A Day of Hope

Today SNORT participated at A Day of Hope, a charity event designed to raise awareness about puppy mills and the fight against them. It was literally 2-3 miles down the street from me so after we set up, I went back home to grab Kramer. After all, he is a puppy mill survivor and adoptable dog!

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It was such a wonderful event. So many rescues and booths, a blessing of the pets ceremony and a puppy mill survivor parade. It was a long day but Kramer was just awesome. I hesitated bringing him because he just had his surgeries but for all but the last hour the temps were tolerable and it was overcast so I decided  it was too good of an event for him to miss! He was a great ambassador of puppy mill survivors – he was cute, well-behaved and got plenty of love and attention.

Enjoy the picture overload!

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So glad he’s a survivor.

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Strutting his stuff in the puppy mill survivor parade.

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Settling In

After this past weekend, I feel like I can take a deep breath and really settle into a routine with Kramer. A week or so after bringing Kramer home, I dog-sat Spike, a 70-pound English bulldog. At only one year old, Spike had a LOT of energy and a very small space in which to expend that energy. I only had Spike for roughly 48 hours and then five days later, Spike came back…for an entire week.

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I’m not going to lie, it was a stressful week. Three dogs, with Kramer still learning the ropes of being a true pet, in a small space was pure chaos. The best way to describe Spike is like Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) on steroids. He’s got a phenomenal and hilarious personality but it’s not a personality meant for small spaces with small(er) dogs. If he wanted to walk in the evenings, his energy was tolerable. If he didn’t want to walk (and there was no making a 70-pound dog walk against his will), watch out. Anything in the apartment was fair game – burrowing in the couch. Playing fetch. Eating my coasters. Body-slamming Kramer. Humping me. Chewing his Nylabone.

Fortunately for him, he’s adorable which made up for a lot of the chaos.

But back to our routine. Kramer is really starting to get the hang of being a pet. He has never had a true accident inside – every time he’s peed indoors it’s been marking, not because he had to pee. He’s never gone #2 inside, which I consider a true miracle. He has quickly caught on to the post-pee/poop treat routine. After coming inside, I find him waiting (not-so) patiently in the kitchen by the fridge where I keep their treats.

Kramer is still blanket obsessed and it’s the cutest thing ever. He must have a blankie with him at all times. Starting last week, I allowed him up on the couch to see what he’d do. As long as he has his blankie with him, he’s content to lounge around gnawing on it while Lucy sleeps (as usual) and I read (as usual).

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He is very much a pug; he barks (a lot) and follows me everywhere but that’s all typical stuff I expect from a pug. He sleeps just fine in the crate at night and I’m assuming he does the same while I’m at work during the day. He just chewed on one of Lucy’s many beloved Nylabones yesterday and while I thought Lucy’s head was going to explode – she doesn’t share well – it was another sign that Kramer is quickly learning to enjoy the good life.

I finally scheduled Kramer’s neuter and dental surgeries for Sept. 11. I’m super anxious for both – he has an enlarged prostate which is contributing to the marking and constant peeing outside but that’s reversible with the neutering (another reason to spay and neuter your pets!!). His breath also reeks so the dental will be much-needed.

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After two surgeries, there isn’t anything we need to address before he gets listed for adoption. As long as the surgeries go well, he should be able to hit the available page pretty quickly after the procedures. Which is sad. Obviously, it’s much easier on me with just Lucy to look after, but so far, the two fosters I’ve had on my own (Lady and Kramer) have been phenomenal. They’ve been two of the simpler fosters I’ve ever had and have been great additions, even if temporary.

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Kramer’s First Vet Visit

This evening Kramer had what was almost definitely his first-ever vet visit. All in all, a successful visit.

The quick rundown: he is heartworm and Lyme negative. At a healthy weight (maybe even slightly underweight). His heart sounds good. He has an enlarged prostate (which will be alleviated when he’s neutered) and bad teeth (which we’ll take care of with a dental while he’s under for the neuter). His eyes are good. His ears are dirty but nothing alarming.

And this picture accurately sums up our visit:

IMG_2057He really wasn’t as bad as this picture makes it look. He was just wriggly, squirmy and energetic for the entire visit. It often took three of us to hold him in place for basic stuff, like hearing his heart. He was having none of it – he wasn’t angry, per say, he was just confused and wiggly! He’s wiggly at home, too – sometimes it takes me a good 30 seconds to clip his leash on because he squirms so much!

We’re waiting on fecal test results and an estimate for his neuter/dental. If the estimate is too high we may have to find another vet but big picture, he’s pretty darn healthy all things considered.

Oh, and I’ve been a tad busy since Saturday afternoon. I agreed to watch Spike, former SNORT foster and now Marty’s dog. I’ve been dying to meet the guy and he was as adorable as I expected, but three dogs (one of which is close to 70 pounds and still all puppy) in 680 square feet was a bit of an exhausting challenge! Spike left this afternoon and everyone – Lucy, Kramer, me – will be recovering for a few days!

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Meet Kramer

Forgive me – it has been a whirlwind of a long weekend so this will be brief; more to follow in the coming days!

I spent a long weekend in NJ with my parents so that my mom and I could attend the Fleetwood Mac concert at CitiField. Hands down one of the best experiences of my life. Simply a phenomenal performance. My second time seeing them and this was even better than the first time.

I left NJ this morning (running on six hours of sleep which is just not enough for me!) to pick up my latest foster, Kramer.
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He is an Amish puppy mill surrender. He came with no records, no name, nothing. So I got to name him (Seinfeld is my absolute favorite shows so Kramer it was).

I will have a lot more in the coming days about this guy. The short story? He is a pug through and through. Snorty, affectionate, energetic and ridiculously sweet.

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You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

In many cases, that’s a good thing. Sometimes it works out well to be semi-oblivious when embarking on something new, unknown, different, etc. If I let the unknown hold me back, I would not be where I am in life right now and while life is up and down, I’m largely in a good spot.

This morning, one of my Facebook memories was of my first foster, Nellie (fka Cindy) from four years ago.

I look back on that experience and realize I had absolutely no freaking clue what I was getting myself into. It’s not a secret that when I started volunteering with SNORT, I had no intentions of fostering. Lucy was still a puppy – probably around seven months old or so. Our apartment had space but it wasn’t huge. My job hours were nuts (and remained nuts for the next four-plus years). ­

I’m not even sure what prompted me to change my mind about fostering. Because Nellie was a puppy mill dog, there were no photos of her (the Amish don’t allow people on their property to take photos of dogs they are surrendering). There was zero information about her besides she was a puppy mill mama who was being given up because she could no longer have litters.

But something in me just had to take her in, so we did. I picked her up sight unseen on a super cold, cloudy, depressing January morning, took one look at her, thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?!” And promptly fell head over heels in love.

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Meeting Nellie for the first time. Love at first sight.

Now with seven fosters under my belt (and hopefully more in the near future), I’ve come to realize there’s a whole list of things I didn’t know I didn’t know before I embarked on this adventure. I was clueless about a lot.

I Didn’t Know:
1. I had such high levels of empathy and patience.
Patience has never been my strong suit. It’s why I’ve remained up in the air about wanting to have kids. But my level of empathy and patience has been practically unlimited with each foster. I don’t even have that much patience with Lucy. But with the fosters? Sure, I got upset when they crapped on the carpet or flipped the heck out during thunderstorms and kept me up for hours. But the amount of poop I cleaned up or the time I spent in the bathroom with a certain foster (Isaac!) during thunderstorms rarely fazed me. I’m not saying I’ve become Mother Teresa, but I’ve learned I have a higher capacity for patience and empathy than I previously thought.

 

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This handsome boy was petrified of thunderstorms.

2. There was so much medical lingo to learn
Entropian. Cherry eye (which I actually learned about with Lucy). Interdigital cyst. Pyometra. Thyroid levels. Seasonal alopecia. Unexplained alopecia. Spina bifida. There isn’t a single foster I’ve had that hasn’t underdone surgery or had a major medical issue. Nellie – heartworm, lyme. Violet (fka Snowy) – spay, entropian, dry eye, bladder cancer scare. Buddy – neuter, dental. Isaac – puppy Prozac, alopecia. Novalee – spina bifida. Blossom – spay, dental (I think). Lady – spay, dental.

I don’t know everything, but I’ve sure learned a lot.

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Novalee had spina bifida but you never would have known it.

3. I’d have to learn to not be squeamish
No sooner had I laid eyes on Nellie than I realized she was leaking…down there. And not pee. It was a…thick goo. Leftover from an infection or a recent litter, probably. But that poor girl just left a trail of gunk everywhere she went for a few days/weeks.

Many fosters have not been housetrained so there’s been countless pee puddles and piles of poo to clean up. So much laundry. Wiping of all bodily areas. I’ve seen tons of incisions, ears filled with wax and countless eye boogers. And let’s not talk about post-surgery poo…

Novalee once ate an entire bag of raw almonds. Let’s just say it became quickly apparent she hadn’t chewed said almonds when she spent three days walking around inside our apartment like a giant pez dispenser of almonds.

I’ve developed a stronger stomach over the past few years.

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Buddy the Pug may have peed on me (and Lucy) a time or two. #maledogproblems

4. That I would handle adoptions better than I expected
Don’t get me wrong, I was a disaster when Nellie was adopted. And tears have been shed every single time a foster has been adopted. I miss them all. But I absolutely love the experience of fostering. It gives me a sense of purpose, something to keep me busy and selfishly, it feels so good be a part of saving a dog. If I had an unlimited budget and a bigger home, at least a few of these fosters would have probably wound up as “foster failures.” But I know going into each foster that I really can’t have two dogs – not enough money, not enough space – and that reality helps when it comes time to find a forever home for each foster. Now, there hasn’t been a foster in which I haven’t uttered the words, “I think I’ll keep him/her,” but deep down I’m fully aware it’s not the ideal option for either party involved.

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Lady, my first foster all on my own.

5. It’s a total team effort
Six of my seven fosters came when I was living with Marty. While the interest in fostering was 100% me, actually fostering was a different matter. When more than one person is impacted by taking on a foster, it becomes a team effort. Maybe not with the equal distribution of work and time, but each person in the home has some added responsibility and stress.

It also takes help from my employers – days I may need to leave early for a vet appointment or even take an entire day off to shuttle a dog to a vet appointment or surgery.

And travel impacts everyone – most holidays I’ve had a foster so that impacts every family we visit over the holidays. Each foster is different and because each was not my own nor raised as my own, their quirks don’t necessarily make them ideal houseguests. So it does indeed take a village.

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Backseat roadtrip buddies.

6. It’s stressful
I believe I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but it is stressful to bring a foster home. The days leading up bringing home a foster are anxiety-ridden. What will he/she be like? Will they like Lucy? Will Lucy like them (probably not). Are they housetrained (probably not)? Will they eat (probably not)? Where will they sleep? Are they super sick? And then once I get them home? What does that bark mean? Are they scared? Why don’t they lie down and sleep? Is that cough normal?

I’m an anxious person by nature so the early days surrounding a foster are really stressful for me. Everyone’s different but stress is one of the overriding emotions for me when I’m fostering.

I’ll never forget one of the biggest sources of anxiety with Nellie – she refused to eat. I tried everything. Dry food. Wet food. Chicken and rice. Wet and dry food mixed. Straight bouillon. Nothing worked. Until it was suggested from a fellow foster mom that she probably had no clue what a bowl was or how to eat out of it. So, I scooped some food into a super shallow frisbee and voila! She was eating like a champ. But I was just so stressed out during those first few days when I could not get her to eat.

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Making a mess; we soon progressed to a frisbee. Baby steps.

7. I would have a hard time saying “no”
I’m kind of a selfish person. Hence the reason I’m not sure I want kids. I like setting my own schedule (when work allows), taking naps on the weekends and essentially doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Fostering puts a crimp in that. Having a foster is double the work, often triple the work. After Nellie was adopted, we were going to take a break and reassess whether we wanted to foster again and how quickly. We’d had Nellie for about six months, I think, which is a pretty substantial amount of time. But roughly six weeks after her adoption, I got a phone call about Violet, saying she needed a new foster home and wondering if I was interested. “Yes” may have slipped out before I could give serious thought to it. Oops.

So despite being a self-proclaimed “selfish” person, I’ve found myself saying “yes” a lot more when it comes to fosters.

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I’m not quite sure how you say “no” to that face.

All of this is to say that fostering is a big (and important) commitment. But there isn’t a single foster experience I regret. Each dog has meant so much to me and I can’t emphasize how much the benefits outweigh the stressors.

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.

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.

Happy Birthday From Afar

Today is Cindy’s (Nellie’s) ninth birthday!!

Cindy's first-ever birthday party.

Cindy’s first-ever birthday party.

I cannot tell you happy it makes me every year that she is able to celebrate her birthday! And unlike Snowy, we know exactly when her birthday is, according to the papers she came with.

For those new to the blog, Cindy was my first-ever foster and as such, holds a very, very special spot in my heart. She holds that special spot for so many more reasons than just being my first foster, though. Cindy was a puppy mill mama and over the six months that I had her, I learned how rewarding it is to see a dog learn how to be a pet. It sounds so silly – learn how to be a pet? – but she had NO idea what being a family dog meant.

First time playing with a toy!

First time playing with a toy!

Cindy spent the first seven years of her life in a puppy mill; we don’t know exactly what it was like but she was likely kept in a wire cage, saw little to no significant time outside that cage, was forced to produce litter after litter and never received proper veterinary care. Her c-sections were likely done in horrendously unsafe conditions as evidenced by the fact that when her forever family had her spayed, it was a very complicated surgery as they had to essentially dig through layers of scar tissue. Her paws were splayed (due to the wire cage, I’m positive) and her joints? Horrible. Her shoulders were/are bowed and I’ll never forget when our vet sort of pushed her shoulders up and in to show me where the joints should be. Her back was/is swayed and she was both heartworm and lyme positive when we got her.

But she was not only an absolute trooper through all the medical treatments she had to endure but also a true sweetheart. Every single day she amazed me by her ability to be so sweet after being so abused for so long.

She LOVED pillows.

She LOVED pillows.

And she had so many cute little idiosyncrasies. For example, her jowls would puff out and flap every time she exhaled particularly hard. It was so cute. And the way she would take minutes to adjust the couch pillows just so until she was happy enough to settle down on them (see above!). I’ll never forget the first time she ran or how, before she began heartworm treatment, she would slowly trail behind Lucy and me on our walks around the block, no leash needed. She was A: too slow and B: just wanted to be with us – it never seemed to cross her mind that running away (not that she ran fast enough to get away…) was an option.

Cindy’s adoption process was a tough one; twice we thought she had found her forever home only to have the homes fall through. But it was all for a reason as Cindy found the absolute best home ever. Truly. She is loved beyond belief.

Here are a few more of my favorites photos of the birthday girl.

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Smiles

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Paws crossed.

Paws crossed.

After heartworm treatment.

After heartworm treatment.

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Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet.

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet.

Cindy's double bed setup.

Cindy’s double bed setup.

How can she look so sad in sparkles??

How can she look so sad in sparkles??

So addictively cute

So addictively cute

Like Snowy, I miss this squish every single day. It’s because of her and my wonderful experience with being her foster mom that I continue to foster. Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

One-Year Adoptiversary

Guess what happened one year ago today? Snowy (now Violet) was adopted!
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I simply cannot believe it’s been one year! Some days it seems like just yesterday she and Lucy were snuggling on the couch and in other ways it’s sometimes hard to remember the specifics of day-to-day life with Snowy. I do know for sure that she was one of our most fun and sweet fosters and I miss her every single day.

I mean, come on, does it get any sweeter?

I mean, come on, does it get any sweeter?

Snowy/Violet and Cindy (now Nellie), our first foster, were both puppy mill dogs. Snowy was a few years younger than Cindy but still had had more than a handful of litters. Unlike Cindy, though, she was in much better physical shape. Her eyes were not good, her skin needed some TLC and she had entropian surgery several months after I got her, but for the most part everything was fixable (and thank goodness her cancer scare was just that – a scare!). Her joints were really good for a bulldog, she had no breathing issues and had (and still has, I’m sure) energy to spare, at least for a bulldog.

She loved being outside.

She loved being outside.

In contrast to Cindy:

Those joints and that back sway always looked so painful.

Those joints and that back sway always looked so painful.

Of all our fosters, Lucy was definitely closest to Snowy. Cindy tended to get a bit cantankerous with Lucy from time to time (don’t get me wrong, they snuggled and got along 99% of the time but Cindy had no issues letting Lucy know when she wanted to be left alone 🙂 ) and while Buddy and Lucy were great together, I think sometimes Buddy’s energy got to Lucy. Snowy, though? There were never two better buddies.

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They loved each other so much.

They loved each other so much.

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People always ask me how I can stand to give up my fosters. I’ve written about this on more than one occasion but there are several reasons, the first being money. SNORT features all short-nosed dogs (hence the name, Short-Nosed Only Rescue Team) and more often than not, short-nosed dogs have health concerns and/or are high-maintenance starting at a young age. In short (no pun intended), they are expensive dogs to own and neither Marty nor I are in lucrative careers.

The second reason is that I love fostering. If we owned a larger house and had more regular schedules (and a larger income), perhaps we could have more than two dogs at a time which would allow us to adopt another dog and still continue fostering. Unfortunately, our apartment is not big and two dogs are our limit; therefore, if we kept any of our fosters, we’d have no means to continue fostering and that is something I definitely want to continue doing.

That doesn’t mean that seeing a foster adopted isn’t hard; it is really hard. All of our fosters have been with us for a minimum of three months so we obviously get really attached. And for the most part Lucy gets attached, too, with the exception of Isaac (she is SO done with him!). Therefore, it’s very emotionally difficult and draining to see them go. But every single foster we’ve had has gone onto the most perfect of forever homes. Honestly, these dogs are far better off in the long run in their current forever homes and that’s the whole point of fostering.

Thus, it’s comforting on anniversaries like this to look back on our time with each foster while also being so thankful they moved onto perfect forever homes. We miss you, Violet!

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Why I Volunteer

I’m not sure I ever really talked about why I started volunteering with S.N.O.R.T. – besides loving dogs, obviously. It’s clear from various posts over the past year that I do volunteer (two foster dogs are evidence of that!) but I tend to focus more on the dogs than my volunteer experience.

Let me backtrack a bit. I moved to Central Pennsylvania in August of 2010 to take a job as the Director of Athletic Communications for a Division III school with 23 varsity sports. I had (have) one, 10-month assistant. When I moved out here, my apartment wasn’t ready, I was forced into two different temporary housing situations and I was basically thrown into the start of fall sports, which included one huge source of stress for me – football season.

Now, things got easier and Marty and I started hanging out roughly six months after I got here. But it was still lonely. I did not have a lot of close friends here; all of my friends were either back at my previous job or where I grew up in New Jersey. I desperately wanted a dog but our apartment had a no-dogs policy.

Finally I convinced Marty that we should seriously look into moving into a dog-friendly apartment and start contacting English bulldog breeders (my mind was set on getting a bullie!). So we did just that.

Baby Lucy!

Baby Lucy!

We brought Lucy home in May of 2012 and like I always say, she was the best gift I ever could have gotten for myself! It sounds self-centered to look at it that way, I suppose, but she really has been the best addition to our home.

Unfortunately loneliness was (and still is!) an issue. Athletic jobs are very transient; I’ve already had three jobs at three different schools in just seven-plus years of working! Friends in an athletic department that you make one year are likely gone the next. So, six months after getting Lucy, I figured volunteering might help ease some of the loneliness.

When I reached out to S.N.O.R.T. in the fall of 2012, I initially said I was interested in volunteering with transports, website writing and more but that we weren’t going to foster at the moment. Our apartment isn’t huge and Lucy was still only eight or nine months old.

Omar LOVED her flying squirrel toy

Helping to transport Omar, who LOVED her flying squirrel toy

But then I got an email about a female English bulldog who was being freed from a puppy mill in Lancaster, Pa. – really not all that far from where I live. I immediately forwarded the email to Marty and while I acted as if I were half-serious, I really did want to foster this unknown dog. Fortunately Marty agreed to foster; I’m still not sure if he really wanted to, but he let me go ahead with the process anyway.

We got a quick home visit and approval to foster and home came Cindy (now Nellie).

Sweet Cindy.

Sweet Cindy.

Cindy’s foster period lasted over six months and was emotionally draining. We absolutely loved her and if money hadn’t been an issue likely would have kept her. She was a complete and total sweetheart who was physically broken down but so full of love!

After Cindy moved on to her forever home, we agreed no more fostering through at least the fall season. It is our busiest time with a lot of long days, long weekends and a lot of travel. But then I got a phone call from S.N.O.R.T. looking for a new foster home for Snowy and of course I said yes.

A happy Snowy.

A happy Snowy.

Snowy is already a long-term foster as she’s been with us for roughly four months and still has to undergo eye surgery and her spay surgery. She will be just as hard to let go as Cindy was and let me tell you, it’s hard. Especially when you’ve had a dog for months and months.

Like Cindy, I’d love to keep Snowy but money remains an issue. Now, I’m sure we could keep her and we wouldn’t lose our home or starve, but there are things like savings accounts, retirement funds and emergency funds that need contributions more than we need a second dog. So in a few months we’ll go through the process of finding her home and like last time, I’ll be an emotional wreck for a few days (ok, weeks).

But this volunteering stuff has eased some of my loneliness and made me happier. Sure it’s really, really hard to let the foster dogs go, but for however long I have them, our foster dogs make me very happy and satisfied.

Me and Snowy

Me and Snowy

So there’s the story of how and why I began volunteering. A better experience that I could have wished for.