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Tails from the Front Line

Official Blog of Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet

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New York

We are Looking for a Few Good Men (or Women) – Volunteer Roles in the NE Region

We are looking for individuals who wish to become part of the Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet mission as a Foster Coordination Liaison (FCL) involved with working with our service members, wounded warriors, veterans, and families of our fallen warriors who need assistance via our Foster Home program, which also includes vetting and interacting with those individuals and families who have registered as potential foster homes through our organization.

Primarily at this time we are looking for 3 new FCL volunteers to cover the states within our Northeast Region. This includes a FCL for New England area (includes the states of DE, CT, MA, NH, RI, and VT) plus a FCL to cover New York and a FCL to cover New Jersey. Please note it is not required to reside in a specific state shown above since you would be working from home via the Internet and phone.

This is a virtual volunteer role where your efforts can be accomplished via the phone and Internet (emails) in your home during the evenings and Saturday (depending on your available time) and includes the following criteria:

  • A passion to help our military service members, wounded warriors, veterans, and families of our fallen warriors.
  • Interact and maintain communication with our registered potential foster homes, plus work with others (inside and outside the organization) as required
  • Be a self-starter, has excellent organizational, interpersonal, and management skills, plus able to work independently and as a “team” player.
  • Understand and agree to follow and adhere to the Organization’s mission, purpose, operating procedures, and organizational policies/guidelines.
  • Comfortable using and access to MS office (such as Word, Excel), communicate via the internet, phone calls, and email.
  • Previous customer service, volunteer nonprofit managerial and animal related coordination/placement experience helpful
  • Help promote the organization, its mission, and programs with others via sharing our flyers, brochures, and other items as requested by the organization’s National office.
  • Able to commit at least 1 year in this position
  • Provide the required monthly reports (coordination activity and volunteer service hours) by the date as determined by the organization’s National office.
  • Estimated Volunteer Time per Month: averaging 25-30 hours – Please be advised actual hours per month is variable on a state by state basis.

 

Those interested in learning more about the volunteer positions or to apply, visit HERE.  Thank you in advance for your interest to support our organization with this volunteer role.

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Post Graduate Adventures: Deycon

It’s goodbye again.

Today, for the fifth and final time I said goodbye to Deycon, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, whom I have fostered on and off for the last four years. He was the first of a few foster pups who have come to me through Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet back in August of 2010 when Mom and Dad were both deploying and needed a place for this gentle giant. Though he officially became a “Mission Accomplished” foster in 2011, he has come back to me every few months ever since.

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet has allowed me an opportunity to give at least four military families peace of mind while serving our country and thus enriched my life beyond measure. I’ve made lifelong friends along the way and can’t imagine not continuing to volunteer. I began this incredible journey some years ago when my Navy daughter had to give up her three cats the day she deployed. Violently allergic to their dander, I could not take them for her. It tore me apart as a mother to see her tortured face and hear her weep for her kitties. That was the moment I promised that no military member would go through that if I could help it. We didn’t know about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet at the time and like so many military members, she never heard about her beloved furry family members again. Two years later, I discovered this organization and meeting my first foster dog gave me to opportunity to keep the promise I made that day.

This colossal puppy, Deycon (pronounced as deacon) took to my family as quickly as we took to him. He and my grandson, DJ, have been almost constant companions since the day they met. DJ doesn’t call the big guy by his given, he calls him “Deyconbuddy.” One of their first pictures was my little man using Deycon as a pillow, another shows his canine pal comforting him and today they said goodbye.

deycon1deycon2

Deycon has been a family member, protector, life saver and best friend. Together we have traveled around the three surrounding counties talking about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet to spread the word as much as we can. He has made an awesome ambassador.

I work in a facility for troubled adolescents where Deycon and his (not so) little sister, Dakota, have accompanied me on a few occasions. He has gotten into his share of fixes and helped me out of mine from time to time. He has endured being dressed up for holidays and even accompanied DJ for Halloween a few times since his first year, although he has refused to wear a costume. There are times when I could see by the look on his face that he was only tolerating us and our whimsy but loves us just the same. In the years since I first met this enormous boy, his family has grown. My family has grown by the addition of him and of his family.

It’s been truly heartbreaking each time I send him home. Watching this teddy bear and his rambunctious sister bound away from me and toward their mom and dad is one of the most satisfying and painful feelings I’ve ever had. Up until today, I’ve known that sooner or later one or both of these loving furbabies will be back for a vacation or to wait for Santa Paws for a short training or deployment period. Someone once described me jokingly as a horrible foster mom: “You only lend Deycon and Dakota to their parents!” That’s because our lives have become inextricably entwined and my home is also their home.

Our adventure went on for far longer than we had expected but I wouldn’t change a minute. I laugh when his parents and their families thank me. It is I who should thank them; thank them for their service, for this opportunity and for letting me get to know their puppies and allowing me to fulfill a promise I made to three cats years ago.

I’ve said good-bye at least four times already but this morning though was a little different. Deycon and Dakota have been with me for well over a year while their folks have been in flux. Their parents had been waiting for a reassignment that has finally come to fruition. Dakota left with her dad last week for his voyage south and a few hours ago I hugged Deycon for the last time. His mom picked him up at the halfway point between our homes on the first leg of her excursion to a new assignment in a southern state too far away for return visits.

I didn’t think I’d be as distressed as I am. I was tearful for 200 miles this morning and am still a little now. I will miss those two pups and miss them a lot! They’ve become as much a part of my family as of their own. However, this is what our program is all about. Deycon and Dakota and hundreds of other military furbabies were cared for, housed, transported, loved, and sent back all across this nation to Military moms and dads who have given so much of their lives to us.

Though I will always care about these canine kiddies, they are where they belong: home and that was the whole point. So, tonight I’ll cry a little more, go through our pictures and probably find toys and bones for weeks to come. I’ll shut down his Facebook page and file away these magnificent memories, antics and tears and then smile, grateful for this quest.

Today closes a long, long chapter on one hand but on the other opens a new one and gives me the chance to thank another military family by taking care of their furchild. As I’ve said before, I’ll take down the “No Vacancy” sign outside my front door and let my state coordinator know that I’m available for another placement, another opportunity to love a pup and eventually feel a little sorrow and heartbreak when it’s over. Honestly? I can’t wait!!

-Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York

 

 

Post Graduate Adventures: Gunner and Deycon

Hello Pitbull and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog fans! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from our little pack, but here we are again. Deycon, a Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet graduate, now has a little – and I use that term lightly –  sister, Dakota. Though they are no longer an official part of our military foster home care, they are living with me for a while and for the same reasons I first met them: Mom and Dad are Army soldiers and need a place for their treasured pups to stay. Gunner, once a foster pup, is now a permanent part of our pack, just as adventurous as ever and also a graduate. Although they are technically no longer a part of the program, Deycon and Dakota are here because of my connection to this wonderful organization.This episode is from last summer, and written from Deycon’s point of view….

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You know…. no matter how hard we try, Eileen just won’t learn.It’s been very hot outside so when she started filling the kiddie pool (even though she said something about a bath) we took it as the invitation it obviously was. I mean she MUST have meant it to be a water park day, right?  Gunner, Bear, Dakota and I all sat by the deck doors, eagerly waiting for her to open them and let the fun begin!! Problem is, she was only letting one of us out at a time!! We huddled up and decided to change the agenda! Good thing Bear had taught Dakota, the hyperactive puppy, how to open the door or we never would have been able to enjoy the activities together.

We plowed down the deck stairs and were all romping through the water making our favorite type of mud when Eileen swooped in and captured Bear!! She tied him to the deck and started burying him in bubbles!! We were a bit confused at first, but realized we just HAD to break him free.Dakota distracted Eileen by knocking her down…I mean…gently nudging her into a sitting position in the mud. Then Gunner and I came at her from two different sides and made a few good splashes through the pool. I did my famous Deycon pounce right by her head and, figuring she got the message, we retreated. It didn’t work. She still had Bear! He was jumping around trying to get free and come play with us, but she had him tied real tight!

It looked like she was going to win the battle…. almost. She had my foster brother lathered up with that girly shampoo while we regrouped. Kudos to Bear for taking one for the team. We must have taken too long with our battle strategy because she got hold of the hose as we were trying another sneak attack.

Pups Post Bath
Pups Post Bath

Oh no!!! She shot Gunner with the hose and then turned it on Dakota. I was too fast and made it to the back fence. Though wet and pretty worked up, Gunner managed to come at her again. She recovered quickly, aimed, and got him right in the nose! Thank goodness Dakota came in from the east and slowed the action but she was assaulted with the stream of wet stuff. Good little sister that she is, she stood firm for as long as she could. At the same time, my buddy Bear was doing the best he could to get free and take her attention off of us, but she still had him shackled to the deck. Finally I came in from the north and valiantly jumped at her, sacrificing myself for my friends. She shot me the worst! Soaked and partially sudsy, I had to pull back. OH THE SHAME OF IT!! Then just as it looked darkest, Dakota grabbed the hose and ran!! Good girl!! That was the last straw for Eileen. It took awhile and three or four battle volleys, but she finally raised the white flag and retreated! She threw her hands up in the air, tossed the foul hose off the deck, released Bear and left us alone.

She’s pretty steamed but, hey, the deck got cleaned again. We had a great time AND we’re all cooled off. You’d think by now she would have learned that she can’t defeat good team work!!

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

For those of you keeping score in the “Eileen vs the Dogs’ Bath War”….Eileen – ½ – Pups – 3.5

– Written by Eileen, Former Foster Mom in New York

Foster Homes Needed: New York

Cat and large dog friendly foster homes are needed in or northern, central and western regions of New York (specifically Fort Drum, Watertown, and Syracuse). If interested please submit foster home required information by visiting our website.

Foster term approx 6-12 months beginning in January 2014.

Once your application is received, a state volunteer will provide more detail about the specific needs in your area.

Mission Accomplished: Jake and Sasha

Jake and Sasha
Jake and Sasha

Jake and Sasha were reunited with their Dad in Brooklyn, NY on February 13 after a 15 month deployment.  Thank you to the foster home for taking such great care of these two.

 

Gunner’s Story: The Final Chapter

It’s been calm few weeks here in my little circus. (I’m knocking on wood as I type). Who would have thought that I’d miss my human boys?

Gunner and Bear continue to rule the house with little input from me or Jim. As I said, I’m the keeper of the kibble and it’s now Jim’s responsibility to open the back door and do the belly rubs. Recently, Deycon and his little sister (and I use the term lightly) came for a visit. We all trekked off to work a few days during that time. The kids love the dogs and the dogs get a good work out chasing them. After a few hours, Gunner usually walks right into the nursing office, reminds me that the water bowl needs filling and sits next to the cabinet where we keep the treats. I wish the entire staff worked for beef jerky.

Jim and I spent last weekend driving to and from Camp LeJeune to bring DJ back to his mother, my Navy Corpsman daughter. As usual Little Man spent a few minutes with Gunner and Bear giving them last minute instructions, reminding them he’ll be back for Santa and telling them to use the potty in the yard.

After the long drive, Jim and I spent a lazy Sunday and I got up early Monday. The morning was a bit cooler and I decided to enjoy my first cup of coffee on the deck while the dogs ran in the yard. When I finished brewing the pot I put on my robe and flip flops and walked out the back door. There was a beautiful mist hovering above grass in the back of the yard and the boys were making sure they caught every bit of the morning dew off the overgrown grass. The breeze was sweet and the moment was idyllic.  I was thinking about the last few days, the traveling and how wonderful it was to be home. Life is good. When will I learn?

At that exact moment the flock of chickens that are residing illegally next door started to cluck and wander around. In a synchronized performance that would be the envy of any Olympic team, the two buddies stopped dead in their tracks, brought their ears to attention and turned toward the warbling. It happened all at once. In less than the blink of an eye they were across the yard and heading for the fence. Gunner was a hurdle jumper in a previous life and made it over the fence in two leaps. Bear slid under the teenie tiny space that I had failed to block with the boulders we had moved to mow the grass. They flew through the bushes and headed for the hens.

I dropped my cup of coffee, threw off the robe and made it down the stairs in two thumps and a bump. I made the right turns around the deck and the left to my neighbors’ gate shrieking all the way. I caught a glimpse of Gunner heading back toward the fence when I lost my footing and everything went black. I didn’t know what happened, but I felt Bear’s feet bounce off my back as I hit the ground. I was struck blind and felt a wave of something cool and moist cover me. Later, I would wish I had gone “toward the light. “

My yells brought my neighbors to their back door and I could hear them running toward me. I was on all fours, face in the mud, shoeless, minus my glasses and could feel a breeze on my nether regions. As Tom and Anita helped me to my feet, I was shaken up, cussing and spitting mud. I mean it literally, I was spitting mud. They had no idea the boys had even come into their yard, so they were wondering what I was up to this time. Anita helped me wipe mud off my face, found my glasses for me and asked what happened. I know she was feigning concern and smothering giggles. Then Tom apologized because the chickens got out and asked if I was alright. I’m pretty sure they just wanted me out of their yard so they could call their lawyer for a restraining order. As I approached their garden gate Tom slyly called, “Hey, Eileen. Nice tattoo. How long did it take until you could sit again?” Go ahead, smirk, I thought, you and your frikkin’ chickens. I vaguely remember something about good fences and neighbors.

I limped back into my own yard and hobbled up the stairs to see a grinning Gunner sitting on the deck by the back door. I know I was leaving wet footprints from the deck through the first floor but I was far too angry to even care. Opening the front door, I found a totally innocent Rottie staring at me and acting more than a little annoyed he’d had to wait. I fed and watered them, and wondered if I’d make it to work on time.

Later that evening, Jim noticed the abrasions on my forearms and asked if it had anything to do with the muddy footprints he cleaned off the kitchen floor. I started to explain and only got out, “YOUR dogs….” when he raised his hand turned away and said, “No, don’t tell me! I don’t want to purger myself if this ever gets to court. Just tell me if the police were involved.” Another wise guy…. just what I need.

So now that my hands are healing and my pride is almost restored, I’ll get to the real reason that this chapter of Gunner’s adventures in foster care is a bit late. Unbelievably, it isn’t something the fur kids did.

Every foster mom knows that sooner or later we’re going to get “that email” and our hearts are going to burst with joy and rupture in emptiness all at once. Well, I got that letter not too long ago. Gunner’s foster term is finished at the end of this month and I’ve been avoiding my email because I knew this was coming. I had gotten a message on Facebook from Christene, aka Mrs. Gunner’s mom. I was sure I knew what it meant and just stared at the notification for a few minutes gathering my strength to open what I believed was coming. Thinking this was the end of an era, I read and wept openly but with an ache of a different kind.

My head was spinning and I felt a little numb staring at my screen reading and re-reading what must have taken every ounce of love and strength to write. Chris and Christene have given so much serving our country and like so many other young families they make huge sacrifices all along the way. My heart broke as I read how their anticipated situation had changed and that they were now pondering a colossal sacrifice making a decision no Mom or Dad should have to: Their plans had been so suddenly altered that now Gunner would not be able to continue their journey with them.

I could feel Christene’s anguish as I read her request that Gunner become a permanent part of my family. She knows he is loved and cared for (and maybe a little spoiled) and they want the best for him. An unwelcome but familiar feeling came back to me as I identified with her words. If you have read any of my fosters’ blogs, you’ll know that it was for this reason I was so drawn to Guardian Angels For Soldiers Pet a few years back: My own daughter had to give up her fur babies when she deployed and that chasm has yet to be filled. We never did find out what happened to them. Now another set of military pet parents was facing this decision and all I can say is it is just wrong.

I sat on the bed next to Jim and nudged him a bit. I told him about Christene’s letter and asked his thoughts. As he rolled over and without opening his eyes, he chuckled, “Why are you asking me? You already know: he stays.”

I went back to the computer and responded Christene. Yes, there was no question that Gunner has a new home. I hoped she and Mr. Gunner’s Dad know that if there is a change along the way they can always come and pick up their boy. I contacted state and national folks and Guardian Angels For Soldiers’ Pet has paperwork to be completed. There’s always paperwork but when the original term of foster care finishes, Gunner will be here for good. Jokingly I thought, well it’s not like I was really going to let him go anyway.

I mentally removed the “No Vacancy” sign from my front door and slid back under the covers. Putting his arms around me, Jim said, “You know, you’re lousy at this.” I started to object when he whispered, “Gia barely got away. McKenzie and Mulligan never left. You only LEND Deycon back to Mike and Sarah every now and then and now Gunner is staying. Foster care is supposed to be temporary. You’re going to have to start giving these dogs back eventually.”

Though we sort of have another Mission Accomplished for Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pet, we also have a new full time roust-about for this village’s resident circus. Anyone know of a military pet that needs a foster home?

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.

Gunner’s Story: Part 4

Life in the 3 rings.

It’s been a while so let’s catch up.

My social life took a bit of a change in the beginning of May. My boyfriend and I decided to consolidate homes and he moved in. I was a little concerned that Gunner and Bear2 would take some time to adjust to having another Alpha male around the house. So, for the first few nights, we shared my room with the pups until bed time. Then the boys went to their room and their own beds. I had some expected time off from work so the days were lazy and spring like and J wasn’t alone with the boys. They spent most of their time running in the yard, in the mud and rolling around with each other.

When the time got near for me to return to work I was wondering what would happen. Bear2 has, as we know, always been protective of me and literally herds me away from everyone else. Gunner came to stay when I was the only human living here and kind of took ownership of me as well. Since the new human male moved in, I was expecting some posturing, wariness and perhaps hoping for a little jealousy. On the first day I returned to work, I kept the boys in their room and let J sleep in. That night my grandson DJ came to stay for a few days. Early the next morning, I was tip-toeing around trying not to disturb anyone. After putting coffee on, I re-entered my bedroom to find DJ in my spot, Bear sprawled out across the foot of the bed, with Gunner under the covers between my Little Man and my big man.  I was gone for less than 5 minutes! I guess I thought I played a bigger role than I actually do. Even if I think I am the head of my household, I have to admit, I’m not. I have been relegated to the role of keeper of the kibble and opener of the door.

I am still lucky enough to be allowed to bring my menagerie to work. Bear spends most of his time under my desk, while Gunner visits the kids accompanied by some of the Recreation Department’s staff. He doesn’t walk, he actually struts. He has the cutest grin when he’s happy and can’t figure out what to do first when the boys are up and about. He plays Dodge Ball, but hasn’t quite gotten the concept of staying AWAY from the ball and prefers to tackle it. He approaches the pool area, but only stands in the doorway. It doesn’t stop him from voicing his opinion about it from that perch. He loves playing basketball or at least the running part and wasn’t too thrilled at having to sit out the final tournament game. He hasn’t visited the girls units too much. I think he saw the manicure they gave Dakota and decided that isn’t a fashion statement he needs to make.

Much like his predecessors, Deycon, Gia, Mulligan and McKenzie, this Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet has stolen most members of my family. We weren’t sure how Gunner would react to a smaller child, but from the looks of it, I don’t think we need to worry too much. DJ and Gunner are fast and permanent friends. So much for dangerous Pit Bulls! He may not be fierce and scary, but he makes a nice pillow.

He’s an athlete of all sorts. Being the little powerhouse he is, there isn’t enough play time. Though he moved into and took over my home in March, I’m still learning a lot about him. One of the sports he enjoys the most and truly excels at is blanket wrestling. Bear and I were in the kitchen recently when I heard a frightening disturbance in the bedroom: Gunner was snarling, growling and obviously fighting with someone. We had a home invasion last year and the uneasiness is still in the air. I had the cell phone in my hand with 9-1 already dialed. I don’t know what I was going to do if I was confronted with an intruder, but I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I peeked around the corner and saw Gunner flying through the air, diving onto a pile of bedspread, thrashing about, pouncing away, jumping off the bed, running a few steps, flying back onto the bed, tearing at the blankets all the while snarling and snapping. Do you want to know what he was snarling at? NOTHING!!! Using sheer will, I got my pulse rate down under 200 and called him; he stopped dead in his tracks and gave me his classic “What?” look. Without missing a beat he dove back into the linens and finished the fight. Shaking my head, I went back to cooking dinner.

Staying on the theme of athletics, the village baseball season is in full swing. We live across the street from the fields and can hear the excitement from the house and yard. Though Gunner has stopped jumping and/or climbing over the fences he still wants to be part of this noisy action. I was thinking it might be fun to take him to a later game when the afternoon is cooler. I don’t know what made me think that it would go smoothly. In hindsight, I should have known it would probably involve an ambulance.

This white and brown munchkin is amazingly strong and can drag me along while he’s on a lead so I drove the block and a half to the diamond. We all know he also likes the running, shouting and cheering that go along with the games. While the village does permit animals in the park, they don’t allow them to be attached to any of the park structures or equipment like benches or the bleachers. Not a problem I thought in my naiveté, I’ll just bring my own chair and tie his leash to that. (You can see it coming, can’t you?)

He was basking in the pre-game attention and entertaining the 12 year old boys’ team. We were answering questions about Pit Bulls, fostering and Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pet. He was getting head pats, ear scratches, and kisses and snuggles. He completely won the crowd over when he rolled onto his back for a hundred belly rubs. Oooh’s ahhhs and awwwws were the sounds on the sidelines for a good 5 minutes.

The team took to the dugout and Gunner sat quietly next to me. I later realized that this was just his way of lulling me into a quiet confidence and making me believe all was well. What I didn’t realize was that he was hatching a diabolical plan to make me participate in a gymnastic program that I have been skillfully avoiding since 12th grade.

First batter up took a walk to the base right in front of us. Gunner gave a cheer and was acknowledged. I’m guessing he was coaching first since he was constantly offering advice to the runner. The second player struck out. So far so good. Next young man also walked to first and was also given canine sideline encouragement and instructions by the pittie. Gunner was able to launch his evil strategy and put it into action when the clean-up batter hit a line drive to centerfield. The crowd stood shouting and cheering, the base runners flew to the next bag, the team on the field sprang into their defense and Gunner zipped into action. If I had followed the lead of the other fans, I would have jumped up. I could have jumped up. I should have jumped up. I guess Gunner didn’t like the fact that I didn’t jump up because he ripped the folding chair out from under me tossing me backwards over the canvas seat and flopping onto my way too broad bottom. He dragged the portable camp chair parallel to the foul line by the leash, clipped two parents, almost toppled the water cooler, and had a third spectator jump over the chair before he slammed into the fence.

I don’t know if our team scored. I don’t know if they were tagged out. I don’t know if folks were laughing at him or at me or at both. I don’t know who won the game. I don’t even know if there were any other casualties. What I do know is not to become complacent around an avid baseball fan with four legs that’s stronger than I am while he’s attached to my seat. This foster parenting stuff should include combat pay.

After recovering from the baseball incident… (That’s the second one if you remember) I decided that swimming was a more acceptable sport. I know you’re all snickering and shaking your heads, but don’t get ahead of me here. I bought DJ a 6 foot diameter, 10 inch deep kiddy pool. I also bought a 3 foot by 6 inch pool guessing that my 4 leggers would enjoy a dip every now and then. Mrs. Gunner’s mom alluded to the fact that he likes kiddy pools so I was confident that it would be ok. I put them both up on my deck, assuming I would be avoiding a mud issue and filled them up. They were a big hit with DJ, Gunner and Bear especially with the short heat wave we had. Proud of myself and smirking, I believed I had the issue contained. Oh! Silly me! Think big top! Think tightrope walking!

DJ was splashing around the edge of the pool, chasing Gunner and being watched by Bear. DJ lay down in the water, Gunner lay down in the water. DJ splashed, Gunner splashed. Suddenly DJ had to go potty, so he jumped out of the pool dripping wet and dashed into the house. Gunner did too. DJ was trailing water onto the tile floor and Gunner was following suit. My fault again, I was unsuspecting and headed toward the deck at the same moment DJ and Gunner were spilling past me. As I was calling to them to see what was going on, I began sliding through the puddles. I managed to grab a coat hanging on a hook in the hallway before my right foot was level with my waist and my left elbow hit the wall. I had yet to regain my balance as DJ and Gunner rounded the corner. I want kudos here because I AM learning and did remember to continue to dangle from the wall so as and not be bowled by Bear the caboose.

The tray of snacks was barely saved as I hung from the coat hooks like some bizarre rag doll and attempted to regain my footing. As luck would have it, at the same moment J walked to the head of the hallway and observed the disaster in progress. He took one look at me, the puddle, the foot prints and the floor, shook his head and walked away, eyebrows raised and mumbling to himself.

Considering, I have yet to tell him that Deycon and Dakota are coming for a 2 week visit this month, I’d say the new human fit right in.

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.

Gunner’s Story: Part 3

It’s been an active two weeks around here. My first foster, Deycon and his little sister Dakota, came to visit. Having four fur babies to love was my idea of heaven but there were moments from further south as well.

Gunner and Bear must have been feeding off my excitement since they were jumping all over in the morning. I fed them, let them out and got ready to go. They both staged an attempted escape as soon as I opened the front door and I managed to get away alone.

I drove to meet Deycon’s parents in Albany. Of course, I arrived a little early and waited anxiously. When Mike and Sarah finally arrived, I could see Deycon and Dakota jumping around. It was great to see them again. We drove home and hit the dog park on the way to try to tire them out.

When the quiet Deycon and his exact opposite sister got into the house it all began. I didn’t really think I would be grateful that there is so little furniture around here. They jumped, played and moved furniture for about 2 hours. Then they collapsed on my bed, effectively evicting me from that perch. Once dinner was served, it was play time again and I finally surrendered and let them have their way.

The next morning I took Deycon to work with me as planned. He was a big hit and reached one of the boys we had thought unreachable. It was awe inspiring and truly amazing. It shouldn’t have surprised me though… I mean, he does have ME as a foster mother!!! When we got home Gunner staged an inquisition that the Tribunal of the Holy Office would have been proud of. He pounced on Deycon, sniffed, huffed and ran under him and around him. He ran to Deycon, from him, into him and over him. Gunner barked at him for a few minutes and then settled down.

The next two hours yielded three eviscerated stuffed animals, a few spilled bowls of water, my bed moved at least once and a dust cloud of flying fur. Poor Dakota didn’t like the stairs from the deck to the yard very much and ran herself silly going back and forth the length of it yapping at the boys.  I walked her on a lead across to the park and she was greeted by Gunner each time we got back.

Bear2 likes to watch the television and videos on the computer. When I play one, he usually barks and jumps at the screen from next to me. A little confused, Gunner hides under the chair and nips at Bear’s feet. This week he was unseated from this spot by Dakota. Every time I sat down to work she ran under the chair. The boys would gather around me and she took them all to task from under the chair. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in the way and that I too had lost something. I lost  my authority and all control. She ran the boys most of the week. Gunner, though smallest in stature, is by far the strongest and if I did manage to stay seated, he would push me and the chair trying to get to the puppy.

On Tuesday I took all of them to work. Gunner and Bear kept the boys ward busy, Dakota disappeared onto the girls’ units and Deycon spent the day with his new friend. Gunner chased the boys around the pool, through the day room and out into the court yard. He attacked the basketball, almost knocked over the volley ball pole and finally passed out under my desk.

The ride home was very quiet at first. At first…… On the main thoroughfare from the facility to the Interstate, there was a check point set up by local police and the State Troopers. I really should remember that not everyone has a fur baby attachment. We crawled for a block or so and then I rolled down the driver’s window. The State Trooper checked out the registration and inspection stickers and then leaned over to talk to me. Before I could warn him of my cargo, Gunner took this move as either and introduction or a challenge. From the passenger’s seat he launched himself onto my lap, threw his head out the window and with his body across mine, he let out a volley of barks and howls. He was leaning on the horn at the same time and the 6 foot 4 inch, 280 pound serious faced trooper  in his Stetson and bullet proof vest, flew backward through the air, with a single yell…. “A DOG!”

Not to be outdone, at this particular moment, the other three riders held an impromptu body slamming contest to see who could get his or her head through the partially opened back window first and who had the loudest bark. Resigned to fact I was about to face arrest for assault on a police officer, or perhaps scaring the crap out of one, I put the car in park and didn’t even try to quiet them down. They had me better trained by that time. The trooper stood about 3 feet from the car with his left hand planted in the middle of his chest and half breathing and half panting, he coughed, “You can go, Ma’am.” Gee thanks! I took the first entrance ramp, shook my head and then almost wet my drawers laughing.

My next door neighbors all but ignore Gunner and Bear, but the four of them running around, drew a lot of attention. The girls love to come over to the fence and pet them all. Gunner reminds them periodically that he can climb the fence and loves to play tug of war. They brought their Dad over to the barrier mid week and made him ask if they could take Gunner to the park across the street. We compromised by agreeing that I would bring the pack to their baseball game the next afternoon. I should have seen it coming.

Gunner ran up and down the fence line, barking, yapping and laughing. I kept him on the lead attached to the car. Problem was that his collar was just a teenie tiny bit loose. He twisted out of it and almost tried to catch the runner between home and first. Not to be outdone, Dakota took off across the infield and stopped the game. 24 screaming 7 and 8 year old girls scattered across the diamond and finally caught Dakota. Gunner, the instigator by this time, had returned to my seat and sat there as innocent as you please. I’m waiting on the letter from the Baseball Commissioner banning me from the bleachers.

By the time the visit by D&D’s visit was over there was a huge tally: 1 king sized bed taken over, and moved in part or totally 9 times, 24 car rides, 37 new kid friends, 3 pillows, 1 doggie bed and two comforters de-fluffed, 21 stuffed animals sent to fuzzy toy heaven with at least a dozen socks. 9 chewed bones of varying weight, 15 balls of all sizes, a full bag of flying fur collected off the floor, 1 call to the vet, a slight case of “the trots.” 2 softball games, 3 T-Ball games. We went through 25 pounds of dog food, 10 pounds chicken and 14 bags of ground beef and 7 bags of vet treats. There were at 11 plastic bottles that didn’t make it to the refund machine, 7 trips to the dog park, 35 billion muddy paw prints, 9 extra loads of laundry and 3 extra dishwasher loads. I only hit the floor once, went on-the-butt down the deck steps twice and Gunner made it over the fence 3 times.

He and Bear met hens the people next door bought. Gunner almost had that chicken the last time. I know he’s strong, but I think having him live here is making me faster!  Whether I like it or not.

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York. 
 

Gunner’s Story: Part 2

I am so happy to announce that Gunner and Bear have given me permission to live here.

In the last few months my human boys moved out and I’ve been cutting expenses, which is funny since it’s not like they really PAID their rent in the first place. ANYWAY! I decided to change from cable to satellite  TV through my phone company to cut about $60 off my monthly bills. Of course, this involves installation, service men, house access etc etc.

Gunner and Bear are my children and I never realize that some people might be a little intimidated by a 95 pound growling (but can’t back it up) Rottweiler and a 60 pound (bark is only a vocal slobbery kiss) Pit Bull. They do however, never fail to remind me.

Early one Monday morning, after I had worked a 16 hour unexpected shift until 7AM, the first installation expert shows up. A little more than sorry that I didn’t re-schedule since we all know that takes forever, I put the boys in the yard and let the man in. About an hour later another serviceman called to confirm his appointment. By that time the boys and I were dozing in my room. Not thinking, I opened the door, the boys ran out, tails wagging, and barks barking in a very loud attempt at being the Welcome Wagon representatives.

The satellite installation guy shot up the ladder, the trainee phone installer dove (and I do mean dove – as in through the window….) dove back into the van, and the senior installer took off across the street. Welcome to my Monday morning! I know that Bear will tour the neighborhood and eventually make his way home (usually escorted by the police like his predecessor Bear1) or just lurk on the porch knowing he’s in trouble. However, I am not sure that Gunner will offer me the same courtesy.

So, here I am, about 10% awake, no shoes, hair looking like Medusa, ratty old T-shirt and shorts on, running across the front lawn after this fast as lightening Pit Bull. Luckily for me, he stopped at the ladder and only tried to climb up. Even more lucky for me, he can’t. I get him into the house and there is Bear2 jumping up and down on his hind legs by the driver’s window, barking at the trainee who can’t get far enough away.

Bear is stronger than I am and I would have paid a lot of money to get video of me trying to drag this stubby tail wagging Rottie into the house. It was not very attractive nor was it very feminine. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got the boys sequestered in my room and went back to the traumatized men. I cannot tell you how relieved I was, down to the very last fiber in my being, to find the three of them standing around making fun of each other and how they had each reacted. I couldn’t apologize enough, but they were really good about it. Eventually all 5 males were together and new friends were made. Thank goodness, I really need the phone and computer!!

I have noticed that these canine companions seem to work as a tag team depending on who wants what. I can be in the kitchen cooking when Bear will come to me and just jump and bark. I follow him into the bedroom and there is Gunner sitting by the doors ready to go out. If Gunner comes to me and barks, then I can bet Bear is sitting by the food bag waiting.

My neighbors have gotten pretty used to these two as well. The fierce barks don’t intimidate anyone who knows them. One of the young girls next door had friends over. When I let the boys out they ran to the fence. Two of her friends got up and ran. She calmly said, “Oh, that’s just Bear and his friend Gunner.” She came over to the fence and the guys almost wagged their hind ends off. I can see no one has ever told them that Rotties and Pitties are dangerous breeds.

Bear and Gunner continue to keep me busy as well. I don’t think they realize that I have enough craziness around here without their input.  Last weekend we had a little bit of rain. I say a little because it wasn’t enough to worry about, unless you have these two around. The yard is mostly scattered patches of grass and lots of open soil. The rain was just enough to make the bare patches a little moist and made it great fun to run through. As a precaution, I had spread old towels by the doors to my bedroom as well as by the mud room door to catch the mud before they got all the way in. I shouldn’t have wasted my time.

I opened the bedroom doors and the first guy in slid across the towels and careened into the bed. Second man in jumped over the first up onto the bed, followed by the other. If paw prints are gifts from the heart, then I am loved more than anyone I know. Lucky for me (and them!!) the wet foot prints washed out of my white bed spread. I really wish they would learn how to go AROUND the bed.

I’m learning a routine more and more from these guys. They have me on a tight schedule. I am not in the least a morning person. I’m usually not really awake until I’m half way to work. Anyway, I’m not sure if he does it to scare me or just doesn’t realize that when he hides, I get a little nervous. Gunner still likes to sleep under the covers. After breakfast, it’s out in the yard at 5AM and then a morning nap. It’s out again at 6 just before I leave. Inow realize the Gunner likes an after breakfast morning nap. More than once I’ve been searching for him, calling his name and wracking my brain trying to remember letting him in. One morning I had gone through the house twice looking for him. I searched closets, bathrooms, upstairs, downstairs, in the yard, on the deck…. no Gunner. As I was throwing on my shoes, the blankets on the bed started moving, I jumped, Bear leaped and Gunner emerged from his warm spot looking at me like I was crazy. He kind of huffed, turned around and went back under the blankets. Since I caught onto the routine, I haven’t lost him again.

True to his nickname, Face, Gunner’s is a very expressive one. Usually I can tell if the boys are up to something by the looks I get from them. Last night I put 5 pounds of flour in a large bowl, mixed it with spices and left it on the kitchen counter. I was (notice I said WAS) going to fry about 15 pounds of chicken for a fundraiser at work. I came into the bedroom to turn off the television when a streak of brown and white shot past me and literally dove onto the bed and under the blankets. Suspicious, and not quite sure what to expect, I called Bear. My beautiful black Rottie kind of slinked into the bedroom completely covered in flour! There was a cloud of white dust spreading from the kitchen, through the dining room and floating directly at me. White powdery paw prints marked the paths they had taken across the hard wood floors. Bear knew he was in trouble and tried to creep away half crawling and half walking. Gunner emerged from under the bed clothes and maintained his innocent look. He actually refused to make eye contact and I just know he was laughing. I was furious! I couldn’t blame either of them. I did leave the bowl on the counter right next to the television and I did hear Bear barking and jumping. I just didn’t make the connection. When I accepted the fact that there was nothing I could do about it, I just laughed, bathed Bear, snuggled Gunner and cleaned it up. The chicken never did get fried, I put it in the freezer and placed an order in at the local fast food deli.

Just think…. this weekend Deycon and his sister are coming to visit for a week….

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York. 

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