Dear Otis

Hey Stinker.

So, you’ve gone and found yourself yet another home. Third time is a charm, right? I am crossing all of my fingers and toes that this one will stick and that your new dad will appreciate you like I do (which he seems to!).  After spending four wonderful months with you, I still cannot believe it took you so long to find your forever home. Luckily, though, it seems I am learning time and time again that good things come to those who wait. You’ve finally got yourself a really good thing, Oats.

Your story is different than the others I’ve helped because this time it was all up to me. While I have many online supporters, parents who love you just like I do, and friends who cheered for me and you the whole way – I started this journey to find you happiness in July 2011 and, a year later, it was my job to finish it.

You made it very clear you knew that fact from the beginning by attaching to me like you were some orphaned child who finally found their mother (oh wait, I guess you were…). Your hopeless devotion to me was a bit overwhelming at times but overall quite endearing, and it made you stand out to me from my other fosters. Sure, you were extra needy when we were together, but you made up for it ten times over by having zero separation anxiety and behaving beautifully whenever I was away.  You were, in my eyes, the perfect dog.

It quickly became clear to me that others would not be as fortunate to know your true self. You loved me so, so much that you barely had the time of day for anyone else. You warmed up to my mom and dad, but even FosterDad didn’t get much more than a quick acknowledgement when he came around. This made it hard to show everyone else just how perfect you were. But it was okay, because I knew that anyone who was good enough to have you would recognize your shyness around others as just fierce loyalty to your person – a characteristic to be envied.

I wrote a post a few days ago about my realization of just how different you are from the day I brought you home. It was bittersweet because when I was writing that post I already knew you had found a new family, and I knew you would temporarily be set back in your progress.  But you simply couldn’t stay with me forever, even though you (and maybe me, too) wanted it.  Your new owner is the best of the best for you, and I know he will help you through this transition with understanding and gentle guidance.  I wish I could be there with the two of you to help as well, but it’s time for you and your new dad to figure things out on your own because you’re his now, not mine.

When I started this note I really didn’t intend for it to be sad or emotional because you, Otis, are far from that. You are goofy, happy, silly, expressive, sweet, and cuddly – and this journey with you has been all of those positive emotions rolled into one. You were one misunderstood pooch, and I’m happy I got the chance to turn things around for you.

Good luck in your new life, Otie! May you finally find joy and happiness in all you do.

Otis is… ADOPTED!!!

It seems that four months is the magic number at the PLF House, as Otis has officially found his way out of my life and into someone else’s… forever!

To be honest, I’ve had a lot of wonderful inquiries about Otis over the last four months, but none of them were the right fit. For many, there were obvious reasons why it wouldn’t work out, but for others it just wasn’t a good match. I knew Otis wouldn’t attach to anyone new  right away, especially during a brief adoption visit, but the way he was so closed down around potential adopters started getting me worried. Until we met R.

R emailed me one day after seeing Otis on the MCHS website, and even though he was a bit different from the exact mold I had dreamed up for Otis initially, I had a good feeling about him and his situation so I put him through the tests. You fosters know what I’m talking about – the rigorous discussions where you try to talk potential adopters out of your dog, and if they’re still interested then you know you’ve got a good one! R wasn’t put off by any of Otie’s “quirks” so we set up a met and greet.

That meeting is what sold me on this pair. Otis loved R. It was the most affection I’ve seen Otis display towards any new stranger, ever.  I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one who felt good vibes from the visit when I later found an excited email from R in my inbox about moving forward with the adoption process. The following days consisted of a long, serious talk between R and one of our adoption counselors about how to make Otie the happiest dog he can be for the rest of his life, another visit between Otis and R that went beautifully, and a few dozen more emails answering questions and brainstorming ideas on how to ease the transition. We wanted to make sure we had as many bases covered as possible.

Finally, all the paperwork was signed and Otie was officially R’s. R came to pick Otis up from work and that’s when all the goodbye butterflies set in. I couldn’t believe he was actually leaving – after so many failed adoptions and failed applications, Otis had finally found the perfect home? That was a tough one to swallow. But R is going to already seems to love him just as much as I do, plus it helps that he works from home (jackpot!!) and has a huge yard for Otis to run around in. It was tough to watch Otie walk out to R’s car that day, but I knew there was nothing but a happy life waiting for him.

R has been very kind in sending me frequent updates which have put my worries at ease.  It seems that while the transition was understandably a little difficult for Otis, he is finally settling into his new life (insert BIG sigh of relief here). I am sure he will be attached to R’s hip in no time, if he isn’t already!

It’s been a long road for this one, but Honey Bunches of Otis is finally home.

Dear Baxter

Where do I even begin? I think I’ve deleted and rewritten these following sentences a hundred times, because I really have no idea how to say everything I want to. How do I possibly put into words the way you touched my life, and the lives of so many others?

I guess I should start at the beginning. I don’t want to dwell on it, because that’s not who you are anymore – but baby boy, you came from one of the deepest darkest places I can imagine. You were tired and hungry and sick – and I’m pretty sure you hadn’t known much love in your past life – but from the minute you were carried through the doors of the Montgomery County Humane Society that evening in June, love is all you gave.

That love is what got you noticed by the shelter staff and volunteers, despite how shy you were. It’s what helped you learn to trust the world, and also ultimately win over your many heroes, including Big Bruno and Catalina & Kate from Jasmine’s House. The love you gave out was returned to you tenfold, and with the help of these individuals and many more, you became a confident, outgoing, and happy dog.  In that short time you made so much progress – a feat that excited everyone, though nobody was surprised. We always knew what potential you had, Baxter. 

You continued to prove us right when you became a “house dog”. You walked into my home not knowing the rules, not understanding guidelines, and not being comfortable with a lot of “normalities” – but you left as a stellar example to house dogs everywhere. It was a pleasure to have you as you grew into an effortless part of our daily lives. You seemed to fit in just right – but the more you settled in with our family, the more we knew you’d make the perfect dog for someone else. That’s the way fostering goes.

Which brings me to my next thought… I miss you, Baxty. I miss you very, very much. I feel selfish talking about you and me, because there are so many others in the equation – but boy were we buddies. For four months, you were mine. We played together, we went to work together, we napped together, we adventured together, we spent lazy days together, and we grew together. You elicited a maternal part of me I never knew I had, bringing me pride & joy on countless occasions. I celebrated your milestones, worried at your weak spots, and tried to help you grow in any way I could.Then all of a sudden you left. I’ve imagined this day many times, but at the same time never understood how it would feel. And you know what? It really kind of hurts. But, I would take this heartache 100 more times if it meant the same outcome for you, Bax.

While I’m sad about saying goodbye, I am also absolutely overjoyed for you. You deserve perfect, and perfect is what you got. You hit the jackpot with your new home, your new humans, and your new furry sister. Foster parents want nothing more than to see their animals go to good hands, and these are the best I could have imagined for you. They’ll take you on long walks through the woods, they have a fireplace for you to sleep next to while soaking up the warmth, they understand what patience is and, more importantly, what unconditional love is. You, your humans, and your new sister Miss Piggy will live out a life full of happiness and joy – something that was once not such a sure thing for you, Baxter.

I love you so much, little monkey. I cannot express how proud I am of you for the dog you have become, despite so much. You showed the world what it looks like to overcome all odds. Thank you for the lessons you taught me, and of course for all the daily giggles and endless happy memories. I will never forget any of it.

Enjoy your new life, Baxty. You sure have earned it.

Baxter is… ADOPTED!!!!

I have never seen a more perfect testament to the phrase, “Good things come to those who wait.” This weekend Baxter trotted out of my life and into the absolute perfect home. The perfect forever home.

Last Saturday we were heading home from our adventure downtown when I got an email. “Hey, I think I have a family who would be a good fit for Baxter.” I had heard that before, so I didn’t get too excited. “They want to meet him tomorrow.” What? Oh, okay. I guess these people are serious. I called them up to schedule a time to meet, and was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and open L was on the phone. Not that I expected her to be mean or anything, but I hung up with a weird feeling of “this might actually be something.”

The next day I brought Bax over to their house, and he hit it off with D & L right away. Fortunately, they had already read a lot of this blog so I didn’t feel as much need to word vomit everything I knew about Baxter during that first introduction (you foster parents know the feeling!). They knew everything – the occasional chewing, the anti-snuggling, the background – and they still adored him! After a brief human meeting, we introduced Baxter to his potential new sister, Miss Piggy – a year and a half old rescued pit mix. That is where the magic happened. Baxter & Miss Piggy ran around for nearly an hour – wrestling, rolling, and chasing each other around. Everyone was amazed at how well they got along.

That day we scheduled one more meet & greet, and said if all things went well we’d move forward with the adoption next weekend. My first thoughts: Yippee!! My second thoughts: Wait. What? Baxter might be leaving me?? But while it was a whirlwind of a process, happening in less than a week, I could not have felt surer about sending Baxter home with this family.

It turns out that my good feelings on the situation were not unjustified. Despite worrying all the first night that things had gone horribly wrong and they’d want to return him, I awoke to a dazzling email about how well Baxter was settling in, and what a wonderful dog he was. I continued to get positive updates all weekend, and on Sunday afternoon the volunteer who helped Baxter from the beginning, Big Bruno, and I went to say our final goodbyes.  I thought it would be sad for me (the weekend was miserable without my little Baxty at home), but it was actually a really heartwarming visit, leaving me with complete peace of mind. It was one of those moments that make fostering completely worth it.

We saw Baxter relaxed and comfortable in his new home. It was clear that he had already taken to his new humans, and his bond with them was growing strong. These people are perfect for Baxter – they are patient, understanding, open-minded, and totally willing to go at his pace. They are so full of love to give, and I know Baxter is just going to thrive in it.

If I could have written out the perfect happy ending for Baxter, this would be it – little pittie sister and all. Congratulations to D, L, and Miss Piggy on their new family member. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for giving this amazing dog the life he deserves!