Tag Archives: adoption

Hartley, My Heart.

11 Feb
My Heart.

My Heart.

I have loved animals all of my life. I always loved my family dogs, I loved horses and horseback riding as a kid and I always wanted to work with dogs when I grew up. Everything I thought I knew about loving dogs all changed when I saw Hartley’s face on Petfinder in February of 2009. I knew I HAD to have this dog. I was 21 years old and living on my own. This was going to be MY first dog. I filled out my adoption papers 20 minutes before someone else tried to adopt him. It was meant to be.
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Hartley was a 12 week old Lab-Mix puppy. My vet declared right away that he was probably a Pitbull-mix. That was fine with me, I’d been in love with Pitbulls for the past 5 or so years. No wonder I fell so hard for his picture.

So Snuggly.

So Snuggly.

Hartley and I instantly fell in love. I was 21 and had a pretty busy lifestyle so I simply brought Hartley with me. Everywhere. Hartley came to friends houses with me, Hartley came to my parents houses with me (even though he wasn’t invited). Hartley came grocery shopping with me or to school with me if I had a short day. He loved being in the car and I loved that I could walk him during my breaks. Hartley and I spent our time camping, at the cabin, or hiking. I was so much more active than I’d ever been before. We even played outside at night which would have scared me before.

Can I come with?

Can I come with?

Before I had Hartley I used to have terrible sleeping problems. I was always scared at night and I could never just FALL ASLEEP. When Hartley was about 7 months old I stopped making him sleep in his crate and let him sleep in bed with me. Every night he slept in the crook of my legs with his head on my legs. Suddenly I wasn’t afraid anymore. I listened to, and felt, him breathing and I fell asleep.

My life changed when I brought little Hartley home. I loved that I was responsible for his life. I loved coming home after work because that was Hartley and Chelsea time. I loved that he made me active and I loved that, with Hartley, winter was fun. I couldn’t just sit indoors anymore.. Hartley needed to be exercised. I learned that if I bundled up, playing in the snow was actually fun.
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My dad was always so amazed by Hartley’s attachment to me. He used to say that Hartley orbited around me. Even off leash he rarely went more than 50 yards from me. He would chase me on the four-wheeler no matter where I went.

Me and My Baby

Me and My Baby

This was the first time in my life that I had experienced THIS kind of love and devotion. He was my whole life, my whole heart and soul. Nothing made me happier than Hartley did. And he also made me fall in love with Pitbulls even more. The love and devotion that this little Pitbull gave me was more than I ever could have dreamed of. He was my best friend and the love of my life.
hartley

One year after I brought little Hartley home and into my life he got really sick. He was throwing up and very lethargic. It turned out that he had ingested rope from a rope toy, and the next day he died in surgery. His intestines were completely shredded and there was nothing they could do to save him. He was in so much more pain than I ever knew. The night before he died he didn’t act like he was in pain. He just wanted to be with me. I didn’t even say goodbye. I was so relieved that he was going in to surgery because I was convinced it would help him. I didn’t get to say goodbye until after he had died. He would have done anything for me and I completely failed him.

Hartley died 3 years ago and I still can’t believe he’s gone. His death wrecked me. I still can’t think about the last couple of days that I had with him without crying.

I love Mylo and Chase with all of my heart but Hartley will always be MY HEART. Hartley changed my life and opened my eyes to real undying devotion. He gave me my strong passion for dogs and gave me an unwavering commitment to Pitbulls.

I’m now overly cautious with my dogs, and I worry ALL the time. I don’t want to ever go through that pain again. Saying goodbye to his lifeless body was the worst moment of my entire life. But, I am thankful that I had one year with Hartley, my angel, and I will always have unwavering affection for the dogs in my life, because Hartley would want me to.

I thank Hartley for showing me what is important in life. He died three years ago yesterday, so this post is for him.
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Harltey, I hope you’re having fun over the rainbow bridge. I miss you every day. I’m sorry we didn’t get more time together, but thank you for sending me Mylo and Chase and all of my fosters to bring me some comfort, and some more love.

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One Step at a Time

17 Jan

Last Thursday we got the official bad news about Sophie. We all expected it but we were naivly hoping that she’d come around and realize that she’d been wrong about her new dad. Unfortunately this just wasn’t the case. Last Saturday Sophie went back in to foster care. What really makes this bad news is that she didn’t come back to US.

The director of Minnesota Pitbull Rescue and myself both agreed that it may not be in Sophie’s best interest to come back to my house if we cannot keep her forever. Sophie is clearly comfortable around our dogs, but we need to see if she can be comfortable in other situations. A huge benefit of her new foster home is that it is in the Twin Cities, which is where most of the MPBR events are held. ( I am over 2 hours away from most of the events). Going to the different MPBR events should really help Sophie adjust to new and different environments. She will have opportunities to socialize with other puppies but will have more chances to learn to be confident on her own. We’re hoping to see if Sophie has any actual socialization issues or if the way she felt about her dad was a one time thing related strictly to him. Since she never showed any nervousness at our house we felt like it’d be best to try her somewhere else.

This was very painful for me. I would have taken her back in a heartbeat and it kills me to know that she’s so happy at our house and we didn’t let her come back here. I know it’s for her own good, but it’s so hard for me not to feel guilty that I’m not just keeping her at our house.

I’m hoping that once she gains some confidence she will find somewhere new that she will be JUST as happy as she was at our house. I’m also impatiently waiting for some updates about how she’s doing at her new foster’s house. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything!

Missing in Action. A little bit of news!

10 Jan

So, I feel like I haven’t blogged in FOREVER. Let me tell you right away, this IS NOT because I haven’t had anything to blog about, but instead because I don’t have the right words for all that’s happened lately.

I intended on writing a wonderful post about Sophie’s Christmas surprise. A couple of days before Christmas my brother and sister-in-law decided to start the “foster-to-adopt” program with Sophie! I was SO excited! Not only does she get a fantastic new family, two human siblings and a great new home, but I’ll also get to see her for the rest of her life!! My 7 year old niece, Mia, had been begging for Sophie for over a month and couldn’t believe it when her parents said she was staying. Sophie has met Mia before and has always been head-over-heels for her in return. The first thing I felt was extreme happiness and then a huge amount of relief. This time, instead of being torn into pieces between the fact that I SHOULD be happy, and my sadness and hurt about giving up a dog, I can focus on the fact that one of my fosters, and one that I love SOOO much, will remain in my family! I’ll even get to dog sit! I’ll get to see how she’s doing and I’ll always know JUST how much her family loves her. What more could a foster ask for?!

So you’re probably wondering WHY I didn’t write her amazing adoption story 2 weeks ago when I found out that she was getting a home, especially such an EXCITING home, for Christmas. I had every intention of doing so.. but the longer I waited the more we discovered that Sophie isn’t quite as happy about her new home as we all are.

Here’s a little backround on Sophie.. Sophie was just 12 weeks old when she came to our house. She had been with her siblings her entire life. Her first night in our house was her first night without them. She was scared and probably felt all alone.. but she soon discovered that she wasn’t alone. She bonded immediately to her foster-brothers Mylo and Chase. She became a confident, ram-rod of a puppy, and people who met her fell instantly in love with her.

I never had ANY idea that without her big brothers around she’d be insecure, afraid, and lose all of her spunk and character.

When we dropped Sophie off at her new house she was very scared. She wouldn’t go up to anyone other than Mia and she wouldn’t wander around the house. We all assumed that she would adjust quickly and be her ramrod-self any day. We all said “theres a lot going on today, she will adjust in a couple of days” and “She’s a puppy, it wont take long.”

During the next couple of days Sophie spent a lot of time with Mia but she continued to be afraid of her new house and her new family. Unless she was with Mia she mostly stayed in one room. Worst of all she decided to be incredibly afraid of her new dad. She wants nothing to do with him no matter what he does.

I have been putting off writing her adoption story because I assumed she would adjust soon and then I could write her happy story. I didn’t want to write about her incredibly happy news if she’s NOT happy and we’re not sure it will work out.

I decided to write her story now, though, because there are lessons to be learned from it.

Sophie has been in her new home for two weeks now. She has stopped running away from her new baby brother (she’s still not too sure about noisy babys but he’s not QUITE as scary anymore), she recently decided to brave some new rooms in the 3 story house, and she has gotten pretty used to her new mom. Unfortunately she’s still incredibly scared of her new dad.

Sophie’s behavior and attitude towards her new dad is such a shock because she was a huge daddy’s girl at our house. She’s never been afraid of men in our house, in fact, she’s never been afraid of anyone. What we failed to think about, however, is that Sophie had never spent a day of her life without a dog sibling. We got her directly from her litter as a pup and then she had Mylo and Chase. We never imagined she’d be so insecure without them. She was always so incredibly brave and outgoing. I never stopped to think about how she would adjust to being an only dog. I’ll admit that I’m always a fan of my foster dogs going to homes with other dogs, but I do also strongly believe that single dog homes are wonderful too. Especially single dog homes with children. I was so focused on the fact that she’d be getting two amazing parents, a 7 year old who can’t get enough of her and a bouncing baby brother to grow up with. I was completely sure that it’d be a great situation. Now I’m discovering that it’s a situation for me to learn from.

As a foster parent I will have to do a better job of testing my fosters in a variety of situations. I’m not saying it’s my fault that she’s adjusting so slowly, but if I had been expecting her to be a nervous, shy and insecure dog I would have been able to discuss this with the new family. If they weren’t EXPECTING her to adjust quickly, as puppies typically do, it may not seem so weird that she’s not.

Perhaps if I had tested her in a larger variety of situations I would have known what we needed to work on. I could have taken her to public places without Mylo and Chase. She could have been entered into puppy socialization classes. These are things that her new family will probably have to do now because I didn’t know that she needed it.

Her new family is trying everything they can to make her comfortable, but she’s simply not adjusting to her new dad. This makes ME sad, and I know it’s making her new family sad. I continue to tell them to give it time but eventually it needs to be decided if the situation is good for anyone involved.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Sophie will get over her fears and get to stay with her new family, especially since I was so excited about this family! I thought that I had escaped the heartbreak of giving her up. We all want it to work out SO badly, but now we need to focus on making sure that whatever happens we act in the best interest of both the family and Sophie. I hope that, no matter what, her story can be a learning experience for everyone involved.

Snuggles on Sundays

4 Dec

This is my attempt at a “Wordless” Wednesday post.. even though it is Tuesday. 

My favorite day of the week is Sunday.  It is the only day that both my husband and I have off so we typically get a lot more time with the dogs than any other day. 

There’s something so precious about dogs in snuggle mode.  They curl up in teeny balls, or wind together in the most precious positions and I don’t know about yours, but mine turn in to limp noodles.  They will be my pillow or my leg warmer. They will be little spoon or lay completely on top of me.  They aren’t too picky.  

Here are some snuggle photos from Sunday.

Mylo curled up.

Mylo curled up.

Chase curled up.

Chase curled up.

Sophie and Chase.  So cute.

Sophie and Chase. So cute.

Sophie and Mylo.

Sophie and Mylo.

Sophie and Chase again.

Sophie and Chase again.

I was very foolish to believe that it would be easier to give up a foster puppy that it is to give up adult fosters.  Look at her sweetness.  She’s pretty much irresistable, even to Mylo and Chase.

Sophie Here!

23 Nov

Hi Hi!  Sophie here!

Whoops. I got stuck.

I hyjaked hijacked Chelsea-Mom’s computer.  I REALLY enjoy stealing her things, He-He (don’t tell her I hid her shoe in that box I sleep in).I try not to damage her stuff, but I just can’t help myself sometimes. I AM just a baby after all..(Chelsea-Mom says it’s lucky for puppies that they are so cute.. I don’t know what I need luck for, though.. I’m so awe-some I should be called The Incredi-ble Sophie!)  Pajama pants are my favorite things to steal from Chelsea-Mom, but it’s not just her stuff!  I like to steal Gene-Dad’s stuff too.  He has such nummy slippers.  Anyways, before Chelsea-Mom see’s me I have some things to say!  Chelsea-Mom told me the other day that I have a LOT to say and that I’m very noisy for such a little gal. I’m pretty sure she’s fibbing.  She says that I’m even noisy when I’m SLEEPING, but I don’t see how that’s paws-ible.  Gurl dogs don’t snore.  Everybody knows that.

Me NOT snoring with Mylo.

So, first off.. My Chelsea-Mom tells me that she and Gene-Dad are not my “forever” fambily.  She says that I’m jus living here for awhile.  Well, what the heck?!  Where’s my forever fambily!? I really like life with Chelsea-Mom and Gene-Dad and I love my  brothers Mylo and Chase! (They let me pick on them a lot.  Chelsea-Mom says that’s what little sisters are for.) I like snuggawing with my whooole fambily on the couch, I like to play with everyone outside, and I LOVE playing tug-o-war with whomever (2-legged or 4-legged) wants to play with me.  So, you see, I’m kinda sad that this is not my forever home.  Chelsea-Mom tells me, though, that there are thow-sends more than I can count, dogs looking for forever homes, and that she likes to help as many as she can.  She PROMISES me that I will love my new forever home as much as I like her home.  I want to believe her, but I’m still kinda nerv-us.

Chase makes me feel better when I’m ner-vus.

Even though I’m kinda nerv-us and I don’t want to leave my “foster” (I guess I’m a “foster”?) house I can’t wait to meet my new parents and see if I’ll have siblings to pick on or not!  I hope they take me for car rides, let me play with tug toys, let me snuggle on the couch, and maybe even someday sleep on the bed!  As much as I love Chelsea-Mom and Gene-Dad I’m ready for my new parents!! How much patience can one little puppy have?!

Some other things I love?

Leaves.  Chelsea-Mom says something called the “wind” is what makes them fly around and makes them so fun for me to chase.  I’m not sure what “wind” is.. but I know leaves are a whole lotta fun!!

When Mylo and Chase (my “foster” brothers) wear collars.  Then I have something to grab on to!

Wearing sweaters.  Chelsea-Mom calls me a Purdy Girl when I’m wearing my sweaters.  Gene-Dad says that one of my jackets has an El-vis style collar.  Who’s El-vis? I bet he’s not as cute as me!

El-vis collar.

Jumping!!  I love to pounce off the couch!  Preferably right on to one of my foster brothers.. but I’ll jump on to other things too.

Chase wanted to wear a sweater too, but it didn’t fit him.

Tug-o-War!  Chelsea-Mom says I’m fereles feerless not a-scared of anything.  Brother Mylo pulls me all over the place!  Brother Chase is usually on my side though.

Something I don’t like?

Something Chelsea-Mom calls “Sno.”  It appeared on the ground last night and it’s really cold!!  Chelsea-Mom said that I still have to go potty outside tho. Boo.

I also don’t like that I have to sleep in that box thing while Mylo and Chase get to sleep on the bed. SO NOT FAIR.  Chelsea-Mom says it’s because I’m a puppy and that my new fambily will want me to be used to that box. I told her last night that if she let me sleep on the bed JUS ONCE! I’d never tell anyone.. and I thought she caved, but then in the morning I woke up in that box thing again!!

Me in my crate when I was littler. I broke the box the other day.

I like pretty much everything else.  I’m happy to be with Chelsea-mom, Gene-dad, and Mylo and Chase for the time being, but I really want to be someone’s forever pet.  Will you take me home with you??  I’d make a GREAT Christmas present.  I look adorable in ribbon. 

11 (because I apparently can’t count) Things I’ve Learned from Fostering

16 Nov

1. The earth will continue spinning even if my couch covers are never on correctly.

I am a slightly anal and compulsive person.  I was a math major in college, this probably explains it.  I like things centered, I’m not artistic, I don’t like clutter.  Living in a 900 square foot house with three dogs sometimes has me reeling.  I can’t even count how many times I adjust my couch covers a day.  I just can’t STAND when they are crooked and

Do you think they do this on purpose?

apparently it’s impossible for a dog to get on the couch without screwing them up.  I have learned  I am learning that nothing bad will happen if I wait to fix them until tomorrow.  I will not have a heart attack.  The dogs will not judge my crooked couch covers, and the husband thinks I’m crazy for caring in the first place loves me no matter what our couches look like.

This same lesson applies to the dog hair situation in my house.  No matter how distraught I feel about it NOTHING bad will happen if I skip vacuuming for a day.

2. Caring means Sharing.

Sharing dads lap.

This is a lesson that everyone in our family has had to learn.  When we have a foster dog Gene and I share our floor space, our couch space, our bed and our time.  Mylo and Chase are forced to share their food, their dog beds, their toys and, most importantly, their humans.  At this point I’m proud to say that I’m pretty sure we would all pass kindergarten with our sharing skills.

 

3.  Accidents happen.

Milk gets spilled, injuries happen, rugs get peed on.  This is just part of being a dog mom, and also a regular mom, I suppose.  Things get chewed on, windows get broken.  It’s

“But MoooOOm. It wasn’t my fault!”

important to remember that you love your fur-babies and not to get too upset about material things.

4.  Judging a potential adoptive family is about what’s best for the dog, not about what you personally think about people.

I find it very hard to not be too judgmental when I meet prospective adopters for my foster babies.  See, I KNOW how happy they are at my house.  I know what their life is like with me, and I don’t want them to have to give anything up.  Dog people all have different views and different ways to treat their dogs.  Many people wouldn’t agree with everything that I do, just as I don’t agree with things that other people do.  This doesn’t necessarily define either of us as bad dog owners, just different.  (There certainly ARE bad dog owners.. I’m just observing differences between good ones).  Sometimes dogs do best in single dog homes, sometimes they do best with other dogs around. Some dogs are trustworthy off-leash, and some dogs aren’t.  Some dogs couldn’t live in the city (exhibit A: my lab Mylo) and some dogs do just fine.  I have to work really hard to remember that simply because people may be different than me doesn’t mean they won’t be a great home for my foster.

5.  Adult dogs bond just as fast as puppies.  Maybe faster.

Many people have the belief that it’s necessary to get a dog as a puppy in order to have that indescribable dog-human bond.  I myself always wanted puppies.  Since becoming a foster, though, I have had 8 adult dogs come into my house and I have learned from these dogs that it’s JUST as possible to form a bond with an adult dog.  They are more mature and more capable of forming relationships.  They want to learn from you and they are experiencing a new life with you.  This is a good way to start a relationship.  The other benefit of getting an adult dog?  They are typically potty trained, and are usually through their chewing phase already.  Also you know what they’re going to look like!

 

6.  Dogs who have never been given anything don’t expect as much.

Gene and I have both noticed that the dogs who have had awful or neglectful upbringings tend to me much less obnoxious clingy demanding endearingly-needy than our boys who have been spoiled for years.  They tend to be more appreciative of extra attention, treats, toys, and even the simplest of things like heat and a place to lay.  My dogs think that it is their  “whoever is in charge of doggie Heaven”-given right to lay on the couch, get at least one rawhide a week, play fetch once a day, sleep in bed, and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes it’s pleasant to lay down and snuggle next to a dog who hasn’t experienced that before.  The look in their eyes is priceless.

7.  I’ve learned to appreciate my own dogs even more. 

One of the things that I appreciate the most as a foster parent is that my perma-dogs ALLOW me to be a foster parent.  Over the past year I have fallen more and more in love with my own dogs for being so amazing and polite about letting strays into our family.   I love the time in between fosters when it’s just the two of them (which isn’t often) because this time makes me love them all the more for sharing the rest of their time with whatever foster we have at the moment.

8.  Money donated is money well spent.

I don’t have a lot of money.  I have a mortgage, insurance bills, cellphone bills, dog food bills, my own food to buy, ect.  Everyone I know can relate to this.  But somewhere along the line I started donating.  Not a lot, maybe $5 here, $10 there, but nevertheless, donating.  Once I started this I could no longer sit in a tanning bed, or buy a new shirt, without a twinge of guilt.  I always feel like maybe my money could be going somewhere better.  I don’t think anyone should donate outside their means, and I think everyone should splurge on themselves every once in a while, but I do think that once a month, or maybe twice a month, skipping that latte and sending $5 to a charity of your choice will make you feel amazing. I suggest you all try it!

9.  Fostering has brought me to a new level of contentment with myself.

I have always been a pretty happy person.  I love my family and my friends.  I am fortunate enough to be married to the man of my dreams and now I have his family as well.  I have always been happy enough with myself as a person and never really felt as though I was missing something.  Now, however, I have discovered how truly happy a person can be if they are doing something that they really believe in.  Having a passion gives my life purpose, and joy beyond words.  It makes me a better child, friend, dog-mom, and wife and I choose to believe that “A family that saves lives together, stays together.”

Family

10.  It never gets easier.

I have fostered, and given up, 9 dogs and I am on my 10th.  One would think that at some point it would get easier to say goodbye, but this never happens.  Each dog is so different and touches my heart in different ways.   Each dog thinks they are here to stay.  They fall in love with our family and they don’t understand that we are not their forever home.  Even when I say I won’t, I fall in love with them as well.  Often ours is the first good home they’ve been in.  Every time I find an adoptive family I worry that my foster will feel like I am just one more person that has abandoned them.  I wonder if they ask “why do you keep those two dogs (Mylo and Chase) but you won’t keep me?” My grief over giving up a dog is not typically sorrow for my own loss, but worry and fear about the rest of the dog’s life.  You can’t tell them what is happening; all you can do is give them a hug and a kiss and drive away.

Sometimes I wish Chase would drive me home.

11.  Broken hearts do indeed mend. 

My heart begins to break as soon as I even start THINKING about sending my foster away, and continues to rip until I am actually driving away.  At this point all I can do is hurt.  I have learned, though, that despite the immense pain I feel at that moment in time I WILL feel better.  My heart begins to heal, and while it’s left with a jagged mark, that mark fades with time.  In order to heal myself I spend time with my own dogs and I wait anxiously for updates about my foster-baby.  Knowing that I found them a wonderful home goes along way towards helping to heal my heart.

So worth it. Check out Hank now.

14 Nov

When Hank got adopted I knew it was supposed to make me happy, and yet finding Hank’s forever home broke my heart.  Hank is a perpetually happy-go-lucky pitbull who completely stole my heart with his sweet face and loving attitude.  I never wanted to let him go.

Hank is a classic example of how amazing this breed is.  He has all of the qualities that make me love pitbulls so much.  He’s carefree, he gets along with people and other dogs, he has a mellow demeanor, he loves to snuggle, and he loves to be loved.  Because of this I was incredibly heavy-hearted when I dropped him off with his new mom.  A few weeks later I still miss Hank VERY much, but I have a new foster who I love, and I am here to tell you that getting updates about your previous foster makes everything SO worth it.

Here are some Hanky Panky Updates.

Hank met a horse for the first time.

Hank meeting his new horse friend.

Hank and his new pittie sister, Diamond, are so in love.  They wrestle all day, and then cuddle together all night.  His new owner says Diamond even sleeps next to Hank’s crate whenever he has to be in it.

True love.

Hank is spoiled with new collars, new dog beds, new toys, car rides, and walks.

Handsome man.

He even got a Halloween costume, talk about being part of the family.

He looks so happy..

I’m SO happy that I get to see Hank with his new owner and know that he is ok.  I still miss him every day, but seeing how happy he is melts my heart.  This is why we fosters do it.

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