May 18, 2014


Boca is home. I did not master the art of fostering after all, this time. I tried to be a stalwart foster mom but on our trip to visit my friend, aunt and grandmother this weekend her fit into my family is undeniable. My grandmother who rarely sings praises declared her "Some Dog!" like Charlotte's spiderweb commendation for Wilbur.

I may be on hiatus for a time for personal reasons, and bless these dogs for their simple presence. 

"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind." (Lilo & Stitch)

May 14, 2014

WW 5.14.14: Ginger Snapshots



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May 13, 2014

Reactive Follies, Smart Dog is Smart and Managed Playtime

On this Ruby Tuesday I have a trio of unrelated tales to tell as life continues in a temporarily two-dog household.  The ginger dogs have settled into a comfortable routine, with Boca showing more of her sweet, funny, playful self every day. Last night I was sitting in the center of the loveseat bookended by matching red-and-white dogs. I love preparing their breakfast in the morning and then being entertained by their accompanying wrestling on my bed like two monkeys while I get ready for work. 

All these fun and games are not without their snafus; however, as I was reminded on our evening walk last night, the sun having finally emerged after a freak May snowstorm that had camped out over Colorado for more than 24 hours. Just about the time that Boca made a pitstop on the townhouse complex lawn, another person walking a dog came into view about 100 feet away. Boca does not seem to care one way or another about other dogs but Ruby is of course another story. As I had poop to scoop, I couldn't make my usual fast exit, so I did my best to wrangle Ruby with one hand encased in a pink, citrus-scented bag. In Ruby's frantic leaping about she managed to twirl right into the pile with one lovely white hind foot. I took a deep breath and tried to think of the funny story it would make on my blog instead of seeing red. The other dog eventually disappeared from view and I completed my pick-up job and untangled leashes. Luckily the five inches of slushy spring snow that blanketed the lawn returned Ruby's paw to its pristine condition before we got home. The whole experience was a reminder that walking two dogs is far more than twice as hard when one of those dogs is reactive. 

All was soon forgotten, especially when Ruby surprised me with a cute example of her cleverness. This cold, wet weather gave me the opportunity to try out the Tall Tails pocket towel that was included in a Bugsy's Box that I won in a giveaway. It was probably the third time I used the towel, so I was astonished when Ruby remained expectantly still after I removed her harness and collar. She was most definitely waiting to be dried off! Ruby is not a dog that likes to be fussed with, and normally she is weaseling away before I have her gear unlatched, but she clearly enjoyed getting rubbed down with the soft towel. So sweet and smart!

One of the things that realized I was missing in my short time as a multi-dog household was one-on-one playtime with Ruby. While the girls generally play well together, I still have to do a lot of policing so that things don't get out of hand. I've learned which toys they share well, and which ones cause problems. Last night I decided to play tug with Ruby in the living room as per our previous daily routine, but I did not want Boca to feel left out. My solution was to put Boca behind the dog gate in the kitchen and toss the purple dragon toy that I won recently over for her. I would tug with Ruby, ask for a release, put her in a down-stay and retrieve and toss the dragon for Boca. Both dogs had so much fun, and it was a great exercise in patience for Ruby. Boca has a very soft mouth and gave me the dragon willingly, bounding after it exuberantly each time. I'll be employing this routine regularly!

After our play session, I worked with both girls in the kitchen and got some great pictures of them posing together, with Ruby being her usual over-achieving, show-off self. Look for some of the shots tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday, or take a peek on Instagram!

May 12, 2014

Loving What Isn't Yours: The Art of Fostering

Beginning Week 3 with my foster dog, I'm not going to be so bold as to say I've made any sort of hard and fast decision, but I am determined to at least move forward with the idea of finding a wonderful home for this girl that is not mine. She could be with me for several months, I could meet people that don't seem like a good fit, there are any number of things that could add to the ever-changing fluidity of this strange state of limbo, this way of loving without possession.

As an only child, this was once a difficult, if not impossible thing for me to do. I was the center of attention, and my belongings were only mine. I did not have siblings to compete or share with. So deeply rooted was my sense of ownership that I did not like to play with toys at other kids' houses, since it was on borrowed time and I would have to eventually leave them behind.  In college my first big crush, an arty musician type with twisted black hair spangled with beads, asked me on the balcony of a house party "You're not the type that gets attached, are you?"

I was; however, like so many of life's lessons, I learned how not to get my heart broken serially from horses. I had to leave my own horse behind in my mother's care while in school, but I was a member of my university's equestrian team and majored in equine science and there was no shortage of horses. That first year I wanted desperately to lease or buy one of my favorites, a golden-eyed Thoroughbred named Bear who helped me win my first horse show ribbons. Between my education and early career, I rode over one hundred different horses. I couldn't have them all, nor could I emotionally detach from a creature who depends on body language and state of mind for direction. There were horses that belonged to the school, to private owners, to my employers and clients. I had to learn to love and treat them like my own in the time we had together and let go of the really special ones without (too many) tears.

Many people have said to me that they could never foster a dog, that they would not be able to adopt it out. It does take a different mindset, and an existence in a place of uncertainty that is never entirely comfortable. Last night I invited the foster dog up on the loveseat with me and instead of curling at my feet she clambered on top of me and fell asleep with her head on my chest like she belonged. I stroked her head and thought simultaneously how happy I was in that moment, and how lucky someone else could be to have this sweet creature as their dog. Allowing her to be adopted will afford me the ability to continue to foster, helping more than just one.

I've given her a name, finally. Because her mouth is prominently highlighted in black and white, because she smiles more all the time and gently grabs my hand when she is feeling playful: Boca. Boca Bahama. On purpose, this name does not go perfectly with Ruby (like Maybe or Opal) nor am I unreasonably attached to it (Guava or Saffron). It is a cute name that she seems to respond to, perhaps only because her ear infections are starting to clear up and she can hear better. I'm so enjoying having two dogs, their matched ginger coats and amusing interactions brought me brightness during a difficult weekend (Mother's Day is hard for those without mothers). I don't know how long Boca will stay, but I can say for sure that I'll love her for as long as she does.

May 7, 2014

WW 5.07.14: Social Climber

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May 6, 2014

One Week with Two Dogs

Yesterday marked one week with the fostercake and things continue to go really well.  So well, in fact, that I am having a near-constant back-and-forth conversation with myself about what is right, what is reasonable, and what my heart wants for both of these dogs. My friends are teasing me endlessly about foster failing and the rescue coordinator referred to Lydia as my foster, in quotes, on a Facebook thread. I must admit that I hate failing at anything and even though I know it isn't really a failure for dog or human, there is a part of me that wants to buck up the fostering fortitude and get Lydia adopted out! I don't think anyone is wired to exist comfortably in limbo, and so every day my brain struggles to side one way or another, even though I know it's too early to decide. 

It's no secret that I've pondered the possibility of two dogs as far back as January, although I have also been enjoying life with an only dog. I know all too well that two dogs complicate everything, that expenses increase, and that it adds that much more unpredictability to life. I carry pet insurance for Ruby and it does ease my mind somewhat in the area of unexpected vet costs. My most important consideration is the dynamic between Ruby and Lydia, since Freya and Lasya were not well-matched in that regard and it resulted in several injuries and much tension in the nine years they were together. More than once I said I would not have two female dogs again, although I've since realized that canine relationships have more to do with individual than gender. 

As evidenced by these pictures, Ruby and Lydia get along very nicely. They share toys, sleep next to each other, and seem to take comfort in each others company. I think Lydia would be far more uncertain if not for having Ruby's lead to follow in adapting to our household routine. Ruby will never not be reactive, and in some ways she is more excitable with another dog around, but she is also happier - it's impossible to deny. At first I thought that she was too much of a pest, that Lydia would prefer a home without the relentless antics of a hyperactive Border Jack, but as the days go by, they are creating their own rules. Lydia will play tug with Ruby, then eventually settle down to chew on the toy. If Ruby continues to bother her, Lydia will give a little growl. I've been very impressed by how gentle Lydia is - she has mouthed my hand a few times when she is playing and she is very soft. This may have to do with a sad part of her history, which I'll get to in a moment. I'm well aware that Ruby is a lot for most dogs to take, and it's no small thing that Lydia is so patient with her.


I've learned a lot more about Lydia's background from the rescue coordinator and the director at the Humane Society of Grand Bahama.  She was trapped as a stray in April 2013, emaciated and nursing seven puppies, which were found days later and did not survive. Since then she has been living at the shelter, spending most of her time outside with as many as one hundred other dogs. It is my understanding that there is almost zero chance of adoption for these dogs on the islands. Lydia has probably never been in a home or had a person to call her own. She is definitely shy, although she bonded with and trusted me right away. I have cleaned her ears, bathed her, looked at her teeth, handled her paws. My dad has been staying with me for the week and she is very wary of him but slowly warming up. She is lovely to walk on a leash and has truly been no trouble. She is interested but respectful of my elder-kitty, Nina. She is happy in her crate, often choosing to retire there on her own. Every day she relaxes a little more, her tail swings side to side increasingly, and I've seen that open-mouthed smile that so endeared me to her picture from the Bahamas. This morning she gave me kisses on my chin.


I am not overly fond of the name Lydia, and have been using it sparingly, though she doesn't particularly respond to it.  I've been calling her "sugar" quite a bit, and do have some name choices narrowed down, although I'm hesitant to commit to one. I named both of my previous fosters, Bjorn and Vlad, and had no trouble letting them go to wonderful new homes, but this is different somehow. There was a possibility from the beginning, and it's no coincidence that Ruby and Lydia have coordinated coat colors. I've taken to calling them Gingerdogs.  For now I am trying hard to remain in the gray, to let time tell, and make the right decision for all of us.


I have one more announcement: Ruby was selected as the Alcott Share Your Adventure winner for the month of April! We won $100 to spend in their store and I decided on one of their bolster beds (along with a bookmark and a ball). I expect the bed will hold up much better than the $20 beds I buy at TJ Maxx. 

May 2, 2014

Ruby Reviews: Sweetpea Kitchens

When I learned about Sweetpea Kitchens, there were a couple things to love right away: 
  • Their treats are all natural, organic, and made with human-grade ingredients
  • They are handmade in small batches right here in Colorado! 
I strive to provide Ruby with a healthy, natural diet - treats included - and I support small, local business whenever possible. I was delighted when Sweetpea Kitchens sent us their three best-selling flavors to sample.

  • Myles: Gluten-free peanut butter & blueberry 
  • Lakota: Gluten-free turkey bacon, cheese and applesauce
  • Oh My Apple Pie: Gluten-free apple & cinnamon

Ruby is always happy to assist in the taste-testing portion of a treat review. She sampled the cute heart-shaped Oh My Apple Pie, the small Lakota biscuits, and the mini Myles biscuits. The Myles flavor seemed to be her favorite, and she even staged a "I need to go out so I can come back in again" fake-out to try to earn some extras! The treats are easy to break into smaller pieces for use in training as well, and all of them smelled good enough to eat myself. 

This time around we have a special guest reviewer: Lydia the Fostercake! Lydia is learning how to sit and lay down for treats and likes the Myles flavor as well. I'm a big fan of Sweetpea Kitchens and think they will become a staple in the treat jar around here. 

DISCLAIMER: I was provided three packages of Sweetpea Kitchens biscuits in their top-selling varieties in exchange for my honest review.