Lady’s New Home

Foster number seven is in the books.

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Lady with her new mom and foster brother, Arnie

This morning I drove Lady to her forever home; she has two wonderful parents and a Boston Terrier brother, Arnie, who was already madly in love with Lady before I left. Both parents are older and retired; they’re home almost all the time and when they’re not, Lady will have Arnie for company. I think Arnie is ecstatic with that arrangement.

This one was hard for a lot of reasons. Lady was the first foster I handled by myself. While fostering has always been “my” thing, before I moved out here I had someone else living with me to help. Now I’m out here alone. I got really lucky with Lady, though, because she was the easiest foster I’ve ever had. Not the best because I can’t pick a favorite, but the easiest. Her health issues were minimal, she got along well with Lucy and her energy level was perfect for my small apartment. Her housetraining was the biggest struggle but compared to having two dogs who don’t get along (ahem, Isaac and Lucy) or a dog who had serious health issues (Cindy aka Nellie) or dogs who barked a lot (ahem, Buddy and Blossom), she was a breeze.

It’s also hard because it’s been a rough few months. I crammed a lot into just over four months – ending a job I’d held for six-plus years, accepting a new job in a totally new career field, a move, new city, a new foster and the end of a long-term relationship. So “losing” Lady is another big event in a short period of time.

But I am ridiculously happy I fostered her. She kept me occupied and busy and I think Lucy liked having the company. Selfishly, it was also really nice to have a dog that was utterly in love with me, not just me with her. Every time we took a car ride, she sat in the passenger seat and just stared at me. When I relaxed on the couch, if she wasn’t asleep she was keeping an eye on me to make sure she didn’t lose sight of me. It was so gratifying to see love in a dog’s eyes.

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Always watching me.

On the one overnight trip I took with her (to my parents’ house), she didn’t handle the separation well when I went out for a few hours. She didn’t freak out, but she apparently sat on top of the couch and stared out the window waiting for me to come back. It makes me worry about her first few days in her new home but I hope she settles in quickly.

As with every foster, there are very specific things I want to remember about her that made her unique:

Her love of anything soft. A pillow, a bookbag (which I would argue isn’t all that soft), a blanket – if it was soft and on the floor for even a minute, it became a bed for her.

Her three bottom front teeth. They were the cutest chicklets ever and I was so happy they didn’t have to come out during her dental surgery.

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That she was mostly deaf. I loved being able to catch her sleeping before she noticed me. And being deaf didn’t hinder her in the least.

Her wardrobe. She was the second dog I’ve ever had who genuinely needed to wear sweaters because she got so cold so easily. All the generous donations we received helped keep her warm (and cute) in the cold.

How after the first week her personality came out and she started doing her happy dance for treats and food. She gets so excited for food and runs around in circles while waiting for her treats.

Watching her speedy little legs come running after me whenever she lost sight of me. Her eyesight was perfect, that’s for sure.

Her snoring. For a pug-mix, she sure snored a lot and loudly! I’m going to miss knowing she was on the floor right next to my bed every night. It was so comforting – for both of us, I’m sure.

How she frequently slept with her head in the air, as if she didn’t want to actually fall asleep for fear she’d miss something but just couldn’t manage to stay awake.

And there are certain pictures that capture her best:

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So regal

So this was a tough one. She’s been bounced around a lot but she now has a forever home that is so excited to have her and I’m sure she’ll fall in love with them.

Two Dogs, One Apartment

Sorry for the gap between blogs. It’s been a really tough week personally so the blog took a backseat.

Lucy came back home about 10 days ago (I think?) and finally got to meet Lady. And, as with everything thus far with Lady, the meet and greet was seamless. SNORT recommends separating foster dogs from their fur siblings for the first few days in a new foster home but Lady had been here for 10 days already. Plus, in the few days before Lucy came home I’d been able to see Lady interact with other dogs and she was fine. She showed interest in other dogs but honestly that’s about it – no lunging toward them, no excited hopping around, certainly no aggression. Still, I was ready to separate them with a gate but that ended up being totally unnecessary.

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  Does this face look like she’d cause trouble?!

When Lucy walked in the apartment, there was some mutual sniffing between the dogs and then Lady went over to her bed in the corner and Lucy hopped up on the couch and that’s where they spent 90 percent of their first night together. And since. Lucy and I do play together on the floor most days and while Lady frequently comes over to inspect, she has no concept of play or interest in toys, gets bored quickly and retreats back to her bed.

The biggest change is getting myself out the door in the morning. I do as much prep as I can before my 5:30 a.m. CrossFit class but I have only an hour from when I get home from class until I leave for work so the process of taking care of two dogs (breakfast, potty breaks – usually multiple since neither dog will do all their business in one trip) and getting myself ready is going to need to be refined. But we’re making progress.

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Just an obligatory cute photo of Lucy.

The only negative is that Lady has severely regressed on her housetraining. Every day I come home from work either at lunch or at the end of the day and she’s peed. Sometimes twice a day. The obvious thought would be she’s marking her territory. Lady comes across as anything but an alpha female but the timing of her regression and Lucy coming back is too coincidental to rule it out. But if she is marking, she should be spayed soon and I’m really (really) hoping that ends the marking.

Also, Lady has completely come out of her shell. Don’t get me wrong, she still spends a lot of time in her bed, but she is so. freaking. happy. every time I walk in the door. She’s started hopping around and running in circles. It’s so heartwarming to see; it makes me realize how cruddy she felt (or how scared she was) when I first brought her home.

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Watching from afar as Lucy acts like a maniac.

And while she and Lucy aren’t best buddies, they co-exist perfectly. They each lounge on different ends of the couch while I’m gone, eat in separate areas with a zero issues and have their own go-to spaces in the apartment.

So, I have to say that the fostering-by-myself experiment is going better than I could have expected. If housetraining issues are my biggest concern, I’d say we’re all doing just fine!

A (Deservedly) Spoiled Dog

Friday night, I had five packages waiting for me; four were for Lady. She now has a wardrobe that spans a matching harness and leash to (sparkly) sweaters to an outdoor coat.

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Thanks to wonderful SNORT supporters and family and friends, Lady is not only warm, but she has an entire wardrobe!

We went to the vet Thursday night and so far so good. She’s still on meds for kennel cough and Lyme and we started an anti-yeast medication to get her itchies under control. Right now that remains the most obvious issue – she is still very, very itchy, so we’re working on that.

She’s also put on two-plus pounds! That’s my girl! She adores treats, peanut butter and mealtime so it is zero surprise she’s putting on weight. She’s now started whining when I’m not fast enough with the treats – just like a normal dog!

I can also see why she’s inclined to be skinny – like every pug I’ve ever met, she follows me everywhere. If she can hear me, that is. I’ve quickly figured out she is partially hard of hearing. Whenever I come home, she usually stays fast asleep because she hasn’t heard me open the door. I kind of love it, though; I get to see her all curled up and peaceful before she wakes up.

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Lady is also getting to be so excited when she finally realizes I’m home. She runs right over and waits for me to kneel down and pet her. She puts her wee little paws on my lap for closer snuggles. I love it.

And we’re now t-minus four days until I pick up Lucy; I’m more than anxious to see how that goes. Because of her kennel cough, I haven’t let Lady near dogs in the apartment complex but at this point she isn’t contagious anymore so I’m hoping to let her meet a dog or two before introducing her to Lucy so I can see how she is around dogs. Today she spotted a dog across the street and was super interested – in a good way. So I’m optimistic (for once).

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I just adore this dog. She was sweet from the start but now she’s starting to become a bit more outwardly happy and it melts my heart.

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!

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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Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Today Buddy turned seven years old!

"I'm a handsome devil, aren't I?"

“I’m a handsome devil, aren’t I?”

He celebrated by barking in the wee hours of the morning – I guess he wanted to start the party early! That’s an entirely separate issue for another post but we’ve been hitting stretches of 2-3 nights in a row where he feels the need to wake everyone else up at 2 a.m. just because he happens to be awake!

Anyway, it’s been a pretty normal and SOGGY day around here. I ran to PetSmart over lunch to grab more canned food for him (yet another post for another day!) and I couldn’t resist getting a birthday/Easter toy for him – and Lucy because I know too well that bringing home one toy just won’t cut it.

Birthday/Easter toys

Birthday/Easter toys

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These past few weekends have been pretty rough on everyone. Marty and I are in the midst of the spring sports seasons and both of us were out of the house just about all day this past Saturday and Sunday (don’t worry, someone checked on the doggies!). It’s been particularly rough because, until today, the weather had turned absolutely perfect and I felt so badly they were stuck inside all day. Plus our apartment is a disaster, until yesterday we had just about no food and the clutter is piling up to the point where it’s driving me nuts.

Fortunately there are only a few more crazy weekends left (I hope) until our version of summer begins, which means an actual 9-5 job with no work on the weekends! Since I started working in this field eight years ago I’ve lived for the summer months when I get to have normal hours and a normal schedule.

But, back to Buddy! Late last week he was fully cleared for surgery; we got all of his bloodwork back and our vet has everything they need to proceed with surgery which is scheduled for…Monday! At 8:10 Monday morning I’ll be dropping Buddy off to get neutered (poor guy) and to have dental surgery.

Those two surgeries in and of themselves aren’t “major” surgeries (males might disagree) but because of Buddy’s trachea I’m very, very nervous. Now, he has to have the dental surgery. A lot of his teeth are loose (I’m pretty sure one fell out the other day!), abscessed and infected. While his collapsing trachea makes surgery trickier than normal, if he wants to stay healthy for a long time, he must get his teeth fixed. Of all the things we were concerned about with Buddy – his eye, his trachea, etc. – my vet was most concerned with his teeth. Infections can’t be ignored and that’s basically what he has going on inside his mouth!

I’m always nervous about surgery with smooshy-faced dogs because of their already existing breathing problems but I’m particularly nervous about Buddy because of the added issue with the trachea. The good news is the surgery is very early in the day and normally tracheas cause problems shortly after surgery when the trach tube is taken out. He’ll have plenty of care all day after the surgery and if necessary we’ll transport him to an overnight vet for extra observation.

All that being said, it’s his birthday so I’m off to celebrate with Buddy, Lucy and their new toys (the squeakers to which the doggies have definitely found…). 🙂

"Mine!"

“Mine!”

Family Time

On Saturday afternoon, my parents drove in from New Jersey for an overnight visit out here in Selinsgrove.

Sunday breakfast at their hotel.

Sunday breakfast at their hotel.

Marty unfortunately left around noon for a track meet in New York City and was gone by the time my parents arrived. However, that gave Lucy time to prepare for my dad’s visit.

Mentally preparing

Mentally preparing

Yes, she’s still beyond weird about my dad. She does slightly better on her own “turf” and let him pet her a whopping two times, but that’s better than normal. Again, we cannot figure out for the life of us why she’s scared of my dad. It remains a mystery to which only Lucy can solve.

Saturday was a nice day (meaning above 40) so I took Lucy for a nice long walk with my parents. This was the aftermath:

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Very clearly out of shape.

The walk, combined with the apparent stress of my dad’s presence and the loss of an hour of sleep last night meant I woke up to a very sleepy dog this morning.

She did not want to be awake. Or photographed.

She did not want to be awake.

My parents stopped by after breakfast and while Lucy let my dad pet her goodbye, she mostly maintained a very safe distance.

"I still don't trust him."

“I still don’t trust him.”

All in all, a fabulous weekend for me and Lucy. It was finally above freezing, I got plenty of relaxing in and I got to see my parents for probably the last time until our spring semester is over. I don’t like being so far from my family in New Jersey but it does make these weekend visits extra special.

It’s Like She Knows

Snowy is set to go to her forever home tomorrow morning. She may be set but I am not. However, as I told my mom, it’s not like this ending is exactly a shocker. The point of fostering is to get them better and then let them go.

We haven’t done anything terribly different the past few days – work on Friday, work on Saturday, bum time today – but it’s as if Snowy knows she’s leaving us because she’s been extra cuddly.

Quite comfy on Daddy's lap.

Quite comfy on Daddy’s lap.

For the past two months or so, Snowy has gotten into a routine of coming up into our bedroom every night after she’s let out for the last time and crawling right into her dog bed which is on my side of the bed. It’s been working great – she’s with us at night but not with us in our bed and she falls right asleep.

Well, this afternoon I went upstairs to take my normal Sunday afternoon nap and Snowy came upstairs with me, as she usually does. And then she crawled up onto our bed.

Not Snowy's bed.

Not Snowy’s bed.

It’s been months since she tried to get up onto our bed but she hopped right up this afternoon and I absolutely didn’t have the heart to make her get down. We only have her for one more night and I selfishly I wanted her snuggle with me this afternoon. So we took one last nap together. 🙂

What I Want to Remember

I write a lot about problems, stories and events surrounding my dog(s) and it’s fun to look back every once in a while and read about what we did on a certain day or what it was like to travel with Lucy as a puppy, etc.

Baby Lucy

Baby Lucy

However, one thing I noticed after Cindy (Nellie) was adopted was how much I didn’t write about. What I mean is I forgot to write about the things made Cindy, well, Cindy. I wrote all about her vet visits, health problems and how sweet she was but I didn’t really capture the small details during her time with us. As someone who loves writing, that makes me upset at myself as my goal of writing should be to capture the real essence of something, in this case a dog.

For example, one of the things I remember most is how when she was lying down, she’d exhale so hard her cheeks would puff out. Or how she’d practically sit on a person’s feet so they would pet her.

Paws crossed like a lady.

Paws crossed like a lady.

But sadly a lot of the specific details don’t go much beyond that. So before Snowy leaves us, I wanted to document for myself what it is about Snowy that makes her unique; the small details I don’t want to forget about after she’s gone:

– Snowy’s nubbin. Most bulldogs’ tails don’t wag because they don’t really have tails. Lucy just wiggles her entire butt. Snowy’s little nubbin, though, shakes and shakes and shakes! Sometimes all you have to do is just talk to her and her nubbin starts going.

– She’s not really a snuggler in the same way Cindy was. Don’t get me wrong, she must be near a human at all times but if we’re on the couch, she’s content to just lay with you, not on you. She’ll certainly let you snuggle her and occasionally she’ll rest her head on my lap but mostly she just wants someone near her.

Chillin'

Chillin’

– Her hoppy dance. She is just so freaking happy when someone comes home that she hops around on her back legs. It starts with a big head bob/swing to get her momentum going and then she just hops and hops all over the place.

– Her version of “play.” Snowy doesn’t really get, or care to get, the whole idea of fetch or tug of war. She’d rather grab a chew toy and run up onto the couch with it and then repeat that process over and over until pretty much all the toys are up on the couch.

Hoarder

Hoarder

– Mealtime. Her food bowl NEVER winds up where it started. Sometimes it only moves a matter of feet, sometimes it winds up in a different room!

– Her belches. They could rival the belch of any human in both volume and length. And smell. And they happen after every single meal, without fail.

– Her love of the outdoors. Minus when it’s so cold outside it’s dangerous, she loves being outside and loves going for walks. However, when she decides she’s done with her business, she sprints to our front door to wait for us to let her in. She has some serious speed.

Yay, people and grass under my paws!

“Yay, people to pet me and grass under my paws!”

– Her ability to sleep sitting up. I know it’s common for dogs to look like they’re dozing while sitting up, but Snowy is the master of it. She’ll sleep sitting up and snore while she’s at it, no less. A true master.

– Her distaste for healthy treats. Lucy will gobble down carrots, bananas, green beans, etc. Snowy curls up her lips the minute a healthy treat approaches her mouth and if I happen to get it actually in her mouth, it gets spit right back out.

– How sweet she is. There is not a mean bone in her body even though, after all she’s been through, she has every right to be a cranky, angry dog.

"I know, I'm pretty darn perfect."

“I know, I’m pretty darn perfect.”

Obviously we’ll miss her beyond belief but I know she will thrive in her forever home because that’s the kind of dog she is!

The Stress of Holiday Travel – Part I

Hard to believe, but one week ago Marty, Lucy, Snowy and I were in the midst of our 36 hours of Thanksgiving travel. As I mentioned before, I was pretty stressed out about traveling with Snowy for a whole bunch of reasons. For the past two weeks or so she had reverted back to leaving messes on our carpet pretty much every day. We think it’s due to separation anxiety but the last thing I wanted was to take her to visit families and have her make a mess everywhere.

Plus, she was in heat and we found out that some of the blood spots we were finding on the carpet were due to a small cut on the pad of her paw. Not exactly a great formula for being good house guests.

But, we figured that if separation anxiety was the main cause of her messes then we could keep that under control on the trip since she’d never be left alone.

Travel buddies

Travel buddies

As we were almost at Marty’s parents’ house I realized I’d forgotten to pack carpet cleaner so we made a pit stop to pick some up. I also packed Snowy’s disposable diapers. We hadn’t gotten the reusable ones from S.N.O.R.T. yet and I knew we needed something in case she was ever left alone.

All in all the trip wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be. Snowy had zero accidents, slept in the guest room with us and we had minimal need for the carpet cleaner I insisted we stop to buy; there were a few tiny spots from her paws but that was it.

I did put a diaper on her during Thanksgiving dinner so we could eat in peace and not wonder what she was doing in the family room by herself but other than that it was totally manageable.

See, Mom? I'm an angel.

See, Mom? I’m an angel.

We’re a little worried when we take a longer trip over Christmas as we hope to spend upwards of six days in New Jersey visiting friends and family – at some point Snowy will be left alone and that’s when I’m worried her separation anxiety will kick in. Hopefully we’ll have her reusable diapers by then which will ease my mind a bit.

Just a cute picture of Lucy resting on Snowy's paw.

Just a cute picture of Lucy resting on Snowy’s paw.

But, this most recent trip was not nearly as stressful as I’d imagined it would be so I’m optimistic we’ll manage Christmas travel just fine.