really thin.  I could easily feel her hips and spine.  I assume Gloria has been lost from wherever she came from for a long time.  She didn't get the proper nutrition a pregnant cat needs... not to mention the fact that she's hardly 6-months-old.  She's inexperienced and wasn't in a suitable state to give birth and take care of babies.

I'm sad for the loss of these kittens.  Who knew I could become so in love with these tiny, alien-like kittens in such a short amount of time?  I suppose I should have expected that.  I was hoping for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy birth.  I had already imagined adorable kittens romping around.  I'm devastated that I'll never see them romping.

As well was being sad, I'm angry.  I'm angry that people don't spay/neuter their animals.  I'm pissed that I now have to suffer this sadness of losing them... on top of the sadness that I feel daily for all of the other animals that lose their lives... because someone was irresponsible and couldn't fork up >$50 to have their pet spayed/neutered.  Gloria clearly had a family at some point.  She's a good cat.  Good with other cats, dogs, etc.  I can't imagine that she wasn't someone's pet.  Who knows what her story is?  Was she dumped?  Was she lost?  Somebody had to have loved her at one point.  But why was she hanging out at the 7-11 dumpster?  If I can find any positive out of this situation, at least Gloria is safe with me.  Now, with me, she has no chance of being hit by a car or hurt by another animal.  She's a happy and healthy cat that will eventually find a new home with someone responsible and loving and deserving.  For now, Gloria will remain with me until I can get her spayed and vaccinated, and she'll be spoiled just as one of my own.

So... rest in peace... Marcel and Nemo.  I'm sorry that I couldn't do more for you, but perhaps you are the lucky ones in never having to find out in the future how cruel the human race really can be.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

There haven't been any changes in life as of yet other than the addition of a cat.  Mandy and Candy are growing up so quickly!  They are getting big and really showing their personalities.  I adore them.  They are both sweet and smart and well-behaved.  Candy can get a little excessive with the barking, and Mandy tends to get a little overexcited with her mouth.  She doesn't bite or anything... but she's like a crocodile when it comes to treats!  Candy, on the other hand, is very polite about taking treats.  They'll learn, though. They are truly good girls.  Unfortunately, they are suffering from the stigma of their breed and color.  They are black, Pit Bull mixes.  It's unfortunate that people can't look passed that... because they are really good puppies.  House-trained, crate-trained, cute, sweet, good with dogs, good with cats?  What more could you ask for?!

Then there's Gloria.  She's doing well, and I'm expecting the pitter patter of little paws shortly.  Patience is a virtue... but not with me!  I'm having a hard time waiting.  I think tonight might be the night, though.  I really feel like it is.  We'll see...

EDIT: Last night was not the night.  Ahhh!  I'm going batty waiting for these babies to appear!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fate; something that I actually believe in.

Today, a young man drove his truck down the long driveway of the barn where I board my horse with the hope of finding the owner of a young cat he had found hanging out by the dumpster at 7-11.  This is Chesapeake, though.  There are stray cats everywhere.  The fact that he was putting effort into searching was reason enough for me to instantly become fond of him.  His name is Tommy, and he's very well one of the nicest persons I've met in a long, long time.  I often feel like giving up on mankind, but Tommy proved to me today that I shouldn't give up quite yet.  There are still good people out there... whether I want to believe it or not.

I confessed to him that I did not know who the cat belonged to... but I'd certainly take a look and give him some tips.  He had already contacted the SPCA, but they don't take strays from people.  They are full, too.  I spent much of last year looking for a rescue to send my feral cats to, but I soon discovered that there were so few... and they were usually full.  I took a look at the cat and couldn't help from wanting to take her under my wing as she stared at me with those striking, emerald eyes.  On top of that, this young man clearly cared for her... but couldn't keep her.  He grilled me with questions to make sure that I was a suitable person to take the cat in.  I couldn't turn this cat away.  I just couldn't.  We exchanged numbers, and I called the vet office in front of him and made an appointment for 30 minutes later to make sure that she was healthy.  He mentioned that he thought she was pregnant... but she looked so young from the other side of the carrier... so I didn't focus much on the fact.

We parted ways, and I headed to the vet.  I mentioned that she might be pregnant, and we all couldn't help from laughing.  She WOULD be pregnant.  It would be my luck.  We crossed our fingers that her big belly was from parasites.  I never hoped so much for a bad case of worms!  The fecal, however, came back negative.  She was also negative for both FeLV and FIV.  Yay!  That's always good news!  She did have some discharge, however, coming from her girl parts.  The vet mentioned that it was possible she had an infection, and there was a possibility that her pregnancy wouldn't go as well as we'd like.  The infection could cause the babies to be born stillborn or not live long after birth.  I mentioned that I'd have to be admitted if something like that happened... then asked for the baby-safe antibiotics for the cat.  They gave me some informational pamphlets about cat pregnancy and said I could call them as needed.  They are used to me bringing in strays and feral cats.

So... $140 something later... Gloria and I were on our way home with antibiotics.  I set her up in the "cat room" (as it has come to be), and she really settled in immediately.  If she didn't have the preggo belly, she'd actually be pretty thin.  I can feel her hip bones and spine fairly easily.  She made herself comfortable on the coffee table as I set up food, water, a litter box, and some toys.  She's constantly purring an kneading whatever she can get her claws on.

Tommy came to my house to pick up the carrier and visit Gloria (he felt like that name was suitable).  Honestly, I haven't come across someone so nice in such a long time.  I think that Tommy and I are meant to be friends.  He is truly a good person, and I'm so thankful that he stumbled upon the barn... and I happened to be there.  He visited with Gloria, chatted with me, and insisted on paying for half of the vet bill.  I tried to refuse his money... but he was persistent.  I NEED the money... but I HATE taking money from people.  Especially people that don't have that much to begin with.

I've been doing my reading in an attempt to prepare for what's to come.  I guess that some pregnant cats have discharge when they are about to give birth?  And they lick their girl parts.  Done and done.  Maybe it's not an infection at all.  Maybe Gloria is ready to have her babies now.  I checked her temperature, too.  It's 100.5... which is a little lower than normal.  It said that the temperature should be between 101 and 102... and when it's drops below 100... it' about time.  It's really hot right now, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if her temperature is a little above normal already right now.  I suppose only time will tell.  I've never dealt with this before!  I'm both excited and petrified at the same time.

On top of everything, I'm so happy to have met Tommy.  I see a strong friendship in our future.

So... here's the beginning to another chapter of rescuing animals.  I always swore that I was more of a dog person than a cat person... but apparently it's equal.

Peace, love, and paw prints...

Monday, April 18, 2011

"We can judge the heart of a man by the treatment of his animals."

Dogs are not disposable.  They aren't an item that you buy and get rid of when you don't want it anymore.  That's not how it works.

Sadly, however, it happens all too often.  60% of the dogs that enter shelters don't leave alive.  A very large percentage of dogs in shelters are owner surrenders.  I have issues with this.  I can't fathom why anyone would get a dog if they aren't planning on keeping him for his entire life.  I guess it's hard for me to understand since I would never, ever give up on one of my dogs.  When I add a dog to my household, I'm planning on having that dog until he takes his last breath.  Food, vet bills, and all of the other essentials are already floating around in my head.  I'm prepared.  If I move, the dog moves.  If my new boyfriend has allergies to dogs, he either deals with it or is out the door.  You won't find me making stupid excuses to drop my dog off at a shelter when the going gets tough.  My dogs aren't going anywhere... unless I'm with them.

I see all of these dogs that have been surrendered to the shelters by their owners and wonder why they even got a dog in the first place.  Apparently they didn't think it out before they made the decision to add a dog into the mix.  That's only one of the differences between us.

I see them and can't help from wanting to beat their old "owners" over the head with a baseball bat screaming "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!  THIS DOG LOVES YOU - AS SHITTY OF A PERSON YOU ARE!"  And it's true.  The dogs that were so heartlessly dumped at the shelter DID love their people.  It's a shame that they had to waste their sweet souls on such bitter people.  Every part of you hopes that they'll be adopted and be able to give that love to someone who actually deserves it.  The hard truth is... most of them never get to do so.  They die where their "owners" left them.  How would you feel if you dropped your dog off at a shelter and basically sentenced him to death?  I'd sure as hell rethink my decision.

As odd as it seems, seeing these homeless dogs literally makes me clutch my hand over my chest where my heart is... because it actually physically hurts.  I never knew that my heart could actually hurt when I'm sad... but now I know all too well that it can.

So think about it.  Don't get a dog if you aren't prepared to devote the next decade+ to him.  They don't deserve to die in shelters because of a stupid decision you decided to make.

Don't shop!  Adopt!

Peace, love, and paw prints...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."

Have you ever had to deal with a recently spayed puppy?  Try dealing with two!  Candy and Mandy were spayed on Tuesday.  It's only been 5 full days since the surgery, and the kids are going stir crazy.  It would probably be easier if I didn't have my own dogs to deal with, too.  I started off with crating the girls separately for the first few days.  Then the guilt set in.  They looked so sad without each other!  I decided to put them together and see what happened.  Lucky for me... and them... they both sit in the crate quietly... equally bored with the fact that they can't come out.  But, I figure, at least they have each other.  When it comes to going outside, Candy sits quietly in the pen and does her business in the meantime.  As for Mandy - well - I have to take her out alone without any of the other dogs around to distract her.  I can't put her in the pen... because Miss Thang scales it and jumps out.  THAT can't be safe for a recently spayed pup!  They are healing up nicely, though, and I can't wait until we can resume normal activity!

Apart from the spayed ladies, some other changes have come to be!  I've started my dogs on a raw food diet.  Yes.  You heard me right.  They eat raw food.  Bone and all.  Before you choose to judge, check it out.  You might be surprised.  Despite the judgement posed by people who haven't researched a diet of raw meat, my dogs have taken splendidly to their new food!  I've described it as a crack addict with crack.  These dogs are like raw meat addicts!  Surprisingly, I haven't had any trouble with loose stools or anything!  Mealtime is SO much more exciting to them!  Even my foster puppies go crazy over the smell of the raw meat.  Of course, they are still on kibble.  But they sure do like the smell of the raw chicken!  I've started mine off on chicken.  They've taken kindly to it... so I'll probably add another protein source soon enough. I'm excited about this new adventure of feeding raw.  Since I'm paranoid, however, I'm considering having blood work drawn after a few months of feeding raw to see if there are any deficiencies.  I just want what's best for them... and this raw diet seems to be what's best mentally.  So... I guess I'll just have to find out if it's what's best physically, too.

Peace, love, and paw prints...

Monday, March 28, 2011

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."

This evening, I'd like to devote my blog to both microchipping and spaying/neutering.  These are both important for the welfare of your animal.  I suppose I should also mention that you should always have tags on your dogs' collars!

I received a text from a friend that her dog had escaped the yard and was missing.  While I know that they are not as neurotic as I am about my dogs, I know that they love their dog and are good owners.  However, it wasn't long before I discovered that the dog was neither tagged or microchipped!

From experience, I realize that not all dogs can wear a collar with tags all of the time.  I had a horrible experience when my dog got her bottom jaw stuck in her foster brother's collar.  It twisted around her lower jaw... and both of them absolutely lost it.  From then on, I took the collars off of my dogs that enjoy playing "collar tag" with each other.

I'll be the first to admit that Jackson and Brody aren't microchipped.  I'd like to rationalize this neglect by saying that I know that Jackson and Brody are well-trained enough not to wander.  They come when I call them... and both of them hardly ever leave my side.  Lyla, on the other hand, could probably leave and care less.  It makes me feel a whole lot better that she's microchipped.  Nonetheless, I do plan on having my boys chipped as soon as possible!

How do you expect people who find your dog to know where he/she lives?  It's important to tag and chip your dog with the hope that they will return your baby to you.  Can you imagine losing your best friend and never seeing him/her again?!  I can't.  I'd be a wreck if I lost one of mine.  Tags and chips SAVE LIVES and return your baby/babies back to you.  And it's NOT that hard.  You can find cheap tags online... and places that chip for an inexpensive price.  DO IT.  Because the money that you spend is totally worth it.

Now... I'd like to mention spaying/neutering.  Is it REALLY that hard?!  I know that a lot of vets overcharge to have your pet fixed... but there are SO many places out there that are willing to do it at low cost.  You're planning on breeding your female because she's such a good dog?  How about all of those other good dogs out there that are being euthanized because people failed to spay?  And for those guys who think that "chopping your dogs' balls off" is demeaning?  Your dog doesn't give a shit.  My neutered male has no freakin' idea that he's neutered.  Seriously.  He's all about humping other dogs, and the fact that he doesn't have balls doesn't phase him.  Be responsible.  Spay and neuter!

That brings me to the fact that Candy and Mandy are being spayed tomorrow!  You think that keeping one spayed dog quiet is difficult?  How about two?!  I'm going to have a busy two weeks ahead of me!  That's okay, though, because the fact that they will never reproduce makes me happy.  The less dogs in shelters, the better.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."

Candy and Mandy had an eventful and joyous morning!  After catching a glance of my dogs every so often since Monday evening, the girls were finally allowed to come out of quarantine and meet face to face.  There were wagging bodies, kisses, and a whole lot of chaos.  Once the newness of it wore off, I got different reactions from each of my dogs.  Jackson became very jealous and needy and kept giving me that look of disappointment... like... "I can't believe you are doing this to me again."  Brody's reaction was the most amusing, though.  He looked at me with his ears back and his brown eyes wide and startled as if to say, "Puppies?  Again?  I don't know if I can handle that.  Are you sure they aren't just here to visit for a couple days?"  Lyla, on the other hand, acted as if I had just given her the best gift in the entire world.  Sisters!  What could be better than a couple sisters in a house full of boys?!

I rarely have anything negative to say about any of my dogs, fosters or not.  I certainly have nothing negative to say this time!  I've never met such well-behaved puppies!  They are 3-months-old and basically house trained.  There haven't been any accidents... at all... even when they are running around in the living room with my dogs.  They go potty immediately when I let them out into the backyard.  They sleep through the night.  They are sweet, smart, and just really quite lovely animals to be around.  It sure is too bad that I don't have a huge house with a lot of land and an endless amount of money.  I'd keep these two in a heartbeat... even though I always say I don't ever want to own puppies again!

But since I don't have a huge house, lots of land, and lots of money... I'm just going to have fun with these buggers while I can!  Whoever gets either of these girls is going to have a blast!

So, for now, I'll sit here on my couch with my 5 dogs and soak it up while I can.  I'm perfectly happy doing just that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"A dog owns nothing, yet is seldom dissatisfied."

I know what some people think of me and my many dogs.  I don't need to hear them say it.  In matter of fact, I think I'd be quite cross if the words actually passed through their mouths and into my ears.  Fortunately, however, I have found many people that seem to think that my love for animals and rescuing animals is rather amazing instead of crazy.  Thank goodness for them.  Thank goodness for the people who have faith in me and let me be who I am.  That's how it should be... because I sure as hell aren't going to change.

My new fosters (yes, that's plural!) arrived this evening!  Like I said, letting one go always means one (or two or three) is/are coming my way shortly.

Candy and Mandy have entered my life, and like the rest of my fosters, I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with them!  They are sweet bundles of love!  They are quarantined from the other dogs right now since they came from an overcrowded shelter in North Carolina.  Lots of yuckies come with shelters, so we have to make sure that they are healthy before they visit with my kids.  You should see me keeping them separated.  It's a whole bunch of crazy!  I have to put my three in the bedroom while I take Candy and Mandy out of their crate and out to their pen in the backyard.  Lyla is wearing her citronella bark collar and is totally moping around and acting like I'm the WORST MOM EVER.  Jackson - well - he's acting like I just ruined his life for the 7th time by bringing MORE fosters in after the last one left.  Brody doesn't  care that much... he's just pissed that the neighbor is back home with her dogs and is all about charging the fence and barking at them.

Candy and Mandy seem a little shocked over my crazy dogs and the new surroundings... but they are taking it well.  It'll be easier to get good pictures when they aren't quarantined anymore... so look forward to some cuteness soon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The things we do for our dogs...

[Addition] I posted the same entry in my other blog, but I wanted to talk about the departure of my foster dog, Memphis here, too.  It sounds like he's doing really well in his new home!  Of course, it's always sad to see a foster go, but it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I was dreading the moment he left... but it went a lot more smoothly than I figured it would.  My dogs seem confused as to where Memphis went... but nobody is taking it too hard.  Oh, oh, oh!  Lyla graduated from basic obedience training today!  Yay!  Anyway, I'm ready for the next foster to come my way.  It always seems weird when it's only "my" dogs.

I wasn't sure which blog to post this in... so I decided to post it in both.  I'm compiling a list of "the things we do for our dogs"... so be prepared for additions... because something always comes up!

1. I prop my door to the backyard open so the dogs can go in and out as they please... even if it means me freezing my butt off.

1.5. I sweat my butt off at night surrounded by dogs just so I don't disturb their rest.  It gets hot when you're surrounded by a bunch of heaters (dogs).

2. I avoid going out of town just so I don't have to leave them.  I still haven't brought myself to trust a petsitter or a boarding facility.

3. I go to the pet store to buy dog food with what money I have left rather than going to the grocery store to by myself food.  The dogs certainly come before I do!

4. I up my power bill by leaving the television on Animal Planet for my dogs when I'm gone.

5. I come home to chewed up paper towels, toilet paper, plastic containers, mail, blankets, etc. because I feel like crating a dog for 5+ hours just isn't "right".  Logically, I know it's not a bad idea, but I'd rather clean up shredded toilet paper than keep my dog cooped up for 5+ hours in a crate during the day.  Side Note: I always worry that something will happen... and I won't be able to get home for a long time.  I'd rather them piss and shit in the house and have access to water than go without!  (I don't disagree with crate training.  I'm just a softy.  I KNOW my pup and 2-year-old would benefit from it... but I still can't bring myself to crate them.)

6. I treat my foster dogs to a "going away meal" of Burger King hamburgers!

More to be added as things I do for my dogs comes up.

Peace, Love, & Paw Prints

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why does it take a minute to say 'Hello' and forever to say 'Goodbye'?

As I sit here, Brody is passed out and sprawled out on the floor, Jackson is curled up in a ball next to me, Memphis is still damp from his bath and sleeping on the couch, and Lyla is quietly sitting outside enjoying the warm weather. And you know what? I couldn't imagine it any differently.

Memphis is leaving tomorrow morning to go to his new adoptive family. I treated him to a meal of his food mixed with hamburger meat as his "Going Away Meal". Of course, the other dogs were treated to the same meal! They'd shun me for life if I neglected to treat them the same. He was also treated to a bath... although I don't think that I can say that he was really 'treated', because he really didn't enjoy it very much. However, he is shiny and clean!

I'm not sure what makes Memphis different from my other fosters. I suppose I haven't been doing this long enough, I guess. Zoe was my first foster, and it actually went a lot more smoothly than I thought it would. I was sad... but inexperienced... and I didn't have her quite as long. Then came the 3 puppies. I guess that Lush and Tiana weren't as hard to let go because I knew that Lyla was staying. Then... along came Memphis. Sweet and adorable and an 'issue dog'. Issues as in medical issues... but I'm all about dogs that are skinny, have issues (medical or emotional), are old, etc. Bring it on!

Memphis and I have had a lot of fun together over the last month... uhhh... almost two months. He's gotten along swimmingly well with the rest of my kids. I'm nervous about this one... because I know that he's a sensitive soul. He deserves for someone to love him as much as he loves them. He needs someone with patience to offer. He needs someone to be his last home.