Monday, December 24, 2012

A Letter to My Dad

Dear Dad...

Tonight, I texted you to come clean about the FOURTH addition to my fur family.  As you know, I'm not good with words... unless I can write them down.  You didn't respond to my text, and I'm worried that you disagree with my decision.

I just want you to know that I didn't make this decision without much thought.  I never thought that I'd have a fourth dog.  When one passed for one reason or another, I figured I'd add another needy dog at some point... not to fill the void... but to save another life.

My future dog... would be of mixed breed... and HE would be a dock dog.  I'm far too involved with the sport to adopt a dog that might not have dock dog potential.

But something silly happened.  A timid Shepherd mix came into my life shortly after a very special hospice dog left.  This little, nervous Shepherd mix... was a GIRL.  God forbid I ever adopted another female dog.  NO MORE GIRLS.  That was my demand... even for future foster dogs.  Lyla got along with males... but she was very particular about her female friends

After we sent Pager off to Rainbow Bridge... and off to a world much different than the one we live in, we went straight to animal control.  We were devastated and saddened as we walked up and down the aisles of homeless canines.  There were a few that caught my eye... and Paige was not one of them.  However, I walked into the kennel... and settled.  I settled.  I didn't look at her and say, "I want to save this dog."  But I knew that I needed a distraction... and I trusted Jessica's opinion.

Within days, I knew that this little girl belonged with me.  She was MINE.  Paige got along well with the dogs - even Lyla.  The cats?  They were great friends.  Toy drive?  Eh, barely.  The love of water?  Not that I know of.  So... as for her being a future dock dog... I have no idea.  I guess we'll have to wait and see!

To give up fostering to adopt another dog... that's a big deal.  I love this dog.  She belongs with me.  So... there it is... no more fostering.  No more dogs.  This is it.  I just hope that those who think I'm crazy for adding a fourth dog can find acceptance in this addition.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Thursday, December 20, 2012

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

Fifty-eight days ago I saw this very same picture, and I heard the story about a stray dog that truly seemed to have run out of luck.  His name was Pager, and he was homeless.  He ended up at PAWS of Hertford County where the staff and volunteers took the time to find out what his story was.  Pager was a big, sweet boy with a smile that could make anybody fall in love with him.  It was this very picture that I had seen posted on their Facebook that captured my heart - and my heart refused to let this image go.  The story that followed this picture was a sad one.  Pager's lymph nodes were swollen, and it was thought that he probably had cancer.

50 days ago, Pager went to the vet for a biopsy.  I was following his story like a hawk.  There was something about this dog that I couldn't ignore.

44 days ago, I heard the news.  Pager had cancer, and his prognosis was grim.  He was to be euthanized that afternoon.  His cancer was a death sentence.  On top of that, he was high heart worm positive.  Pager didn't have a chance, and it wasn't fair to make him live the rest of his days out in a shelter environment.  My heart sunk... and while I already had four dogs in my house, I had to do something.  Even though one of the PAWS volunteers was going to take him to the vet to be euthanized rather than having it done in the shelter, I couldn't stand to let it happen.  I frantically texted K9 Justice League, the rescue I foster for, begging for permission to bring this dog into my home.  Apparently I didn't need to beg.  The rescue understood how important this was to me.  I wanted to do something for this dog that otherwise didn't have a chance.

39 days ago, I met the dog that would change my life forever.  He was awesome - and we all the knew this the minute we met him.  One of my fellow K9JL foster parents/friends came and photographed our first meeting.  She has a hospice dog... so she knows just how important it is to have plenty of pictures of a life that might not last all that long.  After we went shopping with Pager in Petsmart, it was time to bring him home to the clan.  He was a little nervous with the initial meeting, but can you blame him?  With four dogs and four cats in the house, it's a little intimidating for a newcomer!  It wasn't long before he settled in, though.

Pager spent the following 8 days living life to the fullest.  We fed him whatever he wanted - whipped cream, bagels, bully sticks, and mass amounts of treats.  When he wasn't visiting pet stores, Starbucks, and parks, Pager was getting loved on at home by me and my pack of dogs and cats.

Pager enjoying a Puppy Latte at Starbucks!
Kisses for Aunt Bethany!
32 days ago, Pager looked me in the eyes and told me that it was time to go.  He had spent eight amazing days with me.  Eight good days... full of happiness, love, and anything he wanted.  That last night, Pager slept in the bed with me.  He had this option since I had brought him into my home... but it wasn't until that night that Pager decided to spend the night in bed... right next to me.

31 days ago,  I had to make a very hard decision.  While I'd like to say it was the hardest decision of my life, it wasn't.  The night before, Pager looked at me with these eyes that said, "I just lived a lifetime in eight days.  It's okay to let me go now."  I woke up the next morning with him next to me, and I looked him in the eyes and knew what I had to do.  It was an easy decision.  Pager and I gave each other what we needed... and it was only fair to release him from his pain.  Overnight, my happy-go-lucky boy had declined greatly, and I simply couldn't stand to see him in that state.  We had to do right by Pager, so we brought him in to the vet that morning to send him across Rainbow Bridge.  Pager was surrounded by three people who loved him very much.  His crossing was quiet and peaceful... though very sad.  In just a short amount of time, Pager had captured the hearts of hundreds.

That very day, we thought that it would be a great tribute to Pager to pull another needy dog from the shelter.  I already had a foster dog, but it only seemed natural to add another to the mix to help distract me from the sadness that ensued from the loss of Pager.  She was a Shepherd mix with a widow's peak similar to Pager's.  I had already sworn off female dogs in my house... but Jessica, the founder of K9JL, thought I'd like her.  She was a little timid and quite underweight.  I wasn't blown away when I first met her, but I did like her.  I took her home that very day, and she met the rest of the clan without an issue.  I had already decided earlier that day that "if I ended up with her", I wanted to name her Paige.  I was fostering her in remembrance of Pager, so I figured that naming her after him made sense, too!

Days later, I couldn't imagine life without this little Shepherd mix.  She was sweet and goofy and got along extremely well with my "difficult dog", Lyla.  Lyla's personality doesn't always mesh well with those of others, but she and Paige got along as if they had lived together forever.  Trust me, there were no plans to adopt a fourth dog.  Ever.  I love fostering.  I've been doing it for two years.  But... there was something about Paige that I couldn't let go of.  I kept thinking, "What are the chances that another dog like this will ever cross my path?"

I like to think that this all happened for a reason - that I brought Pager into my life for those eight days to learn what I learned from him - and perhaps to help me find my way to Paige... and to help Paige find her way to me.  Yes, it's official... and the paperwork has been signed.  Who knew that life would bring me in this direction?  I sure didn't.

Welcome to forever, Paige.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Love is patient, love is kind."

Because tomorrow is a special day... a day that I want to write about... I'm trying hard to catch up on what I haven't written about in the last few months.

That brings me to Trixie.  Honestly I can't remember if Trixie came when I still had Hallie or if she came after Hallie had been adopted.  There have been so many "double fosters" in the last six months
that I can't remember when I've had four dogs or five dogs in the house.  It all kind of blends together these days.

Trixie wasn't supposed to end up staying... but I feel like half of the dogs that have come to my house "to visit" have ended up not leaving until they were adopted!  Long story short, Trixie stayed.  And Trixie has yet to leave.  She's been in the rescue since mid-September, my house since the end of October, and really hasn't had much interest.  I'm not sure why.  She's sweet, beautiful, a good size, and a GREAT snuggle buddy!  On top of that, she gets along well with other dogs and cats!  I guess that perfect home will come along eventually.

I love her.  I really do.  However, I suppose after fostering for so long, I've found a "type" that I prefer in my house.  There's nothing wrong with her.  She's house-trained and crate-trained... and under proper supervision, she doesn't chew inappropriately and is simply happy to snuggle up on the couch or get crazy out in the yard with the other dogs.  However, with five dogs in the house, I cannot give Trixie as much attention as she would like.  She gets what she needs and is happy... but I'd love to see her in a new foster home soon... or even better, a forever home.  Trixie wants to play with toys out in the yard.  She wants to snuggle up next to someone on the couch and sleep in the bed at night.  She wants to go for long walks... and maybe even a swim once in a while.  However... my house is full.  Brody doesn't want to share his toys with her.  Lyla doesn't want to give up her spot next to me on the couch for Trixie... though they enjoy nothing more than a good romp outside together!  She's happy... but I think she'd be a lot happier in a home where she can get more attention.  I try to enhance the lives of the dogs in my house as much as I possibly can... and I truly feel guilty that I don't have the time or resources to give Trixie the attention that she deserves.  Clearly she's not deprived... but I know she wants more.

So, please spread the word about this sweet, young lady and help us get her in a home in which she CAN curl up on the couch and snuggle, play with toys, or go on a long walk with her family.  Trixie would love nothing more than to find a forever home for the holidays.  She truly deserves it.  I can't put into words how sweet this little pooch is.  You have to meet her to get it.

And... like I said... tomorrow is an important day.  There will be a lot to write about... and even more to catch up on.  I'm not even sure if I'm ready to write about it... but I'll try.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage."

It seems as if the last couple months have unintentionally brought on this hiatus from blogging.  It's been a busy time in my life... between work and pets and the rescue and dock dogs and taking on new responsibilities that allow a lot less time for anything else.  I'm not complaining... especially since I choose to take on all of these tasks... but I am attempting to offer an explanation for my lack of blogging!  I love blogging.  As most of you know, I love to write.  I can write a lot better than I can speak.  In what I cannot say out loud, I can certainly put into words on a computer or on a piece of paper.  So... I'm back.  I'll push the writer's block aside and make an attempt at writing again.

We left off with Hallie just joining my pack.  Believe it or not, just a couple months after welcoming her into my life, a family mourning the loss of their dog came across her picture.  It was love at first sight, though I was skeptical of what they would think when they actually met my shy foster dog.  Shy dogs are difficult... because while they might come out of their shell in their foster homes after being there for a couple of months, they revert back to their almost feral self in any new situation.  It's like starting all over again in anyplace other than where and whom they are used to.  However, Hallie's savior was right around the corner.  A mother of three, whose husband was currently deployed, was on the search for a new canine companion to fill the void of the beloved dog she had recently lost.

We dotted the i's and crossed the t's and did a home visit as soon as we could.  We were concerned that Hallie would be in a home with three young children and as the only dog.  Shy dogs learn how to act from other dogs.  We weren't sure how she'd do without the guidance of other canines.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that Mom knew exactly how to treat a shy dog.  The children did as they were told and didn't even get up from the table when we came into the house with Hallie.  I'm not sure if I could have that much restraint with a new dog in the house... even as an adult!  Mom even noticed that the ceiling fan was making Hallie nervous, even before any of us did, and she quickly got up to turn it off and make Hallie a little more comfortable.

Before we knew it, the papers were signed... and Hallie joined her new family with a new name of "Roxy".  I've kept in touch with her new family, and I love seeing pictures of her in her forever home.  They've had their struggles... but that's expected with such an under socialized dog.  However, Roxy's family has worked hard and has done an amazing job striving towards having a strong bond between them.  I couldn't be happier that I get to see her on occasion and that her family is willing to work so hard to make their relationships stronger.

I'm still not caught up, though.  I still have to write about the dogs that followed this brindle beauty.  I'd combine it all into one post if I could... but there's far too much to write about.  Because between Hallie's story and now... there was/is Trixie, Pager, and Paige.  For now, I'll leave you with this story of a shy dog finding her forever home... something that probably would have never been possible if she had never left the shelter.  Shy dogs are good dogs... just misunderstood.  I'm so glad that I've been able to  contribute to the lives of a handful of a few shy dogs... and have been a piece of their journey to finding their forever homes.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily