Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I'm often asked, Why don't you keep Popeye? Or Iris? Or Sophie or Bandit or the dozens of other dogs I've fostered? Don't you fall in love with them? Isn't it hard to let them go? Obviously yes and yes. It would be the easier thing to do to just give up the hope of finding whoever my foster dog happens to be another home. There wouldn't be that little heartbreak that comes hand-in-hand with giving them over to someone else. And particularly with the fearful and other special needs dogs, there wouldn't be the stress, worry, and anxiety of wondering how they will cope in a new environment, if their new family will be sensitive enough to their needs, if anything bad will happen to them. So much easier to just keep them with me, secure in the knowledge that they will be safe and secure and have no need to be frightened again.

But I don't keep them because there are other Irises and Sophies and Bandits out there who are still waiting for their chance. I have had Popeye for a year now, and I don't know if he will ever be adopted. I try not to dwell on it because beyond caring for him the best I can, whether someone appropriate steps forward to adopt him or not is out of my hands. Keeping him would not be a hardship, in many ways it would be like a sigh of relief. Except for one thing. Knowing that I could not continue to foster new dogs. I think that fact alone breaks my heart more than anything else.

I know not every dog can be saved. I know there is only so much I or anyone else can do. But that fact is harder to accept when you are presented with a particular dog's story, when there is a face and an identity amongst the millions of nameless, faceless homeless dogs out there. This is Miko's story, which I learned about today.

Miko was found back in April. Just another stray dog in Taiwan subjected to the cruelties of humans. She was found with a rubberband tied tightly around her neck. So tight in fact that it not only cut deep into her skin but also caused her head to swell up like a balloon. This was not the first time I had heard of this kind of torture and I know it won't be the last.

This picture is particularly graphic so you have to click on it if you want to enlarge.

Miko has been since nursed to health (and spayed), but she is, understandably, incredibly fearful of people. She's about 9 months old, 22 lbs right now. Her time is running out at the hospital and if somebody doesn't take her soon, they will be forced to return her to the streets, where she will endure who knows what other horrors in her life.

Fearful dogs like Miko are the kind that have the most special place in my heart. I know her chances are slim, but if anyone is interested in taking her in to foster or adopt (and you would have to be somewhat knowledgable about undersocialized dogs), let me know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Popeye's First Year

I picked Popeye up from SFO airport the night of July 31, 2008, almost 1 year ago exactly. We've both adjusted a lot since then and I have watched Popeye grow from 12 lbs to 26 lbs. By now, all the issues I had planned to address before even getting him (incontinence, amputation, cart) have been addressed. Right now, the only thing we're still working on are those pesky allergies (we had 6 blissful nearly itch-free week but symptoms now returning). It's ironic that the one health condition still plaguing him (and me) is something as mundane as allergies.

I still remember the vet who said to put him down. I still remember the people who criticized or questioned. Thankfully, they weren't many. I hope that for people like them, seeing Popeye just given the chance to be Popeye, opens their minds and makes them re-evaluate how they view dogs, special needs, and life in general.

(If you read Sugar Sweet's blog, you'll recognize where the song came from.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Emmet the Great

What Emmet's mom said about basing every decision regarding Emmet on the quality of his life and not the quantity really struck me. It's a philosophy I agree with but I think, in the every day living, I sometimes forget to follow.

(I thought that cart looked familiar. It was also built by Doggon Wheels.)

Doggon Fitting

Recently shortened the horizontal length from +3 to +2. Popeye seems to sit farther back in the saddle with +2. Cart does zigzag more on +2 compared to +3, but still stable and I think he is sitting more properly.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Popeye Meets Nemo

We had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Nemo and his dads at Pt Isabel today. What awesome guys. It's so incredible to me that they take such good care of Nemo (and 3 other dogs!). And then I remember, wait, I do that too (well, usually just 2 other dogs). But it's become such a routine here with Popeye that I just take it as a given and don't think much about it anymore. I'm sure the same must be true for them, but even the fact that I care for a paraplegic dog myself does not diminish how in awe I am of Nemo's dads, of their efforts and of the size of their hearts.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Few Good Laughs

Taken from

Popeye & Reese

Popeye doesn't like new dogs in the house, unless they're accompanied by a new person. Maybe he thinks a new dog without a person is an infringement on his territory.

Day 1 (Thursday):

I pick up Reese, with Boomer tagging along. (Reese has met both Boomer & Phoebe before.) We try a new approach with introducing the new dog to Popeye--taking them to neutral grounds. Tyler meets me in front of the house upon return and immediately takes Reese & Boomer for a walk up on the hill behind our house.

Several minutes later, I follow with Phoebe & Popeye. Everybody meets on the top of the hill. All goes well.

Return home and dogs hang out in the backyard. Reese is very clingy with me so he spends most of his time following me around rather than interacting with the other dogs.

Once inside the house, however, Popeye starts his snarling and snapping. He follows Reese everywhere and continually bears his teeth at Reese. If Reese tries to walk past him, Popeye snaps at him. By now, I realize this is little more than posturing on Popeye's part but it's enough to intimidate Reese, who luckily, is a submissive dog and will not retaliate. We correct Popeye for this behavior but it doesn't do much to stop him from doing it again and instead just scares the other dogs.

Day 2 (Friday):

More of the same. But wait, Reese picks up a stuffed animal in the backyard. Light bulb goes on in Popeye's head. TUG!!! His favorite thing in the world. They engage in a very short game of tug.

Back in the house, Popeye still growls a bit at Reese but only half-heartedly. Things are looking up.

Day 3 (Saturday):

Reese's playful nature kicks in and he starts to go wild with the stuffed animals. He's no longer intimidated by Popeye and suddenly they are best friends, Bandit-style. Nonstop wrastling ensues.

Phoebe & Reeses Pieces

Phoebe and her brother, Reese, who is staying with us for a few days. Reese is the third of her siblings that we have met. They all have fantastic temperaments, are extreme lap dogs and submissive lickers, have a love of life and a "soft" personality. But we got the best in the litter.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Suryia & Roscoe

Too cute not to share. Suryia is an orangutan. Roscoe is a hound. They're best friends.