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.

Miss Ellie's Engagement

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!

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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.

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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.

 

Letting go

Everyone knows the amazing bond I have with Flipflop, he is my baby and brings so much joy to my life. Seeing how he takes care of Dahlia warms my heart, and my morning snuggles with him are the best.  He rescued me when I had to release Dupont to the rainbow bridge.

It pains me to recall these memories as I am so close to Flipflop now, he is such an amazing dog and I love him more than life. But our first year together was a struggle for me.

As is known, I wasn’t looking for another dog, I had no intention of getting another dog, as Dupont aged, I decided in time I would foster but I would never have another dog……so glad I broke that promise to myself!

Early one morning I looked at my emails and saw one from my friend, Sarah, a dog, cat and foster mom.   Sarah just decided to randomly send me her next fosters photo via email.  Before I even knew what I was doing, I said we needed to introduce this foster to Dupont……The story I have shared many times, a force greater than myself, something that I have no idea how or way came over me and I adopted Flipflop (then named Smokey).

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The photo that stole my heart.

So here I was with an ailing senior and puppy I totally didn’t expect to have.  Even with the cuteness of baby Flipflop I was very careful to ensure Dupont remained my #1.  Dupont was good with Flipflop and things were going well.

Flip & D

Just 2-1/2 months after Flipflop joined our pack, Dupont fell, he was done, he gave me all he could and needed me to repay him for his years of love and loyalty.  My heart broke, it broke like it never had before.  Laying on blanket on the floor of the vet office, beside my loyal companion, I stayed with Dupont while he took his last breath. I stayed with him for a while afterward, hugging him (I knew he hated hugs and snuggles and I managed a weak smile knowing he was looking down on me cursing me for hugging his body so tightly).

Like many dog owners, I struggled with the loss of Dupont, I had hard time not blaming myself, even through my vet assured me I did everything right with him.

My grief of losing Dupont made it hard for me to allow myself to bond with Flipflop.  I felt guilty for loving him so much.  I felt bonding with this puppy would somehow lesson the love I had for Dupont.

Flipflop did his job, he got me out of bed every morning and I was so grateful to have him to help me through the horrible grief.  But he was exhausting, he had more energy than I knew what do with, he earned his nickname – Flipflop the pup who won’t stop (and to this day he still has those moments).  I was so scared of losing Flipflop, as I did Dupont, I completely lapsed on his training and let him get away with things Dupont never would have been allowed to do.

At 6 months old, a daycare opened up down the road from me and I enrolled Flipflop on opening day!  He needed this outlet!  He was a hit at the daycare, with is antics and energy, the staff loved having him there, and I was happy I found a place for him to use up his excess energy and be happy.

Flipflop’s daycare was having a fundraiser for The Bello Project, they would have Santa there, dog business booths and a communicator.  I have blogged about communicators before and believe in them or not, the interaction I had with the communicator at Dogtopia that day, changed my relationship with Flipflop.

I had brought Dupont’s collar, in hopes the communicator could connect with him, it was almost a year since he passed away and I was unable to let go of my “what ifs” What if I did this that day instead of that, would Dupont still be here…..the truth is I know there is nothing that could have prolonged Dupont’s life, he was ready to go and he knew his baby brother would take care of me, but losing him still haunted me.

When I gave the communicator Dupont’s collar, she focused for a few minutes and then said, “he’s a big furry guy, isn’t he, ” I immediately broke into tears.  She told me that Dupont no longer wanted to see me so sad, he was happy now and was able to run without any discomfort.  He didn’t blame me or hold resentment toward me, he was ready to leave when he did.  And most importantly he didn’t begrudge my love for Flipflop.

Whether she really saw Dupont that day or somehow just knew what I needed to hear, I don’t care, her words to me allowed me to let go my guilt and allow me to fully open my heart to Flipflop.  I hadn’t realized how much I was holding back from Flipflop until after that conversation when a weight lifted off my shoulders and I knew that Dupont wanted me be happy and he knew how much he was and still is  loved.

As Flipflop and I continue our life together, I kept my promise to myself to foster and we gave second changes to 13 fosters and ended up with Dahlia along the way. Dupont will always be my eldest son and will always be a large part of my heart .

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The last picture I took of Dupont, ever, little did I know an hour later he would be laying in the snow unable to move and I would be rushing him to the vet.

 

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“Just” a mutt

I get asked all the time, what breed Flipflop is.  “He’s a Potcake” I say, and then 95% of the time I get asked “a what?” So, I explain where the term Potcake comes from and that Flipflop is a street pup from Bahamas.  From there, people either lose interest in him, or comment how cool that is or worse say “he’s good looking for a mutt.”  WTF…………I hate that, I almost as much as people who say they can’t foster as they would get attached.

Some people are also unsatisfied with hearing he’s a mixed breed and me not knowing what MIX he is.  Well, I know he’s got a ton of terrier in him, as that’s his dominate  behaviour, maybe some Rottweiler as his eyes are very rotti like.  The truth is, I don’t care what he is, he’s my baby.

He rescued me, and I know we often say our dogs rescue us, and I don’t disagree,  Dupont helped me through losing someone very important to me to heroin and got me out of bed on days when my depression was so bad, I felt there was no reason.  But he was my reason.

And now that reason has passed down to Flipflop.  Flipflop was there when I lost Dupont, the love of my life, and he gave me reason to get out of bed.  He gives me reason every day.

I have anxiety and depression, I’ve been on medication for more than half my life, it’s not something I share with  a lot of people and hesitated putting in this blog, but its party of my journey in this life and a huge reason why my dogs are my everything.  I truly believe I would not be here if not for the love the dogs in my life, past and present.

Last night, I was horribly depressed, it hit me out of the blue and I wanted to drop off the face of the earth.  A feeling I know many of my friends have felt. I know in my head, it’s not real, these feelings, I know it’s my illness, my life is good, I have friends who love me, I live in paradise (at lease my version of paradise) and there really is no reason for me to have felt that way.  But even as I tell myself there is no reason to feel this way, the feelings don’t go away.

I often laugh at those posts on social media, so many people put them out there, “talk to me”, “I’m listening”……A person I care very much about, tried to take their life about a month ago, fortunately they were found in time and going through their treatment plan.  But someone said to me, “I told her I’m always here, she can talk to me, and I told her you are there for her too.  I told her, Joan cares about you and would never judge, you can talk to her if you don’t want to talk to me.”  It’s true, I do care for this person and I never judge anyone, but I also know talking to someone is the last thing I want to do when I’m depressed.

I had a conversation with my doctor about three months before I left for B.C. I was feeling great at the time, but told her I had an episode, much like the one I had last night, but this one lasted a few days.  She asked me why I didn’t come see her, and I looked at her and said “why? you can’t do anything to help when I’m feeling that way.”

And unfortunately, I truly feel that way, at least in my situation, that no amount of people, talking, love, friends, etc. can help me. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t care to talk to anyone, I just want to vanish from the world.  But I don’t, I don’t because, in my case, I always have a dog (now two of them!).

When I want to vanish into thin air, the love for my dogs always keeps me here.  Flipflop, who doesn’t care about his mom’s mental state, demands his belly be pet, and trust me when I’m down I get totally frustrated with it as I just want to be left alone. But he doesn’t care, and he loves me no matter how broken I am.

I am so undeserving of my dogs.  And although Flipflop may be “just” a mutt, to so many dog snobs out there, and under appreciated for his insane personality.  To me, just like his brother before him, he is my world.  He saves me just by being my dog.  He saved me by JUST being a mutt!

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