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. 🙂

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.

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 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!

olivia – week 2

I have a shadow and it’s name is Olivia. Olivia has a shadow and it’s name is Roary. This results in a doggie conga line every time I go anywhere. As I type right now I have to pee terribly but I don’t want to start the party! Fun times at this household.

Anyways, I’m going to keep with the same topics as her week one post so it’s easier to compare her progress. Here we go.

The dog park this past weekend was an improvement. Instead of smelling and running around by herself, she actually interacted with dogs! She ran with confidence and spent more time away from me. Roary even acknowledged her at the park now that she has realized Olivia will be sticking around!

can you tell she's more comfortable? 🙂

She is now eating regularly and taking treats although she still gets skittish if too many people are near her bowl. I’ve been giving her less and less of the the wet dog food to wean her off of it and she’s still eating well which is great. Roary the Fatty can’t keep her nose out of Olivia’s bowl so I’ll be very happy when the wet dog food is gone!

On our walks this past week I’d say she only freezes in fear once or twice which is awesome. People are her main issue now although she did pretty well yesterday when we encountered a lot. Anyways, if they are walking or running towards us she might try to move away in fear or bark. Bark! Can you believe it? That’s not a good thing for her to do of course but at least she’s showing some strength. Also, most of the time she’s still pulling so when it gets too severe I stop walking and wait until she loosens the tension (like last week).

potty training
She has gotten much better at this! I don’t recall any accidents in the house last week. Now that our fence is up (I’m really sorry trees but I needed it!) she has gotten used to going in the backyard regularly. Dare I say we’re done with this issue?!

roary & playing
Last week I saw Olivia pounce Roary’s Christmas stocking. Her first playful act! I have no idea where the stocking came from or how it got to the middle of the living room floor but I froze with excitement. That was just the beginning. Olivia now wrestles and chases Roary in the backyard. It’s a wonderful sight to see considering we had no idea how much time it would take her to relax and open up. A week and a half I suppose!

napping after the dog park.

Roary now expects Olivia to play with her often which Olivia could care less about. Example -> Roary drops a toy in front of Olivia. No dice. Roary then whimpers dramatically like the drama queen she is, “Why won’t you play with me?! I gave you my toy! My life is OVER.” Less then five minutes later Olivia is still asleep and Roary has joined her. It’s entertaining to say the least.

Oh and as a tip to other people with a new second dog:  Since Olivia is so mellow I went ahead and made her and Roary sleep in the same (giant) crate every night. I’d say if you have two dogs that seem to get along just fine then go for it! It might help speed up the bonding process.

the husband
My husband was gone all last week so we didn’t expect much progress when he got home on Friday. We were pleasantly surprised! She’s still jumpy around him but doesn’t run away in fear. She even approached him multiple times at the dog park! We couldn’t believe it. So far he has taken her and Roary on two walks by himself. Before he couldn’t even get her out the door let alone to the street! Amazing.

aww, bonding. can you see roary?

All in all it was an awesome week with lots of surprises. I’m hoping she’ll really shock me and start playing with toys in the next couple weeks. She often sees Roary running around while growling like a maniac with sticks and toys in her mouth you’d think she’d catch on! Maybe, just maybe.

P.S. My next post won’t be about dogs I promise!

Sidenote: I need to get a weekly schedule down for my posts since it’s a little sporadic at the moment. Right now I’m trying to decide on how often I want to write and when it is possible for me to do it! I hope to figure it out soon and I’ll let you know what the plan is when I do. Thanks for bearing with me in the process!

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.


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!

olivia – week 1

Olivia has now been with us for a whole week! I thought everyone would like to hear about her progress so here ya go – a couple of random tidbits.

The day after we got her we took her to the dog park. I thought it’d be a good idea since she probably hadn’t had the freedom to roam and play in years. She was pretty scared of all the commotion and dogs but I think she enjoyed smelling everything and running a bit. Hopefully tomorrow when I take her she’ll interact with the dogs a little more.

Even after a day I could tell she was already more comfortable with me. Multiple times she would run away in the park to smell and then run right back. It totally made my heart melt.

olivia running back to me


look at those hound eyes!


Since she’s super shy the main issue of the week was making her eat. The first thing I got her to take was some cheese and a dog treat. Then, I finally emailed BARK after 3 days of no meals and they told me to use wet dog food which definitely did the trick! Ah, mommy relief.

Again with the timidness. At the beginning of the week it was walk ten feet then freeze from fear or pull so hard that I’d almost face plant. The fear I would ignore until she started walking again but the pulling was a different approach. She would get too scared when I’d try to ‘bite’ her or snap her leash (the cesar way) to correct the issue so instead I would stop and not move until she backed up and loosened the pull. This teaches her that if she doesn’t pull she gets to keep walking. Multiple times I stood there like a weirdo in the street for what felt like 10 minutes but it didn’t matter. It was for the good of the dog. It even helped Roary with her patience and pulling too! <- added bonus.

potty training
Pretty much every day we’ve had an accident inside the house so to potty train her this week I have frequently spent 10-25 minutes of my life shivering in my slippers and parka waiting semi-patiently for her to pee outside. As of now I think I have only given up 2 or 3 times! Success.

roary & playing
Roary is one hyper pup. Hyper pup + Chill hound = well not too much. Olivia has had a couple bouts of playfulness that are SUPER exciting but she doesn’t play with Roary just yet. She just ignores the craziness.

Oh but my sister told me that she picked up a toy today! She didn’t seem to know what to do with toys earlier in the week so this news is awesome. I might just die if she runs after something that I throw. To dream!

the husband
The toughest thing about Olivia is not her issues but that I have to do most of the training on my own because she’s too scared of my husband at the moment. We wouldn’t want her to go back into her shell and never come out so once she’s improved and isn’t scared of him we’ll introduce him back into the training.

at the park

I think she has made great progress so far. I can’t wait to see how much more she will improve in the next week!

Sidenote: Tomorrow I’ll be volunteering at a new place so check back in to see how it goes!

P.S. don’t worry about Roary! She’s still my best buddy and is spoiled rotten.

volunteering – day 1

Today was my first day of volunteering!

As we drove to BARK I felt both excited and anxious at the same time. Would I be too upset by all the dogs there and burst into tears or would I enjoy myself? I’d say I was in between.

We drove up to the farm and met with the BARK volunteer coordinator. She gave us the low down on what we were going to do – move all of the dogs to the outdoor runs so that we could clean their indoor shelters and then bring them all back inside. She said we could choose between moving/walking the dogs and cleaning the runs. It didn’t seem to fair to make the regulars push all the poop around while we played with the dogs so my husband, my sister and I decided to do both.

pretty lady


Once we were inside the sights, sounds, and smells were overwhelming. The barking was at club music level where you have to scream at anyone in order for them to hear you. Over 100 dogs are held at this part of the farm, craziness. We wandered around a bit just to take it all in. The first couple rows were all beagles. The coordinator said that after hunting season is over a lot of beagles are just given away by their owners since they (in their minds) have no need for them anymore. This is horribly depressing to me. I must explain – 1. Growing up the ONLY type of dog I wanted was a beagle and 2. On Wednesday Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point posted a video about former lab beagles experiencing grass and sun for the first time – article. I’m not much of a crier but I bawled when trying to explain the video to my husband.  Needless to say, I wanted to rescue all of them on the spot.


Over the next couple hours we moved dogs, got jumped on with poopy paws, played, scraped up said poop, and brought all the dogs back in to rest after their play time. At points I didn’t know what the heck I was doing but I just found a job and cranked it out. It was very rewarding to say the least. It really fueled my desire to foster a couple of them and volunteer their regularly. A career-worthy job? I should say so.

The day wrapped up with a great walk on a woodsy trail. Each of the volunteers got to pick out their own dogs to walk and well I chose a beagle. 🙂 It was such a great experience. After only one day volunteering is exactly what I hoped for. It’s tough at times but so very worth it.

me and heidi