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Guest Post: Finding My Forever Family

IMG_4559Hi! My name is Coaly and I am a one year old, black lab mix.  I am guest blogging today to give my mom a break!  I wanted to share a little bit about my story and how I met my new family.  I hope you like this and, if you do, I’ll write every once in a while to tell you what I’ve been up to.

I don’t like to talk about the beginning of my life so I am just going to start from when I first came to Colorado…The nice people from the The Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue made plans to move me from Arkansas to Colorado in hopes of me finding my forever home.  So, on September 28th, 2016 I was put into a cage early in the morning and loaded in to the back of a U-Haul with a ton of other barking, yappy dogs.  I didn’t really know this was the start of my long journey to find my forever home, but it was definitely a big change from my days in the pound.   We rode all day, picking up new pups along the way, until we ended up in a parking lot in Aurora, Colorado.  There was a Petco close to where the U-Haul stopped so I already had a good feeling about this place!  Once we had arrived a volunteer got me out of my cage, walked me down the ramp and there were two goofy people waiting for me.  They seemed really excited to see me but I was a little skeptical – who were these random people standing in the middle of huge parking lot waiting for me?!  I had no idea who they were or where they were going to take me, but I was pretty excited to be off the hot, stinky, U-Haul truck.  The goofy people were super nice to me and they had TREATS so I decided to play along and see where this relationship was going.  I was on my best behavior while the rescue checked me out and microchipped me and before too long I found myself getting in another car!  I thought my travel was over for the day!  But, this car was much nicer and the goofy guy stayed in the back seat to keep me company while the goofy girl and a giant, furry dog sat in the front seat.    We drove down a highway with lots of lights and buildings for about an hour and then the car slowed and pulled into a driveway.  We got out of the car and the goofy people took me and the furry dog to the backyard of a house.  The yard was HUGE!  There was lots ofIMG_4572 room to run and a big apple tree.  I was so excited to be out the car I just ran and ran and ran.  I did stop to check out the furry dog who I found out was named Paterno.  Paterno seemed cool, but maybe a little lazy.  He liked to play for a little bit but seemed to get tired quickly and always wanted to lay down.  After we played in the backyard for a while the goofy people took me inside the house.   Inside there was a couch, some comfy chairs, a bed, and a basket full of toys – this place seemed alright.  The goofy people took me in a room where there was a cage set-up just for me.  It had a big fluffy blanket inside and even though I had no intention of hanging out in the cage it was nice that they had set it up for me before I got there.  I was a little upset that my cage didn’t seem to be in the same room as the goofy people and the furry dog, but I could work on that later.  After I checked out my new digs IMG_4564I found that there was a bowl in kitchen just for me.  The goofy people put some Puppy Chow in the bowl and I scarfed it down – and then I ran over to eat Paterno’s food too.  The goofy people seemed a little upset that I was eating Paterno’s food but I was REALLY hungry.  Remember, I was in that hot truck all day and I was super skinny – you could see all my ribs – of course I was hungry!  For the rest of the night I explored the house and the yard and decided this was a pretty nice place to be and the goofy people and the furry dog seemed pretty nice and they seemed to be really excited to have me in their house, so I would give it a try.

I have to admit I was not very clean when I met the goofy people.  What can you expect after riding in the back of a U-Haul for over 12 hours?  After I had settled in to the house a bit the goofy people got a hair brained idea that they would give me a bath.  Before I could even realize what was going on I was in the bath tub with the goofy girl and the goofy guy was standing guard to make sure I didn’t try to jump out of the tub.  I pretended that I didn’t really like the bath but it felt SO good to get clean and the belly rubs and scratches behind the ears were heavenly.  After it was over the rubbed me all over with a clean towel and I felt amazing!  I ran all over the house rubbing my wet body on all the furniture.  It was so much fun!

Once it got dark outside it was time to go to bed and the goofy people took me to the room with my cage in it.  I was less than excited to get in the cage, but I finally did and the goofy people said good night, turned off the light, and closed the door.  Now comes the embarrassing part – I started to cry and whimper and I just couldn’t stop.  I was so lonely and scared in this new place and I couldn’t help myself!  Luckily, the goofy people took pity on me and came to visit me in my room.  While they didn’t let me out of the cage (Rats!) they did stay and keep my company.  The goofy guy even laid next to my cage for the entire night so I wasn’t so scared!  I think I might like it around here…IMG_4568

While I was a little nervous at first being in a new place with new people and a new dog, it didn’t take me long to decide that this family was pretty cool and I would adopt them.  I love my big brother, Paterno, and I while sometimes he acts like I bother him I know he really loves me and I am keeping him young by playing with him ALL THE TIME!  I love the goofy people too and they keep me pretty busy too.  I run with my mom and go for hikes with my mom and dad.  I recently heard them say that next year they think I’ll be big enough and strong enough to tackle my first 14’er.  I’m not sure what a 14’er is, but I am really excited!  I may be bad every once in a while,  but it’s never on purpose, and I am trying really hard to be better.   But, I do have to remind my people that I am still a puppy and I still have a lot to learn.

Thanks so much for reading my first blog post about how I met my family.  I can’t believe I’ve been with my family for almost a year!  My life might not have started off good, but it’s definitely great now!

Do you have anyone in your family that found their forever home?  What was their story like?

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What a Pain in the….FOOT?

In running you are always warned about doing too much, too fast.  When a problem or injury occurs, it comes back to the reasoning that you did too much, too fast.  While I absolutely believe this reasoning – it’s true to many aspects of life – hearing these wise words while you are in throws of an injury is just ridiculous.  I’ve already done the damage, now what?  I don’t want to hear about what I should do in the future, I want to know what I can do right now to stop this pain.  And then, HOPEFULLY, I will remember the wise words as I ramp up training again (but, then again, I am a runner, so I might just forget them when I tie up my shoes for my next 10k training run).

So, you might wonder what my most recent rant is about, and what I abuse I have caused my body recently.  So…let’s start from the beginning….

In mid-Spring I decided I wanted lighter, faster running shoes.  I went to my local running store and talked to them about my gait, running preference, etc.  They watched me on the treadmill and came back with several suggestions.  I understand that finding the right shoe is extremely important in avoiding injuries in the future and that you need to find the right shoe for you because everyone is different.  I was up to the challenge to find my next dream shoes.  I diligently tried each of the suggested shoes.  Making repeated trips from the shoe area to the treadmill and running about a quarter mile with each new pair.  After about eight pairs and two miles on the treadmill I had narrowed down my choice to the Newton Motion V.  The shoes felt great and I was intrigued by Newton’s Action/Reaction Technology. There are lugs near that ball of your foot that, in Newton’s words, “creates a responsive, trampoline-like cushioning system that provides quicker bounce-back and loses less energy than a traditional foam-core running shoe.”   The sales person explained that this bar of lugs would improve my running form and help me to run on the balls of my feet inside of the back of the foot where I tended to run (but have deligiently been working on changing).   I admit the shoes felt pretty weird with this raised bar across the ball of my foot, but I was promised I would get used to.  I was super psyched to get out with my new shoes and I have to admit my first runs in the shoes I felt lighter and was clocking faster times.  So, I was a convert.  The Action/Reaction Technology still felt strange but I was ready to get used to it for the results I was getting.  After runs I did feel some tingling and numbness in my toes, but thought that was pretty normal and the feeling always went away, so it wasn’t causing me any concern.

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We are headed past the llamas to the top of the mountain at 15,000+ feet

Fast forward to June 2017.  My husband and I are taking our dream trip to Peru.  The plan was to fly in to Cusco, Peru, acclimate a little to the elevation and then do the Lares Trek and head to Machu Picchu.  The Lares Trek is an Inca Trail alternative that is less crowded and while it doesn’t take you directly to Machu Picchu, it takes you over a 15,000+ foot pass and takes you completely off the beaten path where you see stunning mountains, lakes and valleys and get to walk through villages and meet the people who live in the Lares Valley.  While I was most concerned about making it from 8,000 feet to 15,000 feet to the top of the pass that actually turned about to be the easier part of the trek.  (Yeah for no altitude sickness – living in Colorado really does pay off!)  The air was definitely thinner but I felt comfortable scaling the mountains to reach our pass.  The trip from 15,000 feet back to 8,000 feet is what took the toll on my body.  The trail was made up of loose rock and at times was pretty steep.  The constant pounding on the ball of my feet left me with the familiar numbness and tingling in my toes (just on my right foot).

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We came down from the top of that mountain, a 7,000 foot descent.

One the third day of our trek when we finally made it to Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu we were dirty and exhausted and so excited to turn in our hiking boots for flip flops.  After one of the best showers I had taken in my entire life I noticed that the numbness and tingling in my right foot was not getting any better.  I mentioned it to my better half and we decided that it was just the pounding I put on my foot as we descended 7,000 feet.   I didn’t really give it much more thought because we were in an amazing place getting ready to see a wonder of the world the next day.

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Beautiful Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu

Fast forward again to August 2017. It’s been almost two months since we got back from our amazing trip and we have settled back in to the dull drums of “regular” life.  Pretty much work, work, and more work.  Unfortunately, my toes were still feeling numb (just a few toes on my right foot) and I decided I needed to suck it up and find out what was going on, so I set up an appointment with my primary doctor.  My health insurance requires you always start with your primary doctor for any problem and they will refer you on to a specialist if necessary.  I completely understand the reseasoning behind this, but when it’s hard to find an hour to sneak away from work it’s even harder to find a couple hours on a couple different days to see a couple different doctors.  Anyways, I went to my primary doctor and she was a little stumped.  She sent me to go get x-rays to see if there was a stress fracture (there wasn’t) and then referred me to the orthopedic doctor.  A couple days later I found myself at the orthopedic doctor and he briefly looked at my foot and diagnosed me with metatarsalgia.  From my understanding, and the wise words of WebMD, metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed and can be caused from running, jumping, or wear shoes that don’t fit right.  After my diagnoses, I decided to take it easy on my foot for a while.  I have cut down on the running and have been following the majority of the doctor’s suggestions, but I haven’t had any relief.  My toes are still numb and sometimes my foot feels like its cramping up.  Since my trip to the doctor was less then satisfactory I decided to do some of my own research on metatarsalgia and found quite a few articles about how switching from traditional running shoes to Newton’s can actually cause this problem.  While I thought it was from our hike in Peru, it turns out the problem had probably already started long before our hike and the 7,000 foot descent was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I found the following on Newton’s blog “Forefoot pain, also known as ‘Metatarsalgia,’ is a condition indicated by pain and inflammation under the ball of the foot. This is increasingly prevalent in runners who are making a change to minimal footwear, barefoot running and Newton Running Shoes. As with virtually all running injuries, forefoot pain is a result of doing too much, too fast, too soon.”  The blog then goes on to explain that I shouldn’t blame the shoes, but rather something I did, or something wrong with my foot that was there long before I switched to Newton’s.  This is kind of frustrating because they obviously know this is an issue, but no one at the running store who sold me the shoes said anything about it.  Yes, I should have done more research prior to my new shoe purchase but I was also hopefully that if this was an issue someone might have mentioned it to me.

Fast forward to today.  My toes are still numb.  I’m still trying to figure out how to make them better.  But, they are numb whether I run or not so I am going to lace up my good ‘ol, trusty Brooks (with new arch supports that will hopefully help), and get back out there in hopes I can salvage my training for the Lake Powell Half Marathon in October.

Has any one else has similar issues with their feet?  Any suggestions or words of wisdom you can share on what you did to make it better?

disclaimerDISCLAIMER:  This is not an anti-Newton’s story.  I honestly really liked mine and wish they worked for me – I just wanted to share my experience in case anyone was going through anything similar.  This experience has definitely opened my eyes to how shoes can have such a huge effect on our health and injuries and is going to change how I approach my next shoe purchase.  

More Adventures in Fostering…and Boogie’s Happy Ending

We have successfully survived out first weekend as foster parents.  It had its highs and lows and ups and downs but at the end of the weekend Boogie has found an amazing home…and it’s not us J  I know we had many doubters who thought Boogie would end up the next member of the English family.  But instead Boogie will be leaving us on Thursday to move to Georgetown and start his new life with his amazing forever family.

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Fostering has been a very educational experience.  Boogie was a dog like no other.  We have been parents to a black lab golden retriever and a golden retriever that we got as itty bitty puppies.  Both had lived pretty charmed lives before coming to our home and came without any trauma or emotional baggage.  Boogie was a completely different story.  We have no idea what his life was before he got to us but we can tell it wasn’t good.  He was nervous and timid and afraid of everything except Paterno.  His second day with us involved a trip to the vet to find out what was going on with his ears and to check out a scratch on his leg.  They found a bacterial infection and he was immediately put on antibiotics.  The trip to the vet pretty much terrorized him and he retreated to his crate for the remainder of the day.  Friday he spent the day with Brandon and was showered with love and more importantly…treats!  We found that Boogie is pretty food motivated and was starting to take food out of our hands.  He still didn’t allow us to pet him but he was accepting bribes which was a good sign.  Saturday was another terrorizing event when the first family that was considering adopting him came to visit.  He hated that experience more than he hated Brandon and I.  He wouldn’t come out of his cage to meet them and when we finally pulled him out of his safe spot he just stood on his leash shivering with nervousness.  The family didn’t really seem interested in the intense time commitment it would take to get Boogie to the point of being a “real” dog and headed out pretty quickly letting us know they would call us if they were interested…they never called back (and we were okay with that).  The rest of Saturday he retreated back to his crate once again only coming out to eat and go outside.  On Sunday Boogies luck changed.  A second family came to meet Boogie and they immediately fell in love with him (he is pretty cute and lovable despite is current personality).  Boogie was his usual illusive self but even with that they loved him and could see him as part of their family.  For the first time I knew Boogie was going to be okay and had found his forever home. After meeting his new family Boogie was ready for some more alone time and once again retreated to his crate.  For the rest of the weekend we have been working with Boogie trying to get him more comfortable with his surrounding and people in hopes of a smoother transition to his forever home.  He has been making baby steps but often heads to his crate for sanctuary.  We are excited when Boogie chooses to be the same room as us for a couple of seconds or lets us touch him…like I said, baby steps.

The taking care of Boogie has been the easy part.  We know how to keep a dog healthy and safe so we just brought Boogie in to his family and treated him like our dog.  The difficult parts have been the emotional parts of fostering that we never consider.   Wondering if Boogie would get a family, meeting a family who was a horrible fit for him and wondering if the potential adopters would all be like that, thinking Boogie might live with us forever even though he wasn’t exactly the dog we wanted, and finally the relief of finding the perfect family for him.  Fostering can turn in to quite the emotional rollercoaster.   The first day or so I was so upset and even a little depressed that Boogie didn’t want anything to do with me and feeling so bad for the life he lived before making his way to Colorado.  But, I realized that I can’t focus on that I can only meet him where he is, be there for him, and not to take anything personal.  I was doing the best I could do.

We know that dogs like Boogie need a good family but he just wasn’t the best fit for our family.  Paterno wasn’t that excited about having a puppy who would only pay attention to him (Paterno enjoys snuggling and cuddling and had gotten used to being the center of attention) and we want a dog who will cuddle and let us touch them.  Also, I am pretty sure we want a female dog because we need to even up the boys vs. girls team around here!   Like I said fostering has been a very educational experience.  We were happy to share our home with Boogie but I think there is a part of us that is excited for him to go to his forever home on Thursday.   I am excited to be able to clean the house and doing laundry without scaring the bejesus out of Boogie and Paterno is looking forward to snoozing on the living room floor without being pounced on by a puppy!

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Adventures in Rescue Fostering

thumb_DSC_7248_1024Today would have been Nittany’s 13 birthday.  Thanks to Facebook I woke up with a ton of memories of past birthdays.  Throughout this process I have realized the power of posting things on Facebook.  In the moment you are just sharing a quick memory or giving people a little view in to your life.  Years later when the memories pop back up it can transport you back to a different time in your life and it brings back a wave of memories and emotions.  After losing a pet they can be bitter sweet memories with lots of smiles and tears.  While it can hurt at times I do like starting each day with these memories.

The point of this post is not to spend more time grieving but rather give an update on what we’ve been up to lately.  After we lost Nittany we couldn’t even imagine getting another dog.  But, as the weeks passed the house was feeling empty without a second pup.  Paterno has adjusted to being only dog but we were afraid he might be a little lonely.  We didn’t want to jump in to getting another dog but we did start seriously talking about potentially fostering dogs for a rescue.  (We have fostered before and that is how we ended up with Paterno – so we totally know that fostering can be a slippery slope that could bring a second dog in to our family permanently but we are determined for that not to happen this time.)  We talked a little about what breed of dog we would want to foster and ended up deciding our experiences with Nittany were amazing and we wanted to help other labs and lab mixes find their forever homes so we applied to be a foster family for the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue.  After a phone interview and a home visit we were approved!  I completely understand why they have to go through the process of the interview and home visit but the entire time I just kept thinking isn’t the fact we have kept two dogs alive for 10+ years enough of a track record?!  Yes, our lab had recently died but it was for something that was not our fault and we gave her the best life right up until the end.  Yes, our other dog has a neurological disease, but again, totally not our fault and we have been successfully treating his condition for almost two years.

So fast-forward from getting approved to agreeing to take our first foster dog.  We got an email last Sunday with the information about the dogs that would be coming in on the transport this week.  After all the anticipation of applying for and getting approved to foster I somehow had gotten cold feet.  I wasn’t sure if we were ready for another dog yet, even on a temporary basis.  So, I didn’t respond to the first request for fosters and hoped that other foster families would step-up and take the dogs that came in this week.  As the beginning of the week wore on the emails got more urgent the guilt set in and on Tuesday afternoon I finally pulled the trigger and said that we would be available to foster this week and selected a cute 4-6 month old black lab mix named Boogie.  Tuesday night I went to the store and bought some puppy supplies (it’s been a REALLY long time since we had a puppy in the house) and got ready for the pup’s arrival on Wednesday.

Wednesday night after work we headed east of the city to the drop-off, pick-up spot.  We had to drive to the DIA area at rush hour – it was a great way to start the evening.  Paterno came along because the pick-up time was at the exact same time he needed his medicine.  They told us that the transport van would meet us at the Petco parking lot at 6pm and we patiently waited for a passenger van to arrive with the pups.  At a couple minutes after 6pm a moving van pulled up and someone jumped out, ran around to the back and opened the door to reveal cage after cage of dogs that had been rescued.  There were probably 30 dogs on the van all coming from points east and going to all the different rescues in the Denver metro area.  There were huge dogs and tiny dogs coming down the ramp of the van and going to their respective foster families.  Some dogs were so excited to be off the van they bounded down the ramp and other dogs that were so scared and timid they had to be carried.  After what felt like forever they finally unloaded Boogie.  Boogie was so nervous coming off the van and tried to ran from every loud noise and sudden move.  From the beginning we knew Boogie had the potential of being a handful.  After we let Boogie get a little comfortable and used to being off the van we had to get him checked out by the amazing Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue volunteers.  The checked him over and gave him his microchip.  Boogie has some strange bumps on his ears and a scratch on his tummy that the volunteers requested we get checked out by a vet.  After the initial excitement we introduced Boogie to Paterno (who became fast friends) and headed to the car for the ride back home.

During the car ride Boogie was a complete angel.  He just stared out the window at the passing scenery and seemed to be a little more comfortable.  When we arrived home his nerves returned and he was very nervous about everything in the house (except Paterno). Because he didn’t really seem comfortable insider he spent some of this first evening in the backyard chasing moths.  He seemed to feel more comfortable outside and we wanted him to be as comfortable as possible.  After it was too dark to see a black dog in the backyard (and we didn’t want to be the people who lose their first foster dog) we came inside and got Boogie settled in to his crate.  Boogie really seems to like his crate and chooses to go there whenever he gets nervous or afraid so we just made his crate available to him and let him settle in for the night.  IMG_4432

While we successfully made it through day one of fostering we knew there was a lot more to come…Continue to check in for your adventures in adopting.

With a lot of rescue dogs they don’t come with any history so you don’t really know where they came from or what their lives were before they got to Colorado.  There are so many things that could have happened to Boogie to make him so fearful and timid.  It was our job to make him as comfortable as possible until he can find his forever home.