It’s My Birthday!

Today I turn the big 2-8. While it is a pretty insignificant number, I was a little uneasy about it when I went to bed last night. But this morning, when I woke up with the Mr. next to me and Nola on top of me, I was reminded that I am happy no matter what age I turn, as long as my family is there. And, who were the first two posts on my Facebook wall from this morning (besides the Mr.)? BOTH of my former fosters’ families! I couldn’t have asked for a better present. How cute is this?

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Laynie Monkey and her sis’ Daisy wishing me a Happy Birthday!

Coincidentally, today is also the day Coffee with a Canine featured Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses on their blog. Another great birthday present! Check it out!

So, even though I am now only two years away from the big 3-0, the day looks like it’s going to be a good one!

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REBLOG: Everything You Need To Know About Fostering

I didn’t get a chance to write a post for today, so I thought I would share one from my new fostering idols over at Temporary Home, Permanent Love. I heart all their posts, they are so insightful and right on about everything having to do with fostering, but this post in particular resonated with me. Enjoy, and if you aren’t following them, do it now!

Temporary Home, Permanent Love

Saying Goodbye to our Foster Dog

You will step in poop.  You’re also probably going to get some on your hands, because eventually you will use a bag with a tiny tear at the bottom that you won’t notice until it’s too late.

You will be a hero.

You will spend many sleepless nights as your foster dog learns to adjust to his new home.  You will have bags under your eyes, you’ll skip the gym, and you’ll gain 10 lbs.

Your foster dog will adore you despite what the scale says.

Your favorite shoes will be destroyed.  Your couch will be shredded.  Your clothes perpetually covered in dog hair.

People will look at you in awe as you tell them how you saved this dog’s life.

This adorable foster puppy is just waiting for his forever family to find him.

Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will convert from pictures of you at clubs and parties, to pictures of your foster dog.  Your friends will call you “the crazy dog…

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Thoughts on Fostering- Choosing the Right Rescue

Each of our previous fosters were from different rescue organizations. Laynie, our first, was from the Bully Underground Rescue Network (BURN). Anna, our second, was with Almost Home Rescue. After working with these two very different organizations, I have learned a lot about my feelings on rescue policies and the characteristics I value in an organization to foster with. Here are a few things that are important to me, and what I think a potential foster should look into before they choose a rescue to work with:

  1. Adoption policy, more specifically how the rescue handles home visits and meet and greets. Does the rescue REQUIRE meet and greets with the dog before the adopter is approved? Do they do a general ‘approval’ or are the applicants matched with dogs? Is a home visit mandatory? Do they check references and call the adopter’s vet for a reference?
  2. The rescue’s policy on the foster family’s involvement. How does the rescue handle the foster parent’s opinion on where the dog should be placed? Is the foster family involved in the home visit and/or meet and greet? Make sure you choose a rescue that requires a level of involvement of its fosters that you are comfortable with. If you want to be involved in the meet and greets and home visits, and want your opinion to count, make sure you ask about it. If you purely want to be a home for the dog, and would like the rescue to handle all the adoption details, make sure you know this ahead of time as well.
  3. Adoption events. Does the rescue actively participate in adoption events to get the dogs out in the public? What other ways to they advertise their adoptable pups? The more visibility the dogs have, the better of a chance they have to get adopted.
  4. Where the dogs come from. Are they pulled from local shelters? Are they owner surrenders? Are they brought up from another region? Make sure you align yourself with a rescue that mirrors the importance you put on where the dogs are rescued from.
  5. Their policy/history with adopting out ‘bully breeds.’ What is their policy about accepting pitties into the rescue? As ‘bully breed’ advocates, this particular one was important to us. But, it could really be any breed, so be sure to look into whether the rescue has restrictions about accepting certain breeds.
  6. Resources for fosters. How does the rescue handle the more ‘difficult’ dogs to place? Do they offer training and support for foster families with dogs that might have some training ‘issues’? Will the rescue cover the cost of a trainer, dog walker, etc.?
  7. Where they are based out of. Are they local? Is it a shelter, or a network of fosters? Generally the rescue has resources that are located around wherever they are located. Make sure it is not too far from your location so you have access. Also, if the rescue is located in a different area than you are, make sure you are willing to drive if you are involved with home visits, as the applicants might be a distance away from your home.

These are just a few things that we have discovered are important to us when fostering. I have purposefully left out our views on each topic, as I don’t want to insult either of the great rescues we have partnered with. It is just important for you, as a foster, to figure out what your values are and find an organization that supports those same values. Fostering is a challenge no matter what, so the last thing you want is to feel unsupported! But, in the end, placing a dog in a perfect forever home is the best reward and the reason why we will continue to open our hearts and home to dogs in need.

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Laynie enjoying a sunny day on the deck.

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Anna also enjoying a sunny day on the deck, before her deck privileges were revoked because she jumped the gate!

If you have fostered before, are there things that you find important that I should add to my list? Did you know what was important to you right from the beginning, or have you discovered them through experience, or both?

Nola’s DNA results

If you saw my post yesterday, you might be wondering what these three pictures have in common, and what the ‘missing link’ is.
jindo2 m boxerAs most of you guessed, the answer is they are all the breeds that make up Nola!

nola_cutThe first question anyone asks us when meeting Nola is “What is she?” She has a very unique look, with the combination of her fawn color and white accents mixed with her yellowish eyes, floppy ears and large jowls. Before I can answer, a number of suggestions are usually thrown my way. The most common include: Pit Bull, Boxer, Vizsla and Rhodesian Ridgeback. Usually I just say, “She is a rescue, a mixed breed, and she is such a good girl.” But in reality, I know exactly “what she is” because we had her DNA tested through a Wisdom Panel only a couple months after we got her, back in 2010. So what are the results? Could you guess the mix from the pictures above?
Nola-DNA-Report 2Nola is 25% Jindo, 25% Belgian Malinois and 50% Boxer. The Boxer is pretty obvious just from looking at her, and I can see some Malinois characteristics, but Jindo? I had never even heard of the breed before this.
Nola-DNA-Report 5 Nola-DNA-Report 6 Nola-DNA-Report 4We didn’t realize that so many of her personality traits are common in both Boxers and Belgian Malinois, including: intelligence, hard working, eager to learn and responding best to reward based training and love of dog sports! And, she DEFINITELY jumps on people, which is ALL Boxer. It is something we constantly work on with her, and she is getting better as she gets older, but she does ‘box’ with her front paws when she plays, which is A LOT. Jindos are also know for intelligence, and a highly tuned sense of smell. We have signed Nola up for a Noseworks class in February, so hopefully her Jindo ancestry will help her excel!
IMG_4205So now I will share a secret about the real reason behind this DNA test. When we first decided to adopt Nola, the Mr. and I were what I call ‘dog ignorant.’ We pretty much knew nothing about raising a puppy and when we showed pictures of Nola to people, the first thing they said to us was “she looks like a pit.” Of course, we had been brain washed by the media about pit bulls so we were concerned. It didn’t make us want her any less, but we decided to have her DNA tested so that we could be prepared if she was in fact a pit bull. Looking back now, I am not sure what we would have done differently if the results had shown she had a bully breed in her heritage. It seems so silly now, we still would have socialized her, gone to obedience classes with her, and loved her every second of every day. Now I wish she DID have some pit in her, so she could work as an ambassa-dog for the breed! But, we love her for what she is, a Bel-jind-oxer-ois.
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1 Sweet Award + 1 Liebster Award = A Million Thanks

Way back before my little blog hiatus, M&M&NK was nominated for a Super Sweet Blogging Award by Adventures of a Dog Mom. Then, the other day we were nominated for our second Liebster Award by Peace-a-bull Assembly. Holey Moley! Thank you so much! I haven’t had a chance to abide by all the ‘rules’ of the awards until now. So here it goes:

Super Sweet Blogging Award
super-sweet-awardAs with any award there are rules to follow:

Questions:

  1. Cookies or Cake?  Cookies!
  2. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla, it’s sooo not boring.
  3. What is your favorite sweet treat? Chocolate covered strawberries.
  4. When do you crave sweet things?  After I eat a meal.
  5. If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? The Mr. calls me honey, that’s sweet right?

Pass on the award to ‘a bakers dozen’ (plus one because there are just too many that I love):

  1. A Heartbeat at My Feet
  2. Between Trains
  3. Long Life Cats and Dogs
  4. Fishing in the Fields
  5. Oh Melvin (and Yo Jake)
  6. Our Waldo Bungie
  7. It All Started With a Pit Bull
  8. Married with Dawgs
  9. Pocket Pittie in the City
  10. Temporary Home, Permanent Love
  11. Pitties for your Thoughts
  12. Defining Lexi
  13. Tuesday Night Boyfriend
  14. A-Peace-A-Bull Assembly

“Liebster means Dearest in German, so the Liebster Blog Award is the Dearest Blog Award. It’s an award intended to recognize worthy, lesser known blogs and to help expose their work.”

liebsterApparently the Liebster Blog Award Rules have changed a bit since we accepted our last award:

  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you Thank you A-Peace-A-Bull Assembly!
  2. Share five things about yourself
  3. Answer five questions presented by A-Peace-A-Bull Assembly
  4. Ask five new questions to your nominated bloggers
  5. Reveal your top five picks {with less than 200 readers} and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
  6. Copy and paste the award on your blog
  7. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite up-and-coming bloggers and keep it going!

Five things about me:

  1. My last job was with an AHL hockey team.
  2. I’ve lived in Maine my whole life (other than college).
  3. I don’t eat red meat.
  4. The last book I read was Wallace. It was great!
  5. My new obsession is with Alex and Ani bracelets.

Questions asked by A-Peace-A-Bull Assembly:

  1. Most of us have a common theme in the titles of our blog, but tell us: how did you come by the name of yours? I wanted a title that reflected my life, which includes my husband and my pup, Nola, who loves to give kisses. Thus, Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses.
  2. What is the be-all end-all favorite treat of your dog(s)? Nola LOVES bully sticks.
  3. What has been the biggest challenge of dog ownership? Finding the balance between staying home/doing things with Nola and leaving her/finding a babysitter so we can do things with other humans.
  4. And what has been the biggest reward? The love and joy she brings us everyday! And that she has allowed us to start fostering so we can help save other dogs.
  5. What is your favorite “me” activity? Shopping!

My five nominees ( I apologize if you’ve already received this award or have more than 200 followers):

  1. Fostrickson
  2. Miss Perfectly Imperfect
  3. The Life and Times of Sir Titan
  4. Hound and a Half
  5. Confessions of a Pit Bull Addict

My 5 questions for the blogs nominated above:

  1. What is your worst habit?
  2. What is your dog’s worst habit?
  3. What is your favorite day of the week?
  4. What is the best thing about blogging?
  5. What is your favorite travel destination?

OK, I think that about covers it. Thank you again, and Congrats to all the nominees!

A Letter to Anna in Her New Home

Dear Anna,
It’s been just over three weeks since you’ve been gone, and I am just now finding the words to express what you meant to the Mr. and I. I’m sorry it took so long, it’s not that we didn’t love you, it’s actually the complete opposite. You left such an impression on us that it is so emotional to think back on our time together. I have tried to write this several times, but always ended up in a mess of tears. So, bear with me, sweet baby, as I try to get through this.
IMG_3453Your journey with us was unexpected in many ways. First, we thought we were getting a 35 pound pup for a two day hold. You definitely weren’t 35 pounds and you stayed with us for three months. It wasn’t your fault, we fought for what was right for you, even after only knowing you for 24 hours. We had no idea what your past was like, only that your future with us was going to be the best we could make it. Most of what we were told about you was untrue, except for the part about you being a total love. You were like an onion, we kept peeling to reveal more and more interesting layers (and tears). From our first vet visit, where you almost took off the Mr.’s foot because of a little Frenchie that stared you down, to the first time you jumped our fence to chase a cat, you always kept us on our toes.
IMG_3441You taught us a lot about dog behavior and training, Banana. We had never dealt with a dog who had such severe leash reactivity, separation anxiety and complete lack of any obedience. You brought out in us patience, determination and we learned how to be strong, yet gentle leaders. Your dog issues introduced us to the world of BAT and functional rewards. We met the best trainer with lots of bully experience who helped us tremendously. You really wanted to please us, in your own stubborn, pushy way, we just had to find the right way to communicate to you what we wanted (and use lots of treats). But you got it. By the end of our time together you would sit before storming in and out of doors. You walked on a loose leash 85% of the time. You were so much better when we met other dogs on our walks. You stopped tearing up your crate when we left you. You came a long way in three months and I am so proud of you.
anna_snuggleAnd the snuggling. That is what I will miss the most. You are such a good snuggler. You had a way of snuggling up right next to me that was so comfortable that I never wanted to get up. I’ll never forget our fist night together, when you snuggled right up, on your back and slept all night with me on the couch. You didn’t even know me, but you wanted to snuggle.
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The times that you would rest your head on my shoulder, right under my chin, and just let out an exhale melted my heart. I could always count on you to be right near me on the couch.IMG_3320We even broke our ‘no fosters in bed rule’ for you, sometimes, especially when the Mr. was away. Being sandwiched in between you and Nola in bed was like heaven for me. And on the nights when it was just Nola in bed, you went right into your crate and fell right asleep, even though you hated the crate during the day. I never really figured that out, but I think it’s because you were just happy when you were with us. And we loved it.

Foster Dad had the hardest time letting you go. He has always been a bit iffy about fostering in general, as it is such a big commitment. But from the beginning, when I called him crying when I found out you were not just a two day hold, he wanted to do right by you. Then when his job changed and he worked from home, he spent a lot of time bonding with you. He said you were his ‘buddy’ and when I was stressed and tired of dealing with some of your issues, he was calm and always thought of the good things about you. He loved playing ball with you and enjoyed the fact that you would cuddle with him just as much as with me. When we found out you were adopted, he was happy, but the idea of bringing you to your forever home made him really sad. He was upset the whole week leading up to that day, and made sure to really relish all the ‘last times’ with you. He misses you a ton, stinker.
DSC_0177Before you, I had never met a dog that rivaled Nola in quantity and quality of kisses. Your little snort and happy tail was always a joy to meet at the door when we came home. You love people more than anything in the world and it showed when you would give your belly to any stranger you met. People reciprocated the love. How could they not? You are such a beauty and you make everyone you meet smile.
DSC_0175 DSC_0017 anna_kissWe had to fight for you on several occasions, to make sure you would end up in the place you deserve, and sweet girl, we are glad we did. We are so happy that your new family believes you are the perfect dog for them. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t sure we would ever find someone that describes you that way. ‘Tough’ maybe. ‘Lovebug’ definitely. But you turned out to truly be perfect for them. We have seen the picture of you curled up on your Dads’ bed, chewing your toys and being the amazing snuggler you are. You look so content, little girl.

There are a few things I want you to remember in your new home, sweetheart. First, try not to pull so much on leash. Your Dads aren’t as young as Foster Dad and I are, and you are really strong! Relax, enjoy the walk. You don’t always have to be in such a hurry! Also, your Dads will have to leave you at home alone sometimes. Remember, they WILL ALWAYS come back. Don’t worry about being alone for a little bit, they will never leave you forever. When you do have bad days where the sight of another dog is just too much for you and you get frustrated, or you decide to chew on something you shouldn’t have, make up for it with your loving sweet personality. Your kisses and snuggles go a long way to make us humans feel better. And lastly, enjoy your life. You are now the only four-legged baby for two men that will love you with all of their heart. They loved their last dog as much as others love their children (if not more!) and I suspect that you will get more attention and love than you ever have before.
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Although we miss you like crazy, we could not have asked for a better ending to our journey together. As unexpected as your beginning with us was, the end of your time with us was just what we wanted for you.We love you Anna Banana and wish you all the happiness you deserve. Thank you for such wonderful memories as our second foster pup. We know that we are not yours, but you will always be our foster, and now you will also always be part of a forever family.

Love,
Foster Mom, Foster Dad and Nola

2012 Year in Review

2012 was a big year for us. It was the year we started this blog, and the year we started fostering, and thus the year we became pit bull advocates. Before this year, the Mr. and I didn’t know much about the pit bull stereotypes and negativity around the ‘breed’ (heck, I didn’t even know pit bull wasn’t a breed!). After I started following a few blogs, I quickly learned how much of a problem it was and it made me want to take action. Since Nola is such an easygoing dog, we decided that we would help become advocates by fostering pit bulls in need. Although fostering was tough at times, on both the Mr. and I and Nola, we found it to be extremely rewarding, especially since both of our fosters have been placed in great homes.

Laynie_daisy_fourthLaynie is getting along great with her sister Dasiy. She loves that her mom works a school schedule and is home with her during the summer, on holiday and especially recently, on snow days. Laynie’s mom even started fostering pit bulls herself! Here is Laynie with her sister Daisy and her foster sis’ Calada (who is still up for adoption). How cute are they?laynie caladaAnd Anna, sweet Banana. We recently got an email from her Dads saying that she is doing really well and that they love her very much. They have realized some of her ‘issues’ but are willing to keep working on them with her. Doesn’t she look so happy in her forever home?

anna_update1 anna_update2 anna_update3 anna_update4All in all, 2012 brought a lot of happiness and joy to our lives. We will continue fostering in 2013, but for now, we are enjoying some quality time with Nola Muffin. We hope you all had a happy and healthy 2012 and hope 2013 brings you more of the same!
DSC_0004P.S. In case you’re interested, here are some stats about the blog from 2012.

In 2012, there were 106 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 666 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2 GB. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

People from 47 countries visited the blog in 2012.

The post that got the most views was: Guest Post: Third Time’s a Charm: Angus

Click here to see the complete report.