Have I gone crazy!?

I live downtown in an itty-bitty apartment with not just one, but THREE children all under the age of 5 and my hubby. We have a cat. I work as a receptionist at a vet clinic seeing lots of puppies and kittens every day. You'd think I have my fix, right? WRONG! We end up opening our heart and our home to 2 rescues... and that's it! I must be dog-gone mad!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The End of the Line

I'm at a loss to even describe how to end this blog.

And yet, without Pepper, I don't even know how to keep it going.

I was going to blog here about how Pepper was developing behaviors that were getting on my nerves. On everybody's nerves. She could not help but yap and bark at every sound; the recliner, the door, the microwave, a phone ringing in the movie we were watching... But I didn't have the time to do anything other than the usual, "Hush Pepper!" To which she responded by peeing.

Then we had a visit with a potential landlord to meet Aspen (previously known as Bella). See, we were trying to move in to a bigger unit, but the landlord had breed restrictions. She agreed to meet Aspen even though she's a Staffordshire Terrier which is technically a Pit Bull, even though landlords and home owner's insurance don't like the "PB" word, I was very frank with the owner that she would have to meet Aspen and judge for herself. I was half expecting not to get the unit because of Aspen's undeniable Pitty face.

What happened I was not expecting.

Landlord comes in w/ baby in tow. Meets Aspen, who is terrorizing the poor kiddo with kisses. She falls in love with Aspen...

... Pepper is barking and growling, incessantly. Getting louder too, until our ears were blaring and we could not hear ourselves think. Growling at the landlord and the kid. I had to grab her and physically muzzle her mouth shut in order to muffle the sound, but before I was able to hold her, she snaked around me, peeing and pooping on the floor. I was mortified. Landlord asks me, "Is she (pointing at Pepper) always like this?!"

I didn't think so. We've had company before. She maybe growled and paced a little, but was fine if she could escape to the room, be left alone. Was she always like this? The question made me realize it was time to talk to her vet.

I brought her to the clinic and asked if her veterinarian could take a look at her - maybe recommend anti-anxiety medication to settle her down before she scares any other potential landlords away. Maybe she saw the winds of change. Maybe it was Aspen? We've fostered other dogs before, they never bothered her.

I heard a shriek while at the reception area, but I didn't even realize it was her. Her vet said she came unglued, turning blue, lunging for her face, peeing and pooping, squealing unprovoked at the top of her lungs.

And it all goes downhill from here.

I trust this veterinarian whole-heartedly. She's a woman I admire personally and look up to - the kind of person I "want to be when I grow up". She would not have brought up euthanasia if there was any other way.

Realistically, I had to face the fact that Pepper may have psychological issues for which operant conditioning and positive reinforcement could not help. The danger of trying medications is, that like hormonal or mood-altering medications for humans, if the medication is not effective it can actually make things worse. Way worse. She could lose all bite inhibition and be aggressive. I also had to face the fact that I could not keep my children away from Pepper 100% of the time for the rest of her life. Not even close. She was a ticking time-bomb. Re-homing was not an option. And she was a threat to my babies, even if unintentionally.

As I type all this, I still feel like I sold her out. What if all this behavior was my fault? I didn't take care of her right. She wasn't always like this - why did I do this to her? Or was she and I was blissfully ignorant? Did I have her euthanized because I preferred a 3 bedroom home with a yard for my children over her? No. When I looked at the place, I pictured Pepper as a part of the home; finally having a yard to run around in come summer time, laying on her bed in front of the fire place next winter. Is it fair that I was either going to feel guilty for putting her down or feel guilty for choosing a dog over the well-being of my entire family? No! Never before had I thought of Pepper versus kids/cat/husband. We were all in this together! I was willing to accept that moving out of that one bedroom place was going to be difficult because I owned a Pitbull (Pit, Staffie, whatever... same thing on an insurance policy). I would've stayed there and not have given up Aspen for a bigger apartment. I didn't euthanize Pepper because of an apartment. I had to because she wasn't well and the potential that my children might get hurt was not worth the risk.

But no matter how I look at it, 2 weeks later as I'm writing this last blog I'm bawling my eyes out and it's still my fault. And the gap that is left in my heart aches so much I don't even know what to do with myself. We moved in two Saturdays ago and since then I've been working myself to exhaustion with cleaning, moving, and unpacking to the point of driving myself sick because I don't know what it's like to sit and relax without Pepper on my lap. I have not been able to turn on my laptop since.

To me she looked ok. It wasn't like Max, who was visibly tired and physically hurting. She was fine on my lap, watching a movie, riding in the car....

I couldn't prolong it or delay it. I would've changed my mind. I didn't want to wait until she became something else - something different from the Pepper I knew all year. I took her to the clinic early that Saturday morning, sat with her in my lap as she was wrapped in her favorite blanket. She got an injection of a strong sedative that put her straight to sleep, before receiving the final injection. As she fell asleep in my arms I told her what a good girl she was, what awesome things she got to do that would've never happened if she stayed at the pound. And I told her that it wasn't her fault, and I was not mad at her. I told her she didn't have to experience fear or anxiety ever again. I told her I had planned a lot of fun things for the summer, and that I was sad we weren't going to do them now. And I asked her to forgive me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Adding another Terr...ier

I enjoy my activities with Pepper. She finally got the hang of going jogging with me. Her training is still held behind by her nervousness, but Paul reminded me how much she has improved. She used to be afraid to take a treat from my hand. Now she begs for treats! She was practically anorexic. Now she's more of a resource guarder. She growled at everybody. Now she greets everyone at least for a few seconds before she decides to growl.

And yet I know that she is bonded to me more than anyone else in my family. And while she tolerates my kids it doesn't necessarily mean she likes them.

Cue "Bella":

Bella came to our radar through Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue when she was dropped off at the Mat-Su pound REALLY pregnant. The poor little pit bull terrier was dropped off at the pound during the night too. She was pulled by the rescue and fostered in Wasilla.

Bella turned out to be a total love bug. For the rest of her pregnancy and her delivery all she wanted was to have someone pet her. She followed her foster mom around the house, dragging her big pregnant belly around.

She delivered 8 puppies, and by the time they were weaned you could tell she was done with being a Mom. You could also tell she was only used for breeding and didn't know what it was like to be a companion animal; though she craved it. She didn't want to raise puppies, she wanted to sit on your lap and chew raw-hides. Got excited about playing fetch but didn't quite know what to do with the ball.

Since foster mom had 4 out of 8 rambunctious puppies left, I took Bella to foster and give her a break. Pepper tolerates her, although she doesn't want to play with her - but Pepper is kind of a grumpy old soul and it takes her a while before she wants to play with anyone anyways. Leo goes from threatening to scratch to rubbing himself against her, I swear that cat is bi-polar.

But when we get home, the kids all jump on the sofa and she jumps in the middle of them to cuddle and give them all kisses. Caleb, our toddler, can lay on her to watch TV and she doesn't mind it at all. I think the only adjustment is that when she gets too excited she can easily knock the kids over and they don't appreciate that much. But on the other hand, she's so gentle and careful around them that she hardly ever does.

Considering Paul changed her name to "Aspen" and we have a coat, a gentle-lead harness to teach her how to walk without pulling (and holy moley can that dog mush!), I'm pretty sure once she's spayed and vaccinated we are the ones to adopt her. Even to the greatest home, I don't think we can let her leave.

She's housebroken by instinct, doesn't have a chewing complex, seldom barks. She knows sit and waits for you to release her before she'll eat her food after you put the bowl down in front of her. She's only about 30 lbs and shorter than Caleb. It hasn't been an inconvenience at all.

If anything her face is so funny. Her expressions are hilarious! Specially when she's trying to play but not quite sure what to do with you. It's a little painful when I sit down, and she sees Pepper jump up on my lap, and she jumps up too. She puts her front paws on my shoulder and licks my ear, tries to hug me like she's one of the kids.

And she tunes into Paul like no other. She's constantly watching for him, waiting for his permission, and for his affection.

Well I don't call this blog "Dog-gun' mad" for no reason. But it feels like our family is complete. It's odd that I go to work, see a bunch of cute puppies and doggies and kitties, and the only thing I think about is how bad I want to get home to cuddle and play with mines.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Dog Named Max

I know this is Pepper's blog. Generally, I write about my adventures with Pepper, although I've kind of fallen behind on that. Occasionally, I will foster a dog and will write about the foster dog and their journey to their forever home.

Max's story, however, is one that has taken me quite a bit to write...

I knew Max from work. His owner was an older lady who loved him deeply and visited us often. At one point this year, however, the visits were further and further apart.

The first couple of phone calls that built up to my decision were from his owner. She was distressed about finding a home for Max, simply because she was moving to another assisted living facility that wouldn't allow her to keep him. Now, don't be quick to judge this woman; these phone calls were hard for her to make. She rescued Max from the pound back around 2005 or sooner and he was her companion since! Communication was iffy; she had no phone (she would borrow one from a friend if she could), and her mailing address didn't seem to work.

Then, before Thanksgiving, I answered a phone call and immediately recognized her voice: "How much does euthanasia cost at your clinic?" I gave her an estimate, and she asked me if the cost included the chance to be in the room with the pet as they pass. Somehow I knew that this is not really what she wanted, so I drew the boldness to ask, "What's going on with Max?" She said, with a very broken voice, "They are moving me to a new assisted living facility this Sunday. If I don't find a place for Max by then, they will drop him off at the pound to have him put down. I don't know who would want to adopt an old dog like him, but I don't have the money to afford having him put down at your clinic and I just don't know what to do..." I put her on hold, confirmed with the honey, and came back on the line. I offered her the option of surrendering Max to me. I knew it was hard to communicate with her outside her calls, so I told her I would be more than happy to take Max until I could find a permanent home for him. And it would release her financially of having to make a decision either way. She was more than thrilled and she gave me an address where I could meet her on Saturday.

I went to pick up Max and as usual, he was happy to see me. Seemed happy to go outside, although both dog and owner were a bit stiff walking in the snow and ice. I lifted Max, all 83 lbs, by myself to the backseat of my SUV (and my back took it's revenge on me later), and dog and lady said goodbye. The lady signed Max over to me and left me with some food and some instructions for his care... mentioned something about me being "God-sent", although I certainly didn't feel it. As I drove away Max was obviously disappointed that the lady wasn't in the car with us and when we got home, he seemed too depressed to eat or move around much.

When he did move, he seemed very stiff, and he had a hard time getting around in our hardwood floors. I took him to his vet at our clinic, and after examining him she was very frank with me. She said she would've allowed his previous owner to make payments on Max's euthanasia because he was not in good shape. It was just a difficult call to make, as both vet and I are getting kisses from Max and he's doing nothing but wagging his tail the whole appointment! So we decided to give it a try...

A couple of hundred dollars later, I come home to hubby with old dog, new dog food to help him lose a good 10 lbs, glucosamine supplements, omega 3 supplements, and 2 medications to help with pain relief. He also needed antibiotics because his teeth were in atrocious condition, but his blood work showed questionable liver values so putting him under anesthesia at this point was not really an option.

Max was on a strict diet and regiment, although if he felt good enough he was more than happy to try getting left-overs out of the trash or eating Pepper's food. My husband and I even logged it on the fridge, to make sure he was getting everything he needs if he was to have a fighting chance at life. We both knew at this point he probably was not adoptable, but we were willing to consider becoming his permanent home as long as his health would allow.

The only thing he got freely and abundantly was love. He would hobble over to wherever you were sitting and lick your feet. The kids came by and gave him love and affection whenever they had to walk over him or around him. Paul and I frequently loved on him as encouragement and motivation every time he was on his feet.

You could tell he loved being outside and on the first couple of days after the new medications, he would pull you out the door and seemed to want to go around the block. We quickly discovered that although he wanted to go further, his body really couldn't make it past the Chinese restaurant across the parking lot from us; he would start panting, walking really awkwardly. His joints would lock at the shoulder and hip level and his gait would be so ... difficult. Still, we waited to see improvement.

After a few weeks we noticed he was actually declining. He couldn't stand up on his own at all, and eventually resisted Paul's help by laying on his side; his way of giving up. He really didn't want to eat, which was odd for Max to begin with, and as I observed him I noticed his legs would shake and give out on him while he was eating. I started feeding him on the floor wherever he was laying down.

I have to point out here that Alaska winters are harsh and unforgiving. While we had Max we went from rain with hurricane-force winds to fast, deep freezes. Walking for us and the kids outside was painful, insanely icy and slippery. Our apartment didn't allow for Max to empty himself anywhere inside, he had to walk out there. I had 3 kids under the age of five in a one bedroom apartment, giving Max a "potty" break inside was not an option, and he wouldn't have taken it anyways. He refused to pee unless all 4 paws were buried in snow - and snow itself was hard to find this winter outside when everything was frozen solid.

Paul and I decided it was time. And we realized that it was better now than to wait for a slip on the ice, a broken hip or shoulder, when Max would've been in excruciating pain. He didn't deserve that.

Those 3 days from when his appointment was on the calendar to when we were actually in the clinic with him were painfully long. I cried at almost anything. We had a good friend take some portraits of him. I made a ceramic paw print of his to put with his picture frame. I feed him beef stew and chicken nuggets (why not? His diet days were over). We made sure he knew what a good boy he was! He took care of his owner. He loved on us unconditionally. All the while I was waiting, hoping his previous owner would call soon, but it had been around a month already and I didn't know how much longer Max would hold on. He was in so much discomfort.

Pepper kissed Max's face good bye, as if she knew he was leaving for good when he walked out the door this time. I told the kids to give Max hugs and kisses good bye. Anakin, my 5 year old, asked me if Max was going to a new home. I told him that Max was going to be euthanized, and he asked me what that means. I explained, "We are taking him to the vet, where we are going to help him die peacefully and without pain. It helps them to pass away without suffering, which is the best thing for Max now." I can't lie to my kids anyways. Anakin put his arms around Max's neck and cried onto his face. Then he gave him a kiss on the forehead, wiped his tears, and got in the car. We dropped off the kids at day care and went to the clinic.

In the clinic, in the room, we got Max comfortable and the veterinarian administered the sedative - the last thing Max would feel. There was a cookie jar by Paul with dog treats. Max kept licking Paul's hand, and looking at the treats, then looking back at Paul... It was funny to see him try to signal to Paul. Then Max got treat, after treat, after treat. His veterinarian, Paul, and me kept telling Max what a good boy he was. He laid on that table, wagged his tail, as happy as can be. He gave Paul and me a couple of kisses, then the vet gave him the final injection. Midway through it, Max put his head into my arms and closed his eyes, peacefully going to sleep. By the time the vet was done with the injection, she checked for his pulse and let us know that he was gone. Then Paul and I started bawling.

It's been days since and I'm still crying. But I know that he went loved and cared for, painless, and it was what he deserved. I'm at peace with our decision, but we miss him, and its altogether a difficult experience to get over. Paul still has a hard time looking at his pictures or seeing his things, even when we've already gotten his ashes back. We didn't even own him for that long and it still tore our hearts.

His previous owner happened to call after Max was put down, and it was painful for me to tell her that we did it. I apologized to her for it too, but when I explained that Max wasn't really doing well, she was appreciative of our choice. She shared with me that Max used to love running in the snow and swimming in the lake, and if he didn't want to eat or go outside anymore than it was definitely his time to go. She asked me if it was her fault for not taking better care of him, and I told her she took great care of him. Arthritis is a cancer; you treat it to live with it as long as you can, but you can't cure it. It got the best of Max's joints and he couldn't fight it any more. I got her new address, where I'm taking some of Max's pictures and his ashes to her this week. I still try to picture Max running in the snow or chasing ducks at the lake but I honestly have to say I didn't meet him when he was that young. He was still such a good boy...

So I wrote this blog for a purpose. And that is because every pet deserves Max's end. Not an end at a shelter, or in the snow, or on the street. But with the love and care of his owners. They love you unconditionally and see no fault with you, the least we can do is give them room in our home and in our hearts for the rest of their lives! And if you can't quite commit to that, then it's best to not have a pet at all. I know during the holidays many people get kids and spouses and girlfriends puppies and kittens... But what happens to the pet when the kids grow up? Move? or the relationship ends? It is not fair for that pet. It takes guts and a serious amount of selflessness to take care of a dog or cat until the very end. And that is my challenge to you with this blog: Not to go and get yourself a pet if you are not up for this kind of commitment and heart-wrenching end. But if you already have one, to love them and have them be a part of the family until this end comes to you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Long Time No Blog...

It's been a while since I last blogged. Probably because I felt I had little to write about. Also because it was so busy! I was exhausted.

But enough about me, now on to Pepper.

Since climbing Flat Top, Pepper has been doing good, not a whole lot of adventures. We settled down at home as the climate got colder up here.

She goes to doggy day care once a week, just to keep her social with other dogs and people. She loves the people there, and has made a few buddies. Which is good for her! She's a pain out in public. She feels the need to bark and act threatening towards all other men. This attitude is so annoying I'm considering a shock collar just to get her to quit it. But at least she's friendly towards little dogs and some women.

We also started dog training with Alaska Dog Sports. I'm hoping to build her confidence, maybe move on to cool things we could do together, such as agility or rally.

I'm on the verge of giving up.

She is insanely difficult to work with. If I have a treat in my hand and I call her to me, she cowers, runs away from me, and pees. If I stand upright, I can't get her attention at all, I have to crouch over, but that intimidates her sometimes. They suggested I train her up on a table, but she's too scared to focus and will spend all the time trying to get down. Her "sit" is optional, her "come" takes an extra 15 minutes of waiting for her to finish cowering in circles and peeing on herself. Her "stay" is non-existent. We are on week 3.

Most leash work involves her yapping and squealing because she'll tie herself up by spinning in circles around me in panic.

It doesn't help that I am normally short-tempered. I don't have patience. My natural self wants to smack her upside the head and tell her "Cut it out!" when she starts acting so afraid. And yet I know that when I get aggravated, it only makes her MORE nervous, and then she avoids me more.

AAAGH! Why couldn't I have adopted a more normal dog? With less issues? A more confident, happy dog!? It is just easier to leave her be for the rest of her natural life...

Then again, her natural life could be another 10-15 years. Do I want her being a little snot for that long? Nope.

All venting aside though, I know why Pepper and I get along so well. We are perfectly compatible. I am the same way! Fear cripples me, lack of confidence and low self-esteem often have me cowering in circles instead of doing the things I know I could be doing. I could be a lot more than what I've accomplished at 26 years of age, but I'm always afraid to try, so I never commit. I was the girl that never (and I mean, NEVER) played any sports. I was afraid I would never be any good at it, so I'd rather flunk PE and not even try than to put in effort and not be good at it. I've never done anything competitive - specially not physically. I've never tried to be the best at something for fear I'll fall short, so I'm always mediocre.

On my list of fears are even baking, following recipes, or cooking for more than 5 people. The expectancy of failure, the fear of criticism, keep me in the background. And it's ridiculous, even as a type this, but true.

Now we both have this fear obstacle to overcome if we're going to do any better than where we are. But how can we work together? How do I translate confidence in doggy language? How do I acquire confidence for myself?

Might be too deep of a thought before I can blog on this... But in the mean time, I'll just keep working on Pepper, short sessions at a time, high value treats, step by step. And possibly some yoga for me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Climbing to the top!

I had one of those experiences w/ Pepper that I know are embedded within my heart... which will make it so much more difficult to let her go when it's time for her to pass away - I know this, and though I don't have to think about this right now, I'm facing the reality that I'm investing my life into this dog and we are building experiences together.

My sister and her boyfriend came to visit for a week. Pepper was a little unsettled at home, though she warmed up to Valen and Ralfie pretty quickly. She was yappy, yappy, yappy! Obnoxious.

But when we decided to go to Flat Top on Tuesday morning, I brought her along. She had not been on a hike in a while, and she's a completely different dog outdoors. At home, she's afraid of strangers, and startled by everything. Outdoors, she greets everyone like long-lost friends, and tackles everything! I don't know how to explain it... I can't prove it. But I took her anyways.

The first part of the hike is basically a long walk uphill. Then there are steps. Pepper handled these in stride. Smelling every flower, going way ahead and then coming back to check on me. Smiling and sniffing every dog she sees.

Then the incline starts building up, as well as the rocks, and the hike gradually becomes more of a climb. She's jumping from rock to rock, working her way up. Still happy as she can be! A little bit more concerned for me. I'm having doubts. I'm terrified of heights, and I'm clumsy. I'm worried that even if I make it all the way up, I still have to face the descent, and I don't know that I can do it. I'm sitting on rocks, catching my breath... pain in my chest and on my knees. I'm so tired of being such a wimp!

And there she is, a few feet above me, wagging her tail with her head cocked to the side as if to say, "Mom, you're coming?"

We get higher still and now it's just a flat out vertical climb. Paul and I finally realize that we've left Pepper a little behind, she's running around in circles but can't really climb up to join us. At one point she tries to make a jump, and slips - a fall that could've taken her down 1,000 ft. Paul catches her by her coat and places her on a ledge. Paul climbs a head of me, I get to a comfy spot and then I pick Pepper up and lift her to Paul with one hand, who in turn lifts her up above his head where she can secure her footing and finish the climb.

Paul and I make it to the top. Pepper's never been more happy to see me! I feel victory. A little bit more confidence. I am stronger and more able then I give myself credit! All four of us (Valen, Ralfie, Paul and me) praise Pepper like crazy. Strangers at the top praise Pepper like crazy (not a lot of dogs make the climb all the way to the top. A few do, but not every dog).

She's checking out the view from every angle of that mountain top.

Then we start working down. She's jumping from rock to rock. Then she gets stuck - there's a point where she loses her balance and slips, turns around, jumps back up. Now she's going around in circles, only every time she does a circle, she ends up back at the top and we are leaving her further and further behind. So we manage to coax her to our level, I grab her and balance her on my lap. She seems to know exactly what we're doing and stays on my lap as I spider crawl/slide on my rear down the crevice of the rock. Up until the can find her footing again and off she goes. One step ahead of me. Checking up on me every step of the way.

We make it home. She gets in the car. She sleeps on my lap the whole way home. She's such a GOOD dog outdoors. She acts so silly at home - specially when you know she can do better! But we're all happy with her. She did a great job!

I wouldn't have made it to the top of that mountain without her. I'm not saying she was my sole motivation. Seeing my sister at the top challenged me because I didn't want to spend time without her, knowing she'd leave home soon and we may not see each other again for years. My husband encouraged me and helped me climb the whole way - didn't give up on me, coached me every step of the way. But had Pepper felt afraid and refused to climb, I would've had an excuse to give in to my fear and stay down with her. And Pepper is usually afraid! But it was as if she was feeding off my need for motivation and motivated herself to go up there as well. She kept me from quitting because I had nothing and no one to quit to.

Up there it was so beautiful I felt even that God was speaking to me. Call me crazy, but I believe He does. There was a stillness and a peace that refreshed my soul. And God speaks to me through my interactions with Pepper - lessons of faith, trust, perseverance, and courage. She relied on her master the whole time. She was willing to go anywhere the master pointed her to go. I could learn a lot from Pepper if I keep my eyes, ears, and heart open!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bye Mocha!

I've fostered and had dogs adopted left and right. Usually I'm relieved when they are gone, maybe with the exception of Nova... with Mocha, however, it was completely different.

We were sad! Everyone at home moped around all day Sunday after she was picked up by her new owner. The kids even put themselves down for a nap (figure that one out!). The rainy weather didn't help the mood.

I had to ask Paul to help me because I didn't think I could hand her over by myself.

I guess if I look back, I always was happy to hand over the puppies because of the poop cleaning/potty training issues. I would foster them and devote my life to cleaning the floors and mopping, and avoiding puddles. They are cute, but then they chew on everything and eliminate everywhere. And I am eager to get them into their new homes so that they can start bonding with their owners and being housebroken the way their new owners want.

Then I had Genny, who destroyed my house at least twice over, left fur everywhere, pooped/peed everywhere, and knocked me on my face on the ice... I couldn't hand her over quick enough! She was EXHAUSTING! And she howled like a banshee (or a husky mix, which is what she was) every time she was in the kennel.

The problem is that I got attached to Mocha. I loved her like she was my dog. We all did. We pet her, played with her, treated her, walked her, and invested in her emotionally like she was ours to keep. And we had so much fun with her too! And she would love on you and look at you with a face that said, "I love you. And I'll be loyal to the end!"

So I wanted to find her a good home - and I did! And I handed her over to a home that would be better for her than the one I could provide. We may have loved her, but we couldn't accommodate her needs. We lived in an apartment. We don't have a fenced yard. She really didn't have the space that a husky/shepherd mix requires. And I knew that we weren't going to be able to commit, long-term, to exercising her the way a husky/shepherd mix with her energy requires. So the love that we all had for her also led us to make the decision: We have to let her go. We can't adopt her. We are fostering her until she finds her perfect "forever" home.

Even if it made me cry a little. Even if I miss her!

I think even Pepper misses her too. She's been needier than usual, just wanting to cuddle, moping around, not really eating. I think she feels she lost a buddy... I wonder if Pepper ever gets nervous that one day she'll be the one to go? Not happening. I couldn't give Pepper away even if I wanted to! And we don't.

I do feel a little better reading this update from her new family:

Things are going fine. She’s a lot easier than [my other dog]! They get along fine and she’s totally gentle with my girls. She needs some leash training so she stops pulling but I think she’ll pick it up quick. Today she seemed to be a little more relaxed with life; did a lot more exploring, and was wanting love and attention a little more, so I guess she’s starting to think I’m not so bad. She doesn’t seem to chew on things any more than [my other dog] does so we are already used to that. The cat is slowly getting used to her. Mocha is fine with the cat but the cat is not always fine with Mocha. Given some adjustment time she’ll be just fine. I’ll let you know if we come across any problems but so far we are doing good.

I know we are doing a good thing! I know it's good for us to continue to have our home open so we can keep fostering. I know Mocha will do great! I am at peace about saying good-bye to Mocha.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Day in the Wild

So we took the dogs camping with us... and 3 kids... makes me think "Yup! Definitely nuts!" But it was actually fun! Mind you, Pepper yapped all through the camp and probably got on EVERYBODY's last nerve (next time? Sedatives... maybe even a shock collar... I dunno... But I can't board her w/ anyone cuz she hates other people!). But the kids had a good time. Pepper had plenty of running time too, she got to explore and smell everything, go into other people's campers and check them out (like it's all good! LOL). Mocha? Not so much. We are one week away from having her adopted, I didn't really want to lose her! Not to mention she would run into the bush and not really come back... And we have to be in the look out for bears and moose... and I've seen what a husky that got trampled on by a moose looks like; it's not pretty! Excruciating, in fact. So around camp she hung out with us, on a leash.

Then we went hiking, and we felt so bad for her... cuz she wanted to GOOOOO and I remember feeling the same way with Pepper on her first hike. So we let her off the leash.... and she did good! She did go farther than Pepper (seeing as she's bigger), which was scarier, but always came back (no duh, I still have her!). She ran off to a lake and jumped in, drank her fill, and came back in less than 5 minutes... But it was nice to see Mocha get to run free for a bit before we "caught" her and put her back on the leash.

Pepper would just run and jump over dandelions. And when I watch her, I can't help but be happy. I don't know why seeing Pepper happy on our hikes makes me so happy. I can just sit down and watch her run around and it gives me joy. I think it's embedded in who I am: I love dogs, I love the outdoors, and I love hiking. I think I'm developing a new passion; photography! I want to capture what I see so others can feel what I feel.

I think as far as dogs go, Pepper has a pretty good life! She's lucky to be with a family that will take her on outdoor adventures instead of leaving her home. Mocha is pretty lucky too, and I know that she will be adopted into the right home where she won't be neglected or lonely.

Pepper is such a buddy to me. She's more than happy to accompany me anywhere... joins me in whatever I'm doing. Hiking is one of those things that we both equally love, and she seems to take in as much of the beauty (but a lot more scents) as I do. Who would've thought? I didn't know that she would be such a compliment to me when I adopted her. But she seems to have picked me - maybe she knew we were a match?

I've only owned Pepper for a few months, but we've bonded in so many ways... The things that are frustrating about her aren't so bad when I take into consideration the dog she was when she showed up to our home that first Thursday night. And she gets a little better, a little social, every time. She is still so willing to try, willing to please. And I guess what I love about being outdoors with her is that we are both in a more natural, relaxed state. We're not trying to please anyone, just being ourselves. And it's good enough out in the 'wild'. It's just good.