Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Awww...there's just nothing like a puppy. Helping Paws Rescue gets lots of puppies, however we often try to avoid it unless someone can take the puppy home. This means we haven't had a little puppy in a long time.

We recently got two puppies, one of which wasn't eating too well so I wanted to take her home myself to observe her health. Her name is Reese but she doesn't know it. I don't really know her as Reese either. She's too little to have a identity, I mean she's just 5 weeks old. But she does. Right now she is a mixture of scared, hungry, tired, cranky, curious, playful and trusting.

Puppies are new life. They are full of possibilities. They depend so much on us humans as they will their entire life. We hold their fate in our hands. Will Reese be loved forever? Or will she live in an outside pen; will she be chained up; will she wander until she meets a death too quick? These are all the possibilities that face each puppy ever born. Each promising fresh slate waiting for us humans to decide their fate. They so depend on us. We made them depend on us.

Reese is a lucky one. She will be loved. She will find a family that will love her forever thanks to Helping Paws Rescue. But looking at her I can't help but think of all the others. All the others....

Reese is love. She is innocence. She is a little sparkle in a person's day. I hold her close to my face as I walk her outside. Hoping she'll always recognize my smell. I smile as she runs through the freshly cut grass which is still tall for her. My heart beams as she embraces life, as she rubs her belly on the ground and barks. (Still so small that her barks are adorable.) I cringe when she keeps me up all night. I love watching her curl in the warm towel.

Awww....puppies. Thank you God for puppies.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


My dogs don't bark all the time and if something does get their attention it's usually pretty easy to get them to stop. However our one problem area....when someone's at the door.

I know that many people like it when their dogs alert them when someone's at the house, but not me. It can be quite startling having 5 dogs suddenly start barking all at once. I honestly don't need their help, I can hear the doorbell perfectly well without them alerting me to it. Most of the time it's the neighbor's young daughter coming for an afternoon visit. Nothing to be alarmed about. Nothing scary. So to's a problem.

It's funny; sometimes as I'm watching a movie or tv show and it's someone's house and their doorbell rings. Guess what? No barking. Just the peaceful ring of the little bell. Awww wouldn't that be nice? Instead if I know someone is coming over I'm on edge waiting in anticipation to work with the girls and their chorus of noise. I also know that this isn't very welcoming to my visitors. They know and expect barking but still I dream of them being able to walk in with my girls laying on the floor calmly enjoying their company. We get there, but only after about 15 minutes of visitor excitement.

My plan of action is to assign them a place to go when the bell rings. I send them to stand and wait on the living room rug. A task they easily accomplish. Even new fosters catch on pretty quickly. But do they do this quietly? No. So I still have to say, "Enough!" to quiet them. Sometimes it may be several "enoughs" and a mean look on my face that lets them know, "mom is really serious." They know I will follow through if they don't. (Follow through simply means I'll go all the way to them and grab their collar firmly and say enough or something like that.)

Then once they are settled and I greet my now terrified visitor I slowly allow them to come and greet, sometimes one at a time, sometimes all of them. When I give the release command I normally get one good back-talking bark. Bailey has actually been known to growl at the person while holding a toy in her mouth which she is bringing to give to the visitor. This is an example of how ingrained this behavior is. It is so ingrained that I can stand with the door wide open. The dogs can clearly see me. I ring the bell...they bark. I ring again...they bark. Again, they see that it is me just standing there ringing the bell...but still they bark. It takes a good 5-6 rings before they are aware enough to stifle their barks. Silly dogs.

My dogs are fantastic, so well-behaved, I love them so much. I wish I could just let go of this frustration and realize it's okay for them to bark then. As long as they listen to my commands and eventually settle, then it's okay. So that's my plan. I'll continue to send them to the rug, say "enough", ring the door bell at weird times to desensitize them and work on my patience. After all if I wanted a quiet house when the bell rings then why did I get a dog in the first place : ).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Inside my head...

Inside my head around 6pm on January 2nd:

Ugh, another 1 and a half hours till I get home, traffic is horrible. Why did I go this way? I never go this way. Oooh, a dead dog on the side of the highway. Poor thing didn't have a chance on this busy road.

(Listening to talk radio a few more miles.)

Oh no, what's that?! It's a dog! Walking right here on 75? Are you kidding me? I can't get over I'm in the far left lane. Traffic is too bad...too fast.

(I pass by.)

What do I do? Do I turn around? That's stupid by the time I get there he'll be gone.

(Why I was thinking the dog was a "him" I'm not sure.)

He was headed towards the exit ramp, maybe he'll walk off the highway. But then again, even if he does it's still a busy road with lots of traffic. Look. The next exit is another 2 miles, ugh. It's not my job to save every dog. It's cold out there. I'm going to Athens.....

I can't. I'll get to Athens and not get that dog out of my head. It IS my job. That's what I'm here for. It IS my job. Fine, I'll turn around. He won't be there but I'll turn around.

(Drive two miles, get off the highway, get back on the highway, drive 2 miles again, get off the highway and head to get back on the highway on the ramp he was walking near.)

I don't see him. I don't see him. What's that? Oh God, it's a pile of black. Did he get hit? What IS that? I can't tell, got to keep moving there is traffic behind me. Great, now I won't know if that was him or not. Great, this is awful. Wait! There he is, to the right of the exit ramp still walking near the highway. Stop. Not too quickly there are tons of cars right behind me. Stop quickly, pull to the left, the right is too bumpy. Grab a leash; got it. Okay, careful. Wait for all the cars to go by. Please, please stop walking towards traffic. Please don't get hit in front of me.

(Traffic clears enough for me to run by.)

He's scared. Of course he's scare. I knew he wouldn't come to me. Stop walking. Just wait. Kneel down, talk to him. "Hey sweetie, what are doing here? Come here, come here." He's looking at me. He wants to come but he's scared. The more high pitched I talk the more he can't control the wag of his tail. He's coming. I can't believe it. He's coming! His head is low, ears back, tail tucked but wagging. He's being submissive. He's sweet and he's a he. Definitely a he. Closer...closer...closer...don't move too quick with the leash or he'll run. Gotcha! The leash is on. I breathe... I breathe and then my eyes water. This is what was meant to happen. I was meant to turn around. He was meant to come with me.

Meet Traveler....