Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Marshal-Mitchell-Randall is settling in

Well it's been two months since our beloved little Marshal man re-joined our household.

I've definitely had my moments of, shall we say, less-than-complete buy-in to being the adult responsible for three special-needs dogs. 

Marshal is an anxious man, in many ways ideologically aligned with his buddy Fozzie. 

They are both eager to stick their heads out the car windows, and they are both anxious on walks, noise sensitive, leash reactive, and quick to redirect their anxiety and reactivity. 

In short, a handful. But in the house,  Marshal is a little sweetie. He loves affection and, like Fozzie, he seems really comforted by it--like he needs the reassurance of physical contact.  He's started sleeping with us every nightand there is something so wonderful about having 2 or even 3 canine bodies draped around us, with several choices of creatures to cuddle with should the mood strike either one of us. 

He and Fozzie don't interact a lot but Marshal often goes over to Fozzie just to nuzzle him and wag a bit, like a shy but admiring fan. Marshal and Dahlia, on the other hand, seem to really love each other. 

When they're not playing, they're cuddling up next to each other. 

Their play is sometimes terrifying with Marshal's dinosaur noises, but fortunately Dahlia doesn't know about those. With all their roughhousing, they have never gotten into a fight or even a little scrap. 

Marshal's name strikes me as adorable, but also somewhat ridiculous. It's also hard not to call him other things that are reminiscent of Marshal, like Mitchell (when he's being adorable) or Randall (when he's in trouble).

Poor little dog, no wonder he's anxious. But somehow I think he's going to turn out OK.

How do YOU like to confuse your dogs?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Wet food from

Lots of hungry mouths to feed around here. I think it's time for some snacks. 
On offer this month were some limited ingredient food tubs from Natural Balance. We chose the Whitefish and sweet potato grain-free food.
These limited ingredient diets are great for dogs with sensitive stomachs. While none of my dogs fall into that category, a few of them--and I'm not naming any names--could be categorized as what you might call picky eaters. 

I thought THESE dogs might enjoy some simple, hearty ingredients. 

Or maybe they'd just enjoy the self-important thoughts that come with the knowledge that you are receiving a limited ingredient diet.

Let's see what happens. 

First up, Dahlia. Dahlia is not one of the picky eaters and true to form, she dug right in. 

Now Fozzie. Fozzie's not a bad eater, but he likes the things you'd expect a dog to like. Nothing too fancy or tricked up, and he's not a big fan of his fruits and veggies.

As expected he was a big skeptical of the whitefish and sweet potato concoction at first, but after sniffing around and considering his options a bit, decided to dig right in.  

Now Marshal. Marshal loves food and begs for it every chance he gets. He likes bananas, cashews, and pretty much every dog food he's tried. 

But sometimes, he won't eat. I don't think it's a picky eater issue so much as an anxiety and social pressure issue.

Sometimes I'll give him his meal and he won't eat until everyone else has gone to bed. 

With this particular meal, he just looked at it uncomfortably, and looked at me uncomfortably. He finally ate some when I fed him bits of white fish by hand, but didn't really dig in until later, when no one was paying attention to him. 

Poor little guy. 
So I'd have to say--mixed reviews on the Natural Balance. A good, high-quality food, but not lip-smacking delicious enough to make the anxiety-prone among us forget their anxieties. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kirsten and Florian's Anxious Dog Sanctuary

It's been a delight having Marshal around. Just watching him have fun with Dahlia and be comfortable with Fozzie, and watching how sweet and loving he is, is so rewarding. I love seeing that in this house, he feels safe and happy. 

In his previous home, he was sleeping in the living room to be with the other dog, who he loved. But he was destroying the carpet overnight, so he must not have felt at ease. 

Here, he sleeps in the living room too--and he just sleeps. Not a peep out of him all night, he just rolls up happily in his crate or on the couch and snoozes til morning. 

Not sure what the difference is! Maybe he feels safe here because we leave our bedroom door open and he knows he can come in anytime, and he can hear us talking to Dahlia and Fozzie.

Whatever it is, we seem to have a situation here that is good for anxious dogs.

So when my sister went away for the weekend, and our friend Francine, who was staying at her house, called to let me know that Sky Princess didn't seem to be that happy and was throwing up everything she ate, 

I went over there just as soon as I was done bringing Uncle Johnny to early vote for Bernie Sanders. 

Francine was busy cleaning up copious amounts of bloody vomit. We decided I would take Sky Princess home and see if she got better, and if not Francine would take her to the emergency vet. 

As soon as I got her home, she literally hit the ground running with Marshal. 

They spent the entire weekend zooming around together, 

with short time-outs for Dahlia to hump Princess like in old times. 

And Princess Sky began eating and stopped vomiting. 

What was most wonderful was how everyone just seemed to get along. 

They all seemed pretty happy to be around each other. I've often thought that since I tend to end up with "difficult" or "unadoptable" dogs, who are with me because they couldn't find a home anywhere else, I'd never be able to have a whole bunch of them around because they'd be too aggressive and unstable. 

So it was just so rewarding and delightful to have a house full of these dogs and watch them just play, hang out, and relax together. I had to remind myself that two of them, Fozzie and Marshal, were actually officially labeled "unadoptable" and were hours away from euthanasia when I picked them up. 


Because the world is a messed up place, that's why. 

Gotta just keep creating little pockets of sanity, where dogs and people can run around, be themselves, make dinosaur noises and hump and dig and zoom and relax without fear of persecution for being different. 

So that's what I tried to do this weekend. And far from feeling overwhelmed by having 4 dogs, I felt fulfilled. Surrounded by love, happy, and grateful. 

How many dogs is just right for YOU? 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Welcome Back to a Beloved Little Shy Friend

Well its been a while since I posted as the dog situation around here has been pretty placid. Just enjoying the serenity of two dogs I know well and the familiar routine we've gotten into, and not at all sure I wanted to mess with that tranquility by bringing another foster dog into the mix. 

Occasionally there was--as there always has been--that nagging feeling of not doing enough, that this was just too damn easy. 

But--well, I know you're not supposed to talk politics with people you don't know really well, but it's hard to avoid a topic when it consumes your entire soul. I've been putting all the energy that used to go toward foster dogs, toward electing the most compassionate, progressive, honest, and solidly good presidential candidate I have ever known--Bernie Sanders

But, maybe the universe knew that my love of Bernie Sanders cannot be exclusive of my love of dogs, and in fact they are one and the same. So when I got a call from Marshal's adopter that his anxiety seemed to be increasing and they were going to bring him back to the shelter, and when I got a call from the shelter that they didn't feel comfortable putting him up for adoption but would adopt him to me, Florian and I went right down there and got him.  

He was a stiff, trembling mess when he came out. I can only imagine the terror he experienced spending another night there. But I had a really great conversation with my friend at the shelter who processed the adoption, and who waived the adoption fee because she told me everyone at the shelter really loved Marshall and was happy I was taking him. 

He was still stiff and scared in the car driving up, though about halfway through he came up and climbed on my lap and stayed there the rest of the way. 

During the drive I thought about how to introduce him back, and I was determined to do it the right way--slowly, with the dogs separated at first and able to sniff each other, at least for the first few hours. So I brought Marshal up to the door and was going to let him sniff, and Fozzie was right there, and the minute I opened the door and Marshal saw Fozzie his whole body went loose and his mouth opened in a big smile and his tail went swishing all over.  

And I knew it would be fine. These pictures are from about five minutes after I opened my front door. 

Dahlia and Marshal both seem so happy to be back together. I'm not sure if Fozzie is ecstatic about it, but he is being spared the butt-nipping Dahlia normally subjects him to as she is too busy rolling around with Marshal. 

I feel so happy to have Marshal back, safe and sound with us, where he can relax and make T. Rex noises all he wants!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Foster for a Day

This is Baby Girl. 

My life has been relatively peaceful, fun, and stress-free of late--enough of that shit. Baby Girl was not happy in the shelter, so time to take on another foster.

She was surrendered by a loving family due to landlord trouble. She was an emotional support animal for the mom of the family but that didn't matter to the off to the shelter for poor Baby Girl.  

I brought Baby Girl home after a car ride in which she stood on my lap the whole time. Like a moron, I was a bit too hasty with allowing her to meet my dogs, and she and Dahlia were not too keen on each other. After a bit of a scuffle, I separated them and resolved to keep Baby Girl in a crate or in the back yard while she was with me. 

I was in the midst of figuring out how to manage that when I received an email from the daughter of Baby Girl's family, who had moved into a new dog-friendly apartment! And that was that. 

After a night of cuddling with Florian in the guest room, 

Baby Girl was reunited with her family. 

She was so happy she didn't know what to do, and all us humans were in tears.

What a nice little foster interlude! Good luck Baby Girl! You are a sweet girl who deserves all the love in the world. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Calvert Cliffs State Park

With the big snowstorm making travel a challenge, its been a while since we've gotten the dogs out for a really good hike. And though Fozzie and Dahlia are both well past the Psycho Zoomie Evening Pup stage that most of our foster dogs have epitomized, they have seemed a bit restless of late. So the plan was to use the long weekend to get them some quality off-leash time. 

We decided to check out Calvert Cliffs State Park along the Chesapeake Bay. 

As bitter cold as it was, we figured that we could enjoy some off-season fun with the dogs running free and no fellow dog walkers, or uptight dog-hating control freaks, to get in the way. 

I didn't remember how dramatic this place was. There's a trail through the woods that eventually leads down the cliff to the water, 

and amazing views of the bay from the trail.

Just as we had hoped, there was no one around so of course we let the pups run free. 

Soon after which we did encounter one uptight dog-hating control freak and his contrite wife, so we put the leashes on and proceeded to the beach. 

Look at that blue sky! 

So joyful to be there with my babies. 

And the wide open expanse of sand and salt water, 

and the low sand dunes with vegetation gradually colonizing, creating habitat for untold crustaceans and insects and diverse marine fauna. 

This is a great place to come in the summer to sunbathe, kayak, and play in the water. But there are things you experience in the winter that you don't otherwise.

and there was a distinct smell of rotting vegetation. Noted marine scientist Florian reminded me that the ice-bound water is deprived of circulation, so the smell was nothing more than rotting sea vegetation. Didn't detract from the beauty of the day. 

I still felt though that the dogs were owed a real good run COMPLETELY free of uptight dog-hating craptastic control freaks. 

Nature apparently agreed because overnight, a snowfall guaranteed that the craptastic-est of the control freaks would stay home, leaving the trail to us. 

We headed to the Northwest Branch Trail, just a mile or two from my house but which goes for miles through the woods along the Anacostia River.

Finally a deserted trail where the dogs could run unmolested. 

Or I should say unmolested by humans, as I'm afraid Fozzie could not shake his own diminutive, persistent molester, 

who despite miles and miles of stream and rock and branch and squirrels and countless good things to sniff and explore, 

chose to remain close to Fozzie where she could nip, chew, and hump him to her heart's content. 

So I leashed the little creep. And we enjoyed our beautiful hike in the snow.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Winter wackiness

It's Saturday, Florian and I have been sick for days, and we've been snowed in since last night! Might as well write a blog post.


Last weekend, we were going to take a nice romantic trip to West Virginia for some hiking and relaxing. 

But why relax when you can obey an anxious, dangerous, and emotionally fraught compulsion? We decided at the last minute to drive 7-8 hours instead to upstate New York, where my parents' house in the Adirondacks may sell anytime and we both wanted to go there one more time first. 

It is still so bizarre to be in places where every inch feels like my Mom--but she's not there!

The dogs got some good running around but I was worried about Dahlia and her bald pinkness in the cold. 

The dogs only got warm when we all got under the blankets for a cold, sleepless night. 

One night of that was enough! After a thorough, cathartic emotional breakdown, I was able to leave there feeling satisfied. Satisfied that we'd honored Mom and her love for that place. And satisfied that for me to consider keeping that place, and imagining that I could be content living in Bleecker, NY or keeping it and visiting it maybe a week out of the year and letting it rot the rest of the time, is completely bonkers (as Mom would say). 

We took a slow drive back through back roads and stayed in a Motel 6 on the way back. Heaven for dogs and humans, though this human didn't sleep there either. 

All that emotional stress and a few nights of no sleep meant immune system meltdown! All week its been a challenge to get out of bed and get the dogs out, but I've done it.

Even today, when I could barely get the doors open due to 15 inches of snow and counting.

Since it wasn't like we could do much of anything else, Florian and I decided to take a walk/ski with the pups through the neighborhood. And Fozzie, who can't handle humans locomoting in an unusual way, decided to attack Florian's skis.


Little chilly Dahlia would probably have had a better time if she'd let me put on her booties, but she is a dog so a reasonable move was out of the question. 

We got those shivering things home and rested ourselves for a few hours before cabin fever compelled us to take another walk, this time without the pups. 

A couple miles through partially plowed streets, 

and Florian almost became one of those frozen explorers they unearth in a PBS documentary a few centuries from now.

Good thing it's so beautiful!

And good thing Dahlia can be persuaded to go out and pee. 

Because looks like we won't be going anywhere for a while.