Work Hard, Play Hard

If you’ve been following either on the blog or on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed I talk a lot about playgroups at the Tallahassee shelter. I love them and they are a blast, not to mention a nice throwback to my days working at a dog daycare.

Cookie and Domino playingDingo and Bella Playgroups make life more bearable for shelter dogs. Even if just for 30 minutes a day, they get to escape the confines of their small kennels and stretch their legs. They make friends, exhaust themselves, and work their brains. And when it’s all said and done and they’ve joined a family of their own, they’re more socially adept than they would have been without play time. This is a huge deal, even if it just means walking by another dog on leash is easier for the new owner.

Domino, Cookie, and Peaches playing

Domino the goofiestShelters around the country are implementing playgroups. I’m sure the same people who taught us are responsible for a good number of the other shelters, too. I’d like to thank Dogs Playing For Life! for taking the time to demonstrate to the staff and volunteers at our local shelter how to lead safe, efficient playgroups to benefit our pups. (In fact, last week was their second year presenting in Tallahassee, so many people were soaking up their advice again.) They are great at what they do and have helped so many shelters provide enrichment without tons of added costs.

Dingo, Venus, Steve-o, and Thumper playingCookie and Domino having a blastI highly recommend checking out their website if you’re interested in learning more! They have many helpful and entertaining resources. Want to help them provide shelters in need with no-cost training seminars? They are a 501(c)3 non-profit and always appreciate donations. (Not at all a sponsored post y’all, I truly believe they do wonders for shelter dogs!)

Thumper and Venus

Thumper, Dingo, and Steve-oWant to see more photos of the Tallahassee shelter dogs playing? Because I sorely need practice in fast moving photography, I’ve created a ‘Playgroup’ Facebook album on our official fanpage. Feel free to peruse, maybe you’ll even fall in love with a dog you see!

Starsky, Phteven, & Odette

Great news! Last week’s featured dog, Finn, as well as Darlene from our Facebook cover photo were both adopted this week!

Today, three more lovely dogs got to play model for this week’s Shelter Sunday. I always love doing the photography part of the blog. I roll around on the ground, soak my clothes in what I hope is mud, and get sticky with dog slobber, among other liquids. Today’s adoptables were especially fun, both because they were all so good looking and because they wanted to PLAY PLAY PLAY!

Starsky is one hunky Husky mix. He is a rough and tumble kind of guy, and would do very well in an active home. He loves to play and run and I have no doubts the working dog in him just needs a job or hobby. If you’re looking for a 24/7 couch potato, he may not be the best fit, but if you’re more of an outdoorsy person, he’s ready to meet you!

Starsky, adoptable Husky mixAnd just so we are 100% clear, there was no touching up done in the above photo. NONE. HIS EYES REALLY ARE THAT STUNNING!

Starsky, adoptable Husky mixStarsky participates in the shelter playgroups, and loves fetch and kiddie pools to splash around in.

Starsky, adoptable Husky mixStarsky, adoptable Husky mixOur second dog of the day has one very obvious thing in common with Starsky: those beautiful blue eyes. Meet Phteven!

Phteven, an adoptable bulldog in Tallahassee, FLPhteven is also a playgroup regular at the shelter. Unsurprisingly, he too enjoys a good dip in the kiddie pool and chasing tennis balls.

Phteven, an adoptable bulldog in Tallahassee, FLPhteven, an adoptable bulldog in Tallahassee, FLAbout half of the photo session was spent trotting in circles around Mike & me trying to give us as many kisses as possible!

Phteven, an adoptable bulldog in Tallahassee, FLAfter editing and watermarking a bunch of photos, I checked online to see Odette’s age. Since she is not listed on the website (and she is obviously an amazing little puppy!) I think she may have been adopted this afternoon! However, just in case it was a system error or she was transferred to a foster home, I’ll share the photos of her as well.

Odette, an adoptable hound mix in TallahasseeLook at those wrinkles! Odette, an adoptable hound mix in TallahasseeSweet Miss Odette is just a puppy, too!

Odette, an adoptable hound mix in TallahasseeShe’s a little shy but responds well to treats and praise. In no time, she warms right up and loves you like she’s always known you.

Odette is an adoptable Hound mix in TallahasseeThanks for reading, and please don’t forget to share to help these dogs find their forever families!

Finn the Wonder Hound

Finn is an adoptable Hound at the Tallahassee Animal Shelter, and he is currently Mike’s favorite dog there. (Shh! Don’t tell the others!)

Shelter Sunday - Finn Shelter Sunday - FinnNow, Finn’s a great guy. He’s friendly, walks politely on leash, and is a proud member of the ‘dainty’ play group, so he’s great with other dogs. But for reasons beyond my comprehension, he has been a resident at the shelter since mid-July. That is unacceptable! So Mike had an idea, let’s do a photo shoot and make Finn a star!

Finn gets a photo shoot!Okay, so I’ll admit, we timed it terribly. Poor Finn knew something we didn’t. It was lunch time! But he stuck with us long enough to get a few good pictures.

Finn sitting prettyOur only guess for why he maybe hasn’t found the right family is that he gets a tad bit excited in his kennel. This boy is all legs, so it’s understandably cramped in there for him. The moment he’s free of his kennel he is well behaved. You just have to look beneath the beneath.

Finn is such a cute boyIf there is one thing I have learned from volunteering at the shelter, it’s that you cannot judge a book by its cover. My favorite dogs have consistently been dogs I wouldn’t have normally picked based on a quick stroll through the kennels. I would have likely walked right by Finn, and many people already have. But maybe, just maybe, by showing off his beauty and personality in photos, he’ll catch the right person’s eye.

Finn gets artsyFinn asked me to tell the world he has a plan. He’s willing to offer a deal to the person who comes to adopt him. If you promise to love him forever, he will do the same. He asks that you provide a nice dog bed, food, and water. And in return, he’ll be your guardian, your partner in crime (or crime-fighting!), your hiking friend, your road trip buddy, and he’ll always be up for a night of Netflix and popcorn. Especially if you drop a piece here and there.

Finn the wonder houndSo, what do you say? Do we have a deal? Just let Finn know. You can find him at 1125 Easterwood Dr, Tallahassee, FL 32311 Kennel Number 24. You can also find him online here, or by calling (850) 891-2950 and asking about Finn, ID#A155534.

Shelter Sundy (May 3rd Edition)

Yesterday, the Tallahassee Animal Shelter hosted the 14th annual run called “Tails and Trails”. To celebrate, they’re essentially holding a sale. Adoptions are just $14 through the end of today!

Cool Ranch (and Ben)

Cool Ranch stretching his legs while his buddy, Ben, explores the play yard.

Again, there are so many great dogs to adopt. Tucker and Ben (they’ve been favorites of mine for a few weeks now) are still in need of forever homes.

Ben, an adoptable Hound from the Tallahassee Animal Shelter

Ben, enjoying his play time in the yard with his buddy Cool Ranch.

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Shelter Sunday

I know, once upon a time I used to do “Find a Friend Friday”. However, seeing as I spend my Sundays volunteering at the shelter, it makes more sense for me to switch my days on the blog. That way my posts are as up to date as possible!

This morning, I spent another 3 hours with the dogs at the Tallahassee Leon Community Animal Services Center. (The Tallahassee Animal Shelter, for those who don’t know.) The runs are COMPLETELY full. There is no shortage of great dogs, or even dogs that fit my taste. Among my personal favorites are:
Tucker, a well trained and polite Boxer/Cattle Dog mix.
Ben, a sweet older hound dog with much more energy than you’d expect a senior to have.
Loki, a Treeing Cur mix with a fantastic name, who does great in play groups.
Beau, a “Lab/Akita” mix who looks more like a Border/Lab, which of course means I’m crazy about him. He is 6 months old, soft, and is entertained by little things, such as chasing flies.

But there are so many more! A couple of little dogs, a couple of fluffier dogs, puppies, seniors, ladies, and gentlemen – there is a dog for anyone in need.

Mabeline, an adoptable 4 year old Cur/Pit mix at the Tallahassee Animal Shelter.

Mabeline, a sweet 4 year old Cur/Pit mix, couldn’t wait for her picture to be taken! I met her in playgroup, so we know she does well with friendly dogs and people.

Tucker, an adoptable 3 year old Boxer/Cattle Dog mix. Well mannered and already trained, he is at the Tallahassee Animal Shelter.

Tucker, my black and white heartthrob. He is so polite and sweet, and has a distorted little heart on his side. 😉

Loki, a 2 year old Treeing Cur mix is available for adoption from the animal shetler in Tallahassee, FL. He is great with other dogs and people!

Loki is 2 years old and had a blast running in circles in play group today. He is stunning and so sweet!

Beau is an adoptable 6 month old Lab mix at the Tallahassee Animal Shelter.

Beau is a 6 month old typical puppy. Playful, soft, loving, and a little bit ADD. He actually reminds me a lot of Lana, and though he’s listed as a Lab/Akita, I think I see some Border Collie in that handsome mug.

I will have these photos and more uploaded to the Facebook page, and you’ll likely see a few pop up on my Pinterest and Instagram accounts, as well. I’d love to see these babies (and all the others in the shelter) find homes, so please feel free to share this page and/or my Courtesy Posts album on Facebook. Thanks for reading (and rescuing)!

My Best Friend Ages Faster Than I Do

ImageThis post is part of a Senior Pets Awareness blog hop hosted by BlogPaws.  To check out other bloggers’ posts about senior pets, click here.

Desi is an old dog. About 15 years old, give or take. She is turning grey. Her eyes have cataracts. Her ears betray her. Her hips get stiff and sore. Her teeth don’t allow for her to eat very hard food anymore.

We almost had to put her to sleep a few years ago. Ever since then, we’ve been painfully aware of her age, and what it means. She will not be with us for another 15 years. Probably not even another 5. And there are little moments every single day that remind me of that fact. When unwelcome thoughts creep into my head, and whisper we’re lucky she’s alive today.

So what is it like? It only takes glimpses of my day to see what I’m talking about…

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I want to pull some aluminum foil out of the cabinet so I can make cookies, but Desi is napping on the rug, blocking the door. I decide I’d rather wash the cookie sheet than ask her to move.

I walk into the bonus room and wait for her to follow. But she won’t. Not until I turn on the light. Because as much as she wants to be right next to us, she just can’t see in the dark.

I realize I haven’t seen her in a few hours so I call her name. I whistle and clap. But there is no response. So I grow more frantic. I sprint from room to room, trying to recruit Lana to help me look. And after a near heart attack, I find her asleep somewhere completely random. She lifts her head with a groan and blinks at me, weary eyed, as though asking what’s wrong with me. With a sigh, I lean over and give her a kiss on the head and then leave her to her nap, vowing to teach Lana how to ‘find her sister’.

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I am on the floor petting both dogs, and I feel a new lump in Desi’s side. They’re calcium deposits, according to the veterinarian. “Nothing to worry about.” But they still make us think of cancer.

She jumps out of the back of the car before we can stop her, and we have to watch her limping around for a couple of days. There is a voice in our minds that asks how we will know when life is more painful than death for her. But soon she feels fine again, and has forgotten she ever had trouble standing.

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Lana is zooming past, chasing a ball. As she flies past Desi, the only thing the old girl can do is close her eyes and hope the black and white blur misses her. She does, but we are more careful to throw the ball in the opposite direction, just to be safe.

We take the girls to the vet. I worry Lana will poop on the floor and shy away from the doctor, even though he is a perfectly nice man. We worry Desi will receive bad news. A deadline. For now, we leave with none of our fears realized. But we know that won’t last forever.

Desi requires daily medication for a tumor growing on her eye. She takes it like a trooper, always with a treat right after. For now, it is nothing too expensive. Hers may actually cost less than Lana’s. But it wasn’t always like that, and sooner or later it will change again.

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Desi used to be a fairly independent dog, but these days we find ourselves tripping over her. Apologizing even though she was the one in the way, because we are so afraid to hurt her. We shudder when Lana crashes into her and doesn’t have the same courtesy, but she’s just a dog. It doesn’t even occur to her that her sister is fragile.

Desi used to be entirely food motivated. She learned tricks I’m convinced some other dogs never could have grasped, partially because of the promise of treats. Yet there have been times when we’ve had to sit down next to her bowl and feed her by hand. She may not be hungry, but at her age, the nutrition and the energy from the food are more necessary than ever. We don’t mind the smell of dog food that lingers on our hands the rest of the day, because what mattered was getting food in her belly.

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Despite the extra time and the extra worry, she is worth having. She depends on us, and she knows it. She is more grateful than ever to have us around. She has grown wise. True, she may sometimes act like a grumpy old lady, but if anything, it’s comical to watch a dog pitch a fit.

Senior dogs are hard work. Owning an elderly dog is a unique experience. It is bittersweet to love a dog so much but to know any day may be their last. You want to comfort them, but they aren’t scared.

They face their old age as they faced everything else – with a wagging tail.