Puppy Love

I firmly maintain that puppies are one of life’s greatest pleasures. I don’t think there is anyone that can look at a little wriggling pack of baby dogs, and not forget their worries for a little while!

I wish I could convey through the screen just what a joy it has been to have two young pups in our house with us this week! If I was a better photographer, I’m sure that I probably could. Sure, there have been plenty of moments where it has been challenging to manage so many dogs, but to be sure, the benefits far outweigh the stress!

I have been trying to pinpoint just what my favorite puppy feature might be. Is it their round little tummies, freckled & full from their kibble, and soft as the inside of your favorite sweatshirt?

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Through play and cuddle, they inspire us to attain embarrassing levels of baby-talk.

What about the puppy piles? All pretzeled together in slumber, limbs spewing from odd angles, unable to identify where one body ends and another begins. Sleepy dreams create little nose wiggles, paw shakes, and even low, ferocious growls or cuddle-inducing whimpers. Maybe it’s their distinct puppy smell, their breath rolling over you as they reach to sleepily lick your cheek after a long nap.

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Or, it could be their clumsy antics, floppy joints tripping them up while running and playing and wrestling together. They mimic the behaviors of older dogs, not knowing that no one is fooled by their performance.

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It could be their giant paws, floppy and soft, suggesting much about their future size!

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It might be their ‘puppy-dog’ eyes, full of trust and love and loyalty, inspiring visions of future adventures together.

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These two babies just happen to be brother and sister, and are such good pups already! I can only imagine what wonderful dogs they will become. They both love toys, and are more interested in people than any puppies I’ve met before. They are thought to be mastiff x boxer x lab crosses.

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Gunner is all boy, and dressed all in black. He is mischief, trouble, and action all rolled into one, and reminds us of Gaige! He even shares the same diamonds on the backs of his feet. He is forever playing rough and picking on his sister.

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Xena is the female, and all sweetness! She is much more docile than her brother, and her personality and build remind us of Tonka. She is long, lean, and lanky, and such a little lady! Both pups are crate trained, very smart, and pick up on things incredibly quickly. They’ve only been with us since Saturday morning, and by Monday they were already automatically sitting before things like getting their dinner, and being let through the door. They are learning quickly not to jump or bark for attention. I’m pretty sure that these two would play all day and night if they could!

One thing I had forgotten about was just how sharp their little puppy teeth and nails can be! Ouch! haha

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Look at those teefers!

Look at those teefers!

If you are anything like me, then this post has probably only increased your need for a puppy in your life, rather than quenching it, but you are also probably no where near ready for the addition! If so, then check out a few videos we wanted to share with you. It is all the cute, with none of the commitment 😉

I think that is his way of telling me that he would like some more water. Please.

I think that is his way of telling me that he would like some more water. Please.

This video was actually recorded by the same person who was the videographer at our wedding! Megan Bowers of Pictory Productions is ridiculously talented, and when she and her fiance got a French Bulldog puppy this past summer, they knew that they had to document all of his firsts. I think they do a divine job of capturing life with a new pup… from his perspective! Meet their little man, Harold, here.

I don’t know anything at all about the person who recorded this video, or the dog who is the subject, but I do know that Bernese Mountain Dogs are my favorite! This video shows BMD puppy, Nilah, and her first (courageous!) introduction to a lemon!

And this one went viral at some point, so you may have seen it. However, if you think you’ve seen a cute puppy howling, and haven’t seen this, then you ain’t seen nothin 😉 This thing literally makes me melt!

Do Big Things

I had someone share with me recently that while my blog was a ‘nice enough idea,’ it couldn’t possibly apply to enough people to ever really catch on.

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Regardless of their skepticism, it did make me take pause. What with our recent announcement of keeping Miss Gia, some of you may be wondering what this means as far as our blog, and our involvement in rescue. Of course, I have already taken on a more active role within LCPO, on their Leadership Team. I only hope to become more present within their organization (even though I’m at a distance) with time. However, I also don’t want to rule out the possibility of fostering in the future. While we can’t continue to be a permanent foster home at this specific point in our lives, there is no reason to think that we wouldn’t be able to do so someday, when our circumstances change (moving, etc.) I also plan to use this space to continue highlighting adoptable dogs, as well as showcasing all of the wonderful things pit bulls are doing in our communities! Finally, I hope to be a resource for pet owners who are facing challenges with their dogs, of any breed. I have a few other exciting prospects that are in the works, so I don’t anticipate that this space will be terribly boring any time soon!

I don’t know specifically what the future holds for me, and that can be a scary realization for someone who is a Type A planner by nature! I am a person that has always pictured my life with a visible end-point and goal in sight. At the age of 8, I surprised my mother by dragging her into my room, to show her the list of my goals for that year, which I had written and taped up beside my mirror! At any stage in life, if you had asked me what I felt to be my greatest strengths, I would have told you that it was my drive and passion. In the past few years, my life has thrown me some pretty swift curve balls, both good and bad, that have caused my plans and goals to veer drastically off course. Those deviations made it impossible for me to stay on track with my aspirations, which thereby led to feelings of immense inadequacy. If I wasn’t driving toward my passions, then who was I, and what was my purpose?

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It finally seems as though the course is leveling, the seas have calmed, and the storms are at bay. I am able to take a deep breath, and really focus on where I am and what I am meant to do. With all that has happened in my young life, it can be hard for even me to remember that I only just turned 23! (It feels good to say only.) In such a fast-paced world, full of successes and fame, it can be easy to feel like I am already behind in the race. However, I am learning to take the good with the bad, because without the heartbreak of defeat, wouldn’t come the sweetest victory of success. I am realizing what my heart’s passions and strengths are, and also that they have changed in the past few years… and that this is okay!

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I know that this space serves as a place to come and read about dogs, but the reality of it is that it is also a cathartic release for me… a place where the world gets quiet, and I can get my thoughts and feelings out on paper the screen in a way that is (to me, anyway) clear, orderly, and logical. For the first time in my life, I don’t know exactly how to get ‘there’, or even where ‘there’ is… but what is also a first, is that I’m learning to sit back and enjoy the (horseback) ride. Literally.

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I know I’m coming across a little bit scatter-brained today, and I apologize for that. What I am really wanting to get to, is that it is important to do big things. The things that inspire you, but also the things that scare you. What is interesting, is that these things almost always also happen to be good for the people in the world around you. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do with your life, you probably have an idea of what makes you smile. I know you are sitting there reading, with this big cRaZy dream in your head, and you’re saying, “But Stephanie, I am so busy, and so stressed, and so tired, and so overwhelmed… there is no way that I have room in my life to do more things. Especially BIG things.”

I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong! Do you think that fostering Georgia was always easy? What about living away from my family at the age of 16, and graduating both high school and college a year early? Nope, not easy. I’ve also maintained a job of some sort since I was 10, while simultaneously competing with horses around the nation. So guess what? I didn’t ever do it perfectly, and I didn’t ever always do it gracefully. But it taught me a heck of a lot more than going through life the old-fashioned way.

My point here is not at all to brag… I want to inspire you to do the things that seem scary and hard. Because in the end, isn’t happiness our ultimate goal? An adult couple I know, spends all of their free hours (when not working at their full-time, corporate jobs) volunteering in soup kitchens and prisons. They love to help others, and they love to share their passion for the power of prayer. My brother, who is a sophomore at UVA, and is a pre-med major, is following his life-long passion by not playing on his school’s team, but volunteering as a children’s soccer coach. Did I mention that he is a stellar student, and also has a job? Soccer has been his constant driving force throughout life, and he wants to share that devotion with kids. I have a friend who believes in combining her love of animals, with children who have come across hard times, and messages from the Bible. So, she is pursuing ways to make this vision into a therapeutic riding facility, with a Christian background. A busy mama that I know, is not only a PHENOMENAL mother, but also works, writes, draws, cooks, and dreams… and she will be doing big things one day. A girl I know who just graduated from college, is an aspiring musician, but also spends tons of time with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

I know at least a few of you are (hopefully still) sitting there, reading these words, with one specific thought lingering in your mind. Maybe you have pushed it away for years, into that dark little corner full of cob webs and dust bunnies. What is the worst that could happen? So what if we end up a little bit bruised, with less money in our pockets, and less ‘fans’ than when we began… you only have a short time here to achieve your dreams, friends. And if you are happy, what more could you really ask for? I’m not talking about content-happy. I mean ‘life-is-a-grand-adventure, and-I’m-thankful-for-it-every-day’ kind of happy. The kind of happy that comes from dancing in the sunshine, picking flowers, and cuddling puppies.

What I’m trying to say, is don’t just talk about how much you love animals… get up off your butt and volunteer! Maybe children are your passion; do some research, and find a local organization that helps disadvantaged youth. It could be music or sports or cooking or writing… it doesn’t matter where you choose to concentrate your efforts, or even the amount of time you can devote to it right now, but what does matter is that you do it. Just think of what a different place the world would be, if we all put into action, the thoughts and dreams that were in our hearts. Don’t you think that there is a reason you have these inspirations sitting inside of you? Share them with the world, instead of bottling them up inside. I can promise that you will have at least one fan rooting for you. 😉

One of my favorite pictures in the whole, wide, world.

One of my favorite pictures in the whole, wide, world.

“What would you dare to do, if you knew that you could not fail?”

-Robert H. Schuller

An Extra Special Pup-date!

By now, all of you lovely readers probably know that Georgia came to LCPO because she and her 6 newborn pups were slated to be euthanized in a shelter in Georgia. This all happened just days before Christmas, so it was an incredibly stressful and chaotic process. However, like all of their many rescue stories, the happy endings are so worth the effort put forth by the rescue and its volunteers. The adoptive family of one of Georgia’s pups reached out to me a few weeks ago, and I am so thrilled to share their story with all of you.

Everyone who knew Georgia when she first came to LCPO, marveled at her strength and courage. She was a super-skinny YOUNG mama, who had been through hell with her babes. In spite of all of the chaos that surrounded her, she was kind and sweet with everyone she met, from shelter volunteers, to transport drivers, and of course, the volunteers and foster from LCPO. She was a devoted mom, but she seemed to understand instinctively that these people were here to help. Her life was about to change in some BIG ways!

Baby Enzo

Baby Enzo, formerly known as Everitt.

It eventually came time to find forever homes for each of the pups. The story below is told to me by Kristen, a lucky lady who came to adopt Enzo, who was one of Georgia’s lucky pups. How adorable is that face?!

Although Kristen possessed extensive experience with fostering, volunteering and rescuing animals from the age of 20, she had a very negative connotation in her mind when it came to pit bulls. To put it bluntly, she wanted nothing to do with them, and believed all of those silly stereotypes we all work so hard to erase.

Kristen had a Saint Bernard who she says was her ‘life, and protector in the house’. She and her children lived alone, and having gone through some really hard times, Yogi was all that they had. He was always nearby for cuddles and kisses, but was also fiercely protective of his family.

Unfortunately, in July of 2010, Yogi passed away suddenly from an unnoticed massive brain tumor. Yogi had been a perfectly healthy pup all of his life, and so his sudden passing left his family especially heartbroken. Kristen was crushed. She was never going to get another dog, because she knew that none could compare to her beloved Yogi.

The next summer, Kristen saw a rash of burglary in her neighborhood, and even had the horror of being robbed herself, when someone entered her garage at 2 AM. This was enough of a wake up call for her to realize that she needed to protect herself and her children, and she felt that a big dog would be the best way to do it.

She searched relentlessly for a dog that would meet her family’s needs, and soon realized what a plethora of pitties were waiting in shelters and rescues. She was still hesitant to have one around her children, but she then came across Everitt! She loved that his markings reminded her of Yogi’s, and she soon became obsessed with reading as much as possible about the little heart breaker. In her own words, Kristen says that Everitt’s face slowly began to change her mind, and her heart. “I decided maybe I had been a chicken, and a jerk, and maybe they were really ok…maybe.”

Soon, she submitted her application to LCPO, and eventually went to meet two of Georgia’s pups, one of whom was Everitt. She noticed that Everitt was the less dominant of the two. It wasn’t love at first sight, to be sure. “While he was cute, he still wasn’t Yogi, but he would work,” Kristen said, with resignation.

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Kristen was the first adopter to take a puppy from Miss Georgia, and she felt so badly that she couldn’t help but cry. However, the foster at the time assured Kristen that Georgia had a home after the pups were gone.

Can you believe this shot?! That is Mr. Enzo himself! What a good mama she is <3

Can you believe this shot?! That is Mr. Enzo himself! What a good mama she is ❤

Kristen took her word for it, and took home little Everitt- soon to be dubbed “Enzo Yellow Valentine”. (Can you guess who else had a hand in that name?!)

She says that Enzo was a smart pup from the very beginning, but always very serious. It took him a long time to show off his clownish antics (boy, does that remind me of someone I know!) His quick witted nature also lent him to be a bit of a hand-full, as he could be pushy and also wary of strangers. Kristen had plenty of moments where she doubted her decision, but as they continued to work, with Enzo testing her every step of the way, they started to form an unbreakable bond.

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This BIG boy eventually turned one year old, and all of a sudden he became almost angelic. Kristen proudly shares his talents, “He knows all his commands, comes when he’s called, and goes to “time out” when he’s been bad. He rings a bell to go outside, talks to me like Pee-Wee Herman, snuggles, wiggles, and would die to protect our family. This dog rocks. He is so funny, and such a giant oaf (my 6lb baby now weighs 68lbs). He is always on alert, and I know I always have to be on point when he is around new people. (Nobody’s allowed in this guy’s grill, he likes to be wined and dined a little first:). I made the right choice, probably will again, and am proud to say that Enzo’s running a very close 2nd to my Yogi, and he’s just getting started. Thanks Georgia!!!”

Enzo practices his 'leave it'... to perfection!

Enzo practices his ‘leave it’… to perfection!

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While I can’t say that their story surprises me at all, I do love hearing about how Georgia’s life has touched others so deeply. Enzo reminds me so much of his mama! Every day I learn more about her, and fall more in love with her spirit. I hope you do, too! Thanks for sharing your story, Kristen. We wish you all the best with Enzo!

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ConGRADulations!!

Ok, so I first need to start out by saying thank you. Really, what did I do to deserve such kind, caring readers? You all had such considerate and wise things to share with me after my post yesterday, and it was appreciated more than you know. I really needed to feel some support, and I was given that and more! It also showed me just how invested so many people have become in Georgia’s journey, and it is so nice to know that we have an army of people behind us. I owe you all a favor! xoxo
As if the excitement of yesterday’s post wasn’t enough, I need to share with all of you another big announcement… there is a graduate in the house!!

DSC_0001Miss Gia graduated from obedience school this week! Yay! She has always been a well-mannered dog, but we thought that taking her to a structured environment for training, would help increase her comfort level around other dogs, and also teach her parents (!) a thing or two 😉 It certainly served its purpose, and was an activity we have looked forward to every Wednesday night for the past 8 weeks.

Part of the graduation ceremony was a fun ‘competition’. I may be a bit biased, but Georgia was quick to show her talents with each event. She did the most ‘sits’ in one minute, and was also most willing to respond to our cues, even when only signaled or only spoken! What a good girl. Are you surprised? We weren’t.

The funniest moment of class, was when they had us walk our dogs with the leash in only one hand, and in the same hand, we carried a small margarita glass full of alcohol water. This was to show how well our dogs walked on their leashes, without pulling. Georgia did very well with this… that is, until the end, when she did a full SHAKE, which of course caused me to end up covered in water! Silly girl.

My favorite part of class was at the end. One of Georgia’s classmates was a beautiful young boxer named Rose. Rose’s family consisted of a mother & father, two young boys, and their little sister. The family was so kind and wonderful, but they had heard a lot of negative things about pit bulls. Apparently, Georgia was the talk of their dinner table each night after class! Although the oldest boy usually accompanied Rose and his mother to class, because it was graduation night, the whole family came. As we walked in, we heard the younger boy ask, “Mom, is that the dog you always talk about?” The mother had told us a few times how Georgia had completely changed her perceptions about pit bulls, and that she was just the sweetest and most loving dog. We tend to agree. 😉

The little girl was sitting off by herself, watching Georgia closely, yet cautiously. When we came to a break in the class, I introduced myself and asked what her name was. She softly told me her name was Grace, and we started to talk a bit back and forth. I eventually asked her if she wanted to meet our dog, Georgia. She was a bit hesitant, and so I told her how much she LOVES kids, especially our nephews, who are about her age. She came over, slowly at first… and well, I think I’ll just let the next few pictures speak for themselves 🙂

Can you spot a blurry tail?

Can you spot a blurry tail?

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Pittie kisses

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Tummy rub!

I believe that this is when she started asking Jonathan what those 'things' on her tummy were for ;)

I believe that this is when she started asking Jonathan what those ‘things’ on her tummy were for 😉

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Maybe pictures don’t quite do justice to the moments they shared together, but the whole class got kind of quiet, and watched the two with soft smiles. There’s nothing quite as sweet as children and dogs.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Not only did I sign up for company to stay with us, but we will also be watching two puppies for a friend! We will be busy, to say the least 😉 I am excited for puppy breath and puppy tummies and puppy noises!! A few of my favorite things.