About The Foster Zoo

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We have decided to blog our adventures again. So much has changed since we last blogged. Bella and Shiloh both went to their forever homes and they are in wonderful families. June Bug got adopted. We quit fostering dogs after those adoptions because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. We quit doing therapy dog work because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. Tanker passed away June 9th, 2013. We adopted a senior border collie named Shania Tankerbelle in his memory. We still have our two cats, Sweet Pea and Little Bit. Wes has started rescuing pitiful bettas from Wal-Mart and we currently have seven. We have a camper. We camp. We have focused on giving our animals the best lives possible. We are The Foster Zoo Crew and we like to have fun.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Love Coffee, Dogs, and People

I love coffee, dogs, and people.

Yes, probably in that particular order.

Coffee helps me stay awake.  Dogs teach me about life.  People make my day, but can sometimes be moody.

This is my coffee mug.  I use it everyday.  I use it multiple times a day.  I went to school at EWU for one quarter to take Organic Chemistry.  Then Wes got orders to our next duty station and I transferred everything over to Spokane Falls Community College, who has an agreement of some sort with EWU, took a few classes, and got an Associate Degree from them so that my credits from Washington State would transfer to the University of Maryland easier.  See, colleges don't like credits that are not bound to a degree.  Makes transferring around the country difficult.  My advice of the day, when you transfer schools, get a degree first so that they can't take your hard earned work away from you.

I went a little off track there.  Welcome to my ADD mind. 

If I am carrying that mug, it means I have every intention of accomplishing something that day.  Or it means I just woke up.  Or it means I just wanted to drink coffee because I enjoy it.  Basically, if I am carrying that mug, the only thing you may learn about me that day is that I am drinking coffee. 

I am drinking coffee out of that mug right now as I write this blog.  I always drink coffee while I write on the internet.  You can imagine me every time you read this blog sitting on the couch with laptop in front of me sipping, or possible gulping, my coffee out of that mug.  That makes me sound like a DC yuppie, doesn't it?

Let me update you on the puppies.  We went and bought another medium sized crate for them yesterday.  We need to work on separating them and Wes and I need sleep.  Crate training puppies are the best way to accomplish those two things.  We brought it home and put them in their separate crates.  Bella did really well.  She didn't mind at all.  Shiloh was a little distressed that she was not near us or near Bella.  I eventually turned the crates facing each other so that Shiloh could see her sister.  She settled down.  That was during the nap we took yesterday.  Last night, we had the same issue with Shiloh, so we faced the two crates together again.  Bella woke us up in the middle of the night (which is about 4 am for us) to go out and potty.  I was really proud of her.  When we put them back in their crates, Shiloh howled and howled.  I finally let her out.  I gave in.  That was bad on my part, but Wes needs sleep.  I do too, but I don't have to work.  I can nap at home.  Shiloh came up on the bed and slept at my feet.  That's all she wanted.  Bella slept in her cage the rest of the night.  Shiloh is not the problem at night.  Bella is the one who chews through cell phone chargers and electrical cords.

Bella and Shiloh would much rather just sleep curled up together, but if I want to train them to be therapy dogs, they need to be independent. 

Today was very, very, very hot.  I did not walk the dogs individually.  The puppies don't seem to mind the heat, but I do not take a chance with them.  After Blondie had a heat stroke last year, it is not worth the risk.  I can train indoors, although it doesn't seem as effective as if I do it outside after a walk.

It is so hot today that I am not even going to put in the effort to pant.  I will just lay here with my tongue sticking out.  Panting takes work and who wants to work when it's 96 degrees outside?

Holy hot dogs it is hot!  Too hot for this long haired guy.  Mmm...hot dogs.

What mischief has the puppies gotten into today?  Well, after buying two packages of 50 potty pads each, I think we are officially done with potty pads.  It's not because they don't have the occasional mistake, it's because Bella won't stop shredding them.  I do think she has some of Blondie in her.  She is very smart and always into something.  Just when I thought I had gotten through to her that she couldn't eat her pee pads, she started tricking me.  She would lay on them, chew a rawhide, and pull the pee pad up through her two feet to eat it.  From a distance it looked as though she was chewing a rawhide bone, but she was really shredding her potty pad.

She is such a problem solver.  I wish I had her when I took Calculus in high school.  She could have probably done my homework for me better than I did.  She and Blondie would have been double trouble together.

Potty pads are put up.  No accidents so far.  Shiloh actually barked at me to go outside earlier.  I was very proud of her.

Shiloh has found an old tennis ball outside and now feels the need to shred it.  I have taken it from her a few times and given her a rawhide, but she wants the tennis ball.  If it keeps her busy, makes her happy, and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to replace, let her have at it.

We went to lunch at Salad Creations with our two therapy dog friends, Kris and Kelly.  I love those two.  They are the sweetest people ever.  We talked about therapy dogs, a flyball competition, service dog puppy raising, foster dogs, etc.  I asked them if they knew why the puppies like to put their entire muzzles into Topher and Tanker's mouths.  They did not know, but we all think it must go back to basic instinct from wolves.  In the wild, wolf puppies will lick their mom's mouths to make the regurgitate for food.  Topher and Tanker think that's pretty gross and it's even more reason to be leery of the puppies.  Goofy puppies.

Kris has already met the puppies.  Kelly and her sister-in-law came over after lunch to meet them.  They loved them!  The puppies were very affectionate with them.  Once again, I think they are going to make great therapy dogs.  I just have to get on the ball with training them.  I am training them and working with them daily, but I feel like I need to be doing more.

That's all for today.  Wes is at work.  I ate left over spinach omelets from IHOP for dinner.  It was really good.  Tomorrow is another day and another adverture.

Monday, May 30, 2011

What Memorial Day Means to Me

What does Memorial Day mean to me? 

Growing up I remember Memorial Day being a day of cookouts, watermelon, parades, horses, a day off from school, swimming, boats, and patriotic shirts. 

After many life experiences, today is not a day of celebration for me anymore.  Today is a day to remember those who have been lost.  Today is a day to remember the families left behind.  They sacrificed too.  They deserve honor as much as the ones who fought and died.

I have been an Air Force wife for almost nine years now.  In those nine years, I have gained an appreciation for our country that I never knew before sharing my life with one who lives his everyday to defend it.  What does it mean to be an American?  It's so much more than most people understand.

Wes was a post 9/11 troop.  We were in college during 9/11.  I was on my way to my Anatomy and Physiology lab when the first plane hit.  We lived in Atlanta, Georgia.  What does it feel like when your country is under attack when you are only 19 years old?  I had never known war.  My grandfathers served in the military during times of war, but that was just something out of a history book to me.  I was in elementary school during the Persian Gulf War.  War meant you wore a bracelet with the name of a soldier overseas fighting and you prayed for his safe return home.  I did not know what it was like to be a wife.  I did not know what it meant to have a daddy overseas.  War was just something in the news.

9/11 put a different face on war for me.  All of a sudden flags went up everywhere.  Country artists wrote songs about patriotism.  People joined together and helped each other out.  Our nation became united.  We were one.

Wes joined the Air Force less than a year after 9/11.  He had already been thinking about joining the military, but 9/11 sped up the process.  He previously wanted to join the Marines.  After weighing his options, he decided to go with the Air Force.  I was behind him with whatever decision he made.  I was a proud military wife before I had ever become one.

We married in August, 2002 while Wes was in training in Texas.  I bought books on how to be an Air Force Wife.  I had a manual on the customs of the military and my role as a military spouse.  I took my new role in life seriously.  My job was to support the man who gave his heart to me, yet dedicated his life to protecting our country.

One of my favorite shirts while we were engaged.  I remember wearing this shirt with pride on July 4th, 2002.  I worked on-call as a Nurse Tech in the Emergency Department at Gwinnett Medical Center while I was in school.  I was called into work that evening.  I was not going to allow me being at work stop me from celebrating the freedom we had and the man in my life who now defended it.

When Wes joined the Air Force, war began to take on a new meaning to me.  All the news reports of men and women dying in Afghanastan felt very personal to me.  That could be my husband one day.  I could be the spouse receiving the folded flag that once draped my husband's coffin.  That could be my life.

We received orders to Fairchild AFB, Washington in October, 2002.  We loved it there.  It was the best first duty station we could have received.  I learned to value every minute I had with Wes.  Wes deployed five times while stationed at Fairchild.  He took numerous TDY trips.  He was awarded numerous awards for his service.  I was a proud Air Force Wife.

Life was all about Patriotism.  The dog had an Americana collar.  I made posters for every deployment homecoming.  Red, white, and blue streamers decorated the house.  The dogs wore red, white, and blue bows around their necks.  My days were spent shipping care packages, volunteering with the squadron, and attending military events.  Pride for our country and a deep love for my husband who served to protect it grew with every day.

When Wes received orders to Andrews AFB, my patriotism grew even more.  We were going to the Nation's Capital.  We were going to live in the place where it all begins.  I began to see a bigger picture of war.  I became increasingly interested in politics.  We jumped on every opportunity to do everything patriotic that came our way.  We watched the president speak.  We went to the White House.  We visited every memorial.  I soaked up the history around us.  I gained a greater understanding and appreciation of what it meant to live in America.

These things did not impact me as much as the people I have met.  I have friends who are military widows.  I am surrounded by people who lived through the 9/11 attack. 

What does that mean to me?  It means to me that everyday is a gift.  It means that we should cherish every moment because we just don't know when it will be our last.  It means that war is more than what is on the television.  Politics are more than what you hear on the news.  War and politics are real world stuff.  Lives are affected by both of these things.  Lives end and survivors are left to live the rest of their days in a forever changed world. 

Memorial Day is not about barbeques, cookouts, beer, parades, and swimming.  Memorial Day is a day to remember the fallen.  Memorial Day is a day to remember the forever changed lives they left behind.  Memorial Day is a day to hug a military widow and tell her what it means to you that not only her husband gave his life, but she had to change her's so that we may be free.  Memorial Day is a day to shed tears and take a moment of silence to thank God for our differences; to thank God that we live in a country where we are allowed the freedom to be unique.  Memorial Day is a day to hug my husband and value what he means to me.  It is a day to thank God that he is still in my life.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A bunch of randomness

Day one of ambitious puppy training goals was a flop.  Wes did not get home from work until after 6:00 this morning.  We went to bed around 7:00.  I tried to convince him to stay at work and sleep since he had to be back today, but he said he prefers sleeping in his own bed next to his wife, so that's what he did.  He was exhausted after only working a few hours last night, but he stayed for the entire 12-hour shift.  His rosacea broke out bad and his joints were sore and swollen.  His elbows are starting to be affected by the Lyme Disease now.  He woke up this morning and his one elbow was really stiff.  I am worried about him.  I am worried about how his exhaustion and lack of sleep is going to affect his healing.  I am worried about his long term outlook.

We have always been blessed with amazing people in our lives.  It seems people come into our lives at just the right time and for all the right reasons.  God always provides.  One of my friends has a friend who has had Lyme Disease for over ten years.  She contacted me and gave me a wealth of information.  Not all doctors know how to treat Lyme Disease.  There are specific doctors who treat only Lyme.  She sent me a medical publication from a Lyme Disease doctor that talked about disease progression, medications, disability, and it was very specific on the aggressive treatment of this disease based on the stage it was diagnosed in.  It is a 24-page report.  I am going to print it off and take it to the doctor with Wes next week.  Wes is currently on the appropriate treatment.  I don't know if they will continue with this treatment for as long as this doctor recommends.  If there is a chance for a cure, I am going to see to it that Wes has every opportunity to get there.  I worked in healthcare for ten years.  I took care of my father and grandmother.  I will consult with Wes' doctors just as I did theirs.  If Wes doesn't make a full recovery from this, it won't be because I didn't advocate for him.

I am very tired today.  My body does not adjust to changing shifts as well as it used to.  When I was young and worked on-call in the Emergency Room while in school, I remember being able to hop up and work any shift they called me in on.  I usually suffered the next couple of days with pain and fatigue, but I still did it.  Maybe it's my lack of drive to be all that I can be (but not in the Army), or maybe it's just me getting older.  I took Provigil this morning after waking up at 11:30 and then slept another two hours.  To be able to sleep through a dose of Provigil is proof of true exhaustion.

I must get up and give Tanker his medicine.  The rooster alarm went off on my phone.  Bella is now next to me and Topher is looking at me and barking one single high pitched ACD yelp every few seconds to tell me I am not doing my job.  Do not break Topher's routine.  It is against his religion to not complete the task you are assigned.  When the Rooster in my phone wakes up and starts cockadooadooing telling me to make my way to the kitchen and give out turkey to the Zoo Crew, I had better do it.

The alarm went off 30 seconds ago and you are not up doing what you are supposed to yet.  Get with the program, Mom.

I was not going to post that video because Topher did not listen to me when I told him enough and I told him to sit.  He is too funny to not show off though.

Although our medicine drawer looks like we are a nursing home, we are really just the Foster Zoo.  These are Tanker's meds, with the exception of the Clavamox in the front, which is Shiloh's.

The folded up pamphlets on top of the Zonisamide is to tell Tanker to not drive while taking this medication until he gets used to it, and to not get pregnant while using it.  It also informs him to not breastfeed or drink alcohol.  Poor Tanker's life is so limited.


Have I ever mentioned that Tanker is on the Uninsured Drug Program at Costco because he does not hold a job that provides health insurance?  It is a program available to us as Costco members.  Yes, they do know that Tanker is a canine.  Tanker is one of their favorite customers.  We are able to get all of Tanker's medications (except his potassium Bromide) for a reduced cost because he does not have health insurance.

Tanker is on pet health insurance.  All of the Zoo Crew members are on pet health insurance, including the puppies.  It does not cover anything related to Tanker's epilepsy because it was a pre-existing condition. 

Once Tanker's medicine is given at 5:30 in the evening and 5:30 in the morning, it's feeding time.  I am lucky that they all respect each other.  I can feed them side by side and have never had a problem with aggression.

I stood outside and talked with our next door neighbor today.  He is a retired Army officer and is the nicest person ever.  The entire family is.  He now works for the DoD as a civilian.  He and Wes have a lot in common.  They can sit outside and chat for hours about military life and politics.  It's great to have nice neighbors.  He is our only next door neighbor.  They have two dogs, a rottweiler and a chow.  The chow likes to bark at our dogs a lot.  I am teaching the puppies to be nonreactive to them.  They are doing better and better with each encounter.  Topher and Tanker are pretty good teachers.  Although they will go over to the fence and look at the dogs, they hardly bark and they will come when called.  Bella and Shiloh won't get off the back deck when the dogs are out.  I think they are a little intimidated by them.  I'd rather them be a little intimidated than running up and down the fence fighting.

Bella continues to be a little Houdini.  She is an escape artist.  Take a look at how I have had to secure the kitchen gates.

She has also started getting on the back of the couch and jumping the gate in the living room.  I think she learned that from Neo.

Like my post today, our lives are very random.  Wes works odd and inconsistent hours.  The only schedule we have is Tanker's medicine.  I like it that way.  I like being able to sleep all day with Wes and stay up all night while he is at work.  I like being able to hop in the car and go places, volunteer, and not be tied down to much.  It's a great life that most people probably wouldn't enjoy due to the lack of consistency, but it works for us.  I guess we are pretty ready for whatever life throws at us.  Military life has taught us to be flexible.  It makes life more exciting to not know what to expect next. 

One last note, we are trying to find a new home for Neo.  He is not working out here.  He does not get along with the other animals at all.  He needs to go to a home without dogs or cats.  He has a room to his own and comes out occasionally, but there have been too many fights recently for him to be able to stay here.  It's not fair to him or the other animals.  If anyone knows of a home he could go to, please let us know.  I will not take him to the pound.

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