and just like that

Every Saturday, BARK volunteers bring a selection of dogs from the farm to various pet stores around Richmond. Foster families can also bring their dogs whenever they want, even if a dog hasn’t been requested to be seen by a potential family. A week after Heidi joined our pack, I decided to take her to Petsmart for the whole three hours (12-3 pm).

For some reason it’s tough to find homes for hounds and at BARK there are A LOT so the odds weren’t in our favor but with a great, big stroke of luck, she met an interested family!

They told me that they’d bring their other dog to meet her the following Saturday.

All week I waited on Kelley, the Adoption Coordinator at BARK, to send me an email telling me that she had been requested for the visit. By Thursday I hadn’t heard anything so I emailed her. She told me that the family hadn’t given her all the information she needed and that she couldn’t get a hold of them.

My heart sank. They seemed like such a great family for Heidi!

So this past weekend at 1:30 pm, I had a strong gut feeling that we should be back at Petsmart and not shopping. I made my husband turn the truck around so I could rush home and then drive over.

Heidi and I got there at 2:00. Bob, the owner of the rescue, told me that the family had been by earlier. I had missed them!! Crap.

About 30 minutes later one of the daughters showed up with the rest of the paperwork they needed to adopt Heidi. I didn’t know this at the time but when they came the first time, Kelley had told them what she needed so they ran right home to get it. Thank goodness they still needed that paperwork or they wouldn’t have come back!

The daughter called the rest of the family so that they could bring their other dog to meet Heidi. If all went well, we’d be in the clear.

After another 30 minutes, the family arrived. Both of the dogs have pretty passive personalities so neither of them were very interested in the other. We didn’t see any negativity though, so it was a match!

The mom (from the phone) told us that she wanted a ‘trial run’ with Heidi just to make sure she was the right choice. I was informed that the only way they could do that was if they adopted her first. Bob said that if she didn’t work out, they could bring her back and get a full refund.

I wasn’t sure how they’d take the news. I gave the dad his option. There was a long pause but then he said, ‘Welp, I guess we’re adopting a dog today!’

YESSS. I would’ve totally done a happy dance but there were too many people around.

Obviously there’s still a chance that she doesn’t fit in at their home but I can’t imagine that happening. I feel like the family will work with any issues that might come up. Heidi’s too cute to give back. 🙂

As they wrapped up the paperwork, I realized she was leaving me… today. I hadn’t prepared for that part. Sure she’d only been at my house for two weeks but ever since January when we first met, I wanted to help find her a home. Now that day had come. It was time to say good-bye.

I had one of the daughters take a photo of the two of us at that moment.

Course Heidi had no idea what was going on but I have to admit I was a little upset!

I took off her BARK collar so the family could put on her new one. I handed the collar to Kelley but she handed it back to me and said, ‘Do you want to keep it? You should keep it.’ I took it back and then walked the family to their car.

And just like that she was gone.

I have her collar to remember her by and a new facebook friend. They said they’ll post pictures of progress and playtime. I can’t wait to see them!

The other dogs at our house seem to be doing fine without Heidi. Without a hyper puppy to play with, Roary is sleeping a lot more but I don’t think she minds. She now has time to heal her playtime wounds and spend more time with her buddy Olivia.

It was a fun adventure. I learned a lot about love and potential. I hope to do it again sometime! It’d be great to have little collection of collars. 🙂

i promised

Before we added Olivia and Belle to our family, I fell in love with a beagle named Heidi. If you haven’t read my earlier posts, my husband and I volunteer over at BARK once in a while. We help clean out the runs and walk the dogs. The daily ritual is to clean the runs and then take whatever dog you want on a nice, long walk through the trails.

The first time we did this, I chose Heidi. She was so little and too cute. She pulled like crazy, sniffing everything in her path.

After a couple of weekends, I told her I’d get her out of there. Like with Olivia, I had a gut feeling that I was supposed to help. I had to.

With the addition of Olivia and then Belle, the promise looked kinda dicey. Adding Heidi to the family would bring us to a total of FOUR DOGS!! That’s completely insane but I promised her freedom so I couldn’t bail on her!

This past weekend I fulfilled my promise. We picked her up and she’s been tiring us out every since.

Let me make this clear. We’re not adopting her, we’re fostering her (same with Belle but it’s hard to find someone who wants a 14 year old, deaf, chihuahua 🙂 ). Knowing that we’re trying to find homes for two of them makes having four dogs a little more tolerable but honestly it hasn’t been bad at all. I can say that Heidi is better than my other dogs on the leash! She’s a little over a year old and therefore still puppy-like but she just needs a little discipline and some time. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said ‘Off!’ in the past week while teaching her that she’s not allowed on the couch! Haha.

So here’s a little info about her in case her future family is reading this!

The girls play all day long. After less than a week they are already getting along quite well.

The chihuahua is another story… but she’s crotchety and doesn’t like other dogs all up in her business. 🙂

Like Olivia, she loves a good belly rub and will sit there calmly for a good while if you keep it up.

When her tails in the air, you can bet she’s on a scent trail. She loves to sniff around and explore every inch of the backyard.

I was told she’s an ‘escape artist’ but we haven’t had any issues with her trying to get out at all. We just make sure she knows that she can’t bolt when we open doors.

Believe it or not, she DOES rest once in a while. We walk her 2 or 3 times a day and soon we hope to start running with her. She needs her exercise for sure!

The bottom line is that it’s totally worth dealing with all that energy because she is the sweetest thing EVER. She just wants play and be loved on!

With her great looks, personality, and the training we’re putting her through, I hope to find her a great forever home very soon.

If you’re interested in Heidi or know of someone who might be (and you’re in the Richmond area), just shoot me an email! hippeitch {at} gmail {dot} com.

olivia – week 6

Since I’m currently watching paint dry for tomorrow’s post I thought I’d update you on Olivia since it’s been awhile!

You know someone is officially part of your family when you have 5 nicknames for them -> Liv, Wiv, Livia, Wivia, & o-liv-i-AAA (sang to the tune of ‘Activia!‘). Yeah that last one…my sister’s odd. 🙂

socializing
Yesterday we went to the dog park. I don’t know if it was the smaller amount of dogs in the park due to our earlier than normal arrival but it was a turning point for Olivia. She PLAYED in PUBLIC. If you’ve read my earlier updates about her, (found here and here) you know she’s a timid lady so for her to have the confidence to play is super exciting.

they're playing not fighting, I promise!

She mostly stuck to running with Roary but she did have some bouts of playfulness towards other dogs.

food
Olivia is still eating well but as I mentioned before, Roary is having trouble staying out of her bowl. A couple times now I’ve even caught Roary growling at whoever is too close to her own bowl. ME included! I laid the smackdown when I caught her in the act – by making her submit and lay down on her side until she relaxed. I won’t tolerate a food aggressive dog in my house! Roary’s issue isn’t helping Olivia so let’s hope I can get her under control. They don’t have any problems drinking from the water bowl at the same time though! Hmm.

walking
Walking is going so much better. I purchased two new leads (found here) for the girls that keep the loop at the top of their necks so they are easier to control. Instead of stopping when Olivia starts to pull, I now tap her on the side of her torso with my foot (as always, Cesar Millan style). Because she’s so skiddish, she stops pulling right away and falls back in line with Roary. This is a great example of my dogs’ difference in personalities. I could probably kick Roary across the street and she’d still be staring at an elusive squirrel but with Olivia it’s just a tap. For Roary I use the tug to the side approach which (usually) snaps her out of her pulling trance. Oh and Olivia still freezes when big trucks go by which I admit IS a bit scary when they’re flying down the road. She’s also not barking at other walkers anymore. She might let out a little growl but once they get close to us she’s fine.

potty training
She did have an accident yesterday but we tested the girls by leaving them with free range of the entire house for two hours while we were gone. In the past couple weeks we went from keeping them in their crate to letting them roam the kitchen/den area. We’ve only tested the kitchen/den area a couple times so expanding their freedom to the entire house was probably premature. It’ll take a couple tries before Olivia realizes she just has to hold it until we get back!

roary & playing
As I mentioned earlier, this is going great! Course now they’re so comfortable playing that they like to jump on my bed at 6:30 in the morning and wrestle. As you can see from this picture, it’d be pretty intense for the early morning!

at the park

the husband
His patience is waning but Olivia is still making good progress with him. The other day I heard a girly yelp from the other side of the room. I looked over and saw that Olivia had  jumped up and put her paws on my husband’s stomach. (She often does that when she’s excited). The girly cry had come from the excited grown man with the giant smile on his face. I have to tell you that this man does not show much emotion so it was a hilarious sight to see!

She also willingly sits near him these days. In comparison to when we first got her – she would run out of a room if he were in it. Breakthrough indeed!

his girls

We are so glad that she’s a part of our family. She’s learning commands, showing emotion, and getting more comfortable each day. It’s so fun to watch her progression.

At first we thought she might be too mellow for crazy, cooky, Roary.

hello there

But we’re finding out that she has a very entertaining personality as well!

relax, take a load off

I might have to do a post consisting of just awkward Olivia poses and faces. She has a TON and it’s hilarious. 🙂

Now that she’s settled in, we’ve been discussing our next foster. We’re thinking we’re going to stick to just one for now and see how it goes. Next Saturday we’ll be volunteering at BARK again so we hope to make a decision then.

Stay tuned!

volunteering – day 3.5

“Where are we GOin’?” (spoken in a low, slow hound voice)

on our way

Yesterday we went to Petsmart (where BARK has their adoption stand) to officially adopt Olivia. Even though we knew we were going to adopt her all along I was pretty pumped.

There were lots of people looking to adopt which was so great to see.

potential adopters!

The BARK volunteers were happy to see Olivia but sad to see her go since “she’s such a sweetie”. 🙂 One of them even said she looked like a totally different dog because she didn’t seem so scared! That made me very happy to hear, especially after hearing a new story about her past.

As I’ve mentioned before she had been at BARK for 14 months and before that she was at another rescue. Little did I know, the last ‘rescue’ had terrible living conditions. BARK actually saved 28 dogs from this place. The volunteer who told me the story said that all the dogs were very malnourished and just miserable. I’m now even happier I get to give her a whole new, happy life.

Back to the adoption.

It was a lengthy process or maybe it just felt like it because of the nasty weather. We had to buy Olivia a new collar and tag and show proof that we had our contact information on it. Then I had to fill out the paperwork and pay the adoption fee. Okay, on second thought, that doesn’t sound lengthy at all. It was definitely the cold rain that screwed up my sense of time!

my husband switching out the collars

Annnnd after that she was ours!

her new tag hidden between the hound jowls and ears

Since you can probably tell by now, I am very passionate about dogs and dog rescue so why would we adopt and not buy from a store or a breeder? Overpopulation. Dogs from stores are most likely from puppy mills (that could be a whole other blog post but I won’t get into it now) which is no good either. There are lot of independent breeders who do a great job of continuing the quality and health of a breed but I feel that overpopulation is too big of a reason to not rescue. Here are some facts that I found from the ASPCA website:

  • Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.
  • Twenty-five percent of dogs who enter local shelters are purebred.
  • The majority of pets are obtained from acquaintances and family members. About 15 to 20 percent of dogs are purchased from breeders, and 10 to 20 percent of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues.

Barf. That’s really depressing. It’s statistics like these that have made me realize that there isn’t an option, we must rescue. If you’re someone who only wants a purebred, why not find one at a shelter? My beagle friend Heidi is a beautiful purebred who we hope to foster. It may take a little while longer to find the breed you want but HEY you’re saving a life.

No matter where a dog or cat comes from you know they’ll give you lots of love and brighten your spirit, so why not help one in need?

comfy olivia

Thanks for listening!

volunteering – day 3

On Saturday my husband and I went back to BARK. The first time I went I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. This time around I was recognized by familiar faces (which was so nice!) and I also already knew what I was supposed to do. Familiarlity = comfort.

There were so many more volunteers this time! I’d say 3 times as many. It was a nice surprise to see so many people wanting to help the dogs and well, last time was super exhausting so more help is awesome!

Lots of people were bringing the dogs from the kennels to the outside runs (so that the kennels could be cleaned) so my husband and I stayed inside to scoop poop and lay new wood chips the whole time. It’s amazing how okay I was with the barking and the craziness this time around. I got my tools and just got to work.

Because of the large amount of people, the chores got done in half the time. I felt like I had barely done any work even though I definitely had!

Since we finished the chores early, we were able to spend more time on the hike and with the dog of our choice. My husband’s favorite dog, Rocky, is actually ‘reserved’ for one of the regular volunteers (which is so great for Rocky but sad for him!) so he decided to take his next favorite, Spot.

cutie rocky

There’s another picture of Rocky in the volunteering – day 1 post. He’s such a looker! Not that I’m attached or anything…

spot & the husband

My pick of the pack was the same beagle from last time, Heidi. She is just too sweet.

heidi

I hung out with her for a bit before AND after the hike. At one point my husband came up to us to say ‘hi’ to Heidi and she did the following:

may I have a belly rub please?

Cue the ‘Awwww’. I bet you can guess where she’s going to end up! Answer: my house.

We discussed adopting or fostering the two of them because well, we just can’t help ourselves. My husband and I are crazy but I don’t care!

The plan. The plan is that we’re going to give Olivia, our first foster, a couple more weeks before we take on any other dogs. We want Olivia to be super comfortable at home since we’re officially going to ADOPT her next Saturday. YAY!! We planned on adopting her the whole time. We just wanted to make sure that she would be happy at our house first before she became a part of the family.

Back to the plan. We agreed that we would only foster and not adopt Heidi and Spot. If we keep adopting dogs then we won’t be able to help nearly as many. Of course we are madly in love with these dogs and know that it’s going to be horribly difficult to give them up if/when the time comes but it’ll be for their happiness and that is the MOST important thing.

I’m pumped and a bit terrified if only because Spot is a BEAST (giant). I bet I’m going to have some entertaining stories soon enough. This house is going to be a zoo!

volunteering – day 1.5

So I didn’t volunteer today. Why you ask? Meet Olivia!!

olivia

Olivia is a hound from BARK that we are now fostering. My husband and I picked her up this morning!

As you know I have major love for beagles or any hounds for that matter sooooo last weekend when we did our initial walkthrough around the kennels I saw Olivia. She was in a kennel with two other dogs. While the other two were going nuts she was in the back curled up and terrified. I felt so bad for her! She just looked so miserable.

After interacting with most of the dogs out there on the farm I still felt the need to help Olivia so once we were done doing the dirty work I asked the foster coordinator about her. The coordinator said she had been at BARK for 14 months and before that she was with a different rescue! Depressing. Supposedly she’s almost 5 years old – who knows what her previous years had been like.

I told the coordinator that I was going to put in an application to foster and then did that afternoon. A BARK volunteer came over for a home visit on Wednesday and said I was good to go. Waiting 3 whole days was painful. I was too excited to get her out of there. Seriously earlier today I felt like a kid on Christmas morning!

Once we got to the farm my husband started collecting all her supplies while I sat with Olivia and waited. She was too scared to move much and her tail was tucked severely. Little did she know that her luck was changing!

We were told to take Roary and Olivia on a walk together before going in the house so when we got home that’s what we did. Again, she was too scared to move and get out of the truck so I helped her through it. After that the walk went pretty well and the girls seemed to get alone just fine. Roary wanted to play at first then finally cooled off while Olivia just darted back and forth to smell.

the first walk

the girls

After the walk and some yard work outside I walked in and found the following extreme cuteness. I DIE.

new buddies

I really struggled to write this post. This day has washed away any doubts I had about leaving a career I went school for to find a more fulfilling path.

I’m just so very glad I’ve been able to give a sweet dog a loving new life. It brings me to tears!

P.S. Olivia will be our first ‘foster failure’, I’m sure of it. 🙂