Dirt season


Charlie cleans up the evidence after Lexie stormed through the kitchen. It was a tasty job.

Charlie cleans up the evidence after Lexie stormed through the kitchen. It was a tasty job.

Matt brushed at the sand collecting on the couch cushions.

“This is awful!” he exclaimed. “The dogs are tracking in mud every time they go outside. This place is filthy!”

I knew it was time to tell Matt. I sat down next to him, and took a deep breath.

“Since you are a relative newcomer to the house, I think it’s time we had a talk,” I said, gently placing my hand on his leg for emphasis. “In my home, there are only two seasons: dirt and dirt-free. In the fall and spring, the dogs track in all sorts of mud and sand. The trade off is that when the snow falls, and in the summer when the grass grows, we get a reprieve.”

Matt looked at me like I was a crazy woman.

“You want me to get used to this?” he asked, incredulous.

“Winter’s just a couple weeks away,” I said, looking out the front window. “Snow is just around the corner.”

Just then we heard an explosive boom, followed by what seemed like a zillion pieces of hail landing on the kitchen floor. As I ran to the hallway I just about tripped over Lexie, who was uncharacteristically moving fast. Her feet slipped on the wood floor as her momentum pushed her past me.

I glanced into the kitchen, and saw the wreckage of her run. She had cut the corner by the stove a bit too close, and made a direct hit on Charlie’s puppy kibble. That was the boom. When she hit the bowl, it sent pieces of food throughout the kitchen like confetti.

Charlie didn’t miss a beat. He arrived within seconds, and authoritatively surveyed the scene. He gave a couple quick sniffs, and quickly came up with a game plan. He would start from the outside, and work his way back toward the bowl.

Seeing Charlie had a plan of attack, I returned to Matt on the couch.

Where's the broom?!?

Where’s the broom?!?

“Do I even want to know what happ…” he started to say. I put up my hand and told him I had the situation under control. If I had any luck, Charlie would have the mess cleaned up by the time I was finished convincing Matt the snow fairy would visit that evening.

Matt grabbed the broom, which has taken a permanent spot in our living room during dirt season, and started sweeping at the tsunami of sand at my feet.

“Look!” he said pointing down at a small pile of sand. “I’ve only taken one swipe, and look at all of that dirt!”

I felt the confession would be enough. That it’s just the way our house operates. Dirt season stinks, but there’s no way around it, aside from wiping the dogs’ paws each time they come in. With a dog door, that’s nearly impossible.

But it was too much for Matt. He was unprepared. It was clear I should have briefed him weeks before. But now we were blinded by a sandstorm in our own home.

I took the broom, and finished sweeping the room. I didn’t mention that it was my third time sweeping that day.

And when Matt wasn’t looking, I said a small prayer for snow.

FurFamHORZNTL

Daddy’s little helper


Charlie heard that cuddling is the best medicine. Matt  says he agrees.

Charlie heard that cuddling is the best medicine. Matt says he agrees.

Matt woke up Thursday morning to a nagging migraine.

While he had experienced headaches before, this one seemed different. It lasted all day, and by evening he grew nauseous. I left to go to a meeting, and by the time I returned Matt was very sick. He had vomited several times while I was gone, and felt terrible.

As the night went on, his condition grew worse. And Charlie worried.

I could hear Matt heaving in the bathroom, and went to check on him. I stood at the door, peeking in, and Charlie nosed the door open, softly walking toward Matt. “Charlie NO!” I said, but it was too late. He walked to where Matt lay curled around the toilet, gently rubbed his nose on his hand, then sat down.

He wasn’t leaving.

While Matt grew sicker, he refused to go to the doctor. So I went to bed and hoped for the best. As I slept, Matt grew seriously ill, back spasms gripping his body, followed by violent retching sessions. Matt later told me he never got a wink of sleep, and that Charlie never left his side.

By morning, I found Matt laying face down on the bathroom floor. Charlie sat nearby, his brown ears pulled back, his puppy lips pursed.

Matt finally agreed to get medical care.

I called in sick, filled Charlie’s purple KONG with liver treats, then rushed Matt to the hospital.

Matt quickly was diagnosed with kidney stones, and eventually was kept for overnight observation. After about six hours, I took a break to run home to grab some toiletries, and to check on the dogs. Charlie greeted me tentatively, and looked out the front window looking for Matt. I quickly grabbed what I needed, fed the dogs and drove back to the hospital.

About 12 hours later (around 4 a.m.) I decided to run home to grab a bit of sleep. Both dogs were staring out the front window when I pulled up. Charlie hugged my legs with his paws, and softly cried. I had never heard him do that before, and my heart melted. I pulled Charlie into my arms and held him as he continued to whimper. I whispered in his ear.

“Daddy’s gonna be all right. Daddy loves you.”

He anxiously licked my nose.

Amazingly, after leaving the dogs alone for 12 hours the house was in perfect condition. I was grateful for that gift, and promptly slept for about three hours.

At 8 a.m. I woke up, and spoke with Matt. The doctors were filling out his discharge paperwork, so I could come get him. I was gone just a few hours, and Lex and Charlie were dutifully watching out the window when we returned.

The first thing we noticed was the fluff. Everywhere. It took me a moment to realize what happened, then Matt screamed out confirmation.

“You ate the bleepin’ comforter!!!” he screamed at Charlie.

Charlie dropped to his stomach, and wiggled his way out of the room.

After everything we had just been through, I was pretty sure a tore up comforter was the least of our worries. Matt grabbed the blanket, and threw it down into the basement.

Charlie trotted after Matt, following him to the couch.

“C’mon,” Matt said, patting the cushion next to him.

Without hesitation, Charlie in one motion hopped up and snuggled into Matt’s side.

Charlie was glad to have his daddy home.

If you would like to receive email notifications when Our Furever Family publishes a new blog entry, please go to the home page and click on “Email subscriptions” in the right nav. Thanks for joining our journey!

FurFamHORZNTL

Looking for Love Stories


Basil earned an Our Furever Family mug for sharing the story of how he found his Mummy.

Our adoption journey was filled with triumphs, challenges and heartbreak … and ultimately led us to Charlie. It’s been six months since we’ve adopted this spunky border collie mix, and we’ve enjoyed sharing his (mis)adventures with you.

Now that we have Charlie, it’s easy to forget the road we traversed to get him. First we fell in love with Ranger, then he fell through our fingers. Then the meet-and-greet was bungled with Demi, a cute-but-troubled border collie mix. We found Charlie on a website, and even though he was fostered in Kentucky, we took a chance on the pup who stole our hearts. The rest is history.

We’ve enjoyed hearing your stories, and our fans want more! How did you fall in love? Tell us how your pet came into your life in 500 words or less.

Eligibility requirements:

  • The pet must be a member of your family.
  • Be sure to include a photo.
  • You must be a subscriber to Our Furever Family. For directions on how to follow this blog, see instructions at the bottom of this page.

The best stories will receive an Our Furever Family coffee mug that we had specially designed for our fans.

Send your submissions to ourfureverfamily@gmail.com.

We’re glad you are part of Our Furever Family. And we look forward to learning more about yours.

If you would like to receive email notifications when Our Furever Family publishes a new blog entry, please go to the home page and click on “Email subscriptions” in the right nav. Thanks for joining our journey!

Lexie’s first love


Lexie and Lili on top of pillow mountain.

Long before Charlie, Lexie had another love in her life.

Lili was a barrel-shaped black-and-tan cocker spaniel, with a penchant for licking anything. Hence the nickname Lili the Licker.

I rescued Lili from my former partner’s relative, who could not care for her anymore. Before I got her, Lili spent a good portion of her first year cooped up in a bathroom; after I brought her home I would often find her curled up in front of our toilet.

Lili stands guard at base camp.

The bond between Lex and Lili was fast and fierce. They followed each other through the house, and cuddled up together on the couch for a nap. Together they both learned what it meant to go camping, and the freedom of chasing wild animals through the woods.

And then there was what I’ll call “The Kissing Game.” Aah, yes. At first guests would find it charming. “Oh look, they’re kissing!” they would say, pointing at Lex and Lili’s makeout session. But after a few minutes, the mood would turn awkward. The feverish licking continued. And then, a couple minutes more — and they would still be going at it like a couple of teenagers, um, in heat.

“Go get a dog house,” I would cry out, pulling them apart, as my guests averted their eyes. Clearly I needed to have a talk with the girls about appropriate behavior when we had friends over.

They loved taking walks together. In all kinds of weather. This led to various accessories, ranging from doggie rain coats to Mutt-Luk booties to keep salt from bothering their tender paws. Once I snapped the leashes on them, Lex and Lili knew only one speed: GO! I was that person, both arms outstretched, blindly following two dogs trying out for a mush team.

Lili was a delicate flower. She had allergies that would cause her to break out in terrible sores. And then there were the ear infections. It was such a terrible case, that even her allergist could not prevent her from going deaf. We tried everything, including feeding her venison I bought at a wild game shop. I’d say there were moments when her allergies would subside, but inevitably they would return, raging out of control.

Even with her smelly ears, Lili was the only one for Lexie. She never turned her nose, and always snuggled in a bit closer.

Lili and Jilli wait for a summer storm.

What many people don’t know is that Lili was an expert crooner. The moment I walked out of eyesight, whether out into the front yard or into the next room, Lili would start winding up. It went something like: “woo-wooo-Woo-Wooo-WOO-WOOO-WOOOOO!”

The first time I heard her howl I thought she had broken a leg. My heart raced as I ran back into the house, only to find her happily panting. It was the beginning of a lifetime of false alarms. Fool me once, fool me a thousand times!

Lex and Lili were like an old married couple. They waited for each other before climbing the stairs to go to bed. They ate at the same time. They peed in unison on walks. Their bond was unbreakable.

Our last photo together.

So when Lili died, I was unsure if Lexie would survive.

For days, Lex curled up on Lili’s smelly pillow. She moped, and didn’t eat. She lost weight. But eventually she started showing interest in the world again. A year passed, and I’m sure she was convinced she would finish her days as a spinster.

Then Charlie came along.

Love is tender and unpredictable. And love has found Lexie again.

Lili would want that.

If you would like to receive email notifications when Our Furever Family publishes a new blog entry, please go to the home page and click on “Email subscriptions” in the right nav. Thanks for joining our journey!

Give a dog a bone


Charlie is bummed. The pool is closed for the season.

Charlie struts through the yard, drops his bone at the pool and contemplates his reflection. Orange and yellow leaves float in the water, signaling an end to a season.

I’m watching this from the kitchen, and I’m surprised when Lexie bursts through the dog door, and in a half-gallop tackles Charlie. In an instant, they are a blur of fur, paws kicking up dirt and fallen twigs. I grab my phone, and run outside. I can’t believe Lexie, at 14-plus years old and hobbled by kidney disease, is leading this race. She zooms by my legs, almost taking me out. I turn on the camera, and capture the rare burst of energy.

It’s autumn, and the crisp air and shorter days show no effect on Lex in this moment. She’s dancing like a doe in pursuit, and Charlie is working hard to keep up.

Matt remains in the kitchen, brewing his own special surprise: soup. Better yet, it means soup bones for a couple of unsuspecting pups. Tonight it is a beef barley, accented with morel mushrooms from our personal stash.

Lex chews her first bone.

After finishing our bowls, we ceremoniously lay a bone in front of each dog. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how Lex would respond. I had never given her a real bone before. She’s timid at first, gently sniffing it, then she lays down with it between her paws and starts chewing. She remained in that position for a good half hour.

I should mention Lex has been eating again. She eats in a frenzy, clumsily grabbing mouthfuls of her wet dog food, small bits sticking to the tip of her nose. After cleaning out her bowl, Lexie nudges Charlie from his puppy food and she finishes his kibble. Despite this, she remains for the most part fairly frail, and significantly underweight. Still, I know these feedings have given her amazing bursts of energy.

By the end of the night, Lexie snuggles her sleepy head into my lap. She opens one eye, then content I am still there she slowly drifts off. Her paws twitch and tremble, and I know she is chasing a rabbit into a hole. I run my fingers over her small frame, so thin that I can feel her spine jut through her fur. Lex jerks, and growls through her closed mouth. She’s got that rabbit cornered.

If you would like to receive email notifications when Our Furever Family publishes a new blog entry, please go to the home page and click on “Email subscriptions” in the right nav. Thanks for joining our journey!

Love Story: My name is Cupcake

Gallery

This gallery contains 3 photos.


Today’s Love Story winner — and recipient of an Our Furever Family mug — is a Jack Russell terrier mix named Cupcake. She lives in New Jersey with her mom Genevieve Petrillo, who is a children’s author/poet. Mom had a German Shepherd … Continue reading