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.


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.


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! Xoxo, J Cash.


Johnnie’s Inaugural Scrub

There are a couple things you really have to do with a dog you spring from a shelter, and giving them a bath is on the top of that list for us at PLF. To her dismay, Johnnie was no exception.


Mark decided he wanted to try and make it her decision to get in the tub (unlike the fate of many others who simply get picked up and plopped in). We tried for about ten minutes using one of her favorite antlers, to no avail. So she was plopped in as well. She surrendered to the suds almost immediately after we got her in there.



But, like most of our foster pups, Johnnie Cash reaped the reward of a good shake off and towel dry down afterwards. She pretended like she didn’t like that part either, but I know she was soaking up the attention.  All in all she was a model pup for her first bath time!


Photo by foster dad.

Photo by foster dad.

Photo by foster dad.

If you’d like to add a fresh and clean Johnnie Cash to your family, email

A Post from FosterDad – December Edition

Juliana recently had her 1 year anniversary of fostering. Zabora, Baxter, Otis, and the occasional short term visitor have made this past year much different than the first few years we were together. Juliana loved all of the dogs that passed through her door. Some she handpicked, others picked her.

None of them picked me.

Don’t take this the wrong way, because I love dogs and have had a great time helping Juliana take care of these pups, but I never felt connected to these dogs at a deeper level. Juliana would have the first few days with the dog and because of our schedules we wouldn’t have much time to see each other. By the time I was able to interact with the dog, it was as if there were two sides and the dog had already chosen Juliana’s. I honestly never felt included.

And that was mostly my fault.


This changed when Juliana brought Charlie home for a week. I was able to be around the first days he was in the house, but I was also able to hang out with Charlie alone. We spent a morning together working on his hesitation with basements. We built trust and team work (AKA I gave him a lot of yummy food), and this made it easier for Juliana since I was actively engaged with the dog (not that I completely wasn’t with the others).


My point is, taking care of a dog is a group effort. From picking out a dog to training a dog everyone needs to be involved. With Christmas coming up here is an important reminder: it can be okay to give a pet as a gift only if you let the receiver pick out which pet to adopt rather than letting it a be a surprise. As much as we love to relish in the excitement of a surprise, an animal should never be a surprise. And after welcoming a new member to the family be sure to involve everyone. It’ll be better for the pet, and better for everyone else.