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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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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Buddy Found His Forever Home

This evening I dropped Buddy off at his forever home.

Sebastian (L) and Buddy (R)

Sebastian (L) and Buddy (R)

As is the norm, I didn’t say much of anything leading up to his adoption because until the foster dogs are actually in their homes, I don’t like to count my chickens before they’ve hatched!

On the way to meet his family!

On the way to meet his family!

Buddy is a very lucky boy, though. His family actually lives in the same town as us! I know, the odds of that are practically zero because I live in the middle of nowhere, but he is literally a 90-second drive away. His family is also a “pug family.” Their current pug, Sebastian, is a 10-year-old rescue pug (and looks like Buddy’s dad!). Their previous pug (I think her name was Sassy) recently passed away and the family was looking for a buddy for Sebastian. So Buddy will now be Sebastian’s buddy!

Like I did with Snowy, I wanted to make a list of sorts about what I want to remember about Buddy:

– He is a Velcro pug. Wherever we (Marty and me) were, so was Buddy.

It's my bed but it's Buddy's world.

It’s my bed but it’s Buddy’s world.

– He LOVES his walks. At least twice a day I took Buddy for a walk. I’m going to gain approximately 10 pounds now that he’s gone.

Always up for a walk.

Always up for a walk.

– On a similar note, Buddy would only poop on a walk; I think once in the months we had him did he actually poop in our yard.

– Also related, Buddy would spin around and around in a circle, maybe 4-5 times, before pooping. At least he gave us warning. And it was as hilarious as it sounds.

– Buddy was/is a barker. Barks at the TV. Barks at the train that goes by. Barks when no one is paying attention to him. If he were sticking around we’d definitely do some behavior training with him but his new family can now address that issue if it bothers them!

– He and Lucy got along but I wouldn’t call them best buddies. It’s hard to describe. They didn’t not get along and a lot of times they would cuddle. But they also didn’t really play together. It’s almost like they were just aware of each other’s presence and liked having company, but that was as far as it went.

Ok, they were really cute when they cuddled.

Ok, they were really cute when they cuddled.

– Buddy enjoyed car rides but only if he was given free reign of the car, meaning he hated car rides with us because we made him ride in his crate. Otherwise I would have spent every car ride keeping Buddy off my lap while I drove; not safe, not fun.

Buddy looking deceptively happy in his crate; trust me, he was not happy.

Buddy looking deceptively happy in his crate; trust me, he was not happy.

– Buddy’s cough. He sounded like a goose and it was only bad when he got excited. Alarming at first, normal after a while.

– The way he usually left some breakfast or dinner on his chin.

– His sweet, sweet eyes. He really did have the most soulful eyes.

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Man, we’ll definitely miss Buddy. Unlike Cindy and Snowy, he wasn’t a mill dog and knew exactly how to be a pet. He was house-trained, knew what toys and walks were and was used to life in a home. For that reason he was definitely our “easiest” foster but certainly not easy to say good-bye to. I just love his personality and little quirks. I’ll miss his big eyes staring at me when he wanted to be on my lap and I’ll miss having a shadow follow me around the apartment.

I’m going to be a wreck, as usual, for more than a few days. He even tried to run out the door after us when it was time for us to leave. 😦 It’s so sad to say good-bye and I’ll be thinking of how he’s doing every day. Even now I think about Cindy and Snowy just about every day and wonder how they’re doing (even when I know they’re doing spectacularly!).

What next? This time I’m going to try and take a serious break from fostering to make our lives a bit easier for a while but I know we’ll be back at it after not too long!

Back to a Family of Three

This morning Snowy went home with her forever family.

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I didn’t want to plaster their faces on the internet without their permission, but the parents have three daughters and two other dogs waiting at home (a pug and a Frenchie!). There is a fenced-in backyard that I know Snowy will absolutely adore and from what I gather, the mother is able to spend most of the day at home which is Snowy’s version of heaven.

I made sure to give Snowy (whose new name will be Violet, named after the character from Downtown Abbey) a lot of hugs and kisses yesterday and this morning before they picked her up. Lucy did, too.

One last snuggle

One last snuggle

This is – obviously – by far the worst part of fostering. It’s horrible to drive off (in the case of Nellie) or watch the dog drive off with her new family (as was the case today) and not be with them anymore. It is so easy to get used to being a two-dog household and what makes it hard is that I know Lucy is impacted, too. In fact, she ran after the car this morning as it drove away with Snowy in it. 😦

So I did what any good “parent” does – I spoiled her with a new toy.

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Yeah, it was destroyed in 10 minutes but for those 10 minutes, Lucy was a very happy dog!

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I’ll be honest, it stinks to say good-bye and I’ll be down in the dumps (to say the least) for a few days. Part of fostering is to get involved enough and care enough about the dog to make them adoptable and we certainly did that with Snowy. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do this all over again because I would, but it is absolutely hard. People ask me all the time how I can give them up and the answer is that we have to. Plus, I am always so happy for the dog who finds that perfect forever home because they deserve it (especially dogs with backgrounds like Nellie and Snowy) and Snowy hit the jackpot with this one. 🙂

Some Updates

First and foremost, Snowy is scheduled for surgery this Thursday. S.N.O.R.T. found a vet in State College who can do Snowy’s surgeries and had an opening for this Thursday – talk about a quick turnaround!

I’ve never been to this surgeon before but he has worked on at least one other S.N.O.R.T. dog and comes highly recommended. We’re hoping that Snowy will be able to get both eye surgeries (entropian and distichia if needed) as well as her spay. As with any dog but especially bulldogs, most surgeons don’t commit to definitively doing all surgeries at one time. It really depends on how well a dog tolerates anesthesia and with short nosed dogs like bullies, anesthesia is always tricky. Lucy had four surgeries done at once (cherry eye surgery, nares surgery, elongated soft palette surgery and spay surgery) so let’s hope Snowy has similar success!

A cone-headed Lucy recovering from surgeries

A cone-headed Lucy recovering from surgeries

I’ll be dropping Snowy off (and meeting with the surgeon) very early Thursday morning. I did not speak to the surgeon when I scheduled the surgeries but the receptionist said they usually aim to have the dogs return home the day of surgery so I’m crossing my fingers I can pick Snowy up on Thursday afternoon/evening.

Obviously I’m a nervous wreck so I already can’t wait to pick her up hopefully on Thursday!

I think she'll be doing a lot of this for a few days after surgery.

I think she’ll be doing a lot of this for a few days after surgery.

On a similar note, I just received an email from Cindy’s (now Nellie) forever mom who said that Nellie was successfully spayed early last week. I knew she was scheduled for the surgery so I was very glad to get the email saying it had been a success. It apparently wasn’t an easy surgery as she had lots and lots of scarring from all the C-sections she had, but she’s trooper; she’d have to be to endure what she did and still be with us today!

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet with me last spring.

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet.

And finally, we may have turned a corner on housetraining Snowy. I don’t know if it’s because I very (very) firmly yelled at her last week when she made a mess or whether it’s because her UTI is under control or because the anti-anxiety diffuser I bought is working, but she has been accident-free for five of the last six days. Yes, I did just jinx it but I do think this is the longest she’s gone without any form of accident, day or night. The timing couldn’t be better, either, as she’ll be ready for adoption in the very near future.

Our newly housetrained dog??

Our newly housetrained dog??

And on that note, excuse me while I sob into my pillow.

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.

Merry (Early) Christmas

As is the norm, Marty and I celebrate an early Christmas together as we’ll be hitting the road tomorrow for a week with families. It’s easier for us to do our own mini-Christmas here and not lug all our gifts to each other only to have to lug them back after the holidays.

That means the doggies also get an early Christmas! This was Snowy’s first “real” Christmas in life outside the puppy mill so she got a stocking just like Lucy does every year.

Give us the stockings, woman.

Give us the stockings, woman.

Inspecting

Inspecting

The girls each got one nyalone, two tennis balls (two of which Lucy destroyed in less than 15 minutes) and two large peanut butter bones.

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Already hoarding both nylabones.

Already hoarding both nylabones.

Getting super ticked off at the picture-taking.

Getting super ticked off at the picture-taking.

The best bone-chewing position.

The best bone-chewing position.

The girls just rotated on and off the couch – one goes up, the other goes down, etc. – so it was next to impossible to get them together in a picture. This was the best I could do.

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After 10-15 minutes of play time, it was Marty’s and my turn to open our gifts. Snowy was quite intrigued.

"I'm just going to stare at you like a creeper."

“I’m just going to stare at you like a creeper.”

The girls are still playing with their new toys and we’re enjoying one last relaxing night at home before a week of travel.

Lucy and Snowy say Merry Christmas!!

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I’m a Horrible Puppy Parent

Boy do I feel like crap tonight.

So, Snowy is in heat. At least, I’m 99.9% sure she’s in heat. It’s not nearly as…messy (yet) as I’d imagined it would be but because the holidays are coming up and we’re traveling to visit with our families, we cannot have any messes. Therefore, we’re getting some cute little undies for Snowy from S.N.O.R.T. I’m partial to the Aloha pair in red even though they’re not exactly season-appropriate 🙂

Anyway, in order for S.N.O.R.T. to order them I had to measure Snowy’s back because that’s the longest/largest part they have to fit. When I got home today, I pulled the tape measure out of the junk drawer, walked into the living room and Snowy proceeded to flip the heck out. She was absolutely petrified. She ran away from me and all the way upstairs. I felt like utter crud.

The evil tape measure

The evil tape measure

I dropped the tape measure and ran upstairs and she was literally cowering next to my bed. She was panting and so, so frightened. So then I felt like something worse than crud. I obviously had no idea a tape measure would cause her to be so frightened but I feel horribly. I sat with upstairs with her for five minutes calming her down and eventually she followed me back downstairs where Lucy promptly gave her kisses on her ear and seemed very concerned.

Now Snowy’s just lying on the floor. 😦

Sad Snowy

Sad Snowy

Snowy is normally so well-adjusted it’s easy to forget that we really don’t know the conditions from which she came. She was neglected, obviously, and while I like to think (or pray) she didn’t suffer physical abuse, after events like this evening I’m not so sure.