Since adopting Hillary, we haven’t taken in any new fosters, and while the funny things she and Bill do all day could easily fill a blog, I’ve been focused on other efforts. I’ll be taking an indefinite break from writing this blog, but if you’re new here, I hope you’ll check out previous posts. I’ve been blogging about our foster dogs for more than three years, so there is a lot of content here! Enjoy!

Trick-or-Treating Tips for Families with Dogs

Provided by Dr. Martin Glinsky of SmartBones

Halloween can be a fun time for families with dogs, especially when taking the dog along for Trick-or-Treating. But, there are some important safety tips families should keep in mind on Halloween:
1. Dogs should be kept on short leashes when out Trick-or-Treating so little ones have less of a chance of tripping over the leash.
2. While Trick-or-Treating, pet parents should make sure their dogs are under control at all times and kept away from loud noises or ruckus. This may frighten dogs and cause them to run away or bite.
3. Although dogs may look cute in costumes, pet parents need to keep their dog’s comfort, safety and ability to see properly in mind when choosing a costume.
4. Pet parents who are staying home with their dog and handing out candy should keep their dog in a separate, closed room with a TV or radio on to keep the dog calm. This will prevent the dog from becoming spooked by Halloween costumes and possibly running off or jumping on Trick-or-Treaters.
5. If homeowners would like to hand out treats for Trick-or-Treating dogs, rawhide-free dog chews are the best option. Treats such as SmartBones contain no rawhide, are 99% digestible and are available in a “mini” size appropriate for all dog breeds.
6. After Halloween festivities are over, it’s important to keep dogs, and other pets, away from candy because it may be very bad for pets’ health. Pet parents should keep SmartBones dog chews on hand so their dogs can enjoy a healthy, vitamin-and mineral-fortified Halloween “treat” with the family.

I’ve been thinking about what helps me to sleep at night when I know for a fact that perfectly healthy companion animals are being euthanized in shelters because of human irresponsibility. If I really begin to think about what is going on – I picture their innocent faces and pleading eyes as they are led to the kill room – I fall into a pit of despair. And then I remember how unproductive that thought process is. All I, or anyone for that matter, can do, is give it our all. We can find our own unique ways to support the causes we care for, which in my case is supporting my favorite rescues, publishing books, and putting on shows about adoption and rescue. I wish there was more I could do.

Here’s my challenge for you: Think of a social cause you really care about (i.e., euthanasia, homelessness, access to education, etc.) and spend five minutes making a list of all the ways you could possibly help that cause (i.e., monthly donations, putting up signs in coffee shops around town, contacting an organization and discussing your skill set to see how you can pitch in, etc.). Then, take a step forward THIS WEEK to help that cause. Don’t just talk about putting up signs; go put them up. Don’t just talk about volunteering; get involved. If you don’t know where to start, write me and I’ll help you!

Here’s the poem I wrote today, which was inspired by this train of though. What helps me to sleep well at night? Giving my all!

  • I give this life my all;
  • Sometimes I stand; sometimes I fall.
  • On days when I fall,
  • I look up and reflect.
  • On days when I stand,
  • My life feels correct.
  • However I land,
  • On my feet or my back,
  • I go on with a smile
  • And some plan of attack.
  • Most important of all,
  • Though I stand and I fall,
  • I answer the call:
  • Do your best, give it all.

BlogPaws/Bissell Contest Winners

Well, folks, we won! Well, not “we” as in me and MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue, per se, but “we” as in the rescue community! Because of this contest, three rescues received upwards of $1,000 to help with the animals in their care, and three bloggers were recognized for their outstanding writing. Congrats to Robin Craft, Kim Clune, and Pamela Douglas Webster.

As for me, sure, I would have liked to win. We just told the rescue we were taking a break from fostering after adopting Hillary, and I thought winning the money for the rescue would have been a great way to give back to them. Additionally, the post I wrote was definitely the best I could do, and I meant every word of it. Nevertheless, I’m happy that the money was provided to some great rescues and that this contest inspired so many bloggers to share their stories about how their adopted animals have inspired them.

This contest was great for rescues and great for the community as a whole. I hope BlogPaws and Bissell decide to do something like this again next year. Thanks for supporting the rescue community, guys!

A Terrible Trip to the Dog Park

Warning: this post is graphic and sad.

To get to Dry Creek, one of our favorite dog park-type trails, we go down a windy road in a residential area. Once I found a dog crossing the road in front of my car. Luckily, I didn’t hit him and was able to reunite him with his family. Today, a squirrel wasn’t so lucky. The car in front of me must have hit him. When I came upon him, he was wriggling on his back and bleeding profusely.

I stopped. What to do? I thought of trying to scoop him up and take him to the wildlife sanctuary, but as he didn’t seem to be able to get off his back and the blood was really flowing, I decided he probably wouldn’t survive the trip. And what if he bit me?

Making the decision to put that squirrel out of his misery was extremely difficult. I didn’t want blood on my hands, but someone had to do it, and the sooner, the better. I did what had to be done. I feel awful about it, but I know it was the right thing to do. I have never before deliberately killed an animal, but now I know how the euthanasia tech feels – at least when he or she needs to euthanize a badly injured animal. I couldn’t imagine euthanizing an animal who had nothing wrong. How are there people in almost every municipality across the country willing to do it?

Big Puppy, Little Puppy

We had a fun day today, and the dogs are worn out. On a side note, Bill has been a bit frustrated that Hillary always has to sit closest to me on the couch. He usually defers, but tonight he wasn’t having it. He jumped up and sat right on her legs, so he could be next to me. Then, the cutest thing happened. Instead of pulling her legs out from under him, Hillary moved in closer. They’re snuggled up as close as can be right now, and I guess I’m part of “the snuggle” too. Life is good.

Sheltered From The Storm

This post is my entry into the BlogPaws Blog Carnival Contest sponsored by BISSELL Homecare, Inc. It is dedicated to the animals who suffered during Hurricane Irene. May they find their way home.

May in Colorado is especially stormy, with raindrops verging on hail, thunder rivaling the “Overture to William Tell,” and winds reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz (unanchored objects – and people – may be blown to Kansas). When I hear the pounding of inclement weather on my house, I feel sorry for the woodland creatures living in surrounding forests. I worry for the delicate birds with their exposed nests and even the sturdier deer, which may not have had time to find adequate shelter.

May of 2007 was no exception. The storms didn’t last long, but they occurred almost daily, and when the rain fell, it hammered the ground. There was only one difference during that particular month: our second-ever Boston terrier foster dog, Bill, had become a “woodland creature.” It was completely my fault. I didn’t properly shut our back gate, and the terrified puppy mill survivor took it as his opportunity to go from perpetual confinement to unbridled freedom, for which he was completely unprepared.

Kyla and Bill
Bill and me

I had only brought Bill home an hour earlier. His body seemed stuck to the bottom of his crate. This was understandable since at two years old, Bill’s entire life had been spent in a small chicken wire cage, and surely the few occasions he had been handled by humans were not pleasant ones. I couldn’t blame him for being too scared to move. Obviously, Bill’s running away was the furthest concern from my mind.

But run away he did, into the woods, where he hid… and hid. The rain pounded; the wind roared. We searched and searched. For weeks there were no signs of Bill. I worried; I cried. After two weeks, I tried to move on. Someone must have found him and taken him in. But then, would they have tossed him back out once they realized how emotionally damaged he was? He was more statue than pet, certainly not most people’s idea of a “dream dog.”

Then, on June 17th, three weeks from the day he disappeared, I got the call. Bill was alive! He was found by a person walking in the woods, who called animal control. They were then able to find MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue, the organization responsible for Bill, through his microchip. He was emaciated – down to 13 pounds from 20 – and had a deep gash on his leg requiring medical attention almost daily for a month. He was still unresponsive and practically glued to his bed, but at least he was home.

Bill, after the "rain"
Bill, after the "rain"

Home? Uh, yeah. I was finally experiencing the good kind of “foster failure”: the “I’m keeping my foster dog” kind of failure, as opposed to the “my foster dog died in the woods” kind of failure. You could say that Bill put the “bil” in rehabilitation for me: he was my mess, and I was determined to fix him.

For a while, Bill and my relationship reflected the storms through which he had lived. His unwillingness to even respond to his name flooded me with hopelessness. During the first three months, he wouldn’t leave his bed. I even had to carry him outside to eliminate. Walks were a drag; he would abruptly stop moving and flatten like a pancake at noises as innocuous as crickets chirping. My parents called him “Duck and Cover.”

My thoughts flew back and forth, oscillating between resolve to help Bill experience happiness and despair that psychological well-being possibly just wasn’t in the cards for him. But, as a former professional athlete, my competitive drive won out over my anguish, and I worked patiently to help Bill achieve small victories. Hiring a dog trainer made a tremendous difference. Bill began looking at me when I said his name. He slowly warmed up to walking on-leash and eventually graduated to hiking off-leash. After about eight months, he got out of the car by himself, and then came his first little, uncertain “Woof.” These were all life-enhancing victories!

Happy Bill

You might think that rehabilitating Bill was more of a hassle than it was worth, but you’d be wrong. The happiness I continue to experience from Bill’s small but significant victories is like a double rainbow after a storm: beautiful and full of hope. Now, when rain falls, I dry Bill’s fur. When thunder crashes, I cover Bill’s ears. When wind blows, I anchor Bill’s body. Bill knows how much I love him, and he reciprocates without hesitation. Together, we are both sheltered from any storm.