We Need Worry, We Need Grace

Any guesses as to why there was no post yesterday? I’ll make it easier for you by offering a multiple-choice exam…

A) Work-related stresses

B) Family-related stresses

C) Health-related stresses

D) Dog-related stresses

E) All of the above

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If you guessed E, you’d be right! Of course, if you guys are anything like me, the only one you’re most concerned about is D. Thankfully, all is well now, but unfortunately we took a SUPER fast, SUPER emergency trip to the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center this week for everyone’s favorite gentleman, Tonka.

Foster Dad and I took a day-trip on Sunday to visit some good friends and family in the Philadelphia area. Thankfully we have the best friends in the world, two of whom happen to live right here in Pittsburgh, and they offered to hang out with the pups for the day. They reported that all went well, but on Monday Tonka had vomited four times. This is very out of character for him, but as he seemed fine otherwise, we went about life as normal.

The next day, however, he was not himself. See, Tonk is the type of guy who is the life of the party. You know, the man every pup wants to date and every dog wants to be. But on Tuesday, he was no social butterfly. He seemed listless and uncomfortable, and wanted to be alone. As the day went on, he started to have a hunched appearance and wasn’t moving around normally.  I thought he might have had something going on with his spine, and had planned to make an appointment for the next day with the animal chiropractor we used. However, after dinner that night, his symptoms became extreme, to the point that he refused to move. Typically, Tonka is stoic to the extreme: I don’t think I’d ever even heard him vocalize pain at all to this point. While I panicked with a non-responsive dog in my arms, J called the chiropractor, Dr. Dave, as our regular vet was closed for the evening. Unfortunately, after explaining the symptoms, our worries were confirmed as Dr. Dave rushed J off the phone and told him to get Tonka to the emergency vet immediately. He suspected that we were dealing with pancreatitis. Essentially, this is a severe and sudden inflammation of the pancreas, and despite aggressive treatment, it can have a high mortality rate. The pancreas serves to digest the food, but in cases of pancreatitis, the digestive enzymes are released too quickly and begin to act on the organ itself, which causes a cascade of devastating events within the body.

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but after a terrifying 45-minute drive to the emergency clinic in which Tonka began to go into shock, we eventually got to the clinic and were seen almost immediately. Blood was drawn, radiographs were taken, IV’s were administered, and options were discussed, but thankfully pancreatitis did not seem to be on the table. After a few hours of pain meds, fluids, and nutrients, Tonka-Tue was on his way to recovery.

In the end, the worst part about the evening’s outcome was the astounding bill we had to pay, but I know I don’t have to explain it to any of you when I say it was worth every penny. Emergency scenarios of any kind truly put into perspective that we must always treasure our loved ones.

Some of you have been here long enough to have read the post in which I wrote a letter to Tonka about how much he meant to me, and why. It is one of my favorite pieces of all time. With so much focus on the rescues, as well as the girls who require a lot of management and reminders, it can be so easy to let my special guy fall to the side. The good dog, the easy dog, the quiet dog, the friendly dog… there is nothing about Tonka that is less than perfection, and yet, he suffers for it.

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As I write this, he rests at my feet, tail thumping with every deep exhale or pause from the keyboard. There is something so special, so intuitive about this dog. When a foster comes into our home, he looks at me silently as they bump into him or try to steal his food. He sits patiently for pets from children and tugs from babies, and finds the perfect spot to snuggle when tears are shed. While out on the trail, the other dogs blazing ahead for new smells and discoveries, it is Tonka who returns to me with regularity, to check that I’m not far behind. He will always choose me… over food, other dogs, or even rabbits and squirrels, but yet he is calm and confident when alone. When Gaige and Georgia bark or growl at strange sounds in the night, it is Tonka who bravely investigates in front of the pack, forging through the darkness without hesitation. Without any practice or refreshers, or even food as motivation, he will dazzle a crowd with his bag of tricks. He has slept without complaint for thousands of miles as my co-pilot, and watched protectively from just outside the dusty arena as I spent hours in the saddle, practicing and honing my skills. He has quietly occupied himself during my study sessions, even when I would forget to let him out or write straight through his dinnertime, and truly protected me when our safety was on the line. Never a complaint, never a bad day, never an accident or mistake, and certainly never accusations, guilt, or judgement. Whenever I look to him or snuggle him or praise him or acknowledge him, he doesn’t remember all of the times I’ve fallen short, but delights in the present and the attention that showers him. Couldn’t we all stand to be a little more like Tonka?

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Tonka’s greatest gift to me is the gift of grace. How many days do I waste with worry, wondering what if, second-guessing my approach or others’ perceptions? I wonder, have I spent my days wisely? I worry that I focus too much on the have-to’s, and then stress that I haven’t soaked up every minute. How many days end with feelings of failure? Well, none of them that also end with Tonka snuggles. He reminds me that I’ve done at least a few things right in the world.

So thanks for understanding why things were a little quiet on the blog front yesterday. My man and I both needed some extra attention… for him, to soothe away the sickies, and for me, to remind myself that to him, I’m always enough.

How Not to Fall in Love with Your Foster Dog

Any advice here people? It certainly is no secret… We all know I’m not good at this.

IMG_0469I can tend a bloody wound with stone-cold precision. I can cuddle the confidence into a scared dog, and train the structure into a wild one. I have soothed the fear from an aggressive dog and have mended the heart of an abused one. But what I have never been able to do is keep myself from falling head over heels in love with one. While hearing me wax poetic about all of the reasons I love our little K-man, Foster Dad said it perfectly, “Yeah, but I’ve never seen you meet a dog you didn’t instantly love.” Hmm. Well, that may be true, but Kingston is proving to be even more lovable than your average squishy-faced pup.

How do you not fall in love when your foster dog acts as though his world revolves around you? His dissatisfaction over short separations are marked with voracious naughtiness, while your arrival is celebrated with more joy than a little child hugging his parents after being lost in Disneyworld. Kingston’s is the exuberant greeting of a happy dog, twirling on two legs, reaching up to you for petting and kisses, happy beyond all measure just to see you at the end of a long day.

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How do you not fall in love when your foster dog is an expert snuggler? He hops up onto your bed with quick agility, perhaps not so much due to his coordination or athleticism as it is that he knows the sooner he gets settled, the more likely it is that he will be allowed to stay. He finds that perfect spot nestled up against you, like a missing puzzle piece. You snooze together peacefully, letting the rhythmic rise and fall of your hand on his ribcage lull you both to contented sleep.

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How do you not fall in love with your foster dog when you watch him discover the wonder of the world for the first time? Peanut-butter-filled kongs, squeaky toys, leaf piles, mud puddles and car ride adventures just to name a few, the way he delights in the simplest of pleasures reminds you to relax and do the same. The dog who came to you a sensible and reserved old man at only one year of age now displays puppy antics, complete with play bows, head tilts, and around-the-house-zoomies, his spirit as playful as a young dog’s should be.

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How do you not fall in love with your foster dog when he learns to have confidence by leaning on you? The world, once a scary and intimidating place, full of fear and pain, is now happy and bright since you have come into his life. Rather than reacting to the world around him, he looks to you for guidance and reacts with consistency, trusting without question that you would never put him in an unsafe situation. He becomes your shadow, latching onto you like velcro, in the very best of ways.

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How do you not fall in love with your foster dog, when the head that used to duck at your hand raised to pet him, eventually sidles up on your lap to lick away your tears? That head that used to duck in fear, now snuggles in under your neck during movie nights on the couch, letting out a deep and contented sigh. That head also holds his tongue, and boy, he knows just how to use it! He seems to know when I need to smile, and uses those precise moments to cover my face in slobbery love.

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How do you not fall in love with your foster dog, when he starts to forget the specifics of how he ended up so broken and tattered and abused and mistreated, and starts to remember only the new things you’ve taught him? When despite the past he has endured, his favorite pursuit is not a ball or some cheese or the cat, but is in fact making new friends. When although all he’s known is fear and pain, but he never resorts to aggression, even when it might be justified.

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How do you not fall in love with your foster dog, when he resembles a cartoon? Ears like swiveling antennaes, flickering this way and that, trying desperately to read the signals of the others in his environment. Wiggle-butt jiggling here and there in his best attempt at “twerking,” eliciting smiles from all who are lucky enough to meet him. He doesn’t walk anywhere, but constantly hops and jigs and skips and bounces along to his next destination, whatever it may be, his hind legs trailing along at a twisted angle. He has an uncanny ability to make the world fall in love with him, and that is something I could use a lot more of in my life.

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How do you not fall in love with your foster dog when they pass through the world with an accepting spirit that welcomes all they meet without judgement or exception? It is a trait I’ve rarely seen in a dog, and never seen in a person. He loves without restraint or restriction, and brings out the best in everyone he meets. How do you not fall in love with your foster dog when he believes that everything in life is better when shared? His kong, your bed, his dinner, or yours… it doesn’t matter. He knows that friendships are more important than possessions any day.

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How do you not fall in love with your foster dog, when they remind you of all the lessons you have yet to learn in life? Like the amazing power of putting your heart right out there and making yourself totally vulnerable to those you love. It’s something that we humans are so hesitant to do, but your foster makes it so clear that it’s the best way to live.

How do you not fall in love with your foster dog, when they come into your world without warning? One day you are the happy leader of a 3-dog home, minding your own business, until someone tells you about a pup that needs help. You forget to put your guard up, or build a wall around your heart, and before you know it, a sad little guy with his deep brown eyes and comical ears has burrowed his way into your life, sure to leave a permanent hole when he moves on.

How do you not fall in love with your foster dog, when his presence in your life restores your faith and pride in humanity? When a little underdog needed a hand, a community of so many people we had never met joined together to offer compassion, prayer, kind words, financial donations, and even things like food and toys and beds and sweaters.

The answer? You don’t. You fall head over heels, b. spears-crazy,  irrevocably in love. Just like the rest of the world, you are hypnotized by his bouncy, carefree spirit. You give away little pieces of your heart in order to mend his. It is an amazing thing when a sad little dog teaches so many people about resiliency, love, dedication, and the power of second chances. All I know, is that Kingston’s forever family will be the luckiest people in the world. ❤

Fostering is Hard

I try to keep things really positive around here, but I have recently realized that in doing so, perhaps I am not always as up front as I could be. I wanted to take a moment to be really, really honest with all of you.

Fostering is hard. While that may not be something I want to share on a regular basis, because I wouldn’t want it to turn anyone away from trying to make a difference, I also don’t think it is something that many are unaware of. One of those things that is often unsaid, yet understood. It is hard to bring a dog who is at its lowest into your home and into your family, fall in love and nourish it back to physical and emotional health, only to have to say goodbye and trust a new family to care for him or her as well as you could.

But there is more to it than that. It is hard to give up date nights week after week, because it would make more sense to allot those funds to a bag of dog food, not to mention that the dogs have been kenneled all day while you’ve been working. It is hard to deal with extra fur and even sometimes ticks and fleas. It is hard to take time off of work to drive to the vet, and set aside time in your evenings for training and communicating with the rescue and prospective adopters. It is hard to see your own dogs upset or sad or even angry to be isolated from you in order for you to spend time with your foster dog. It is hard to have friends or family members or acquaintances ask you if they can adopt the dog, when you know it might not be an ideal fit. It is even harder when people criticize you for not keeping your foster dog, when you know it wouldn’t be ideal for anyone involved. It is hard to disappoint others when you have to cancel plans because you need to make sure your foster dog gets his medications on time. It is hard to feel judged by others for the way you choose to spend your time and money, in the hopes of making a difference. It is hard to balance all the guilt and sadness and anger and other emotions… guilt toward all of the dogs, and deciding which ones get your time and attention, sadness for your foster’s situation, anger toward the person who selfishly put this burden in your life, and everything else that goes along with this job.

It is really hard when you discover that your foster dog has separation anxiety. It is even harder when you see evidence of his tantrums. It is hardest when you imagine what could make a dog panic to the extent that he is so destructive when you leave him for just a few hours.

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But you know what makes all of that not only easier, but actually worth it? When your foster falls into a deep sleep in your arms, and you realize that this is probably the safest he has ever felt. It’s easy when you watch him play with another dog, bouncing and smiling and play-bowing, his antics showing a pup much younger than his age might suggest. It helps when you see the light bulb flicker on during a training session, and you see a glimpse of the perfect family dog he is becoming. It is easier when you see him greet a child, and he becomes a gentle, wiggly thing, giddy at the chance to kiss the fingers of a person right at his own height. When you proudly watch him share his toys with another dog or politely greet a new person, using the skills you’ve shown him. And of course, you can’t help but smile at the simplicity and clarity of it all when you remember that this dog exists, in no small part, simply because you chose to inconvenience your life in exchange for the continuation of his. Not such a hard bargain, if you ask me.

IMG_2398We love you, Kingston! No matter how much fluffing you scatter around our house. ❤

 

His, Mine, and Ours

Gaige, through and through, is a Daddy’s girl. Maybe it’s because she (wrongly) believes that he was the one that saved her life. I’ve written about how we came to the ‘decision‘ to keep her, and also written about the bond that they share. Let’s just say that I know where I stand in J’s life, and that’s in a line behind quite a few other women (Gaige, Holly the Camaro, etc etc). I know that to get Gaige to do what I want her to do, I’m most successful if I just ask Jonathan to make the request. What a diva!

His

His

Then there is Tonka. I wrote a long letter to him here, where I explained our whole past and all he has done for me. He is my heart dog, to put it lightly. Some may call it separation anxiety, but I prefer to consider it mutual adoration. He mirrors my movements and shadows my steps, moving through life as though we were connected by an invisible string. A flick of my wrist or a nod of my head is often all that I need to communicate my wishes to him. From the beginning, he has been uniquely intuitive of my next step or impending mood. Talk about a confidence booster… he makes me feel as though I hung the moon! (Or at least keep the treats, right?)

Mine

Mine

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Helping me study

 

Finally, we come to Georgia. I think what we both love most about her is that she adores us both equally. She listens (or doesn’t listen) to us both at the same regularity (or irregularity). She sometimes comes to us when she is called, but it has less to do with who the caller is, than it does what sort of treat we have in our hand. You could say she is only food-motivated, but we prefer to think that she just doesn’t play favorites. She also believes that we each taste equally delicious, and kisses abound for both. Happy Gotcha Day to the only dog that loves us both with equal passion and fervor! You came into our lives (approximately?) one year ago today, and our lives have changed forever! You were the little brown dog we never knew we needed, but who desperately needed us. You have made our family complete, and only deepened our passion for helping the underdogs of the world. You are gentle and sweet, yet playful and goofy. No dog could we replace you, and we know that Gaige and Tonka agree. You are our clown, our cuddlebug, and even our home defender, and we wouldn’t trade you for all of the riches in the world!

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Ours!

Ours!

As always, many millions of thanks to A Positive Promise pit bull Foundation for bringing this superstar into our lives!

So, we wanna know. Do your dogs play favorites? Are you the queen bee in your house, or does Dad rule the roost?

(Disclaimer: We all love all of our dogs equally, and take equal responsibility and ownership for all 3!)

Dating to Find Your Doggy Daddy

As an old, married woman, it is safe to say that my ‘dating’ years are behind me, along with those wild nights out with all my single ladies…. actually, I don’t think it quite makes sense to say that they are behind me, because I never really experienced them. I turned 21 right around the time I started dating J, and let’s just say that at that time I had no interest in meeting my future husband, so you could argue that I don’t know much about dating. I have officially only been hit on in a bar one point five times. One of those times, J came to the rescue, and I experienced my first bar fight! The other, I was playing mom at my friend’s bachelorette party, and so I don’t think it really counts. He probably thought I was a wealthy old cougar or something. However, I have lots of gorgeous, single friends who are wading the dating waters, and I am lucky enough to be the first person they call to bail them out of an awful date, strategize the second date proposal, and compare the benefits of SITC living to domesticated bliss. I’m like a dating therapist, people.

Nevertheless, I wonder what life would be like if I were dating with dogs. I can only compare it with what I imagine life would be like when dating with children. There is that tricky dilemma of how much to talk about your dog on the first few dates, lest you appear to be a CDL (crazy dog lady, obviously). Then there is that important question, useful to predict your compatibility: admitting each of your ‘numbers’ (of course I mean max number of dogs people, get your minds out of the gutter!) Oh, and then, how long should you wait? I mean, you don’t want to rush things before introducing your potential mate to your four-legged partner-in-crime. Too soon, and you might appear easy, but wait too long, and it might seem as though you are playing hard to get!

Then there is the looming obstacle: what if your new beau and your pup don’t hit it off? What if he just isn’t “doggy-daddy” material? Maybe he is more of a ‘cat-person,’ or perhaps he believes that dogs belong outside (I wrote a post about one of those crazy guys, here). Rather, it might be your dog that doesn’t take kindly to having his or her relationship infringed upon… either way, what would you do? You need to think about it… is this a person that can handle dog hair on the furniture? Cold noses and wet kisses? Post-coital cuddles with Princess? If not, I’m sure you have already determined that they simply are not romantic material.

If you’re reading this post, you probably look at your social circle in a way that is similar to my own perspective: there are two types of people – animal lovers, and then there is everyone else. Or further, dog people and cat people. Now, maybe you have a severe feline allergy, or perhaps it’s just your dog that has an issue with kitties. Either way, my advice is to seek out the dudes you know will be dog-friendly… two dogs, one ball and all of that. I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking that you’ve already met all of the humans at the local dog park. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably pretty proud of the fact that you’ve finally managed to remember some of their names, as opposed to only memorizing the names, lineage, and social status of their dogs’. But in today’s society, where one in five couples meet online, why not take your search for a doggy daddy to the interwebz? Nowadays, there are plenty of online dating options out there for the dog-obsessed, and a simple google search may land you a ‘tall, dark, and handsome,’ four paws included: You Must Love Dogs, Date My Pet, Pet People Meet, Love me Love my Pets, just to name a few. Here, you can use your dog to your advantage, as either the ultimate wing-man, or the cock-blocker. For example, on a fabulous date with a fellow dog lover, and not ready for the night to end? Suggest that he bring over his cock…er spaniel, for a little late-night play date. Conversely, on an awful date and need a swift exit strategy? Of course, any dog lover would understand your need for haste if your pup is sick!

When you think about it, it makes sense. We’ve been spoiled by Fido’s unconditional love, and we needs someone who understands that level of devotion. Some might say that we’ve developed high standards, but if you’re amazing enough to deserve those standards, then why not?

What I mean by that, is that if finding a fellow single, attractive, sane, dog lover isn’t working out for you, you could just establish your online dating profile at a more ‘normal’ dating site like Match.com or eHarmony. There, you could highlight all of the reasons any man would be lucky to end up with a fetch catch like you:

1) Easy-going: As evidenced by the dog hair and slobber covering every surface of your apartment. No OCD, neat-freaks here! Not to mention all of the chewed shoes, destroyed remotes, and scratched floors… no one could accuse you of being materialistic!

2) Selfless: Comfortable putting your own needs aside for the sake of others. For proof, just reference your calendar, with a plethora of Sophia’s grooming, nail-trimming, training, agility, and veterinary appointments. (On second thought, maybe don’t admit this one.)

3)Outdoorsy: Basically, you just spend a lot of time at the dog park.

4) Reliable: You know, as in your commonalities with the United State Postal Service. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this courier dog owner from the swift completion of their appointed rounds potty duties.” Come to think of it, the regular 5 am wake up calls for Sam’s walks? Why, you’re a prompt and pleasant morning person! No lazy mornings spent in bed for you!

5) Generous: $100 bags of organic dog food, $200 monthly Nylabone and Kong budget, $50/day at doggy daycare… you are a giving person who would never place the value of financial security over the way you make your loved ones feel!

www.glasbergen.com Randy Glasbergen

http://www.glasbergen.com Randy Glasbergen

And if you’re still unsuccessful, there’s always dog dating sites. No, not like I mentioned above. I’m talking about dating sites FOR your dog. I mean, just because you’re not getting lucky, doesn’t mean that Ginger shouldn’t either, right? There are now a variety of websites created to accommodate the needs of your picky pup, whether you are searching for a pooch play mate or a breeding pair. (Just make sure your dogs are practicing safe sex, people!)

Disclaimer: These suggestions and tips are offered in jest. They are meant to make you smile as you wade the murky dating waters. In truth, the age old advice applies – be yourself, and you will find someone who will love you for it! (Unless you are a cat person. Then you’re screwed.)

More and More Every Day…

I would hope that by now, it is pretty evident that I absolutely adore my dogs. I take great pride in them, as well as in the way I care for them. In fact, I think the greatest compliment anyone has ever given me, is when they say; “Man, if there is a life after this, I want to come back as one of your dogs!” While I love pretty much everything about these four-legged fur balls with whom I share my life, there are just some moments that my heart swells with pride and affection. I bet you can relate…

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1) When they are content or joyful

Especially when I think about where Georgia and Gaige probably came from, it makes me incredibly happy when I see our pups enjoying their lives to the fullest. Whether that is when they are in hot pursuit of an animal in our open fields, or slumbering all cuddled together under our down comforter, I feel so great knowing that their lives are better because of me. I live for moments when I can bring them sheer and unbridled joy… ears-a-flying, tongue-a-slobbering, head-hangin-outa-the-window-style.

 

 

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2) When they depend on me

While I would never wish fear or anxiety on my dogs, I feel invincible when they come to me for guidance or reassurance. These dogs, with their powerful muscles and athletic limbs, turn to me when they need assurance that the world is a safe place. Whether it is a visit to the vet or when I have to tend to a wound, their trust in me is steadfast and pure. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, but it means the world to me.

 

 

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Partners in crime

Partners in crime

3) When other people are lovin’ up on them

Of course I think my dogs are the greatest. Don’t we all? But those moments when someone else stops to recognize all of the heart and courage and beauty that they bring to this world? I think that’s kinda what dog ownership is all about. Whether it’s a stranger on the street, all of you friends here, or the people that mean the most in my life, when I see the bonds my dogs share with others, it reaffirms all of the pride I have in them. And if it’s someone fragile that they are bonding with? Fo’ gedaboutit. My wild, exhuberant dogs seem to have this switch… put them around a child or someone elderly, and they become like little lambs, gentle and sweet, cuddley and quiet. Try to tell me that they don’t understand us. I dare you.

 

 

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4) When they’re all together

If you’ve been following this blog for a long time, you may remember that it took us months to acclimatize the dogs to the point where they could coexist in the house. Georgia came to us a bundle of nerves, with little trust for anyone around her, human or animal. She even thought the cat was out to get her! The poor girl just had no confidence in herself or anything in her environment. But to see our pack now, you would never know that we had ever experienced any issues. These dogs have a strong yet intricate bond that ties them together. You see it in the way they move through the house, and the way they all snuggle in bed together, sharing their space and their favorite people. It’s in the way they play tug of war, growling and barking and enjoying all that it means to be a carefree pup. It’s even in the way they guard the house, communicating silently as each takes their post at a window until an intruder approaches. One of the three sounds the alarm, and the troops come running for backup. They’ve learned to respect one another’s space, but they’ve also become dependent upon each other. Take one away, and the others pout and whine. Our dogs are true friends. I don’t know if they do it because they know it is what I expect of them, or if it is because they have a need for the kinship of other dogs, but I do know that I love it.

 

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5) When we’re snuggling

Morning snuggles with the dogs are my favorite. Part. Of my day. Paws down! While we don’t usually allow the dogs to sleep through the night in our bed, once J is out of the house, they know that the dog bed rules go with him. One by one, they leap into the bed as delicately as is possible for 3 dogs with a combined weight of almost 250 pounds! They creep quietly along the mattress, careful not to disturb me, in case I might decide to kick them out. Sleepily I smile to myself, loving that their favorite place on earth is just wherever I am. Each selects their perfect spot, snuggled right up against me, but still somehow in contact with the others. We rest peacefully together, until I make the first stirs… maybe a yawn or stretch, or an arm reaching toward the night stand for my phone. Then all bets are off… they leap from their positions, shake off their slumbers, and grab for a toy. They know that once I’m up, fun begins, and they can’t wait to get their days started!

 

"If I don't look at her, she can't make me come inside..."

“If I don’t look at her, she can’t make me come inside…”

6) When they’re being naughty

Believe it or not, J told me early on that one of the things he had first loved about me was the way I treated my dog. He said that I was strict with him, and he admired my sense of discipline. At the same time, I was affectionate and spoiled him rotten when he was good. I think it’s safe to say that this is exactly how I approach my relationship with our dogs to this day. I hold high standards for their obedience, and think that discipline and structure are a vital part of their lives. At the same time, I think that if our dogs could speak, they would happily tell you that there are no dogs on this planet more loved and well cared for.

With all of that being said, there are some times that I just can’t get over how adorable they are when they’re bad. 95% of the time, our dogs are so focused on their ‘jobs’ and are incredibly eager to please us. But there are those moments where their instincts take over. They seem to forget all about any of the manners that they’ve learned, and take exceptional delight in the fact that they are dogs!

With Gaige, it happens when she is outdoors and doesn’t want to come inside (see photographic evidence, above). You can call and call and call her, but she pretends she hasn’t heard. She will trot slowly over to the furthest point of the yard, and plop herself down, staring at you in defiance. You will try throwing bits of hot dogs to her, shaking the treat bag, and bouncing around like a crazy person. All to no avail. Then when you’ve lost your patience, and decide to risk the late-night or early-morning walk in your bare feet, crazy hair, tee shirt, and underwear, she waits like a panther. You will stomp yourself over to her, muttering under your breath, and just when you think you are in arms’ reach of her collar, she will tuck her tail up under herself, and dash around the yard in sheer ecstasy, proud of her quick and conniving ways. If you can stay mad at her when she does this, you are a much tougher person than I!

 

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7) When they are there for me

Tonka, especially, seems to have some sort of wire to my heart. Not only does he know when I am happy or sad, but he often seems to be aware of it before I am. He will come to me with an expression to match my own. If I am hurting, he will cuddle up as close as possible, and stare deep into my eyes. I swear he is trying to speak to me. But when I’m excited about something, he bounces around my feet, grabbing the nearest toy to celebrate with me. Talk about selflessness… this pup has it in spades.

 

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

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

8) When I think about the past

Mainly, it’s when I write posts like this. I think about all of the adventures I’ve shared with these dogs. And even the lows. These dogs have been there for me through everything, displaying a loyalty not rivaled by even my closest friends. They were all brought into my life for different reasons, and I wouldn’t be who I am without each of them.

Wordless Wednesday: Organization & Inspiration!

Foster Dad is just TBE… The Best Ever!

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Eeek! So much more room for (blogging) activities!

Georgia: "I think you missed a piece..."

Georgia: “I think you missed a piece…”

Inspirational quotes and photos

Inspirational quotes and photos

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Where it all started <3

Where it all started ❤

Tonk's & Geege's puppy collars!

Tonk’s & Geege’s puppy collars!

Just what I needed… below is from Foster Dad:

Desk: $225

Chair and cover: $60 + $40

Labor: 3 hours

Happy Writer/Wifer: Priceless!

I feel like I am about to be so much more productive! 🙂 Stay tuned…

Happy May everyone!

 

Your Dog

I wait behind these cold, dark walls. Staring eagerly through the bars.

Wondering what I have to do… How to align the stars?

Thurston waits patiently for his forever home at the Staten Island center of NYACC

Thurston waits patiently for his forever home at the Staten Island center of NYACC

You have your faithful dog at home: Obedient, loyal, and true.

He is your partner, defender, and friend. He is so special to you.

What makes him different? What sets him apart? Do I not deserve the same?

I could be adventurous, devoted, and smart. I could be deserving of the same name.

Moxie is a frightened lady that wants to love volunteers at the Stark County shelter in Canton OH, but doesn't know how to trust. She needs a friend.

Moxie is a frightened lady that wants to love volunteers at the Stark County shelter in Canton OH, but doesn’t know how to trust. She needs a friend.

You grant him a spot at the end of your bed, a collar with jingling tags.

He gets a good dinner, fresh water, & treats; with thanks, his happy tail wags.

You see my photo and read what I’m about, but you don’t know who I want to be.

Take a chance on my life, on my paws, on my heart. Please, take a chance on me.

Jeffey has earned himself amazing evaluations from the staff at the Brooklyn ACC in NY, proving how much he deserves a loving family.

Jeffey has earned himself amazing evaluations from the staff at the Brooklyn ACC in NY, proving how much he deserves a loving family.

I could learn to be quiet, cuddly, and calm, or brave and defensive of you.

I could be athletic and strong and compete, I’m ready to begin anew.

Nookie was displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and has spent the past 6 months living in a cage in a NY vet's office. He needs someone to show him what living is really about!

Nookie was displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and has spent the past 6 months living in a cage in a NY vet’s office. He needs someone to show him what living is really about!

Some look at me and imagine the worst: assume I’m discarded for reasons severe.

But all that I want you to understand, is that your dog could have ended up here.

Your dog that you know inside & out, could have wound up stolen or lost.

He’d find his way to a place like this. In the kennel, without thought, he’d be tossed.

This boy has displayed excellent manners during his time at the Manhattan ACC. Though he came in as a stray, he is made for life as a part of a family.

This boy has displayed excellent manners during his time at the Manhattan ACC. Though he came in as a stray, he is made for life as a part of a family.

In the chaos of the shelter, would his voice be understood?

Amid his confusion and his fear, would anyone see the good?

Without a thing that is familiar, would he still remain the same?

Would he get a fair chance, or would your dog they blame?

Naji's good looks are only the cover of an amazing book... this girl earned a wonderful rating at the Manhattan shelter in NYC.

Naji’s good looks are only the cover of an amazing book… this girl earned a wonderful rating at the Manhattan shelter in NYC.

I know that you’d do whatever it takes, to bring your pup home, safe & sound.

So why do I wait forever it seems, my fate resting on the clock in the pound?

All I am trying to convey to you is that I’m no different than the pup in your bed.

The one that runs, guards, and plays fetch… The one who gets to live instead.

This is Howard. Despite glowing volunteer recommendations, and a winning personality, as well as stellar interactions with children, cats, and dogs alike, he was put to sleep due to a lack of interested adopters.

This is Howard. Despite glowing volunteer recommendations, and a winning personality, as well as stellar interactions with children, cats, and dogs alike, he was put to sleep due to a lack of interested adopters.

Though my stay is up, my life not worth your time,

Please help the others who wait, for they have committed no crimes.

They could be brave, quick-witted, & sweet.

Play with your children & sleep at your feet.

They are just like the dog that you call your best friend.

Their lives lie in your hands, for you to defend.

Our Georgia girl. Once a shelter dog, slated for euthanasia, she has proven to be a wonderful companion and part of our family.

Our Georgia girl. Once a shelter dog, slated for euthanasia, she has proven to be a wonderful companion and part of our family.

I’ve always felt that a part of the shelter problem lies in people placing their own dogs up on pedestals. We adore our pets, and so therefore we believe that they are above all others. However, the bottom line is that so many of our dogs would not show well in shelters, and so many shelter dogs have the capacity to make amazing family pets. We need to start imagining the dogs we see in shelters as our own dogs, so that there is a higher value placed on their lives.

If any of these dogs have captured your heart, please contact me for more information about fostering or adopting: sel1490@gmail.com

Cherish Me

I won’t always cry out at night,

When you leave me all alone,

Or chew on your brand new shoes,

Instead of my brand new bone.

 

My puppy breath won’t always linger,

from big yawns and dozing naps.

I won’t always be small and cozy,

Enough to cuddle on your lap.

 

Soon I will begin to grow,

Into my super-sized puppy paws.

I will start to want my freedom,

And our cuddles will take pause.

 

I will not always trip and tumble

When you call me down the hall.

Cherish every snuggle, snore and slumber,

For I won’t always be this small.

Baby Tonk

Baby Tonk

~~~

I won’t always love to run and romp,

After toys and tennis balls.

I won’t always want to tug and fetch,

or (almost) always come when you call.

 

When I was small you taught me well,

‘best friend’ is what you call me now.

Wherever you are, I’m by your side,

Loyalty is my solemn vow.

 

No matter the roads you take in life

I am your companion, willing and able

But I won’t always ride shotgun in your car

Or keep watch beneath the dinner table.

 

I won’t always be up for a new adventure

My body athletic and strong

Cherish every shake, sit, and stay,

For I will grow old before too long

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~~~

My puppy transgressions a thing of the past,

Obedience is now my middle name.

Wisdom collected as your lifelong companion,

‘Good dog’ is my claim to fame.

 

Achy joints and stumbling movements,

My body betrays me as age creeps in.

Our adventures decrease, yet I am brave,

Because of the memories I hold within.

 

I won’t always struggle to catch up.

Still so many roads left unexplored.

Yet I yearn to please you, however I may,

Your love is my favorite reward.

 

Though I grow weak, gray and tired,

Unable to lift my body from the ground,

Cherish every snore, stare and struggle,

For I won’t always be around.

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~~~

You have to face your life without me now

You see what a void there is to fill.

No one to play and fetch and run with you,

Or to cuddle quietly when you’re ill.

 

You used to grow frustrated

with all of the little things.

And now you wish to have them back

With all the joy they bring.

 

You miss the jingle of my tags,

The weight of my paw in your hand.

You’d even embrace my fur and drool,

Just to have me at home again.

 

Though the tears will fall like rain

Don’t let the grief tear you apart.

Cherish every story, sign, and snapshot

For I will always be in your heart.

 

Why Dogs?

Why dogs? What is it about these furry, funny creatures that can capture our hearts and change our lives? We (I use this term loosely!) dress our dogs up, afford them the best of medical care, take them to meet Santa Paws, provide them with quality organic food, and even throw them birthday parties… in the last 15 years, the US jumped from $17 billion to $43 billion in the amount of money we spend on our pets.

But if you are reading this blog, it is safe to say that you probably agree that loving our dogs is not all about the money. In fact, the financial ‘investment’ is probably the furthest thing from most of our minds. Loving our dogs is about loyalty and companionship, entertainment and comfort. But, the question remains: why dogs? Why not pigs or horses, or even inanimate items that constitute hobbies… trucks, fishing poles, etc?

Is it the way they love? Unapologetically and without restraint. Tongues flying, paws prancing and scrambling, they want to get as close to us as possible. They rest their heavy heads on our knees, as their deep eyes look into our own, expressing what their mouths cannot. Scientists may argue that this ‘adoration’ is simply an appropriate appreciation of resources, and acknowledgement of the vessels that provide them (ie: we bring home the bacon). However, I argue that all dog lovers know the difference between a friend’s dog, staring longingly into our eyes while we nom down on a burger, and our own dog’s adoring glances when we’ve been away for an extended any amount of time. Not to mention, what about when that loyalty extends to those members of the family who are not the ‘pack leaders’? Many new parents discover a new found love for their dogs, once two-legged puppies enter the scene. When properly introduced, dogs can take on a role that is fiercely protective of the children in their family, who have no resources to offer in exchange. Many adults will look back on their childhood most fondly when recalling memories that highlight their family dogs. Perhaps even more noteworthy, is the fact that dogs who have been socialized appropriately may display affection toward other (prey?) animals in the house, be it dogs, cats, and even bunnies.

Via tumblr

Via tumblr

Perhaps it is their zest for life, their passion, if you will. Watching a dog run and tumble in hot pursuit of a bouncing ball, or dashing and splashing their way into a cool pond is enough to bring a smile to even the most cynical among us. They bring a uniquely lighthearted intensity and exhuberance to everything they pursuit, be it chasing birds, stealing food from the table or hard-core napping. For many dogs, even training can be fun, and our pups respond almost as if they want to help us learn!

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Is it their obedience? It can’t be that, because Gaige doesn’t have an obedient bone in her body, and yet still, she is the apple of her dad’s our eyes! In fact, it is sometimes in her contrary disobedience that we are nevertheless able to so clearly see the depth of our affections for her.

Perhaps it is their honesty. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a dog with a particularly good poker face. Even with three pups in our house, if I walk in to a plate pulled off of the counter (Georgia) or a chewed shoe (Gaige), their guilty mugs identify the perpetrator almost immediately. Even more worthwhile are their honest evaluations of the people they encounter in their environments. I will trust Tonka’s perceptions of character over any reference or compliment I hear, because his reservations have never once been wrong.

My boys <3

My boys ❤

We cannot forgot the dog’s intelligence. Sometimes during a particularly intense training session, it seems as if Georgia’s mind is working so hard, I can actually see the lightbulbs flickering and eventually turning all the way on. Dogs are intelligent creatures, but more than the way they learn, is what they perceive. They seem to possess a wisdom far beyond their years, and hold the secrets to some of life’s most lingering questions. The greatest lessons I’ve learned in life, have come from my dog.

You have to give dogs points for their patience, which I must admit, is commendable if for no other reason than that most of us don’t possess much of this attribute ourselves. This trait is visible not just when it comes to begging endlessly for food. Our dogs spend their lives waiting for us… waiting for us to come home, waiting for us to understand their requests, waiting for us to broaden their environment to walks and adventures. They wait for us, not with frustration or annoyance, but with an unbridled joy when we finally return, get it, or explore. Another trait that humans should envy is the innate confidence that many dogs possess, which is admirable because it often exists regardless of physical stature or athletic abilities. The tiny Chihuahua isn’t afraid to yap at the massive Dane, and the diminutive Corgi doesn’t hesitate to dive head-first into the water.

I think my favorite canine trait is loyalty, which I believe to be different than love. No matter how the days pass, full of activity and outdoor romps, or spent lazily indoors, our dogs greet us with the same frivolity, regard us with the same adoration, and protect us with the same courage. They forgive us when we are unclear or inconsistent, and are always looking toward the future. Although our dogs have memories, or at least recollections, that allow them to recall where they hid their favorite toys or just why they hate the bath tub, they are quick to forget our mistakes and flaws.

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You may most admire their companionship and observance (and I’m not just referring to the squirrels outside the window) by they way they move with you through the house, shadowing your steps in and out of rooms, never letting you out of their sight for more than a few minutes at a time (unfortunately, even when it comes to the bathroom!). Again, cynics may suggest that this behavior is simply a creature being on the alert, anticipating the possibility of potential rewards such as outdoor romps or surprise snacks. I prefer the belief that my dogs can’t bear to let me out of their sight. For our dogs, not only must they keep an eye on us, but they prefer to be physically touching us: laying on our feet, nestled against our body, or heads resting on our hands. They romp through the woods, running far ahead, but occasionally turning back to us for a quick pat on the head, seemingly reassured by our presence. Not to mention, what person do you know that would be happy to go along for a car ride with you, no matter the destination or length, just content to be by your side?

Dogs are endlessly resilient and courageous. To meet Georgia is to know nothing of the neglectful past she has endured, and the same can be said for so many dogs who have experienced trauma and violence. Their courage is impressive, seen time and again in stories of devoted dogs laying down their lives to defend their  family members. The next time you roll your eyes or yell as your dog barks ferociously at the door, take a second to analyze that act. Sure, it could be a hyper-active overreaction to the mailman. At the same time, how many of our dogs would valiantly defend us with everything they have? I know I would be my own life on mine…

Those of us who work with rescued dogs, who may have seen horrors we cannot imagine, may point out that not all dogs exemplify this list. Certainly, some dogs become withdrawn from play, and are hesitant to embrace the environment around them, etc. But somewhere inside of these dogs, is a little soul that yearns to be cuddled and protected. In spite of their fears, in their hearts lies a fighting spirit that enabled them to endure their tragic past. It may take time for traumatized animals to come back to their natural state, and maybe some won’t ever recover completely, but I believe that this list describes what we all know to be the essential Man’s Best Friend . Sure, there are some quirky dogs that just don’t fit these stereotypical tendencies… and yet their owners love them all the more for it! The dogs that are ornery, difficult, and aloof can sometimes inspire the most devoted companionship out of us.

At the end of the day, I think most of us can agree that the reasons and the depth of loving our dogs are one of the few things in life that defy words, and travel just out of the grasp of language. Nevertheless, we try. So tell me: what is it about dogs, or perhaps your dog in particular, that you are over-the-moon about, and just can’t get enough of? There just might be a giveaway in exchange for your answer! (But I’ll choose to believe that you would answer even without the bribe 😉 )