Remembering Dupont

“He gave you three more years than I ever expected him to,” my vet said, as I made the painful decision to let Dupont go.  And as I sit here now, all these years later, snuggling with Flipflop,  I am telling him, for the hundredth time, how Dupont brought him to me. I find myself reliving those last moths with Dupont, when he was ready for me to let him go, but waited for Flipflop to arrive before telling me it was time.

The human/animal bond is one that only those who have opened their hearts up to a pet understand.  I have been so blessed to have so many dogs and cats touch my soul and I hope they all know how much they have touched me.

My blog started as a tribute to my passion for animal rescue and has grown to be more about my pets and life today, as we moved from Ontario to BC. Despite the changes, one thing has never changed, my love for animals and my belief that they all deserve a loving, safe environment.

It was Dupont who, through his love and companionship, made me want to pay it forward and foster in my future.  It was through Flipflop I learned the real need out there for more people to get involved and it was though Dahlia that I fell in love with the idea of forever adopting senior dogs in my future.

But this blog is for Dupont, my first dog (as an adult) who I loved so fiercely,  I wrongly believed I could love no other dog.  Dupont saw my hearts potential and knew that I could provide a home and just as much love for other dogs.

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For those new to my blog, Dupont was my Collie/Shepherd.  My ex-husband and I got him when he was 6 weeks old. I will never forget when my ex called me at work and read me the ad for Dupont and his litter.  He had called and there were only 2 pups left and we were the third interested party.  It was a first come, first serve type of situation.  I emailed my boss that I had to leave and drove home to grab my ex and drive to the farm where Dupont and his siblings were.

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On Dupont’s first birthday, my ex and I decided to separate, Dupont coming with me wasn’t even a question, I would have killed for this dog and my ex knew it. Dupont was my rock through so much over the years.  I started calling him “my heart” because, as I would say him, I couldn’t live without my heart, and I didn’t want to live without Dupont.

At the age of three, Dupont was diagnosed with arthritis, very young to have such a condition, but my vet and I started longevity treatment to give him the best quality of life.  And it worked, it worked for another 7 years before he wanted me to let him go.

Around the age of 7 or 8, Dupont stopped wanting to go for our long walks, I was devastated.  A friend of mine said when her dog got to that state, she embraced it.  She would take a book with her and when her dog wanted to rest, she would sit down and read.  I loved the idea and for the last couple years of his life, that’s what we did.  We would find a shady tree and just sit under it and chill out for hours.  I got to meet so many wonderful people walking by, as Dupont laid there watching the world go by.  I wouldn’t trade those moments with him for anything in the world.

As he aged, his walks went from going to our local park to lay down, to just going across the parking lot of our building.  But I didn’t care, as long as he was with me and he was happy.  As he found life more challenging, I made it easier, I bought the supplies and had my brother in-law build a ramp for him to be able to get up on my bed.  I purchased a “help ’em up” harness for him to wear.  I purchased collapsible stairs for him to be able to get in and out of my car with ease.  Whatever he needed, I got for him!

We celebrated his 10th and last birthday by going to the pet store and me buying him anything he looked at and then we laid out under a shady tree for most of the day.  I had a feeling it was our last birthday together, but I would never speak the words aloud.  My motherly instincts just knew that this sweet boy was ready to leave me soon. This was in July of 2014.

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In October that same year, I inexplicably told my friend, Sarah, that I needed to introduce Dupont to her foster, who was enroute from Bahamas.  To this day, I have zero idea why I did this.  My plan was never to get another dog, but to foster and help other dogs in need on their path to their happy ending.  All I do know is I believe Dupont, through divine intervention, made me do it.  He was ready to leave this earth, but he needed to make sure I was going to be ok.

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Two and half months after Flipflop’s adoption, Dupont left this earth, with me by his side, thanking him for all his love and devotion to me.  January 14th of 2015, Dupont went to the rainbow bridge taking a large part of broken heart with him.  But he left me a puppy, who needed me.  His gift to me was Flipflop, although sometimes I wonder if it was a gift or a practical joke, lol, but either way, I found a way to move on with Flipflop by my side. I couldn’t stay in bed and cry all day, the puppy needed me, and I truly believe this was Dupont’s way of making sure I would go on without him.

It’s been 5 years since Dupont left me and for five years not a day goes by that he’s not been on my mind. To some this will make no sense at all, after all, Dupont was “just” a dog, but to me he was my baby.  And 3 years ago, on January 14th, the second anniversary of Dupont’s passing, my sister’s son was born.  My awesome nephew, Kasen, who I have such a great relationship with, despite our distance.  My sister, likely doesn’t even remember saying this to me, but I remember it so clearly, she said to me, “it’s kind of weird how my baby was born on the same day you lost yours.”

Kasen’s birthdate may have been another divine intervention by Dupont, as now on January 14th, I celebrate Kasen, while never forgetting about the loss of my boy.  I can’t help but to wonder if Dupont, once again, through his divine intervention, arranged for Kasen to be born on January 14th, to stop me from being devastated on this day, but rather to remember him fondly and find joy in my life through Kasen.

Some may think I’m crazy, others may believe as I do, or some may just not know, but whatever others think, doesn’t matter to me.  I know in my heart, Dupont was placed in my life to take care of me, he is my guardian angel, both while on earth and now on the rainbow bridge.  He is with me always, both in my heart and in my daily life as he shows me time and time again, there really is no love like the love of one’s dog.

 

Flipflop and his Pawscout

It happens every year and  I’m never ready for it.  The days start getting longer, the temperature doesn’t dip below zero as often, and Flipflop starts misbehaving…….he’s got Spring Fever!  I will never understand why he gets so hyped up when spring is arriving, he hates the summer heat, so we typically are out more during the cold months than the warm ones.  But whatever the reason, when the winter weather starts to turn into spring days, Flipflop goes crazy.

I was at the pet store about three weeks ago and at the cash I saw a display for Pawscout. I was intrigued, having a runner for a dog (although he always comes back to me, 95% of the time on the first call, the other 5% on his own timing). I wanted to learn more about it.  It runs off the Bluetooth on your phone letting you know, through an app on your phone, the whereabouts of your dog for approximately 200 meters (pawscout.com).  I thought for $20 why not check it out!

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The very next morning, as if on cue to test the Pawscout, Flipflop went running into the mountains, he was gone, and I had no idea where he was off to. My Pawscout told me he was out of range.

At first, I didn’t worry, as he’s chased deer in the past year, and within a minute or two I expected him come running back to me.  But he didn’t this time.  I couldn’t hear him or see him, I climbed up the mountain and kept calling him.

After half an hour, of calling him and waiting, I realized we were no longer in Ontario and my dog was now lost in the wild. I wanted to start looking further up the mountains for him.  But I also knew Dahlia couldn’t do that with me, so I decided to take her home.  The 10-minute walk back to our place, seemed to take an hour, I brought her home and left to try and find my dog.

The mountain was icy and slippery and it was really hard for me to climb but I was a mom on a mission.  My baby boy was lost and I knew this was not how our story was to end. Our story is to end in many years from now when he is old and ready to leave this life and wait for me on the bridge with my beloved other past babies.  I had to find him!

As I slipped and slid through the side of the mountain, I finally got to a flat area, I stopped to catch my breath and I started calling him and looking for signs that he’d been there (with the altitude there was snow in the area so I was looking for tracks).  My Pawscout still said he was out of range.  I looked around trying to decide next steps, I looked down toward the untraveled dirt road and he was standing there, looking up at me….

“Hi” I said, and as soon as he heard my voice, he ran up the mountain side, so happy to see me. Admittedly, I was probably happier to see him! When he got to me he started running, as if to continue a hike with me.  “NO,” I said, “Flipflop, Come!”  This time he did listen and I leashed him up.

I took a few minutes to get myself together and noticed his Pawscout still said he was out of range.  That really upset me, as he could have been near me at times and not showing. I made a mental note to contact the company.  I also decided Flipflop was grounded from being off leash for a while!

Taking a moment with my boy.

I emailed Pawscout and asked if I did something incorrect with the set up.  I was amazed by the customer service I received and within a week, a brand new Pawscout was in my mailbox.

I set up the new tag and put it on Flipflop’s collar.  The new tag is working great, and fortunately, so are Flipflop’s listening ears now that the spring weather has been around for a few weeks.

This weekend we went for a hike and Flipflop went running into the thick bush, as he ran back and forth, in and out of my Pawscout’s range, it would alert me when he was close.  About midway up the mountain the people trail ends, so we usually turn around and start heading down at that point.  I couldn’t see or hear Flipflop, but I looked at my phone and saw he was nearby, so I just had to say “this way” and within seconds he came from the thick bush and happily started down the mountain with me.

While I never like when Flipflop is out of sight, I also recognize his need for exercise and the awesome opportunity he has here living in BC, to run and be free.  And now that I have a working Pawscout tag, it’s been even better as he and I enjoy the mountains.

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King of the mountain. 

 

My hearts calling

I was talking to my good friend, Joanne, this week.  I met Joanne a year ago, on March 2nd, when she and her family came to my place for a meet and greet with Solo.  She and I were reminiscing about that special day, when my most “famous” foster dog met his forever family and how much has changed since that day.

A year ago, I was interviewing for the job I currently have, 4000 KM away from where I was living. Rome (Joanne’s mastiff) was terribly mourning the loss of his big brother, Merle, who had passed away just weeks before.  Solo was afraid of everyone but me and my tight-knit group of friends I had been socializing him with over the weeks of fostering. Joanne and I were strangers.

Joanne and her family had two meet and greets scheduled that day, Solo and I were the second one.  I had shared all my blogs about Solo and my experiences with Joanne so the family understood his past before meeting him.  I wanted Solo to feel safe with me at all times, so I wanted to ensure the family didn’t do anything to freak him out. I was sure they would be scared off by his insecurity and I was all ready broken hearted about having to send this sweet boy to a new foster home, as my timeline for moving out west drew closer.

Joanne and her family were all ready in love with Solo before meeting him, but Rome was the decision maker on his new sibling.  Joanne told me first meet and greet did not go well, Rome didn’t have any interest in the first dog. Upon moments after meeting Solo Joanne noticed that Rome was much more relaxed with Solo.

Solo and his sweet brother Rome.

Within minutes we were up in apartment chatting and letting the dogs interact.  It was a match made in brother heaven.  Rome wanted Solo and the family was willing to put the time and commitment into Solo’s recovery from his terrible abusive past.

On Sunday, March 9th, it’ll be one year since Solo left for his forever home and started his incredible journey.  It also marks the last time I said good bye to a beloved foster, as within weeks I accepted a job offer and was preparing to move to British Columbia.

My intentions hadn’t changed, I planned to continue to my work with rescue out here and within in weeks of moving here, I made some connections.  I wasn’t ready to foster, I needed my pets to adjust and become comfortable in their new surroundings, and I was going through a lot of change myself.

I was preparing to start application screening for the local rescue, as my way of being involved until I was ready to foster.  Unfortunately just as I started working with them, I saw a disturbing picture the President of the rescue posted on social media.  She had done something to one of her own dogs, that I would never do and I felt my values didn’t align with the rescue.  That said, they are still saving dogs, and therefore I will not bash them or shame them publicly.  I respectfully withdrew my offer to volunteer.

Now that we’ve been here for almost a year, my heart and pack are ready to start taking fosters in again, once Big Lady (now named Hazel) is integrated into the pack.

I’m hoping within the next 6 months I will be able to work with the SPCA or find another rescue in a near by town that I can foster for.  My heart will break again and again, as it did in Ontario every time a foster left to go to their forever home, but I also know my heart will heal and being part of so many wonderful, amazing dogs journeys to their happy endings, out weighs any pieces of my broken heart that leaves with each dog.

 

 

 

The other side of Flipflop

Since the day Flipflop started daycare, he was the teacher, he would teach the shy new dogs the lay of the land, before returning to his own pack in the “school” yard.  He would teach his fosters to trust and play.

As Flipflop matured, so did his engagement and interaction with other dogs. I often say, I broke Flipflop by fostering.  He used to be carefree, he still is in a way, but he only wants to interact with his friends.  He has no interest in meeting dogs, and he is very selective on who he wishes to engage with.

I have learned to watch his queues.  If he doesn’t want to say hi to a dog I let the other owner know, Flipflop needs his space, but their dog is more the welcome to say hello to Dahlia.

Dahlia is the polar opposite of her brother now.  After she learned trust, she eventually learned she was safe, and more importantly, she learned that no human was ever going to harm her again.  Today she is so far removed from the shell of a dog she used to be.  These days, she demands to be pet by anyone who acknowledges her and wants to be friends with all dogs, all sizes, all ages.

To try and cater to both my dogs’ needs, as we approach other dogs, I always make sure Flipflop feels secure, by giving him space to go behind me and I give Dahlia some slack on her lead so she can say hello.  This seems to work well, however; lately something has changed.

I’ve noticed in recent weeks, Flipflop is starting to want to meet dogs, as Dahlia is saying hi, he will slowly go up to them and give a sniff.  If the dog is very hyper, Flipflop tends to run back to his safety with me, but more and more he’s become the social dog he used to be.

I can’t help to think the student, Dahlia, has become the teacher to her baby brother. Three years ago he taught her trust, play and love, and now she is reminding him of the simple joy in life of saying hello to a fellow dog while out for walks.

It warms my heart to see Flipflop making new friends and coming out of his shell again.  He’s got such a playful spirit so I hope through Dahlia’s persistence to say hello and try to play with every dog she meets, Flipflop is learning to engage his friendly side again and he will no longer worry, that every dog he meets will become a foster sibling and he will have to share his mom!

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Meeting “Big Lady”

It was a year, on February 14th, that Flipflop professed his love to Miss Ellie.  He (ok it was me!) planned a fabulous evening with treats, friends and a ring for his best friend and love his life.

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Miss Ellie’s Engagement Photo

A lot has happened in a year, but what hasn’t changed is the undeniable friendship and love these two dogs share. Five months apart did nothing to break their bond and when they saw each other for the first time, it was as if no time has passed, once Flipflop got over his absolute freak out.

As we approached the one year mark of the big engagement, I thought it would be fun (and an excuse to throw a wine tasting) to have an engagement party.  As I made plans for the big night and decided on my menu and wines, something wonderfully unexpected happened.

Janet (Miss Ellie’s mom), was getting a second dog and wasn’t expecting her to come home until February 22nd, due to travel arrangements.  But then we found out Janet was able to get her baby a week earlier, on February 14th.

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Big Lady

With excitement I planned for not only an engagement party but a welcome baby party as well! It’s always so exciting when a new dog joins our pack.

I set up an area for the puppy, if needed, I knew from my years of fostering, certain things would help Flipflop accept his sister in-law.  As soon as Flipflop saw my makeshift dog area, he knew someone was coming.  He likely expected a foster sibling, so was probably happy to see this dog was going home with his Auntie Janet at the end of the night!

Janet also knows Flipflop, and understands he needs space.  He needs to make friends on his own time and he does. So, we carefully planned everything to make the best possible introduction.

When Janet arrived, Big Lady (that’s what we are calling the pup until Janet settles on a name, and we don’t want her to be confused with Little Lady, Dahlia) was in her crate. Janet put the crate down on the floor and took her time to greet Flipflop and Dahlia, as she always does. Flipflop was excited to see his girl, Miss Ellie, and spent a few minutes following her around before he went to the crate.  We let the dogs sniff the crate with the puppy in it for a few minutes.

Flipflop is VERY sensitive and picks up on my energy and reacts instantly, another reason why I wanted to make sure the introduction was planned properly and I had no reason to get anxious and make Flipflop nervous.

After everyone sniffed the crate and was ignoring it, Janet opened the door to let the pup out.  Dahlia, of course, went back over to see her. Flipflop immediately came to me for reassurance and hugs.  This continued for about 15 minutes, and then Flipflop seemed to settle.

Big Lady went into her little pen that I made her.  She didn’t like being away from Janet, and whined.  The whining worried Flipflop, so we decided to let her out of her pen.

When we did, she quietly slept beside Janet, on the couch.  All the dogs were very calm, I was so proud of Flipflop, for allowing the pup into his home so easily.

Throughout the night the pup explored a bit and Flipflop allowed it. He only got upset when the pup started playing with one of his toys and when she went on his blanket.  And even when he was upset, he didn’t go near the new puppy, he’s not ready to interact with her yet.  But he did let out a small growl to let me know, he was upset!

I know in time, Flipflop will share all his toys with his sister in-law. With fosters it would take anywhere from 2 days to 1 week for him to allow full access to his things.  I was really proud of Flipflop for ignoring the pup and allowing her to come near me and not get jealous.

I am also very grateful for Janet’s understanding of dogs and knowing how to introduce Flipflop to others in his home and how to get the best results and behaviour from him.  I am Flipflop’s mom, I will protect him with my life, but I also know he’s got a bit of an attitude and an unpredictable crazy streak at times.  I can admit, he’s not an easy dog, but I will get on anyone else who says any negative about him!

Janet and I plan to keep introducing the puppy to Flipflop as much as possible, knowing that the more he is exposed the quicker he will accept her.  Our first meeting was a good indication that it’s not going to take too long for Big Lady to become a big part of the pack.

As for the rest of the pack, Miss Ellie she could care a less a puppy has entered her home, she is calm and accepting of her baby sister.  Dahlia, true to her kind nature, just loves having another dog in her family to love!  Sixx was interested in the puppy but is so used to dogs coming and going, he gave her very little of his attention and Angel didn’t come out to greet the puppy at all. Angel is too cool of a cat to behave like his feline brother, Sixx!  But he also didn’t hide, so I know he too, will welcome our 6th pack member!

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Flipflop’s Unidentified Injury

“Oh no,” I thought, as I watched Flipflop pick up the scent of something and started following it.

“Flipflop, COME” I called, and when I didn’t even get a brief pause from him, I knew he was not coming back to me, immediately.  As I watched him run up the hill and to the open area, I saw about half a dozen hawks fly by me.  That’s when I knew Flipflop found something dead and the hawks were feeding on it.

When I reached the top, I saw about 8-10 hawks flying around and Flipflop, happy as could be, was running in circles following their flight patterns.  I didn’t say a word, but he must have caught my scent, because within seconds, he came running over to me.

“Hi,” I said to him, as I put his harness on him, “you didn’t use your listening ears so you need to stay on your leash for the rest of our walk!”  I told him.  I tend to talk to him like he’s a child, a bit insane of me I know, but I don’t care, he is my child and I freakin’ ADORE him!!!!  As I looked at him, I saw he was covered in feces, he must have been rolling in it, as it was embedded in his fur.  We continued our walk, as it was a very mild day and Dahlia, who was with us, was in good spirits and was enjoying her walk as well.

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Last week before the Crow run!

When we got home about 45 minutes later, I immediately grabbed a towel and Flipflop’s shampoo and we went down to the garage to use the dog wash in my building.  As I lifted Flipflop into the tub, I stupidly gave him a kiss, getting a whiff of what he was covered in. I immediately wanted to boil my mouth!

I was pleased with how good Flipflop was being in the bath, as he typically doesn’t enjoy them and usually tries to get out or hugs me the whole time, making it next to impossible to get him clean.  But this day, he did amazing, I shampooed him and rinsed him well.  I then lifted the bath door and used his collar to assist him in jumping out of the tub.  I then rewarded him with drying his hair!

I have never seen a dog who loves to get their hair dried like he does.  It’s been years since I’ve used a hair dryer on myself, as I can’t even plug it in without Flipflop running to get his hair done.   So after a bath, that is his reward.

We went back up to our apartment, where I gave him a treat (and Dahlia one too) while I got their breakfast made.  It seemed like a typical normal day, until about an hour later I wondered by my bedroom and saw Flipflop laying on my bed, shaking.

I immediately went to him, and he gave a half tail wag.  I laid beside him and started looking for injuries. He didn’t give any indication he was hurt anywhere.  My mind started racing, did he get into poison somewhere, what did he and crows find?  As I examined him, he rolled over for me to pet his belly, “well, he’s still being a baby, so that’s a good sign” I thought.

I went to my linen closet and grabbed a towel, thinking maybe he was cold form his bath, I covered him in it and we laid side by side for a few more minutes.  I had to get up and check on something I had in the oven. I gave him so kisses and went to the kitchen.

When I came back to the room, he as laying on the towel, no longer shaking and was sleeping.  I let him rest, checking on him periodically.  About two hours later, he came into the living, tail between his legs, but walking with weight on all four paws, he hesitated a bit and slowly got on the couch.  Something was definitely wrong, Flipflop doesn’t do anything slowly!!!

I again checked him over, but there was no signs of anything, no wincing when I checked him out or any tell tale signs he was hurt.  I continued to let him rest.

I looked at the time, it was 2:30 pm, my guests for my Super Bowl party would be arriving within the next half hour, I needed to try and get Flip out to relieve himself. I grabbed the dog leashes and got Dahlia ready to go out. Flipflop sat up and watched, “you want to go out, Flip? Come on, momma will take you for a pee.” I coasted him.  He slowly got off the couch and came to me. I put his harness on, expecting a slow walk and Flipflop needing some assistance.

As soon as we stepped outside, Flipflop was ready to go, he showed no signs of injury and wanted to go for a walk, I took him and Dahlia for a 20 minute walk and observed Flipflop, he seemed fine. I was more puzzled than before.

After a three examinations, there was no tell tale sign of anything being wrong with him, other than the occasional yelp if one of the dogs nudged him, or you squeezed his right armpit.  A slight muscle pull was the conclusion and rest was the prescription.

I rested Flipflop for three days, and much to my surprise he seemed ok to have a reduced exercise schedule and leashed walks, that is of course, until the fourth day when mother nature blessed the valley with snow.

At the mere sight of snow, Flipflop and Dahlia turn into puppies, Dahlia loves to run around and eat as much of it as she can and Flipflop loves to run and roll in it.  I knew if he was given the opportunity to be off leash he would run, climb and jump all over the mountain sides, so I held firm.  Much to his disappointment.  It snowed all day and night that day.  And by Thursday morning there was at least 10 cm of snow on the untraveled paths around us.

Flipflop was doing much better and was no longer showing any signs of discomfort, so against my better judgement, I gave him 10 minutes off leash.  As I expected, he ran and climbed and wrestled (Miss Ellie was with us).  After 10 minutes, none of the dogs wanted to be back on leash, so I gave them a few more minutes to play with each other.  They then seemed calm and ok to continue their walk on leash.

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Playing with Miss Ellie on Thursday.

Fortunately, Flipflop showed no signs of being any worse for the wear after his play.  It’s so hard to keep an active dog resting, I know many pet parents can relate.

The next couple of nights he and Dahlia spent with Miss Ellie at her place, as I had plans after work on Friday and Janet was available to have the dogs sleep over.  Janet is one of the few people on this earth I trust my dogs with, so I knew she would take care of Flipflop and watch him for any signs of discomfort.  There was none.

This morning, one week since the day of Flipflop’s injury, he was allowed to full on run again.  We walked the same path as we did a week ago, except this week it was covered in snow. Flipflop ran up and down the mountain side, rolling and making dog angels in the snow!  Dahlia trotted around eating snow as if she was at an all you can eat buffet.

When we arrived at the field where Flipflop’s trouble began last week, he went looking for whatever it was that intrigued him last week, but the snow was very deep.  He tried digging and I called at him to stop and come to me, I wasn’t going to risk a replay of whatever he got into last week!

As we made our way back home, Flipflop happily played tug, ran and made more doggie snow angels.  I worried how he was going to feel when we got home.  But it appears he is back to his true form, as I am finishing this blog, he is sitting beside me with his head on his shoulder, while Dahlia paws him away so she can get more of my attention.

I may never know what happened to my sweet boy last week that caused so much drama, but I am so glad with rest, love and some snuggling he is back to his crazy Bahamian Potcake self!

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My Flipflop – Post II

Flipflop is my Bahamian Potcake, and you don’t need to know me very well to know he is the apple of my eye.

I’ve shared his adoption story many times, on a single photo I saw at 4:30 am on an October morning, I messaged my friend and Flipflop’s soon to be Canadian foster mom, Sarah, that I wanted Dupont to meet this dog. Sarah knew immediately what that meant………..

Arrangements were made when Flipflop (then Smokey) arrived in Canada for Dupont and I to do meet and greet.  This was done to make sure Dupont didn’t despise the pup, and arrangements were made for me to adopt Flipflop within a couple of days.

This sweet pup, found under a broken-down home in a pile of trash, was to test me in ways I never know a dog could!

As a puppy, Flipflop had bounds of energy!  I didn’t realize it at the time, but he had a lot of Jack Russell in him, and with JR Terriers comes a lot of energy.  I couldn’t tire this dog out, no matter how much I tried, no amount of exercise would do the trick.  I would be in tears some days, as I was beside myself on what more I could do for this puppy to make him content enough to sleep.  I exercised him daily, for at least 2 hours, I had a dog walker to walk him twice during the day while I was at work. And he would still have energy to spare!

Dupont’s previous dog walker had posted an ad on social media for a place called Dogtopia, a dog daycare, opening soon.  As I drove to work a few days later I saw the sign for Dogtopia. It was opening up down the street from me! I called the number I found online and was told there was an open house that weekend and dogs were invited.

That Saturday, Flipflop and I went to the open house and we enrolled!!  Finally, a way to help this young dog burn off energy.  That daycare was a blessing! At first, Flipflop went 3 days a week (sometimes more), and he would play and run so much. The daycare attendants had to force him to rest, as he would be so stimulated he wouldn’t stop.  He didn’t earn his Instagram id “Flipflop_the_pup_who_wont_stop” for no reason! (https://www.instagram.com/flipflop_the_pup_who_wont_stop/?hl=en)

It was in daycare, Flipflop started showing signs of the funny dog he was going to grow into.  He was six months old when he started Dogtopia and quickly made some friends.  A sign of things to come in the future, the daycare staff told me, that Flipflop would only play with his circle of friends and if new dogs came he shied away from them.  To this day, Flipflop has a handful of dog friends (fortunately in BC he’s met some too), and he will only engage those dogs in play.  All other dogs, he stays away from, he will go behind me, if on leash, or run away from the other dogs, if he’s off his leash.

As his confidence grew and he aged, he started acting as the Daycare “go to guy”.  He would greet any dogs that were new to the daycare, and “show them around”.  When the new dog seemed to relax and get in the groove of the playroom, Flipflop would leave them to fend for themselves and return to his pack.  The staff loved watching him show new dogs the ropes, he’d greet them and take them around the room and show them how to climb the ramps and run through the tunnels. I was a proud momma!

Every morning, when I would drop him off at day care, he wouldn’t go to the playrooms until he hugged me goodbye.  If there was a new person who didn’t know our routine, he would refuse to walk with them, I would explain he needed to hug me goodbye.  They would look at me like I was crazy, until they would see me go down on my knees and he would run over to me jumping up to wrap his two front paws around my neck.  I would hug him back and tell him to have  a good day and I would see him after work, and only then, he would go to the playroom without resisting.

One day a room attendant had to get after Flipflop and a couple of  other dogs, as their play was getting a bit heated.   The attendant broke up the play.  The other two dogs simply calmed down and continued their day.  Not, Flipflop!  He calmed down, but then climbed up on one of the toy ramps and sat there for two hours, and refused to even look at any of the room attendants, or play with the other dogs, he was MAD! Everyone at the daycare laughed at his behaviour, even his favourite employee went in the room to try and get him to play and he would have nothing to do with her!

As Flipflop aged, his energy level stayed pretty consistent, although he did slow down slightly.  He eventually needed only 1 day of Daycare a week to get his crazy out.  And eventually, at 4, he stopped going all together.  He was no longer interested in playing with other dogs, we were fostering at this time and had adopted Dahlia, he had all the friends he needed in his own home.

When Flipflop was 4-1/2, I moved to BC.  It was here, I found Flipflop’s true way of life.  As stated in previous blogs, he was meant to be in the mountains, I finally found a way to tire him out!  And when my best friend visited us in the fall, the first thing she noticed was how much more content Flipflop was.  He no longer had excess energy that he couldn’t get out as a city dog.

At 5 years old, Flipflop still has decent energy but he is now content with just 1-2 hours of good exercise a day!  I was worried he was sick when he started coming back to me after only 20 minutes of running!  He still loves to run the mountains, and unfortunately, still looks for any form of wildlife to chase.  But I no longer find myself in tears that he won’t stop!

He has taught me so much about loving life and being in the moment.  And although he still misbehaves, just not as often, when he knows he’s been naughty, he will come to me with his ears back, tail between his legs and head down.  He will stay that way, until I hug him to make up.  It’s the funniest thing.  He is the craziest dog I have ever loved. He wears his heart on his sleeve and lives each moment to the fullest.

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A quiet moment of snuggles.

I’m so glad he gets to enjoy the next several years of his life in the BC mountains with me, enjoying the freedom and exercise he needs to stay healthy and happy.

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Reunions

“Do the dogs remember each other?” “Do they remember you?” I get asked these questions a lot and the truth is, I don’t really know for sure. I would assume it depends on the dog, but from my own experiences, my fosters have remembered me, and the dogs remember one another.

I was speaking with my friend, Mandy.  I met Mandy when she became the forever mom to my foster, Hannah.  Hannah and her family (as well as Solo’s and Ben’s family) have started fostering, paying forward the amazing gift of love they got from adopting.   Mandy was very excited she is going to have a visit with one of her previous fosters, Stella.  It made me start thinking of all the wonderful reunions I have had and have heard of with my extended foster family.

Hannah

When I saw Hannah for the first time after she was adopted, she was very calm, and didn’t seem to register who I was.  It was only my second foster reunion, and my first foster (Dougie) cried and cried and wanted me near him constantly. That said, Dougie was very abused and bullied by both humans and dogs, prior to landing in a rescue and I spent 8 weeks rehabilitating him. Our bond was very strong.

Hannah only spent a week with me prior to finding her forever home, so we didn’t have as much time to bond.  I recall teaching her to do stairs, something her mom and I still laugh about!

Hannah learning stairs

Teaching Hannah Stairs

After a few moments of saying hello, Mandy and I hopped in our cars, as we had planned to take the dogs to the dog park for a play, prior to returning to Mandy’s for a visit.  It was while riding in her mom’s car that Hannah seemed to all of a sudden realize who I was.  Her mom said her face and poster changed and she got very excited.  When we got to the park and let the dogs out of the car, Hannah came running over to me, so happy, it was the delayed reaction I had expected (and wanted!).

Hannah and Dahlia

A testament to Hannah’s kindness. She had never met Dahlia before but just loved having her at her home.

Hannah and Sonny

Hannah was found as a stray with brother Sonny.  The two seemed inseparable as Eddy and Sherri worked to gain their trust.  While Hannah came around, Sonny was still very unsure.  It wasn’t until they were able to get Hannah and put her in a crate to transport her to safety that Sonny came running out of the bush. Howling and crying for his sister and chasing the truck.  Despite having no room for Sonny, Sherri and Eddy couldn’t leave him behind.

Sonny was adopted to a family in Ontario as well, and the rescue put the two families in contact.  When Hannah and Sonny saw each other about a year after being separated they rejoiced and played. No amount of time could break their bond, and their families have since continued to get the siblings together for play dates.

Lucy

I blogged about the reunion with Lucy, that we had.  How at first, she didn’t recall who I was, but as soon as she saw her canine friends, it all came back to her!

She wasted no time engaging Flipflop in play and then occasionally would run back to me for pets and love!

Lu and Flip

Doug (previously Ben)

When Doug’s mom pulled up on my street, Doug knew exactly where he was.  He was excited to be back in his old neighbourhood before he even got to my building.  He excitedly got out of the car and greeted me with such joy!

We had a great play date with the dogs and I was so impressed with all the training that Doug’s mom had done with him.  I knew he would do so well with a family who would invest time in training him as he was such a smart pup and eager to learn.

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This boy will always be my “button”

Vanya (previously Bambi)

Vanya was one half of my “twins”. She and her brother, Willie, were being fostered by me together, for the Durham Region Humane Society.  They were adopted out separately, but both families keep me updated on these two little cuties.

The twins

My twins.

A few months after being adopted out, Vanya’s family came to see me.  Vanya knew who I was immediately, she couldn’t get enough of Dahlia and I. And although she tried to say hello to Flipflop, he was a bit standoffish with her.

We had a wonderful visit and Vanya remembered everything about her foster home, she knew where all the toys were, all the things she used to get into and was happy to see us all.

Vanya and Willie

It was over a year since the two pups were adopted out separately and many failed attempts at getting them together finally worked out.  I was heartbroken, I was in BC and couldn’t join the reunion.  But I received many photos and videos from that day.

Vanya was at the park first, and as soon as she got a sniff of Willie’s scent her tail went crazy, she ran up and down the dog park fence anxiously awaiting her brother.  And when he saw his sister, he wiggled with excitement as well.

The two siblings ran and played for hours, so happy to see one another.  What I love about this reunion too, is these two pups were rescued together. Willie would follow Vanya around and do whatever she did. Vanya was full of life and mischief.  She still is!  Being adopted by separate families, helped Willie become his own dog. He grew up to be a confident, playful, loving pup.

Twin reunion

Together again!

And although they went their separate ways at about 4-5 months old, when they saw each a year later, they still remembered one another. Just like Hannah and Sonny, their bond remained.

What warms my heart more than anything with my foster dog reunions, whether it’s a reunion with me or with their siblings, is no matter how exciting and heartwarming the reunions are, the dogs are all content to go to home with the amazing people who opened their homes and hearts to them.  The dogs know they have their happy endings and I was just a stop along the way.

Dahlia’s Silent Night

It’s been no secret that Dahlia is my Benjamin Button of dogs, getting younger with each passing month since I earned her trust and Flipflop taught her to be a dog.  But alas, time does catch up with the best of us.  And Dahlia is no different.

Fear not, my Dahlia loving peeps, she is still in great health, loves to play and is still going on her long walks/easy hikes around the mountains.  But my girl is now deaf.  She no longer freezes in fear when she a car goes by; she can no longer hear it to fear it.

But her lack of hearing aside, much like her blurred vision, previously broken bones and past abuse, she is not phased in the least!  I still allow her off her leash and she always finds her way back to me (not that I ever let her out of my sight), and when she returns to me, she pushes her head to my hand for some reassurance and love.

I find this is the one thing that’s changed, since Dahlia lost her hearing. She has always been  a dog (once she learned she was safe) who wants love and affection, but now she needs to feel my hand on her head almost constantly during walks.  She needs my reassurance I’m nearby, and if she goes off on her own, she is never long to come running toward me and looking for my hand.

On Christmas while Flipflop rummaged through the gift bags full of toys, she laid quietly on the couch, oblivious to what was going on.  I gave her a toy, which she happily took and laid with.  “She’s so old now” I thought, not giving this lady enough credit to how alert she still is.

Dahlia may be deaf, half blind and sleeps a lot but she is still my Benjamin Button at heart. Christmas night, I got ready for bed, Flipflop grabbed his new antler that Santa gave him and brought it to bed to sleep with.  He

slept with it last night too, I think he likes it!

As he and I snuggled into bed, Dahlia, who is welcome on my bed but prefers the dog beds, came and settled in a bed.  I heard her get up throughout the night and figured she was restless.  She wasn’t crying or panting, so I knew she was ok.

When I woke up the next morning, Dahlia had every new toy from Santa in the bedroom.  She may have acted oblivious to what was going on while her baby brother ripped through all the toys, but she wasn’t.  She knew she got presents from Santa, and although she didn’t want to play with them Christmas day, she wanted them near her when she slept that night.  My sweet girl may be living in silence but she is still living well.

Dahlia on boxing day.

Dahlia on December 26th, enjoying her time in the mountains.

 

 

 

Dorian

It’s all over the news, Hurricane Dorian, ripped through Bahamas and now threatening the U.S. Coast.  A horrible storm, if not the worst, definitely one of the worst in history.  It’s not the first time I’ve seen the news reporting’s of hurricanes destroying lives and leaving a path of such destruction, it’s unimaginable to those of us living inland.

I have always cared and felt empathy for those impacted by these “acts of God”, but Dorian, unlike others, hit me harder than I expected.  Why?  Because it devastated the very spot that Flipflop was born 5 years ago, it devastated those who saved my dog.

One thing people don’t always realize is the islands are not a safe place for dogs, even when it’s not hurricane season. With the lack of funding to spay and neuter, strays run rapid, being viewed as “pests” they are beaten, poisoned, tormented and worse by some.  And then there are the others on the island, that work to rescue and save as many dogs and cats as they can.

So with Dorian approaching, many who I consider friends and extended family, went into action.  There is a story that went viral about Chella Phillips, who took in 97, bless her!  My own friends worked tirelessly to remove dogs from the line of the storm and relocate them to safer havens throughout the island.   Everyone did what they could.  I checked faithfully on my extended family, those who saved Flipflop 5 years ago, and allowed me become his momma.

Angie, after ensuring all the dogs on Puppy Island were out of harms way and safe, took her own furbabies and left for Nassau with her husband.  But before doing so, gave supplies to all that decided to stay behind. Angie is one of the most amazing women I know, not only was she directly involved in saving Flipflop’s life, she has saved and re-homed hundreds of street dogs. I was blessed to meet her a few years ago and thank her in person for bringing Flipflop to me.

And then there is Marlana, who was Flipflop’s foster momma.  Upon Angie introducing us via social media, Marlana went through her photos and sent me all she had of my baby when he was in foster care with her.  She has now fostered over 200 dogs and still demonstrates how special each foster is to her.  She and I keep in touch and I love sharing Flipflop’s amazing life with her.

Dave, another advocate for animals was last heard from securing his three dogs and himself prior to the storm hitting.

And then it came………….as it pounded Flipflop’s home land and so many strangers I have come to love, my heart wept.  I know everyone did their best to get strays off the street but I cried for how many strays loss their lives.  My greatest want in life is for every creature to know love.  How many animals lost their lives to Dorian without knowing the kindness that many humans are capable of?  I cried.

The storm passed and then the wait started…………….YAY Angie posted, she and Steve are safe, whew, so glad to hear.  I stocked Marlana’s Facebook page, every 10 minutes, waiting for an update, one day passed, then two.  My good friend Sarah (fellow Canadian foster momma) connected with me, have you heard anything?  Do you know who is safe, who isn’t?  The silence was killing us.  We wept, we prayed, we hoped……………..

Finally word from Marlana was delivered through her daughter, they are ok and are safe! They survived, thankfully!

Dave? Where is Dave?  It’s a bad situation and the reality is anything can happen. We still haven’t heard from Dave.  There is posts going around in hopes of someone knowing where he is, that can bring word to us on his safety.

Now that the storm has passed, the waiting begins.  Where is everyone? Are they safe? What is the damage?  The rebuild of Bahamas, like other islands before them will begin and it will not be easy.

If you are able to give to help the animals affected:

If you prefer to donate to human causes:

If you can’t afford to give anything, thoughts and prayers are welcomed.