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.

paws crossed_0261

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.

IMG_0399

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.

Summer So Far

It has been a wonderfully unremarkable summer. We do not currently have a foster, Lucy is active and healthy and up until this past week and a half, we spent the majority of our weekends at home relaxing.

IMG_2421.JPG

Ok, a CrossFit competition isn’t relaxing but it was fun!

IMG_2555.JPG

One of the summer’s highlights? Visiting this handsome devil and his dad!

Yesterday, we got back from an 11-day, 1550-mile roadtrip/vacation. We started out by dropping Lucy off at my parents’, driving to Lake Placid for Marty’s Ironman race, then down to Western Maryland for Marty’s family vacation, then back to NJ to pick up Lucy and then back home to Pennsylvania. Phew.

IMG_2991.JPG

Ironman Finisher

IMG_2593.JPG

Lake Placid

IMG_2994.JPG

Deep Creek Lake, Md.

It was an exhausting 11 days, not helped by the fact that I got food poisoning midway during our Maryland vacation. Still feeling some mild effects from that, to be honest, but I’m mostly back to normal. And it was worth it – everyone had a wonderful vacation.

It’s unfortunate that tomorrow is Aug. 1 – it means almost back to reality for me at work. The summer months are largely 9-5 with free weekends and it’s so easy to fall into that relaxed routine. Sadly 10 months out of the year are the polar opposite of that so I thoroughly enjoy relaxing summers like we’ve had so far. It’s nice to not be on the go and not being required to be anywhere for the most part. I got to see friends and family but still had lots of time to read, relax and – most importantly – nap on the weekends.

While late August marks the real start of the fall athletic season, it’s always this time of year that I start to really want to foster. That sounds like a backwards way to think but I know it’s because fostering gives me a distraction from work with which I am less than satisfied. I honestly do not know if Lucy is ready for another foster but if I think what appears to be a good fit comes along, we will foster again and sooner rather than later.

I’m sure we’ll have a few more highlights as the summer winds down and hopefully I’ll be checking back in soon with a new foster!

Life with Novalee

It’s been just shy of two weeks since we brought this nugget home:
IMG_5753

(I know, she’s a model)

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

After the first couple of days we were able to keep them in the same room if we were home and Lucy stayed on the couch (a place she was used to being after Isaac the Hump Monster stayed with us for 17 months). Gradually Novalee began going over to the couch, sniffing Lucy and then walking away.
12417597_10100954563868289_7162406294868626183_n.jpg

Progress.

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

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

Which means that she is officially listed for adoption!

I know, super fast. But there honestly isn’t anything we can medically do for her and behaviorally she’s house trained, knows basic obedience commands and is great with people. With time she might become better with dogs but I am positive there will be plenty of dog-free homes interested in her.
IMG_5760.JPG

Trust me, I am not getting ahead of myself and thinking we only have a few weeks left with her; adoptions are totally unpredictable. And I absolutely will not rush this process. She needs the right home that understands her future is pretty uncertain when it comes to her spinal issues and the effects it might have on her health down the road.

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

Finally, I got an update from Isaac’s new dad. And it was a great update. His new dad adores him and Isaac is one lucky, spoiled dog.
940943_10100955833963009_5575869367406597181_n.jpg

I was happy but also largely relieved. We hadn’t heard from Isaac’s dad since the Wednesday before Christmas and I was nervous things weren’t going well. To get not only an update but an update as positive as this one is more than I could ask.

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

While bittersweet, this reminds me exactly why I foster.

I’m Back…

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

First, on Dec. 22, Isaac was adopted.
IMG_2034.JPG

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.

11188402_10100762176573969_2969230243700315019_n

“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.

novalee.jpg

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.

IMG_5685.JPG

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

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

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

Because I can’t say no?

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

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

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

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

Good Bye…For Now

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

11898905_10100855551260349_3682610256979871815_n

I don’t think anyone is really this depressed.

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

DSCN0998

Baby Lucy!

bbq

Fat Lucy.

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

IMG_0310

It all started with Nellie (aka Cindy)

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

FullSizeRender(2)

I’m not boring, mom, I’m perfect.

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

A Whole Lot of Nothing

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

At this point I’ve assumed Isaac will be with us for the foreseeable future. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be adopted any time soon so for now he’s ours 🙂 And because he’s ours, I get to dress him up in reindeer costumes (disclaimer: it was for SNORT’s facebook site for Halloween).
IMG_1483

Because there’s nothing else to write about, I thought I’d write about 10 things people may or may not know about our dogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions, Decisions

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

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

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

So handsome in his new collar.

So handsome in his new collar.

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

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

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

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

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

One Year of CrossFit

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

His energy is still low. Poor guy.

His energy is still low. Poor guy.

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

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

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

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

Some background for anyone new: I suffered from an eating disorder and exercise addiction for more than six years. I once weighed 90 pounds and my life revolved around food (not eating it) and working out. I did permanent damage to my body (my bone density is crap for a 31-year-old) and in some ways forever changed (not for the good) my approach to food and exercise.
10488222_845473548876612_4318332839581353910_n
HOWEVER, CrossFit has helped all of those issues more than anything else ever has. I am such a better place physically and mentally than a year ago. I care so much less about what I weigh. I care so much more about what I can lift. I eat more often when I’m hungry rather than ignoring my hunger. I eat far more whole food and a lot less processed food. I hit the gym most days of the week but have finally learned to listen to my body and take rest days. I run less but run smarter. CrossFit isn’t for everyone and I’m not going to try and make everyone drink the “CrossFit Koolaid” but it’s been a life changer for me. I’m still not where I want to be in regards to my mental approach to food and fitness, but I’ve made gigantic steps.

A 5k PR with LESS running.

A 5k PR with LESS running.

Now, onto some mindless information about me:

A – Age: 31

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

C – Current Time: 5:30 p.m.

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

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

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

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

H – Hometown: Morristown, N.J.

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

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

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

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

M – Middle Name: Anne.

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

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

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

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

R – Reason To Smile: It’s not Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Day, Two Celebrations

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

I felt so badly that he spent his last year’s birthday being transported to his second foster home after having just left what had been his home for eight years. I think he had a better birthday this year.
IMG_8862

Isaac has been with us twice as long as any other foster and for the most part, this past year with him has flown by. Gosh, I adore him. So much.

Isaac's birthday pup cup.

Isaac’s birthday pup cup.

Handsome boy.

Handsome boy.

The day I brought him home.

The day I brought him home.

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

Lucy thoroughly enjoyed herself at the BBQ.

Lucy thoroughly enjoyed herself at the BBQ.

Originally we were supposed to leave Isaac in Selinsgrove while we traveled to NJ for a long weekend. Our plans changed, though, and I’m glad we got to spend Isaac’s birthday with him.
IMG_8867

A Long Three Days

It’s been quite a week so far. As previously mentioned, Isaac had a vet appointment on Monday afternoon for the purpose of getting some anti-anxiety medication. He happened to get sick that morning but had partially rebounded by our appointment. We were still sent home with some antibiotics for his stomach but he seemed to be on the mend.

Canned pumpkin helps settle dogs' tummies. Isaac didn't quite get it all in his mouth...

Canned pumpkin helps settle dogs’ tummies. Isaac didn’t quite get it all in his mouth…

Tuesday was largely a normal day; Isaac ate a small mix of food, pumpkin, rice and bouillon along with his medication that morning and again in the evening. He didn’t have as much pep as usual but seemed just about back to normal. Then just three hours after his evening meal, he puked. And puked again. And again. And twice more at night while we were sleeping. When we woke up Wednesday, he was lethargic, slightly shaking and had zero appetite. I’m talking, he walked away from a spoonful of peanut butter (his favorite!) without so much as a sniff.

The vet opened at 7 a.m. and I called at 7:02 to make an appointment. I could tell he was losing weight and with no signs of wanting to eat or drink, I knew we had to get him to the vet. When they weighed him, he had lost three pounds in 36 hours. Yikes. They admitted him for IV fluids, IV medication (the same medication we had in pill form that he was no longer eating or keeping down), anti-nausea meds as well as bloodwork and x-rays to make sure nothing too serious was going on.

So pathetic.

So pathetic.

Fortunately it looks like Isaac just had a stomach bug and needed some extra help kicking it since he wasn’t able to eat or drink or take oral medication on his own. He was understandably exhausted when he got home Wednesday night and Thursday morning while we took a little walk he was definitely not as peppy as usual. However, he’s eating the bland food we were sent home with and for now the food and his medicine are staying down.

Looking a little perkier the evening he came home.

Looking a little perkier the evening he came home.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do not know how parents do it. I panic at a mere stomach bug in a dog; granted, Isaac had never once puked in the 12 months we’ve had him so this was super abnormal but still – he just had a stomach bug and I was a nervous wreck.