Time

Time is a funny thing. It seems like there is never enough when you want it, but there are also times where there is just too much. In some cases a lot of time makes things easier, dealing with loss for example, but in other cases the passage of too much time makes it difficult to do the thing you have been putting off. A good example of the latter is this blog.  So much time has passed since I posted regularly that I don’t even know where to start with the blog again. So, instead of trying to go back and talk about everything that has happened in the time since I last posted, I will give you a snapshot of what is going on at the MMNK household at this particular moment in time.IMG_6104
We have two dogs, but not the same two as the last time I posted. Sarge has been gone for almost three months, and it is still very difficult to talk about. I am planning to write a lot more about that later. Laynie has been a permanent member of our family for two months. She is doing really well and she is adjusting to our lifestyle. Nola seems to like tolerate her, so things are going pretty smoothly.
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We have been in our new house about a year now. We love the area and the fact that we are no longer crammed in a small house with a small yard in the city. The wild turkeys that frequent our neighborhood are a bit challenging with the dogs, but our fenced-in yard is amazing! Side note: did you know turkeys CAN fly? I didn’t believe it until one scared the bejeezus out of me when it flew out of a tree during a walk in the woods.

I am starting a new job next week! I left my previous job at the end of December and have been able to be at home with the dogs for the past three months. Although the job search was stressful, I am so grateful I had the time to spend with Sarge during his last days, with Laynie during her first days, and with Nola while she adjusts to the changes with the dogs in her life. My main goal was to find a career that merged my skills in marketing with my passion for dogs, but that is a challenge in Maine because there is limited opportunity. I am very excited about my new position, but will continue to pursue my dream career and am confident it will happen eventually.
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So there you have it: a lot of time has passed, but we have been trying to enjoy every minute. Some of the time was hard, some was sad, most of it has been happy, and we are glad we’ve had it. We hope during our time off from blogging you all enjoyed the time you’ve had as well. Remember:

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” – Harvey MacKay

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Sarge’s Photo Shoot: The Old Man and the Sea

“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”

― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

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“No one should be alone in their old age, he thought.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Thanks to the amazing Liz Donnelly from Portland Photo Company for the beautiful photos of our old man Sarge!

A Letter to Sarge in His New Home

I got the idea of writing a letter to my fosters once they were adopted after reading several other blogs. I thought it would be a good thing to try, and turns out I was right. I’ve written one for Laynie and one for Anna and it has been a great way for me to get closure. It usually takes me several weeks to process our time together and put it into words, but I really enjoy ‘telling them’ how much I love them and wishing them luck in their forever homes. Even though Sarge was adopted by us, I felt like I needed to continue the tradition and officially put his foster days behind us.

Dear Sargent,

Your stay with us began with a large amount of doubt. I have a very hard time making decisions, and bringing you into the house as a foster was no different. I didn’t even know you needed a home until I found you while trying to learn more about a different dog we were going to foster. But, I fell in love with your big white face and floppy/straight ears right away, and so did Daddy. Your age got me, big boy. How could I let a 12 year old dog stay in a shelter? But, the other dog needed our help too. Well, it was meant to be because as we were making our final decision, the other dog was adopted. Your fate was sealed, and you became our third foster.

I’m sure you were confused. After living with a family for at least 6 of your 12+ years, you were in a shelter and then going home with strangers. What brought you to the shelter in the first place? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that your misfortune was one of the best things that ever happened to us. You were the first dog that we got to pull directly out of the shelter and give you a well deserved freedom ride. You were so wiggly I couldn’t even get a good photo of you that first night. Your tail never stopped wagging.
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Our adjustment period was a little rough, and after only 2 days we were nervous you wouldn’t even be ok with us as a foster. You just wouldn’t stop dominating/humping Nola. I don’t blame you, you were probably allowed to do that in your other home since you were still ‘intact’, and being neutered this late in the game is tough. But, no matter what we did to stop you, you didn’t seem to understand that Nola didn’t like it. You also hated your crate, you wouldn’t sleep in it and you cried when we left you in it. We weren’t sure how we were going to leave you and Nola at home together without a crate, and we weren’t sure how we were going to make bed time work for the four of us. But we knew you were worth it, so we tried to find a solution.
DSC_0537Turns out you just needed time. It took you several weeks to adjust, but when your hormones calmed down, and once we bought your ottoman, your wonderful personality really started to show. We discovered that you loved to walk with us, love to play, cuddle, ride in the car…actually we found out that you love doing just about anything as long as you’re with us. As the weeks passed, we started to think seriously about what we would do if no one wanted to adopt you. We had one person ask about you right away, but that was about it. It was sad for me to think about how the number of years you’ve lived overshadowed your wonderful personality. Why were people scared of losing you before they even met you?
DSC_0574And then we realized that we knew from the day we picked you up that you would spend the rest of your days with us. We ‘tried’ to find you a forever home, but really your forever was right here. You just fit, mister. You’re so easy going and can keep up with Nola without annoying her too much. She has been more of herself around you than she has with any of our other fosters, and as much as we loved them, we needed to find a pup that would mesh with her. You were it Buddy, we found our second forever dog.
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You were our ‘first’ for so many things: our first male dog, the first dog we rescued directly from a shelter, our first elderbull, the first foster that didn’t need any training (other than to stop humping) and the most important first, our first foster failure. We know you will bring tons of joy to our lives as you live out your golden years. We can only hope that we can do the same for you. We promise to give you everything you need, want, and deserve, and all we ask of you is to be you. YOU are the pup we fell in love with in that shelter photo, and you are who we will love for as long as we possibly can. Welcome to the family Bubba Boy, you are home.
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Sarge’s DNA Revealed!

When we sprung Sarge from the shelter, we were told that he is a pit bull/boxer mix. Of course, knowing that pit bull is not a an actual breed, unless it is referencing the American Pit Bull Terrier, we were not convinced. Nola is part boxer and that is pretty obvious just by looking at her, but with Sarge I wasn’t so sure. He does have a massive block head, so that could come from several different breeds that make up the ‘pit bull’ label so many shelters use. But, what about the one ear straight up one ear down, the black skin underneath the fawn colored fur, his short but stocky body, the long, thick tail?

So *drum roll, please* according to his Wisdom Panel, Sarge is an:
American Staffordshire Terrier, Bulldog, German Shepard, Staffordshire Bull Terrier Mix.

sarge_breeds2One of his parents was an American Staffordshire Terrier/Bulldog mix and the other was more of a mutt, but with German Shepard and Staffordshire Bull Terrier genes detected. Just as I thought, he is definitely not a boxer. I do think the bulldog is spot on. The size and shape of his head is definitely similar, minus the brachycephalic nose. The German Shepard could be where his pointed ears came from!
DSC_0966So, it seems as though the Mr. and I now have a bona fide pit bull as part of our family. I was a bit disappointed when Nola’s test came out with no trace of pit bull breeds, so I am happy that Sarge definitely is. He is a great example of a friendly, easy going, snuggley, handsome, rescued dog that is also a pit bull. Now when people ask me what he is I can proudly tell them that he is a pit bull and a great dog! Because above all else, he is a dog, and we love him regardless of what his genes are. And now, I can proudly display this sticker that I’ve had for months!
pitbullfamily2Anyone surprised by the results? Have you had your dog DNA tested?

*As a side note, I do understand the controversy surrounding the accuracy of dog DNA tests. In no way do I think they are 100% accurate, but for someone who was just plain curious, these tests are fun and interesting and do not hurt the dog in any way.

Sargent is Adopted!

In case you missed yesterday’s post or don’t follow M&M&NK on Facebook, Sargent was officially adopted by the Mr. and I this weekend on his 14th Birthday.DSC_0047Pretty much since we got him in April EVERYONE asked, “Are you going to keep him?” I’m pretty used to this, especially since I started the blog. I try to write about everything that happens with our fosters, but it’s mostly slanted toward the positive aspects. People never really see the struggles and the behavior issues that we deal with. With Laynie, I knew she would get adopted, so answering the question of keeping her was easy, no. With Anna, she had SO many issues I wasn’t sure she was going to be adopted any time soon, but I knew that she was NOT a good fit for us long term. Thankfully her perfect family found her. And then there was Sarge. IMG_3900

The questions began the instant we pulled him from the shelter, I think mostly due to his age. And, I couldn’t say that he would definitely get adopted. He was by far the most well behaved and easiest foster we’ve had, but his age was a tough thing for people to get over. We had an applicant almost immediately after we got him, but her financial situation changed right after she applied and just didn’t think adopting him would be the responsible thing to do.

As time went on, and there was no interest in him, the Mr. and I started seriously discussing the possibility of Sarge being a ‘long term foster.’ Then, a few things came up that made us think this was the right time. First, when I reached out to BURN about the possibility of adding Sarge to our family, my contact told me she was getting ready to send out a marketing blast about the available dogs so I should try to let her know sooner rather than later. Then, when I went back into all his paperwork from the NHSPCA and found that his birthday was July 20, it made me think we should make that day one big celebration and make his adoption official then. DSC_0374I’ve known for a couple weeks now that this was the plan. Some of you probably were clued in when I stopped posting about why he should be adopted. I also stopped putting his adoption information at the bottom of my posts. I wanted to wait to announce it after it was official, but it was really hard to keep a secret!

Now I’ve crossed off three items from my rescue bucket list with one dog! He’s a very special guy and we’re happy that he is a member of our family. I worry a little about Nola because he’s not the ‘ideal’ second dog for her. We always said that we wouldn’t add another dog that she wasn’t in love with. But, she’s not in love with him the way she was with Zeus, or with her BFF Payson. He’s big, pushy, and more dominant than she is and sometimes she just wants to be away from him. He means well, and tries to snuggle with her, but she doesn’t want anything to do with him. I hope that with some management on our end, and lots of special Nola time, she will be ok with him long term. IMG_3937Having two permanent dogs also means the end of fostering for a while. I have loved each dog we’ve fostered, but I am happy to take some time off. The only time the Mr. and I seriously fight is when we have a foster in the house. It’s stressful and a lot of work, and extremely rewarding all in one. I don’t regret anything, and the fact that now Laynie’s mom is fostering (she has TWO fosters, plus Laynie and her sister Daisy!), it feels a bit like a ‘pay it forward’ situation. I still plan to be involved with BURN, and possibly do some foster holds and transports. I can’t imagine my life not being involved with dog rescue in some way. IMG_4204So, there you have it, the full explanation of Sarge’s adoption. We love him tons and are so happy to give him a place to live out his golden years. We hope we still have a good amount of time with him, but should that not be the case, we are happy that he will know nothing but love in his final days.
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A Day of Celebration

Saturday we celebrated Sarge’s 14th Birthday. Because we have no children, dogs in our house get full blown birthday parties. Sarge was no exception. Nola has had two so far, so I’ve learned some ways to make the day special for the four legged birthday boy.DSC_0045First, we started off the day with a walk on the beach. It’s been so hot and humid here lately that the dogs haven’t had much time outdoors. Sarge seemed to enjoy the release of energy running in the sand and wading in the water. When we got home, the dogs had breakfast and then enjoyed some of the Mr.’s breakfast ham.DSC_0971 DSC_0972It was still really hot on Saturday, so Sarge and Nola napped most of the afternoon. I officially gave him his cupcake stuffie (I gave it to him for a few minutes when we did our pre-birthday photoshoot) and he chomped on it and then fell asleep.DSC_0029 DSC_0048Dinnertime marked the real celebration. I decorated the table and laid out Sarge’s presents. DSC_0988 DSC_0994(You’ll notice two of each present. That’s because with two dogs in the house, I felt like I couldn’t get Sarge something and not get Nola something too, except collars…Nola has a million of those and Sarge only has one so it was time for another!)

He got a three foot bully stick (bullies are his fave!)…DSC_0057the aforementioned cupcake stuffie….DSC_0044and a new collar!DSC_0016 DSC_0022The bully stick was by far his favorite thing. Instead of starting at one end, he decided to start chewing right in the middle. It was so cute seeing him try to walk through the door with it! He eventually gnawed all the way through and then had two! DSC_0060 DSC_0080He, and Nola, also got Frosty Paws and the Mr. and I enjoyed some cake.DSC_0068 DSC_0064Sarge was too busy chewing his bully and didn’t want to come outside to blow out the candles, so we brought the cake to him.DSC_0071(Notice the photo-bomb by Nola in the pic above.)

DSC_0076All in all it was a great day. The Mr. and I just wanted to make double, triple sure that Sarge knew this was a special day and that we love him very much. And so, the best way to accomplish that was with the one present that I didn’t lay out on the table:sargecontractSarge’s adoption contract! July 20 will now be his Gotcha Day and his Birthday! We are all very happy to add Sarge as the 4th member of the family. It was a great day of celebration for everyone!DSC_0063Well, except Nola, who didn’t seem impressed by any of it (except the parts that involved food) and spent most of the time like this:DSC_0028More on the adoption tomorrow!

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

Nola Muffin Monday: Best Christmas Ever

Hi everyone, Nola here. I want to tell you about this past Christmas, or what I call the “Best Christmas Ever.” I’m not sure Mom and Dad would agree, but here’s why I had such a great Christmas.

First, Anna left. I know, I know, that might sound a little mean, and I am happy she has a forever home now, but she was a pain! I am up for helping other dogs in need, but she was a bit much. All my toys had to be put away because she wouldn’t let me play with them without starting a fight. We always had to take separate walks because she was a spazz when we were together. And, she always took my spot on the couch next to Mommy. She didn’t even respect that this is MY house! Geeze. I will miss her a little, she always tried to snuggle with me and I liked it, sometimes.
DSC_0165But the biggest reason this Christmas was awesome is Bullwinkle, or B-Dub as Daddy calls him. Mommy thinks it’s creepy that a moose has a beard, but right from the beginning I knew B-Dub and I were meant to be pals. He has squeakers in his arms, crinkly ears, and a he gives off a sound when you squeeze his chest that just makes me go crazy. He hasn’t left my side since I got him.

DSC_0238DSC_0261DSC_0279DSC_0292He is so soft any furry that I even like to take a snooze while cuddling with him.
DSC_0310As if getting rid of Anna a forever home and replacing her with BW wasn’t enough, I also got lots of other cool toys from my extended family. Opening them all up made me so tired.

DSC_0268I hope you all had an awesome Christmas too!

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!