Mammal Mondays: Wendy has Gone Home

Things have gotten calmer, and far less hairy in the dollhouse. Yesterday, after staying with us for just over seven weeks, Wendy dog met her forever family and moved right in.

I am thrilled to tell you that Wendy now has a dedicated human mom, and a lovely canine sister. Lucky, shaggy girl. Very soon after they met and all the appropriate sniffing took place, it was clear the dogs were eager to play. With the people looking on, the two pups raced around the yard, prancing and goofing together. If dogs could giggle, Wendy and her new sister were certainly doing so. My heart swelled and broke simultaneously.

And so we said our farewells. I wish I’d taken more photos of Wendy: she is such a gorgeous dog.

Have a great life, sweet girl.

Have a great life, sweet girl.

It’s a funny thing to be a foster family. We open our hearts to a new dog, not knowing much about the creature coming to stay in our canine guest room. Often we get a photograph to go by, and usually a very brief description such as “she’s a sweet dog,” or “she has lots of energy and a nice personality.” Time after time, the dogs surprise us. Sometimes they’re bigger than anticipated, or shaggier than expected, or sweeter than we bargained for. We are often most caught off guard by how much we fall in love with them. Whatever they are, these previously unwanted dogs who come to us for transition into their happily ever afters are each unique and important to us.

It’s a big investment too, of time and patience. Wendy tore the screen totally out of our back door and required daily vacuuming to minimize the tumbleweeds on our floors. The back door was first damaged when Wendy  decided she would rather be inside than out and let herself back in by jumping through the screen; its last moments occurred the next day when she tore the damaged screen out with her teeth and dragged it around the yard. As for the vacuuming, thank goodness I invested in a high-end model. Had I saved the heaps of pyrenees wool she shed, I could knit a beautiful Wendy sweater–suitable for even the bitterest days of winter.

Stranger than bringing a dog into our home and letting her take up residence in our hearts as well is letting her go when her forever family arrives. The Electrician and I are careful to tell ourselves that the visiting dog is not “our” dog, and we remind one another of the fact as well to keep from becoming too attached. Every time the foster pup does something frustrating or gross, we joke that it’s a good thing she’s not staying. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to protect our soft hearts. We get attached despite our best efforts.

I’ll admit it was wrenching bid Wendy farewell, even knowing we were leaving her in a wonderful home. The Electrician didn’t say much for quite a number of blocks as we drove away. Having good ol’ Sherman helps to dull the ouch of giving up our foster dogs, and we’re grateful for that. He’s had a quiet little day with me at home today, and it seems like he’s enjoying having his mom to himself again.

Wendy is foster dog number nine to stay in the dollhouse. We are proud to have worked with Second Chance Animal Rescue Society to help save nine beautiful dogs who would have had no future without SCARS. Please visit SCARS’ website to read more about the fantastic work the society does in Alberta communities. If you can spare it, donations are always very welcome. Many of the animals are injured or ill, and your donations can make an immediate and meaningful difference for animals in need.

Our house is a little too quiet and a the lack of big clumps of drifting dog hair is tugging at my heart. I suppose things will feel just a little too empty until we meet foster dog number ten.

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Mammal Mondays: The Fugitives

Happy Victoria Day to my fellow Canadians!

Here we are, ten days after Miss Wendy the Enormous joined us as our latest foster dog. She has been an absolute dream: this dog is so eager to please that she goes to her kennel on command, and she walks right beside me on a halti. After having to wrestle dogs both on walks on into crates, it’s nice to have a wee break with this girl who does everything we ask.

Except that she won’t stop stealing dirty socks. There are worse things, I suppose.

Everything has been very smooth with our shaggy sweetheart, and life in the dollhouse has been very pleasant overall.

(Edit: Wendy decided she hates my friend’s shih tzu and put on a great Cujo routine tonight. Sigh. I guess no one is perfect. The shih tzu was not injured, but his feelings were hurt.)

When I called the dogs in from outside on Saturday morning, no one came. Usually the mutts are climbing all over one another to get to me. When I called the second time and had no response, I stepped out onto the deck and realized the front gate was somehow wide open. Crappity crap crap.

I hollered The Electrician away from his video games, threw on my shoes, and ran out the open gate to the street. I immediately spotted Wendy about four houses down. She had located a youngish woman coming back from yoga and was harassing her for ear scratches as the woman unloaded her yoga mat. When I called her, Wendy turned immediately and galloped toward me, tongue flapping behind her and long hair billowing on the spring wind.

Unfortunately, yoga girl had not seen Wendy’s partner in crime. Even after I returned the big pup to our yard, Sherman was nowhere to be seen. Given that I was unsure how long they’d been out, and that we’re one block and three houses from a busy street, I will admit I started to feel panicky.

The Electrician went one way and I went the other. After another few minutes of searching and calling, a spotted blur streaked across our avenue and tore through a yard into the alley on the other side. Sherman is fast when he wants to be, and not wanting to be returned to captivity really fired up his afterburners. My boy who listens so well normally was on a roll and none of his regular commands even registered. I think there may be a part of him that thought he was playing tag. Sadly he sucks at tag and does not realize that, in order for the game to work, the players need to come somewhere close to one another. Instead, what we had was two humans who were “it” and the potential tag-ee was far too speedy to get a chance at being it himself.

About this time, the guys on the construction site just down our avenue joined in the chase. Sherman was not encouraged to stop by the extra bodies joining our “game,” and kicked his sprint into yet another gear.  It was a stressful time. Finally, I looped around through an alley and managed to emerge when he was pointed straight in my direction.

I haven’t used my “teacher voice” in quite some time; I’ve sort of missed it. “Sherman, sit,” I told him in my best ‘it’s Friday afternoon and I’m speaking to three dozen wound-up eighth graders’ voice.

Sherman didn’t sit. What he did, thankfully, was slow to a trot, then to a walk, winding up immediately in front of me and expecting a neck scratch.

Here’s the thing: if you scold your dog for running away once he’s back safely on a leash, his doggy brain is likely to associate the returning with getting in crap, not the joyride itself. As infuriated as I was by his doofus act, I had to pretend I was thrilled with Sherman turning himself in. One of the construction workers helped by petting him and helping us play up how very good it is to come when he is called.

You know, I am pretty sure Sherman knew the praise was rather faked.

I’m extremely glad we were able to capture the fugitive. We’re still unsure who opened our gate, since I am certain I latched it after returning from my dog walk the night before. The Electrician thinks perhaps someone stumbled through on the way home from the bar Friday night, since it is a long weekend and we live in an area with lots of university students. Either way, the gate is now padlocked so we don’t have another neighbourhood chase.

I hope your weekend has been relaxing and that you’ve spent it with people you love. I also hope your dogs are all where they are supposed to be. As a big plus, this is the first May Long Weekend I can remember where we haven’t had snow. Hooray, spring!

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