Tag Archives: love

On being a foster (dog) parent

On this woman crush Wednesday (that’s still a thing, right?), I’m dedicating this post to my current foster dog, this lovely lady Lucy.

Lucy sleeping

Can #wcw apply to dogs?

Just when I thought I’d gotten over my jet lag from our two-week trip to Germany and Belgium, my foster dog decided she needed to wake me up at 4AM to go to the bathroom. After she chased a bunny in around the yard. After I let her out, wrangled her inside, and crawled back in bed, I started thinking of all the things I need to get done today and couldn’t fall back asleep. So, naturally, I crawled back out of bed and instead of doing any of those things keeping me awake, am writing this blog post.

My husband and I foster dogs through the Safe Harbor Lab Rescue organization, based out of Golden, Colorado. I started fostering dogs when I lived in DC (and my husband – then boyfriend – lived in Connecticut) and long hours during busy seasons kept me from having a dog of my own. After we moved to Colorado, I did some research and submitted a foster application to Safe Harbor, and I’m now on my 5th Colorado foster. To paraphrase Dickens, it’s the best of times, and it’s the worst of times.

Lucy is my current foster and she’s amazing. In addition to being adorable, she’s fully house-trained, knows lots of commands, and likes to snuggle but isn’t glued to your side 24/7. I suppose I should counter all this praise with reiteration of the fact that she might also wake you up at ungodly hours of the night/morning to take a bathroom break, but I’d much prefer that to discovering a puddle by the door later. Plus, I can’t make it through the night without a trip to the bathroom, so it’s hard for me to criticize.

And this face! How could I ever be mad at this?

Here she is with her stuffed duck

Here she is with her stuffed duck

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the dog fostering process, here’s a quick breakdown; it’s pretty similar across most organizations. When the organization (in my current case, Safe Harbor), takes in a dog (this could be from another shelter, the pound, or an owner surrender), the dog is vetted and screened to make sure they don’t have any serious behavioral issues (aggression towards people or other dogs, food guarding, etc.) that would need to be addressed by a trained professional. The dog is tested for any diseases or illnesses (heartworms, rabies, all the good stuff) and is proscribed medicine if necessary. Safe Harbor pays for all vet bills and medications. Another volunteer evaluates the dog to (try to) determine whether the dog is potty-trained, good with other dogs, knows any commands, and other information that a prospective foster parent or adoptive family would need to know. Then foster volunteers (like me) are matched with a foster dog.

Foster parents are responsible for paying for food, treats, and toys, and are charged with providing their foster dog a safe place to call home (temporarily), teaching them basic commands and manners, and – most importantly – giving them lots of love. Lucy is an owner surrender and hasn’t been majorly traumatized, but some of the other dogs I’ve fostered have come from deplorable circumstances.

Jack, my first Colorado foster, was left in the care of a mentally-handicapped family member after his owner died. The family member was utterly unqualified to care for a dog and simply didn’t feed him for weeks and kept him locked up inside. When a neighbor finally realized he hadn’t seen the dog in a while, Jack was rescued and brought to Safe Harbor 20 pounds under weight. Despite having been horribly misused by humans, Jack was loving, sweet, and pretty perfect. I managed to add 10 pounds to him in the week he was in my care, then his adopted family rechristened him “Waffles” and proceeded to feed him and love him back to his healthy weight.

The day Jack was adopted, I cried for 2 hours. Happy tears, sure. But also selfish, sad tears. I fall in love with these dogs and then they leave. I’m now on my 10th foster. It doesn’t get any easier. Every time one of my fosters is adopted, I tell the family how happy I am for them (and I wholeheartedly mean it), and then run inside and sob. The rewards outweigh the heartbreak, for sure, but man that heartbreak is real and it is painful.

My current baby, Lucy, is no different. She’s going to be hard to let go. We’ve had her for just over a week and my husband and I are pretty smitten.

This is my husband's work glove. She appropriated it from the garage and when he's at work, she carries it around. I'm pretty sure she buried the other one.

Here she is with my husband’s work glove. She appropriated it from the garage, and when he’s at work, she carries it around. I’m pretty sure she buried the other one.

I always try to go into fostering with the mindset that this is not my dog. This is someone else’s dog that I’m babysitting for a bit. I cannot have a dog right now because of XYZ. Sometimes these mantras work. Sometimes they completely fail.

Does anyone have any tips for hardening your heart against adorable labs?

At the end of the day, though, we foster because we know that we are making a difference. We’re taking in dogs who might have run out of time in a kill-shelter, who might have languished in a kennel, who might have never been rescued, and allowing families to see their true potential so they can find homes. Forever homes. With amazing families. And if heartbreak is what it takes to get them there, then heartbreak is worth it.

Lucy + hubby

A man, his (foster) dog, and his scotch. Pure love.

With that, I’m going to stand on my soapbox just briefly.

If you are planning to bring a dog into your life, please, please, please consider a rescue dog. Go through your local humane society or another rescue organization. There are dogs of all ages, backgrounds, and dispositions available, just waiting for you. If you’re interested in a certain breed, there are breed-specific rescue organizations for almost every breed under the sun – just do a quick Google search to find one in your area.

If you have any questions, about fostering, about labs, about adopting a dog, about what I’m going to eat for breakfast, about whether Lucy was able to fall back asleep after waking me up at 4AM (spoiler alert: she was), I’d love to answer them!

Choosing love

In honor of the made-up holiday that I won’t be spending with my husband, due to an ill-timed work trip (seriously, who schedules trainings over a weekend, and over Valentine’s Day?), I thought I’d write a semi-mushy post about the thing I’ve had to work on most during our 357 days of marriage. Our one-year anniversary is in just 8 days, and I can’t believe it. Sometimes, it feels like only yesterday I was stressing over which stamps to put on the invitation envelopes (we went with white roses, I know you were so concerned) or whether all the groomsmen would order their suits on time (they did, bless their souls). Othertimes, it seems like we’ve been married forever.

One of the things I have a hard time with, in life and in our marriage, is trust. It takes a long time for me to open up with people, to truly feel comfortable around them. While I truly do trust my husband, occasionally, there are shards of self-doubt that creep in. Doubt that I’m not doing enough, doubt that I’m not pretty enough, doubt that maybe he doesn’t love me unconditionally. Rationally, logically, in times of peace and happiness, I know that I am and he does.

But what about when we fight over whose turn it is to do the dishes? When he’s exhausted after a long day of work and inadvertently snaps at me? When I’m frustrated over something completely unrelated and want to lash out at him because he’s there and it would selfishly, temporarily, make me feel better? The what if, what if, what if wheel starts spinning in my head and I need to stop it, wrestle with it, before it whirls out of control.

In those instances, it has become my mantra, my goal, my intention to choose love.

I’m not sure where I first heard that phrase or when it started clicking with me. Maybe I heard it in a yoga class or read it on an inspirational tea tag. Maybe I saw it while browsing through Etsy. Regardless, it has changed the way I look at our marriage.

Ultimately, I can’t control whether he loves me. I believe in my heart that he does, and he shows me he does through his words and deeds, but at the end of the day, the only actions and reactions I can control are my own. I cannot be scared of loving fully, of feeling deeply. I cannot be afraid of caring too much. All I can do is close my eyes and continue to allow myself to be swept off my feet by this man who loves me, who I love. When my doubt, my anger, my insecurities, or my shortcomings, real or imagined, try to chip away at our marriage, the only thing I can do, should do, is choose love.

I know, but sometimes forget, that this man I married wants nothing but the best for me, for us. When life gets in the way, or when we argue about something trivial, I could choose to be angry, to be resentful. I could choose to be offended. Or I could choose to love. When I want to put up walls around my fragile heart, when I want to huff and stomp and whine, I’m making a point to choose to love and forgive. To cut us both some slack. To see the sunshine instead of the clouds.

I am so grateful for my husband, who knows my faults, sees my vulnerabilities, and loves me anyway. He is my rock, my world, my liferaft. Here’s to (almost) our first year of marriage, and to many, many more.

Back to the blogging world (and WEDDING PHOTOS!)

Wow, y’all.  What a week it’s been.

We arrived back from our extended honeymoon, just in time to unload the car before a new wave of winter weather struck DC.  I spent Saturday morning rearranging the kitchen and selecting several things to donate in order to make room for the 30 serving platters we received (seriously, I love all things kitchen related but where the hell am I going to put things like serving platters in my 800sq foot apartment?!  But that’s a discussion for another time.), while my new husband went through our refrigerator to throw out all the things that had spoiled in our absence.  (Hint: the kale didn’t make it.)  Saturday afternoon we went on an epic Trader Joe’s run to fill up the barren refrigerator.

By Sunday afternoon, my new husband was throwing up anything and everything that touched his stomach.  Plain toast, water, gatorade, all of the above.  I spent Sunday night alternating between napping in bed and consoling him next to the toilet.  At first, we thought maybe he’d eaten a bad oyster in Richmond, but when he was still sick on Wednesday (despite having eaten nothing for 3 days), we got a little concerned.

You see, in 2011 my new husband, then my new boyfriend, had emergency surgery to remove his colon.  I’ll spare you the details of his surgery and hard-fought recovery, because it will probably make me cry, and also because we don’t need all his medical information on the interwebs.  Just trust me when I say that when hubby has stomach problems, we start to get a little concerned.

So, after an appointment with a GP, a gastroenterologist nurse practitioner, and a round of blood work, they’ve scheduled him for a flex scan and an MRI next week.  Hubby is feeling much better now (case in point – he wanted pizza for dinner last night and asked me to bake him chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, not gonna happen), so these tests are really just precautionary.  

I tell you all this to explain why I’ve been like a walking zombie all week, haven’t read any of the amazing blogs I follow, and certainly haven’t been able to sit down and write anything coherent of my own.

I still can’t manage a decently written post, which is why you’re getting another picture post.  Sorry!  Take comfort in the fact that these, at least, were not taken by my iPhone and are actually incredibly high-quality pictures.

At the rehearsal dinner with my brother and grandfather

At the rehearsal dinner with my brother and grandfather

Rehearsal dinner decorations

Rehearsal dinner decorations

My wedding bouquet wrapped with my paternal grandmother's handkerchief and my maternal grandmother's engagement ring

My wedding bouquet wrapped with my paternal grandmother’s handkerchief and my maternal grandmother’s engagement ring

 

My wedding dress and veil (which was my mother's)

My wedding dress and veil (which was my mother’s)

First look with my father.  As you can probably tell, I'm a total Daddy's girl, and we were both sobbing hysterically.  But that's what waterproof mascara is for!

First look with my father. As you can probably tell, I’m a total Daddy’s girl, and we were both sobbing hysterically. But that’s what waterproof mascara is for!  Even though I’m married, I’m still his little girl, and I love that.

My soon-to-be husband enjoying a pre-wedding scotch to calm his nerves

My soon-to-be husband enjoying a pre-wedding scotch to calm his nerves.

 

"We now pronounce you - man and wife!"

“We now pronounce you – man and wife!”

Out in front of the church

Out in front of the church

Solo shot

Solo shot

Grand entrance - hubs had originally wanted to enter the reception via a smoke tunnel, but the reception vetoed that.  Instead, we settled for breaking through a UNC banner while the DJ played the fight song.  I think it was a success!

Grand entrance – hubs had originally wanted to enter the reception via a smoke tunnel, but the reception vetoed that. Instead, we settled for breaking through a UNC banner while the DJ played the fight song. I think it was a success!

Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we decided to a wedding topper for us to cut.  Everyone else enjoyed Krispy Kreme donuts flambeed in liqueur served with vanilla ice cream.  I didn't get to try one (too busy socializing!) but everyone seemed to really like it.

Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we decided to a wedding topper for us to cut, while everyone else enjoyed Krispy Kreme donuts flambeed in liqueur served with vanilla ice cream. I didn’t get to try one (too busy socializing!) but everyone seemed to really like it.

Cake cutting!  I told hubs he wasn't allowed to mess up my makeup with cake to the face, but I didn't exactly show the same courtesy to him.  Hehe!  It made for good pictures though :)

Cake cutting! I told hubs he wasn’t allowed to mess up my makeup with cake to the face, but I didn’t exactly show the same courtesy to him. Hehe! It made for good pictures though 🙂

So remember that cake we had for us to cut?  Well, OCD me tried to cut it into perfectly even slices and didn't notice the cake base wasn't attached to the cake stand.  Off it toppled, right into the wall!  This is my face right after I knocked it off.  At least now we don't have to worry about saving wedding cake for our 1 year anniversary!

So remember that cake we had for us to cut? Well, OCD me tried to cut it into perfectly even slices and didn’t notice the cake base wasn’t attached to the cake stand. Off it toppled, right into the wall! This is my face right after I knocked it off. At least now we don’t have to worry about saving wedding cake for our 1 year anniversary!

This is one of the last pictures of the night, after hubs had gotten tired of his bow tie and right before we made our getaway.

This is one of the last pictures of the night, after hubs had gotten tired of his bow tie and right before we made our getaway.

So there you go!  Our wedding was absolutely everything we wanted it to be and then some.  One of these days, I’ll do a full write-up with details, but for now, hopefully the pictures will suffice.  Happy Saturday everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the other side

Hello there! I’m now officially married and am writing to you from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I’ve had two rum punches and three margaritas and am typing this on my iPhone; you should be shocked and amazed if there are less than 12 typos in this post.

We’ll be honeymooning for about two weeks, splitting our time on St. Thomas and the surrounding islands. Everyone keeps asking us about our travel and sight-seeing plans; I feel like such a bum for saying we don’t have any, but it’s the truth. I just want to sit on a beach for a few days and enjoy the fact that no one is asking me about whether these napkins would be best for the appetizer table or for the dessert table. Eventually, we’ll make plans and explore and I’ll (hopefully) have something to write about when there’s less alcohol in my system. But for now, please enjoy a collection of photos from my highly sophisticated iPhone.

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This was my car’s temperature gauge as I drove across the Georgia-Florida state line. After weeks of near-freezing temps in DC, I almost got out and did a little dance. Temperature in central Florida while we said “I do” – 82 degrees F.

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Thank you notes that we’re tucked into the out-of-town guests’ gift bags.

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Picture of said gift bags, stuffed with granola bars, water bottles, aspirin, orange juice, tea bags, jelly beans, oranges, and orange flavored popcorn (not as weird as it sounds).

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Neither of us really like cake, so for dessert we had Krispy Kreme donuts that were flambé’d in orange liqueur and served with vanilla ice cream. Apparently they were very good. I didn’t get to have any though. The bride and groom are very popular at a wedding, did you know that? Everyone wants to talk to them.

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Us dancing at our wedding. That’s me in the long white dress!

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A picture of the free travel magazine they gave us as we boarded our flight. I am all about a good travel mag, and free is better than not free! I read the whole thing cover to cover and circled the names of restaurants I want to try while we’re here.

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Of course I dragged us out of bed for 7am sunrise yoga this morning. Not only did we get in some de-stressifyng (yes, it’s a word, trust me on this!) twists and sun salutations, we were up early enough to get some great pictures off our hotel room balcony.

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View from our table at lunch. Yes, it’s over-priced, but the food is good and the weather is heavenly. I’m not going to complain.

I heard there’s another snow dump heading for the East Coast. Y’all stay safe; I’ll try to send warm thoughts your way!