Friday, February 5, 2016

Delta and Scott

I don't like this getting older thing one bit if it means people close to me are going to die.  This is happening more and more the older I get.  And most recently, I found out the man who helped us so much with Delta passed away unexpectedly.  I was completely floored to hear the news.  I still am.  

We met Scott when we took Delta to work at his dog training facility back in October of 2015, and he had worked with us ever since. The first time I met Scott, I was very emotional and on edge.  I think I cried the whole time I was there. Totally normal, right?  Our meeting with Scott was so important. And there was a lot was riding on this meeting.

Delta had not adjusted well to our dog, Puck when we first took her in as a foster. We had a couple incidents of the dogs fighting that made us quite leery and after a couple months of trying to make things work, we ultimately made a decision to return her to our rescue's headquarters. It was not an easy decision at all.  The guilt and shame both Mike and I felt was huge.  We felt like enormous failures and we felt like we had let Delta down.  The night we took her back was an especially bad night. So a decision was made for the safety of all the dogs. In that time, while she was at rescue building she back-tracked horribly.  There wasn't another foster who could take her so she spent day-in-and day-out in the kennel.  There are great volunteers who come in each day and exercise all the dogs, but she is one who needed a lot of time outside and something to work her brain.  She also didn't like a few of the people who were trying to help her. As a result, the rescue thought that maybe they needed to put her down.  (If Delta was going to be un-adoptable then that was the only option she faced.) Did I mention we felt like failures?

As time when on, Mike began to go out to the rescue building daily and starting working her. Mostly playing, but also something more than what she was getting previously. (He spent a hour on the road each day to work with her.) And Delta responded.  So decisions were put on hold for just a little whileBut that didn't mean her fate had changed just that other things were happening so no decision was going to be made.  As a long shot, we asked if a trainer could get involved and graciously they said, why not? That is how we met Scott.

Mike started taking Delta "to school" once a week and I joined a couple sessions in.  The first day I arrived a bit early, so I got to meet Scott on my own.  Scott was a slender man, with a crazy wiry beard and warm green eyes. I instantly felt comfortable in his presence. He asked me what brought us to the facility and what I hoped to accomplish. And as I begin to talk, I totally broke down and cried.  Tears were flowing down my face and yet he was so empathetic and compassionate.  He truly understood my love for Delta and the emotions of how we thought we had failed her. 

As time passed, Delta made a ton of progress. We worked Scott and another trainer every week.- and all of our dogs were doing incredibly well!  We did our homework diligently.  And it was so exciting to go see Scott each week and get our next assignment. Through each session we got to know each other a little better.  Scott was a vet and who spent some time in Afghanistan. He suffered from PTSD and some other physical conditions from the war.  He had a service dog to help him with his anxiety.  He and his wife started an organization which helps train and place service dogs with other vets. What I will remember most is that - He was such a positive individual and he made such an impact on the people around the dog community.  I feel like I still have a lot to learn from him but now that opportunity is gone. I feel so honored that we had a small opportunity to work with him.  His impact on our lives was huge and he will be truly missed to all who knew him.  


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Another year in the books...

Another year in the books.  I always feel like the holidays are a great big rush of crazy all crammed together and it's just too much to fully enjoy it.  This year was no different. Vacation, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's...and then let's throw my birthday into the mix...oh yeah! and a wedding anniversary.  (See what I mean!  It's all too much!) 

I don't have a lot of plans or goals for the new year.  I just want to live one day at a time right now.  I know I'm pretty lucky - having a job that I absolutely love, an incredible husband and awesome friends that I love dearly.  So what do I have to complain about?  Not much really.  Just my job. The job that I love.  The job that I have poured my heart and soul into for a really long time.  The one I am really good at I might add!

My workplace has had some turnover and decisions were made with little consideration to who it might affect and how things will actually function.  So for the next year or so, I'm going to have to figure out how to make this work.  I'm hoping a few adjustments will make a huge impact.  But for now, until these things are flushed out... I just have to wait and see....There are plenty of other great things in my life to focus on instead, and so I will.  Happy New Year, everyone.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Pups and Projects

Not much extra time for anything right now, but I wanted to put a couple pictures up of our new retaining wall.  The old wall was falling over and in my first year living here - a drunk driver ran into the corner and smashed the hell out of it.  Today we have a beautiful new wall.  I still have to plant some grasses and a few flowers but that will wait until next spring. 

And you may be wondering about the black mesh on the fence.... That is for the dogs.  We were having some issues with neighborhood dogs walking by and causing our dogs to become maniacs.  It's actually a long story, but the short version is - lots of training, lots of black mesh, lots of happiness.  It might not be real pretty but it does make our lives much happier now.   

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Just wanted to show you the finished project on the westside of the house.  We just wanted to pretty up the deck - not rebuild it - and by just adding some new railings we saved money and effort.  It also gives a bit of privacy from the kitchen too.  The dogs like to bark if someone is walking by and now they can't even see anyone.  SUCCESS!

And our latest project!  The east side of the house.  I want to eventually turn the back area into a beautiful private courtyard.  But as you can see, we are far far from anything cute.  The first problem was the janky, old, beat-up chain link fence.  And the privacy issue - I wanted to block the backyard a bit because so many people walk by and it was just so exposed to our busy main street. 

So last weekend, we decided to continue the idea from the deck to a privacy fence.  (I need to take a full house picture so you can see how cool it looks with the same pattern from the small deck to the fence.) I absolutely love the amount of privacy we have now.  Some might think the tree is a problem but I like that it gives us a bit of a noise barrier from the cars and it blocks the house on the other side too.  It's a pretty tree so why not just embrace it and make it work for you.  Neither project took much time. And the handy husband made it look very easy - I love the results and I'm plotting my next project as we speak!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015



Big improvement in my book!  We still have the small size to finish but I think we can all agree - much better! 

Monday, September 21, 2015


Ever have those days where you just want to give-up?  You have just one too many things that have pushed you over the edge.  Yeah, me too.  And today is that day. 

I just don't know where to start with the 600 things on my desk.  The shifting of responsibilities in my office has resulted in me taking on most of my former boss's job and yet still managing my own, as well as a new boss who definitely doesn't understand what student support is nor does he understand how importance actually being there physically for the students.  And now I am just so far behind on everything I don't know what to do.

Another stresser: My townhouse, which is a rental property, adds another layer of pressure in my life.  Luckily, it's not with the family renting. They are awesome.  It's just the city and it's rules.  Just one more thing I have to figure out and get done and of course, pay for the new expenses that city code demands.  No big deal right? :/  

And the dogs...the very thing that makes my life so much better when life is so crazy leaves me with an aching heart right now.  We have had some things come up that have left Mike and I at a total loss.  Things that we didn't anticipate when we decided to foster.  Things that have left us hurting. I'm hoping with some time we will heal and then we can foster again but right now we have decided to take a break.  The heart ache is too much right now. Our rescue group knows we will be there for the emergency situations that pop up. And we did just help out another foster this past weekend.  So that gives me a lot of hope that healing is possible.  But for now...a break.   

Today is that day that I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.  But sadly, the world just keeps turning and life keeps moving forward whether you want it to or not.  So I will keep my ever present mantra in mind, This Too Shall Pass.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Worth It

To say the last month has been a challenging one, would be a huge understatement.  The challenges faced are ones I hope I will not see again.  My spirit is deflated at the moment and needs some time to heel.  I don't want to leave the details here - only because I don't want to relive the failure or tragedy again. 

So I leave a picture of Mr. Eddie and his cute little face here as a reminder that these feelings will lessen in the coming days.  And I need to remember even when you do everything "right" sometimes things will still go wrong. 

There were so many things this summer to look back on with a smile.  It was a really good summer in many many ways.  Summer was mostly hanging with the family and our dogs, but those are the things that make life awesome. 

And I hope to show more house pictures soon.  We have a couple projects to finish. and maybe, just maybe, we can start some work on the drywall. 

"No one said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


DSM Register 2015

DSM Register 2014

DSM Register 2014

DSM Register 2014

Graduation parties - sister and nephew
Watching this guy do what he loves is probably one of the greatest joys for me.  Watching him grow up has been incredible.  He has finished his senior year of high school and he is now finishing his senior baseball season before he goes to college in the fall.  He has endured more than most will in a lifetime and he isn't even 18 years old.  I don't know God's plan for him but it must be something big. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Delta Loving Life

Meeting Delta for the first time. 
She arrived on a transport after a 2 hour drive. 
(I pulled some of these photos from Facebook.  The rescue worker who helped Delta had posted these on her page)

"She likes her foster Dad, snuggle right up to him with her tail tucked tight.."
-Rescue worker

Delta did not have a good trip - poor girl ended up peeing and puking in her kennel on the way. The shelter where she came from was not a good place.  They don't care about the animals, and they did not help in her transport at all.  They were asked to take the dogs out before they left and pull food in the morning.  None of that happened.  (And there is other questionable things with this particular shelter but that is not for me to judge at this time.)  I'm so grateful there are people who care enough in the world to help any animal in need.   

"Delta is so sweet, [yet] she cowers and thinks she's in trouble, but when she got into the big fenced area she [just] ran and ran!"  Imagine being locked up for hours on end in a small concrete cell.  Delta does the same thing in our big yard.  She runs like the wind.  And you can actually see the smile on her face.

I sent the rescue worker, who pulled Delta from the shelter, a little update and this is what she said, "Delta, who was dirty, stinky, thin, depressed and desperate from living in an AC kennel pretty much 24-7. She appears to be none of those things anymore."

I just can't believe how lucky we are to be able to foster her.  She is one special dog. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


(Delta - shelter dog who was scheduled to die - rescued - quite possibly one of the best dogs I know - foster dog)
Last night, as I was doing a home visit for the rescue I volunteer with, the husband told me a story about how their previous dog had found his forever home. The husband had gone to the local shelter to pick out a dog and found a black lab pup who was exactly what they were looking for.  But as they were finalizing the process they found out the dog was sick and had a temperature and he was unable to be adopted at that time.  They were disappointed but looked around a little more. 

A shelter worker, who wasn't working with them but who had seen the exchange came over and said, "I have the perfect dog for you." (The owner mentioned that he thought the worker was on a work-release program but also said that the man had volunteered with the shelter for a while now.)  The worker led the man "to the back" of the shelter and told the family all about this particular dog. The worker said how much he would have liked to adopt the pup himself but he was unable to at that time. So the family met the dog and he was a great dog. THAT was the dog the owner took home. 

They had Buddy for 17 years and he really was the perfect dog. Both the husband and wife spoke very lovingly of their former pet.  They also told me, he recently died of cancer.  It was sad but at the same time, I had to smile.  That dog had a wonderful life.  Thanks to the shelter worker and thanks to the husband for taking a chance. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Two More


Meet our new fosters - I call them the death row doggies. But really, they are survivors!  Both Lil' Bit and Delta were just days away from being put down in a shelter that was 2 hours north of us.  Luckily, another rescue stepped up and they were both transported to our rescue, along with another pup.  All were placed in foster homes.  And now they wait to find their forever families.  (Mike would say they already have.... Too bad there are laws that dicate how many animals one family can have.)

So there is a good story but there are so many other stories that don't have the happy ending.  I follow too many rescues on instagram and facebook. People trying to help and a lot who are making a difference every day. But sometimes - there are the not-so-happy stories and they make me so sad.  The hard many great dogs that end up in shelters. And some don't get out. And then there are the dogs that end up in horrible homes with horrible people. There are just too many stories in the news right now of horrific cases of animal abuse.  The saddness I feel right now is palpable. 

While I do what I can... sometimes it feels like a drop in the bucket.  And all I can do is just focus on the ones in my house and give them the best place and all the love I can, until they move on. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Hard Part

When someone finds out that my husband and I foster homeless dogs - the first comment to come out of their mouth is most likely, "Oh, I could never do that!" and then the next thought is, "It would be too hard to let them go!" And I always say to them, "Yes, you could!" and "It's not hard to let them go when you know they are going to a great home."  I'm not joking either!  I said the very same thing for a really long time and then - somehow we started fostering.   You realize you do have to let them go...otherwise you would become a dog hoarder.  And by just by giving one dog a safe spot opens the door for another homeless dog. 

So what is the hardest part of fostering?  The hard part is, when you place a puppy that you have grown to know and love like your very own, with a family and then that family decides to return the dog.  THAT is the hard part. Not for me, but for the dog. 

And that very thing happened last weekend.  A former foster dog (that is now about a year old) was surrendered to my rescue on Friday night.  A dog, that we had as a puppy, who lived with her family almost her entire life was relinquished to us on Friday night. 

I decided to not to engage with the person who was returning the dog. I made her deal with my husband.  I knew he wouldn't try to make her feel better about the whole situation. He would just be cordial and be most concerned about the dog.    

And needless to say, the pup was scared and confused.  It took over an hour to get her inside the house.  She was cowering by a corner of our house the entire time.  Once I was finally able to get her inside the house, she paced and drooled the entire night.  And when I took her outside to pee, she immediately  went to the gate looking for her family.  Dogs aren't stupid.  She knew her family left her. 

Luckily, our dogs were happy to have her as a guest, and her next day was much better.  She warmed up to Breaker first and the two of them became fast friends again.  We did have some transition issues with her the entire week, like when she peed on the couch, not once but twice.  And we had to help her get use to the kennel again.  But honestly, she came around pretty quick. But still, it breaks my heart that she had to go through any of that.   

But the best part of all?  She was adopted (again) on Sunday. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Three's a charm

Since Mike's accident at work, we haven't had any foster babies for a while now.  (And I'll let you in on a little secret.  I was totally missing them.)  There is just something about coming home to puppies that makes life pretty darn awesome.  It didn't take long for me to respond once the message came through that a bunch of puppies would be coming into the rescue. I just could not say no, could I?? 

We picked up three sweet babies last Saturday and have been loving on them since the moment we picked them up.  They were part of a litter of ten puppies.  All of them black with just a little bit of white. Momma was a blonde shepherd and father unknown.  They remind me of Breaker as a puppy!  

One of our awesome volunteers drove four hours to another state to pick up this litter.  Their former foster mom was dealing with two or three litters of puppies with only two moms and needed some help big time.  So my rescue stepped-up, and the volunteer jumped in the car and brought back one of the groups. 10 pups!  All with worms!!  All with diarrhea!  In a car for 4 hours!  She is a saint!  

And I could not be happier with my little group.  They have been so easy and have adjusted very quickly.  It's going to be hard to let them go. You get so attached and protective pretty quick with foster dogs.  Maybe more so... Maybe because you know they are leaving and you want the very best for them.  

Even though we are coming up on a year of fostering - I still consider myself a novice to this world of rescue and fosters. I was well-read on the subject before we started and had some experience with our own shelter dogs growing up.  But I still find myself in new situations every day and I'm constantly having to figure out how to navigate them.  I have found I need to trust my gut more.  Like when people I know inquire about the dogs/pups we foster. Sometimes is a great situation and I could not be happier for the family and dog - and sometimes the warning bells are going off. 

Case in point - someone I know recently inquired about our newest fosters and from the moment it started my warning bells were going off. And I ignored them - I keep thinking it was just because I didn't want to let go of my babies.  But the more exchanges we had, the more stress and anxiety I was feeling.  Luckily, things worked out without any involvement on my part and the situation rectified itself.  Stress and anxiety relieved.  Lesson learned - trust your gut!

Happily or sadly, the pups will most likely find their new homes this week and they will be on their way.  And we will be on to the next foster!  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pretties and Persistence



While I was not a music major in college, I have played the viola on and off since about 5 grade.  After a long break a very long break, I found myself wanting to play again, so I figured out who our strings teacher was on campus and called her up. I think it's been about 10 years now since I started up again. (No, I'm not "good".) I take lessons once a week and play with the community orchestra.  It's a just a thing where I am challenged... and I really just enjoy playing.  And it's funny, so many of the things that I say to my students about challenges and persistence, I find with myself and my playing. This year was a good example, I was really frustrated and feeling like I "sucked" because the music was so hard and yet, today I am able to keep up and even play a lot of the parts pretty well.  Not great but pretty decent. I have improved!  Playing wasn't enjoyable for the first few weeks this year and now I am really looking forward to the concert.  Persistence!  It does pay off - if you just hang in there.  (Yes, my own words come back to haunt me many many times!)  
And this building!  Isn't it spectacular!? This is the music building on campus where I work.  I think it is one of the coolest places around.  (The band room, where we hold rehearsals for orchestra, isn't anywhere near as cool as the choir room so I didn't even take a picture of it.) It's a fun place to wander around - always very musical and sometimes very serene.  And the stain glass - it's from the original music building. I love the marrying of the old and the new.  They do a good job of that around here.