Happy New Year

January 1, 2014
This year, I resolve to do the following:
1. Spend more one-on-one time with the dogs.  They’re such a bonded little duo-pack, and we’ve had a busy few months, much of our walks are a tangle of leashes and our snuggles are a heap on the floor.  They deserve individual attention.  And while we’re (sort-of) on the topic…
2. Have more on-leash adventures in new places.  Be more frequent participants of the AWLA Pit Crew Bully Walks.  Embrace dog-friendly happy hours, ball games and outdoor activities.
Pit Bull Crew, Alexandria, VA Oct2013

Pit Bull Crew, Alexandria, VA Oct2013

3. Take more pictures of humans than of MJ sleeping.
Example:
Less of this

Less of this.

More of this.

More of this.

3.5. Similarly, I hope to have a family picture that’s not blurry or harried for our 2014 holiday card.  Maybe we’ll wear matching sweaters.  Challenge. Is. On.
4. Practice deepcleansingyogabreathing when Zozo loses his cool at the UPS driver.  Again.  Even after he accepts a treat from the beleaguered delivery man.  I mean, sheesh Pupper, he gave you ‘bits, stop yelling at him to get off your porch.
5. Engage the Little Girl with more appropriate play behavior when she pouts because we won’t let her on the couch/bed/counter.  Otherwise, I suffer through this:
She knows exactly what she's doing.

She knows exactly what she’s doing.

6. Read more, share more, and be more verbally appreciative of our PB&C readers, repost-ers and cheerleaders.  I am more thankful than I can really express.

Dear readers: do you have any NY Resolutions you’re willing to share?

“He needs someone else.”– this is a long one…

June 2013

Our house feels like a circus. Some days, the furbabies stick to their corners and behave in a perfectly civilized manner. Other days, fur and slobber flies, furniture is rearranged and a playful bark and grumble soundtrack underscores our lives. It’s on those occasions when James and I look at each other, sigh, and break out the bully sticks for time out. Recently, we’ve had a lot of coming-and-going, so routines have been interrupted and no one is particularly on his or her best-est behavior.

But it’s home, and we wouldn’t trade the noise, chaos and drool for anything. They’re good dogs. They look out for us, they protect the fortress of home, and they certainly keep us entertained. We’re lucky to have them. When we’re late getting home from work or we over-schedule ourselves and end up spending less time with the dogs than we’d like, when a week goes by since they’ve been for a walk on-leash because we’re feeling too lazy to adventure beyond the yard, I tell myself it’s ok– they certainly don’t care– and I’m not failing them. Things could have been much worse for them.

A little over two years ago, we brought MJ home. I’ve written about her marking me at the shelter. She was one of 8 puppies dropped off from a litter. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) kept four and sent the rest over to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Two puppies from the Arlington location were snatched up right away. The other two, MJ and Freckles, had some health issues that needed to be addressed. We ended up with MJ, and Freckles found a home, too.

MJ settled into the house, announcing her arrival as princess, alpha and snuggle-bug. She didn’t get as big as we expected, but her strength more than made up for her more-compact stature.

Freckles grew into a 75 lb. goofball. Unfortunately, Freckles was kept outside for the first two years of his life. If he was mistreated further, I don’t know and I honestly don’t want to know. I can’t handle that.  He was surrendered back to the AWLA, which is the best thing anyone could have done for him.

We began following Frankie’s story shortly after the 2012 winter holidays. He’s great with people. Kids? No problem. He’ll sit on your lap or sleep at your feet. This is a pup who needs to be a family dog. For months Freckles looked for a furever home. Late this spring, we sighed in relief when someone came forward and finally adopted Freckles, now Frankie.

A couple of weeks later, he was back at the shelter. I found out about his return to AWLA through Peace, Love & Fostering’s blog. I reached out to the blogger, asking her questions about Frankie. What’s going on? How come he’s back? What’s The Problem?

Maybe we can foster him…

That’s a huge step for us. We felt particularly pulled toward Frankie’s journey since he was right there, round and silly, beside our baby girl when we took her home. I know we could never have handled two puppies, but my head starts down the “but what if…” path. The least we could do is welcome him into our home while he waits for the right person or family. Could I really, truly welcome a new furbaby into my life and give him up when the time came? Would I become a foster-failure?

We were put in contact with a member of AWLA’s staff, who answered our questions. Great with people. Settles well. Basic manners: check. His Big Issue is that he doesn’t always play appropriately with other dogs. He’s not aggressive, he’s just … rude. We scheduled a date to bring MJ and Zozo by to play. If that worked, we’d try an overnight. If that went off without a hitch, Frankie would come hang out with us for a while.

I had visions of the siblings meeting and running towards each other, crashing together with love and sniffs and kisses as they remember the other from their early days. Everything was soft-focus and pastel-ly in this dream.

That’s not how it happened. MJ couldn’t care less about the dog on the other side of the fence. We brought them together in a play yard, and things got a little heated. Frankie tried to play, MJ told him to back the hell up. We did a lap of the yard to let everyone settle. We tried again. Same outcome.

It wasn’t going to work for them.

Out of curiosity, we ran the same drill with Zozo, with absolutely no issue. Zozo was calm enough to let Frankie do what he needed to do to assert his dominance and begin playing.

We agreed with the shelter staff. It wasn’t the right fit. Someone else is out there for him, and he just needs to be a little more patient.

I got a little weepy on the way home from the shelter, shedding tears of frustration and disappointment and heartbreak. I didn’t need to be a hero, but I thought that maybe we could help. We tried. That’s all we could do.

Except I write this blog and, as of June 20, 2013, Frankie still needs a home. He’s wonderful. He’s charming and silly and snuggly. Peace, Love & Fostering has several excellent posts about Frankie and his winning pupsonality. He deserves a great home with a seasoned dog owner who will praise his successes and give him a safe place to learn to work on his impulses. Most likely, he needs to be The Only Dog unless your dog is a pup who just “gets him”.

If you, or anyone you know, is looking for a lap-sitting, adventure-loving sidekick, please contact AWLA and schedule time to meet Frankie.  You won’t regret it.

and now, I humbly descend from my soapbox.

—————————-

NOTE: The photographs featured in this blog post were taken by Dirty Paw Photography for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA). The photos are featured on Frankie’s adoption page on th AWLA website.

Introducing…

April 5, 2011

It’s a typical Tuesday night.  We’re all curled up in our respective corners making a dent in our DVR’d shows.

IMG_0078 IMG_0061

I’m noodling around on my laptop, and I happen to start scrolling through the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s (AWLA) adoptable dogs site.  How does this happen?  Not sure, although it probably went something like: Facebook, ModCloth, Netflix, LinkedIn, AWLA.  (All roads pretty much lead to “dog” at this point.)

I scroll through the adorable mugs of dogs available for rescue and adoption, and I almost drop the computer.  There’s a picture of a small, round puppy that’s mostly pink snout.  Her ears are tucked back against her head and she’s looking with blue (are they blue?) eyes at the camera in true doggy-fishbowl fashion.  We take a look at her profile, but there’s not much there.

Her name is MJ.  Her dad’s a red-nosed Pit Bull and her mom’s a Catahoula Leopard Hound (go ahead and click that link; I’ve never heard of it either).  She’s from a litter of 11, 8 of which were dropped off for rescue.  She’s been at AWLA for over a week, which is odd since puppies don’t really hang around much.

It can’t hurt to file an application, right?  Get to the head of the line, since it looks like she’s just been cleared for adoption…

We submit our app, and then we promptly rearrange our work schedules in order to stop by AWLA to meet MJ first thing in the morning.  We’re giggly.  We ask Doodle and the Diva what they’d think about having a little sister.  Just like when we were waiting for Zo, it’s an anxious, restless night.

April 6, 2011

We’re up with the sun, which isn’t super-abnormal considering both pets get nibble-y around 6.  Everyone’s working from home until we can head over to the League at noon, and it’s the longest. 6. Hours. Ever.

We’re by the front desk the moment the adoption area opens for the day, and we proudly say “We’re here for MJ.”  I, apparently, shout it, because the woman behind the desk remarks on our (my) enthusiasm.

A volunteer takes us back to a puppy room, which is a small play room with a drain in the middle of the floor and toys safe for baby teeth.  She says she’ll be back, and we sit on the bench and fidget.  We don’t talk.

The volunteer returns with a small, pale cannonball of a puppy, who is pulling at the leash so she can come say hello.  Doing that funny Pit Bull “I can’t bend my elbows” strut.  She winds between our legs like a cat, licking our shins and hands and anything her tongue can reach. James pulls a toy from a tub and they start to play tug.  I sit on the floor, and MJ leaves the toy and wiggles over to me.  Her rump is the perfect size to nook in my crossed legs.  She touches her nose to mine (her eyes are most definitely blue), she sniffs, and then pees all over my jeans.

I’ve been marked.  James laughs and the volunteer apologizes.  It doesn’t matter.  There is no way we’re not bringing this girl home with us.  She’s mine now.

Ours.  I mean ours.

IMG_0100photo1