Three Years and Counting

Today, April 4th, marks three years of Mark (foster dad) and I officially dating. THREE YEARS. It seems crazy when I think about how long we’ve been together because on one hand it feels like just yesterday we were in college together and on the other it’s hard to really remember what life was like before each other.

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Because we started dating in college, a lot has changed in our relationship. When we first met I honestly didn’t have any clue that this (dogs) was where my life would take me. I hadn’t started interning at the humane society yet so my focus was still on horses through my Animal Sciences degree. We were just two college students totally enjoying the opportunity to spend nearly every waking minute together – I as a junior, he as a sophomore. When I began my senior year, my focus started shifting to working in a non-profit thanks to my heavy involvement in Relay For Life. He was in the business school so he helped me tackle the job search and really think about what I wanted to do after college. I graduated and began working at MCHS, and he stayed behind at Maryland, just thirty minutes up the road.

Our first summer together, August 2010.

Our first summer together, August 2010.

It is often the case that a college student and a young professional have a tough time staying together because they live in two different worlds. Add some foster dogs in there and you’re sure to have a tough situation on your hands. But for some reason, Mark and I were able to stick it out. Despite the fact that he lived in a house with his fraternity brothers and I lived with my parents working 9 – 5, we made time for each other. He graciously accepted each foster dog I brought home, and he and his roommates welcomed them all into their house when they needed to. We both made sacrifices. But Mark knew that helping dogs was something I loved, so despite the fact that it’s pretty much the opposite of anything on a college student’s agenda, he made it work.

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To be honest, Mark’s a huge part of the reason I am the dog advocate and foster parent that I am today. He pushed me to pursue my goals and get involved in things I thought might not work out (I’m a wimp that way – if I’m nervous I’ll be unsuccessful, I’ll often skip out on the opportunity). While it was my idea to start this blog, he was the one that said, “Okay it’s time to start this NOW and stop saying you’ll do it tomorrow.” It was true, I needed the push. And look where it’s come? I remember the exact place we were when I told him I’d finally created Peace, Love & Fostering: on the highway. He was excited, enthusiastic and supportive – just like always.

Our trip to San Diego after I graduated college in 2011.

Our trip to San Diego after I graduated college in 2011.

We’ve grown up together. Fast forward three years from the weeks we started dating and now we’re both working full time, we’re fostering dogs and we’re doing all sorts of other “grown up” things together. I love the partnership we’ve created with Johnnie, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us. Love ya, foster dad!

mark4Note from Johnnie: Foster dad is awesome! He loves me, even though I can sort of be a brat puppy sometimes. On that note, want to adopt me? Email peacelovefoster@gmail.com! Xoxo, J Cash.

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One Year Blog-a-versary!

It snuck up so fast that I nearly missed it! Yesterday, August 20, marked one year for Peace, Love, & Fostering! It’s unbelievable to me, really – and yet I feel like I’ve been doing this for a lifetime. It has been, hands down, the most rewarding experience in my 22 years of existence. Who else gets to say they talk to hundreds of people they’ve never met every single morning? I’ve made friends from all over the globe. It’s remarkable.

One year ago I set out to fiddle around with a keyboard and take some really, really amateur photos with my brother’s not-so-amateur camera – all to tell the stories of some dogs. I wasn’t quite sure what dogs, because at that time I wasn’t fostering yet, but I’d seen it done before by some pretty amazing people and thought, “Why not?”  My boyfriend is really the one who pushed me to do it. I have this problem of coming up with ideas and then not following through on them. He makes sure I follow through. So one night I just sat down, clicked away for a few hours, and boom: Peace, Love, & Fostering was born. It had a long way to go, but it was in existence on the interwebs.

Instead of typing out the long story that followed, in the footsteps of some of my blog heroes I’m going to celebrate this blog-a-versary with some stats:

Date started: August 20, 2011

Date started updating 5x per week: November 2, 2011

Total posts: 225

Total comments: 1,880+

Total views: 66,400+

Search that brought the most views (besides PL&F): beagle sheltie mix

Number of fosters total: 3

Longest time a foster stayed: 4 months (tie between Otis and Baxter)

Shortest time a foster stayed: 6 weeks on and off (Lady Zee)

Number of fosters I wanted to keep: 3

Number of fosters it would have been logical to keep: 0

Number of fosters now happily in forever homes: 3

Longest time spent between fosters: 6 weeks between Zabora and Baxter

Favorite foster: Zaborabaxterotis

FosterDad’s favorite foster: Zabora

Goofiest foster: Zee and her off-balance bumblings!

Shyest foster: Otis

Happiest foster: Baxter when he saw human friends, Zabora when she was sleeping, and Otis when I returned home

Cutest couple: Baxter & Bella (below)

Biggest celebrity cameo: Tie between Chikerdoodle & Lily Fireworks

Post with the most views: Baxter is… ADOPTED!

Post with the 2nd most views: On Being 22 and a Foster Mom

Favorite props post: Will U Be Mine? (Baxter’s Valentine’s Day post)

Hardest post to write: Dear Baxter

Easiest post to write: The Power of Being Positive

Number of positive changes in my life from this blog: Too many to count!

Number of friends made: Too many to count!

Number of blog friends met online before meeting in person: 5+

Blog friends visited in other states: 2 (and hoping to add more!)

Weirdest place a random blog follower has said hi to me: While I was walking Otis in my neighborhood

Number of hours of sleep lost writing posts every night: Doesn’t matter

Favorite thing learned while blogging: Photography

Most helpful real life skills learned: How to be disciplined, plan ahead, and be creative

Favorite part overall: Tie between the lives saved, the bond made with each foster, and all my readers

I can’t say it enough: you all are one of the best parts of blogging. PL&F wouldn’t have gone anywhere in the last year if you weren’t here to read it. The friends I’ve met, the emails I’ve exchanged with strangers, the advice I’ve both given and received. . . the impact of it all is beyond measure. So thank you!

Tune in tomorrow to see the year reviewed in photos!