Sleepover Guests

As many readers here are already familiar with Best Friends, it won’t come as a surprise that while staying and volunteering we also brought home a sleepover guest each night.  As you can probably imagine, this was yet another area that we planned for but also were not 100% sure how it worked, so let me share a bit about the experience.

Before we left, the hubby and I poured over pictures of the beautiful dogs that we might want to bring for a sleepover but without knowing which octagon they were at or how this all worked, we just tried to keep a mental list of those we may have wanted to “meet.”  Basically, you do need to volunteer in your animal’s area, so if you are volunteering in dogs you can’t take a bunny home for a sleepover etc.  Caregivers pretty much assume you’ll want to do a sleepover and are very excited to get their fur friends out of the kennels for a night.  There’s usually a list in the octagon regarding who is eligible to go, who has recently gone, what activities are allowed, ect.  For instance, we were considering taking Tig one night but although he can do sleepovers, he can’t stay in the cottages near the horses, so he was not an option.  We later also discovered that Dogtown HQ has a list of which dogs really need to do an overnight for whatever reason.  For instance, just as we were meeting Roxanne, she was snatched right out from under us we learned that she already had a sleepover date scheduled.  Roxanne was at the “top of the list” to go so it was awesome that she not only got to do a sleepover, we found the the next day she got to go on an outing as well.  Too cool.

So anyhow, the first sleepover guest was almost a no-brainer.  Lester and Michael were top contenders but in actuality, the moment Kevin  saw Magnolia, he said “my wife is gonna love her.”

Magnolia loves to walk

Magnolia loves to walk

 

He was right.  Sleepover dogs need to be “checked out” from the Dogtown HQ by 3:30 so don’t sweat that a volunteer shift lasts till 4:00.  It’s part of the process.  Once we decided on a dog, we went to HQ and received a sleepover bag of provisions and a questionnaire to fill out regarding how the sleepover went.  The staff in the octagon also gave us an extra blanket, a coat and in Magnolia’s case, some meds she needed to take along with a can of moist food.

Magnolia

Magnolia is an old soul in a young body.  She loves going for walks and never seems to tire of them but in the cottage she was all about deathing stuffies which I happily handed over and cleaned up one by one.

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Being the pro that she is she also knew that the expectation is that all treats packed by the staff in the sleepover bag must be enjoyed and not returned, so again we were happy to oblige.

Although I invited her onto the bed a few times she quickly jumped back down and at bedtime settled on the sofa for the evening.  Knowing the sleepover is all about the guest, we left her to her preferred sleeping arrangements and wished her a snug goodnight.

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Dogs are returned between 8:00 and 8:15 in the morning so when we pulled up to Old Friends, Magnolia who had been eager to be in the car, seemed disinclined to depart, so we took a quick walk while Kevin waited for the caretakers to meet him and collect her.

A polite passenger

A polite passenger

Sidney

Sleepover night two went very similarly to night one in that one of us fell in love with a dog right away.  Surprisingly it was Kevin who fell and fell hard for Sidney  (Side note: if you too fall in love with Sidney but don’t live near Utah, a generous sponsor has prepaid her airfare to get “home.”) but like a kid in a candy shop who knew that of the hundreds of candies on display, only one could be taken, I couldn’t make up my mind.  In the end, it was the snuggle factor that won me over.  Going for a week without a dog to snuggle at night was way to long and though I respected Magnolia’s need for space, I really needed to bring home a “proven snuggler.”

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Sidney who rocked the agility equipment in Tara’s Run and seemed so happy to take long hikes and explore was just as happy to “turn it off” and snuggle in the calm of the cottage.  The way both Sidney and Magnolia collapsed onto the sofa reminded me of something Corbin’s mama said about when their fosters really settle in for that deep, safe sleep.  These dogs are sleepover pros and although their housing situation is pretty posh for a kennel, it is still a kennel and you can really tell that they know: when we go on a sleepover we can totally decompress and just relax.

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Sidney and I slept cuddled together (the cottages boast two double beds!) all night and on the occasion that I woke momentarily, she was happy to accept a brief pat or an ear scritch.  It was heavenly for both of us.  We all woke early the next morning and Kevin and I suddenly just didn’t want to take her back.  We just agonized over the inevitable and Sidney seemed to recognize our emotions and played to them.

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We anthropomorphized all morning about how miserable she must be to go back but actually upon arriving back at her octagon, Sid jumped out of the car and into her waiting caretaker’s arms with an almost palpable air of “Oooh!  Breakfast!”   (Someone whose name rhymes with Shmevin may have gotten a bit emotional over the course of the morning while I remained a rock.  Or maybe I didn’t.)

Recap

Overall, if you enjoy the companionship of a dog (or cat or bunny) I heartily recommend doing a sleepover when you visit Best Friends.  It gives the animals a break from their routines, gives the caretakers a bit of insight on how the animals react to various situations and it gives you someone to love on while your own furbaby is at home.  Win-win-win.

Best Friends-Volunteering

At last!  Time to volunteer.  We signed up for three shifts, the afternoon of arrival and both shifts the following day and planned as well to do sleepovers both nights.  As it turned out, knowing we wouldn’t be able to check into our hotel in Las Vegas for the final leg of the trip until late in the afternoon I was able to grab one last shift on Sunday morning, which became yet another highlight of the trip.

Friday

After lunch, we drove to Dogtown headquarters in time for our first volunteer shift.

Pictures of Lucas hang in the Dogtown lobby.

Pictures of Lucas hang in the Dogtown lobby.

 

Since we were first time volunteers there, were offered three different “octagon” areas of Dogtown Heights; The Fairway, The Garden or Old Friends.  Puppies?  No thanks.  Young adults?  Eh, we’ll pass.  Older but bolder?  Yes!  Old Friends was definitely an area we wanted to be in so we proceeded to the octagon buildings named Homer and Dolores after some very generous donors and after meeting the two dog caretakers there, set off walking some pooches and doing some general tasks in between.

There are set paths outside of Old Friends and the dogs definitely know their way around.  There’s a junction and you can take the shortest, the longest or the one in between but all are pretty clearly marked and trod, so you won’t loose your way.  When you return, you wait outside until the caretakers see you and they retrieve the dog from you and bring you another one.  It’s pretty simple and relatively taken for granted that making sure each dog is walked is the first priority.  All dogs in this area are “green collars” and for the most part really easy to walk.

 

Saturday Morning 

Upon arrival at Dogtown Headquarters on Saturday morning, I requested Conrad and Leopold’s in Old Dogtown because I especially wanted to meet one of the dog caregivers in that area.  Old Dogtown differs from Dogtown Heights in that it’s larger and also older.  In Dogtown Heights there are actually 4 octagon areas consisting of two octagons each.  The three listed previously house all “green collar” dogs-the dogs who can be handled by anyone.  In Old Dogtown, there are purple collars which can be handled by anyone over 18 and red collars which are staff -only in addition to green collars.  Conrad and Leopold’s was a total blast!  Not only did we get to take dogs on regular trail walks but we got to take Sydney to Tara’s Run which you might recognize from the Dogtown Series as the training facility and we got to help with a training walk.  This area was not only hands on but just more challenging in the best possible way.  I loved it!

Sydney and Kevin

Sydney and Kevin

Saturday Afternoon 

This was also spent in Old Dogtown in the octagons called “3 and 4” though they actually had real names as well.  Hermosa’s Hideaway was one name but the other escapes me.  For this shift, Kevin decided he would rather do an “outing” so he and Bolt went back to the Cottage to hang and chill.  Bolt is a tripod and you almost want to say “thank goodness.”  If Bolt had four legs there might not be a human who could keep up with him.

This area was similar in that the caregivers brought me a dog to walk on the trails with after giving me the run-down on any particulars or triggers.   Upon completing the walk we would wait on a bench within view to have the dog retrieved.  This area seemed pretty busy and I didn’t walk too many dogs, but I did get to see a “celebrity.”

Meryl was one of the (only) two Vick dogs court ordered to live out their lives at Best Friends; Lucas was the other one. Today rather than be a victim of her past and circumstances, Meryl shares a run with another dog, Buddy Arnold. Meryl will remain at the Sanctuary not because she is dangerous, but for her own protection as her value as a “trophy” is still thought to be very high.

 

Sunday Morning 

Scheduled to leave that morning, I convinced Kevin that I really needed to take one more shift and he agreed to finish the packing, loading and checking out while I worked.  Boy was it worth it.  I asked for and was assigned “The Clubhouse.”  Although The Clubhouse is in Dogtown Heights, it is run and feels more like Old Dogtown in that there are red, purple and green collar dogs.  I met the caregiver outside and we chatted about what the needs would be for the morning.  Breakfast had been fed, so bowls needed to be washed, dogs needed to be walked and Sunday was deep clean day at Amra, one of the two octagons.  I mentioned that I had requested The Clubhouse knowing that Mya and Curly were there and the caregiver worked an interaction into our schedule.  That morning after washing breakfast dishes, I walked a few dogs and this time actually accompanied the caregiver into the runs to collect my walking buddy.  Upon returning, it was again to a waiting bench, but this time waiting was minimal.  We swept and mopped kennels and then finally I got my chance to see Mya and Curly up close and personal.  Well, as up close and personal as was possible with them.  I’ll tell you more about it later this week, so be sure to stop back.

Things I was pleased to have: comfy jeans and wellies!  The terrain is very sandy and a bit hilly, so comfortable (close toe) footwear is a must.  Since I knew the temps would vary from the 30’s to the 50’s I was happy to have my boots.  Good traction and sand resistance was a must.  Layering the tops with a lightweight jacket was a good idea as well.  One of the things I forgot, much to my chagrin, is that I forgot to activate my Walk for a Dog app.  I’m sure I racked up some serious mileage because I actually was able to pull a pair of jeans off without undoing them by the end of the week.  WOOT!

Best Friends-The Tour

Whenever I thought about this trip and to the (very few) people I discussed the plans with, I couldn’t help but get emotional.  Volunteering is a huge part of who I am.  It’s how I contribute and how I find peace, so whenever I thought about or talked about volunteering at Best Friends, I welled up.  It was a dream come true to be able to go and to lend a bit of time and dare I say, talent to an organization and a cause that I hold dear.  Many of you guessed it, and some of you knew it, but unless you go, it’s difficult to fully explain the experience.  I won’t say it was amazing, because I certainly expected the experience to be just so.  I will  say that it was inspiring, energizing, uplifting and fulfilling.  You could see the emotions on the faces of the volunteers and on the whole, everyone on site was so friendly.

Preparation 

Being the control freak detail oriented person that I am, it was a bit of a challenge to me to wrap my head around the process.  Luckily for me, I happened upon a comment on one of the Vicktory dog pages by a Facebook user who had volunteered and was gracious enough to answer questions, then I also beseiged our own Emily from Adventures of a Dog Mom, who had spent time there, with even more questions.  Everything from what footwear to where to eat to what to see and how is it set up was asked and answered.  I still had fears that I was missing something and that we would show up only to be told I had done everything incorrectly, however that didn’t happen.

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You sign up to be a volunteer, complete a profile and sign up for volunteer shifts in your preferred area after first signing up for a check-in.  Check-in for first thing in the morning is 8:00-8:15 and the first volunteer shift begins at 8:15 and goes till 11:30 so how could we get to Dogtown that quickly? We opted for the first check-in time but the afternoon volunteer shift which would be 1:15-4:00 and should allow us to get our bearings.  For the time in the morning we joined the 2 hour Sanctuary tour.

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The Sanctuary

If you’re ever in the area, even to just drive through, I highly recommend a tour.  The tours range from Sanctuary wide (2 hours), to Dogtown only (2 hours), to mini tours of specific areas.  Knowing we’d be working in Dogtown, we opted for the full Sanctuary tour.

Barn leftover from a movie.

Barn leftover from a movie.

We saw all manner of animals whether they were at the Sanctuary for permanent stays or being prepped for adoption an, of course, the awe inspiring landscape.

"Turtle Rock"

“Turtle Rock”

As well as places for silence and reflection.

Angels Rest

Angels Rest

We saw kitties who had been the victims of unfortunate breeding but still getting around like champs in their posh digs.

Kitty with paw deformity

Kitty with paw deformity

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After the tour we set out for Angel Village for a hearty and inexpensive all you can eat vegetarian lunch buffet where we encountered a special surprise.

The view at lunch.

The view at lunch.

Stay tuned all week as we recap more of our visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Dogs as Art

While I do have some dog-centric art in our home, I don’t feel like there’s too much or even enough yet. (The hubby might disagree). The thing is, until recently I had lots of photos of other dogs in our home.

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Recognize any of them? This is a portion of a collection I’ve gathered from participating in fundraisers, whether it’s been for Handsome Dan or Strut Your Mutt or even smaller fund raisers for blog dogs.

Well, I finally found some frames I like and made some prints of the Peaceabull boys to adorn my shelves and will be planning to commission some more art this year.

Hmmm…is this post s hint of some sort?

Practice Makes Not Perfect But More Fun

I’m not a good photographer by any means and I just have an entry level DSLR, but the kind animals of the Allen County SPCA allowed me to take some pictures of them and for the first time, I was very happy with these in that I got nearly a 20% keep rate with very little editing.  Here are a few of my faves.

Delilah

Delilah

Delilah was the last model of the day for me and as it turned out, I had saved the best for last. She’s a tiny boxer gal who is calm and loving. She seemed like a pro, vogue-ing for the camera. Just a few shots and I knew I had “money.” She was beautiful and touching and will be a wonderful addition to any family.

Isabelle

Isabelle

Isabelle came out, sniffed around the yard, posted for pics and returned to her kennel. She was sweet and friendly in a tiny little package at only 38 pounds.

Capone

Capone

Capone seems very large, but upon checking weighs in just about the same as Julius at 76 pounds.  He is a lot of boy. I’m surprised to find that he is 4, because he has a puppy exuberance that will do well with training, oh, but he is a love bug!

Cha-cha Capone

Cha-cha Capone

I did do a few others but these were some of my favorite shots. So, while I’m fishing for compliments, which watermark do you like better?

Weekend Wrap Up

This past weekend was a busy one with wrapping up the AdoptaJubitation, readying for the next round of celebrations coming up in August, helping with the baby’s two year photos and taking a beautiful girl named Meadow to Pride Fest.

 

Proud to be a Pit Bull at Pride Fest

Proud to be a Pit Bull at Pride Fest

I’ve been enjoying a look back via the Timehop app at some of the first pictures of Julius in our home ad what has surprised me is that he looks so at home even on the first day or two. July 26th is actually the day I brought him to our home and it wasn’t actually until a few days later that we officially decided to utter the words aloud that we really were keeping him.

 

For the second year in a row, I was able to bring an adoptable dog from AC SPCA to Pride Fest. Little Miss Meadow, who seems so quiet and reserved in the kennels, completely blossomed among the crowds of people who stopped by to visit our booth. She handed out kisses and affectionate tail wags to scores of people, accepted pats while gnawing on a bully stick and only barked at one person…the protester outside the main gate. What a good girl.

 

Aurora and Meadow

Aurora and Meadow

The second kennel-mate Meadow has had since arriving at the shelter was adopted on Sunday, so I’m hoping Meadow’s person comes soon. She is definitely the type of dog who would love living with another dog, so I hope that will happen for her.

 

Finally, our “contest” is over, so I want to thank everyone who commented, liked, shared and/or entered. Allie F. is the winner, so be on the lookout for your package.

Gotcha Day!

Adoptaversary letters are pretty popular and I had every intention of writing one to Julius, but then upon further reflection I realized that in the most literal of terms, he was never officially adopted and that he knows he is loved. I whisper in his ear every morning, every afternoon and every evening how much he is loved, cherished and how lucky I am to have him in my life. I tell him he is the best thing I’ve ever found on the street. I fully believe he loves his life as it is today.

 

So… the letter. This letter is to the woman who offered Julius a chance at a better life.

 

Dear Gxxx,

One year ago a happy, dusty, collarless, mangy-looking little puppy came bounding into and nearly back out of my life. Whether I found him or he found me is up for debate, but what is crystal clear is that he was the sweetest, friendliest dog I’d seen in a very long time ever.  Among all of the stray black dogs, who are a “dime a dozen,” he had that special something -something that made him worth “rescuing.”

 

The Little Foundling

The Little Foundling

We both know the details of how he came to live with me and for those who don’t, they can be found here and here. The message relayed to me was that you thought I could give him a better home. I remember telling the story to my sister who began wailing, “What a good person!” over and over again. I was feeling warm until I realized she was referring to YOU, not me. You gave up the sweetest dog in the world to give him a better life than the one he was destined for so I’d like for you to know, I’m eternally grateful.

The "Freedom" Ride

The “Freedom” Ride

Julius (your Smokey) lives in the house with me, my husband, our daughter, granddaughter, his doggy big brother, Ray, and his kitties, Jae and Miko.

Same dog, different year.

Same dog, different year.

 

He sleeps in bed with his humans, sometimes with the girls, sometimes with me. When he sleeps with me, he creates a huge nest of pillows in which to settle, but by morning, I always find either his head or his snout pressed against me. I believe that even in his sleep, he likes to be assured that his Mommy is nearby.

 

Julius eats two regular meals a day-breakfast and dinner like clockwork. He has grown from a gangly six month old with patchy, dull hair who wolfed down all available food to a sleek, fit, muscular young ambassador for his type. He now knows what food he likes and what he doesn’t like. He now “knows” that he has options available.

Top Dog

Julius has an embarrassment of riches to occupy his time. He has antlers of nearly every shape and size, a huge basket of stuffies, bags of treats that have yet to be opened in the pantry, and a whole crew of friends at his doggy day care. Yes, your Smokey my Julius goes to doggy day care where today, there will be a party for him in honor of the new life you’ve allowed him to lead. He will have all of the trappings that come with a party, but he will have no gifts.

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His present is his present. He lives in the here and now, he enjoys his life and we love him. Dozens of people have asked to have him, buy him, or breed him, but all are turned away. Julius is truly a precious boy and our lives are richer for having him in it. So to you, I say “thank you.”

 

I’ve actually designated July 26th as his Gotcha Day, but that will fall on Saturday.

Queen Bee

Over the weekend, I stopped by the shelter to visit with the adorable pocket pittie named Meadow whom you may have seen spammed all over a picture or two of on my personal Facebook page.  I had actually meant to make a quick visit to her on the way to running some errands and though this story isn’t about her, here is another gratuitous picture.

Meadow

Meadow

After I visited with Meadow, I departed the kennel area to find Miss Honeybee wandering around the hallway having escaped from her gated office accommodations.   “Hey, what are you doing out here?” I asked her, to which she turned and in all of her haughty splendor gave me a look that quite clearly said, “Why are you daring to speak to me, peasant?”

I shoo’ed her back towards the office in which she was being kept, all the while she darted indignant glances at me over her shoulder as if to ensure that I wasn’t thinking of touching her.  As I reached in an attempt to navigate her back over the gate opening I was treated to one more frosty gaze, so I sat and waited for staff to come rescue me.  When a staff member arrived with another dog on leash, I explained that Honeybee had escaped and that I was a bit afraid to touch her.  I held the leash of the 80 pound dog she had been showing and she scooped up all 6.2 pounds of  Honeybee to be returned.

Honeybee, photo courtesy of Allen County SPCA

Honeybee, photo courtesy of Allen County SPCA

I know when a dog doesn’t want to be touched and  I respected her wishes in an effort to not get myself bitten.  After all, what would have happened if she bit me?  She’d have to go into bite quarantine, we’d have to fill out a report and you know, they just have such a bad rap anyway, that I wanted to save her from any prejudice a potential adopter may have in feeling they were unsafe with a dog of her breed.

Keeping Up Appearances

Ah, Friday, I’ve waited all week for you!  Today is warm, but not too hot, sunny, slightly breezy, casual wear, last day before staycation day and I can feel the wind down begin.

I actually spent my lunch hour with my favorite shelter boy, Deuce, and our own Hometown Hero, Jessica, chatting about all of the great things in store for the animals in this community and their humans.  Sometime during the course of the conversation, Jessica pointed out that Deuce had left (multiple) smudge prints on my clothes. 

As I headed back to work, the running dialogue in my brain reflected that I should have been more careful and that if I took more pride in my appearance, I might not have to sit in the office for the remainder of the day with paw prints on my pants and sweater.

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Then on the heels of that thought (do thoughts have feet?) I realized I take great pride in my appearance.  These multiple paw marks were born from multiple hugs from a dog who loves and trusts me.  They’re from a dog who six weeks ago was happy to see me but so unsure of himself that he pancaked and urinated on himself.  These marks are from a dog who has gained some self confidence back and can ask for affection as freely as he gives it.  I was a part of his growth process, so yeah, I’ll wear this badge of honor pretty darn proudly.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

A Monday Mini Me-ow

Those who give of their time and talent know how rewarding that can be, especially if it is an area that you are passionate about.  I daresay if you are reading this, your passion in some way involves animals, probably dogs, probably pit bull types and probably rescue in some way.

When my daughter was born, I had a grand idea that each year we would go and buy a toy together to donate for Toys for Tots or some similar organization and hopefully set her on a good path of a giving life.  I’m embarrassed to admit that happend exactly zero times.  On the other hand, I’m not embarrassed at all because maybe that was never my passion, but just a popular foundation that does good for a group that I thought I’d like to help.

What I am so proud of is that Asia has decided to lend her time and talents to a group that I am very supportive of, ACSPCA.  We drove together to the shelter on Saturday so she could attend orientation and I could walk some dogs, specifically You-Know-Who.

Though she likes dogs, Asia’s passion is cats.  She is actually very cat-like herself and we joke that when we adopted Miko, the two of them spent his transition period in her room so he probably thinks they were adopted together.   I’ve spent time in the cat rooms as well, and am fascinated by the different ways people interact in there.  Some people walk around the perimeter of the room, greeting and petting each cat before settling in a chair.  I usually walk in and sit on the floor and wait to see who will approach me.  I wondered what Asia’s method would be, although I had an inkling that I already could make a pretty good guess.

She and I are both pretty quiet and reserved, so I wasn’t at all surprised when she told me she sat on the floor and waited for kitties to approach her. 

I think she made quite a few new friends.