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Category: I Could Have Been Adopted (ICHBA)

Everything Happens for a Reason

Lucy Break 1

Ninety-five percent of the time Lucy is a chill dog. So chill, one potential adopter decided she wasn’t a good fit because she was too aloof. In fact, the only time I see Lucy get excited is when she sees her foster dad Geoff Reed. The moment that dog sees Geoff she goes nuts and acts like a misbehaving puppy, jumping, leaping, kissing. I guess she knew before the rest of us she belonged with him.

If you haven’t already guessed, Lucy’s foster dad Geoff is adopting her. I have to give him props because he held out longer than most. Lucy was adopted out in January, returned after several months, and then multiple potential families fell through for one reason or another. It finally got to the point where Geoff couldn’t even interview interested candidates anymore. He was tired of resisting and finally conceded Lucy belongs right by his side.

A lot of the time, I get angry when people return dogs, but the longer I foster animals the wiser I become. Now, after seeing where Meadow, Rosie, and Lucy – all returned dogs – ended up, I’m changing my self-righteous tune. I’m beginning to accept that everything happens for a reason.

Congratulations, Lucy and Geoff.

Street Dogs and Air Conditioning



After conferring with several other ICHBA foster families, I’ve concluded that there seems to be a common thread among dogs that had lived outside for the majority of their lives like Lucy, Dawn, and Duke. They love air-conditioning. During these super swampy Tennessee afternoons, Dawn goes into the yard to use the bathroom but that’s about it. She never stops to wrestle with Meadow, nor does she join Ade for any mole hunting. When Dawn finishes her business, she literally jogs across the grass and into the house to resume her position in the air-conditioned living room under the whirring ceiling fan. Who could blame her? After living on the street for her whole life, Dawn must think air-conditioning is the greatest invention since marrowbone treats.

Bee Lou Lou, Our Newest Foster Dog

for sure(Adriana and Bee Lou Lou)

Miss Judy and I started discussing moving Bee Lou Lou, a homeless yearling, to the Farnival a week ago. Judy is a middle-aged seamstress that fosters dogs for ICHBA. She’s a sweet southern woman with a quick smile and a balanced approach to animal rescue. She knows how and when to say no. It so happens that she cried uncle on Bee. The yearling’s energy levels are too high for Miss Judy and her pack of elderly dogs. But we decided Bee would be perfect for our own young mutt Adriana, who has been terribly depressed since Rosie was adopted.

Adriana and I drove out to Judy’s clapboard farmhouse on Friday, passing a thriving landscape of fluctuating green foliage, more greens than I ever knew existed. Ade slept in the backseat, curled up like a noodle. The second I took a right down Judy’s gravel and asphalt country road, Ade hopped up, slapped a kiss on my cheek, as though thanking me. Sticking her whole head out the window, her small white ears flapped like flags. In my rearview mirror, she looked like she was smiling. Bee Lou Lou and Ade are walking buddies. Ade knew exactly where we were headed.

Shutting Judy’s storm door behind me, I heard Bee before my eyes adjusted to the living room’s dusky light. Bee was napping in her crate, but when she saw me she wagged her tail, slowly at first, then working up speed until it whapped against the metal bars of her cage. Mason and I have been leash training Bee for a few weeks, and every time she sees us, she acts like its Christmas and we’re the Claus’s.

I stood patiently, waiting until Bee calmed down before I motioned for her to sit, attached her lead, then signaled for her to follow. She did everything perfectly…until she hopped in the Honda and saw her fellow gangsta’ Adriana. They instantly started throwing down mosh pit-style.

It’s forty-eight hours later, and they still haven’t stopped playing 🙂

Lucy’s Meet and Greet: Canceled

lucy look 2

Poor Lucy. I feel like the universe is sabotaging her. That dog can’t catch a break. She’s been rejected twice since a week ago Friday. First, a young woman named Miranda drove forty-plus miles to the Farnival just to meet her, but decided she wasn’t the right fit. Then, the family that wanted to adopt Lucy today canceled at the eleventh hour, long after her co-foster parent Geoff Reed had already grilled her a hotdog for a farewell dinner.

Pure Guesswork

lucy look


Tomorrow afternoon Geoff Reed and I are going to visit Lucy’s possible new home. ICHBA calls this visit a meet and greet. It’s the last step in ICHBA’s adoption process. If we think her new family is suitable, then we’ll leave her there. If not, Lucy’s coming back with us.

Geoff and I talked on the phone yesterday and agreed that if for one second we get a bad vibe, then we’ll tell the family it’s not going to work out. It would be a hard thing to explain to the parents and their two little girls, but Donna, ICHBA’s founder, gave me a tip last year that I carry with me to every “meet and greet.” She said that if I put the dog’s well being before any human feelings, then it’s easier to say no. And she’s right.

Still, picking the right home is complicated. I’ve been wrong three times out of twenty eight. Those bad decisions eat at me for the same reason that I can tell the wrong family no. When the dogs are my number one priority and I fail them, it feels like I stepped on a nail, a rusty one.

The problem with making the right call about a family is that up to a certain point, it’s all a guessing game, a gamble. Families can have great recommendations from friends and veterinarians, positive interviews with both the foster family and Donna, amiable meet and greets, yet still end up returning the dog six months after they adopted them.

It’s always nice to know you’re not alone, and I’m finding a lot of companionship in David Wroblewski’s book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. In general, his writing is singing to my dog-loving heart, but in particular, I’m finding quotes reflecting my feelings about picking the right home. The novel is a big book about a deaf boy named Edgar and his dog Almondine, but it’s worth the time.  (Thanks for the recommendation, Todd Langston.) In this scene, Edgar and his father are discussing the possibility of socializing an adult feral dog:

“Every time I think about that dog, something your grandfather used to say comes to mind. He hated placing pups, really hated it. That’s why he started keeping them until they were yearlings-said most people had no idea how to handle a pup. Wrecked their dogs before they were six months old…Anyway, what I mean is, he hated having to choose where the dogs went. He thought it was pure guesswork. (80)”

I’ll let you know if Geoff and I guess right or not as soon as possible.

Meet Duke: A Flea-Infested Mutt

Yesterday, when Donna met Duke, a year old hound mutt, so many fleas infested his skin that he has to spend the next few nights at the Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital. Duke had ripped the fur off his hind. Now, his skin is raw and infected. His ears are swollen from thousands of bites.

Duke’s family had called Donna, ICHBA‘s head honcho, a few days ago, saying that they loved Duke, but couldn’t keep him because he went to the bathroom in their neighbor’s yard. As always, Donna approached the situation fully prepared to be the diplomat and try to solve the problem without a family losing their beloved dog. But after she saw Duke’s physical condition, she immediately removed him from the premises and refused to bring him back when the family asked if they could say goodbye. She was too mad to see them. I can’t blame her. Witnessing neglected dogs is the hardest part of her job, hands down.

As soon as Duke feels better, he’ll be moving in with an ICHBA foster family, and Mason and I will start leash-training him. To read more about how to prevent flea infestations, click here. It’s especially important at this time of year because fleas thrive in the heat and humidity.