The Last 24 Hours

It’s been almost exactly 24 hours since bringing Lady home and it’s been both eventful and wonderfully normal.

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Night one

SNORT arranged for me to meet the volunteer who got Lady out of shelter around 6 p.m. last night in Aberdeen, Md. Lady and I were on the road home around 6:15. Lady did not make a single peep when I loaded her into the car, buckled her seatbelt harness and began the 75-minute drive home. In fact, she immediately curled up in a ball on the seat and did not move for the entire drive. Seriously. At least four times during the drive home I turned my overhead lights on to make sure she was alive. She was that quiet and that still.

She wasted no time in pottying inside (#1 and #2, although I caught her mid-#2 and carried her to the door with poop nuggets leaving a trail behind us) but ate well for the most part which was a relief because she needed her meds. She was super itchy, though, so I chopped up 1/3 of a Zyrtec and put it on a spoon with peanut butter. She looked at me like I had two heads. Finally, I just placed the spoon on the ground to see what she’d do. She slowly walked over, took one lick then realized that shit was good and went back for more, finishing the PB and the Zyrtec!

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As we approached bedtime, I wanted to take her out but she wouldn’t actually go outside, so I broke out the bag of treats. I held a treat out for her but yet again, she looked at me like I was crazy. So, I put the treat on the floor and she slowly walked over, tasted it and then GOBBLED IT UP. Holy moly, I swear her eyes lit up. It was like she’d tasted doggy crack. Seriously. I reached out to clip on her leash and she searched my hands for more treats.

Fortunately, she largely slept through the night. She had several coughing fits but I checked on her midway through the night and she was fine. Not anxious, panting or circling – just curled up in a ball in her crate.

Day One

I woke up to a clean cage, she pottied (outside!) and got more magic treats. The rest of the morning was routine. I went to CrossFit, came back, fed her and took her out before work. She still takes some prompting to go outside but once I wave the Magic Treat Bag, she’s ready to go out. In fact, she did her first Happy Pug Dance when I broke out the treat bag! Melted my heart.

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She uses the food mat as a bed 😦

The big downer from today? I think Lady whined the entire time I was gone. Which was most of the day, minus when I went home for lunch. At lunchtime when I opened the outside door to my apartment building hallway, I thought I heard some noises but my neighbors have two very yappy dogs, so I thought it was them. But as I got closer to my apartment, the noises sounded different than the yappy dogs so I put my ear to my door – and I was 99% sure I heard Lady with the most gut-wrenching whining. At first I thought she might be hurt so I quickly opened the door but she wasn’t hurt – just scared, lonely or pissed. Or all three.

To be sure it was Lady I heard, when I left after lunch I stood outside my apartment door to listen. Thirty seconds later and the sad whining began. No doubt it’s her. I went back inside and put the radio on for her. It wasn’t stopping her whining when I left again for good, but I’m hopeful.

This whole thing just about killed me. She wasn’t super loud and it’s not that I’m worried about my neighbors so much (like I said, their dogs do nothing but yap all damn day). I just felt badly for her! She was fine in her crate last night by herself so either she was too tired to care last night or doesn’t like being alone. Once I’m sure she’s housetrained, I’ll try leaving her out of the crate for short periods and see if that helps. And if Lucy isn’t an ass, she may be the best solution we have – a constant companion for Lady during the day.

Lady has a vet appointment Friday evening. She came with meds for kennel cough and Lyme disease but definitely needs a good check-up. She only has 3-4 more nights of meds and her cough is still pretty bad. Her skin is also in rough shape; it’s not mange, but it’s more than just a case of the itchies as she has several patches of missing fur. I’m also curious to see how much weight the vet thinks she should gain; I’m guessing at least five pounds. She isn’t spayed and I know she’ll need to put on some serious weight before she can undergo surgery if that’s the route we ultimately take.

I can tell she’s getting a bit more comfortable but for the most part she just sits on one of our two dog mats and shakes. Probably a combination of scared and cold (I’m telling you, she’s scary skinny!). I also think she might be part Chihuahua. She’s definitely mixed with something that has a smaller frame than a pug and I know Chihuahuas are known to shake/shiver. But it breaks my heart. She looks so tiny and scared. But if we already got one happy pug dance out of her in just 12 hours, I know there’s more to come!

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!

Girls Weekend

This past weekend was a Girls Weekend to a “T.” My former fifth grade teacher, who remains friendly with my family, decided to come out to visit me from Saturday-Sunday.

I could go on and on about Mrs. Kenny and how she impacted my life. She remains the best teacher I’ve ever had. She taught me how to write. And I mean truly write. She expanded my already deep love for books. She created lasting memories I will never, ever forget. I still remember the books we read, projects we did and lessons we learned. I was such a nerd I read my grammar book every night just like she said we should.

Anyway, she is now retired, travels quite a bit and this past weekend she decided to travel out to Lancaster for a visit!

It wasn’t the best of weather but we made the most of the weekend. We went shopping, got our nails done, had a great dinner and ended the night with cupcakes in our beds at the hotel.

The hotel she stayed in happened to be pet-friendly so she asked if Lucy and I wanted to spend the night in the hotel (which was beautiful) for a true girls’ night. So we did!

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It’s Monday and I’m still exhausted! For some reason Lucy will not fall asleep on human beds. She literally just does laps on the bed. Lays down for 15 minutes. Does a few more laps. But heaven forbid I try to put her on the floor – she is convinced she actually wants to be on the bed even though she won’t sleep. I think I got 4-5 hours of sleep that night.

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Of course, she finally laid down when we woke up in the morning.

Despite the lack of sleep, it was a great weekend. I was able to explore my new town a little bit more and catch up with someone who has been part of my life for 22 years.

I do not think, however, that Lucy will be invited to another Girls’ Night 🙂

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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.

Happy Holidays

It’s 2017, so the holidays are officially over. I’ve said this many times before, but I absolutely love Christmas and this was a really good holiday.

Now that I’m no longer working in college athletics, I don’t get the full week off between Christmas and New Year’s so Marty and I crammed visits with both families over the course of just four days. It was busy but so, so good to see everyone.

Time for a picture overload:

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As usual, Marty and I spent New Year’s Eve doing nothing which is MORE than fine with me. I’ve never been a big New Year’s Eve person and I can’t even stay awake until 10 p.m., let alone midnight. We had a good weekend, though, with a brewery tour/tasting, some shopping and just much-needed time relaxing at my apartment.

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No New Year’s resolutions for me this year but I did see this insightful list of questions to ask yourself about LAST year. Looking at the past year can shape how you approach the new year, whether you set resolutions or not.

  1. What was the single best thing that happened to you this year? My new job. It’s not the most glamorous event but when all is said and done, it’s the best thing that happened.
  2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Changing jobs and moving.
  3. Pick three words to describe this past year. Challenging, exciting, stressful
  4. Who were your most valuable relationships with? Parents, as always. Marty. Marty and I have to really work at our relationship now since we no longer live and work together. It’s changed our relationship dynamic, that’s for sure.
  5. In what ways did you grow emotionally? I found myself living alone for the first time in five years and it was one of the parts of taking the new job that worried me most. But I’ve learned over the past six or seven weeks that I can be happy on my own.
  6. In what ways did you grow physically? Stronger and healthier. Fatter, too, if I have to be honest. But five pounds more than my “ideal” weight is still better than 30 pounds underweight (which is where I was really not all that long ago) so I’m working on accepting where I am right now.
  7. What was the most enjoyable part of your work? I changed jobs because I no longer liked my previous career; it was draining – physically and emotionally. Mostly emotionally. So the best part about my new job is that it’s all new. I’m learning every day and I like that aspect.
  8. What was the best way you used your time this past year? I disconnected more after work. Before I’d check my work email from the minute I left work until bedtime; this past year I tried (and was largely successful) to stop that habit. If an emergency came up, people knew how to reach me. It allowed me to actually relax when I was home. I read more than I have in  years, I took more walks and generally just enjoyed my down time more than previous years.
  9. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Change still isn’t easy for me but inevitably it’s good for me. I’d been stuck for six years (and was going through the motions in just about every part of my life) and even though I was unhappy, change scared the crap out of me. Taking this job was a leap for me but I knew in my gut it was the right leap to take.

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s just 10 days until Christmas and we’re in the midst of my favorite time of the year. My decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving and Lucy is sporting her holiday collar:
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A few weeks ago I took her to the Selinsgrove Pet Parade which WAS. AWESOME. It was probably the longest walk of her life (seriously) and she had a blast.

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This was Ollie.

I also may or may not have given her part of her Christmas gift a bit on the early side…

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I bought Lucy her very own fleece blanket. To be honest, I was getting sick of her slobbering all over my soft, fleecy blankets so I bought one just for her. She loves it. Clearly.

I don’t get as much time off during the holidays as I did at my previous job (I wouldn’t change a thing, though – having real weekends all to myself still hasn’t gotten old) but Marty and I will make the trip to see both families over the course of four or five days and I can’t wait to get home.

Things aren’t all rosy, though. As I expected, there are ups and downs. It’s been almost five weeks at the new job and there are way more good days than bad days. Which is a refreshing change. But obviously there are bumps in the road. Certain days I miss my “old” life (not my job) more than others. Certain days it’s harder living alone than others. Certain days it’s harder not having a close group of friends here than others. Certain days it’s harder dealing with a stubborn Lucy in inhumanely cold weather than others.

Lately a few simple words that someone said to me (ok, emailed to me. Same thing in today’s world) have been going through my mind on a daily basis. She’ll know who she is because she’s one of my consistent readers 🙂

“Be kind to yourself.”

So simple, but it’s harder to do than you’d think, at least for me. As a pretty negative person, it’s so easy for me to be hard on myself, not be patient with myself and not let little things snowball. So I’ve been silently repeating that phrase to me on those not-so-good days.

I think it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.Thank you, and you know who you are.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Settling In

I’ve been in Lancaster for almost two weeks now which have flown by, thanks in part to work and the move. Besides the physical move, I forgot how much other stuff has to get taken care of! Change of address, new mail key, bills put into my name, items for the apartment I still needed (took me over a week to finally get bath mats). I have a few things left to take care but bit by bit my to-do items are getting crossed off.

I love my new apartment; it’s super tiny (680+ square feet, I think) but it’s perfect (minus the overflowing toilet issue…). The rooms are small and getting furniture in was a bit of a jig saw puzzle but after two weeks things are pretty much in place.

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Lucy was settled in the minute I put her food bowl down.

I found a new CrossFit gym after some trial and error. Did NOT like the first one I went to; in fact, the first time I cried since being out here was after going to that first CrossFit gym. It made me desperately miss my old gym and the people there. Outside of co-workers at Susquehanna, they were my only friends in Selinsgrove. But the second gym I tried was much better and made me miss my old gym a little bit less. It’s less than four miles from my apartment and with evenings and weekends free, I should still be able to get there a minimum of four days a week, five if I really try (5:30 a.m. classes are available three days a week but man, that is early). Still trying to fit in running – early morning running around here isn’t totally feasible right now. I have to be at work at 8 a.m. so it is too dark to run before work because I live near some really busy roads and right now I can’t get into my community building during off hours to run on the treadmill (I need to get on fixing that issue). Nor does treadmill running sound appealing anyway.

Anyway, onto the holidays! Marty and I spent Thanksgiving in Lancaster, just the two of us (and Lucy). I had to work Wednesday and technically my office was open Friday and I did not want to use a personal day so early into the job. To travel both to my family’s (or Marty’s) in one day just did not seem practical so he came down to Lancaster Thursday morning and will spend most of the weekend here. We did manage to make Thanksgiving dinner without any disasters. Next year’s goal? Homemade stuffing rather than the boxed stuff! Feel free to send any (easy) good recipes my way!

 

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Plus, now that I have weekends free, I can get home more often and we’ll be making it back to New Jersey for Christmas. For Thanksgiving, though, it was really nice to just stay put and relax.

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Lucy and I discovered a park just a short drive away.

And I have lots to be thankful for since last Thanksgiving. The bittersweet ending to a job I’d held for six-plus years in a career field that has been my life for 10-plus years. A new job in a new career field. Three successful fosters (Isaac, Novalee, Blossom). A (mostly) healthy Lucy. A new life in a new “city” (while Lancaster is referred to as a city around here, I still can’t refer to it that way with any sincerity). The opportunity to see friends and family more. There’s plenty more – as much as I love to complain, I have many, many things for which to be thankful.

Now onto my absolute favorite time of the year – Christmas! I may or may not have pulled out my Christmas tree at 6 a.m. this morning 🙂

A Whirlwind

On Friday, Nov. 11, my parents and I moved almost all of my stuff into my new apartment in Lancaster. That night, I drove back to Selinsgrove so I could work my final athletic event (football senior day – you know, nothing terribly complicated 😛 ) on Saturday. Then on Sunday, I  made the trip back to Lancaster in preparation for my first day of work at my new job on Monday.

Clearly I crammed quite a bit into a few short days. My parents were invaluable in getting me settled and last Sunday, I brought Lucy into her new home. It actually made me choke up a bit; she’s only ever known one home and I was ripping her away from that home (and Marty). A tad dramatic, I know, but I’m good at drama.

I really had no choice and made the right move; this job was an opportunity I could not pass up, even if it meant uprooting my life .

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The view outside our new living room.

One week into the job and overwhelmed would be an understatement. New job in a new career field. New apartment. New routine. Living on my own for the first time in five years. Still balancing some work obligations at my previous job. As someone who hates change, it’s been a bit rough. But I did this exact same thing (minus the whole career change) six years ago and I survived. So I can do it again. And having actual weekends to myself is going to be like heaven.

Having Lucy with me has also helped tremendously. I feel a bit guilty – she’s alone longer during the day but the trade-off is that I am around all weekend, something that wasn’t the case before.

Unlike our old apartment, this one is one floor which means Lucy can actually go into the bedroom. The first night here, she decided she wanted to sleep in my bed. She’s never even had the opportunity before and I figured we were both lonely, so I let her stay.

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“I’m ready for bed, Mom!”

Until 2 a.m., that is, after five hours of her snoring and doing laps on the bed. I’d had enough and planted her on the couch where she’s stayed ever since. But she does like coming to wake me up in the mornings.

And yesterday, Lucy decided she would force me to discover where the closest ER vet was as she stepped on something outside and got bit or stung. She wouldn’t put her paw down on the ground and wouldn’t let me look at it. I thought maybe she got something stuck in her paw but obviously she wasn’t going to let me look closely enough to figure out what the heck was going on, so off to the vet we went.

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Pooped after spending a few hours at the ER vet.

She loves the vet so of course she acted totally normal once we got there but her paw was red and a bit puffy so she got a steroid shot. I probably overreacted but that’s another thing I’m really good at.

This weekend, I made only two missteps in assembling my new TV stand and book case and successfully set up my new router, cable and internet. Combined with an overflowing toilet, I’d say it’s been smooth sailing (that’s sarcasm).

But week one is in the books and we all survived. Here’s to week two and beyond.

Life is About to Change

In less than two weeks, big changes are on the horizon.

Saturday, November 12 will be my last day at my current job. I have accepted a new job in a completely new industry 90 minutes away from where I currently live. Which means leaving a job I’ve held for six-plus years in an industry in which I’ve worked for 10-plus years. It means packing up my current life and finding a new place to live.

It’s exciting and frightening. I’m leaving the college athletics field for something entirely different. Quite frankly it’s a change I needed to make years ago but just never found the right opportunity that made it worth leaving. Now I have. Or I think and hope I have.

I hate change in general and cramming this many changes into a two-week span is leaving me pretty fried mentally, physically and emotionally. There are a lot of personal things I won’t get into in this space but those who know me know there are a lot of long-term issues to sort out once I get settled.

But yes, Lucy is coming with me and yes, even that is causing me stress.

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She’s not overly concerned. Yet.

I know things will work out; this is a genuinely great opportunity and I am excited. But I’m more excited to get settled and figure out what my new normal will look like.

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!