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Farnival Update: Never Say Never

Adriana and Meadow

I started this blog as way to raise awareness for the animal overpopulation problem in rural Tennessee. When I stopped fostering, I thought I wouldn’t have anything to write about. I was wrong. Over the past three years, I encountered situations unique to being a dog mom, so unique that I composed blog posts in my head, scrawled notes across that invisible notepad addressed to every dog-loving freak out there. For instance, one day I stared at my mutt’s nose sweat swirled across the Honda’s windows and instantly thought, that’s art. On another occasion, I pulled a tick out of Meadow’s clenched butthole with a pair of tweezers and thought, who could possibly understand?  Needless to say, I really missed y’all.

There is never any one reason for a big life change. In retrospect I can’t pin the end of our fostering days on Loubie alone. A big problem with doing any kind of rescue work is that it doesn’t pay. After fostering 30 dogs in two years, I had 53 bucks in my savings account. I had to return to a full-time paying job. So, besides being a dog mom to four fantastic, hilarious, and complicated rescue mutts, I’m an assistant director on a television crew that travels over 100 days a year with the NHRA Drag Racing Tour. Balancing a career in television sports with my pack presents a whole other set of issues we’ll address in the months to come. Have you ever had problems finding the right dog-sitter? Have you ever missed your dogs so much you walk through pet stores just for the smell?

Also coming up: we’ll check in with our friends at ICHBA, interview a lionfish hunter from the Florida Keys, and visit the Puget Sound Goat Rescue, where I’ll introduce you to Rosebud, a three-legged goat.

FYI: At the Farnival we treat animals with as much respect as humans and make no apologies for it.

Dog Hair is Everywhere


I can’t cook for poop, so don’t get your hopes up, but I do occasionally prepare a few dishes. A broccoli, ricotta, and onion quiche is one of them. Yesterday, I spent thirty minutes shredding the Parmesan, chopping the broccoli and onions, whipping the ricotta and eggs. The dish baked for 55 minutes, then cooled for ten. When it was ready, I stabbed a big piece with my fork and analyzed the creamy mixture stuffed with vibrant green broccoli (cooked el dente) and sweet juicy onions. The crust was toasted to perfection. The smell alone made me salivate.

Right before I took the first bite, I saw a piece of dog hair baked into the egg concoction. The single strand was longish and light, meaning it was either Meadow’s or Floyd’s. It was too long to be Adriana’s and too pale to be Sara’s. It could easily have belonged to any of them because all our mutts shed. We saved all four from some roadside or other, in some stage of desperation. A human might think the least they could do is keep their fur to themselves for one bloody season. But, it never stops. It falls like snow not rain, continuously, softly layering every surface through every season. Clean sheets, mopped floors, and vacuumed rugs last seconds, not hours.

Mason and I battle it, still. We installed hardwood and tile floors, exchanged our comfy cloth couch and “big-ass” chair for leather. We sweep five times a week, bathe the dogs monthly, and brush them weekly. But the futility of our efforts stared at me from a quiche I spent almost two hours cooking. I paused for less than a second, less time than it took for another strand of dog hair to land somewhere, then shoved the bite into my mouth. I told myself if I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t have known anyway. Besides, it didn’t change the taste at all.

A Foster Failure Defined

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(Meadow Soprano Armstrong, Our first foster failure)

I’ve had several people write and ask what it means to be a foster failure. I found this hilarious but very accurate definition on the website Black Dog, Second Chance:

“Wanted: Foster Failures

Qualifications: Applicant must have a desire to love and help animals.

Salary and Benefits: Paid in dog kisses

Job Description: So what is a Foster Failure anyway? Simply put, it is a foster who has failed, miserably! No, it’s not what you are thinking. Here at BDSC, we LOVE Foster Failures. So much so, that we coined the phrase. A Foster Failure is a loving foster who just fell madly in love, head over heels, smitten with their foster dog and, well, decided they just couldn’t part ways so decided to adopt. We have quite a club going and we are always looking for new members. We’d love for you to join us! And ya know what the best part is? After you adopt your foster dog, you can still continue to help other dogs in need!”

Happy Birthday to My Foster Failure

DSC_0717-1024x678(Adriana La Cerva, June 2014)

DSC_0051(Adriana La Cerva Armstrong, June 2015)

Adriana La Cerva Armstrong a.k.a. Ade was born on June 3, 2014. It’s ironic that she was born to a feral mutt in a bramble bush on Smith Street, yet I know the exact day her eyes opened. I met her when she was one week old, living in a muddy, trash-littered backyard with her seven litter mates. She’s been in my life ever since. It took three weeks of fostering her before I fell in love and decided to adopt her, officially earning the title of foster failure.

I had big dreams for Adriana, meaning I thought she’d turn into a sixty-plus-pound dog, but she weighs twenty-eight pounds soaking wet. Somehow, I always end up with the runts.

As far as personality, she’s pure tomboy, spending most afternoons outside digging for worms, hunting moles, chewing up sticks, or roughhousing. Although she’s tight with everyone in the pack, she wrestles with the biggest dogs the most. She holds her own, too. Mason and I have watched her drag Rosie, a dog double her size, across the floor by the collar multiple times.


Even with all her tomboy ways, she still has moments of pure sweetness. She likes crawling up in laundry fresh from the dryer or cuddling for naps with any cat, human, or canine. At night she sleeps under the covers, worming her way between Mason and I, so that when we wake up she’s squashed between us. Throughout the day, she’ll peek her head into the office to check on me. I think she has grave concerns about my stationary work. At times she stops to lick my toes or nibble on my finger, as though inviting me to play. I’ve never seen her hurt anything besides flies and moles.

Ade isn’t perfect by any means. Even though I’ve been socializing her since she was six weeks old, she’s still timid around people, probably because we live in the middle of nowhere and don’t see a lot of humans unless we drive to town. She’s great on a leash if I’m walking her, but she’ll take advantage of any poor sucker that doesn’t act like a leader. She barks more than we want.

I think what I love the most about Ade is her independence. Moments like right now, late afternoon, cloudy, and humid. All other six dogs are asleep by my feet or on the couch with Mason watching a NCIS rerun, but not Ade. Through my office window, I see her wandering the fence line, stopping to munch on a chestnut or eat the wild blackberries growing through the chain links. Occasionally, she’ll come across a forgotten tennis ball or rope toy, snatch it up and sprint across the yard, having the time of her life. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. Adriana is living proof that sometimes being a foster failure is worth it.