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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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The New Norm

I want to start by thanking everyone for their kind words and thoughts last week as our family was grieving the loss of Nittany.  We were overwhelmed with how many people reached out to share with us their thoughts and memories of Nittany.  It did not take us long to realize that our family and friends may actually have preferred the company of Nittany over the company of us…and I really don’t blame you.  Nittany was by far the coolest member of our family.

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We’ve gone through a lot of the stages of grief and will continue to for a long time, if not forever, but there are more smiles and laughs than tears and for that I am grateful.  We are remembering the good times, the crazy antics and just trying to get used to the new norm of being a family of three.  The one that is probably taking the new family dynamics the hardest is Paterno.  Important Note:  Paterno is our epileptic, soon to be 10-year-old, golden retriever that we rescued from the Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue when he was going to be killed by his owner because he had a birth defect and one deformed paw.  Paterno is suddenly in the family spotlight and we aren’t sure if he is quite ready for that responsibility.  I will start the next thought by saying we were not neglecting Paterno in any way, he was always healthy and well fed, but for the past several months Nittany and her health have been an all-consuming part of our lives.  This allowed Paterno to sneak under the radar and a couple balls got dropped.  While going through medical records we realized he was a little late on some vaccines (not really the important ones) and he was possibly getting a little pudgy because he was (not so) secretly eating the food Nittany would leave in her bowl.  We also realized we couldn’t exactly put our finger on the last time he was groomed.  So, as the spotlight shifted we began “Operation Make Paterno the Best Most Awesome Dog Ever.”  Paterno was groomed within the week and vet appointments set to get him update-to-date on vaccines and get a good overall physical from the vet.  The last piece of “Operation Make Paterno the Best Most Awesome Dog Ever” was to work on his physical stamina.  Paterno is not the most athletic dog in the world (having three good paws on one mediocre paw keeps expectations low) but we decided that some sort of regular physical exercise would do him good.  So daily walks commenced.  For the last week and a half the family has set out on family walks every night (except Sunday because, you know, that’s the day of rest).  Each day we have lengthened the walk and we are proud to announce we might be up to a half a mile.  Paterno is actually much more excited about the walks than the first couple days and his stamina is improving daily.  We do have a small issue with his bad paw bleeding from where he rubs it on the cement, but we are working on it.  All in all I feel like “Operation Make Paterno the Best Most Awesome Dog Ever” is progressing very smoothly.

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As Paterno has transitioned to the top dog in the house we have noticed some peculiar characteristics that we may not have fully embraced in the past.  It did not take us long to realize that Paterno is not your average dog and, in fact, there are times when we question if he is actually a dog.   Apparently his dog like characteristics were just him mimicking everything that Nittany was doing and in reality we had never taught him how to be a real dog.  I suppose this is very similar to what happens to parents and their second child.  You spend all your time and effort on your first child making sure everything is perfect and by the time you get to the second one you are just too tired to really care and you just figure it will all turn out okay.  Paterno has never been a barker, in the past his barking was always instigated by Nittany.  In the past week and a half he hasn’t made a single sound.  It’s like he’s a dog mime.  The silence is a little creepy and it’s taking a little time to get used to.  He does not ask to go outside or let us know when he is hungry.  If he needs either of these things he just silently lays in the kitchen until one of us passes through and guesses what he wants.  He does not greet you when you come home or really acknowledge your existence at all.  His complete lack of interest in interacting with us actually had us Googling the symptoms of autism in dogs (on a positive note we think we have ruled this out).  He is not excited by the arrival of delivery food and just lays quietly until the food has been paid for, we’ve had a nice conversation with the delivery man, and we get the food on to plates.  At this point he may come over to investigate further, but if he’s really comfortable where he’s laying he probably won’t.  Paterno also has no interest in other dogs.  On a recent walk we must have passed 10-15 dogs on one block and he didn’t glance at any of them.  The dogs were barking and racing up and down their yards trying to get his attention and he just moseyed by.  A guard dog Paterno is not.  Nittany did not let anyone come within a quarter mile radius of our house without her alerting us to their presence.  If someone broke in to our house Paterno would simply leave us to join their family, all Dug style from Up.

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There is a ton of adjustment going on in our family right now and I think we will all get in to the groove of the new normal but I have my doubts that Paterno will ever turn in to a real dog, and I guess that is our new norm.