Lady’s New Home

Foster number seven is in the books.

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Lady with her new mom and foster brother, Arnie

This morning I drove Lady to her forever home; she has two wonderful parents and a Boston Terrier brother, Arnie, who was already madly in love with Lady before I left. Both parents are older and retired; they’re home almost all the time and when they’re not, Lady will have Arnie for company. I think Arnie is ecstatic with that arrangement.

This one was hard for a lot of reasons. Lady was the first foster I handled by myself. While fostering has always been “my” thing, before I moved out here I had someone else living with me to help. Now I’m out here alone. I got really lucky with Lady, though, because she was the easiest foster I’ve ever had. Not the best because I can’t pick a favorite, but the easiest. Her health issues were minimal, she got along well with Lucy and her energy level was perfect for my small apartment. Her housetraining was the biggest struggle but compared to having two dogs who don’t get along (ahem, Isaac and Lucy) or a dog who had serious health issues (Cindy aka Nellie) or dogs who barked a lot (ahem, Buddy and Blossom), she was a breeze.

It’s also hard because it’s been a rough few months. I crammed a lot into just over four months – ending a job I’d held for six-plus years, accepting a new job in a totally new career field, a move, new city, a new foster and the end of a long-term relationship. So “losing” Lady is another big event in a short period of time.

But I am ridiculously happy I fostered her. She kept me occupied and busy and I think Lucy liked having the company. Selfishly, it was also really nice to have a dog that was utterly in love with me, not just me with her. Every time we took a car ride, she sat in the passenger seat and just stared at me. When I relaxed on the couch, if she wasn’t asleep she was keeping an eye on me to make sure she didn’t lose sight of me. It was so gratifying to see love in a dog’s eyes.

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Always watching me.

On the one overnight trip I took with her (to my parents’ house), she didn’t handle the separation well when I went out for a few hours. She didn’t freak out, but she apparently sat on top of the couch and stared out the window waiting for me to come back. It makes me worry about her first few days in her new home but I hope she settles in quickly.

As with every foster, there are very specific things I want to remember about her that made her unique:

Her love of anything soft. A pillow, a bookbag (which I would argue isn’t all that soft), a blanket – if it was soft and on the floor for even a minute, it became a bed for her.

Her three bottom front teeth. They were the cutest chicklets ever and I was so happy they didn’t have to come out during her dental surgery.

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That she was mostly deaf. I loved being able to catch her sleeping before she noticed me. And being deaf didn’t hinder her in the least.

Her wardrobe. She was the second dog I’ve ever had who genuinely needed to wear sweaters because she got so cold so easily. All the generous donations we received helped keep her warm (and cute) in the cold.

How after the first week her personality came out and she started doing her happy dance for treats and food. She gets so excited for food and runs around in circles while waiting for her treats.

Watching her speedy little legs come running after me whenever she lost sight of me. Her eyesight was perfect, that’s for sure.

Her snoring. For a pug-mix, she sure snored a lot and loudly! I’m going to miss knowing she was on the floor right next to my bed every night. It was so comforting – for both of us, I’m sure.

How she frequently slept with her head in the air, as if she didn’t want to actually fall asleep for fear she’d miss something but just couldn’t manage to stay awake.

And there are certain pictures that capture her best:

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So regal

So this was a tough one. She’s been bounced around a lot but she now has a forever home that is so excited to have her and I’m sure she’ll fall in love with them.

Two Dogs, One Apartment

Sorry for the gap between blogs. It’s been a really tough week personally so the blog took a backseat.

Lucy came back home about 10 days ago (I think?) and finally got to meet Lady. And, as with everything thus far with Lady, the meet and greet was seamless. SNORT recommends separating foster dogs from their fur siblings for the first few days in a new foster home but Lady had been here for 10 days already. Plus, in the few days before Lucy came home I’d been able to see Lady interact with other dogs and she was fine. She showed interest in other dogs but honestly that’s about it – no lunging toward them, no excited hopping around, certainly no aggression. Still, I was ready to separate them with a gate but that ended up being totally unnecessary.

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  Does this face look like she’d cause trouble?!

When Lucy walked in the apartment, there was some mutual sniffing between the dogs and then Lady went over to her bed in the corner and Lucy hopped up on the couch and that’s where they spent 90 percent of their first night together. And since. Lucy and I do play together on the floor most days and while Lady frequently comes over to inspect, she has no concept of play or interest in toys, gets bored quickly and retreats back to her bed.

The biggest change is getting myself out the door in the morning. I do as much prep as I can before my 5:30 a.m. CrossFit class but I have only an hour from when I get home from class until I leave for work so the process of taking care of two dogs (breakfast, potty breaks – usually multiple since neither dog will do all their business in one trip) and getting myself ready is going to need to be refined. But we’re making progress.

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Just an obligatory cute photo of Lucy.

The only negative is that Lady has severely regressed on her housetraining. Every day I come home from work either at lunch or at the end of the day and she’s peed. Sometimes twice a day. The obvious thought would be she’s marking her territory. Lady comes across as anything but an alpha female but the timing of her regression and Lucy coming back is too coincidental to rule it out. But if she is marking, she should be spayed soon and I’m really (really) hoping that ends the marking.

Also, Lady has completely come out of her shell. Don’t get me wrong, she still spends a lot of time in her bed, but she is so. freaking. happy. every time I walk in the door. She’s started hopping around and running in circles. It’s so heartwarming to see; it makes me realize how cruddy she felt (or how scared she was) when I first brought her home.

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Watching from afar as Lucy acts like a maniac.

And while she and Lucy aren’t best buddies, they co-exist perfectly. They each lounge on different ends of the couch while I’m gone, eat in separate areas with a zero issues and have their own go-to spaces in the apartment.

So, I have to say that the fostering-by-myself experiment is going better than I could have expected. If housetraining issues are my biggest concern, I’d say we’re all doing just fine!

Foster Adventure #7…

Get ready for a long one with very few pics…

Tonight I drove to Selinsgrove to drop Lucy off with Marty where she’ll spend the next two weeks. Why?

Tomorrow night I’m bringing home my seventh foster. Meet Lady:image1.PNG

(The above pic is from the shelter)

Normally Lucy wouldn’t be going anywhere with a new foster, let alone for two weeks, but a few hurdles with this foster made it necessary.

On Sunday,  Jan. 29, a request was put out from SNORT to foster a nine-year-old pug mix (that would be Lady) who was in a kill shelter in Maryland and had until Wednesday at 7 p.m. to find a foster home. You can put two and two together and figure out what would happen if a foster home wasn’t found by Wednesday.

I agreed to foster, thinking that it would be like every other foster – I’d bring her home, slowly introduce her to Lucy and then go from there.

Except on Monday morning, SNORT found out that Lady has kennel cough (and more – I’ll get to that in another post) and needed to be kept in a dog-free home for two weeks until the medication ended any threat of her infecting other dogs. Yikes. I am most definitely not dog-free but SNORT also had no dog-free homes available to foster.

Lady started antibiotics on Saturday and apparently within two days was a totally different dog. She went from despondent, detached and nonreactive to playful and friendly. How in the hell could I let a happy, unsuspecting dog be euthanized?

I couldn’t, so with Marty’s support and (immense) help, I am able to foster Lady. Lucy will spend the next two weeks with Marty while Lady finishes up her medication for the kennel cough. After the two weeks are up, I will bring Lucy back home and we’ll begin our “normal” fostering journey.

While every foster is drastically different, bringing home a new foster without Lucy there (for two weeks, no less) is just plain strange. While I know Lucy is in phenomenal hands with Marty, I’ll miss her. She’s been my buddy for the two-plus months I’ve been out here on my own.

Plus, I worry about Lady getting comfortable being the only dog for two weeks when all of a sudden I add Lucy into the mix. And I worry about Lucy walking into my apartment only to discover a new dog who’s gotten plenty comfortable in Lucy’s absence (don’t worry, I’ve already thought of a solution for that one!).

One thing at a time, though. For a change, I can devote all my attention to my foster for the first few weeks (which are undoubtedly the most stressful and chaotic) rather than having to divide my time and attention between two dogs.

I can also get a sense of Lady’s temperament and try to figure out how to best manage the two dogs once Lucy’s home. My apartment is not that big but I picked up a new crate and have a baby gate so we’ll make it work if the dogs wind up having to be separated when alone (or together…).

So to address my aforementioned solution for integrating the two dogs, my plan is to pick Lucy up from Marty’s with Lady in tow. That way they can meet in semi-neutral territory and then walk into their apartment here in Lancaster together. I don’t know what the hell Lucy would do if I walked her into the apartment after two weeks away and she saw Lady curled up on the couch in Lucy’s spot. Nothing good, I’m sure.

And hey, maybe Lady won’t be a typical Velcro pug (hahaha!) and won’t want to be on the couch with us. Or insist on following me everywhere – although even if she does, my apartment is 680 square feet. She’ll quickly find out there’s nowhere far I can go. Maybe Lucy will be her favorite companion, not me.

That’s the nerve-wracking and exciting part about fostering. You almost always have no idea what to expect.

Also, the big variable with this foster? Minus these first two weeks, I’m doing this all on my own. Two dogs. One very tiny apartment. Vet visits, potty breaks (and cleaning up those potty breaks if Lady chooses to take them inside…), mealtimes – all on me.

I guess this is kind of my test as to whether I can foster on my own although it admittedly varies widely based on the specific foster dog. Isaac would have been fine to handle on my own. No health issues, no housetraining issues, etc. Cindy (now Violet) would have been much harder with all her vet visits, housetraining issues, etc. But if I can manage Lady who, from what I can tell, is in need of some serious TLC and attention, I have confidence that while fostering may be a bit less frequent than in the past, it’s still possible.

Wish me luck!

Four Years Ago…

Four years today ago my life changed in the biggest, best way possible. I brought home my first foster, Cindy (now Nellie).

Looking back on my blog posts from the first few weeks we had her, I had forgotten how much I didn’t know!

Cindy was a puppy mill mama to a “T,” and while they are the most rewarding fosters, they are also the most work, the most depressing (because of their pasts) and the most stressful. I had forgotten she refused to eat for the first few days, snapped at Lucy and had fluids leaking everywhere. I forgot she had no idea what toys were, what food bowls were and what a soft, comfy couch was.

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She was quite the complicated foster and yet from day one I was hooked. I can’t fully express how rewarding fostering her (and every other foster) was. It really hit home when she was adopted. We drove her to her forever home and after getting her settled with her new family, Marty and I got ready to leave. And then she followed us as we made our way to the front door. I remember sitting in my car and seeing her standing at the glass door watching us. It just about broke my heart and I cried the whole way home. But looking back on it I realize the fact that she wanted to follow “her” humans meant I did what I was supposed to do. I made her trust humans; I let her know people can be kind, unlike the humans from her past; I taught her what being a pet is.

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Cindy was the first of six fosters to date. The stress of the first few days with each foster always makes me question why I do it but then after we settle in a new routine, I wonder why I ever questioned my decision.

The rest of my fosters were equally rewarding:

Clearly I’m more than anxious to foster again but now that I’m living on my own in a teeny, tiny apartment, I need to wait for the right foster. My complex doesn’t allow bulldogs (I got in before that rule was passed, so Lucy is fine but I’m beyond annoyed) so I’ll have to wait for a pug or Boston from SNORT. I work further from home than at my previous job which is a negative but I do have weekends free so I know I can make it work. I won’t pretend it will be easy to foster and be in charge of the care for two dogs but I really need to foster again. I have a few hobbies but NONE bring me this level of fulfillment.

That Was Rough

On Sunday, Blossom was adopted. Cue the waterworks.

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She was adopted by a guy who is somewhere in my age range. He lives in a New York suburb outside of the city and is newly single. He lives in a single story home and does a lot of work from home. I told myself  the only scenario that would be better than our home was an owner who was home more than we are – and we found that. After less than a week on the available page, I was already in touch with Blossom’s new dad and everything was official yesterday.

Blossom is our sixth (!) foster and I don’t have favorites. Seriously. But she was the one I was closest to keeping for a variety of reasons. She is old, she had a horrible life and was bounced around a LOT the last year and yet had made tremendous strides to overcome her past in the two months we had her. And I loved her. I loved everything about her (ok, except her barking!). She and Lucy got along well and Blossom was happy with us. But an even more perfect home came around and I had to let her go.

It’s quiet and lonely at home now. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Lucy and she is more than enough for us – we don’t NEED two dogs around – but it’s funny how quickly you get adjusted to a new normal. Our normal with Blossom was a lot louder but a lot more fun, too.

I already got an update after Blossom got home Sunday afternoon and things are going well. She met some extended family – of both the human and dog varieties! – and the meet and greets went spectacularly well .

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Thanks to Marty for allowing me to bring her home. Thanks, Marty, for leaving it up to me whether we adopted her. Thanks to SNORT for allowing me to foster her and for working in finding Blossom the best home. Thanks to my parents for letting me use their house as the exchange site! As always, this was a team effort!

A Bit About Blossom

We’ve had Blossom for two months today and in some regards a lot has changed and in other regards not much has changed.

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She’s beautiful.

First, she still gets along wonderfully with Lucy. Blossom does not like or have interest in toys so that means she’s got at least one thing going for her, at least in Lucy’s eyes. No interest in toys means no fighting over toys.

While Blossom can be on the….annoying side (more on that later), I think for the most part Lucy likes having a companion. Every single day I come home for lunch, the dogs are curled up together on the couch. They are literally touching every single day. It’s so sweet. So I think the company is good for both of them.

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Blossom is still about as healthy as can be for an old girl. She recovered wonderfully from her spay and dental and besides some achy and stiff back legs, she’s one active little dog. Blossom MUST follow one or both of us if we even so much as get off the couch so obviously her mobility is not limited in the least.

So what’s changed? She has blossomed (pun intended) in the two months we’ve had her. We went from not being able to pick her up, touch her face, touch her paws to being able to (almost always) pick her up, kiss her face, rub her belly. It’s been remarkable, really. It’s the sweetest thing – each morning I go back upstairs after letting Lucy out to bring Blossom downstairs. Lately every morning she opens one eye, looks at me, then rolls onto her back for belly rubs. Then she waits like the spoiled dog she is for me to pick up and literally place her on the floor so she can go downstairs.

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Blossom most definitely knows the word “treat” and “runs” back inside after doing her business to get her treat. That girl moves when food is involved.

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“Running”

Her one major flaw? Her barking. It’s pretty constant and it’s slowly driving Marty mad. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much unless I’m trying to sleep. If she were our dog I might try to do some behavior training but with her abusive background I really didn’t even know how to start…so I didn’t. But if that’s her biggest flaw, I’ll take it. And her cute face MORE than makes up for it.

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YOU try to get mad at that face.

In short, I love her. I love her big eyes, I love how much she’s improved since she’s gotten here, I love her demanding little personality. I love having a shadow follow my every movement. I cannot wait to see how much more she grows.

The Old Lady Gets Surgery

It’s been a while between posts but that’s because things have been very routine, which is good! Blossom has settled right in. She gets along well with Lucy (although we call her the “fun police” because she barks at Lucy when Lucy tries to play), has our routine down pat and has been generally wonderful. No accidents and she sleeps through the night – in our bed, of course 🙂

This past Thursday, though, the time came to get her spayed. SNORT (and I ) went back and forth about whether it was worth it to spay a 14-year-old pug. We ultimately decided that spaying her could only help her odds of being adopted. Plus, we could get a dental done at the same time; since she wouldn’t let the vet examine her mouth during her initial exam, we really didn’t know what we were facing.

I was nervous because of her age but she did fine – better than fine.

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“How do YOU know I’m doing fine?”

I picked her up Friday afternoon and she was very happy to see me – as I was to see her. She was not sorry, however, to say good-bye to the vet. To quote the vet tech, “she doesn’t like us very much.” I’m assuming she was not a happy camper and had several “fits” when they tried to pick her up, put her collar on, etc. Oh well. Everyone survived.

She did lose 10 teeth – teeth that were either broken off and/or decaying. But other than that, the surgeries were routine and she’s doing great. Eating well, moving around well and not at all happy with the cone of shame.

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All cone, zero dog.

All in all, very glad to have this behind us. Surgery and recovery have, so far, been better than expected and now she has a healthy mouth and her spay is all taken care of. Next step – available for adoption?

PS – Lucy says hi.

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Introducing Blossom

After five long months, we are fostering again!

Meet Blossom:
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That’s right, a pug! A 14-year-old pug, to be exact. I picked her up a few days ago and knock on wood, things have been really good.

Her background is a bit fuzzy. I can only assume she was with one family for nearly all of her 14 years but I honestly don’t know. I do know, however, that the children (and I really don’t know the ages – I’m guessing older kids) in her primary home horribly abused her. I won’t go into the specifics but it was bad enough that she is now terrified of children. She was surrendered to another home roughly a year ago but that home had children and it was quickly discovered that was not a good fit. She was then turned over to a shelter and that’s when SNORT was contacted.

Because she needed a kid-free home and because I was actively looking to foster again, we decided to take her on. She was with a temporary foster home for maybe a week and they were wonderful with her. Blossom learned to better trust people and was already much less skittish by the time I brought her home.

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For an old girl, she moves!

The other reason I agreed to foster her was because she was reportedly good with other dogs and I can say that, as of now, that is true.

She is a true velcro dog and does NOT like to be separated from us. We had her gated in the kitchen for most of the first night and while it was ok, she was pretty vocal about her displeasure. The times she did get near Lucy were fine – she largely ignored her, which is fine by me!

Just a few mornings later, this was the scene on our couch:

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It looks sweeter than it actually was – I think Blossom plopped herself down there and Lucy was too lazy to move but it’s still sweet. The two don’t interact much at all but I’ll take peacefully co-existing 🙂

So, what makes Blossom tick? Besides being a velcro dog, she is definitely on the nervous side. She has definite “no’s” in her book. I can pet her but I cannot grab her face which makes it difficult (ok, impossible) to give her the eye drops she came with. She is iffy about being picked up. Sometimes it’s ok, sometimes it’s not. She’s largely ok with it if I’m lifting her onto the couch to be with us but if I pick her up simply to move her, that is not ok. We did learn that she is perfectly capable of getting onto and off of the couch all by herself, though. And touching her paws is most definite a “no.”

She has arthritis and a bit of a goopy eye which she is on the aforementioned drops for but again, I haven’t gotten the eye dropper even remotely close to her eye, let alone actually get the drops in 🙂

Blossom is pretty spunky for a 14-year-old. Despite temperatures approaching 90 and humidity at approximately 200%, she’s taken some brief walks around our apartment complex and even though her joints are stiff, they don’t appear to be causing her a ton of pain.

Today she got a visit to the vet. Not an easy visit by any stretch but she was a trooper. First and foremost, she’s healthy. No heart problems, lymph nodes are good, etc. She got some senior bloodwork done but pending anything off in those results, she’s as healthy as she can be at this age. We opted not to get her spayed at this time – it honestly won’t benefit her health that much and surgery at her age should only be of the mandatory kind, not the optional kind.

What broke my heart, though, was Blossom’s fear. She was literally shaking like a leaf the whole time. Our vet was wonderful with her and went so, so slowly. She finally let him pet her after about 10-15 minutes but obviously he wasn’t able to do a super thorough superficial exam; luckily what he was able to see was pretty healthy/normal.

For now she’ll be loved and spoiled with us. Every day she gets a bit more comfortable and trusting; last night she slept curled up at my feet and didn’t make a peep all night. I am so thankful she and Lucy largely get along – it makes things so much less stressful.

Blossom is a super sweet girl who’s had a super rough life and while I wish it hadn’t taken her 14 years to find a good home, I’ll make up for lost time.

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My favorite thing – spoiling my dogs.

Two Days I’d Rather Not Relive

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows this has been a hell of a few days over here. For those who aren’t aware, hang on…

I have to rewind to maybe a month ago. One morning Lucy got sick – vomited and may have had some other intestinal distress, I can’t remember. It really wasn’t a big deal – we fed her a bland diet for a day and just a few hours after getting sick she was already back to normal.

Maybe a week or 10 days later, the same exact thing happened except this time she puked up some random round object. I looked at it for a while and really had no idea what it was. Still don’t have a clue. But I figured that may have been in her stomach the first time she got sick but now it was out of her system and I thought that was the end of it.

Then on Thursday morning – her fourth birthday! – she got sick yet again. I was planning to call the vet that day anyway to set up her yearly physical and when I mentioned she had gotten sick three times in 3-4 weeks, they suggested bringing her in that morning. Twenty minutes later we were waiting in the vet’s office.

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Among other tests, they took some x-rays and found something somewhat concerning on two of the four images – a round object in her intestine. Because the round object disappeared on two of the four images, the vet wanted to send it off to an expert x-ray reader (didn’t know such a job existed…) for a second opinion. They sent me home with some probiotics and instructions to wait to hear back about the x-ray.

Well, five minutes after we got home, Lucy puked up the half a cup of bouillon she had drank that morning all over my couch. I called the vet and barely got the words out “Lucy puked” before they said to just bring her in and they would keep her until they figured out what was going on.

That afternoon the vet called back and said the x-ray expert recommended surgery – he felt strongly that something was blocking her intestine and making her sick.

At 5 p.m. Thursday evening, she went back for surgery and the vet found two objects. The first was something completely lodged in her intestine – as in, they could not get it to move at all. So it took a bit more cutting than they had anticipated to get it out. What was it? Still no freaking clue. They said it was a big hairball but I was able to look at it – and it doesn’t look like hair, exactly. It looks like a solid dust ball or something. I don’t know. We’ll never know.

And the second object? Even more random. There was a piece of something dangling into her stomach. They showed me that object, too. It’s not a foreign object – it looks like a small clot or tumor of some sort that was hanging on by…body tissue, maybe? Anyway, it was hanging off her stomach wall and into her stomach. Probably not making her sick but the vet recommended getting it biopsied. Crossing my fingers the biopsy shows nothing concerning.

Thursday night I was able to sneak into the vet to see her before they shipped her to the overnight ER clinic. So pathetic.

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She arrived back at my vet Friday morning but they wanted to keep her for the majority of the day for observation. Because she has stitches not only on her tummy but also literally holding her intestines together, they needed to be sure that small amounts of food wouldn’t rupture the stitches before they felt comfortable sending her home with me.

I picked her up a little after 4:30 today and I could not have been happier.

Oh, and while all this was going on Novalee was adopted.

Yup, Miss Nova found herself a forever home.

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Her adoption was finalized earlier this week and her new mom is from Central NJ. I had planned to drive home to my parents’ house in NJ on Friday to do the exchange; our university is on spring break and I thought taking Friday off for a road trip with Lucy and Nova to get Nova to her new mom while also visiting my family would be ideal.

And then Lucy decided she needed surgery the day before our planned roadtrip. Novalee’s new mom was kind enough to meet me about an hour from here and she was so happy to meet her new addition. Nova was just happy to get back in a car and sleep.

I actually held it together when they drove off. Nova is such a people dog and I know she’ll absolutely love any home she’s in. And she won’t have to share attention with another dog. Her new mom is very bulldog experienced and could not wait to bring Nova home. She even bought her a new martini glass collar – my kind of woman 🙂

But wait, there’s more. Marty has been gone since Wednesday morning and isn’t home until midnight on Sunday (Monday morning, technically) so I’ve been handling all this on my own. I’m stressed and tired but I managed everything just fine. Logistically things were a little tricky but all of us got through it. I know I’m capable of doing anything that needs to be done on my own but when you’re used to having someone else in the equation it’s easy to get used to relying on the other person for support of all kinds. I’m proud that I handled everything on my own without asking for or needing outside help (asking for help is not a strong suit of mine).

So, Nova (whose new name will be Holly) is settling into her new home, Lucy is snoring away next to me on the couch and I’m drinking a massive glass of wine.

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I have to keep a close eye on Lucy for a few days to make sure her food seems to be moving through her without issues and we go back in 10 days to get her stitches out. Hopefully the biopsy is completely normal and we don’t have any lingering issues from that.

Right now I’m still in a fog; it’s been a really, really weird and stressful two days. In some ways it works out well that Nova was adopted today. Sure, it made for a long and emotional day but Lucy’s issues prevented me – and are still preventing me – from dwelling too much on the departure of Nova.

I hope the next time I blog it’s about something completely trivial.