Thursday, October 31, 2019

Guess Who Arrived at Golden Pines!

As always, a busy week for me. But its been made a bit more that way because my counterpart at work is out sick and so I'm working every day this week to cover for her. At least I didn't miss our CPR update.

But nothing can really slow down the pace at home. I enjoyed getting your guesses about who you thought I'd been asked to foster. Those of you that guessed the pair, Abe and George were right!  We've not fostered a bonded pair in nearly 10 years, so I was a tad-bit reluctant. But there really is something special about fostering a pair, and so I agreed and was looking forward to welcoming them. Unfortunately Abe (who is diabetic and blind) has pneumonia and George has a respiratory infection. As of Wednesday, both are hospitalized. So, when they improve, they will be going to another foster home without other dogs to make sure no other dogs become sick, and where they have the best chance of regaining their health.  I'm disappointed, but I so hope these two boys feel better very soon!!
~The Great Pumpkin in a local pumpkin patch~
But knowing that my dog-beds were getting cold, I was asked to foster another dog. She has come to Virginia from a shelter in North Carolina, about 300 miles away. Her name is Sadie, and today we welcomed her into our home.
~On our way home!~
Sadie is about 11 years old, and she was turned into the shelter by her owner who could no longer care for her. Sadie had a very large tumor on her chest that needed to be removed and so she had surgery a few days ago.  Because Sadie is recovering from surgery, and we had really stormy weather this evening, we have opted to not do intros with our crew. There's plenty of time for that. Tonight after her dinner, and a walk outside in the rain, we're letting Sadie get her rest.
~At home this evening~
We look forward to getting to know Sadie, who by the way, comes with a little bit of celebrity. She is the 900th dog that Lab Rescue has taken in so far this year!  Welcome Sadie!!

And Happy Halloween from all of us!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Make Your Best Guess!

Okay friends, lets play this game again! Would you like to try and guess who I was asked to foster today? 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Lifting My Spirits

A pretty quiet week for us as the proverbial dust settled on the unexpected loss of Buddy. Thanks to a "memory reminder" on Facebook, I was reminded that Buddy's loss, as a coincidence, came a day before our last foster dog named Buddy left us 5 years ago. My hopes and dreams for them both were exactly the same, but not meant to be. I have to be honest, I've had a lot of feelings of guilt over everything that happened. I suppose it's only natural.
But your friendship and sharing Buddy's loss has really helped. I know that holding onto that guilt will not bring Buddy back. And it also doesn't allow room for positivity in moving forward, because life, our lives, must go on. 
And going on it has. The dogs have a way of pulling me back into reality and keeping me grounded and lifting my spirits. I had Thursday off work, and it was a good day to recharge. 
~Rhett & Max in the background~
It was a beautiful fall day as the sun shown brightly. A walk around our property allowed us to be outside, clearing my mind and enjoying the dogs.
We were outside again a bit later and I had to chuckle at the photo below of Todd. I'd noticed him rolling on something and when I got to him, he was so still, just laying there. My guess is he was trying to get whatever it was to soak into him? 
He is such a character, and his energy and spirit, makes me laugh every day. 
Actually, all the dogs do that. And for that, along with your friendship, I'm grateful.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

After 9 Days - Good-Bye to Buddy

I don't know how to start this post. Other than with a much shorter version of what I wrote to the rescue when I told them that Buddy had passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning. The numbing, gut-punched feeling as I relive the events are consuming because my mind keeps going back to those moments and scrutinizing a timeline and moments that I cannot change. 
There had been nothing that gave us a hint that anything was wrong. It had been a normal and a good day for Buddy. It had ended with his spending time with us in the office, until he got restless around midnight, and I put him into the ex-pen that he was staying in at night. About an hour later, I turned out the lights and said good night to him. I can still hear the sound of his wagging tail as it hit the side of the ex-pen. I remember smiling. Not long after I'd gone to bed I was awakened by what sounded like Buddy scratching at the rug under the bed he was sleeping on, and bumping against the ex-pen. I'd told him "no" and it stopped for just a moment, but started again. I got out of bed, and for whatever reason, I noticed the time of 2:14.
When I turned on the light, I saw that Buddy was having a seizure. I sat with him, and when I thought the seizure would end, it began again. I know time is critical with seizures and I was keeping close track of how much time was passing. I had awakened Carl, and after about 10 minutes, I knew we had to get him to the animal emergency about 20 minutes away. We took turns staying with him as we quickly dressed and we were on our way. A blur of phone calls leaving messages for my contacts at the rescue and a call to the emergency vet along the way - Pleading prayers for safety on our drive to get there, and that Buddy would hang on, as Carl was with him in the back of my van.

The seizures only stopped as we rounded the corner to the animal emergency and as Buddy passed away at 3 AM.

I know the shock and the sting of this day will ease. But today, I've cried and slept for most of it. I'm still in shock and heartbroken because I cannot believe what happened. A reminder from the "logical side" of me and kind friends tell me that I couldn't have done anything differently. In my heart I know that. Maybe having that peace is Buddy's gift to me?

More than anything I wish it would have ended differently for Buddy. But the hopes and dreams I had for him of his finding a forever home was my dream, and not the one that was meant to be. How I wish more than anything that this easy going and always smiling boy could have stayed with us a little longer. How I wish I could have had the chance to get to know him better. How I wish I could do those 9 days with us all over again.

God speed Buddy. You were here for such a short time, and in those 9 short days, you found your very own place in our hearts.You will not be forgotten, and we hope tonight you are finding your way to the rainbow bridge where I hope to see you again.  

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Hospital Visit

I mentioned in my last post that I was in "foster home rehab." And I just realized that in keeping with that theme, my overnight trip on Thursday goes along with that. Our trip was to the small town of Weston, West Virginia, where there is an imposing, formidable building that, at nearly a quarter mile long is nearly impossible to miss. This building in its history, has gone by three names, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia Hospital for the Insane, and Weston State Hospital.  Whatever you call it, my brothers and my sister-in-law and I went pay the former hospital a little visit...  as a tourists of course.
~Thanks to Retired Navy Brother for this photo!
The hospital was in operation from 1864 - 1994. It's a Gothic and Tudor Revival style, hand-cut stone building that housed thousands of patients who suffered from mental illness and many who did not.

It was built in a beautiful rural area of West Virginia because social reformers were convinced of the healing powers of fresh air and picturesque landscapes.

Today, the former hospital is privately owned and offers various history and paranormal tours.  The building's name has also been changed back to its original name - Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.
Being superstitious especially at a place like a mental hospital, Irish workers added faces like these to ward off evil spirits. They believed evil could only enter through the back, so only the back entrances have these carvings.~ 
The hospital was originally designed to house 250 patients. But during the peak of its overcrowding in the 1950s and 60s, it housed upwards of 2,400 patients.

By the 1980s, wide sweeping changes had been made in mental health treatment and the hospital's population was in decline.  All of the operational and maintenance costs were no longer cost effective and the hospital was closed in 1994.

The building sat empty for 13 years and during that time fell into disrepair.  It was also subjected to looting and vandalism.  In 2007, the building and grounds were purchased at auction for $1.5 million and renovations on the building began. Today the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum offers various tours and other seasonal activities held on the property. All proceeds go towards the restoration of the historical building.
A photo of one of the upper floors that has been renovated.  This floor housed nurse and doctor apartments.

We took two tours. The first night, it was the paranormal tour. The guide, dressed in all black, with a flashlight led us throughout the main parts of the building recounting stories of some of the hospital’s better-known spirits, including a little girl named Lilly who was born in the asylum, a man named Jesse who died of a heart attack in a bathtub, Civil War soldiers, and a patient who was brutally murdered by his roommates. And several others I can't remember.
~Thanks again to Retired Navy Brother for this photo!~
The hospital is so vast that it is easy to feel lost amid the maze of hallways and patient rooms covered in peeling paint. Of course everyone on the tour is hoping for some kind of a paranormal experience. But we all agreed that walking through the building and learning its history in the dark was plenty thrilling, ghosts or no ghosts

Before we left town, we took another (daylight) 90-minute historic guided tour. We were again able to visit all four floors of the main building as well as the Civil War section and the Medical Center.  Our guide, a young woman dressed in an all-white nurses uniform, lead us throughout the grounds and shared so much history about the 160-year old facility that it was a little overwhelming.
~A solitary confinement room~

Two of the most disturbing things I learned during the tour were 1) some of the treatment methods that were used on patients in the hospital and 2) some of the utterly ridiculous things people, especially women, could be admitted for early in the hospital's history. --Notice the ingredients on the medication below....Chocolate covered??!!  

Some of the early treatments of mental illness were simply barbaric.  Patients were often shackled to the walls in isolation rooms, restrained in bathtubs for hours on end in cold baths (which was thought to cool the blood to the brain and calm the patient), subjected to electroshock therapy or insulin shock therapy (the latter put patients into  medically induced comas), or worst case scenario, given a lobotomy.
~The ingredients on the cough syrup would put anyone to sleep!~
In the early 1950s, the Weston State Hospital was home to what has been called the West Virginia Lobotomy Project.  Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the lobotomy who was responsible for performing Rosemary Kennedy's lobotomy, visited the Weston State Hospital numerous times throughout the 1950s.  He developed a more "efficient" method of performing a lobotomy that didn't require drilling a hole into the person's skull. I'll spare you the gory details of this horrible and barbaric procedure and just say that this crude practice left many patients in a vegetative state or reduced them to child-like behavior.  It is reported that Freeman performed 228 lobotomies within a two-week period while visiting the Weston State Hospital. How awful.
Doorknobs used on the inside of patient rooms.  This style prevented the patient from being able to hang him/herself from it, and to allow to open it  from the outside, or to be used a weapon.
The other thing I learned that I found disturbing was that often people in the late 1880s were admitted for utterly ridiculous reasons.  Sadly, asylums were often viewed as repositories for more than just the insane and people were committed for ridiculous reasons.
~Many of those who worked at the asylum were also required to live there - This top floor is where they slept.
If I had lived in the time after the Civil War, there are many reasons why I could have been admitted.  For instance, I could've been admitted for a dog bite or novel reading. Yes, a dog bite or novel reading - And that my friends, as you can see in the list below, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Women were at a distinct disadvantage during this time because they were viewed as the property of their husbands.  If I had lived in the last nineteenth century, my husband could admit me to the insane asylum if I inherited money.  Yes, the man in my life could've locked me away until he decided to come back and get me or he could've just left me there until I died.  And of course, he would get the money.  Also if you were a woman and your husband decided to cast you aside, your children would be admitted to the hospital as well. An innocent child (or children) could have their childhood taken away from them merely at a father’s whim if he chose.
~One of the restored first floor spaces. This would have been for the more well-off and mildly ill patients~
What was further disturbing was learning that when a male child reached the age of 16, if he was deemed to be mentally fit, he would be allowed to leave the asylum but a female child, she would stay indefinitely since she was after all the “mother’s daughter.”  To think of the number of lives that were destroyed by having been sent to a place like this for no legitimate reason was just heart-breaking.
All I can say is THANK GOODNESS times have changed because it really was not easy being a woman late 1800s!  But I digress....
~Coffin style staircase~
I found the history of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum absolutely fascinating!  There's just so much history you just can't fully comprehend it all. One of my brothers wants to return next year to do an overnight ghost hunt. He thinks it'll be great fun.  I so enjoy getting together with my brothers and their families because I don't see them often enough.  And I did offer to buy my brother's ticket if he decides to do the overnight tour.  So, we'll see.... We'll see ....

THANK YOU FRIENDS for stopping by, and reading this very long post!  I hope you enjoyed it and like me, maybe learned a thing or two as well!! Enjoy your weekend!
~From a rest stop on the way home~

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Letting Go - Foster Home Rehab

I've entered what I call "foster-home-rehab." It's something I made up years ago for myself after I place a foster dog with their new families. From the rescues, foster homes are given "guidelines" as to when to do follow up calls to adoptive families to see how it's going with their new addition. I've followed those guidelines, and always looked at making these "allotted calls" like therapy. There's a lot of reassurance in knowing how it's going, and it helps me in letting go of that particular foster dog. And I always tell the families that I'm part of the adoption process, and to expect these calls.  I also always add that I call them not because I don't trust them, because I do. But I'm here to support them, and good or bad, I want to hear how it's going.

This takes me to Tanner, who went to his new home almost 2 weeks ago.  I have gotten very, very limited updates about how it's going.  In very few texts messages, I'm told that they love him, he's doing great with their dog. But last week, the Mom texted me because she was worried and concerned about how it went at the vet. Apparently Tanner growled - And the Mom asked me if he'd done that when we had him. He hadn't. I texted  back to her right away that because Tanner was a stray, we don't know what his experiences have been at the vet - That not all dogs like the vet... I then waited a few hours and heard nothing back from the Mom.  I told her to please keep in touch, and to let me or their Adoption Coordinator for Lab Rescue know how it's going; that we're here to support and cheer them on.  I've still heard nothing. It's really disappointing and disheartening. I just hope that no news means that all is well.  And, I hope that I would know if it wasn't. But I'll admit, that this doesn't help in my foster home recovery therapy, because by nature, I am a worrier.
~Tanner in September - I hope it's going well~
On the flipside, there's Ginger.  It was a match for the lovely Ginger on Sunday! Semi-retired couple were so excited to meet her and make her part of their lives! Mrs. Semi-retired called me on Monday evening and gave me a glowing report about how well it was going, and how much she already loves Ginger. Mrs. Semi Retired told me how when they first arrived home, Ginger walked right up to the front door and turned around and waited for them to let her in - Just like she'd always been there.  Of course this is good news! It helps me in my "foster home rehab program" to let go of Ginger, because I could not be happier that after 287 days, Ginger has a home of her very own.
~Semi-Retired Couple with Ginger~

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Buddy Arrives at Golden Pines

I'm glad this is the weekend! Last night wasn't a good night. It was 12:30 when I woke the first time and it felt like I’d been sleeping for a long time when in fact it was only two hours. I woke up again at 1:30 when Chip was barking. Thinking he needed to go outside, I tried to coax him out the door with a treat, but he wouldn't go. Back to bed, and awakened again not long after that when it was Rhett's turn to bark. He did want to go outside. Then at 4 something, Todd jumped off the bed, and knowing he'd want to go outside too, and since I was feeling wide-awake, I decided to just get up and stay up.  With our cooler night temps, and the open windows, maybe the dogs are hearing something outside.
Or maybe the dogs were just feeling out of sync because of the arrival of a new foster dog, Buddy who came Friday afternoon.
~On the way home!~
Buddy, is around 10 years old, and comes with a little-bit of a story.  Originally he was used for breeding in North Carolina. The second chapter of his life was spent at a Christmas tree farm, where he chased deer away from the Christmas trees.
When Buddy no longer had interest in chasing deer, in January of this year, he went to live with the family that turned him over to the rescue - Sadly it was because of a divorce and the changes that one can bring, meant that not being able to keep Buddy was one of those changes.
~A tag from Buddy's collar~
Buddy is easy going and very friendly and always smiling. So far, things have gone well with our crew.
~Meeting the new boy~
The cats however, are a different story. I knew by the information the owner provided that Buddy would chase cats if they ran. But a big pounce onto our outdoor kitty Gino was a bit unexpected.
~Nervous drool after meeting our crew~
Also unexpected was that his house-training needs some polish. A lot of polish. That's all I'll say about that.  I'm hopeful we can work it all out. But it all means that we'll watch him very closely around the cats, and wherever he happens to be when he's inside.

Finally, wish our girl Ginger good luck on Sunday! Semi retired couple (see previous post) are coming to meet her. After 286 days with us, I'm hopeful it'll finally be Ginger's turn to have her very own forever home!!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Aches, Pains and A Forever Home

September ended quietly at our house. And the first weekend of October, after a long summer, and above-normal temps this past week, autumn found its feet this weekend in northern Virginia. A cool breeze the last couple of days allowed us to have the windows open to bring in some fresh air.

Mother Nature aside, I've felt like we were the walking wounded at our house this past week. At the top of the list is Charlie. Yes, Charlie. The Charlie that never needs help or anything.

I'm don't know how or what happened. On Wednesday morning he was really limping and needed help getting to his feet, and had to be carried outside. Charlie has never been stoic and even when he was laying down, he was whining. I have a hard time thinking of Charlie as anything but that young vibrant dog that I first met in 2006 and so he (of course) had me worried. Mobile vet is out of town, so rather than wait for his return, I know I have some room to raise the amount of medications he takes daily, so that was what I did. By Friday evening, thankfully Charlie was up and around again on his own and his appetite has returned. So, I'm back to thinking of him as that young dog once again. But I'm keeping a close eye on him.

The rest of the crew will be okay too. Mostly it's aches and pains that age can bring. Sunny has a vet appointment in a couple of days for his ongoing ear problems. The photo below is Saturday morning. The girl that trims dog nails for us came and trimmed Sunny's nails and paws which takes two people to do because he doesn't cooperate.  She does a great job, and we're lucky to have her!  

But if there's any good news, it's with our Lab Fosters. There was an inquiry for Tanner this past week. After a few conversations, the family came on Saturday along with their Goldendoodle, Ollie. It could not have gone better, and I couldn't like them any more for Tanner. So, he left with them yesterday to begin the next chapter of his life. **I've yet to receive an update from the family. But knowing that "the Mom" is a NICU nurse, I am sure her busy schedule has just kept her from responding. 
~SMILES ALL AROUND - Just look at Tanner!! (left)~
As if that weren't enough, I also received a call about Ginger yesterday. I was surprised. Semi-Retired couple are in their 70's and want to give a senior dog a good home. They've had their eye on Ginger since July and want to come and meet her next weekend. With no other pets, they seem like they'd be a good home for Ginger. I've held off on adopting Ginger because I've felt that she should be in a home where she can be the center of attention and be a star.  She can't be a star in our house.

Because we already have one....

Or two...

Or three stars already.