Celebrating our beautiful boy's anniversary

Happy Gotcha Day, Relay

A great family trip

Our trip to Amherst, VA was amazing.

An easy way to make your own jerky

A DIY project your pups will love.

Set up an email alert for your perfect pet

Use Adopt-a-pet's search saver to let you know when your right pet needs a home.

Let's here it for the boy

I was so happy and incredibly proud.

We do it for all the smiling faces

Dog overpopulation is growing problem in the US and I'm trying to find my way to help.

How Relay became ours

Every dog has a story, and this is how our perfect pound pup came home.

An easy treat

Find directions on how to make one of Relay's favorite treats.

April 30, 2012

Norfolk Pet Pantry: Helping families stay together

I had the opportunity to stop by and lend a hand for an hour this Saturday at the Norfolk Pet Pantry (located to the side of the Norfolk Animal Care Center). This program is run by the Friends of NACC, a non-profit group lending support to homeless pets and pet families all across Hampton Roads.

While I wait for my next foster assignment, I thought I could try and help out in a different way. The idea behind the Pet Pantry is this: there are some families that are in need here in HR, who are trying to be responsible pet guardians, but cannot afford to feed their pets. Through donations in the community and from retail pet stores, Friends of NACC is able to open a small outlet to help people trying to keep their families together.

It is very evident that there is a need, and that they are doing great things here. People are lined up before the doors open; and there was a steady stream while I was there. It seems like such a simple thing, a bag full of litter, a few bags of kibble, but the impact is huge. People are able to keep their pets and keep them out of shelters, getting by with a little help from the Friends. The program is still in its freshman year, but already they service over a hundred families.

The Pet Pantry is always in need of donations, which can be made directly during operating hours (the second and fourth Saturday each month from 1-4), or at the following stores: PETCO - 4540 Princess Anne Rd # 128, Virginia Beach, PETCO - 5900 East Virginia Beach Blvd, Norfolk, Muddy Paws - 3700 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk. Of if you prefer feel free to donate funds directly to FNACC here.

If your family is going through hard times, you must fill out an application and provide proof of government assistance or your 2011 tax returns showing an income of under $30,000, as well as documentation of spay and neuter for all the pets in the household.

Please, check out their brochure, and send it out so that families in the 757 know that there is help to feed their four legged family.

April 25, 2012

Lessons learned from Holly and BTTR

To start with, despite all our best efforts, we fell in love with Holly. Yes, she wasn't fully potty trained; yes, she was an escape artist; yes, she had some nervous tenancies that made her almost impossible to train. There were moments where we were going to pull our hair out, but we loved her anyway. That sweet baby girl was just too much of a charmer. And she loved Relay. To see the two of them together just melted hearts all across Hampton Roads.

2012-01-28 20.48.12-1.jpgUntitled

Reunited and it feels so goodUntitled

So, we understood that letting her go would be hard, but somehow I never thought it would happen as it did. I thought it would be as simple as everyone involved wants to help animals in need, and the most challenging aspect of fostering would be working though behavioral problems and letting go after adoption. Turns out I just completely forgot about human nature.

To say that we didn't get along with the head of BTTR is a large understatement. Thankfully, our interactions mostly went through a very kind hearted foster coordinator, but there were enough exchanges with the president that things came to a head. I wrote a very long email detailing the problems I had to that point. In retaliation, she took back Holly. "I don't need some snot-nosed do nothing telling me how to run my rescue." Jeff was furious, I was just heart-broken. Things had gotten so ugly, so quickly, but I wanted to put all that aside because Holly didn't deserve to be a casualty of someone's ego.  After a few days of diplomacy, we got her back for a few days. She went to an adoption day, where she caught the attention of a family already looking to adopt a puppy as well. BTTR did not want us involved in the adoption process, so we never saw Holly again.

The lack of closure hurts, but I know she is with a good family, even if I have not met them. My foster coordinator was kind enough to pass on my contact information, and I spoke to the mother once, and she even sent me some pictures of Holly at her new home. But I don't know if we'll get a chance to meet them all. I hope so.

In the end, BTTR taught us to vet our rescue organizations prior to accepting a foster. And Holly, she gave us a crash course in the full range of emotions that a foster could ever go through. But if we can experience the best and the worst and still come out okay in the end, I think we'll be alright in the rest of our fostering adventure.

April 24, 2012

How the other half live

Last week I found myself in the land of cats. I had a great time visiting friends, but have to admit that I was a little nervous about all of the extra roommates. I felt like the apartment belonged to Smokey, Maggie, and Checkers, and apparently no one cleared it with them first about me crashing on the coach. 

I had mentioned before about having grown up without any dogs in my life, but even after having adopted a pet, I still had very, very little exposure with cats. I didn't understand them. What were they running away from at high speeds? What is so fascinating about a cardboard box? Why did they feel that my toes under the blanket were challenging them to a fight? What does that expression mean?????
It was a crash course in feline lifestyles, but I want to say that I did pretty well. If there is only one truth about any living creature it is this: the quickest way to make friends is with food. I made sure to give them their meals a few times, and offered a tasty snack or two. By mid week they all seemed at least to accept having me around. With that came at least one cat sleeping on top of me at night, and during the day requesting belly rubs and behind the ear scratches. 

By the end of the week, I could strongly understand the appeal of cats. They are lower maintenance, higher independence, and beyond fascinating. When I started to pack they were no longer aloof, but loving and interested in what I was up to. Checkers even decided that my packing was entirely for her benefit, and appreciated the nice bed I had made.  She just looked so sweet, that I just packed around her. It was a very good week. 

April 18, 2012

Our first 'family' vacation was a huge success

Jeff and I always loved to travel, but once you add a dog to the equation you don't always get to just jump in the car and go. I have to say though, our first trip with Relay went better than I could have asked for.

We saw a great deal for a b&b in Amherst, VA. I contacted the Fairview Bed and Breakfast to verify that they were dog friendly and unfortunately, that was all the preplanning we did.  We just crossed our fingers and drove. When we found the place, I could not believe the views! Nestled in the mountains, we spent the first day simply enjoying to scenery and all the animals on the grounds. The owner, Jennnifer, was so kind and she just fell in love with Relay. He got to run around chasing dogs and peakcocks, trying to play with horses and cows, and exploring the historical house.

Of course, as a courtesy, we had talked to the other guests to make sure they were not inconvenienced or bothered by our boy, and it turns out they were all poochie parents, giving him freedom and affection.

We ate dinner there which was a tremendous "Farm to Table" meal with fresh, local, and organic foods enjoyed in a family style setting. Everyone ended the night simply sitting outside, taking in the stars and the quiet, watching our pup explore.

We started our second day with a wonderful breakfast. After getting some recommendations and directions, we got started on our big day. First stop was to a hiking trail by Crabtree Falls. This is a great medium/low level trail with a 1.7 mile walk to the top. The entire way borders a beautiful waterfall, one of the largest on the east coast. Relay loved it, and even though I'm in terrible shape I had no problems getting to the top. Up there we found another couple who were so taken with our pup, they let him have some of their picnic.

After that, I deserved a little time to unwind. We drove to the nearby Veritas Vineyard, which allowed pets outside. Jeff and Relay walked and lounged, enjoying the hillside views and the lush grounds. There were some people enjoying a picnic, but the boys were happy to just have the sun. And I enjoyed the special treatment inside, more than happy to get some pretty yummy wine tastings.

The whole trip was such fun that we plan to try it again in the future. More importantly, it was great to see that we could have a great time and bring our pup along, too.

April 15, 2012

Letting go

"I would never be able to foster, I would want to keep them all and be too attached to let them be adopted."

Whenver I mention that I foster dogs, usually something along these lines come up. When I was still with my first fosters, I put on a brave front but really did wonder if I would in fact be heartbroken when it came time for adoption. I am here to report that I did survive.

I will get into the two rescue groups I had worked with a little more in depth in a later post, but I have to thank some pretty terrible interchanges between myself and the head of one of the rescues for toughening me up.

It has been about a month since both Holly and Harley have been adopted. While I have yet to see them happy in their new homes, I did get an opportunity to speak to both adoptive families enough to know that they both found very loving homes.

And that is as simple as it must be. I never allowed myself the luxury of playing "what if" games with either dog. My daily mantra was that these pooches were only staying with us while they waited for their new families to find them. Of course I have moments when I miss the handsome boy or my baby girl, but I am looking forward to doing more good with the next set of fosters.

Those little hearts were just on loan.

April 11, 2012

Getting some good eats and yelping the good word

A very plesant surprise this morning when I receieved an email with this week's Yelp Hampton Roads newsletter and there was a shout out for me and Relay: "And nearly hidden on Colley, Sam’s Texas Sub Shop is the “place for a hot, quick sub" of "tremendous" proportions. Look for Yajaida P and her pooch, Relay, on the pet friendly deck splitting a meatball sub."

Well of course we had to go make a stop at Sam's to tell them the good news. That little place is great and is included in my list of dog friendly restaurants in Norfolk. They were pleased with the publicity, gave all the credit to Relay, and sent out some meatballs just for the pups. 


April 6, 2012

Quick Tip: Make your own jerky

I know I said I had other things to do, but I procrastinate
It is absolutely crazy how much I spend on dog treats, and for something as simple as jerky, I could never understand why the ingredients list would have more than one item listed. The internet is filled with various directions on how to make these, but I found my favorite on Green Earth Goodies

Harris Teeter was running a sale on boneless, skinless chicken breast for buy one get two free and seeing as we have a guest, I figured it would be a great reason to try this out. Directions on this couldn't be simpler: Lay skewers across an oven rack and drape thinly sliced meat over in a 200 degree oven. I placed a cookie sheet to under to catch the drippings and leave the door slightly ajar to allow the release of moister.  Bake for hours to find the right "doneness" for your dog.

To say these were a hit is an under statement. The boys loved them. And considering the recent recall in treats from China I am much more apt to find ways to feed my poochies better, and save some money in the process.


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