Last week I was on vacation from work, but had no real plans other than to spend some quality time with the pups. The Mr. was traveling for work, so it was just Nola, Sarge and I for three days. I wanted to use this time to do some things with Nola just the two of us. I have been very conscious of her behavior and feelings (yes, I think my dog has feelings, call me an anthropomorphizer if you must) since Sarge has been in the house, and I wanted to make sure she got some special time with just me.
After Sarge’s morning walk and breakfast Nola and I headed out for our adventures. The first day we went to a friend’s camp on Little Sebago Lake, about 20 minutes from our house. Since it was during the work week and early(ish) in the morning, we had the place to ourselves. It was the perfect spot, a private home with a big yard leading down to a sandy area with a dock to the lake. Nola does the best in this kind of environment, she doesn’t like going in the water when she can’t walk in gradually. And, she LOVES to run around with her toy after she retrieved it out of the water. That day was no different, she ran around, swam after her Kong Wubba, and just went all around crazy having fun.
We ended up going back a couple days later and since we had been there already, Nola was more familiar with the territory and she was less interested in sniffing around and more into swimming after her Wubba. I used this to my advantage and tried to get her to actually jump off the dock. I have tried the past two summers to entice her to jump in after a toy, but she just has no interest. Most of the time she’ll run to the end of the dock, see the toy, and then turn around and run into the water after it.
Or, she’ll just stand there and stare at the toy.
This time, I was able to get her to jump in from the end by throwing the toy and then jumping in myself. The water was only about chest deep, so I could just plop in and coax her to come too. Of course, using this method I was unable to get any actual photos of her jumping, but she did it, and I was so proud! I think if we had a place like this to go consistently she would eventually feel more comfortable jumping in without me.
Nola and I also went on a hike at Bradbury Mountain. It’s called a mountain, but really it’s just a large hill. I chose a trail that was about 2 miles long to go up to the summit. It was warm, but not humid, and the tress provided a lot of shade, so Nola wasn’t too hot. It was such a nice walk and we made it to the top pretty easily. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy exploring new places and just hanging out with my dog.
She is such a good leash walker, she never pulled me even coming down. I had a long line just in case she wanted to go a bit further in front, but she stayed right by my side. We chose a shorter trail on the way down because it was getting closer to mid day and the sun was hot!
We practiced some recall, and also ‘up’ by getting onto a bench that was on the side of the trail. She was very attentive, but at this point was getting annoyed with all the posing for the camera I was making her do.
And of course, I spent some time with the Sarge man too. He is less interested in the active adventures and just likes to hang out. So, we sunbathed and napped on the deck.
Although this vacation was more of a stay-cation, I really enjoyed the quality time I got to spend with the pups. I was a little embarrassed when people at work asked what I did while I was off and I said “hung out with the dogs” and they replied “that’s it?”. But really, they are ‘it’ for me. They spend so much of their time alone, waiting for the Mr. and I to come home from work or wherever we happen to be, that I wanted to spend every moment I could with them for the week. They are my life and my loves and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Mr. has been wanting a hammock for a while now. I have had my eye on an L.L. Bean one, but when you add the stand and shipping costs, it had a price tag of over $400 and I just couldn’t pull the trigger. As luck would have it, a couple of weeks ago when the Mr. took his mom to Christmas Tree Shoppe (not his favorite place to go, but he’s a good son!), he found one with a stand for only $99! After we set it up and tried it out, Nola decided she would like to test it too.
Turns out, it has now become her favorite place to lay. It takes a little bit of work to keep the hammock still when she gets up, but once she settles in, she falls right asleep!
I think she also likes that it is high off the ground, which means Sarge can only get so close.
Of course, we only let her up on the hammock when we are around to supervise. We wouldn’t want her to get hurt jumping on or off!
I was never a big hammock person, but after sharing one with my favorite pup (shhh, don’t tell Sarge), I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a summer afternoon.
This weekend Ken Foster, author of “I’m a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America’s Most Beautiful (and Misunderstood) Pet” was in Portland at a local dog supply store signing his book. Jessica, of Notes from a Dog Walker and DINOS fame, invited me to bring Sarge to get him some exposure. I, of course, could not turn down an invitation to hang out with two celebrities AND get my foster out and about, so we gladly accepted.
First of all, the book is awesome. Even if you are just a dog lover, and not necessarily a pittie addict like me, you will enjoy the beautiful photographs and lovely stories. Ken was great to meet in person. He is from New Orleans, so I told him about our Nola and how she was named after the Crescent City. He took tons of photos of the Sarge-meister and signed my book!
Second of all, the title of Ken’s book summed up how the experience went with Sarge. He.was.awesome. Like amazingly awesome. It was hard for him to sit still in the store, there were just too many things to smell and look at.
This was especially true when he discovered the box full of 14 inch bully sticks- his FAVORITE thing ever. He was in heaven. I, not so much, as it took all my might and tons of cheese to get his face out of the box.
Since Sarge seemed to be too much of a shop-a-holic in the store, we spent a majority of the time outside of the store entrance on the sidewalk. The store is located on Commercial Street, one of the busiest streets in the city as it is the beginning of the Old Port Shopping district and the only street that runs parallel to the ocean. Being the day before Mother’s Day is seemed like the sidewalks were extra busy. And big ol’ Sarge, with his almost too small ‘adopt me’ vest on, attracted crowds like it was his job. I personally think it is the combination of his size XL white head, black eye-liner raccoon eyes, and his always wagging kinked tail. People came up from behind him, little kids put their hands in his face, and people bent down right at eye level to him, and through it all he was cool as a cucumber.
I gave him a bully at one point when the crowd was light and he happily chomped away on the sidewalk. Even when people came up to him while he was eating it, he didn’t mind at all. (I did end up taking it when people came up to him, I just didn’t want to risk any resource guarding since he loves his bullies.)
Jessica stood outside with us and was awesome to talk to! It is so nice to have someone so knowledgeable as her to ask advice in person. She was so gracious about answering my 50,000 questions about fostering, rescue and how best to market Mr. Sarge to potential adopters. And as if I didn’t know it already, she could not stop saying how wonderful Sargent was. She reminded me that this was a hard environment to be in for any dog, with tons of distractions, strollers, cars, bikes you name it. My old guy was handling it like a pro.
We stayed about an hour and a half, and he probably could stayed longer, but I wanted to leave on a high note. I was so proud of the old guy, he handled himself like a distinguished gentleman. I gave out a bunch of cards with his info on them and talked about him a lot. I’m not sure we’ll get any serious inquiries, but it doesn’t matter. Just knowing that he does so well in these situations made the day worth it. It was a great event for Sarge, and selfishly, I was so happy to spend time with Jessica and to meet Ken. It was a win-win for both of us!
Oh, and Sarge was exhausted after. He was asleep 2.5 second after we got back to the car.
For two weeks before, and still two weeks after vacation, I have been dealing with all the negative comments people have about cruises. They watched the news and saw the horror stories of ships breaking down recently. They said to me: “It must be so awful being confined on a ship like that,” or “I would never want to go on a cruise,” or “Bring a poop bag for the ship!” All of the people that made theses comments have never even been on a cruise. How could they judge something that I love with no previous experience or knowledge on the subject? Why were they letting a few stories in the media influence their opinion and then feel the need to tell me how horrible they are? I’ve been on 5 different cruises and can say I have never had a bad experience. Why won’t people give cruises a chance?
As I was sitting in my doctor’s office this morning, again defending my reasons for choosing to take a cruise for vacation, I had an epiphany. Cruises are just like pit bulls.
When you Google ‘Carnival Cruise’ here are the headlines you get:
- Man sentenced to 20 years for gang-rape of teen on cruise
- Are Cruise Ships Safe? Carnival Cruises‘ Triumphant Fall From Grace
- Carnival Triumph Adrift: Cruise Ship Breaks Loose In Mobile, Alabama
When you Google ‘Pit Bulls’ here are the headlines you get:
- Pit bulls removed from slaying site headed to Boise
- Boy, 7, dies four days after being savaged by pit bulls
- Teaching pit bulls to be nice
See any similarities? Because the media focuses on negatives, you never hear positive things in the news. Bad, scary things are news. Good, happy things are boring. Media outlets don’t report on fantastic cruise vacations just like they don’t report on ‘pit bulls’ who are therapy dogs and wonderful family pets. While it is true that some cruise lines have had issues, and for the people who were stranded for days with no power on a ship it must have been horrible, but that is the minority. Not all cruises are bad, just like not all pit bulls are bad. It is wrong to label the whole cruise industry after a couple negative incidents, and it is the same thing people have been doing to pit bulls for years. The entire breed is not viscous and dangerous, just because individual dogs might show these characteristics.
I have been defending pit bulls for the past several years, and cruises for the past several weeks. What I’ve learned with both topics is that it is easy to get frustrated when you feel defensive about something you love. It is hard to change the mind of people who have no experience with whatever you are defending. I like to have a few points in my back pocket that I can count on if you get into a discussion about something. But what I’ve found is that you aren’t always going to get the results you want. It is hard to change someone’s uneducated opinion. If more people would read about the positive pit bull stories or give pit bulls a chance in person, I believe they would change their opinion of them as being scary aggressive dogs.
But, not everyone will do that, just like not everyone will give cruises a try. All you can do is love them and change people’s opinion by being a good example.
I realized when I got back from vacation that I had forgotten that the Mr. and I just passed a couple of big milestones. The first was the one year anniversary of when we got our very first foster, Laynie. It was one year ago that I drove home after being in Boston for five days for work, picked up the Mr., and then drove another 45 minutes north to get Laynie. When we met her she was bouncing off the walls and the Mr. and I were afraid of what we got ourselves into. It took some adjustment time (read about it here, here and here) but soon we fell in love with Laynie and with fostering.
The other milestone was that I started this blog right around the same time as Laynie came into our lives. I originally just wanted a place to write about and share photos of Nola, but soon discovered that it was a wonderful resource to write about fosters to help get them adopted. Through this blog, I have ‘met’ so many wonderful people and I have learned so much about the world of rescue, fostering, and dogs in general. The network that I have uncovered over the past year has been invaluable. I am excited to keep learning, making more connections, and saving more dogs!
Looking back, and forward at the same time, I have begun a list of things I want to accomplish through rescue. With all the information I’ve gathered from reading other blogs, following rescues, and volunteering, I have started to realize the scope of the problems rescues are facing. Shelters are full, some are still euthanizing perfectly healthy dogs, strays run rampant in some parts of the country, and BSL is threatening to make things worse. As I get deeper and deeper into the world of rescue sometimes I feel like ignorance was bliss, but then again, I am glad I know what I know now so I can help. I know I can not save them all, which believe it or not was a hard realization to come to, but there are certain types of dogs that I have been thinking that I want to rescue for one reason or another. So, without further adieu, here is my rescue bucket list:
- Rescue a dog directly from a shelter- literally walk the dog out of the shelter and into my home (and heart!).
- Foster, rescue or adopt a senior dog who can live out the rest of his or her golden years in a loving environment.
- Rescue/foster a momma AND her puppies.
- Foster a little dog (30 pounds or under).
- Become a foster failure!
The last one might seem like a strange goal to some of you in the fostering world. But to me, fostering first and really being able to see how another dog fits into our lives would be the best thing for us. Nola is very tolerant of other dogs in her home, but to officially add another four legged member to our family I would need her approval first. I love EVERY dog and want to keep them all. But, it’s the ‘queen of the castle’ that needs to make the decision for us.
What do you think of my list? Do you have a ‘to-do’ list having to do with dogs or rescue?
You go on your honeymoon and come home with photos of all the dogs you saw along the way. (Which is what the Mr. and I did after we went on our honeymoon to Europe back in June of 2011.)
I am sure we will have more pics of the pups we saw during our vacation when we get back next week. Do you take pictures of other dogs when you go on vacation?
This week has been full of seconds. Along with our second foster came another second for us, a blog award! This time we were nominated by Our Waldo Bungie for Beautiful Blogger and One Lovely Blog Awards. We really can’t believe it. Blogging is hard work! It’s not easy finding time to write, in between living life and taking care of dogs. It’s something that hundreds of people do and do well. So, for us to be put in that category is just amazing and we couldn’t be more thankful.
- Copy the award logos and place it in your post
- Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post
- Nominate other bloggers you admire
- Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know
- One extra requirement for the One Lovely Blog award requires you to share 7 things about yourself
I already pasted the logos and thanked Our Waldo Bungie for the nomination. Here are four blogs that I admire. I am not sure if they’ve already received these awards, (I can’t imagine they haven’t because they’re awesome!) but if they did I’m nominating them again:
A Heartbeat at My Feet: Curtest blog title, ever. The list of things I love about this blog (which include Cooper, who I would steal if I lived in Nashville!) is way too long to list here. Just trust me, the blog is great and you should all read it.
Kate with a camera (Formerly Twenty-Six to Life): My dad is a photographer, so all my life I have gained appreciation for great photos, and this blog does not disappoint. I aspire to take photos of my dogs that are as nice as Kate’s. And, her dogs are cute to boot!
The Rufus Way: I have a thing for brown/bridle dogs with white chests and big ears. Hence, my love for Rufus and the blog.
Adventures of a Dog Mom: Food + Dogs = Blog love.
And lastly, here are seven things about myself:
1. Purple is my favorite color. As you can tell from my blog header, I love it. People tease me because even if you didn’t know me at all you could tell what my favorite color is- Nola’s collar is purple, and her leash, and her bag, and my cell phone cover, my purse, the pen I use at work, my water bottle, iPad cover…I could go on and on. It’s kind of embarrassing that my love is borderline obsessive.
2. French fries are my all-time favorite food. I could eat them at every meal every single day. Sometimes I actually make them my entire meal, like when we go to Pier Fries in downtown OOB. And, when I am eating them my motto is “no potato left behind.”
3. My love of photography is deeply rooted in my family history. As I mentioned above, my dad is a professional photographer. He teaches it at a local high school and also does wedding, sports photography, portraits etc.If you walk into my parents’ house it looks like an art gallery of photos of my brother and I. Every wall has a framed photograph on it. The entire process, from capturing the exact moment, to waiting for the actual photos to develop from the film (well in the ‘old days’ now you just put them on a computer and edit them), to looking through the stack of 4′ x 6’s and then framing and displaying them, is something that brings me an indescribable amount of joy. As an adult, my house is similar to my parents’ in that there are photos everywhere. The idea that a moment in time was captured in a very tangible way that you can relive every time you look at it is amazing.
4. I basically grew up on the beach and as an adult it is one of my favorite places to go. I grew up in a town called Old Orchard Beach (or OOB as I referenced above) where there are 7 miles of pristine sandy beaches right in my backyard. Plus, my parents are teachers so they had each summer off, and that is where we spent June through August. I even have my “summer beach family,” the people who have been going to the same spot at the beach every summer, since I was a child. I hate sitting around the house doing nothing, but I can sit on the beach for hours and not get bored. It’s a place that I love and will always be part of who I am. I someitmes think I might even have sand and salt water running through my veins.
5. My favorite movie as a child was The Little Mermaid. I wanted to be Ariel and have red hair. I still know all the words to “Under the Sea” and “Part of Your World.”
6. The Mr. and I love to travel. We make it a point to go at least one place new every year. So far we have been to: Washington, D.C., Durham, NC (the Mr. is a huge Duke Basketball fan), Las Vegas, Bahamas, New Orleans, Rome, Sicily, Athens, Turkey, Amsterdam, Nashville, Key West, Philadelphia and Miami. Other places on our must visit list are: London and Paris (I have been to both, but not with the Mr.), Hawaii, San Diego and San Francisco.7. I played field hockey all through middle school, high school and two years in college. I had several injuries, including a broken thumb, a concussion and a career ending knee injury. I play every year in my high school alumni game, but haven’t really played competitively in a while. I am a huge sports fan, both watching and playing, and try to stay fit through running, walking, hiking and I generally just like to be active.
Well there you go. I hope my seven things weren’t to boring and that you’ll continue to read about our adventures with Nola and whatever foster we have at the time. Thanks again Our Waldo Bungie for the award and congrats to the other blogs for being Lovely and Beautiful!