Sunday, July 26, 2009

Air Camille

Yesterday my husband, Dylan, and I took our first flight for Pilots N Paws, a non-profit that does air transport for rescue dogs. My husband has been a pilot for a few years now and was excited about the idea that he could do something nice for the dogs while keeping his hours in the air current. It's a great idea for pilots and it works out positively for everyone.

I was apprehensive to say the least. I mean, a dog in a Sessna? Isn't that loud? What if they throw up? We bought a pair of Mutt Muffs to reduce the noise for the dogs we transport, but I still wasn't sure how it would go. Those planes are pretty loud!

So the day finally came that our foster, Camille, needed a lift from Boulder, CO to Cheyenne, WY. No problem! We'll take her in the plane! It all sounded good until we actually had to do it. Yup, there was that apprehension again. To make things worse, the Daily Camera decided they wanted to do a story on Pilots N Paws, so they would come out and shoot photos, which made Dylan nervous too!

Turns out the nerves were for nothing. The day couldn't have gone smoother! First, Camille tried to eat her Mutt Muffs, but once she understood that Mutt Muffs weren't food, she did great! All I got was a little drool on my sleeve, and she got a smooth flight to Cheyenne.

Her family was there waiting when we landed, and they were thrilled to meet her. She immediately rolled around in the grass to show them how much fun she is. I think they will all be very happy together.

Are we taking Bill up in the plane next? Probably not... he's a dog who is afraid of the Nintendo noise. Maybe we'll break him in by playing plane noises on the TV all day so he gets used to it. Do you think he'll be able to tell the difference?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Secret Shopper Foster Dog

So, she doesn't snore, there's nothing leaking out of her (add body part here), she hasn't bitten anyone, she hasn't attacked the cats (although she has tried to play with them), she wrestles with Bill for hours, she's not on medication, she doesn't cower when I approach (in fact, she runs up to me!), she's potty trained....

....what kind of foster dog is this?! She's too perfect! I think she's a secret agent, or maybe secret shopper, reporting back on how many pieces of cheese and turkey we actually provide each day. I mean, she must be! She's got to be making some kind of living to have gold toenails (yup, they're gold! Never seen that before...)

I'll give her an extra piece of cheese today to ensure I get 100% on her secret shopper survey. Her name is Camille, and I'd say you can meet her, but I think she has already made plans out on the town with some new friends it looks like she found!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dog Parks and Socialization are so Important for ex-Puppy Mill Dogs

As I watch Bill run gleefully through the dog park I think back to where we were at a year ago, when he was first released from the puppy mill. The changes in him have truly been remarkable. For the fist several months with us Bill just wouldn't move. He sat in his bed with no light in his eyes, and we had to carry him outside to go potty (he had no problem bolting right back inside to his bed, though). I had been thinking about keeping him, but we are very active and I started thinking he would never move - maybe he would be a great dog for a shut-in? He didn't seem to need much activity.

One of the most helpful things for me, as he was my first puppy mill foster, was the network of friends I developed through MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue, who were going through, or had gone through, the same thing with their ex-breeders. Being able to talk with them, and having their reassurances that Bill would get better, helped me through my most on difficult days.

What helped Bill the most were other dogs. We didn't have any other dogs in our house when we were trying to rehabilitate him (now we try to have a dog around "for him" as much as possible - Bill and I are both foster junkies!). However, I started taking him to the dog park and the other dogs helped him so much. At first he would just sit by the gate and shake. After a few weeks, though, he began to move a little.... and then he really started to MOVE A LOT! Turns out that the little guy likes to play with other dogs!

The sweetest thing I can remember is watching a border collie mix named "Scuff" herd Bill over to the water bucket. Not only did he show Bill where the bucket was, he even showed him how to drink!

It's funny, dogs are great therapy for people, and dogs are great therapy for other dogs. So what are we humans really good for?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts on The Bridge

As I watch Bill run around with our new foster play date (Ollie is only with us for a few hours before he gets a ride to his new life in Utah), I'm reflecting on how quiet it would be around here if I didn't have these guys (except for the noise of my husband playing "Rock Band" upstairs at night when I'm trying to sleep!).

My close friend has to "cross over" her Boston Terrier, Cyrus, last week. He was only nine, too young to go, but he had a terminal case of mast cell tumors. He had been suffering through surgeries for about a year and they just weren't working. I commend her for trying to save him, and for making the decision to let him pass with dignity when the time was right.

In light of Cyrus' passing, I though about what I would like to believe the Rainbow Bridge is all about. I decided that Bill's soul, at at some time my soul, will get on a "soul train" that takes us to a place like Disneyland - whatever our own personal Disneyland is. In "Disneyland," Bill will get the chance to be in charge, and I'll be relieved of my duties. Here's what I think of my dog form, and Bill's human form:



That guy looks like he would be fun to play with, doesn't he? I bet he would take me hiking and splashing in the creek. He'll feed me, bathe me, and rub ME behind the ears. Doesn't that sound great?

What is your dog form, and your dog's human form?

Friday, July 3, 2009

If My Dog Were a Writer...

As you may know, I just got finished editing a book about Boston Terriers, and am now working on a book about Golden Retrievers. The differences in the author submissions are striking, and quite comical! Is it the dog the resembles the owner, or the other way around?

Boston Terriers are known for their crazy enthusiasm. When I think of a Boston Terrier, I think of a smiling little dog, hopping around all over the place, frantically looking for a ball. I don't know as much about Golden Retrievers, but when I think of them, I think of the dog that sits in front of their owner, patiently waiting for the ball to be thrown. This is a case of two types of dogs, looking for the same thing, but going about it in very different ways.

Editing stories from the two types of owners has largely been a similar experience! Boston Terrier owners, as a whole, submitted stories with an abundance of exclamation points and some questionable punctuation/capitalization. Golden retriever owners, in general, submitted very clean looking paragraphs with the standard punctuation you would expect from a grammar class. Both sharing loving stories about their dogs, but going about it in very different ways!

This has all been very fun - I'm not only learning about the different traits common in dogs but I'm learning about similarities in dog owners! For my part, I must admit, my writing does not usually overflow with exclamation points but it's only because I was drilled for it in marketing school. The Boston Terrier in me always has her trigger finger ready for the Ctrl+1 !!!!!!!!!