Meet Charsi: Our First Foster

This past Saturday, Pete and I made our way down to the Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT) in Philadelphia with Betty White in tow. As soon as we opened the doors, the place was packed to the brim with pets in serious need. It was unstomachable how many pet owners were giving up on their dogs or cats. The volunteers at the front desk were telling people that if they dropped off their pet, they would have to be euthanized due to major overpopulation, but the pets kept streaming in. We were looking forward to finding the perfect fit for our first foster dog, so we filled out some paperwork and began touring around.

One of the volunteers pointed out a dog named Mariah, who was recovering from several major surgeries, one of which she had the day prior. As much as we were smitten with a certain a shar pei named Broddy Bell, we knew it was likely he would find a home much easier since wrinkly dogs are pretty irresistible. So, we decided to have Betty White and Mariah meet in the outdoor courtyard, where they proceeded to hit it off. Both of them love butt scritchers, quiet moments and staring nervously with adorable, shifty eyes. It was a perfect match, so we filled out some remaining paperwork while waiting to receive her medicine and before we knew it, we were on our way to the pet store with our new friend.

Since we aren’t the most ginormous Mariah Carey fans, we changed her name to Charsi (a Diablo gamer reference, courtesy of Pete’s geekiness), which of course is temporary until we find her a forever home. She is a seriously strong lady whose life got off to a rough start, but she didn’t let that get her down. Charsi was brought into the ACCT nearly two weeks ago as a stray, and needed to have a mammary lump and hernia removed, in addition to a spay procedure. Needless to say, this shepherd/terrier mix is looking forward to a lifetime of cuddling and now has a clean bill of health. Currently Charsi is kicking back her paws and relaxing with us, but she is excited to find a pooch parent who is in need of a sweet four-legged friend.

Charsi arrived at the shelter underweight at 26 lbs, but we’re putting meat on her bones and making sure she will be brought back on track in no time. Charsi is recovering and counting down the days until her sutures will be removed, so we have to be very gentle with her. When we first came home, she absolutely refused to go outside, which made potty training a bit difficult. It is pretty impossible to pick her up without possibly hurting her stitches, so we remained patient and positive, with plenty of puppy pads on hand. Now, just two days later, Charsi is totally responsive to going outside and fully potty-trained.

She has already mastered how to “sit” and likely has some more tricks up her sleeve, which she’ll hopefully share once she has recovered from her surgeries.

Her favorite pastimes so far include: watching cars out of the sunroom window, snoring loudly while dreaming about being adopted and stealing Pete’s clothes from his dirty laundry pile.

Betty White was pretty tuckered out all weekend from having to share our bedroom at night with a near stranger, but she has really warmed up to Charsi. I think fostering pooches will be great for socializing Betty White and helping her become more confident around other dogs.

Since Charsi was a stray, her age is a bit of a mystery, but she looks to be about 5-years-young. No matter how many birthday candles she’s blown out, Charsi has a lot of smooches to share and loves getting pets.

I forgot to mention how much Charsi loves looking at herself in the mirror. Whenever she passes a reflective surface, she stares at herself with a “oh, girlllll, you so good lookin’!” expression on her face. She’s a little conceited, but we still love her…perhaps that is why she was originally named after the great diva herself, Mariah Carey.

Several people have shown confusion over why we would choose to be foster pooch parents—how it must be nearly impossible saying goodbye when you find the adoptive parents for the dog. Fostering an animal means providing food, shelter and love while ambitiously searching for weeks or months to find an appropriate match for the pet. During this time, it’s obvious an attachment will form, but the thing that gets me through this is knowing that as soon as we find Charsi a home, we will be able to help another dog in urgent need.

I’m not saying we’ll be fostering dogs for the rest of our lives, but during my hunt for the perfect full-time job, I have the time needed to give back in small ways. As a freelancer working from home, I can get a little stir crazy—going through half of the day without actually speaking to anyone—so this is a great opportunity to get out of the house and explore the area. I’ve met way more people in the neighborhood over the past two days than I have since we moved here in June, which is saying a lot.

It’s really nice feeling like a little family in our new house. Last night, the pooches joined us while we made a bonfire and toasted s’mores…it was one of the most relaxing Sundays in a long time.

If you would like to find out more about Charsi or want to set up a puppy date, feel free to comment below! She is only $75 (think about how quickly you spend $75 at a trip to Target!) and totally priceless. The donation to the Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) covers all vaccines, a microchip and her spay procedure, all of which have already been completed.

Does anyone else have any foster stories they’d like to share? I love hearing advice and anecdotes from others who have fostered pets in the past.


Foster the Pooches

Fostering a dog is something that has been on my mind these past few months during unemployment. Now that winter is soon approaching, it seems only natural to reach out and do some volunteer work since most of my photography work starts to die down as the weather gets more grim. It is really disappointing to think about how pets are mistreated, especially during the holidays, and how people rush to pet stores rather than making the obvious choice to seek a shelter dog as their newest family addition.

The fact that people still buy pet store puppies is a little shocking, especially since a lot of pet owners don’t realize they are supporting puppy mills when they adopt from a local store. This map, organized by the “No pet store puppies” campaign by the ASPCA is particularly eye-opening. Buying anything in pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs supports the industry, so I urge pet owners to buy your supplies from stores that do not sell puppies, or buy your supplies online.

{Carli Davidson Photography}

That being said, there are many dogs waiting for homes in shelters all across the country, so I am anxious to make a trip to the PSPCA soon with Pete and Betty White. If you already have a pooch and want to foster a dog, the two dogs must meet ahead of time. I adopted Betty from the PSPCA, so it will feel good to give back to the organization that gave so much to us over the past five years.

Photographers have an advantage when trying to find adoptive parents for dogs because they are able to capture the animal’s character in creative ways, which inevitably helps in rehoming the pet. I’m going to try to reach out to the Montgomery County SPCA, which is probably a two minute drive away, to see if they would be interested in having me swing by once a week to photograph adoptable animals. I think it would be beneficial to give the pets better exposure since many of the dogs on their site don’t have photos.

If anyone has any experience with fostering dogs or reading materials they’d like to recommend, feel free to comment below!

Oktoberfest Photo Op Board!

Three days later and the Oktoberfest photo-op board is complete! I’m pretty excited to see it in action this weekend with people’s faces poking through. Be on the lookout for photos of Pete and I wearing Bavarian garb in the days to come…sorry in advance to my German BFF for my dirndl attire.

We moved the plywood to our basement last night since I didn’t want it getting ruined by the rain, which meant braving the huge mustache-ish centipedes. I had to finish it up while painting sideways, since it won’t fit standing up in our house. Betty White wanted to demonstrate the size of the board by stretching out and strutting her stuff. She’s totally doing her version of the downward-facing dog on the yoga mat…don’t judge her brown feet, she can’t help but eat them.

Anyway, happy drunk pig thoughts to all of my readers! Thanks again for all of the blog love lately!

Crafty Balboa April Showers Recap!

Well, we survived our first craft fair this weekend at Crafty Balboa! Thanks to everyone who visited and stopped by our table, it was a fun time and we’d love to do it again next year. Betty White helped us get some visitors by making her sad Eeyore eyes at strangers, so I credit her with any sales I may have gotten. She even made friends with the oh-so-talented Jay McCarroll of Project Runway fame, whose designer shirt she has been sporting ever since (photos to come, she is shy right now).

Here’s a photo of the table setup, which included more duct tape than I had originally anticipated since the wind was a bit feisty that day. Thank goodness for ginger boyfriends who remember essentials like duct tape and paper towels. I owe him my first born. Or a smooch. Either one will do, preferably the latter though.

“Make an ugly face at the camera! That’s your ugly face? Are you serious?” -Me to a squinty-eyed boyfriend.

Here’s the owl nesting doll I made for the show, but didn’t manage to sell (le sigh). Although they were quite popular with the little ones, anyone under the age of 8 seemed fascinated by them, so at least I know what audience I should be shooting for! I plan to make more detailed nesting dolls in the future, so look for more of those soon! I’d like to start painting more children’s furniture as well, so look for more of that in the next few months as well.

I’m kind of pleased that my narwhal + jellyfish jewelry box didn’t sell at the show, because now I have a home for my jewelry that I was previously storing in a Ziploc bag in my dresser. I’ll probably list the nesting dolls and jewelry box in my Etsy shop within the week though, so if you know of anyone who has an owl/narwhal/jellyfish weakness, you know where to send them!

House Hunting Part Deux

I’m really looking forward to house hunting this weekend with Pete. It’s hard to fall in love with a house online when there aren’t any photos of the bedrooms, bathrooms or basement, but judging from the interior and backyard, the place above in Glenside is definitely what we are looking for in a quaint, new home. The other house we are visiting doesn’t have any photos online, just a street view on Google maps. I’ll be sure to take photos to document our process…who knows, maybe we’ll be on our way to placing our very first bid on a house.

I can’t wait to have a house that is officially ours. I’ll admit I’ve become addicted to house blogs like Young House Love, but I have to remind myself that I’m not a mastermind when it comes to interior design and we’ll have to take baby steps in the remodeling department. I have a feeling there will be a lot of trips to flea markets and estate sales this summer to furnish our new abode. As much as I’d love to be able to afford to deck out our digs with gorgeous furniture from Anthropologie, I know that’s not realistic for our budget and we can probably achieve a similar look with some elbow grease and creativity. Plus, I think we’ll have more fun working together on thrifty furniture makeovers (and our credit cards will thank us later).

I’m really going to miss our current apartment, it is lovely and it feels like we live in our own little secluded bubble most of the time. But it will be nice to be able to have some more freedom (having guests over after 10pm) and our own backyard. Betty White will be able to bark her little head off if we leave to run errands. I’m hoping by giving Betty more room to run around, she will relax a bit and her separation anxiety will improve. She’s gotten a lot better and being able to take her to work has certainly helped her in remaining more calm. I’m really grateful that things have been able to turn around and she is a happy little pooch again.

*Speaking of Betty White, how many times can you spot her in these photos?

Introducing: Stuffs & Things

Thank you so much to everyone who reached out yesterday regarding the decision to give Betty White up for adoption to our amazing dog trainer, Dave Cugno. It means a lot to have your support during this difficult time—your comments were comforting and helped me realize we made the right decision for Betty White.

I wanted to take a minute to ask that you hop on over to Stuffs & Things, a new blog collaboration between Pete and I. It will explore everyday happenings in our life together, with all sorts of fun reads about our latest inspirations. Feel free to check out my most recent post, a book review of David Sedaris’ latest collection of short fables called “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.” We hope you will add the blog to your Google Reader and follow us on Twitter @stuffsthings!

Saying Goodbye to Betty White

I’ve always been absolutely in love with dogs. When I was a little girl, I always got so excited to visit the dogs at the pet store. To this day, whenever I see a dog on the street, I squeal and flail and make “boop boop boop!” noises like a total nutcase. I’m sure this will make me sound a bit crazy, but if I had it my way, there would be a lot less people in the world and a lot more dogs. If I’m in a bad mood or depressed for some reason, you can find me Googling strange dog-related phrases, like: “puppy wearing a top hat” or “Boston Terrier with glasses.” A cute puppy picture will cheer me up instantly and make me forget whatever I was upset about.

A few days after adopting Betty White.

So, having to admit to myself that I needed to find my dog and best friend of 4.5 years a new home, was heartbreaking to say the least. When I think of waking up without having Betty White sleeping nearby in her bed, my heart sinks and I feel like I’ve had the wind knocked out of my chest. Betty White has been with me through thick and thin and is family to me, so to have to say goodbye to her for good and make this sacrifice is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Unfortunately, Betty has been spending her days barking and scratching away at her crate non-stop. Our neighbor wrote us a polite letter asking for us to please help calm her down in any way that we can. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have realized she is still barking when we’re out at work. It’s not a matter of her being locked away in a crate, because even if she is given complete freedom in our apartment when we’re gone, she is even more scared and scratches away at every possible surface until her paws are bleeding. Pete and I feel like prisoners in our apartment because we don’t want to cause our neighbors stress with her constant barking, and we also don’t want her to be so scared and upset to have us gone. I haven’t spent time with my friends in months because I’m scared to leave for more than 5 minutes.

We’ve had to take her to Pete’s work office on the weekend if we committed to plans, so she can bark without disturbing our neighbors. Luckily Pete’s job has been really understanding in that way, and my job has allowed me to bring Betty to work this week so she’s not alone all day long and barking. Although Betty’s confidence has grown a ton over the past few months due to her going through training, she is still living a very stressful existence and absolutely exhausted from barking by the time I come home.

I hate seeing her so stressed and going through pain, so it became more and more clear that I had to put my emotions aside and put her first. She needs someone who can give her a normal routine and a life with more attention. We give her a ton of attention and all of the love in the world, but it is still not enough at the end of the day. I know she can live a much happier life with someone who could help build her confidence and socialize her on a daily basis. I don’t think I’d trust anyone besides our dog trainer, Dave Cugno, to take her in as his own. Which is why when he graciously offered, we made the decision to give Betty White a better life. A life with stability and 24/7 attention and the best doggy education a gal could ever ask for. Instead of spending her days in the crate barking, shaking and scratching to try to cope with her owners being gone, she will be able to spend her days with a pack of dogs and surrounded by people who understand how to communicate with her. People who can help her improve and smile more and more every day (dogs totally smile).

I know Dave will give her the life she deserves and as much as it breaks my heart to say goodbye, I know it is for the best for her. It just seems right. It doesn’t seem right dragging her to a doggie daycare every day when I know how terrified they make her. It doesn’t seem right to put her through the stress of dealing with anti-bark collars. It doesn’t seem right to move to a new apartment where neighbors won’t be bothered by barking, because she will still be stressed and unhappy at the end of the day.

I really can’t form the words to express how much Betty White means to me. I’m going to miss so much about her. I’m going to miss brushing my teeth at night with Pete and seeing her rub her face all over the couch, trying to get attention from us by creating the most epic doggie bed head ever. I’m going to miss her lifting her head up from her pillow and making the cutest smoosh face. I’m going to miss taking her to the vet and having her nervously poop immediately in the lobby. I’m going to miss her jumping up to sit by me when I am upset and knowing how to cheer me up instantly. I’m going to miss dressing her in ridiculous bunny costumes and lobster hats. I’m going to miss giving her baths, when she refuses to put all 4 of her feet in the water. I’m going to miss having her prance around at night and jumping on my head in the mornings. I’m going to miss driving her to the pet store and picking up dog food together. I’m going to miss having her around for holidays and birthdays. I’m going to miss taking photos with her and Pete. I’m going to miss making squint-eyes at her with Pete to try to make her fall asleep in her chair. I’m going to miss giving her butt scritchers. I’m going to miss walking her in the park. I’m going to miss digging out a pee path for her in the snow. I’m going to miss finding a dog poop bag in my pocket and thinking of her. I’m going to miss seeing her dog toys that she has never played with. I’m going to miss how ecstatic she’d get when we gave her a Beggin’ Strip. I’m going to miss having a dog to spoil. I’m going to miss working from home with her on Fridays and cuddling on the couch. I’m going to miss trips in the car with her, even if she had horrible-smelling nervous farts. I’m going to miss having her sniff at the other pets we have and run away when they try to hump her. I’m going to miss having her eat the crumbs I drop when we’re making dinner. I’m going to miss petting her chin and hearing her make her “ooooo that feels good” grumbles.

I’m going to miss a million things, but I won’t make you read all of them. This weekend we are going to say goodbye to Betty White, which I never imagined having to do. I’m incredibly passionate about pets, especially rescue animals, so to say that I don’t feel like a bit of a failure would be lying. I feel like she is going to hate me forever or think that I’m giving up on her. I’m so worried she’s going to think she disappointed me in some way or think that people are just going to keep giving her up for adoption. This is easily the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I will never be the same person, but I really feel like it’s the necessary step to give her a truly good life.

I am sure Pete and I will have a dog again one day in the future, when we own a home and when we can promise to be the best possible owners. When I adopted Betty I had no idea she had major separation anxiety and that she would require much more love and attention than your average dog, but I can safely say I tried my absolute best to give her everything I have to offer. I can’t say I’ll be squealing at dogs in the street again for a long time. I’m sure anything with four legs will remind me of Betty White and how much I miss her and how life isn’t the same without her scruffy cuteness around.

I am trying my hardest to be strong and not a total mess all week, but there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since this decision that I haven’t broken down completely and started bawling. I love her so much and don’t know how life will be without her. I just know it will be different and I am incredibly grateful for everything I’ve learned from her since adopting her over 4 years ago.

Thank you to Pete for being there for me and being patient with my tears. Thank you so so much to Dave for being so selfless and giving Betty White the best possible home and life. I hope she will give you as much joy as she has given me over the past few years. We will miss her so much and think of her every day.