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