Reuniting Two Years Later

Many of you weren’t around for Little Zee’s story. It was two years ago, far before this blog reached any sort of popularity. I was totally new to fostering, and decided to participate in her rescue from the shelter only because I had the help of one of the most knowledgeable, kind families I know: Love and a Six-Foot Leash. I remember driving Zabora home from her spay surgery, a drugged up, wide eyed dog in the back of my car, thinking, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?”

The first picture I took of a foster dog ever!

The first picture I took of a foster dog ever!

What I had gotten myself into was a remarkable story of how a community came together to save a dog who otherwise probably wouldn’t have had a chance. She was older (we guessed anywhere between eight or nine at the time, though now we know that estimate might have been a bit old), she wasn’t in great health and she had what we guessed was a neurological problem that gave her poor balance. The odds were against us, but our friends at Love and a Six-Foot Leash stepped forward to save her life and never looked back.

Zee helping Mark celebrate his 21st birthday!

Zee helping Mark celebrate his 21st birthday two years ago!

After just a few weeks bouncing between my home and L&ASFL’s home, Zabora found herself an amazing family. The couple she landed with are perfect for her, and she for them.

They named her Medivka and brought her in as their new family member. She has since gone on to become a big sister, too!  Medivka’s family has been so great to keep us updated on how she is doing, every once in a while sending us an email with an adorable photo or quick update (seriously love my adopters). One email recently, though, had a different kind of update.

When she was with us, Medivka’s balance issues had us all stumped. We were unsure if it was vestibular disease, a really bad ear infection with permanent damage or a traumatic one time injury that had long lasting effects. The vet believed it was perhaps the last one on that list, but no one could know for sure. After her parents recently realized she was getting a bit worse, they took her back to the vet. She was diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia, which is a deterioration of nerves in the cerebellum. It explains her loss of balance, and why it has gotten worse (unfortunately, it’s a progressive condition).

Interestingly enough, the disease is a recessive genetic disease in American Staffordshire Terriers. Medivka is a purebred (determined by a DNA test) Am Staff, which explains why she is prone to the disease.  Luckily, though, because it showed up later in her life and hasn’t been progressing at a rapid rate, everyone has hopes and expectations that she has a long and healthy life ahead of her.

Like I mentioned in my post last week, I’m feeling especially nostalgic these days. After going back and forth on email about little M’s newly diagnosed condition, I realized how badly I wanted to see her again. Mark and I talk about her all the time. Before Johnnie, she was the one Mark secretly wished we had kept. We often reminisce about how cuddly, friendly, outgoing and silly she is.

Medivka’s family was so nice and let us come by and visit on Saturday afternoon. We spent our visit on the floor with Medivka, petting and loving on her just like we had the chance to do two years ago. Her family told us how her daily routine is to observe the household happenings and hang out with her little sis, with some walks in the neighborhood and sunbathing in the yard sprinkled throughout her day. She is a very lucky dog – and, this past Saturday, we were lucky former foster parents.

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Thank you, Medivka and family, for letting us visit and remember why we loved this little monkey so much! It’s crazy to think that it’s been two full years since we first met. . . and yet, not much has changed :-).

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Guess Who’s Here!

I have a house guest for the week! Does this big guy look familiar?

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That’s right. Otie is hangin’ with us for the week while his dad is out of town. He’ll be bouncing back and forth between my house downtown and my parents house in the ‘burbs since it’s a lot of work to hide him from my landlord keep track of him while I’m running around all weekend. I was pretty nervous bringing him to my house because he can be barky and anxious and I didn’t want to drive my roommates nuts, but he’s actually done really well! And my roommates are enjoying having a dog around.

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It’s nice having him around again. I missed him! He’s also still perfect when I bring him to work (whew!). photo 05 photo 04

I’ll tell you guys about how the week goes. We have some adventures planned for this weekend (shocking)!


Johnnie Cash UPDATE!

I know you all are anxious to hear about how Johnnie is doing in her now home. To put it simply, she’s doing absolutely fabulous! Here are bits and pieces from email updates I’ve been getting from her adopters (yes, they are awesome at keeping me updated!).

Day 1 – 3

“You were not kidding, she is a sleepy dog!  We bought her a dog bed and as soon as we brought it home she knew it was for her.  When we put it on the ground she grabbed it and started “nesting” almost immediately!

If anything she is an angel in the house.  Not too crazy at all, actually very calm.  Whenever she wants to play she grabs a toy out of the toy bin and starts playing with it.  Sometimes she’ll follow us around the condo and is always very interested about what we are doing in the kitchen!  We bought hotdogs, string cheese, plain yogurt and pumpkin to use.  We haven’t used the pumpkin yet.   Today I’m going to make pumpkin and yogurt ice treats to put in her Kong for later.”

Day 7

“We had a very good experience taking her over to the family house yesterday.  We walked her around the block, and then Stella and Max met us around the corner for a group walk.  It went very well and we ended up staying until 10:30!  There were a few moments were she got too excited, but we were able to correct it.  At the end of the night she was sleeping in my lap.  I love her cuddles.

Thank you so much for your continued help and advice.  Yes, it feels like the week has gone so well considering it’s been such a big transition for JC!!!  She is the most loving girl, and we are so ecstatic about her and her wagging butt.”

Day 14

We had quite the busy weekend with my family and JC!  We went to Shenandoah Saturday and took JC to Hazeltop and Rapidan Loop for nice day hike.  She did really well on the hike and we brought extra food and drink for her, too.  It rained a little on us and Johnnie gave us a classic Eeyore face, but as soon as the rain stopped her smile came back!  I attached a picture of us at Rapidan with her (and her stylish backpack!).  T and I decided to buy a year pass to Shenandoah!

Day 20

“Everything with JC is going really well!  Everyone falls in love with her where ever we go, and we keep finding more toys to give her.  We bought an “invincible” squeaky toy and she pretty much destroyed it in 10 or so minutes…

Here are some more pics to brighten your day!  My dad told me she is the most photogenic dog he has ever met!”

And with that, I will share with everyone the photos that literally made my day week month:

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I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking right now: couldn’t be more perfect, right? I love her. I love them. I love their little family. I love the happiness. I love the LOVE.

A perfect way to kick off a three-day weekend! Happy almost Memorial Day!


Catching Up With An Old Friend

I never realized how much I would appreciate adopting one of my fosters out to someone who lives locally and who ended up becoming a friend to me. The day Johnnie went home I was so bummed that I’d just given away my best friend. That afternoon I got a text from Otis’ dad saying he got stuck at work for longer than expected and if I wanted a canine pick-me-up could I swing by and take Otis for a walk. Um, yes please!!!

It’s no surprise that Otie’s goofy grin and complete bat sh*t crazy hurricane greeting immediately put a smile on my face. You never realize how much you miss ‘em until they’re back! We went for a relaxing walk along the Potomac River, soaking up the evening air. It felt so good to just be hanging out with my buddy again.

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Then this past weekend I learned that R had gone on a day trip so I asked if he wanted me to walk Otie again. He told me his neighbors were feeding Otis and letting him out but he’d probably love to go for a walk! It was a gorgeous Friday afternoon so I scooped him up and headed to Virginia to meet Mark. We recently discovered another great path along the Virginia side of the Potomac and we quickly escaped weekend rush hour traffic to find our secluded spot. It was perfect. Otis and Mark actually seemed to enjoy each other’s company since Otis was able to relax, run around a little bit and warm up to Mark.  As you can see we also enjoyed cooling off in the river!

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04 07 06 05I am happy whenever my fosters get adopted to the perfect home, but it’s just so great when they go somewhere that lets me see them this often!


Moving Forward

To say that Johnnie got adopted at just the right time would be an understatement. In the days and weeks following her leaving us, people would ask me, “How are you doing without her!?” The truth is that I barely had time to think about how sad I was. Of course I missed her, but life picked up to what felt like lightning speed and hasn’t stopped since. Johnnie Cash was a reminder of why I try not to foster during event season. While we all adored having her around, my understanding parents spent many evenings watching her for me while I was stuck at work for long hours. When she left it was a bittersweet relief to be able to be away from the house for days at a time (just call me ‘schlep’!!).

I know you’re all wondering what’s next. Well, I don’t have a good answer for you.  Things are changing for me right now, and in fact there is a lot about life that’s up in the air. I’m finally moving out this summer, but that means my ability to foster is probably going to be limited. It’s likely I’m moving into DC and I just have no idea what my life style will allow.

I’m also in the process of switching jobs. I accepted a part time position at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington in Virginia at the end of March and have been juggling both shelters (and commutes!) equally since then. I’m officially leaving the Montgomery County Humane Society at the end of June – a change that is bittersweet, exciting and scary – and will then continue with AWLA and other adventures, hence why I am moving into the city. It’s been an exhausting challenge but I’m thrilled to join the AWLA team and officially “cross the [Potomac] river” as they say here in the DMV!

In addition to all this, I’ve started working towards becoming a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). I’ll tell you more about that as it progresses, but I’ve decided that I can no longer ignore how much I love learning about training and putting it into practice and watching the wheels turn in dogs’ brains as we work together. Johnnie got me so hooked on figuring out how to communicate with a bouncy dog. It’s going to take a long time – years, probably – but I’ve already kicked off my education. Not sure where it’ll take me but I am very excited about all I am going to learn.

Virgil Ocampo Photography

Virgil Ocampo Photography

So forgive me that I am not running to the shelter to scoop up a new foster. I want to, believe me – but I am simply not as brave as Love and a Six-Foot Leash who picked up a foster dog right before they moved to Texas!  Because I can’t take a shelter dog home and I’m already falling in love with them right and left, I’ve thought up a few different ideas for helping them get adopted, which of course I will discuss on the blog in the coming weeks. My current crush is a pit bull/bull dog mix named Henny. I see Johnnie’s energy and happiness in her and just can’t get her out of my mind. So I will help her, just not through long term fostering.

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It feels different declaring a “break” this time around than it did the last two times because I have so much on the horizon to look forward to and plan for. I’m at a completely different point in my life right now than I was after Baxter and even after Otis. It’s crazy to realize how much things have changed in just a year and a half. It’s also pretty nuts to think about the fact that you all have been with me literally every day during this journey! So we’ll keep moving forward and seeing where life takes us. Thanks for sticking around :)



Life Lessons From Johnnie

Living with Johnnie for ten weeks taught us more about life than we could have ever imagined. It’s crazy how dogs can teach us humans such great lessons completely unintentionally just by being their present-minded little canine selves. These are some of the best lessons Johnnie Cash left for us:

1.  Live in the moment.

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2. Be cute enough that you can get away with anything.

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3. Never lose your desire for adventure and discovering new things.

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4. Nothing is so important that you can’t spend a few hours in the sun.

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5.  Try to find someone to share the things you love with.

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6. Making sure you get enough sleep should be a top priority.

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7. Look for the positive in everything.

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8.  Be sure to show your loved ones how much they mean to you.

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Mom01photo 5 photo 4 3photo 5 2photo 49. When in doubt, grab a toy (or the closest resemblance to one. . . ).

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10. You might miss your goal the first time, but don’t give up because one of these times you will make it.

toy01 toy03We knew she was a wise dog!