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.

Blossom Update

So we’ve had a few highs and a few lows since bringing Blossom home.

Let’s start with the highs:

She’s adorable. So freaking cute. She has an adorable gray muzzle, the biggest cow eyes and the best head tilt in the world.

She has settled into our routine relatively easily. She’s quick to join us (and Lucy) on the couch, knows she gets a treat after doing her business outside, knows our walking route and quickly got into the routine of sleeping in our bed 🙂

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She and Lucy are still getting along very well. Again, I wouldn’t say they interact all that much – Blossom certainly doesn’t play with toys like Lucy does – but they are totally comfortable being in the same room and spend the days sleeping on the couch together.

Blossom’s relatively healthy (more on that in the “lows” section, though). She is perfectly house trained, eats with no issues and gets around wonderfully.

Now, the lows:
Despite appearing to be healthy, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Her levels came back low enough that treatment isn’t necessarily required but we’re still gathering the facts. Ultimately, she might have to undergo treatment for it, which would suck.

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Her “Elvis lip”

She has a few big quirks which I mentioned in my previous post. I cannot touch her feet and when trying to put on her (adorable) new harness we had a not-so-minor freakout that left her “off” for the rest of the night. She was antsy and nervous. Poor thing. I can’t expect years of abuse to be erased in a few days, if ever, but it makes me sad she was scared when I simply tried to put a harness on her.

She is a barker. Fortunately, a 17-pound peanut of a dog doesn’t bark very loudly but it’s still in stark contrast to Lucy.

She’s a velcro dog. This isn’t really a low but I wouldn’t call it a high, either. It’s hard to call it a high when I can’t pee by myself. But she’s so darn cute it’s hard to get angry.

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I cannot get angry at this face.

Anyway, it’s obvious I love her and she is fitting in very well after less than a week. We’re still learning her quirks and I’m very quickly remembering what it’s like having a pug around but so far it has been really good for all of us!

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.