As Told by Bryn

Life is pretty good for me now, but my Foster Mama says I’m in a “holding pattern” and that this isn’t actually my home, although it seems pretty darned good to me. It’s definitely better than where I was. This whole year has been full of changes for me and it took a long time before I felt like this place was going to work out. I was in “the shelter” and then I went to several different homes but kept getting returned just for being me and it was making me sad, but Foster Mama says I’m now at the Peaceabull place for a while and I can decompress, whatever that means. 


I used to make lots of babies and because of that my back and my belly were sinking low to the ground and I also had wormys in my heart that made me feel tired all the time. Those things made me do what Mama says is my Eyore pose and it was how I was standing when she met me. The day we met, there were a lot of strange people around and I didn’t know what was going on, so I just stood with my head and my tail dripping from each end toward the ground like the branches on a weepy tree. I let the nice people pet me and lift my feet and look in my ears and other funny things and then I went back to the place from before-The Shelter. I didn’t really like it The Shelter because I got into a fight with a big dog and then everyone said I wasn’t a nice girl anymore and that I was going to be on “The List.” 

 

But then a while later the nice lady who volunteers at The Shelter took me to the Vet and left me there and Foster Mama picked me up and brought me here to the Peaceabull place. I didn’t really know what was going on at first and I wanted to be with Foster Mama and Foster Daddy and I wanted to chase that mean fat cat and hang out with those handsome boy dogs who live behind the gate. I did sneak out and see that big handsome Julius but he just ignored me. I saw Ray too and the first time he made a mean face at me and made scary sounds but the second time he Woo-woo’ed at me like a cow. I don’t get to play with them but sometimes Mama took me to see Bentley. She says he is my Brother-Husband because I’m going to live with him some day but we won’t make babies together. I like Bentley because he licks my ears and one day he sent me a blankey to lie on that smelled like him. 

I love them

Bentley and I haven’t seen each other since before I went back to the doctor for more ‘jections. I didn’t like those. I had to spend the night and got a ‘jection each day and they hurt and made me feel sad and tired again. When I went back to the Peaceabull house I only wanted to sleep and sleep and sleep but after a few days I was starting to feel like my normal self again.

 

The whole time I’ve been here the really nice people have been coming to visit me each week. Foster Mama calls them “My Parents.” She says they’ve been waiting for all of the wormys to go away so that they can adopt me and take me to live with Bentley. They are so nice and I always know when they are coming. I sit and watch the street and when I see their car I get so happy because they bring me treats and give me lots of pets and one day they even brought me a brand new fluffy pink blanket. Brand new! I was so excited to have something of my very own that was so soft and cuddly that I immediately showed how much I loved it by beginning to shred it like I do with all my stuffies. I thought for a minute I was going to get in trouble but they just laughed and let me play. I sleep with that blankie every night. It means a lot to me because when I was homeless I didn’t have anything that belonged just to me. I had a hand me down collar and a rope for a leash. 

Rope slip lead


 

I didn’t even have a name of my own, because on my paperwork I was called Princess 2. But foster Mama says that is all going to change. I have my own name and after something called One More Sleep, I’ll have my very own home.

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Bryn Moves In

It’s no secret to Facebookers that Bryn obviously lasted here past her ‘trial period,’ though it has been a bit rocky.  The first night we were so worried about all of the variables that we broke our own cardinal rule and Bryn slept in the guest room with Kevin.  He is a light sleeper and we figured that would be a better way to gauge her manners but we knew that wouldn’t last because of the amount of traveling Kevin does would necessitate a better plan.

A Rough Start

The second night it was just me and all of the four legged creatures in the house and I’d say it was eventful.  The Princess was not so much about the crate.  She busted out of a wire crate, (easy peasy for pretty much any pittie) an airliner, a tension gate and a stand up gate.  

I actually found her standing in the living room after this…actually, Julius and I found her there.  Luckily he was pretty neutral about the whole affair and she was close enough to the door that I just had to push her out. No kitties were eaten during this foray, so we figured out finally that while she was averse to confinement in one sense, she was perfectly content to dwell in her room with the door closed and thus we found a way for Bryn to live with us Peaceabully.

To say it’s been a challenge is putting it mildly.  Her prey drive is such that just to potty her, we gather the cats, put one behind closed doors because he will walk right up to her and shoo the other one, put my boys behind a gate, cover low windows where she may see a cat and proceed from there.  Every. Single. Time.

Decompressing

The upside is that as the days and weeks rolled on, her sweet spirit emerged.  She plays with toys, she wallows in the sun and has the biggest smile ever.  Heartworm treatment is never easy but I guess considering she is crated and rotated out of her very own guest suite, she is feeling pretty happy.


After all, she gets her own daybed with doggie stairs, my Amazon Echo, (as did Margeaux) and room service.

The Best Is Yet To Be

Very early in her stay with us, I had her at one of our adoption events, being handled by a “lucky charm” volunteer and wouldn’t you know; this woebegone dog who splayed out on the floor in the back of the action found herself a family to love her.  They spent time petting and loving on her as I told them the good, bad, and ugly of what I knew so far, what I had been told and what I had yet to verify. Not to be deterred, they filled out an application and after they were approved I set up a time for a meet and greet.

Bentley and Bryn

Meet and greet number one turned out to be great.  It may have been love at first sight, but due to the heartworms and presence of reproductive organs, the plan was to take it very slow and do multiple intros.  We’ve parallel walked, we’ve played on leash a bit and while Bentley is obsessed with Bryn’s ears, she seems so steady with him.  Unflappable is the word I would use to best describe Bryn. She is unflappable.

Bryn with her sugargface brother to be

Her family has been eager and yet patient, visiting Bryn, bringing her thing to let her know she is loved already and have spent time with her each week.  As much as I can tell that she is happy here, I’m excited about how much better her life is going to get and she doesn’t even know it yet…

 

Bryncess

I guess it’s time to talk about how we came to foster the little Princess. It was just another Saturday and we were doing assessments of some dogs for intake. Most were dogs whose owners had contacted us about surrender but one was from a shelter in another town. She was either the third or fourth assessment of the day and Asia, my daughter, was meeting people in the parking lot and getting paperwork filled out while getting some of each dog’s story. 


Princess was on the E list at the shelter. We were told she was dog aggressive, had chased a cat and had busted through a screen (though no one could articulate why). Immediately I was on edge. Why would we waste a spot on a dog like that? Furthermore, she didn’t want to walk anywhere on her own, so there she stood with her head hung down mirroring her woebegone tail. No spark. She stood for all of the poking and prodding of the assessment with the stoicism of one who has seen it all and could no longer care about the outcome until the rawhide test. 


We’d found something that she was interested in and she caught a bit of a spark and seemed almost alive. Then during the parallel walk and brief interactions we were pleasantly surprised that she seemingly had no desire to attack the other dog. It was during this time that between looking at this dog who still had a small spark and the pleading face of my daughter that the word vomit erupted. “If she passes assessment, I will foster her.”  

Wait. What?

She obviously passed but some of her backstory was emerging and I hated the name Princess due to our own over use. I was thinking of Cecilia but I didn’t want her to break my heart or shake my confidence so I settled on Bryn which sounded enough like the beginning of her “old” name.

She was presented to us as four, but her paperwork said five and she looks to be closer to six, is heartworm positive, has some broken teeth, skin tags and some suspicious lumps. That, along with an unknown level of “cat chasing” was going to make her a trial foster just to see if she could remain peaceabully at the assembly.


Check back to read about the first full weekend.

To My Sensei

One of Julius’s batshit crazy habits most endearing traits is his high-pitched terrier screech followed closely by his Chewbacca moan both of which he shares with us when he is overly excited.  This excitement may stem from people, or people and dogs walking past the house, seeing people, seeing dogs, or just wanting to go outside in general.  He also does it, though to a much lesser degree now when we go to class.  Last week as he was announcing his arrival, Jan observed that it could possibly stem from some anxiety which really set me to thinking.  Ray is my anxiety ridden dog that we coddle and have to work around special circumstances whereas Julius is my public dog who loves attention and affection, after all he’s my kissing booth bandit!

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But as the hour progressed and we got into our groove, I had a moment of enlightenment.  Julius probably doesn’t really have anxiety as much as I’m making him feel anxious.  I wait to be nearly the last one out of class and the first one in so that we don’t encounter others on lax long leashes, I triple and quadruple gates in my house when a foster is with us, everyone eats with a minimum of six feet and one human between them and mostly any other dog within my eagle-eye view is a potential threat to me.

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Wooo!  Stranger Danger!

So we decided to try a hands-free leash so that my anxiety wouldn’t travel the length of the lead and translate to Julius.  I have two and with all of those lovely D-rings I was in clip and carry heaven so after using it at the adoption event for Bryn, I loaded it with my gear for Julius’s pack walk.

So this morning I got Bryn up and down the street as fast as a scaredy hippo will go and then set off to the walk with Julius after promising Ray his turn afterwards.  For whatever reason upon arriving at our destination, I was immediately crabby, another dog was wound up, Julius was keyed up and I could feel my exasperation building.  As we started walking and I weighed my options I got more and more agitated as did Julius.  “I should probably yank him around and cuss at him,” said the devil on my shoulder and the weakling on the same shoulder laughed and said, “Just turn around and go home, you can’t do this.”  As I clutched my hand’s free leashes, I looked at Julius and said, “We are a team and we can do this, little man.” So I dropped my death grip on the leashes around myself and opened my arms.

 

Breathe in….get it ready.

Breathe out…let it go.

Breathe in….

Breathe out…

I consciously drew my arms up and in, then out and away…in….inhale…out….exhale…

And what happened?  My teammate relaxed.  We walked.  He pulled less and stopped whining.  We hit our stride and walked the walk.

We weren’t perfect, but we were working together as a team and at that moment in time that was all we needed.

#TeamJulius

Geeking Out

Julius and I are four weeks into his first formal class.  When I took the Karen Pryor Foundations Class he was my practice dog but that is about all he has gotten in the way of any formal training whereas Ray has taken three series of classes.  What this new series of classes has done for the three of us is really astonishing to me although to many it may be just a “duh” moment.  I’ll tell you a little secret:  we always considered Julius a little on the simple side, especially compared to Ray, even though many of Juli’s responses are more like regular dog responses.  I began to realize that Juli’s simplicity stemmed more from my own shortcomings and impatience with shaping, and not at all from him so we decided to enroll in class.  Julius is my dog of the world and though I once hoped Ray would earn his CGC, I know that is more of Juli’s destiny so off to school we went.

Shared Learning

I’d say the biggest bonus was that once Ray realized what Julius and I were doing, he began to brush up on his own cues, so as we sit on opposites of the kitchen we sharpen our skills as a family.

I love getting both of my big guys engaged which just makes us bond that much more and although I may be anthropomorphizing a bit, I feel like their self-esteem is skyrocketing as well.  Since they have learned some of their cues differently I try to be very conscious about rewarding any blending that they may do.  I’m telling you though, I’m so geeked out with all of the things Julius is learning that I nearly shed tears of pride each week.  I think that tonight when he so quickly caught on to putting his feet on the squishy bone Jan, the trainer and I nearly started hopping up and down with glee.

Really Reliable Training

Tonight after class one of the “students” got loose in the parking lot and while her dad tried chasing her around frantically, we heard “pup pup pup pup” in a high-pitched voice from her mom and the little dog responded immediately and ran back to her mom’s waiting arms while the rest of us clapped our appreciation.  I’d like to say that got me thinking about a recent encounter, but the truth is, I was just happy for that family and drove home with an air of contentment.

A few weeks ago as I was walking Ray, I realized the neighbor’s little Yorkie pup was loose.  I’d never seen him before but I’d met them a week or two prior when they were combing the neighborhood for him.  Now my Ray-Ray is great on walks for the most part.  When dogs lose their shit bark from behind fences, doors, or windows he completely ignores them and often crosses to the other side of the street but coming head on is still more of a catastrophe.  I can usually lure him into a fairly decent ignore if I haven’t been able to change walking directions quickly enough but as far as his walks go, Ray has a pretty standard path he like to tow and he doesn’t often deviate, so the day the Yorkie was trying to engage him in play by bouncing in circles around us was a freaking disaster. I was trying to get Ray away, trying to keep the Yorkie away, cussing yelling at the kids to get their dog, yelling at the hubby who was yelling at me all while Ray was trying to have himself a nice Yorkie peppermint patty.  That we got in the house without any physical trauma to the dogs (other than Ray’s nails getting trimmed a bit) and without me falling down was a miracle.

Tonight as a reward for being so patient and sweet while Julius was in class, I decided to take Ray for a quick walk before tackling the search for some dinner for myself and as we rounded the corner what did my wondering eyes see but Barak the Yorkie strolling around the street.  “Ray, let’s go home.”  Blank stare. “Ray, let’s go the other way.” Blank stare.  Ray, danger!”  We immediately did an about-face and trotted as fast as my old and his lame legs would take us back to the front door of our home where I got his harness off and went back out to help wrangle the wayward Yorkie after which Ray and I resumed our walk.

Worth More Than Gold

I’m honestly astounded by the number of people who resist the thought of “obedience classes.”  I put that in quotations because that is actually the last thing I think of when I think of class.  Communication class may be a better phrase, or maybe Understanding Class or Bonding Class would work.  The fee you pay will be worth more than the replacement fee for your favorite shoes, your sofa, your drywall or your sanity and it will sure as hell help keep your dog in your home. Amortize the fee over x amount of weeks and add in the few minutes each day when you get to practice one on one (or two on one) with your dog and get to watch him blossom and you’ll realize it’s the best bit of change you could have ever spent because the reward is immeasurable.

Oh! And as Ray and I resumed our walk we ran into Barak’s mom who asked us about training classes, so we will be dropping info off to her tomorrow.

 

Many thanks to Janis, Margery, Jodie and Lesley .

Ready to Take a Chance Again 

Today two heart broken women began to heal and in two separate instances, two dogs found their forever home. Though the stories of the heart break are not mine to tell, I’m honored that I was able to be a part of the healing process and in one of the instances, one of my favorite dogs found his destiny.

No More Dogs

Today a family of three adults stood before me, two of them barely holding in the tears that welled up in their eyes until at last they spilled over.  I held the woman who feared she’d never again have a dog to love but so quickly realized that the love she had to give would out-weigh any reservations so she and her family took that brave next step and opened their hearts and their home to a sweet boy named Phineus.

Phineus, thief of hearts ♥️

A New Beginning

Today a young woman strolled through a Farmer’s market with her handsome (and nearly perfect) dog in tow for the first time. I imagine a small yet quivering smile on her face as she basks in the moment as young hands reach out to pet her dog, who laps up the attention with such unabashed joy. 

This sunlit trip to a local Farmer’s market was probably being played out a thousand times through a thousand locations with a thousand people and their dogs but what made this special was that this trip sealed the deal. Upon returning home, Wilfred finally was home. 


Wilfred. Wilfred has a long and sad story full of allergies and skin issues. The pain and discomfort he must have been living with took months to figure out a solution for and after two failed adoptions which resulted in the return of a nearly hairless dog with angry, seeping, red skin we found him a great foster family who nursed him back to his handsome good health and we set down some rules for Wilfred’s next and last adopter. His care will cost x amount annually. The brand of food he needs to eat and the medicine he needs daily and weekly will not be negotiable. When inquiries came in, I’d lead with the dollar amount and I rightly scared away plenty of potential adopters.

And then an application came in. It wasn’t for Wilfred and I wasn’t going to pay it much attention. Because of the location I mentally counted how many dogs were sitting in shelters between here and there and I felt immediately pissed but then I asked a mutual and highly respected friend who gave a glowing recommendation, so I called the applicant. After hearing her story and chatting with her I became certain that not only was she meant to meet Wilfred but I believe I was meant to help her find her next dog. 

Rambling 

Much of both stories are really for myself. Without sharing the details, a reader (are you still there?) won’t really understand the significance of each story and like I said, they aren’t my stories to tell. The thing that amuses me about some people is how few understand why we have out process in place. We received a message one night at just after midnight – “I just filled out an application so when can I come meet dogs?” Ummm, well, not right now…. I want to ask these people if they fill out job applications and then just “show up to work” without he benefit of oh say an interview? 

I take my “job” seriously and am more than a little bit proud of the process. We don’t just give you a dog because you fell in love with the look in her eyes. We talk to you, we ask questions, we get to know you and by the time you’ve adopted we feel like friends and we are happy to have shared in the journey. We are certainly not perfect at it but with each day we learn and we get better.  Some days we are hugged by broken hearted people who are beginning to heal. Sometimes we shed a tear for a dog who deserves all the wonderful things in life and we know he has finally gotten the great life he deserves.

We are rescuers and we save lives…and heal broken hearts.

Rain Man Walking

With a break in the hair-raising humidity and torrential rains,  I sat out on the back patio after work to soak up some vitamin D and watch the boys play, which to me was heartwarming to see them playing so well, though the sound is certainly not for the faint-hearted.  After dinner I figured we’d settle in for some couch potato-ing but seeing them being so good and knowing that they’d enjoy it, I decided to take them each for a walk around the neighborhood.

Julius and I went out first and strolled down the streets I rarely get to walk on.  He is easy and our walk was silent and companionable.  He’s been rocking his Halti instead of his harness and it has been a game changer.  Juli is always good in his harness-don’t get me wrong- but the Halti like I said was a game changer.  He still rubs his head on my legs occasionally but there were several times I had to look to see if he was still with me because the slackness in the leash was so alarming…and gratifying.

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My Rockstar.

I love that we are getting to such a good place and that we can enjoy the quiet companionship together.

Awaiting me at home was Ray with his soft, hopeful eyes and his bouncy-cow hop.  Ray is normally fine just wearing a martingale collar for walks but Julius and I had seen Daisy, a neighbor’s dog, lounging off leash in her yard and since the said yard is on Ray’s walking route, we opted for the Freedom harness for Ray just in case we needed some extra control.

Ray is like the Rain Man on walks; he has a certain route and routine that must be strictly adhered to unless he decides it doesn’t.  Normally, we depart the driveway and make a beeline across the street to the lamp-post to leave some pee-mail.  We then recross the street and skim along our side yard to the neighbor behind us where we (Ray) pees on her corner lamp post, and continues to the American Bulldog’s house to …do more than pee.  We then retrace our steps back and walk around the next block, up the street and around the corner…past Daisy’s house.

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“The Look” gets me every time.

Tonight I’d like to sincerely thank the neighbor with the “doodle” puppy.  As Ray was preparing his poo spot I noticed they were walking toward us but still a good distance away yet also in the exact direction my Rain Man and I would be heading.  I knew the possibility of Ray losing his shit reacting to the puppy if it were coming head on toward us was a real possibility.  The next few minutes stretched on as I fumbled for a poop bag and scooped up after Ray all the while throwing furtive glances to the approaching pair trying to will them to turn away and still remain calm so that Ray wouldn’t pick up on my mood.  I began regaling him with the temptation of yummy treats in order to lure him in another direction while he stood, glancing between his suddenly crazy mom who wanted to go the wrong way and the approaching puppy.  The neighbor (thank goodness) realized what I was doing and slowed her approach and indicated the direction she needed to take to get home.  I ended up luring Ray to a yard to partake of some yummy snacks while the lady carried her doodle past us, “I don’t want him to slip his collar” she said with a smile, passing us by as if the entire interaction was completely normal. It was truly a nice change from “It’s ok…my dog is friendly” people.

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“Woooo, I say.”

As we continued on Ray’s favorite path and headed up the street towards where I knew Daisy was lying out on her driveway, my mind continued to spin thinking of ways to try to cajole my stubborn dog to make a detour I heard the sweetest sound.  Daisy’s “dad” had just turned on a dreaded leaf-blower.  Ray stopped and looked at me…”Let’s go this way,” I said, pointing in the opposite direction.  As we approached our house from the wrong direction and doubled back to another pee-mail location, I took a moment to bask in the warm glow of the realization that Ray trusts me to keep him safe from things like doodle puppies, leaf blowers and other random items of lawn equipment.  For that he earned a nice slice of dried sweet potato.

How does your dog let you know that you’re earning doggie thumbs up?