Monday, December 28, 2009

Woo Hoo Dash got adopted!

Our Happy youngster finally got adopted. I'm so glad, Happy Trails. Now I can stop feeling guilty that it is winter and I can't drive to town so much. Yes, I know there are other ones who also need me, a big black lab mix that has allready caught my eye, but I haven't started working with him,  so my emotions are not  quite so tangled up yet. It would be nice if I could foster dogs this time of year but unfortunately I'm not the only one in the household to make those decisions, so I do the best I can and hope that it makes a difference. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

why do the ones I love always go?

He came into my life, frightened and shell shocked. Something inexplicible drew me to him, perhaps the frozen, tentative look in his eyes. I walked him for awhile when he was at the shelter, but he really wasn't doing too well there. It was winter and cold, and the places we walked were icy and I'd slip and slide and barely catch myself. In the spring, when the quiet of winter began to give way, I asked if I could take him home and foster him. The policies had changed regarding fostering but a special exception was made. You see, the large blackish dogs don't usually get adopted very quickly as they are so seemingly common. He came home with me, and with a few frightening exceptions, fell easily into the comfort and routine of our home. He'd sleep under the porch and in various spots, like up against the outside wall of my art studio when the window was open so he could see and hear me, making a dugout little nest for himself. I put a dog bed on the floor next to my bed and he'd sleep there tucked into the corner, in a spot easy for me to pet him if either of us got upset in the middle of the night. Our little gentle routines went on for months. walking, patrolling the property, riding in the car, walking in town. Then one day, 6 months after I brought him home. Six months after figuring out he would be the one, the second one who would fit into our family and stay with us, each protecting the other. I was standing on the corner of the street talking to a friend who was tending her plot in our community garden. I saw a handsome couple looking at us from across the street, my friend and I talked some more, but the couple kept looking in our direction and eventually walked over towards us. My dogs greeted them and then the man said to me" Is that your dog?" " and I says " I got him from the humane society" trying to be coy, and he says"that's my dog, I lost him 7 months ago" and he called out the dogs real name, and with that the dog jumped into his arms and started licking his face all over, the man petting him, moved almost to tears by the event. I could tell he really loved the dog and the dog who had initially been afraid of men sure wasn't afraid of him. I grudgingly exchanged phone numbers with him and told him to contact the shelter as I was still officially fostering him. He called right away,but his circumstances had changed from when he lost the dog and his family was now in an apartment that didn't take pets so he wondered if I could continue to keep him until he could make arrangements which I agreed to as I was attached to him and not ready to give him up. I'd done this a hundred times before, helped a dog along, enjoyed them in the moment, and then was happy to see them go to good homes, but this one was diferent. He touched something in me, but as soon as he saw his former family and the 2 young boys he had known from puppyhood, his allegiances switched. He always seemed a little sad and lonely during the time I had him, like he was pining for someone. I'd take him around town for walks and we'd run into the wife and kids and we'd stop and visit and he'd want to jump in the car with them and look at me like" why are you holding me back from my happiness?" The first time the 5 year old saw the dog his heart was torn. After our visit,his mom said "go say goodbye to the dog" and his little 5 year old self couldn't comprehend the whole situation so he crossed his arms and got sad and pouty and refused to hug the dog, feeling maybe like" he left us a long time ago and broke our hearts and now he's back, but going away again with a stranger, and you want me to hug him and get attached again?" I looked at the parents and said"this isn't easy for any of us, including the dog" We saw them a few more times after that, more confusion, and then after about a month they came and got the dog. The whole situation was so bittersweet for me. They loved the dog, I loved the dog. The dog loved them and wanted to go back to them. So once again as had happened 10 years ago when I first started volunteering, I was heartbroken, left in the lurch, caught up in a complicated situation I really didn't seem to have any control over

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

parasailing with dog

Took Dash out for a good 40 minutes today, cooold so cooold. I had to wear long johns and a scarf. He was happy to be out. The funny thing about running with dogs is that they don't realize, that you can't keep up with them. I was trying, at about one fourth his speed and it was an effort to keep the leash in my hands and my feet on the ground. It must have looked hilarious to outsiders, this woman basically, "parasailing with dog" I saw 3 separate frozen banana peels on the ground, what's up with that? People getting their winter potassium or something. One of them looked really cool, it was a deep caramel color. It must have been there a long time, frozen and stuck in place. Poor Dash, he's really doing well but when I go to put him back in his kennel, he sits on my feet so I can't open the door, and then he won't let me put him in and get back out without mouthing my jacket as if to say " don't leave me here, I don't want to go back in there" he never hurts me, it's more like he is just pointing out in the best way possible to me, what he wants. The general public doesn't always understand this, and often see him as overexcited and mouthy which is why he hasn't been adopted yet, but he is just fine the further away from the shelter we get, and with more repeated walks and training. He's really quite smart and charming and looks back at me a lot, and I tell him how good he is and his body language is all" I'm doing good" in a wiggly excited way.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To all the dogs I've loved before

helped them along and then came more
I dedicate this song, to those who came along
to all the dogs I've loved before

"Shout out to Julio Iglesias" (some of the many dogs from the last 4 years)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don Pascual patron saint of the kitchen-my dog

Meet Pascual, patron saint of the kitchen. Other aliases; Blue, Blueberry, Blueberry muffin dog, Hullabalue,Panzon, Pascualito, Little Pascual, Bubba on occasion. It's funny how we come up with nicknames for our dogs. Blue was rescued out of the Boise Idaho shelter ten years ago by a wonderful woman named Jackie who then gave him to us. We have had Pascual for eight wonderful years now, we changed his name but, he had been Blue for one whole year prior to getting him and he knew that name well, so we have two names for him, at times more .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Born to run

Here is Dash, Mr. Dashwood, available for adoption. As all wound up, cooped up dogs, he was not one to sit still while I got my expensive camara out to photograph him, with fingers crossed as to not drop the camara or lose the dog the leash, which I wrapped between my knees. I was a little nervous because the main road is close by, parallel to the bike path we were on. This was a long walk today, a good hour and a half. Luckily we both got tired after the first hour. At times it feels like a gentle war of attrition. I sure had my upper body workout today, using my body like a martial artist, with counter moves to his 1 year old lab/hound never been socialized energy.

Bye bye to foster dog

Au revoir, we miss you. I hope you're doing well. You're family sure seemed to be glad to have you back after 7 months of being gone. I guess I now know who you were pining for, although I did my best to take excellent care of you. Glad to have helped out and to have had your sweet company for as long as I did.Happy trails
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Memories whistle through the barren branches

Something about winter when the leaves have died and fallen off the trees. I'm walking Dash around. A new dog for me, I'm walking through the streets of the old neighborhood. the memories of the big Polish man are haunting me, resounding through the cold and silent back alleys.His voice, booming through my memory. " Oh is that a German short hair pointer?" He new all the dog breeds. He and his amazing adult son, who worked on their apartments together,in the neighborhood I walked through, were always up for a chat. They adopted one of the shelter dogs I was walking one day, an adorable little heeler, much like my own. They saw her, spoke with me, and immediately went to adopt her. The big man always had a kind word for us a welcoming exchange, a bit of sharing. Such a huge man with a big heart and thick Polish accent and warmth that spread like wildfire. and now he is gone, taken by the natural world in such a quick and inconceivable way, falling in the boat hitting his head and gone to perpetual sleep in the mysterious waters below. I walk through this old neighborhood and the tears well up in my eyes. Dash has no memory of all this, he is happy to be out and about sniffing around, sliding on the ice, sloshing around in the slush, but I remember. That huge personality still echoes through the streets to me. The meeting up with his lovely wife on occasion, stunned by what had happened, but resigned to her fate, still having the distilled spirit of her dearly departed left remaining in her kind and devoted son. What a lovely family, and how sad that this mighty oak of a man has fallen. Why did this amazing person go, so seemingly before his time? Why those people who had such a warm and loving close knit family that touched everyone they met? We continue to walk on, year after year,my rescued heeler and I. New dogs, new people to meet and more stories to be found and discovered, pounding the pavement, walking the dogs, meeting our needs for exercise, kindness, and belonging.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

and yet one more

Ten years of volunteering at our local no kill animal shelter.
The foster dog I had for 6 months went happily back to his previous owner. I can't even count how many dogs I've worked with, walked in the last ten years but I have about 5 pairs of dead sneakers to show for it, and yet there is another. One more sad, young, huge dog with way too much energy, that needs me, needs an ally right now. He was a stray, a large 90lbs. ish yellow lab mostly with a dash of hound face and instinct, a la sniffing on the ground as we walk with head down, and part greyhound in terms of the speed he can run, with a dash of bunny rabbit thrown in. He was running so fast in the dog park, his back legs could not keep up so they would bunch together and hop ahead of him like a rabbit. I should have known better than to wear my new army peacoat the first day I worked with him as he jumped all over me, focusing on my head a lot with his big skinny dog legs and excitedly jumping and dancing all over me,with at least three days of unwashed shelter stink. Oh, but I am used to it, and it is a labor of love and I have no children to have cleaned up dirty diapers for, so the sacrifice is not much at all. His name is Dash. Allready I have many nicknames for him; Mr. Dashwood(Sense and Sensibilityby Jane Austen), Dashiel Hammet,Dish dash( a clothing item),Dasher, and a host of others.The first two days I was only able to walk him for about twenty minutes, breaking into jogs to help expell some of his energy. The main issue was the excited puppyish, jumping all over me behavior. Today, the third day was much better. As a matter of fact about 75% better. My consistency with reinforcing the no jumping and the leash corrections coupled with affection and verbal praise switching to harsh gutteral no's for bad behaior are catching on. That, coupled with the 4th week after getting neutered and I'm thinking maybe we have a pretty smart, soon to be nice dog on our hands.So the lesson for the day is; exercise, consistency with commands, positive reinforcement, and happy talk( hunting breeds love praise) and we're making terrific progress. This is what's so rewarding. The progress and walking the neighborhood of the small college town and remembering the people I've met along the way