Life with Novalee

It’s been just shy of two weeks since we brought this nugget home:
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(I know, she’s a model)

It was super stressful for the first week or so. She just did not like Lucy and she displayed that dislike by growling, lunging and snapping at her. So we separated them. Which worked in regards to keeping both dogs safe, but Novalee is a very needy dog. She must be not just in the same room as her people but physically touching them. And they must pet her. At all times.

After the first couple of days we were able to keep them in the same room if we were home and Lucy stayed on the couch (a place she was used to being after Isaac the Hump Monster stayed with us for 17 months). Gradually Novalee began going over to the couch, sniffing Lucy and then walking away.
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Progress.

Now they can even be on the floor (with supervision!) for several minutes at a time without incident. Novalee even tried to play with Lucy today – this is HUGE. I’m super, super cautious and nervous so I’m always prepared for the worst. It’s too early to say if they’ll ever be friends but I’ll take indifference on the part of Novalee toward Lucy.

Novalee went to the vet Monday to get her spay stitches out and to make sure everything else looked good. She was the hit of the office. Everyone loved her and she loved them! Her sutures look good, her ears are good and her dry eye is status quo.

Which means that she is officially listed for adoption!

I know, super fast. But there honestly isn’t anything we can medically do for her and behaviorally she’s house trained, knows basic obedience commands and is great with people. With time she might become better with dogs but I am positive there will be plenty of dog-free homes interested in her.
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Trust me, I am not getting ahead of myself and thinking we only have a few weeks left with her; adoptions are totally unpredictable. And I absolutely will not rush this process. She needs the right home that understands her future is pretty uncertain when it comes to her spinal issues and the effects it might have on her health down the road.

Plus she’s so freaking cute it’s almost like she’s fake; I am not anxious for her to go anywhere any time soon!

Finally, I got an update from Isaac’s new dad. And it was a great update. His new dad adores him and Isaac is one lucky, spoiled dog.
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I was happy but also largely relieved. We hadn’t heard from Isaac’s dad since the Wednesday before Christmas and I was nervous things weren’t going well. To get not only an update but an update as positive as this one is more than I could ask.

While Novalee is wonderful and I am ecstatic we have her, I really still miss Isaac. He was our most difficult foster but also one of the best. It was great to have a dog that so clearly loved us – and of course we loved him!

While bittersweet, this reminds me exactly why I foster.

I’m Back…

For now. And for two very good reasons. Hang on, this is a long one…

First, on Dec. 22, Isaac was adopted.
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I know, as soon as I made the decision to put the blog on hiatus, Isaac was adopted. It took me a while to write this post for several reasons. First, holiday travel. Isaac was adopted the afternoon of Dec. 22 and the very next morning we were on the road for travel.

Also, while his adoption was/is a very valid reason to update this blog, I just flat out did not want to write about it. I missed him beyond belief, the holidays were over…I guess I just felt too blah to write about it. He was adopted, it was over and we’ve moved on, or tried to.

I still miss him desperately, though. I sobbed when he left; I cried myself to sleep that night. I kept hearing phantom noises I thought were him because I was so used to him following me literally everywhere. Even the bathroom. I was used to him snoring next to me at night (yes, he found his way back onto our bed).

I’ve been taking myself for two walks a day to make up for the lack of walking now that he’s gone. It’s pitiful, really.

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“I like it right here.”

He was adopted by a wonderful man, though. Isaac will be the only dog, have the run of the house and his own personal dog walker during the day while his new dad is at work. It killed me though when his dad picked up him. As they drove off, Isaac looked back at me, as if wondering why we weren’t coming with him.

Lucy is obviously the beneficiary of Isaac’s departure. She has been so much more playful and overall just a happier and more relaxed dog.

The second reason to update the blog is that Lucy will not remain an only dog for long. In fact, as I type this she is already no longer an only dog.

Yup, we’re fostering again.

Meet Novalee.

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Novalee is a one-year-old puppy mill mama. She comes from an Ohio puppy mill. She actually spent the past two weeks or so with another foster mom in upstate N.Y. but it was never meant to be a permanent foster home for her. I expressed interest in taking her, so here she is!

Her background: she has spina bifida, dry eye, ear issues and a butterfly disc in her back. Sounds like a hot mess, right? Not really. Her spina bifida actually has almost zero impact on her quality of life – for now. She is completely mobile and has no neurological issues. Practically unheard of. She is largely continent; if left alone too long she may have some issues but none of our dogs are ever left alone for long.

She had a difficult spay before she got here but is healing. Honestly, there is not much more that can/needs to be done for this girl. Her ears need some attention, she needs some meds to clear up a recent UTI and her dry eye will always need attention, but her spina bifida is what it is at this point. There is no magic cure or surgery for it and since her quality of life is exceptional at this point, she’s really a “normal” dog!

Now, how about her personality?

Holy sweetness. If she is in the same room as you, she must be touching you (or any person) at all times. Seriously. She will paw at you when she wants to be pet, which is all the time. She gets annoyed if you do not pay attention to her.

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She is not (yet) good with Lucy. She’s not bad, but she’s growled at her and made moves to…lunge at her? I don’t know. After Isaac I am super cautious and we are taking it very slowly. As with Isaac, I think Lucy will spend a lot of time on the couch if the two are in the same room together. Novalee is content enough on the floor. Since she’s been home, though, I’ve largely kept her gated in the kitchen. Things need to go slowly and she’s had a long and confusing day.

After Isaac I had hoped for a dog like my first three fosters – Cindy, Snowy and Buddy – who either had no reaction to Lucy or adored her. Maybe with time, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Finally, the big question – why do I continue to foster and why do I foster at a continuous pace? Why not take a break?

Because I can’t say no?

Honestly, that’s a very big reason. Although I wasn’t even asked to take most of my fosters – I volunteered. So that’s only partially true.

I love dogs? Of course. I love bulldogs in particular? Absolutely. I want a ton of dogs but can’t afford a ton of dogs so I foster? Yup.

I’m trying to fill a void by “collecting” dogs? I don’t know, you’d have to ask a shrink. Maybe. Probably. I don’t have kids. I have a job I’m less than thrilled with. I’m located far from friends and family.

Either way, I’m happy and I’m hopefully helping out a few dogs and families along the way.

Good Bye…For Now

It’s pretty evident without having to write this post that – for now – this blog has hit its ending point. Updates are non-existent, thus there isn’t a need to maintain this blog, at least not at this time.

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I don’t think anyone is really this depressed.

When I first started the blog it was for the purposes of documenting Lucy’s first year or so with us and I am so glad I started my blog just a few months after we brought her home. I love looking back and reading about her first few months with us, pouring over puppy pics and marveling at how much – and how little – she has changed.

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Baby Lucy!

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Fat Lucy.

I brought home my first foster (Cindy, now Nellie) when Lucy was maybe 10 months old or so and the blog morphed into a way to provide updates and for me to document life with each foster. Again, I am infinitely glad I did so. Since we’re now on our fourth foster, and third bulldog, I like knowing I have a place to look back on memories, compare dogs, re-read old tips that worked with certain dogs, etc.

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It all started with Nellie (aka Cindy)

However, we’ve now had our fourth foster, Isaac, for 16 months (16 months tomorrow, to be exact). And while I absolutely adore him, absolutely nothing has changed within the past 10 months or so that we’ve had him. His behavior has remained relatively consistent, his health is still excellent (knock on wood) and at this point he isn’t going to be adopted anytime soon so it appears things will be status quo for the foreseeable future. Which makes for a boring blog.

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I’m not boring, mom, I’m perfect.

For Isaac’s sake, I hope he is adopted. If and when that day comes, it will almost definitely inspire me to update the blog. Plus, I will without a doubt continue to foster, which might also prompt me to revisit this blog. But as long as life remains as wonderfully boring as it has for the past year, all will remain quiet here for the time being!

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Not much at all to report. This should be renamed the Blog About Nothing (a Seinfeld reference, one of my favorite shows). Work is insane, Lucy’s still fat and Isaac’s still with us.

At this point I’ve assumed Isaac will be with us for the foreseeable future. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be adopted any time soon so for now he’s ours :-) And because he’s ours, I get to dress him up in reindeer costumes (disclaimer: it was for SNORT’s facebook site for Halloween).
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Because there’s nothing else to write about, I thought I’d write about 10 things people may or may not know about our dogs.

  1. Lucy is NOT the puppy I thought we’d bring home. I had my eye on another female (I had the pick of the four females in the litter). But when she attacked my sparkly ring, I knew she was mine.

    Lucy in the middle; the one I thought we'd bring home is on the right.

    Lucy in the middle; the one I thought we’d bring home is on the right.

  2. Isaac was actually in another foster home for two weeks before we got him. After two weeks, the family realized he was not going to work with their pug (or pugs – I can’t remember) and I was contacted to see if we’d take him. I now know why the pug family couldn’t continue to foster Isaac…
  3. Lucy HATES when we carry things. Anything. Boxes. Bags. Suitcases. She is petrified and runs away. Which is fun when I leave Petsmart with both her and bags full of stuff because she refuses to walk with me even though I’m carrying her treats. I have no idea why. It honestly makes us look like we abuse her or something. It’s horribly embarrassing.
  4. Isaac likes his jerseys but doesn’t like his sweater. And he doesn’t like his sweater because I once got his dew claw stuck in it while trying to put it on and he’s never forgotten.
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  5. Lucy hates costumes. I can’t put her in anything. Not the reindeer costume. Not a tutu. The only thing I can put her in is the Susquehanna singlet which makes me sad because I want to dress her up.

    Lucy as a seventh-month old Susquehanna "runner."

    Lucy as a seventh-month old Susquehanna “runner.”

  6. I don’t actually know what Isaac’s life was like before we got him. I was told he was with a male owner in Boston for all eight years of his life but I don’t know if he was an only dog (he must have been, if I had to guess), if he was in a house, an apartment, lived with more than one person, was socialized with other dogs or people, etc. I just don’t know.
  7. Both dogs love cat poop. I just don’t get it and it makes me want to vomit.
  8. Both dogs love butt scratches. I think this is pretty common, especially for bulldogs, but scratch their butts and they’re in heaven.
  9. Lucy never has and probably never will “do” steps. There’s no reason – she’s perfectly healthy. She’ll only go up staircases that are like six steps high – max – and only those that are wide. It severely limits where we can live, to be honest. Second-floor apartments are legitimate no-go. She absolutely won’t go up stairs and I’m not carrying all 48 (fat) pounds of her up stairs.
  10. Isaac’s nubbin wags; Lucy’s nubbin does not. When Isaac’s happy, his nubbin shakes like you wouldn’t believe. When Lucy’s happy, her entire rear end shakes like you wouldn’t believe.

Hopefully I have something more interesting to report soon; it is almost holiday travel time, which is always an adventure. And not necessarily in a good way.

Decisions, Decisions

The blog has been quiet, as has been the pattern for the past several months. Admittedly, it’s not a great strategy to keep readership at a consistent level, but I’m also not going to write content for content’s sake. Which means I have something of substance to write about today!

Over the past few weeks we had been moving towards a potential adopter of Isaac. It was as perfect a home as I think we could have found for him; rural, 10 acres of land, a single, retired adult male with no other dogs at home. I had been trying to set up a home visit when the man called me back earlier this week to say he could not adopt Isaac at this time because he was potentially facing knee replacement surgery.

Clearly this failed adoption was just a matter of unlucky timing; it was no fault of Isaac’s or the man’s. It was just bad luck.

So handsome in his new collar.

So handsome in his new collar.

But the outcome is the same – we start back at square one trying to find Isaac a home after nearly 14 months of fostering. I’ve found myself seriously debating whether we shouldn’t just officially adopt Isaac but I don’t want to do that just because we haven’t found right home yet – it may still be out there. Plus adopting him means taking on the medical expenses of two bulldogs (one is costly enough) and because it solidifies that Lucy is going to have to co-exist with Isaac for however long he lives. And mentally I can’t make that commitment.

While things have gotten better between them, they’re still not ideal. Isaac continues to hump her from time to time and any playfulness from Isaac turns into humping. Lucy has been able to spend a bit more time off the couch and share the floor with him, but the couch is still where she spends most of her time because she’s scared of him. It’s absolutely not fair to her.

“Yeah, Mom, it’s most definitely not fair!”

So, to adopt or not adopt. I absolutely love Isaac. He is by far the most challenging foster we’ve had because there are things that I cannot fix – he will never love other dogs outside the home, he may always be protective of me when we encounter strangers (and not protective in a good way…) – but he’s also a fabulous dog inside our home (minus the humping). His eyes kill me, his joy at seeing me walk in the door is my favorite part of the day, our twice-daily walks keep me sane (usually), his nubbin that shakes when he’s happy, his pouncing on his toys when he’s excited – he is just the most fun dog to have around (although Lucy strongly disagrees).

So right now there will be no adoption of Isaac, at least not by me. We’ll keep plugging away trying to find his perfect forever home while we continue to love him beyond belief in our home.

Dog Days: 2015 Version

Dog Days at Susquehanna are back!
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I LOVE Dog Days. Maybe even as much as Lucy. The minute we park at the University, she sprints to the area where Dog Days is held.

Dog Days are every Tuesday in September and the goal is to ease homesickness any students might feel – dogs always make people happy! For the past few years we’ve been staples at Dog Days but last week we had three home athletic events that prevented us from going to the first one of the year. And honestly, we probably should not have gone today – it was 93 degrees and felt like 95. The complete opposite of bulldog weather. But by the time I got out of work we wouldn’t be able to stay long anyway and the shadows were creeping in. So off we went!

Soaking up all the attention. And there was a lot of it.

Soaking up all the attention. And there was a lot of it.

As usual, all Lucy wanted a water bottle and she was in her own world, which completely defeats the purpose of Dog Days since she won’t let anyone pet her, but she was happy.

"MINE!"

“MINE!”

We’ll be back next week in what is hopefully more appropriate bulldog weather!

Tis the Season

Lucy has always been an itchy dog. It’s why, for three of her three-and-a-half years of life, she’s been on a regimen of Zyrtec and fish oil, no matter the season.

Over the past week, though, her itching has gotten out of control – she was clearly miserable. She was constantly shaking her head, rubbing her ears and scratching her arm pits (do dogs have arm pits? I don’t know, that’s the general area she was itching). She itched so hard she was rubbing the skin behind her ears raw, so off we went to the vet.

Lucy LOVES the vet. No, really. It might be her favorite place.

Lucy LOVES the vet. No, really. It might be her favorite place.

Bad news #1: She’s still fat. Despite slightly smaller dinner portions and more outside play time (with a few walks thrown in!), she weighs exactly what she weighed the last time we were at the vet in March. Sigh.

Bad news #2: I came home $125 poorer and with several medications, the biggie being prednisone. Lucy will be on steroids and ear drops for roughly the next 2-3 weeks to get the itchies under control. From all the dog owners in the area I’ve spoken to, almost everyone’s dog is suffering a bit more than usual right now so we just have to ride it out.

Harley was in for a visit because she was suffering from worse allergies than Lucy.

Harley was in for a visit because she was suffering from worse allergies than Lucy.

At least it’s not preventing her from fun stuff like attending football practice with me!
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One Year of CrossFit

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted and today’s post won’t even be dog related. There isn’t anything newsworthy regarding the dogs. Isaac is still with us and the verdict is still out on whether the medication is making a difference. It usually takes up to six weeks to see the full effect so I’ve sort put it out of mind. I just give him the meds each day and forget about it. We’ll see where we stand in a few more weeks.

His energy is still low. Poor guy.

His energy is still low. Poor guy.

I have a fun survey at the end of the post because I like surveys (in some ways I am still 12 years old) and because I have nothing else to say!

A quick personal update, though. One year ago today I started CrossFit. I had been working out for years and years before trying CrossFit. I ran, I cross-trained, I lifted weights, I did p90x, I did Insanity. I was in good shape but certainly not in CrossFit shape. I found that out real quick when I couldn’t walk for two days after my first class.

Let's just say my legs didn't look like this a year ago.

Let’s just say my legs didn’t look like this a year ago.

Some background for anyone new: I suffered from an eating disorder and exercise addiction for more than six years. I once weighed 90 pounds and my life revolved around food (not eating it) and working out. I did permanent damage to my body (my bone density is crap for a 31-year-old) and in some ways forever changed (not for the good) my approach to food and exercise.
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HOWEVER, CrossFit has helped all of those issues more than anything else ever has. I am such a better place physically and mentally than a year ago. I care so much less about what I weigh. I care so much more about what I can lift. I eat more often when I’m hungry rather than ignoring my hunger. I eat far more whole food and a lot less processed food. I hit the gym most days of the week but have finally learned to listen to my body and take rest days. I run less but run smarter. CrossFit isn’t for everyone and I’m not going to try and make everyone drink the “CrossFit Koolaid” but it’s been a life changer for me. I’m still not where I want to be in regards to my mental approach to food and fitness, but I’ve made gigantic steps.

A 5k PR with LESS running.

A 5k PR with LESS running.

Now, onto some mindless information about me:

A – Age: 31

B – Biggest Fear: Spiders. Creepily clustered holes (it’s a real phobia!)

C – Current Time: 5:30 p.m.

D – Drink You Had Last: Polar Lime Seltzer Water.

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: My parents. I have to include both because since my mom’s stroke, she can’t really hold a conversation but she’s still easy to talk to!

F – Favorite Song: So many. Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac is up there.

G – Grossest Memory: There was one diaper in particular during my babysitting days that makes me cringe to this day.

H – Hometown: Morristown, N.J.

I –  In Love With: My dogs. Wine. Chocolate.

J – Jealous Of: People who are happy with where they are in life.

K – Kindest Person You Know:  One of my best friends, Lauren.

L – Life Isn’t Complete Without: Dogs. Wine. Chocolate.

M – Middle Name: Anne.

N – Number of Siblings: 1 – a twin brother.

O – One Wish: To have enough money to foster all the bulldogs. And then adopt them. In a home with a fenced-in yard, of course.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: Marty.

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: What exactly is it that you do? Collegiate sports information isn’t exactly a self-explanatory career.

R – Reason To Smile: It’s not Monday.

S – Song You Last Sang: All the songs from Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits album. Makes for great driving music.

T – Time You Woke Up: 5:20 a.m. Well, alarm went off at 4:55 but I’ve become a snooze button pusher.

V – Vacation Destination: Having just been to St. Croix, I certainly wouldn’t argue a return trip.

W – Worst Habit: Picking scabs. Usually until they bleed. Drives Marty bonkers.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: A lot. My teeth are a disaster and I’m at a high risk for stress fractures so that adds up to a ton of x-rays.

Z – Zodiac Sign: Cancer. Born a few weeks too late to be a Gemini whose sign is twins!

One Day, Two Celebrations

Today is a momentous day in our household. I had no idea at the time, but when I picked up Isaac exactly one year ago today, it was also his birthday. I didn’t know until I went through his paperwork the next day that Isaac had literally just celebrated his birthday the day I brought him home. Which means that today Isaac turns nine and that we also celebrate (I guess it’s worth celebrating?) one year of fostering Isaac.

I felt so badly that he spent his last year’s birthday being transported to his second foster home after having just left what had been his home for eight years. I think he had a better birthday this year.
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Isaac has been with us twice as long as any other foster and for the most part, this past year with him has flown by. Gosh, I adore him. So much.

Isaac's birthday pup cup.

Isaac’s birthday pup cup.

Handsome boy.

Handsome boy.

The day I brought him home.

The day I brought him home.

Yesterday Isaac spent the day with his favorite dogsitters while Lucy, Marty and I went to a BBQ.

Lucy thoroughly enjoyed herself at the BBQ.

Lucy thoroughly enjoyed herself at the BBQ.

Originally we were supposed to leave Isaac in Selinsgrove while we traveled to NJ for a long weekend. Our plans changed, though, and I’m glad we got to spend Isaac’s birthday with him.
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Two Years Ago Today…

…our first foster, Cindy, was adopted.

That face.

That face.

Cindy, now Nellie, will always be special because she was our “first.” Nellie is a puppy mill survivor who, despite having many health issues we needed to resolve, was one of the sweetest dogs ever. She should have been frightened, shy, even angry and except for the first few days when she was adjusting to life outside the mill, she was none of those things. God, she was so sweet. She was a velcro dog and tolerated Lucy even though Lucy was still a puppy when we brought Nellie home and Nellie had had more than her share of puppies to deal with throughout her life.

Her adventures with us were limited as she underwent heartworm and lyme disease treatment for three of the six months she spent with us but she never seemed to mind. She was happy with the couch, a pillow and love.

She loved pillows.

She loved pillows.

I have no idea if we would have continued fostering if we hadn’t had such a good experience fostering Nellie but that doesn’t really matter because we did have such a good experience. I cried like a baby after we dropped her off at her forever home two years ago today and I cried for several more days after that. But it was obviously worth it because she has the best home ever and she made me want to continue fostering other dogs who need a temporary home as badly as she did.

Happy Gotcha Day, Nellie!

Nellie's forever home.

Nellie’s forever home.

God, she was so sweet.

God, she was so sweet.

Buddies.

Buddies.

Squishy.

Squishy.