Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review

Its that time again...time to look back at what has been and look ahead at what will be.  Every year on New Year's Eve, Trevor and I go out to dinner and have our year in review.  We talk about our favorite parts of the year, least favorite parts, what we look forward to next year.

Every year I make goals for the coming year.  I have been looking back at my list for 2012 and I can proudly say that I achieved just about NONE of them.  Here's the list:

1. Drink Less Coffee and more Tea - NOPE
2.  Eat Less Sugar - Why did I even bother with that one?
3. Establish a nonprofit animal rescue - didn't do this but did so much more instead
4. Budget - I actually did pretty good with this one.

Then the fitness related goals:
1. Improve my swim - I would have had to swim to do that
2. sub 2 hour half marathon - I don' think I even did a half marathon
3. sub 4 hour marathon, I did a marathon, but not under 4 hours
4. sub 6 hour half ironman - we did NO triathlons this year. I disappointed that I went just about 0 for 8.  Not one bit.  This year turned out way different than I had expected, so much happened that was not on my radar, not planned for and turned out to be WAY better than anything I could have thought I wanted.

In January, I got a call from Rev3, a triathlon company out of Virginia that was looking for a volunteer coordinator for their local Portland event in July.  Trevor and I had been planning to participate in it, but the opportunity to work it seemed much better!  This one call would change the entire direction of our year....we just didn't know it yet.

The first half of the year was really a blur for me.   I was in denial about how much time and energy Asha was going to continue to take from me.  We spent January, February and March dialing in her medication.  This post called Trial and Error details just some of that.  It was a really tough time on all of us.  We were getting no sleep, we were stressed, tired and I was angry....all the time.

In April, we started going to see Dr Hope Valentine who practices Chinese Medicine.  She put Asha on some herbs and gave her some acupuncture treatments.  This was when things really started to improve, the combination of traditional medicine and "alternative" medicine was really helping Asha. Meeting Dr Valentine was a turning point for us.

In May, we were able to take a fabulous trip to Maui for my friend Diane's wedding.  We were only gone four days, but it was well worth it.  It was so relaxing and we got some good night sleeps, something that didn't exist at home for us anymore.

Later in May, we started food therapy for Asha.  We changed her food and continued on with the acupuncture and herbs.  We had THREE nights where she slept all night.  But that hasn't happened since.

Around this time, I was at my lowest point.  I felt like my life was totally out of control,  things were getting better, but it was still chaos and mayhem and I wasn't really seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.  The idea that this was my life for the next 10 years or so (Asha's lifespan) was so overwhelming. I missed my old life. I wanted to sleep.  I wanted quiet.  And I wanted to stop feeling like a failure.

I remember one evening, Trevor was still at work, I layed on the guest room bed and cried....I thought about where I would go if I were to leave.  It kept coming back to this....if I left, I needed to take everyone with me.  It was the chaos I wanted to leave, not the ones causing the chaos.  But that didn't make me feel any better.

The next morning, we were laying in bed with the cats and Trevor said to Roxie, our grey kitty "Baby (we call her Baby), is mommy going to take you with her when she leaves?"  I said "you think I am going to leave?" and he said "I don't know what you are going to do, but I know you are not happy".

I went on to tell Trevor all the things I was feeling.  But it came down to this....I felt like a failure because of Asha. I felt like she was showing me everything I hated about myself - especially my lack of patience and how selfish I was.  I didn't like who I was and I wasn't sure I could keep going like this.  Trevor pointed out just how patient I was and the fact that Asha was still alive and happy was actually a huge success....we weren't failing her.  He suggested I started thinking about things differently and stop thinking of the person who I always thought I was.

I had this same conversation with Dr Valentine a couple days later - how far we had come and the things we had done for Asha.  This was really when things changed for me.  I started to look at what we had accomplished instead of what we weren't able to do.  I was working hard on letting go of what I had wanted and accepting what I had, which was pretty amazing....if I could just see it. 

From that point forward, I was much less angry about things. I was more accepting of myself, more forgiving and life got easier to manage.  I needed a swift kick in the ass to stop feeling sorry for myself.  I mean, really, if this was as bad as things got for us, we were doing pretty good, right?

I also felt less resentful of Asha.  I mean, I loved her with all my heart, but there were times when I was really angry for what she had done to our lives.  I had an email exchange with my friend Alaina around this time.  She has a son with special needs and they have overcome so much more than anyone knows.  She told me that we were lucky - that the Universe had chosen us to take care of these special ones.  I wrote about that here  Once I started looking at things a different way, my heart grew exponentially and I just had more to give to everything in my life.  I started to go easier on myself.  That helped too.

With no sleep and lots of stress, training for much of anything wasn't happening!  And deciding to work the one event we had hoped to do made it even more difficult.  We did complete the Vancouver USA Marathon in June.  I was proud to finish, it was a tough day!

In June, we entered Asha into the Oregon Humane Society's Top Dog Contest and she won Fan Favorite.  This was a great night for Asha and her team.  Here is that story.

Trevor had this third Mixed Martial Arts fight in June. He had planned to continue fighting this year, but our schedules just didn't allow for the amount of training that has to happen to do something like this.  You can run a marathon unprepared, but you shouldn't go into the ring unprepared.

July was a busy month for us.  We adopted two new cats, celebrated one year with Asha and worked the Rev3 Portland triathlon. 
LJ and me

August was the month of change...I don't really remember much of the year before August.  This was when we decided to start fostering.  Since then we have had 9 cats and 7 dogs come through our home.  We have loved them all as our own - one has even become our own.  I cried when each was adopted. I was broken hearted when we had to say goodbye to our Jenny.  We had hoped she would find a great home, instead, she was too far gone and so we let her go with dignity and will never forget her.
 It started with Farrah and Lola

 Meow Ser


Romeo - we decided to keep this guy and made it official in November after two failed adoptions

 Panthro and Tygro



 Lucey and Shilo (Shilo is still with us and available for adoption)
Mrs Miniver (still with us and available for adoption)
Sweet Jenny.  She was with us for 10 days and then we had to say goodbye.  She's forever a member of our family.

In August we sold one of our stores. I remember thinking "I will have so much free time, what will I do?".  Well....I got hired at LA Fitness to teach cycling.  A week later, I was hired as the part time volunteer services manager at the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society - you can read about that here

About a week after I started at the shelter, I got a call from Rev3 asking if Trevor and I could come to Maine to help with a triathlon.  We said yes and hit the road.  Over the next three months we traveled to Maine, Ohio, South Carolina and Florida to work for Rev3. I met the most amazing people, both the staff for Rev3 and the locals in each town. I was the volunteer coordinator and worked the info booth. I have never worked as hard as I did these weekends, with these people.  Here is how that all went.

In September, we traveled to New Jersey for my 20 year high school reunion.  Trevor worked a triathlon in New York that weekend and came down for my reunion.  What am amazing time.  This was one of the highlights of the year for me.  Its been a long time since I have felt so comfortable with myself.  I wasn't self conscience about anything - not about how I looked or what I was doing with  my life or who I was talking to. I felt more like myself than I have in a long time.  It was comforting to go back to where it all began to see the people who it began with.

Next thing I knew, it was the holidays.  And now its the end of the year.  This has been the toughest, most rewarding year of my life.  I have learned so much about myself. I have found my place in the world, figured out what I believe in, what I stand for and who I am.  I know it will all change over time, but for now...I am at peace with things.  Its been a long time since I have had that. I have met so many new people and reconnected with so many old friends.  And so 2012 has been nothing like I expected or planned and that's okay.  I am looking forward to 2013 and what surprises it has in store for all of us.  Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Foster Jenny, our Jenny

About 10 days ago, I was at the shelter.  There were some workers in the back and the dogs were making lots of noise.  I kept hearing this strange bark. I can recognize just about all our dogs' barks - each one is different and unique, but this one I had not heard before.

I went back to check things out and there was Mercedes.  A filthy, pathetic doggie, barking like a seal, laying in her kennel on top of some fresh poop.  Her back leg didn't work, she looked old and tired.  On her kennel was the paperwork from animal control  The dog's name was Mercedes and she had been taken from her owner due to neglect.

I cleaned up her kennel and spent a little time with her.  As I was leaving the shelter, I sent a text to our executive director and my friend, Tamara.  I said "there is an animal control dog here that will break you heart".  She replied "I know".

The next day, both Tamara and I were at the shelter and we were talking about Mercedes.  Tamara was upset because she knew that this dog was in bad shape and that our shelter did not have the money to do what would need to be done to get her healthy.  Plus, she was 13 years old.

I am new to the animal rescue game and still very naive.  So I wasn't ready to give up hope.  Tamara was being realistic and I knew that, but I just wasn't prepared to believe this was as good as it could get for Mercedes.  I took a video of her out in the yard and I sent it to a couple people I know.  One owns a local special needs rescue and she suggested that we start working on Mercedes' bucket list.  I also sent it to Dr Hope Valentine at Balanced Pets NW in Portland.  She is a chinese medicine doctor and has helped us quite a bit with Asha. 

Mercedes was covered in dirt.  She had been in  yard full of mud and dog feces.  She had no food or fresh water. She would cry at night and was trying to dig her way out of the yard.  I took her into the bathroom at the shelter and gave her a bath.  She was such a sweet soul.  Her deep brown eyes looked at me with gratitude.  I washed her for about 15 minutes and she was still very dirty.  It was tough for her to stand so long, so we called it quits for the day.

Dr Valentine emailed me that night, said that she would see Mercedes at no charge and to bring her down on Friday.  So Friday morning, Trevor and I went to the shelter and picked up Mercedes. I knew she wouldn't go back there - she would stay with us until it was time for her to go to the next phase of her life, whatever that may be.

We had a great visit with Dr Valentine.  Mercedes responded well to the treatment and enjoyed the attention.  Dr Valentine was hopeful that we could see progress and that Mercedes should have some more time ahead of her.  She even offered 4 free treatments to anyone who adopted Mercedes.  This was such great news.  It gave all of us hope that better days were ahead for this sweet girl.  We listed her for adoption and started searching for her forever home.

Mercedes came home with us that night and was in heaven.  She slept on some warm blankets and ate good food, had clean water.  She would jump off and on the deck on her own.  She was happy and constantly smiling.  She did fine with our other animals and seemed content to be inside.  I couldn't help but wonder when was the last time she was in a house instead of a muddy yard.

Saturday morning, Mercedes went with me to the shelter.  She layed in the office and greeted everyone who came into the shelter.  Everyone wanted to pet her.  She got lots of love and she really liked it.

After our shift, we went to see our traditional vet, Dr Kepner.  He did an exam and wanted to get some xrays.  He found a tumor in Mercedes ear and said that she was deaf in that ear for sure.  Both ears were infected and we agreed she was in pretty bad shape, but we would wait and see what the xrays said before we decided anything.

I made an appointment for Wednesday.  Trevor and I agreed that we would make these days the best days of her life.  That meant lots of love, treats, help on and off the deck, snuggles on her blanket, resting in front of the fire place, calmness and peace.

After a day, we realized that Mercedes was not the right name for her, she was much more a Jenny.  Jenny, like in Forest Gump.  She was born a healthy, good girl and life dealt her a crappy hand.  She did the best she could and at the end of her days, she was shown compassion by Forest Gump.  He loved her no matter what.  That's what we were going to do for our Jenny.

She LOVED living in our home, she was always smiling, always wanted to be pet. If I sat down on the floor next to her, she would move over to lay her head in my lap or put her paw on my leg.  She looked at us with such love and thankfulness. 

Wednesday morning came and we dropped Jenny off at the vet. They were going to sedate her and get some xrays. She had been making a lot of noise the last two days - howling, making the seal bark - I couldn't figure out what she wanted, so I would just go lay with her. That helped some, but she was still very restless all the time.  I had her sleep in a kennel two nights because I wanted to see how she would do, that way I could tell a potential adopter that she was kennel trained. She didn't mind much at all.

Later in the day, I got a call from the vet.  They sounded very serious.  A large tumor was crushing Jenny's spine. They had intended to xray her entire body and once they saw that tumor, they stopped  because nothing else mattered.  The vet was surprised she could even move considering how big the tumor was.  It was the reason her leg wasn't working.  She was most likely full of tumors, her hips were very deteriorated and she was surely in a tremendous amount of pain.  She was sedated and he was recommending that we go ahead and euthanize her instead of bringing her out of it.

We couldn't reach my executive director and so I needed to decide what to do.  I didn't want this to be it for her, alone on a table, no goodbyes.  I didn't know what the right decision was, I wasn't ready, but I didn't want to be selfish. I called my friend Dr Hope Valentine, told her what was going on and said "would it be cruel for us to allow her to come out of sedation, bring her home and then in a couple days let her go?"  Dr Valentine told me that no, that would not be cruel and that letting her go in that way would be kind, giving her a couple more days of love would be kind.  I wanted her to feel love for just a little longer.  When she closed her eyes for the last time, I wanted her to be looking at the faces of people who loved her. 

So I called the Dr back and asked them to give us a couple more days.  They put a catheter in so that when it was time, she wouldn't have to go through that.  They also said we shouldn't wait much longer than a day.  If the tumor were to burst, she would be in horrible pain.  None of us wanted that.

I got a hold of my executive director, Tamara and I told her what was going on.  She said, "so that's it?  they can't do anything else"  and then she started to cry.  She said she would call me back in a minute.  I knew she was doing exactly what I had done when I got the call.  She was sobbing, head in her hands, sobbing.  Crying at the loss of hope and dreading what comes next.  She called me back and we agreed that giving her a couple more days was the right thing to do.  She then went right to the vet's office to see Jenny.  Trevor was headed there too and would bring Jenny home. 

We were going to say our goodbyes on Friday morning, so we had two nights and one day to be with our girl.  We had a lot of living to pack into those short hours.  My heart hurt so badly thinking about saying goodbye.  I was so angry at her previous owners who had let her get this bad and who had let her live outside in the cold and mud, who showed her no compassion or care.  But I couldn't focus on that, I had to give all my energy to loving her.

The next two nights I slept on the floor with Jenny.  I would have put her on the bed or couch, but she wasn't able to be comfortable and there was more room on the floor. I piled the blankets high and put pillows all around her.  She spent most of those nights with her head in my lap or on my chest.

We gave her lots of treats - ice cream for breakfast and dinner.  She loved that. 

Her last night, we built a great fire and we stayed up extra late.  All of us, just sitting quietly in front of the fire.  The dogs were all sleeping.  Jenny would get up every now and then and resettle herself.  She would wake up and look up at us, as if to be sure it wasn't all a dream.  She smiled a lot these last few days.  She never seemed unhappy or bitter.  It was clear that she was in pain and when she looked at me with those big brown eyes, she was telling me that she was ready to go.  She had all she ever needed and now she could leave this world for the next. 

I wanted time to stand still.  I didn't want morning to come, I certainly didn't want the end to be near.  I wanted to just stay there on the floor in front of the fire, her head in my lap.  I could have stayed that way forever and it wouldn't have been long enough for me to give her the amount of love that she deserved.  

 Friday morning came, we slept in, fed the dogs, gave Jenny some ice cream and then got in the car for our last trip together.  I've done this before with our animals and its impossible.  Knowing that there are only hours, minutes left of life is a strange feeling.  Jenny was calm the entire time, she enjoyed the car ride, looked out the window and finished up her ice cream.

We met Tamara at the vet's office.  She was crying, we were crying and Jenny knew it was time.  She walked right into the room and layed down on the bed that was made just for her.  Jenny showed tremendous grace in life and she showed nothing less in death.  She layed her head down and slowly, quietly slipped away as we all petted her and told her we loved her.  And just as quickly as she showed up in my life, she exited and I will never be the same.

She would have made some nice family an amazing dog.  She should have grown up with some kids who would have played with her, thrown a ball for her, walked her and let her sleep in their beds.  She should have played dress up and had costumes at halloween. She should have had a special collar and an engraved tag with her name on it  She should have licked too many faces and eaten food off the counter.  She should have layed in the sun and swam in a lake.  She should have been in every family photo and on every holiday card sent.  She should have grown old gracefully, gotten gray and gone a little deaf.   She should have been able to quietly lay her head down and go to sleep for the last time with memories of all those good years in her head.   But that's not the life she lived.  

 I know that Jenny loved her time with us, I could tell by how she looked at me, how she would rest her head against my leg while I was at the sink doing the dishes, by how she followed Trevor around and asked him for help getting on and off the deck.  I can't help but wonder if she was thinking "what took you so long to find me".  People say dogs don't think like that, they live in the moment. I so hope that is true, I hope that in this last week, everything that came before was erased and all she remembers if love, kindness, compassion, patience and hope. 

She was technically our foster, but she was a part of our family and will be forever.  I miss her.  Its crazy to me that I knew her for 10 days and I am heartbroken over her.  Her previous owners had her for 13 years and provided her with nothing.  Sure,there are many greater injustices in this world.  There is pain and suffering everywhere.  All over the world people die, animals die, life is cruel.  Jenny serves as a reminder to me that we all need to do just a little more for the world we live in.  We all need to give a little more to each other, to the other creatures that surround us.  That we all need to believe in something, we all need to stand for something.  Whatever that is, find it and do it.  We can't change the whole world, we can't save them all.  There are thousands of Jennys out there whose lives I can't affect.  But I affected Jenny's life and for that I will be forever proud and honored.  She loved me and she loved Trevor.  We loved her back....and THAT is something.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rescue Mission - fosters Lucey and Shilo

A couple weeks ago, a friend of ours who owns a local special needs animal rescue (Panda Paws), put out a plea for foster homes.  She was going to take part in an animal rescue mission from California. Trevor and I thought that we could help and be a foster home for her.  Then it occurred to us that I work at a shelter and maybe we could do more. I sent a text to my executive director who said that we had room at the shelter for either two dogs that could share a kennel or a bigger dog.  Trevor and I agreed that we could handle two foster dogs, so we threw our name in the hat and quickly realized we were in for a crazy ride!

There was a rescue in California who had 70 dogs that they needed to get off their property.  Otherwise, those dogs would go back to the shelters they were rescued from and most likely be euthanized.  There was a larger rescue operation going on at the same time.  A group called Wings of Rescue was planning to fly close to 350 dogs out of the high kill environment in Southern California.  This is a group of pilots who volunteer their time, small planes and fuel to fly animals.  They do this every year during the holidays and this year was going to be the biggest effort yet.

So started the weeks of emailing, texting and phone calls.  There were so many people, so many groups, so many logistical factors involved.  It was a quite an effort.  The flights were to take place on December 7th.   Trevor and I were prepared for our two fosters.  We would be meeting the plane to pick them up.  One of our shelter board members, Mark, was going to pick up the other two dogs who were going to the shelter.  Until the flight took off on Friday morning we didn't know for sure what dogs were coming.

Here is who ended up on those planes:

Lucey - a 10 year old Spaniel Mix.  She had been in the shelter and rescue for 2 years.  She was adopted with another dog and that dog died, she really wants a companion and her family didn't want another dog. 

Shilo - a 5 year old mix of something like Beagle/Cattledog/Pug.  He was found in the yard of an abandoned home with no food or water. He is nervous about everything and scared.

Two others come along for the ride and then went to our shelter for a few days until we found them a foster home.  Columbus and Pocohantas.  This son and mom have always been together.  Mom was pregnant, found in an alley where kids were throwing stones at her.  She was taken to a shelter where we delivered her pups the next day.  All were adopted except Columbus.  That was 4 years ago. They have been from shelter to rescue, never in a home.  They will need special attention and will need to stay together.

We were so excited to meet them!  Several other local rescues were at the airport to meet the planes and all the news media was there. I was interview on at least two TV stations.  Here is a picture of me and Lucey talking to Channel 2 news! 

We got the doggies home and started the work of making them feel safe and settled.  I took them both to the shelter with me when I could and within a week, Lucey was adopted by a nice older couple. It was the perfect match.

Shilo is still at home with us and is getting much better, he trusts us now but still bites at us when he feels afraid or unsure.  I think a man was very mean to him.  Its sad because he really loves Trevor and wants to lay on his lap and be by him, but he also gets angry if Trevor tries to move him or startles. him.  We've got some more work to do, but he'll get there.

Columbus and Pocohantas are in foster care together and are requiring some potty training and extra patience.  I just know we'll find the right place for all of them.

This was such a great thing to be a part of.  It was good exposure for our little shelter and it was nice to help out other in the animal community.  We are so fortunate to live in a place where animal shelters are so well supported and funded, animal welfare is highly regarded.  Its not as good as it could be, but its way better than most other places and for that, I am grateful.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Home for the Holidays DeeDee style and news about Cutty!!!

The Home for the Holidays program at West Columbia Gorge Humane Society was a success!!!  Here's my last post about it.  When I typed that blog, I didn't have an update on DeeDee. I do now and people have been asking about it - so here you go.

Our DeeDee had the time of her life on her weekend sleepover.  A really nice lady came and picked her up on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  I wasn't there, but DeeDee told me she had leather seats and a girl could get used to leather seats.  DeeDee LOVES to ride in the car, above all else, so this was a super treat for her.

Her Home for the Holidays mama spoiled her rotten.  She got to get up on the furniture and relax with toys. She went for walks and car rides.   DeeDee came back to us on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and has not stopped telling us how great her weekend was.

She came back to the shelter with many special treats and toys.  She got a new pink collar and the most amazing pink sweater.  She wears that thing like a Diva.

I was at the shelter the other morning, just me and the dogs.  Everyone was resting, snoozing on their beds and I kept hearing some ruckus coming from DeeDee's kennel.  I walked over to see what she was up to and there she was, in the middle of five toys, tossing each one around deciding what to play with.

There was a concern that going home for a couple days may confuse or depress our doggies, but it has been the total opposite.  They have more energy and excitement.  It seems to have restored not only our hope, but theirs as well and it is SO evident.  One of our most committed dog walkers commented that DeeDee looks better, happier, and her coat is more shiny.   Sweet, sweet DeeDee.  It was great to see that she still knows how to act in a home.  Her time will come, I just know it and I can't wait for her to find that forever home where she will be spoiled.

Speaking of finding a forever home.  Our boy Cutty has hit the jackpot.  He too had a great home for the holidays experience.  He was back at the shelter for a couple days and then we got a call...I will let the words of our most amazing Adoptions Coordinator, Leah, tell you the rest of the story:

Cami, Cutty's new mom, started emailing me on Monday.  She had found Cutty on Petfinder and was sure he was perfect for her family.  Once our emails started I received at least two emails every day from a very excited Cami sharing with me that her family included her husband Cory, herself and their twin 8 year old boys, they had a big backyard and more information to assure me who they were.  She also asked many questions about Cutty being sure to let me know that they definitely wanted to meet him but were just curious.  Originally the meeting was scheduled for 4:30 this afternoon but Cami and Cory were so excited they asked if we could move it up to 3:30.

Cutty was in the office with me when the family arrived.  Earlier today Michelle had taken him for a nice walk and we had visited a little so he was pretty calm, then came the knock on the door.  Cutty put his leash on and sat like a good boy until he saw the boys and then he just had to come give them kisses ~ and they LOVED it!!  We spent some time in the office chatting while the family slipped Cutty a few doggy treats.  Cory asked about Cutty's adoption fee and when I told him it was already paid he asked if we would accept a donation.  Absolutely!  The boys and I went into the kennel to see the other dogs while Mom & Dad spent some alone time with Cutty.  

When we got back to the office we had Mom, Dad & Cutty head back to the play yard with us.  We chatted a bit and then I went back to the office to let the family get to know Cutty.  These people were wonderful!  They had owned a pit bull before and were so understanding and asking all the right questions.  After a bit I went back to check on the family in the yard.  Opened the door to see Cami sitting on the bench, Cutty had her pinned against the wall kissing her and everyone was laughing :o)  The family asked what we had to do for him to come home.  

We went back to the office and Cory filled out the paperwork.  I grabbed the harness and leash that Michelle had just brought Cutty today and put his name on.  One of the boys asked to hold it and he held on to that harness and leash the whole time until we put it on Cutty.  The boys were so good with him and if they got a little rambunctious Mom or Cory was right there to gently remind them to settle down.  Cory was nervous about the home visit but I assured him I just needed to be sure the home was safe for Cutty.  

We headed out and I told Cutty he would ride with me, one last time.  Cory had told me at the office we would be going clear out to Felida (NW Vancouver) and he was assured it was no problem.  No way Cutty was spending another night in the shelter if he didn't have to.  When Cutty got in the car his leash was removed because he chews on them in the car, it was placed on the front seat.  Then I remembered that the blinds in the office were open so went back to close those, came back to the car.   We followed out to the house and I reached for the leash to put back on.  Where was it?  I know I put it in the car and took it away from him, what happened?  Looked in the backseat and there it was, half chewed through.  When I went back to close the blinds he had gotten in the front seat and taken it back.  A parting lesson from Cutty!

The house is a split level.  Cory's Mom lives in Stevenson and does not like to travel in snow so she stays downstairs when it snows.  This is a little bit of a concern because Cory's first pit bull, a female, lives with his mom.  In talking with Cory I feel pretty good about his ability to introduce the dogs and handle it but still told him that Katie or I would be very, very happy to help with that.  He was planning on taking Cutty out to his Mom's and taking the dogs for a walk.  This is the only possible stumbling block I see.  The attached picture of the family does not include Cutty because he was SO excited to wander around and check things out.  He was very happy to play with the boys and smother them with kisses, stopping to visit with Cami, Cory and myself from time to time.  

Cutty came and snuggled me a little so I could say goodbye,  I reassured him that this was going to be wonderful and he had waited a long time but they had found him and it was all going to be good now.  I thanked Cory and Cami, asked them to call me anytime for anything.  Told them we should give it at least a week but anytime after that they should let me know when they wanted to finalize the adoption.  They thanked me and I headed for the door.  Cutty beat me there and was waiting for me. I rubbed his ears, kissed him between the eyes, assured him again that he should stay and it would be wonderful, told him to go see Cami who was sitting on the stairs with one of the boys.  He started up the stairs but as soon as the door was open he came back to me and I just gently pushed him back in, telling him it was going to be wonderful, I promised.

On the way home Cami sent me a picture.  She promised lots of pictures and updates.

Now, these words for Leah hit me in the heart because Leah has been Cutty's biggest fan.  She has worked with him, trained him, taken him to pack play, taken him home, let him be around her dogs, she always brings him in the office with her.  When Leah would walk in the front door of the shelter, even though he couldn't see her, he knew.  He loved her the most.  He loved all of us, but there was a special bond between the two of them and so even thought Cutty was in the shelter, he was a part of a family.  He was part of our family and he thought Leah was the head of our family.

Cutty came to us last December, so he was in the shelter for 11 months.  It would be easy for a dog to loose themselves, to forget how to be a dog.  I won't lie - there were times when Cutty was obviously depressed.  We could tell that he was getting sad and loosing hope.  We'd all make an effort to spend more time with him and give him extra love. It has to be hard to watch other dogs come and go while you remain.  Just because he's a dog, doesn't mean he doesn't know what's going on and it certainly doesn't mean he doesn't have feelings.

Well...I believe Cutty had to wait so long because his family just wasn't ready for him yet, they hadn't found their way to him.  But now they have.  We get updates every couple of days and it sounds like Cutty is settling into the place where he will live out the rest of of his life.  

There are many hard and sad days at the shelter.  Then there are the days when dogs like Cutty get adopted by families like this.  Its all we can hope for every one of our dogs and cats.   When they arrive at our shelter battered and bruised, sad and neglected or just not wanted, I always tell them not to be sad - this is the place where their lives begin.  

Our shelter is almost entirely volunteer run. There are three of us paid staff (all part time).  So the people responsible for getting things done around here are doing it from the heart, not for the paycheck or the glamour.  These volunteers pour their hearts and souls into these animals.  There are many tears cried, countless sleepless nights and many heartbreaking days.  Of course, there are many amazing days, but its not easy work.  We are so fortunate to have such a great team.  Cutty was fortunate that we had such a great team.  And while we are awesome, we are not unique...shelters all over the country have teams like ours.  Incredible things happen every day without any fanfare or accolades.  The hard work happens no matter how many people see it. 

Please visit your local shelter.  Adopt, foster, volunteer, donate.  We all have something to give.  Give it....give it now.