When the tornadoes struck Alabama, Wes and I were really worried about Jocelyn and her family. When we found out she was okay, we asked her what we could do to help her community. She said that her church was collecting clothing and supplies for those in need. We began a clothing drive up here in the DC area to ship down to her. Never did we imagine we would get so much stuff! The cost to ship everything would have been outrageous!
When Tanker was in the ICU from having ten seizures in two days, I was really scared of losing him. Blondie passed away last summer unexpectedly. Her death was devastating to me and Wes. If Tanker were to pass away like that, Wes would take it extremely hard because Tanker was the dog he rescued off the flight line at Fairchild AFB. Not only would he lose his dog, he would lose his therapy dog partner. It was after Tanker's hospitalization that I started thinking of adopting another dog for Wes to train to be a therapy dog. Not that it would ease the pain of losing Tanker when the time comes, but at least he would have a back up so he wouldn't have to quit volunteering. Having to quit volunteer work on top of losing Tanker would be double devastation. I started looking around and couldn't find a dog that was just right. Wes really likes border collies because that's what Tanker is. Not long after Tanker was in the ICU, Jocelyn sent me pictures of the puppies born from a stray border collie that had wandered onto her farm from a neighbor's house. The puppies were half border collie and half lab. The neighbor did not want anything to do with them and Jocelyn was forced to find them all homes. Did God send us a puppy for Wes? Getting the exact breed Wes wanted from my very best friend couldn't be more perfect.
Wes wanted a girl with lots of white on her. He picked out the one he wanted through pictures. He decided her name would be Bella. Wes plays guitar at Bella Cafe and it is our local hangout. We are very good friends with the owner, Will. Bella Cafe has been there for us through the many hardships we have endured in the last few years. Like the puppy itself, the name couldn't be more perfect.
We had planned on having Bella flown up here, but after the tornadoes, after we made it our mission to collect supplies for tornado victims, we felt it would be best to drive to Alabama instead. The cost of shipping everything we had collected plus the cost of flying Bella to Virginia would have far outweighed the cost of gas to drive down there. It was the perfect plan. Not only did we get to see Jocelyn and the kids, we also got to meet Jason, see her farm, personally help the tornado victims, and we ended up taking two puppies instead of one. The last remaining puppy to be adopted was a puppy that looked just like Bella. Jocelyn and the boys called her Shy Girl because she was the shy one out of the litter at first. Not anymore. Shy Girl has become very outgoing. We changed her name to Shiloh.
The decision to take Shiloh was based on the fact that we could find her a better home quicker up here than Jocelyn could in Alabama after the tornadoes. That was my thinking. I think Wes had it in the back of his mind the entire time to keep Shiloh ourselves.
I try to rely on Wes to make final big decisions in our house. I like to be part of the process, but I believe that the husband is the head of the house. The wife is supposed to love and support the husband. That is how our marriage works. That's how I believe God intended marriage to be. When Wes said he wanted to take both puppies and that we could afford it, I had my doubts, but supported his desire to have them both. Wes has got a soft heart for animals. He is just like me. I was the kid who brought home all the strays. Wes is the adult that brings home all the strays. God really knew what he was doing when he brought us together.
Now we have four dogs: Tanker, Topher, Bella, and Shiloh. Taking the two puppies together was the best decision we could have made. They play with each other, they wear each other out, and they have made an easy transition moving from house to house since they have each other. When we left Alabama, we went back to Georgia to my parents' house. My mom and dad kept Tanker and Topher while we were in Alabama. We were worried how my parents' three chihuahuas and our two dogs would take to the puppies. Everything went surprisingly well. All the dogs played in the backyard together. No fights. All play.
We had to be careful with the two puppies and what we exposed them to because they had not had all their vaccinations yet. However, my mom's coworkers in the counseling department at Collins Hill High School have been like family to us for years. They are some of Tanker and Topher's biggest fans. They had yet to see Tanker and Topher in their vests and they were anxious to see the new puppies. They are all dog people. We carried the puppies in and we all snuck in the back door as to not be seen by a lot of the students in the school. We went back to my mom's office where my mom's coworkers and a couple of her student aides came in to see us. Tanker and Topher of course did great. The puppies followed Tanker and Topher and did really well too. They did well on their leashes. They visited nicely when people came in to see them. They ended up falling asleep on the floor. They were not the least bit stressed. They will end up making great therapy dogs.
We had a great trip to Alabama and Georgia. We got to help many people, we got to spend time with Jocelyn and her family, we got to see my parents, and we acquired two new additions to our family. Here are some pictures of our trip:
Jocelyn's beautiful log cabin on 40 acres where we stayed
in Alabama. It was secluded and peaceful. It felt like
Looking off of Jocelyn's front porch Sunday morning after waking up.
It was cool and beautiful. We all then went to the barn and
walked the horses out to the pasture. With all the hills, it was quite
|All play and no work. That's what puppies are all about!|
|The horses after walking them to the pasture.|
|Bella (left) and Shiloh (right) right before we left Alabama.|
|Bella (up front) and Shiloh (laying down) in the cart at Petsmart to get their collars, leashes, and dog food. We kept them in the cart or carried them as to not expose them to other doggy germs.|
|Bella (left) and Shiloh (right) after we got to my parents' house. They just layed by the fence and watched the other dogs. It took them a little while to warm up to everyone.|
|"For the love of dog bones, what did Mom and Dad bring home this time? And what am I supposed to do with them??" -Topher|
|Sacked out on the kitchen floor after an afternoon of playing and exploring.|
|This is how we look after getting into mischief by pulling the grease pan out of the back of the grill and licking it clean. Getting into things we are not supposed to is so tiring. Must rest up for next adventure.|
|"If I'm going to raise them, they will be raised right." -Topher|
|"The puppies are up in the seat, and Tanker and I are in the back. How did the puppies get VID (Very Important Dog) status already?|
|They don't mind car rides at all. They just sleep.|
|At my mom's office in Collins Hill High School waiting for our friends to come see our new puppies. Tanker and Topher wanted to show off their vests to their friends in the counseling office.|
|They are out of control. We have a wild group here.|
|Leaving the high school. Everybody was in the back. We even had some parents come up to our car wanting to pet them all. She had recently lost her dog and she said she needed a dog fix. Topher, Tanker, Bella, and Shiloh all gave her some love.|
|Bella learned how to drink out of the fountain at my mom's house.|
|Topher can usually be found right by the puppies.|
|Our dogs have a rough life. Look at all the toys.|
|Puppies are a lot of work.|