Wordless Wednesday: Personal Space

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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.

Freedom!

Here’s another post about Anna I never got the chance to share before she was adopted. This was the first and LAST time Anna was off leash, as she seems to have an affinity for escaping and we just couldn’t take the chance of losing her! She was condemned to a life on a 30 ft. lead for most of her time with us. But, it didn’t seem to phase her much and hopefully with some more training in her forever home, she will be able to enjoy the freedom of being an off leash dog.

A couple weeks ago we took Anna for her first off leash play time that wasn’t in our backyard. AHR has a strict no off leash policy for any of its fosters, and with Anna not having much recall we didn’t risk it. But, we really value letting dogs run in an open area because it lets them expel energy that can not be gotten rid of on leash. We went to a sports complex that has several fences in baseball fields. The gates may or may not have been locked and the Mr. May or may not have lifted Anna over to get her in, but it was the perfect place. I brought a duck that had a slingshot on its beak and Anna loved it. Here are some action shots:
IMG_3001 IMG_3004 IMG_3009 IMG_3011 IMG_3006 IMG_3003IMG_3015IMG_3014As to not press our luck and get caught, we then put her on a 30′ lead and walked around the rest of the complex. We let her sniff and run and just enjoy a less structured walk. She did so well! We even threw in a quick recall training session! Anna was so happy and slept the entire rest of the day (which made it a good day for us too!)!

Houseguest

It’s been 5 days since Anna went to her forever home, and I haven’t been able to put aside all my emotions and write about dropping her off. I still have yet to write my letter to her, I just can’t find the words. So, in the mean time, over the next couple of days I‘m going to share several posts I wrote before the blog hiatus. 

Usually at the M&M&NK household we only have four legged houseguests, but in October we were thrilled when our friend from Tennessee came up for a visit. He stayed at our house because we were all going to a friend’s wedding that weekend. Well, we weren’t the only ones that were thrilled. Both dogs got some quality snuggle time with JYB.

The first night he was here, we had Anna’s obedience class. When the class was over, this is what we came home to:

It’s hard to tell who was more comfortable! Shortly after that, Anna got a turn getting some cuddles from JYB.

She snuggled right up to him, just minutes after they met. This is a true testament to Anna’s loving personality. She loves to cuddle with people more than anything in the world! It was nice for the pups to have a two legged visitor, and we were happy to see JYB too. It was a great weekend, a beautiful wedding and lots of attention for the pups.

Merry Christmas!

Nola, the Mr. and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Hope your day is full of family, fun and of course puppy snuggles and kisses!

nola_xmas12And to Anna, who is spending her first Christmas with her forever family: Merry Christmas Banana! We love you and are so happy you got a home for the holidays! anna_xmas23

Anna’s Special Visitors

As I briefly mentioned when I was catching you all up from my blog hiatus, we got an application for Anna! After three long months of crickets, we seemed to have hit the jackpot. The applicants had an American Staffordshire Terrier for 10 years before they lost her to cancer. They have no other pets, no children, a fenced in yard, and didn’t seem initially deterred by Anna’s ‘issues.’ So, after the rescue approved them during a home visit, we set up a meet and greet for Anna.
anna_1Saturday was the day. We had cleaned the house, cleaned the dog, and sent Nola to hang out with her BFF Payson for the morning. I think Anna could feel how important this day was to all of us. But I am not going to lie, I was nervous. I tried not to get my hopes up too much, Anna can be a handful and I was nervous once they saw her get overly excited in person they would change their minds.
anna_5When they arrived we discussed everything we could think of that they would need to know about Anna. We didn’t want to scare them, but we felt like we owed it to Anna to be honest. Is she very reactive on leash? Yes. Does she have a bit of separation anxiety? Yes. Does she know her name, or have any recall at all? No. Does she like to jump fences? Yes. Did they seem deterred by any of this? Not at all. And how could they, because Anna was her usual love bug self. At one point she sat on the gentleman’s feet and laid on her back for a belly rub. How can you not fall in love with her? You can’t.
anna_4It was hard not to like the applicants too. They showed us their photo album of their dog Indy. She and Anna look very similar. There were photos of her hiking with them, snuggling and all around being happy dog. It was hard not to smile. Not to be out done, the Mr. then showed them our album of Nola and we traded stories of the joys of raising a puppy. Then they said the one thing I can’t get out of my mind. They had lost their dog just this past October and they said although it may seem quick to adopt another, their house just doesn’t feel like a home without a dog. Bring on the goosebumps!
anna_2So an hour and a walk around the block with Anna later, we answered any last minute questions. We traded phone numbers and said we would be in touch with the rescue to finalize everything. I got a call from the adoption coordinator about a half hour later telling me they had sent her a text right away saying they definitely wanted to adopt Anna. We chatted about how great it went and then I left it in the hands of the rescue to officially approve them.
anna_3And they did. Anna is officially, 100% adopted!

Let’s Catch Up

Well, it’s been almost a month since I last blogged. A lot has happened since my last post, so here’s the reader’s digest version:

  • Thanksgiving: Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? We did. Nola and I went down to Massachusetts to visit with my mom’s side of the family. The Mr. went to see his mom and family in northern Maine. Even though this is the one holiday I have NEVER spent with the Mr., I still enjoyed it.
  • Trip to Seattle: My show went well. It was  a looooong flight and a looooong trip, but good. I even made it to the Space Needle this year! spaceneedle
  • Christmas decorations: I flew home from WA for a couple days to unpack and repack for my next trip to LA. I did find time to decorate a bit. I think the pups liked it!
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  • Nola lost a tooth: Not just any tooth, her top canine tooth! She was chewing a bone the night before I had to leave again and I heard a crack. I checked her mouth and found that her tooth was gone. But there was no blood, no remnants of a root, nothing. It was like it just vanished. After the Mr. took her to the vet, it was determined this happened a while ago. I have no idea how we did not see blood, the tooth, or any signs from Nola she was in pain. It’s just crazy! I still feel so sad and felt so guilty for not noticing sooner. Nola’s jowls are so long that I barely ever see her top teeth, but I should have looked in her mouth more often!
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  • Trip to New Orleans: I always love this trip because it is where the Mr. proposed and it is the town that Nola is named after. The weather was warm and my show went well.
  • New Camera: I got a new camera! It was supposed to be a Christmas present from my parents and the Mr., but I couldn’t wait. It’s my first ever DSLR, a Nikon 3100. While I am still learning how to use it, you should see an increase in the quality of photos on the blog (except for those that I have to take quickly or the pups will move, those I still use my iPhone because I always have it with me).
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And the biggest news:

  • An Application came in for Anna: While I was in New Orleans I got an email from Almost Home Rescue that an application had been submitted for Anna (her first one in the three months she’s been with us). It looked promising and there was a home visit arranged later that week. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but stay tuned for more about this!
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So that’s it in a nutshell. Hope you all had a great month. I am still catching up on all the dog blogs I follow, and it seems like I missed a lot! I will make sure to share much more about Anna’s search for her forever home this week.

First Snow!

Although the calendar still says it’s fall, we got a bit of a Nor’easter last night. The first snow in Maine unofficially signals winter is not too far away. So, this morning I got out my winter boots and my iPhone to capture the dogs in the first snow of the season. It is easy to make assumptions about fosters (they had a rough life, they’ve never known love, etc.), so I am hesitant to say this is Anna’s first time in snow, but being from Mississippi, it’s probably safe to say this is her first encounter with any real accumulation of snow.
At first she seemed hesitant, I’m sure it was cold on her ‘Southern’ paws. But then she discovered just how fun it really is and her and Nola had a quick play session.

I took both dogs for their own separate walks so they could have a bit more time to enjoy it.
Nola has always loved snow, in fact we have a nickname for her just for the winter: Snow-la!
On one hand, I hope we will be able to see Anna enjoying more snow, but on the other hand, I am hoping it’s her forever family that gets to discover the joy of watching her go crazy in the white fluffy stuff!
Have your dogs ever experienced snow? Do they like it?

If you or someone you know would like to make snow angles with Anna all winter, fill out an application through Almost Home Rescue.