What a Long, Strange Trip….


I haven’t written in a really, really long time. Life has been hectic, I admit to a bit of depression and I just haven’t felt inspired. Today, something changed that. Don’t know why, it just changed and I wanted to write.
One thing that I felt the need to put in writing is a simple statement of fact: I love Hazel. I know there is nothing news worthy in that statement, as it’s no secret by a long shot. But, I love her, really, really love her. As an adult, I have shared my life with 5 permanent dogs and loved them all. 2 of those dogs are still here and I love them very much, but, the way I love Hazel is different. I often ask myself why and beat myself up and feel guilty about it, but, here’s what I have come up with in my own defense.
I ask myself if I love her so much because she is a “pit bull” and the answer is maybe.
I ask myself if I love her so much because she was so sick when she first came home and has come so far and the answer is maybe.
I ask myself if I love her so much because we do so much training together and therefore, our bond is that much stronger and the answer is probably.
I ask myself if I love her so much because she is a goof ball and the answer is probably.
I ask myself if I love her so much because she is so naughty and the answer is definitely. I embrace the naughtiness, revel in it, even, because it’s the thing I know I’ll miss the most when she is gone. It’s what I miss about Taz and his burying of bones, what I miss about Sugar and her wandering ways. I’ll miss Rocco’s blanket stealing and Savannah’s circle dancing at dinner time. I have never punished my dogs for being dogs- and, of that, I am most definitely proud.
Hazel is my “do over” dog. The dog that I get to live with and train and not make any mistakes with. Hazel is the dog who gets the benefit of my having crossed over to training using 100% force free methods. When I look back, I feel terrible for some of the things that I did with my other dogs. Leash corrections, choke chains, forced sits. You couldn’t pay me now to do any of that with ANY dog, let alone my own. My heart dog, Taz, wore a choke chain his whole life, Rocco wore a prong collar (except for that time I tried a Gentle Leader, having known nothing about desensitizing him to it) for years, Sugar wore a choke collar and Savannah, who is pretty much perfect in almost every situation, also wore a prong collar. Hazel will never experience any of those things. She will never be yanked on a chain, feel the dig of metal spikes on her neck or be pushed into any position. Hazel is the one that I get to do it right with, and that started the moment she walked into our home.
When I think about my dogs, Rocco is the one I feel worst about. For years, I called him “Reactive Rocco” and was taught to leash correct him when he behaves in a certain way. I was taught this in dog training school. Many dog trainers are, and many still do it. Years later, through attending another dog training school, I learned that there was a better way. A way in which I can address what is actually happening for him and not just what I am seeing. The difference has been nothing short of amazing. He is a different dog: calmer, more focused and relaxed. I wish that it didn’t take 10 years of his life for me to learn this, but, I know this: he is a better dog for it in every way and I am a better mama and trainer for it. And now, you could not pay me to leash correct a dog- any dog.
As for Hazel, she has taught me everything I need to know. Of course, the education has taught me a lot, but working with my own dog has made all of the knowledge practical and I get to see it in action where it matters to me most: at home. I work with lots of other dogs and enjoy it tremendously, but it pales in comparison to what I have created with my own dog. I work with Rocco and Savannah, too, but not to the extent I work with Hazel. She came to us very much the blank slate and I love installing behaviors and watching her work through a problem. Her joy at training is a thing of wonder to me. She is unafraid to try things out and always willing to keep going.
When I say “get to do it right”, I mean that in virtually every way. I get to practice my timing and mechanics with her, and I get to do it in a way that feels right and not just because it feels it, but because it is right. Dogs are sentient beings with the ability to learn. They can learn without pain and without force. No internet argument will convince me otherwise. I have spent too much time learning about behavior and too much time working with dogs to think that I ever need to use force. And, if I find myself in a situation where I think it’s called for- it’s time for some more education. Lots of people have lots of ideas about dogs. Lots of people practice dog training having no formal education and are proud of that. That somehow dogs are not deserving of dedicating some actual understanding of, rather than just watching TV and thinking that something works and hey! I can do that, I’ll be a dog trainer. At this point in my life, that sort of thinking, that sort of dog training makes me physically ill. There are lots of other kinds out there that also make me ill, but those are by far the worst to me.
But, that’s not really my point. My point is this: Sometimes in life, we get do overs. I am grateful to get do overs with Rocco and Savannah. I am even more grateful that I will never have to do things over with Hazel. Grateful that we do things in a way that never makes her distrust me or feel afraid. Grateful that I know down to the core of my being that I don’t have to hurt her to train her. Grateful that I knew that before ever doing it.Hazelforcefree 023

Marlowe and Me.


For about 4 months now, I have been working with a couple and their rescued dobermann, Marlowe. Marlowe came to them through a rescue group after having been in boarding for 3 months and in 3 homes prior to that. He is less than 2 years old. That’s a lot for any dog…let alone one so young. I knew when we started that we were dealing with reactivity and fear, 2 things that can lead to aggression if not addressed. When my clients first called, they were worried that they were dealing with a dog who is too damaged. Fortunately, time, consistency and force-free training have proved that this is not the case.
I can’t help but think that if Marlowe was adopted by a different type of person, or trained using harsh, correction-based techniques that things would have turned out very differently. I say this for a few reasons- first, his people are previous dobie owners and are experienced with the breed, they are also committed and patient. Second, I have no doubt that corrections would have caused him to react aggressively, as his experience with people in the past likely showed him that they are not to be trusted. Marlowe needed to be taught to do the right things, not corrected for doing the wrong things. When a dog has no idea what the right thing is, how can you justify doing anything but teaching? And, how do you teach the right thing? Repetition and consistency.
In the time I have known him, Marlowe has gone from lunging at everyone who crosses his path to being able to attend doggie day care a few times a week, hang out at work with mom and dad, let people pass him in stairways and exuberantly greet people at his front door (we are working on toning this down, but, man, what a change!). Marlowe is comfortable in the car now, after having ripped off harnesses, torn seat-belts and cried for the entire 1.5 hour trip from NYC to New Hope. Marlowe has excellent recall, walks well on a leash (even in busy locales) and will maintain a down- stay through a meal. At doggie day care, Marlowe has friends, both human and canine, and interacts appropriately with both. At work, Marlowe is okay with deliveries, patients coming in and out, mom and dad moving from one room to another. I think it is safe to say that all of this is more than any of us dared to dream possible. Early on, I think we all thought we were dealing with a dog who would have to be tightly managed and watched diligently. I think it is also safe to say that we are all beyond thrilled.
This is not to say that Marlowe is perfect or that the work is done. It is not, and I think we all realize that he will be a work in progress for a long time. He still does not love strangers, especially those walking towards him, though, the lunging has stopped and he can deal with it much better. The world is less scary, because the people around him are safe and can be trusted. Marlowe’s biggest issue, however, is separation anxiety. Which makes sense, given his less than stable beginnings.
We knew that Marlowe suffered a bit when his people were gone, but, until a camera was attached to his collar one Sunday when they went to church, we had no idea just how much he suffered. Watching the recording went from being an amusing, anthropological experiment to heartbreaking in less than 10 minutes. I don’t think any of us were prepared for just how badly he suffered when alone. Marlowe went from window to window, panting, barking, drooling, crying. We thought that it had stopped at 8:24 minutes- it had not. He just took a break and started right up again. It went on the whole time they were gone. I cried for him, we were all just devastated and realized that we needed to approach this a bit differently. We talked about medications and had used them on occasion, we talked about making the leaving ritual less predictable (ie- don’t make a big fuss saying goodbye, leave the radio on playing the same music you had going, etc.) and scary and we talked about leaving for only short periods of time for a while, meaning to the trash can and back. That’s how small we had to start. We also decided that a puppysitter is probably a good idea if they have to be gone for long periods of time. Turns out that sometimes, it’s me πŸ™‚ And, I am totally okay with that. Separation anxiety is tough on dogs- it is also tough on the people who love them. It is an actual disorder and not something that can be easily fixed or will go away on it’s own. There is nothing that anyone could say to convince me that it is anything other than panic and as such, it needs to be dealt with carefully and any dog who suffers from it deserves to be treated with kindness and consideration. My friend, Sandi, brought a dog home from Thailand and he suffers from it, as well. Sandi, a well-known San Francisco based dog trainer was asked to write an article on it for The Whole Dog Journal and having shared it with Marlowe’s parents, we were all left with the same reaction: Wow. We recognized ourselves in it fully…me, as the trainer and always worried about setbacks and them as people who loved him, wondering if they would ever be able to leave the house again. I think we also saw just how important support is. Whether it was having Paul walk up and down the street (Keep your distance! Come a little closer! Slowly! Not too fast!)to get Marlowe comfortable with people being near him or having their son or me stay with him while they were away or out, there is no way we could have achieved what we have without support. You can read Sandi’s article here:
Marlowe is a work in progress, we know this. But, he is also very much a success story. He is a dog who will play, who will cuddle, who will give kisses. He will come running enthusiastically when he hears the words, “Marlowe, let’s go home!”. Once he trusts someone, he leans and becomes like Velcro. Marlowe is silly and goofy. Today, when his people got home, we were outside (I stayed with him while they went to church). I was standing by his side with him on a leash, holding it loosely. I asked him to wait. He did not move a muscle until I said okay. I was so proud of him.
I am so thrilled to play a part in Marlowe’s life. These days, when we meet it is mainly to talk about the week’s progress and have him stay used to my coming around….though, we must work some more on his greeting behavior some more. I think not many people are fond of 90lbs of dobermann coming at them full speed to say hello! But, boy, what a change! I am proud of him and so proud of his people…for loving him, sticking by him and for believing he is worth it.

Such a handsome guy!

I never would have thought 4 months ago that this dog would curl up on a couch with me and just relax and know he is safe. What a long way we have come! Good boy, Marlowe πŸ˜€



I haven’t written in nearly 3 weeks, which is a long time for me. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s just that we have been extremely busy. La Dolce Doggie has grown tremendously…and it has happened fast! At times last week, I forgot whether I was coming or going and where I was supposed to be next. This is a blessing and it has caused me to stretch myself mentally, physically and emotionally and this is all good..it just hasn’t left me with time for much else.
My last blog was about Hazel and us having adopted her. Since becoming a permanent part of the family, Hazel has really settled in…she has become a regular at the cat litter buffet, has a nap routine, a play routine and a naughty routine. Her day typically goes like this: get up (last one to wake), go potty and then paw at the gate to go back to bed, sleep a bit longer, wake up, chew on toys and then join us and attempt stealth attacks on the litter box (there is nothing stealth about it, BTW). After some snacks, she likes to lie by the front door, where Trixie tortures her in the special “I love you/ I hate you” way that she has. Then breakfast, maybe another nap, some toy chomping and then comes the naughty part of the day. This consists of Hazel looking at Paul or I with puppy eyes from underneath our desks. The goal is to get us to invite her onto our laps. It works. After a few minutes of what I call “schnuffling” (rolling her head around in our laps and generally being adorable), the nipping starts. Hazel is still young, and is still learning that play- nipping is not acceptable. I give her one warning and then time her out. I say “game over” and put her in the bedroom for a while (she follows right alongside me, no collar grabbing and she does not fight it at all)Β  It is working, she is much less nippy with me. Paul tends to wait a bit longer to time her out, so, they still have some work to do! This is called negative punishment, and, with good timing can be very effective at reducing and eliminating behaviors. In my case, she gets one cue: “Hazel, no nipping” ( I should really say something like “gentle” or “easy”, but, I admit to lots of bad habits that need breaking) and if it continues, I say game over and she receives the consequence: the loss of her playmate. Usually, she goes and lays on the bed and works on one of her toys and when I let her back out, she is much calmer. I say usually, because sometimes she chooses not to come back out. This is an interesting thing about Hazel: she is very independent and likes her alone time. Much more so than any other dog I have known, she is very content to hang in the sun or on the bed by herself when everyone else is in the living room.
In addition to adopting Hazel, there is lots of other stuff going on: we are preparing to move into a house with my brother, La Dolce Doggie grows and grows and we are selling my father’s vacation home…which is hard, but, will allow us to move forward in many ways. Every time I get sad about letting go of the house and the memories, I hear my dad say something like, “Lori, be smart, sell the house and keeping moving forward.” And, he would have probably put some expletives in there, too. *One of my top criteria in looking for a house is that it have a place for cat litter where dogs can’t get to it*Β  πŸ˜‰ One of my brother’s top criteria is that he is able to finally get a golden retriever and Paul’s top criteria is that the house be “flat” aka- a rancher. I aim lower…just want the cats to have some space πŸ™‚
Last weekend, I was able to squeeze in a quick trip to NYC to see some of my dog training friends. It was a great couple of hours and I was so glad I carved out the time to be with some brilliant, savvy and generally fantastic people! Thanks to Jean Donaldson and The Academy for Dog Trainers, I have gotten to know some of the coolest people I have ever met- including Jean herself, and I loved seeing her again. I finally got to meet The Great John Visconti, who through email and phone conversations, I felt like I knew forever and meeting him just made the feeling that much stronger. John reminds me so much of my dad and I am so happy to know him. I also got to spend time with Megan, who I had met in California, as well as meeting Matt, Amanda and Melani for the first time. It was fantastic and just increased my gratitude for Jean, not only for introducing me to a whole new way to look at dogs (science-based!Β  force-free! teaching the dog to do the right thing instead of correcting him for not knowing what that is!), but, for giving me the opportunity to get to know some wonderful, smart and lovely people.
So, that’s the quick and dirty rundown. Lots happening….and, though I dare not get too far ahead of myself…I think the dark days of last year are finally behind me and my sense of optimism has returned. And…there might be a bit of joy and hope in there, too. Feels good. πŸ™‚

Love this dog and so happy that we have made her part of our family.


View from our balcony in Florida. I will miss opening the sliding glass door and seeing this…but, know that there is another door waiting to be opened!



In NYC last Sunday, with John, Melani, Amanda, Jean, Megan and Matt! What a great day πŸ™‚

β€œOptimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”- Helen Keller

Breaking News.


In the “Most Obvious Thing on Earth” category….Paul & I decided to adopt Hazel. No one who knows us is surprised by this news, but, I can tell you that it is not a decision we came to easily. First, a third dog is kind of the last thing we need. Second, she is considerably younger than Rocco and Savannah and third, our job was to foster her, not to adopt her.
For myself, that third statement was the one that made the decision a difficult one. We became foster parents to help dogs, not one dog. But, for more than a few small reasons, we decided that it was the right thing to do. And, as we are in a period of other big changes, I know that we soon will be able to help more dogs…and we will. But, just like Angie and Jenga before her, Hazel needs us…and it felt more and more to Paul and I that she needs us forever.
So, how did we come to that conclusion? Well, Hazel has some confidence issues and we have helped her feel more secure. I worried a lot about setbacks she might have if moved into another home, with another family or other dogs and what the impact might be on her. At this point, Rocco and Savannah have completely accepted her and she has a routine that she is comfortable with. I don’t ever want her to feel like she has to worry about anything ever again. And, truth be told, I don’t ever want to worry about it again either. I don’t blame her for her issues, and am hopeful that they are fully in the past now. We have worked hard on boosting her confidence through training and consistency and it has paid off in more ways than we could ever have hoped. She is loving and friendly with everyone she meets- this is a massive improvement over when she first arrived, when she barked at everything that moved. She has learned to follow Rocco and Savannah’s cues and they have not snarked off at each other once since she returned. She gives space and lets them into hers without issue. These massive improvements came about because we learned to trust them to let each other know what is acceptable and what is not. I let go of my hyper-vigilance and let dogs be dogs. But….as is my way, we did it slowly, and, at least in this case, I think it paid off.
Then there is the not-so-small issue of love. We love Hazel. Paul, especially, loves Hazel. I think one of the things that touches me the most is how Paul experiences so much joy being with her. It’s not that he doesn’t love Rocco or Savannah, or didn’t love Angie or Jenga- he does and he did…it’s just that he and Hazel have a special bond and I think that their relationship has been a big part of why she has come so far. For me, the thought of Hazel going to live with someone else was something I just couldn’t handle. There is only so much loss one heart can take. Though I have been able to get past feeling like adopting Jenga and Angie out was a loss for us, my heart just couldn’t make the leap with this one.
I know there will be people who will be disappointed in our making this choice. To be honest, I get a little disappointed when I see people adopt their fosters. I think about all the other dogs they could have helped and whine inside a little bit about how that is not how it is supposed to work. But, as I said…big changes are coming for us and we will help more dogs. It feels selfish, but, it also feels right.
I never wanted a pit bull. I wanted a beagle. But, as they say….

And…love is love…no matter what.

See that collar?? I may or may not have bought it for her months ago πŸ˜‰

A Good Run.


Don’t worry…this post is not about physical fitness..this is me, after all πŸ˜‰
I just spent the past few days in Florida, at my dad’s beach house…aka “The Condo”…aka Heaven on Earth. The place that has hosted many a vacation for me and everyone else in my family. For the past 20 years, my dad very generously let us all use it for trips short and long, as often as we wanted…as long as we did a good clean-up on the way out. There were periods of time when I did not use it for years at a time, but, over the past few years, I have been there quite often…with my dad, before he died, with Paul, Jason and various other family members and friends. I feel not lucky…but, blessed to have had this place of beauty and nature and sun and sand in my life for so long.
But, like all good things…this, too, must come to an end. For us, anyway. It is time to move on. Deerfield Beach and the memories we all shared there will always be in my heart, though my feet may never touch the ground there again. When I turned 30, my dad and I took a trip there and then traveled down to the Keys, so I could swim with dolphins. We partied in Key West and got in the water with the dolphins hungover and happy. Then in 2010, we went down together again, for what would turn out to be his last trip there. On that trip, we stayed local, took care of some stuff in the house and visited some of his favorite restaurants. I worried about him a lot on that trip, but, we talked about a lot of things and bonded and it is a very special memory for me.
Yesterday, Lisa (my stepmother) and I listed the beach house for sale. My heart was in my throat the whole time and I wondered if we were doing the right thing. But, in the end, I know it’s the right thing- it’s expensive, none of us can get there all that often and he would not want us to hold on to it if we can’t use it. In fact, his specific recommendation was to sell it within 5 years of his death….always thinking, he was.
My uncle and his family had been there a week prior to my visit with Lisa. When we got there, we found an empty wine bottle on the counter, with some paper underneath. I admit, it took my too-full brain a bit to realize what the deal was. Lisa and I were to add our own notes to the ones they left and send it out to sea….and hope it didn’t wash ashore one town up in Boca Raton! I found this to be a very touching and fitting way to say goodbye.
I will probably be there only one more time- for closing. But, my heart will always be there.
We Schmid’s, Nanan’s, Demore’s, Law’s, Badal’s, Blake’s, Caputo’s and more had a very good run in Deerfield Beach, for sure.
This path has lead many feet and people I love right down to a crystal blue ocean. I hope it leads whoever lives there next to the same sense of joy, peace and happiness.
Thanks, daddy.


The Ride.


I am going to try not to complain too much about my life here. Forgive me if it sounds that way, but, I have a lot on my mind, my plate is full…..and my cup runneth over, with good stuff, so I will get to that, too.
A couple of days ago, I was headed to meet a client in Lambertville and I happened to pass my mother, who was walking her dog down the street. Though we do not speak, for lots of reasons, and I have a lot of anger towards her, all I felt when I saw her familiar gait was intense sadness and longing. It was disconcerting and though I am not looking to make any changes to our relationship status, it made me think…and feel a feeling towards her that I have not felt in a long time…love.
But, that is only part of the picture and only a very small part of what is on my mind…it got me thinking about what love really means and how much I am willing to do for someone I say that I love. I am currently in the process of doing a few things on behalf of my brother…things that I hope will improve his life (and mine) and things that I have to fix….mainly because of issues, if not directly created by my mother, then definitely impacted by her approach to life. So, in addition to the sadness, the anger and the love, there is plenty of resentment. But, I love my brother and will do whatever I can to ensure his well-being. So, in this case, love is an action word….and, not just a feeling. Which it should be. *I just hope he knows that*
All of these thoughts inevitably bring me back to my father and how much I miss him. My father provided a safe haven, an even keel and a fair voice in the midst of lots of chaos….always, even when he was sick. Love in action. After a difficult, but, reinforcing appointment with my brother this morning, I decided to drive past this property that I have had my eye on for a few years. As I approached, I turned on the radio, knowing I would hear The Rolling Stones. I knew they would be on, because every time I drive past that property there is a Stones song playing. They were not on the station the radio was tuned to, but, I switched to 98.1 and there they were….like he was telling me that he was there…like he always does. I have also been thinking a lot about my dad, because, well, I just do, and because we have decided to sell his vacation house, something I don’t really want to do, but, know needs to be done. Though it kills me to do this, I know it’s what he would want us to do…and, at least have one last good time there before we say goodbye.
Last night, Paul and I went to dinner and I looked across the table at him and felt an incredible surge of love for him…this man who has been by my side through all of this, has taken it upon himself to make sure that Rocco eats something, that the cats always have treats, that we always have food in our house (and toilet paper and tooth paste) and just felt love. For a minute, all of our baggage fell away, and things felt easy. I remembered that 5 years ago this week, we had our first date and we argued about who kissed who first. It was fun. We don’t often have moments like that, because life is so filled with stuff and dogs and business and….well, life. It was a nice moment of free and easy enjoyment of each others company. I could use more of those.
This afternoon, I was laying on the couch with Rocco, Savannah and Zooby while Paul napped with Hazel and Trixie. I was thinking about how complicated things can be…and how simple. I was thinking that the love I feel for Zooby is the purest and most uncomplicated love I have…this cat who snuggled up next to me and purred like a machine is never nasty, he is never moody…he is simply happy and loving. ALL. THE. TIME. Zooby is a lesson for me to learn, of that I am sure.
I can’t offer you a moment of Zen….but, I can offer you a moment of Zooby πŸ˜‰

Dog is Love.


This morning, a friend of mine lost one of her dogs…a 12 year old dobie, who died peacefully in his sleep. I immediately started crying when I learned of it. The loss of a dog, almost any dog, hits me in the soft spot in my heart where only love lives. And, always, someone else’s loss reminds me of my own and all of the pain and heartbreak feels brand new. I am reminded that the pain and heartache exist because of all of the love.
Before learning of this news, I was already thinking about dogs and aging and illness. Rocco, the 12 year old Greek, didn’t want to get out of bed this morning and I snapped a picture of him after he threw a pillow on top of himself to create one of his little nests. I was thinking about how lucky we have been that he has been so healthy and how, if not for the old man lumps and the graying muzzle, you would never know he was 12. Paul and I also went to visit some dogs early this morning on our petsitting rounds, one of whom was a 14 year old standard poodle and his 4 year old labradoodle brother. The elderly poodle is in fantastic shape, other than being almost entirely blind. The way that he relied on his younger brother through sound and touch was amazing and I couldn’t help but wonder what one would do without the other, because the younger dog was very scattered outside without big brother there, and big brother needed little brother to lead the way.
When I lost Taz, my first dog as an adult, I was hit with such overwhelming sadness and a greater sense of loss than I had ever experienced. Taz developed pancreatic cancer and, though surgery was an option, he was not given a very good prognosis and would likely only live another 3 months. And, those 3 months would not have been easy ones for him. After many conversations with my vet, I decided to let him go, as any other decision would have been about me and what I wanted and not what was best for him. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, and in a card from my vet, she wrote “I know in time, thoughts of Taz will bring a smile to your heart and not a tear to your eye.” Seven years later, I still get both. Last year, Paul and I said goodbye to our Sugar, and my best friend lost 2 of her dogs, one of whom I had the pleasure of living with for a few years. Each of these goodbyes were heartbreaking and I think of all the love, laughter and compassion those dogs brought out in those who loved them.
I think a lot about why I (and so many people I know) love dogs so much, and I think it hit me this morning. I love dogs because it is uncomplicated. Dogs don’t lie, they don’t betray and they don’t deceive. They wear their emotions of their sleeve (or tail!)..out there for all to see. Dogs are a big responsibility and a commitment. In return, if we treat them well, we get wags and kisses and sloppy toys dropped on us and slobbered on and smiled at and, in some cases, like Rocco, we actually get hugged. We are protected by our dogs and we protect them. Dogs are amazing creatures…and I think this quote sums up how so many of us feel:
“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken, seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive: our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.”- Suzanne Clothier
So, today, my heart is with my friend Helen and I know that her dear friend, Ollie Vern will be met at the bridge by friends who came before him. I am sure that Taz and Sugar will be there, as well.
My sweet Tazzie.

Our little bunny beagle, Sugar.

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.”
Gilda Radner

Dog. Is. Love. πŸ™‚



See Ya, Sweet Hazel.


The day that your foster dog is being adopted is a strange one. You have the excitement of knowing what lies ahead for the dog, the sadness of knowing that it may be the last time you see her and the duty of handing over the leash to someone else. It’s stressful while you are at the shelter, for the humans and for the dogs. I have this constant banter in my head- wondering if I forgot anything, if we are making the right choice, is the dog going to miss us, how much we are going to miss the dog, hoping the dog doesn’t puke in the back of her new mama’s car and on and on….and on.
Deciding on who is the right fit for your foster dog is a big decision. For us, the bottom line is: can this person give more to this dog than we can? In Angie’s case, a mom and her three older sons living at home were the right choice because someone would pretty much always be home and the guys wanted a dog who would really play. In Jenga’s case, a young couple just setting out on their lives together in the city, with access to dog parks and other dogs was the right choice. And, in Hazel’s case, a young woman who lives on her own, works for a vet and wants to do agility with her was the right choice. Hazel will have lots of other dogs to play with, get to go to work with her mama and be spoiled just like the other two. And, that is a great feeling…and it sort of trumps the other feelings- loss being one of them.
Jenga was toughest on me, I loved that dog (and still do) the way I loved my very first dog as an adult, Taz. Taz was my “Heart Dog”, and Jenga is a close second. There is something very special about Jenga for me, and I am thrilled that her parents will be allowing us the honor of dog- sitting her while they are on vacation. Hazel was toughest on Paul, he bonded with her in a very special way and it really touched me how much he loved her. It is a very topsy-turvy ride being a foster parent, and one well worth every second of love, doubt, fear and sadness.
For now, the Nanan’s are on a foster hiatus…we will probably pick another dog towards the end of August. Rocco, Savannah, Trixie and Zooby will be glad for the break, I am sure. Until then, Paul will probably be counting down days until I move into the back bedroom again and I will probably be wondering who we could be helping.Β  But, one thing we have come to realize is that we have to have some balance. We need to give our own pets a break….and we need a vacation. Well, 3 days in Florida will have to do for now, but, it’s better than nothing πŸ˜‰
So, last night, Hazel got to meet some new people and made some doggie friends and that makes me so very happy. As with the others, there is a hole in our house and in our hearts that she filled for the 2 and a half months she was here, but, knowing she is safe and will be loved makes the hole bearable. And, sadly, we know that there will always be another dog to fill that hole. So, we will just keep trying to do what we can to save as many as humanly possible and send them on to a better life.
Please consider fostering…it will add such love to your life and improve your karma! It’s a beautiful thing πŸ™‚

Here’s Paul and Hazel yesterday morning. He was saying up until that time that he didn’t want to let her go.
Here’s me and Hazel’s adopter…a young woman who could not have been more excited to be adopting this amazing little girl!
And, this is my little tribute to our fosters. I have had this statue for years…and up until a few months ago, it did nothing more than collect dust…now it has a very important job to do πŸ™‚
That’s all for now…Live Well and Foster!

Hazel’s Hope


Our sweet, sweet Hazel is STILL looking for her forever home! I am so surprised that she has not been scooped up yet to be loved and cherished by the perfect family. Maybe my posts about wanting to keep her messed up my karma or something, but, the wanting to keep her hasn’t changed….neither has the knowing that she can’t stay.
I have been away from home for 4 days now, petsitting for a nervous doberman and in all honesty, I miss Hazel more than my own animals….that’s a secret between us….please don’t tell Rocco, Savannah, Zooby or Trixie. Well, Trixie won’t care, anyway πŸ˜‰
So, what is it about Hazel that makes her so special? I think that, just like our other fosters, the knowing that she won’t be with us forever is part of it, but, more than that, I think Hazel is just a special little dog. She is so easy and go with the flow, and with her over-sized paws and silly spotted nose, she is just…..well, amazing. She has one of the best personalities of any dog I have ever met: goofy, silly, loves to do training exercises and play. Playing for Hazel means puzzle toys and Nylabones, and, if she can find another willing doggie partner to tumble and wrestle, even better. And, therein, lies the major issue: our residents don’t want to play with her. And, that’s not fair to her. She deserves a full life, with play and fun…not grumpy old housemates who just want to snooze all day. But, to her credit; she does not let this get her down, she entertains herself, knows that the dogs aren’t interested…and keeps trying with the cats πŸ™‚
I have had only a few people express interest in Hazel. It kind of breaks my heart for her that she still does not have her forever home. I don’t think I have done anything differently than I did with Angie and Jenga in terms of marketing. So maybe she looks a little funny in pictures sometimes…to those of us who know her, it just adds to her charm.
She just looks cute in this one…
She does look a little silly here… πŸ˜‰

Here you can kinda see her awesome Mickey Mouse spot…when her leg is in a certain position, I swear it is the perfect Mickey!
And, here she is in her second favorite spot: chillin’ on the bed. This is one of the coolest things about her: she is totally fine spending time on her own. Hazel has no separation anxiety and knows how to stay out of trouble when no one is home. She often wanders off on her own for a nap or to enjoy her bones and this is truly a great quality in a dog!
Actually, now that I think about it- if chilling on the bed is her second favorite spot, lying in the sun is tied with snuggling up next to you for first!
Please share Hazel with your friends and family. You never know who might be the one to fall in love with her! Here is her ad…you can share the blog, too…lots of Hazel stories here πŸ™‚



Single White and Brown Female Seeks Furever Home.


Hazel here! I decided that since my foster momma’s ads weren’t getting much action, that I should write my own! I think I did pretty good…I mean, it was pretty easy to write great things about myself, because, I am…well….GREAT! Please share this blog post with your friends. I really, really want my furever home. I know my foster parents love me to the moon and back, but, I’m ready for my very own family. One who will love me forever and treat me like the special girl I am. Not that my foster parents don’t…..they TOTALLY do, but, the two old fuddy-duddy dogs here took a vote and decided that I was cramping their (lame-o) style. So, please share my new ad for me. I included the link to it, but, posted it fully here for you to be able to read right now. See how thoughtful I am πŸ˜‰

Hi! I’m Hazel and I am available for adoption. I am currently in foster care through ACCT in Philadelphia. I live with my foster family in New Hope and I love it here, but, I am ready for my FUREVER home! Before I get into how awesome I am, here’s my basic info:
I weigh about 45 lbs., I have a beautiful white coat with brown markings. I am spayed and up to date on my vaccines and am approximately one year old. I am listed as a pit bull terrier mix, though, everyone seems to think I am more likely a bull terrier mix.
Okay, so now on to the important stuff:
#10.) I was sick as a dog when I arrived at my foster home…now, I am healthy as a horse!
#9.) Speaking of other animal species, everyone says I have really neat Moo- Cow spots. One even looks EXACTLY like Mickey Mouse. My looks are outstanding!
#8.) I get along well with other animal species, too! One day, I met some cows and I just wagged my tail and checked them out! It was so cool. I get along with my kitty foster siblings, too. Okay, I get on their nerves sometimes because I am pretty playful with them, but, they do like to rub up against me and sniff me, which to me means “Let’s play!”
#7.) I get along well with other dogs. My doggie foster siblings are a lot older than me, and, even though they won’t play with me, we spend time together just chilling with our foster parents. I would probably like a doggie roommate, though, we will need to make sure that we can play well together, sometimes I get jealous.
#6.) I have no issues being alone. In fact, sometimes, I choose to go off and relax on my own. I love to be with my foster family, but, a girl needs a good nap every once in a while! I can be left home alone, too. I don’t bark, cry or destroy. I just chill. I’m good at chilling. I don’t go to the bathroom inside, either, I am completely house-trained!
#5.) I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE people! I have never met a person I didn’t like. Kids, men, women, you name it, I like them! I was a big scaredy when I got here, so, my foster parents made sure I had lots of good experiences. I go to Petsmart, I go to adoption events…it’s all good. I just love being around people!
#4.) I am very affectionate! In fact, I am kind of a mush. I love to give kisses and fall asleep with my face right next to my foster momma. I wiggle a lot when I am getting love and wag my tail a lot, so you know just how happy I am.
#3.) I have beautiful Hazel colored eyes, just like my name. Seriously, they are GORGEOUS! Oh, and I have a cool freckly nose. It has exactly eight freckles above it.
#2.) I make my foster parents laugh every time they feed me. I do this silly little dance, where I turn ’round and ’round in a circle several times. Then, I plop my butt right into a sit to have my bowl put down, just like I was taught! I know lots of other obedience commands, too, and my foster momma will work some more with me before I come home!
and the NUMBER ONE reason you should adopt me is:
*** I am proof that shelter dogs ROCK! I am loving, trusting and fun. I have come so far in foster care, I make everyone proud and happy! I deserve to be loved and cherished! I am ready for my new life! Could it be with you??
For more information about how awesome I am, contact my foster momma, Lori at lorosuzo (at) yahoo.com. You won’t regret it!
Here’s the link to this new ad:

And, here’s a few more pictures of me…just in case you forgot how stinkin’ cute I am!

Here’s me with my boyfriend. Okay, we only met once…but, it was true love!

Here I am showing my love for other animal species. Okay, it was cement…but, it’s still a piggie!

I’m really a good girl. I’m a lot of fun. Can you please help me find my Happily Ever After?
Thanks so much! If I could, I’d give you a great, big, sloppy kiss right through the Interwebz!
Hazel πŸ™‚