Catching Up

Dear Across the States Gardeners,

I am so sorry for your cold and snow. Not to rub it in, but I spent the weekend cutting back and clearing out for spring. The danger of frost is now past and the buds on the roses and trees and emerging Daffodils and Tulips signal that a new season is not far away.

The process revealed a plethora of ladybugs –

and blasted Bermuda grass run amuck.

First a final freeze, and then a huge wind blew through last week.

We lost several trees and it picked up our beautiful arbor and tossed it as if it was made of sticks.

It was the very first thing in the garden – long before there was a garden. As if Jody wanted to plant a stake in the overgrown ground and claim it. Built strong and steady by one of “Da Guys” on our facility crew – it sailed but did not break. The legs have been removed and it will be rebuilt, finding its rightful spot soon along our memorial brick-lined path.

The lower trunks of the plum tree that has been threatening failure for the past five years found the ground. Our garden friend, Joey, gave it a professional haircut and hopefully a couple more years of life.

Our baby German Shepherd puppies and their mama, Annie, have found a generous and willing foster to see them through their upraising.

The woman’s dog passed a couple of months ago and she found her home too quiet and empty. There’s nothing like a litter of puppies to fix that! Annie will be so much happier there – and my focus will shift, as planned, to Skye’s first surgery next Wednesday.

It hurts my heart to think of months of rehab for this boy who is so full of life. But it will ensure that he has a long, active and pain-free life. I will keep the end goal in mind and hope he forgives me.

It occurred to me that in my hard-to-write 2020 year, that I had not documented two of our fosters here. The list was not nearly as long as 2019, but lest they be forgotten…

Rubble was named for the place he was found – in a pile of rubble, stray at only 3-4 months of age. This adorable boy with the crooked ears needed a better start to life, so he came home to stay with us for a bit.

I met with his potential adopters when he was ready. It was a meeting unlike any other. They had recently lost their beloved companion. Usually, people instantly swoon and fall in love with puppies but they seemed reserved. I worried that they were not connecting. When they asked if they could go home and think about it, I thought: well, you already know the answer. They left and Rubble and I started packing up to return home. The phone rang. It was the couple. They were on their way back. I was skeptical until I learned the reason for their hesitation: the man thought that maybe he was being disloyal to their departed dog. The woman told him: this is exactly what he would want and what we need to fill the holes in their hearts. And so Rubble became Rebel. He visits our classes weekly and recently graduated to the big dog school! He could not be more loved.

Louie was born blind in one eye. He was raised outside with two other dogs. He was very thin and clearly had to compete for food. When he lost the second eye to trauma – likely over a food discussion – he was suddenly blind. And apparently useless to his people. They left him in a shelter with a the gaping, untreated wound.

Our Doc removed both eyes for his long term health. When he was ready, he came home with us. We quickly saw the food guarding issue – but we also worked with a trainer to get it under control. Other than that, he was a complete love. He adapted very quickly to house living – navigating steps and obstacles with ease. This blind puppy just needed a little guiding.

His potential family was hand-picked. Regan is a young 10-year-old girl who has raised and donated her birthday money each of the last several years to the dogs. Last Christmas, when she came out to deliver her gift, she fell in love with a 12-year-old Golden with terminal cancer who had been abandoned at the vet. Regan convinced her family that Monk needed to be home with them. She lovingly cared for Monk through his last five and a half months of life.

This Christmas, Regan’s parents surprised her and her siblings by bringing Louie – now Murphy – home. It is clear from reports and photos that adopting a blind dog has been a truly rewarding experience for Regan and her family. Fostering one was for us, as well.

And now…we are caught up!

Winter Skye

Two weeks ago, the asters and Mexican marigolds were still in bloom. Mother Nature can so easily lull Northern California gardeners into false hope of early spring. The narcissus have flowered, the tulips, hyacinths and iris are rapidly making their way. But grey skies and a cold north wind blew in today, with the promise of a hard freeze Monday night.

I was there early for puppy duty. German Shepherd, Annie and her newborns are just visiting. Found stray and very pregnant, she was sent to the shelter. Shelters don’t generally do newborn puppies. Our local GSD rescue pulled her, but reliant on fosters, they had never whelped puppies before. We offered to see her through the birth and their first few weeks before they move to their foster home. Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, our volunteers sat vigil. She birthed six beautiful babies and took to mothering immediately.

Puppy duty at this young age is not hard. It is more about being available to mom for frequent feedings, some cleaning, potty trips and breaks – leaving plenty of time to prepare the garden for the cold ahead.

New shoots and tender perennials are now blanketed in straw.

The sparrows believe it is theirs to nest in.

We began our rescue year with the walking wounded. Broken and fractured pelvises, traumatic nerve damage, one fractured vertebrae; one fractured femur, and a torn ACL. Cars and dogs don’t mix.

My current foster could be counted among them – but his issues are hereditary not inflicted.

At just a few months of age, he was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia. Skye traveled a very long way for our help. He has interest from lots of potential adopters who want to bring him home once fixed – but so far, no one who meets our criteria has stepped up to see him through two FHO surgeries and months of recovery.

So, Skye is hanging out with us. He will have his first surgery on February 10 and his days of torturing his big foster brother Yogi will be over. Despite the abuse, I know where I will find Yogi when we bring Skye home hurting and sad: sleeping right by his side.

Note to potential adopters: four months is a long time not to fall in love with a dog. We are not looking for dog number three – but just saying!

Bundle up your tender fruit trees and plants, my Northern California gardener friends. And to those of you back east – you can stop laughing at us. Revenge is ours. Just wait for February!

Look Up

My preference for a packed garden has led to some thuggery.

I spent the day cutting back prized but overgrown California fuschias, cerinthe major (honeywort), and even California poppies to allow the verbascum, sea holly, and blazing star see the light of day.

It’s a happy garden that grows so vigorously that it needs to be edited in May!

Sometimes, gardeners get tunnel vision; all we see are the weeds and work.
The same with rescue; the sad stories and hard days can overwhelm.

To be sure, the usual culprits are there in the garden: Bermuda grass and wild morning glory in particular.
But I say ‘look up.’

In rescue, you learn that you cannot dwell on the obstacles and setbacks. You have to look forward to the good that can be done. While our hearts still ache for the loss of our little Rose to Parvo, we have been celebrating the recovery of Lilac. She stayed with us for a bit to ensure that she would go home strong and healthy –

and so she could make up some lost socialization time during her period of isolation.

Post-darkness, she is a gift of sunlight and happiness.

Look up dear gardener – at the magnificent roses, the tall Verbena that towers, and the Daylilies in bloom.

Look up to the brilliant Yarrow, Matijila poppies, and Jupiter’s Beard.

Look forward to the Delta sunflowers, the Dahilias, Agastache, Penstemon, Bee Balm, Rudbeckia, Zinnias, and Salvias. They will be here before you know it.

The weeds, like troubles, will always be there. But it is the good and beauty that deserves our focus.

Happy life, sweet girl.

Perspective

A carrier pigeon arrived in the garden in late February. It spent the better part of the day just watching. It was not carrying a written message on its banded leg, but perhaps it foretold what was about to unfold.

The ducks and geese mock us now. Public use areas have been closed due to COVID during the remainder of hunting season. The birds have found plenty of places to feast and fly – unmolested. We envy their togetherness.

The rescue is very quiet.

We have limited our on-site volunteers to two per shift. It ensures that there are teams available to feed, clean, exercise and care for the dogs while protecting ourselves and each other.

I have found a quiet corner in the garden away from working team members to keep the weeds from overrunning the place.

And to get out where it is safe. I usually crave my solitude in the garden.

Strange that I should miss the commotion.

The little boy I wrote about last week – Orbit – has gone to foster.

Remington, too.

They can finish healing there while reducing our volunteers’ chores. Our fosters have stepped up in a big way for which we are grateful.

Solitude is hard for some. If we can find a silver lining in this disaster, it is the forced time to stop our hectic lives long enough to appreciate each other, goodness, and the things that should unite not divide.

“It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.” ~K.T. Jong

A friend posted to social media. She was feeling frustrated and penned up. To busy herself, she cleaned her bookshelf where she found a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank. Perspective.

The One That Got Away

On Christmas Day, I returned to the garden.

It has been about a month since I have spent any real time there except to rake and do light cleanup.

That’s what happens when foster puppies come to call.

Little Daisy—now Gabby—was with us for a month. Arriving at only seven weeks, she had already been passed around and surrendered for the birth defect on her eye.

At 11 weeks, she was healthy and fat and strong enough for her surgery.

Her eye was removed as the hairy tissue had grown to cover nearly 90 percent of her cornea and was extending to her lower lid. She sees better now without the constant obstacle blocking her view. She recovered quickly and was home in time for Christmas—her new mama’s bundle of joy (and potty-obstinance!).

Happy life, little girl.

In Northern California, we don’t put the garden to bed for the winter as much as we tidy up.

There is still color and foliage to admire –

but work to be done.

When the blossoms fall, the bees finally retreat enough to find the source of the pesky Bermuda grass. The damp ground Is much more gracious about giving up the fugitives it harbors – abolishing all excuses. As the leaves shed, the structure of the garden comes into view. It’s time to start editing select trees and shrubs being careful to leave basal foliage growth protected against expected frost.

Time is measured by the passing seasons –

and the growth of foster pups.

Lily was one of this year’s foster puppies. One that I never wrote about. Not because she was not memorable – but because she was too much so.

People ask how my husband and I can foster puppies and never want to keep them. We had never been tempted. We see ourselves as a part of their journey. Their parting is bitter sweet but we are excited for their new families. Our house is full of doggie love and we know that keeping one might prevent us from helping more.

But Lily was different.

At eight weeks of age, she was found “stray” in a parking lot with a broken leg and taken to an area shelter. Thankfully, she came to us quickly in time to do surgery and save her leg. The photo I took upon her arrival is heartbreaking.

She recovered at our president’s home until she reached a point where she needed regular swim therapy to help rebuild the atrophied muscle around her still growing bones.

So she came home with us where we could swim her in our pool multiple times throughout the day.

We fell in love immediately.

She gained strength quickly. Too quickly. Before we knew it, she had been promised.

She is the one that got away.

Lily has an incredible mom and dad, and to be honest, a life more full of adventures than we could have provided. She could not be more loved and doted on. That is what we want for all of our foster babes.

Still, I keep her photo on my desktop. And when she came to visit this weekend, I was filled with joy and tears.

She is where she is supposed to be. And so am I. In the garden awaiting the next foster arrival.

A Legacy of Faith and Hope

From a certain angle, you would never know there is something different about these two girls.

To me, they could not be more special. As puppies, they set me on the path to puppy fostering.

Surrendered by a breeder, they both had a congenital abnormality called Megaesophagus. The esophagus – which connects the throat to the stomach – is enlarged and lacks the elasticity or motility required to move food and liquid down to the stomach. Unless gravity is employed, puppies vomit up their food and drink, lose weight, fail to thrive and often do not survive. They were fragile and adorable.

We named them Faith and Hope.

And after a brief time at the rescue, they came to stay with us. They were the first puppies that my Bella accepted.

All previous attempts at fostering failed quickly. But somehow, Bella knew that these puppies had a special need and she overlooked their foolish puppy ways and welcomed them home.

Hope was adopted by one of our volunteers with a heart for special needs dogs.

Faith stayed with me until a home could be found.

As a very young puppy, she was extremely active.

But I noticed that as she grew, she would often stop and refuse to move.

I carried her home on more than one occasion. I thought she was just being stubborn.

She was adopted by a lovely woman who had a special needs son herself. She was drawn to Faith for this reason. But Faith’s stopping continued creating a challenge that was more than the woman knew how to deal with.

By this point, my Bella’s own special needs were overwhelming. She was losing her battle with cancer.

So not long afer Faith was returned, she went to foster with her sister – now named Sophie – and her big brother, Jasper.

We all met up at puppy class,

and Cassandra and I looked at each other with alarm when – in the middle of play – both girls simply collapsed.

They said that it was normal for puppies to overdo – but we both knew it was more. It turns out that Faith and Sophie had another inherited concern: centronuclear myopathy or CNM. Muscle fibers do not grow normally. Dogs are unable to walk and exercise normally and are prone to collapse or locking up in heat or cold. It develops between six weeks and seven months; the result of poor breeding. What we were seeing was its progression.

So what did Cassandra do? She adopted them both!

Four years later, you can clearly see the muscle wasting from other angles,

but the dogs have thrived in their mom’s great care. I honestly don’t know where they would be without her.

They began their journey in Hello Kitty chairs

and now have grown up custom dog chairs that they back themselves into to eat and sit upright for an hour while gravity does its work.

Mom monitors their exercise in hot or cold – but mostly they all enjoy couch time and snuggles together. Homeward Bound ensures their medical care for life.

Once a year, when mom takes a much-needed and well-deserved break, the dogs come to stay with us. This week, I was on puppy duty anyway, so I gladly took on Faith and Sophie’s feedings as well. It is the very least I could do for a woman who opened her heart and home to these very special sisters.

Bella left us not long after Faith went to live with Cassandra. I reflect often on her unique acceptance of these two girls. I think she would be proud of the puppy-fostering legacy she began – with Jackson and Yogi giving others hope and faith that the will get the start in life they deserve.

P.S…my sincere thanks to the adoption team who managed to get Barley and Hops adopted today so I can leave on my trip to Yellowstone worry free!!

Camp Yogi: Temporary Closure

This is Yogi taking a forced break from puppy fostering.
It has been nonstop since the beginning of July. GiGi’s litter: Garrett, Gabe, Griffin and Gracie.

Beau

Dude

and Conway.

Before them, Rose, Ty, and Nutmeg,

Anna,

Sara,

Lily,

and Noah.

Fourteen puppies in eight months. No wonder Yogi is exhausted!

He’s such a great sport and expert puppy raiser, entertaining them, teaching them boundaries, watching over them, and generally allowing them to torture him.

It’s that later part that put him in the cone. Too many puppy licks in ears and eyes leading to infections; lowered immune system and allergies causing hot spots. He has more than earned a break. Camp Yogi is temporarily closed for business. So, naturally, as soon as the cone went on, these two showed up.

Adorable little Heeler mix pups that someone dumped in a field near the rescue. Thankfully picked up by a good Samaritan and brought to us. We named them Barley and Hops. It kills me to leave puppies at the rescue. Not that we have not raised hundreds. But I believe puppies need to be in a home where they can get all of the attention, care, and socialization they need to start their young lives off right. And no matter how careful we are and how separate we keep them, there is always the risk of another dog coming in carrying their own unwelcome guest before these little fur balls have developed strong immune systems.

So naturally, one of these two became unwell. When I arrived last weekend, Barley was clearly not feeling good. His temperature had skyrocketed, he wasn’t eating, and he didn’t want to get up. Emergency measures were kicked in. The fever broke quickly, and by the next day, he was eating. But his legs were not working.

While my mind races right to dark, scary places, our leader stays firmly in the light of hope and drags me along with her. His brother showed no symptoms. She said to let the medicine and rest do its thing. They remained separated, but together, and isolated from all others with only the two of us watching over them. Thirty-six hours later, he got up long enough to poo. The next day, he stood to eat. And by the time Doc set eyes on him again, he greeted her standing with tail wagging. From there, he progressed rapidly. A week later, he is running and jumping…and now…my puppy worlds have collided.

While they wait for their own adoption day, Barley and Hops are hanging out with my former foster, Conway – now named Chance.

I’m hoping we can get Yogi over his hot spots as quickly, because everyone loves a happy ending.

Outtakes

The last puppy is home! Garrett stayed with us for an extra week until his new mom came back from her vacation.

He was a joy to have. Smart. Funny. Playful. Sweet. A bit of a baby who gained some much-needed confidence with the big boys away from his littermates.

He has taken to his new family like water…forgetting all about us like yesterday’s news!

The thermometer topped out at 106 so the weeds were allowed to continue their march. Relative cool returns tomorrow and so will I to uproot the blasted Bermuda grass and free the sizzled garden.

Fifteen dogs are on their way to us, but the lull this week was lovely. After submitting my last work project on Friday, I started organizing old photo files. For the website, we look for a direct eye contact and a happy face. Looking into a dog’s eyes is where people first fall in love. But it is the outtakes that warm my heart and truly capture their personalities.

The brat…

The faker…

The “I thought I saw a kitty cat!”…

The joker…

The “I am safe” look…

And you name this one!

Somehow my teammates managed to get 11 dogs home this week before adopters passed out from the heat. All are special, but a few are especially so.

Casey lived such a sheltered life that he attached too strongly to his mom to the point of fearing all others—including her husband. The situation became impossible. His whole life was uprooted when he was surrendered to us. He gradually accepted a select few into his inner circle; their job was to expand his circle and help him learn how to adapt to new people and surroundings. His adopter has traveled two hours each way to visit him weekly and earn his trust. This week, our team will transport Casey to her so his transition to home is as smooth as possible.

Blackie is the other half of Blondie and Blackie.

These 10-year-old Shih Tzu mixes came to us through a volunteer when their human dad could no longer care for them. We thought they would be gone in a heartbeat, but two videos and one special appeal later, only Blondie had been adopted. They adapted surprisingly well as little dogs in a big dog rescue, but home is where they both belong. Another volunteer took Blackie home this week and will be flying him to his mother who has been searching high and low for a boy just like him.

Little Libby has a fan club. She was dumped in a field in Southern California mostly blind and deaf and covered in mats. She was picked up by animal control and taken to a high-kill shelter. Imagine the terror. She could not stop whimpering. A campaign was launched to secure her release and she was ultimately transported to us where she received good care and medical attention; still, she was inconsolable. Which made her the perfect candidate for our well-known dognapper who scooped her up and quickly became a foster-failure. Libby is now home.

Not a Golden Retriever in the mix and we couldn’t care less. All are deserving of a second chance and a place called home.

The Rules of Engagement

Most of our foster puppies promise to remember us always and then quickly forget when they find their forever homes. How do I know? Many come back for class or reunions. I may get a passing hello, but they are much more interested in playtime with the dogs than visiting with me.

An exception: Baby Sara – now named Jessie. You may recall from a past post, Jessie is the offspring of a Golden mom and a dad of many colors.

She was born and reared feral in a field until a woman living nearby could win mom’s trust. Since Jessie would not leave mom’s side, she had to choice but to be caught too – but unhappily so.

Our volunteers worked hard to socialize her enough for her to come home with us where my Yogi and Jackson completed the job.

She was adopted by a wonderful family and their Lab, Harper. Jessie helped to fill an empty spot in all of their hearts after the loss of their other dog.

Harper is very protective of her new sister. So much so, that if they are in class together, Harper spends all of her time keeping the other dogs away from Jessie. It was not a good example for Jessie, and was not providing the socialization she needed, so Jessie takes her classes solo now. When she spots me…she comes running into my arms and will not settle into class until our greeting is completed with belly rubs and kisses.

She is a little dog who thinks she is a big dog – until she gets rolled a couple of times in play and then she retreats to a corner. So she was delighted to make a new friend this weekend at school: Gracie.

Gracie is a four-month old Golden who—despite towering over Jessie—is also a little leery of the bigger dogs.

They are well matched: Even with those little legs, Jessie can outrun Gracie – but Gracie uses her height…

and weight…to her advantage when she catches up.

Still, Jessie was clearly laying down the rules of engagement.

Dogs are excellent teachers.

Jessie: That’s too ruff…I’m not playing with you until you calm down.

Gracie: Ah come on….

Gracie: You can’t resist me…

Jessie: Nope. Not working.

Gracie: What if I say I’m sorry?

Gracie: What if I am adorable???

Jessie: OK, we can be friends again. Just watch yourself!

It’s so wonderful to watch her grow and blossom.

Her mama would be really proud. I sure am.

Blossoming

The gardening is waking up. After a long, wet winter and many false starts, there are signs everywhere signaling spring’s arrival.

But the bulbs and trees are not alone in their blossoming.

Sara is an adorable little black and white hot-dog of a puppy born in a field to her Golden mom. First noticed around Thanksgiving last year, a kindly neighbor began leaving out food for mom and her dwindling litter of pups. After several months, only Sara remained. She learned to stay close to mom and to be wary of everything. Survival instincts: finely-honed.

Mom started warming up to the neighbor woman. She had been someone’s dog once, and while distrustful at first, she took a chance in hopes of finding comfort and safety. When mom and baby could finally be caught, both were brought to Homeward Bound.

Initially, both were terrified. Mom started coming around after a bit, but baby Sara would not leave mama’s side. Our volunteers did an amazing job of coaxing them out of their shells, spending time with them and making them feel safe. One even fell asleep petting them in their kennel. Human touch is an amazing healer.

Baby Sara is somewhere between 5 and 6 months old. She stayed with mom long past the point when most pups strike out on their own. Mama was beyond ready to spread her wings and find her own future with a waiting family.

So baby Sara came home with me to spend some time at Camp Yogi and begin to learn about the world through the eyes of her foster friends.

It just about ripped my heart out to separate Sara from her mom, but we all knew it was the best thing for both.

There was some crying and whining, but she attached quickly to our dogs and to my husband and me. The hardest part was not coddling her. She didn’t need protection any more, she needed to gain confidence. She got together time and alone time. She got playtime and quiet time. She took to potty training like a pro, jumped into the bed like she owned it, and leapt right into our hearts. She was blossoming: playful and joyful and growing in her independence every day.

This weekend, she met a family of adults and their 18-month-old Lab, Harper. They had all been grieving the loss of their senior dog; Harper was feeling lost. Shy at first, we left Harper and baby Sara in the yard together and watched from afar. Baby immediately started following Harper around and Harper seemed glad for her company. The match was made. Baby left with a smile on her face and didn’t even turn back to say goodbye. On the ride home, she snuggled close to Harper. And the happy updates have been flowing ever since.

A lot of effort goes into planning for spring blooms.

You watch and wait, hoping it will pay off. When it does, it makes your heart soar.

Happy life, little Sara…the brightest flower of spring.

All I want for Christmas?

I wasn’t exactly looking for a puppy for Christmas, but when one arrived about a week before, how could I not bring it home to foster?

Surrendered at 14 weeks, Leo is an adorable yellow Lab puppy. His people purchased him and figured out within a week’s time that they were not cut out for puppy raising. Having a really bad feeling about the breeder, they thankfully brought him to Homeward Bound instead of returning him. He checked in on Friday morning and was loaded into my car by Friday afternoon, headed for Camp Yogi. And then the fun began!

He took to my Yogi and Jackson immediately.

He slept in his crate through the night.
He went potty where he was supposed to.
And then my husband foolishly remarked: “He must be the easiest puppy we have had yet.”
Leo had played us well.

Shortly thereafter, Leo’s true personality came bursting through. He is one of the busiest, bounciest, flying-highest puppies we have every fostered.

https://vimeo.com/308028682

He turned on the gas stove; he stole things off the counter; when he couldn’t reach, he used Yogi as a ladder.
He had zoomies of epic proportion, and tantrums to match if they could not be exercised (exorcised?) out.

A tired puppy is a good puppy, and we were able to keep him tired enough to weather the hurricane –

until he went in for his neuter surgery and Doc said “no jumping or running for 10 days.”

I managed 48 hours before surrendering to his will.

Forewarned, the in-laws cancelled their Christmas visit and we prepared to spend the long holiday weekend playing, chasing, and keeping the house from burning down.
And then: a Christmas miracle…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
A creature was stirring, ‘beware’ said my spouse!
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature tornado on a barking, whirling, tear!
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
He was chubby and plump, a right crazy little elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

He cuddled and cooed, to a family he wooed,
And got himself adopted; he is truly quite shrewd!

And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas, little Leo. You tested, tormented and exhausted me – and flat out stole my heart.
Happy life, little boy!

BE GOOD!!

The one that got away

My husband says I should compile a montage of all the puppies we have fostered in the last couple of years. Note to self. I’ll get right on that.

Our latest, Buddy, went and got himself adopted. A beautiful Chocolate Lab, he was surrendered at four months of age for being a puppy.

His people – apparently divided in their decision to purchase him – took on more than they could manage or agree upon. As a result, Buddy was sleeping in the garage and staying outside. They were wise enough to know that Buddy deserved more. It was a kindness to let us help him find it.

Too young to be in the kennels, I brought him home. This was not your average size four-month old. He already weighed in at 47 pounds.

But his heart is as big as his paws, and this love bug quickly wormed his way into ours.

He put both our Jackson and Yogi to the test. It took about a week, but they eventually got him to fall in line. And I figured out that if Yogi and I wore him down, my shoes, furniture, and door jams could be saved.

Regardless of how long we foster a puppy – a few days or a few weeks – my Jackson is always ready to pack their bags. He is an accepting – if not gracious – host. Willing to share as long as he sees an end in sight.

Yogi, on the other hand, grieves his puppies when they go home no matter how much whining he did when they tortured him. Yogi taught Buddy how to watch for squirrels (as if he cared),

and Buddy taught Yogi that all toys belong to the baby in residence.

While Chocolate Labs are prized as hunting dogs, Buddy doesn’t have a single hunting instinct in his body. He crawled on his stomach to meet the neighbor cat, and when I took him to meet ducks and geese, he just sat and watched them.

He has found himself a family full of kids, dogs, and adventures. Everything he deserves, needs, and everything I wanted for him. Instead of “Everready Buddy” they describe him as “chill.”

It took days to remove all the baby gates and pens, and put the house back in order. But I miss the little bugger, his morning kisses, nighttime snoring, and impish ways.

Happy life, Buddy. I hope you’ll stop by to play sometime!