You know it’s going to be a bad day when…

You know it’s going to be a bad day when you wake up smelling poop. You also  
know it’s going to be a bad day when you have to bathe the dog and change clothes before breakfast.

I woke up and smelled that unmistakable smell of doggy poop. I have had many dogs during my life time and I am currently the Mom to two cats and two dogs so I know poop when I smell it. I have cleaned up more than my share of poop, pee, and puke over the years which makes me an expert on animal excrements. I can even look at a pile and know from which animal it came.

So, when I woke up and sniffed the air I knew there was an odorous present waiting for me somewhere. I went on a search and couldn’t find it but the smell continued to follow me. I went into the bathroom to dress and get ready for the day and when I returned to the bedroom there it was—a small but stinky pile. Where did it come from? Its placement meant I had to walk over it going into the bathroom but I knew it hadn’t been there just a few minutes earlier. I grabbed the paper towels and plastic bag for a temporary cleanup.

We walked into the kitchen and there was another pile. I know it wasn’t there the night before because I always do a final cleanup of the kitchen before going to bed, and the dogs sleep in our bedroom with the door closed (to keep the cat out so we don’t wake up to a cat/dog fight).

After the two dogs are attached to their double leash and we begin our morning walk the mystery is suddenly solved. There is Gus the Pekingese proudly prancing down the street with his backend covered in you know what. His luxurious golden coat sometimes grows too thick around his posterior section which then catches his number 2s. His emergency during the night must have gotten caught up in his fur then smashed all over him as he slept (thank goodness he wasn’t in our bed). The smell followed me on my hunt because Gus is always bouncing around my feet. Then, as he bounced small parts were dropped throughout the house.

I usually try to keep him trimmed around his haunches and underbelly to eliminate this problem so I guess I will have to do a quick trim before our evening walk.

Owning a pet can be messy and sometimes downright disgusting but their love and adoration makes it all worth it. One quick doggy kiss can turn a bad day into a good one.


Gus the perky Pekingese and Tasha the temperamental Heinz-mix terrier. Both are sporting their summer haircuts.


Dogs leave paw prints on your heart, adopt one today!

Left to right--Gus and Tasha

If you are not moved by a warm furry body next to yours, big floppy ears, wagging tail, and a wet tongue eager to give you doggy kisses, then you aren’t human. October is “Adopt A Dog Month” and if currently you don’t have a dog, I strongly urge you to run to your nearest shelter or foster agency to find one. And if you do have a dog, then I urge to you to consider getting one more.

I have two adopted dogs that started out as foster dogs and they are surrounding me as I write this. I almost always have at least one dog under my desk, under my feet, or by my chair as I work at my desk each day. They have been rescued from a bad life and a terrible fate and they seem to know that they got lucky and have a pretty good life right now.

I began fostering dogs after hurricane Katrina in 2005. My heart broke as I watched people separated from their dogs when they were rescued. Most evacuation centers would not allow pets nor were they allowed on busses that provided transportation for the thousands suddenly homeless. I vividly remember crying as I watched a small white dog frantically pawing a closed bus’s door where its owner had just boarded. According to various statistics, somewhere between 8,000 to 15,000 pets were rescued after Katrina. Only 400 were reunited with their owners and, sadly, an estimated 600,000 pets died. I was so moved by what happened that I immediately found a foster organization, Columbus Dog Connection, and volunteered my services.

Officials of disaster preparedness learned that pet owners are extremely devoted to their furry friends. Many people died during Katrina because they refused to leave their pets behind. After seeing the devastation to both humans and pets, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Actwas passed requiring states seeking FEMA assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority on May 22, 2006.

Since that time I have fostered and/or adopted about a half-dozen dogs. I’m afraid I haven’t been a very good foster mom because instead of giving them up for adoption I have just adopted them myself. The ones that were adopted, even though I was sad to see them go, I was also happy to know they were going to good homes and I had been instrumental in their transition. Most of the dogs in the organization I have worked with have either been abused or neglected. I once nursed a schnauzer that was badly injured when it was hit by a car and the owner left the poor dog outside crying in agony until a concerned neighbor called the humane society to rescue the dog. The dog had a broken leg, its shoulder laid bare down to the bone, and numerous cuts and abrasions. A young professional woman adopted him and I’m sure he is now living in the lap of luxury.

The first foster we adopted was Queenie. Queenie’s owners left her in the parking lot of a local shelter because she was 13 and getting too old for them. She was adopted out to a young family but it turned out to be a family in the midst of a divorce with possible domestic abuse involved. Not a good atmosphere for a frightened dog that has been uprooted after 13 years in her home. We then became her second adopted home and I made sure it was her “forever home”. We had Queenie for another four years and finally had to put her down at 17 ½ years of age. For the first year she was very shy but when she finally decided this was her home she settled in and was an extremely good and loving dog.

We now have two dogs—Tasha and Gus. Tasha was another “senior” dog suddenly uprooted. She was ten years old when she was surrendered to the county dog shelter because her family became homeless. She was so frantic the people at the shelter thought she might have a stroke. She was sent to a vet where she continued to pace and pant. She even escaped from her cage and enclosed run several times. When I brought her home I left her in a metal crate for a little over an hour while we went out to dinner and returned home to find her frantically clawing trying to get out of the cage where she had pulled out several of the metal bars with her teeth—after dental surgery. I decided this dog had had enough trauma and needed a safe, calm place to live. I also knew no one would understand why this dog could never again be confined. She has been a loving and protective member of our family for several years now.

We got Gus a few months after Tasha. Gus is a happy-go-lucky Pekingese who had been neglected. As soon as Gus came into the family Tasha calmed down and the two developed a strong bond. Tasha is a stubborn 35 pound terrier mix however; Gus’s presence gave her reassurance. She has settled down and the two are now buddies.

The key to owning more than one pet is giving each equal amount of attention. They will know if one gets more attention or special favors over the other. They are always fed and exercised at the same time and they get the same amount of treats. What I do to one I always do to the other. Recently Tasha had an ear infection and I had to put drops in her ears. When I finished working on her ears Gus walked over and sat down in front of me ready for his ears to be checked. He wasn’t sure what I had done to Tasha but he wanted it also. I scratched his ears and he was happy.

I highly recommend working with a foster or rescue organization for finding a dog because they can tell you about the pet’s personality and quirks. They can also tell you whether or not the dog likes cats, is good with children, has allergies, or other special needs. When adopting from one of these organizations there is someone there you can talk to who can give you pointers on the care and training of the dogs and information on the various breeds. In addition, the dog will also have been spayed or neutered and up to date on all shots. In most cases the dog will also be housebroken and some obedience training, depending upon how much the foster family has been able to work with the dog.

Many good dogs also come from your local shelter. According to the American Humane Association, each year, approximately 8 million stray and unwanted animals are taken in by shelters across the country. Of those 8 million only a little over half find homes and approximately 3.7 million are euthanized. In fact, shelter euthanasia is the leading cause of death for both dogs and cats in the United States.  A shocking statistic!

So, if you need a best friend, one that will be forever loyal and loving, one that will eagerly greet you each time you come home, one that will guard and protect you, then, please, adopt a dog. They know they have been saved from a terrible fate and will repay you a thousand times over.

Please give a homeless dog another chance at life by offering your home as its “forever” home.

The author with her two adopted rescued dogs.

Queenie, another adopted rescued dog with a sad story.

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I have two dogs that are beautiful and loving but have this strange need to go for a walk twice a day. I don’t know why they can’t just cross their legs until April.

Since we live in a condominium we don’t have the convenience of just opening the door and letting them run in a fenced yard; thus, we walk. This is an enjoyable activity for all three of us most of the year but during the cold months one of us would like to opt out. That one would be me!

Don’t get me wrong. I love casual walks around the neighborhood and past the two ponds on our property; but, during our Midwest winters it is COLD. I take all precautions to dress warmly and it takes nearly 30 minutes for me to don my gear and get the dogs ready. First I must choose the proper footwear. On frigid and snowy days I begin with my jeans (if 0 degrees or less the jeans are flannel lined) tucked into heavy wool sox. Then I pull on heavy-duty water-proof boots with the fur trim and YakTrax attached to the bottoms. YakTrax are the greatest invention since the microwave. They are small spring coils wrapped around a rubber grid that slips onto the bottom of the shoe and gives traction on ice and snow. Think of snow chains for your feet.

Now I must put coats on the dogs. They sit patiently at my feet as I put on my boots and know that it is now their turn. Each takes its turn as it sits between my feet and allows me to pull on the coat over its head and fasten it under the belly with the hook and loop strip.

After securing my feet I then pull on the fleece hat with ear flaps and ties under the chin. (Remember when we were kids?) Then I wrap a big scarf around my neck and adjust it so it covers the lower part of my face. Next comes the big coat rated to -15 degrees F with fleece lining and detachable hood. This coat is especially nice because the neck and hood close around my neck and extend past the mouth and just covers the nose. The ski cap and bill of the hood extend downward to my eyebrows leaving a small slit for my eyes. I feel a little like Ironman or a robot but my face is protected from the cold winds we so often get. However, I don’t recommend going into a bank dressed like this.

The three of us then proceed to the garage where they, again, patiently wait to be hooked to the leash and I pull on my quilted ski gloves. The dogs know the routine and are surprisingly tolerant and cooperative during the whole procedure. One last check to make sure I am sufficiently equipped with plastic bags for waste pickup and we are off for our great adventure. An adventure that takes less time than the time spent getting ready.

I won’t win any beauty pageants dressed like this but I’m warm—and that is all that counts on a snowy, windy day.