January 31st, 2023
Self-care, something we've heard a lot about in the last years, especially since the pandemic started. It's not a bad thing and yet hearing it always elicits a negative response in me. Much like, eating right, exercising more, and so on does. These are things I know I should do, but they feel so hard to do. When I was younger things were so easy, I could eat whatever I wanted, always had plenty of energy, and life was just easier. Getting older sucks lol My brain still says I'm that kid that can do all the things without working at it, but my body laughs at me and says let me show you how you're wrong.
Today I made myself get up and work on doing those things more. I did my recumbent bike, the treadmill, and then my yoga. Yoga is the one exercise I stuck with the most for the longest and honestly did the best for my body. But a few months ago, I STILL let my job become more important than myself. Before you give me the airplane adage about how you are supposed to put the mask on yourself before you can help others, I know that. I think we all know that. Working is easy for me, it's my natural passion, I confess I am a workaholic. I've always known this about myself. As a teenager I knew I would be and I joked that I would need a husband to stay home with the kids because I would be too busy working. Even then I knew myself. It's still true and finding the work/life balance is hard for me. Like taking care of myself it's a constant work in progress for me.
So why the sudden push to work on it now? Different reasons, same thing, keep trying to do better. I'm trying to listen to my knowledge, if you take care of yourself you can do what you love better and longer. I'm 47 years old, that isn't as old as I've been living or feeling at times. I see these older women out there able to do more than I can and I envy them and I am proud of them for taking better care of themselves. We have a new hire at work who is exactly my age and man she can run circles around me and even some of my young girls too! I envy her. I remember being that way before and I would love to get back to half that amount of energy again.
My grandma, now that's a woman to envy! She is 90 this year and still taking care of herself. Sure she's a little slower now but she's 90! When she was 47 she wasn't as hindered as I am. Hell when she was 67 or 77 she wasn't as hindered as I am now! Now comes a bit of my excuses lol I was not lucky enough to follow her side of the family genes. When I was younger I definitely did. People could recognize me as my father's daughter without him even being around. Then somewhere after I had kids, things took a 180 and I totally switched to following my mom's side of the family genes. That means wide hips, large butts, poor circulation, gain weight easily, and so on. Even my face changed to look more like my mom. Genes definitely play a role in your health and I've been fighting them ever since. It does make it harder but I know that I can't blame it all on that.
Another thing that is pushing me to get my butt in gear again is my granddaughter, Ava. This year she turns 5 and we are taking a family vacation to Disney. I'm hoping this will the first of many extended family vacations. Disney means a lot of walking and standing, 2 things I can't do well anymore. I want to enjoy our trip and not be in pain or have to miss out. This past weekend we all got together to bowl. Afterwards she wanted to go play in the arcade and we were running to the arcade. Within 30 seconds I could no longer keep up with a 4 year old! She wasn't running at full speed but this grandma couldn't keep up. Disney will be here in 5 months, I have a lot of work to do to get better by then.
I know what I need to do this time around so hopefully that will help to make it easier. Almost 2 years ago I took a big leap and signed up to work with Lucia to figure out better ways to be healthier and hopefully lose weight too. It was amazing and I highly suggest anyone looking for a real life way of changing things to check her out. Lucia Hawley, MSW | Mindful Weight Loss Coach for Women
The weight loss was the easy part of the program, it was dealing with the feelings and issues behind my situation that was hard. While I have allowed myself to fall into old habits, this time around I know how to get back on track and I know what I need to do. I'm mindful of the things that I do or don't do and I don't beat myself up over not being perfect anymore, thanks to Lucia. I learned that I do have control over myself, my body, and my life, I just sometimes let myself give so much that I don't leave anything for myself. This comes from always needing to be the strong one, constantly telling myself I can handle everything that comes my way, and let's face it, that's not always true.
Yes, I'm starting this crusade to take better care of myself YET again. That statement can sometimes make you feel negative, as if you failed many times before, but it's not. It's a positive, in that I'm not giving up, no matter how many times I don't stick to it. Not giving up is always a good thing. So here's to better health attempt 203!
January 17th, 2023
Behind the Curtain
I tried blogging a few years ago and never went far with it. I'm going to give it a try again, well, because I need an outlet. I'm 10 years into working with shelters and rescues and of course that comes with ups and downs. But lately I've taken a new role in this world, and it comes with a lot more pressure, or at least more pressure for me. Now I'm the Director of a local rural shelter. The pressure and heartache is even bigger.
It's funny because when people hear what I do, they are either on one side or the other. Some people think it's so amazing and think it would be such fun to work with the animals, to help them find new homes and such. These people are oblivious to the sad things we see and usually don't want to hear that part of things. Or there's the opposite side, where the people think it would just be too sad to do what I do. These people mean well when they say things like, "oh I just couldn't do it. It would be too sad for me." But sometimes what I hear is "I must not have as much of a heart as they do" or "that somehow the things I see don't bother me as much". Again, I'm sure they mean well and feel they are giving me a compliment or something nice, but when things have been rough. When I'm feeling I'm not doing enough, or I'm failing in some way, all I hear is a backhanded compliment.
I started to say it's funny that no matter how many good things happen, they never stick with you as much as the bad things. But its not funny. The truth is just that. I can help to save 100's of puppies but the ones that die from one thing or another are the ones that build up. Truly my saves outweigh my losses but the losses are the ones that drain me. Drain us- people in the same line of work.
Some days I can keep pushing through, but others, those days are hard. I feel heavy, sluggish, can't concentrate, and I just want to throw up my hands and walk away. Sometimes I even convince myself that I will, but I don't. I say I'm not addicted to anything, but I'm wrong. I'm addicted to helping animals even though it bring me sorrow, hurts my heart, and changes me everyday.
Deciphering Dog Bios
Rescuing a dog is a wonderful thing, helping a dog from a shelter or rescue is important.
It is important though that you read the bios carefully as they are written to give you an idea of what kind of personality the shelter or rescue has seen from the dog. Pay attention to the details, not just the picture, or the age, or the breed. Read the bio with a grain of salt as they are written to put the dog’s information out there in the best possible way.
Before anyone gets all upset wondering why we don’t just put things out there straight forward, because we’ve been bashed for it before. That’s right, telling the absolute, naked truth about a dog has gotten us bashed. Not being straight forward has also gotten us bashed. We can’t win, that’s just a fact, no matter what we say or don’t say, no matter what we do or don’t do someone will bash us.
What we have found is funny and catchy bios is usually what gets the less “pretty” dogs adoption attention. You have a small dog or a fluffy dog and you could literally post it’s an asshole that will bite you for breathing and 50 people will still want it. Post a dog that isn’t eye candy or tiny enough to carry in your clutch purse for the grammy’s but is perfect in every way-NO INTEREST.
Does the dog have a behavior or medical issue that makes it special needs and will only be good for a select few ready to but in a lot of work and possibly money? Well if it’s cute you can forget anyone even noticing about that part of the issue. They want it for their 90 year old grandma or for their 2 tiny children to play with.
So follow along to learn how to read an actual bio in rescue.
Energetic = HYPER
Loves with everything it has = Will do everything 110%, everything as fast as it can.
Constant companion = Clingy like the jealous girlfriend that won’t let you go to the bathroom by yourself because she thinks you’ll cheat on her.
Doesn’t know his own size = Bull in a china shop
Likes to eat alone = food resource guarding
Doesn’t know how to share = resource guarding
Believes they are the king/queen/royalty = bossy, demanding
Let’s you know when someone is there = alert barker
Would love a running buddy = dogs insane keep looking
free spirit = stubborn, likes to do its own damn thing, good luck with training
talkative = barks a lot, won’t shut up
hound = will bark at everything and nothing, nonstop, can’t shut them up, forget walking like a normal person.
Husky = hair, escape artist, hair, never runs out of energy, noisy
Not good with children = anything from too big and will knock them over, to resource guarding, to will eat your child
Tenacious = WILL NOT GIVE UP
scrappy = dog literally says “put’em up” when it meets other dogs or people.
Little dog syndrome = will try to attack big dogs and at some point be eaten by one.
Wants all the attention = needy and will not let anyone else around you
prefers to live alone = hates all other animals
Let’s you know what they want = demand barks
Takes you for a walk = drags you and doesn’t care
Chihuahua = mean, yappy, will probably take over your life
Likes to stop and smell the roses = either moves like a turtle or literally stops to smell everything along the way.
Could play for hours = more energy than you’ll want to deal with
Needs training = no manners
Doberman = Mean as a snake or so friendly it wouldn’t protect you from a fly
Calm pitbull = Just kidding, no such words have ever been used
Picky about their friends = pretty much doesn’t like dogs
Likes to find just the right spot = will take forever to go to the bathroom
Never lived in a home = semi feral, not house broke, won’t know house rules
Needs time to warm up = is a jerk until it decides you are ok
Kennel Picasso = Likes to smear poop all over its kennel
Likes to hear the sound of their own voice = BARKS NONSTOP
Thinks he’s a lap dog = Will sit on you with his 100 lb butt
I hope these helped to clear up any confusion and you had a chuckle or two as well.
But, this is the breed I want!
Check out this pretty German Shepherd to my left. Now without knowing anything about this dog specifically people would line up to adopt him. Why? Because he's a German Shepherd! I've always wanted a German Shepherd. My husband really wants a German Shepherd. Have you ever owned one before? No. Then why do you want one? I just love them. Well, that's all and good but here's the thing, just because you want something doesn't mean it's a good idea.
German Shepherds have been coming into the shelter a lot lately as strays with pretty much the same issues. Multiple people have tried to get the shelter or my rescue group to take in a German Shepherd dog that they have had, generally since a puppy, and again all are having about the same issues.
So why is this happening? People are choosing dogs much like they choose furniture or many other things in a store. They see something they like and they want it. Maybe they've seen someone with a well-behaved German Shepherd and thought they were all like that. Maybe it's just something they've decided they like without any real reason. Sadly these are not good enough reasons to choose a dog such as the German Shepherd.
These dogs can be amazing companion and family animals. I personally love German Shepherds, except for the hair, ugh so much shedding. Anyways, with a good temperament and giving the dog what it needs they can be so great. Just like any dog though, when they don't get what they need in the form of training and guidance there come a lot of negative issues that eventually end with the dog being rehomed or euthanized.
Shepherds are notorious for having anxiety issues and guarding issues. They are a working breed and while not every one of them needs a real job like a K9 cop or search & rescue, they all need training, rules, and guidance. They need a TON of socialization with people, kids, and dogs at the very least. A TON. Whatever you think a dog needs to be well socialized, take that and double it, and then add some more. These dogs are born naturally suspicious. When they start to mature if you don't have their socialization on point and your role established with them, they will start to tell you who can come over. If you're not careful you'll have a bite first and ask questions later kind of dog.
Now remember I love these dogs, these are my kind of dogs, but I don't recommend them to everyone, everyone is not me. They are working dogs that love to learn and have rules. What happens when they don't get what they need? All that energy and all of that suspicious, trust no one, personality creates anxiety. An anxious shepherd is no fun. They commonly have spinning issues, chasing their own tail, excessive barking, destruction, reactivity in their own yard or out on walks, and many times eventually snapping at people or imaginary things. Shepherds can hide a lot of anxiety in the form of "being protective" which is typically code for guarding. Yeah that dog that won't let your husband near or let you hug your kids? That's not a protective dog that's a dog who's guarding what it sees as it's property. Some people seem to think this is ok, trust me this is a risky game you don't want to be playing.
I'm sorry but there are people who need to hear this: German Shepherds are not for you! Wait, no I'm not sorry, it's just a fact. An important one that people need to face up to. It hurts my heart to see shepherds that could have been wonderful dogs now having to be put down because they have become too dangerous for the average dog owner to live with. Shepherds are tough and they can hide anxiety, especially the more front of the pack ones.
Do your homework. Research the breed, any breed, you want to bring home. If it's mixed keep in mind it is its own breed now and who knows what it will be like. If you are a novice shepherd owner but still want one, be prepared to spend the money to get help from a trainer. It's worth it. Way easier to come up with the money to train it than to deal with the heartbreak of having to give it to someone else or worse. When "worse" happens people want to blame the dog. The dog didn't ask to come live with you. The dog was most likely a puppy when you took it home and so then how it is as an adult is partly your fault. Then the dogs end up in the shelter where I work or in my rescue and we're left dealing with the fallout. Nothing sucks more than to see one of your favorite breeds come into the shelter or rescue and your first thought is "hope this one is nice."
If you aren't willing to put in the time and effort that shepherds need PLEASE find a breed that works for you and your lifestyle better and just enjoy other people's friendly shepherds.
Why not hospice fostering?
I get mixed reactions from people when they hear that I do hospice fostering, well me and my family. Some people think we’re nuts others think we’re saints. Either way they all ask pretty much the same questions. Isn’t It hard when they die? How can you take them in knowing that their days are numbered? I could never do that, it was just too hard when my “so & so” dog passed away.
My answers to those are this. Yes, sometimes it’s hard when they die, but the idea of leaving them in a shelter to die alone or be euthanized just for being old is harder for me. These dogs didn’t do anything to end up where they are, why should they not get to live out their last days with some love and decency. For all we know it’s the only love and decency they’ll have ever had. Maybe someone loved them once, maybe they didn’t. Either way being old shouldn’t be a death sentence if there’s still life to be lived.
It’s usually more sad for me to learn that their days are limited because of health issues than to actually take them home knowing their days are numbered. Once I know they are hospice and I take them home I know that it’s a labor of love at that point. Whether they have 3 weeks, 6 months, or 5 days. At least their last days weren’t their worst.
Comparing taking in a hospice dog to the loss of your beloved Spot that you loved for 12 years is silly. It’s not the same. You don’t have the same amount of time and investment in this dog. You are taking this dog home KNOWING the outcome and about when and why. I personally find this much better than to just come home one day and find my beloved dog gone in her sleep with no apparent reason. Or better yet to take in an old dog that has lived a good long life versus the heartbreak I had over losing a 3 year old boxer to cancer and a 4 year old boxer to a heart attack. We didn’t see either one of those coming and had no time to prepare for it. Hospice dogs, you are prepared, you know, you get prepared.
Just like people, you don’t love every dog the same. I’ve cared for a few hospice dogs that I just didn’t mesh with personality wise. maybe I would have in their younger years but as I know them, meh, they just weren’t for me. But I cared for them until the end and sat with them when it was time so they weren’t alone. Other times I’ve become ridiculously attached too quickly.
Granny was one of those times. She’s the dog pictured above. A dog warden friend messaged me personally about an old chocolate lab that he was sure had been dumped. I agreed to take her when her hold was up. A day later he messaged again and asked if I could take her sooner and just not say anything about her yet. She was refusing to eat or drink and he was afraid she would die before her hold was up. I agreed and took her straight to the vet. The vet walked in and took one look at this raggedy old girl and told me that dog needed to be put down. I looked her straight in the face and said not until we run tests and you give me a reason to. We ran the tests and I took my old girl home where she happily ate and drank for me.
I was not the only one who fell for the old girl so quickly. Our front steps were too steep for her to maneuver so Travis set to making an addition to the steps to make them deeper so she could go up and down them. On day one! She won our hearts and was great with our dogs. No accidents and she was such a sweetheart outside of the shelter. 2 days later her blood work came back. Her kidneys were bad. Very bad. She was in failure and could go at anytime. I. Was. Devastated. I bawled my eyes out as if this old girl had been with me her whole life. I was sad that I didn’t get her sooner to maybe have helped her. The vet offered some temporary solutions, knowing how determined I was to help this dog. The temporary solutions though wouldn’t have given her a lot more time and what time it did give her she would’ve been hooked up to IV’s and such. That’s no good. So I cried. Then I made the appointment to let her go. I spent 2 more days with my old girl, crying over her and loving on her. Then I walked her to her appointment with tears in my eyes and I sat with her. I petted her lovingly and she leaned into me, totally trusting this person she just met 5 days ago, that my decision was the right one. It’s been almost 4 years and to this day I will tear up thinking of this old girl. 5 days, that’s all it took to keep a permanent place in my heart.
How can anyone hear that story and think, I would’ve left her at the shelter because it would have been too hard on my heart?
And don’t think that hospice means the dog will pass soon. Ethel was proof that’s bull. Ethel was a feisty little 6 lb yorkie that was yappy and demanding and living life on her terms until the day she died. I loved her. She snorted like a little big when she was sniffing the ground, which was all the time because she was pretty much blind. She kept busy with wandering around for no good reason and peeing in multiple places. She wore diapers like a champ. Vet didn’t think she had much time left so we didn’t spay her. I kept her knowing she would be hospice. What I didn’t know was she would live with me as hospice for another year and 2 months! She fooled us all. She would have bad days and I would think, oh it’s about time, and then next day she would be back to her feisty old self. I bawled when it was time for her. I made her the appointment, but she passed in her sleep while I was at work. She is one of our family members now and is buried on our property. Ethel would cuddle and share a bed with any dog that wanted to but she would not take any shit from them. She was great for cuddling on the bed or while I worked on the computer because she just found a spot and slept for as long as you were sitting there.
Some of my best stories are about my hospice dogs. I have so many from Theo and Lucy my first 2 hospice dogs. I think I’ve done at least 15 now. Is it easy? No. Do I cry? Yes.
The hardest part of caring for old dogs is making sure that your decisions are what’s in the best interest of the dog and not for your own selfish reasons of keeping them alive.
Will I keep taking in old dogs or sick dogs that have limited time? You betcha. It’s one of the hardest things to do but I would hate myself if I didn’t care for them. Someone’s gotta do it right? Why not me.
Just what I needed
These two cuties showed up at a time when I was really fighting some depression and helped to bring me out of it.
Please meet the "Bobble Twins" Wiggles the white & brown fluffy girl on the left and Falkor the adorable white with his brown eye patch on the right.
The shelter where I work was contacted about taking in a mom and two puppies. One of the puppies they said had some issues and they didn't know how to help her. So my manager let me know that we were getting a "broken" puppy with a smile on her face. Yes we know calling a puppy like this broken isn't proper but in our world we use jokes to help us through our situations. So anyways, she knows how I love broken puppies, old dogs, dogs with behavior issues others don't want to touch, etc. I responded just as she expected, with a "yay" bring it on. They showed up with their mom and that's when we figured out that they were actually both having issues, Falkor's is just more mild than Wiggles. So now I have two "broken" puppies and I was in love immediately.
These two puppies have an issue called cerebellum hypoplasia. You can learn more about it here Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost (wagwalking.com) This issue causes them to have trouble controlling their bodily movements. In two cute puppies this looks adorable and you can't help but smile and laugh. Falkor has a constant "dance" to his step. A twerk to his butt so he always looks like he's dancing. If he's sitting still or laying down his head has a "bobble" to it. Wiggles's issues are more severe. Her head bobble was worse and her back end didn't work right. She would drag it around on one side, I call this her side saddle position. Although her issues are worse, these puppies are so darn happy that it makes it easy to look past their disability.
Those first few days my cheeks hurt so bad from all the smiling and laughing and that's just what I needed. They had issues but they weren't letting it get in their way of enjoying life. It was a reminder I needed to get out of myself, figure out what's wrong, and fix it. So I did.
The puppies continue to bring me joy and all those who spend time with them. They are quite extraordinary puppies and are getting better every day. They are learning to be house trained, crate trained, to walk on a leash, socialize with other dogs, and just normal puppy to-do's and not to-do's like any other puppy.
I have fostered puppies for years, but to be honest very few puppies of this age are as fun as these two. Puppies aren't easy, give me a jerk with an attitude lol These little fluffballs though have won a place in my heart. Only puppies I've ever felt bad about splitting them up, but 2 dogs in the same house with this issue is too much. Plus there's always the possibility of Sibling Syndrome happening. This is where the siblings get so bonded to each other they cannot be apart and will not bond to their people as they should or the siblings grow and end up hating each other and fighting.
So the heart loses, the head wins, and these puppies will find families in different homes.
I will miss these two when they go, I don't say that often about puppies.
Welcome to my first blog post. I’m new at this so I’m just going to start with introducing myself. My name is Richelle and this blog is about my life with dogs in case the title wasn’t clear enough lol. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for several months now and was hoping to have a catchy title. However, after a lot of thought this is the title I kept coming back to. It’s fitting as I am literally with dogs 24/7/365.
Let me explain, I am a dog trainer/behavior consultant, I board dogs in my home, I am the Enrichment Coordinator at the Ross County Humane Society, and I am the Associate Director and foster with Paw Patrol Dayton.
So my days consist of getting up early and taking care of 7-20 dogs in the morning, yes really sometimes there are that many here. Then heading to the shelter 4 days a week to help take care of 40-60 dogs. After work I may have a training session or two and then take care of those 7-20 dogs in my home again until bed time. When I’m not at the shelter I’m either training or just caring for my boarding dogs, foster dogs, and of course, my own personal dogs. I’m rarely even in my car without dogs as 2 of my personal dogs go to the shelter to help me there and sometimes I take a foster dog or two to work with me as well.
A lot of people will say “I don’t know how you do it.” Believe me sometimes I don’t either. However, I don’t know how to give any of it up. I love fostering dogs, ok not ALL the time, but enough I am unable to quit. Fostering allows me to help dogs that may otherwise not make it out of shelters or homes alive. Some dogs just need someone who understands them and I do. Sometimes more than people. Working at the shelter allows me to help dogs there and that is very important to me. For one, volunteering at a shelter is how I learned to understand dogs and what got me started on training dogs. That same shelter lead me to meet the director of Paw Patrol. Shelter dogs are even more misunderstood than dogs in their own home. So helping the adopters understand the shelter dogs and making better matches for dog and adopters is how we keep dogs from coming back or landing in the wrong home. I also get to help keep unsafe dogs from being adopted. There are some dogs that just should not be adopted out.
My business is what allows me to work at the shelter, my passion. Without my business I could not afford to work at the shelter. Even though it means I have to work two jobs, it’s well worth it. I had stopped training for 2 years because it was too hard with the shelter job being new plus the hour drive each way. Yes that’s right I drive an hour to work a job that pays half of what I used to make because I love the work. When Covid hit though the boarding side of the business took a nose dive, but people kept calling for training help. So after awhile I decided to do it again to keep up my income. I’m glad I did. Turns out training was just what I needed to bring back more positivity in my life. It’s a good balancer from the things I see and hear at the shelter.
So that long-winded hello was my version of the short version. When it comes to what I love I can talk about it forever. So for now that’s my intro.
Thanks for reading!
I'm Richelle Fair. You could say I'm a dog enthusiast or some might say my life has gone to the dogs. Either way there's no denying dogs are a huge part of my life.
What Our Clients Are Saying
Amazing time for both of my pups while we were away for vacation! Drop off was smooth for my anxious pup which is a rarity. They were excited to see me upon pick up, but far more calm than taking them to a traditional kennel and they were worn out from all the playing they got to do! We highly recommend Richelle and her family!~Amanda Baumgardner