Pyrrha’s new dominion: First report from the new house

Everything has been so crazed/chaotic since the move, as is always the case with moving, but I wanted to pop in to say that things are going well and that Pyrrha seems to be settling in!

First, she LOVES her giant new yard. Here she is, checking it out for the first time with Guion:

Pyrrha checks out her new dominion. #movingday

She begs me to go outside all day long, even if she’s just been out. But I’ve been a little loath to indulge her, as the weather here has been filthy (ice, sleet, snow, and rain for the past three days), and our yard is just a swamp of water and that Virginia red clay.

I was TICKED at her this morning: Circa 6:30 am, I let her out and she spots a squirrel in the middle of the yard. She sprints with all of her might and almost catches it, but it hops the fence and into the neighbor’s dogwood tree just in time. What does she do? Start barking loudly, of course, and trying to hop the fence to get it. (Meanwhile: It’s sleeting. And there are pools of muddy, icy water all over the yard. And it’s 29 degrees F. And I’m wearing my new boots. Of course.)

I am yelling at her like a crazy person to zero effect (naturally). She barely even glances me while she tries to vault herself over the fence. (Thankfully, I don’t think she can actually do it; she’s not that athletic. But we’ll keep an eye on it.) So, I — fuming — stomp all the way across the yard/marsh, grab her by the collar, and have to DRAG her away from this squirrel. So not my favorite way to start the day. She was still very cheery about the whole ordeal too. As soon as I dried her off (she looked like she’d had a mud bath), she asked to go outside again. Gotta be kidding me, dog.

Faithfully resuming her begging routine in the new kitchen.

Faithfully resuming her begging routine in the new kitchen.

Mud fiascos aside, we’re so happy here, and I’ll be sharing more from the house soon, I’m sure!

Guess who's slowly adapting to the new house? #pyrrhagram

Basking by our first fire in the new fireplace.

The interesting thing about being in a multi-level home with Pyrrha is that I’ve seen her shepherd-y tendencies amped up. Our previous house was a one-level 800-sq-foot shoebox, so she could patrol the whole place in a single lap. Here, however, she’s become much more vigilant. She is constantly traveling around the house, checking windows and doors for any signs of intruders. It’s kind of cute. But I hope she is able to settle in and relax soon.

Thanks for your well wishes, and more to come!

Foster update: Trina! (Now Kira)

We recently got an update from Kira (formerly Trina) and her family! They say she is doing very well and loving her life with them. The family sent this photo of her in her new dog bed:

Kira (fka Trina) in her new dog bed. It looks like she's wearing a Thundershirt here, and I'm not sure why; they didn't mention it.

Kira (fka Trina) in her new dog bed. It looks like she’s wearing a Thundershirt here, and I’m not sure why; they didn’t mention it.

I can’t believe how big she is now! She almost looks like a full-grown lady.

I love hearing from adopters of our fosters — particularly when it’s about a foster that we were tempted to keep ourselves. But I think we really made the right choice for Kira. I had five different adopters that I had to choose from, and I feel confident that she’s with just the right family. They are young and active; they work with her on training; and they have her practicing agility already. (I got a phone video of her practicing with her agility tunnel in their backyard! So cute. She clearly loves it.)

She’s such a whip-smart puppy — maybe one of the smartest dogs I’ve met — and we’re so happy that she’s in the right place. Warm, fuzzy feelings.

And now back to moving/packing madness!

Do you ever hear from the adopters of your fosters? Does it make your day like it does mine?

Thanksgiving with the shepherd

We had a lovely, lazy, long weekend with my family, and it was great to spend the holiday away from work/life/moving madness!

Shepherd on guard at her grandparents' house. #gsd #thanksgiving

On guard at her grandparents’ house.

P got cozy and spent plenty of time napping:

P knows what Thanksgiving is all about. #napping

More #thanksgiving napping. #gsd

She seems to have grown increasingly comfortable with visiting my parents. Despite all of the noise and plentiful amounts of people, she is easygoing and engaged there. She also loves her frequent play-dates with the neighbor’s dog (my father’s surrogate dog), Dublin, who has been featured here regularly.

We had lots of walks, including this particular one:

In Which Pyrrha Saves a Dog

On one of our daily family strolls, we set out from the house. Almost instantly, we noticed a commotion: A frantic lab mix was darting back and forth through traffic and a man was desperately trying to catch the dog, to no avail. My parents live right on a fairly busy street, and so we were all instantly terrified. My first thought when I heard the phrase “loose dog” was to turn around, not wanting to risk some reactive outburst from Pyrrha. But I’m glad I didn’t.

I reasoned that a loose dog might not come to strange people, but a loose dog would almost always come to another dog. So we started to walk straight toward the dog, who was still in panic mode and darting dangerously between vehicles. Mercifully, the dog honed in on Pyrrha and ran straight up to her, giving us the chance to grab his collar. His grateful owner was right there and thanked us profusely. And Pyrrha didn’t have a bit of reactive display; she seemed fascinated by the whole ordeal. I’m thankful that we had her with us!

Pyrrha and I wait for food. Photo: (c) Grace Farson.

Pyrrha and I wait for food. Photo: (c) Grace Farson.

All in all, a great escape. And now… let’s MOVE! More to come, when I get the chance!

Homeward bound. #lilfamily

Homeward bound.

Christmas came early: A custom portrait of Pyrrha

I came home to the most delightful surprise on Monday night: this perfect portrait of Pyrrha, sent to me from Chewy!

Portrait of Pyrrha by Kim, the resident artist at

Portrait of Pyrrha by Kim, the resident artist at

Totally unannounced. There was no letter or invoice in the package; just a note that said, “We hope you love it!” And I do! This just made my day.

I write some reviews for the high-quality treats that Chewy sells, and my interaction with them has always been nothing short of impressive. They really go above and beyond in customer service. I think I’ve mentioned before that my good friend’s mother ordered kibble through Chewy; when she mentioned that her dog had passed away and thus she no longer needed her regular order, Chewy sent her a bouquet of roses to express their condolences. I mean, really: above and beyond. This extremely generous and unexpected gift is just the icing on the cake for me! I’m so genuinely touched.

Can’t say enough good things about them. If you haven’t interacted with Chewy yet, let me recommend them; I guarantee you’ll be treated like royalty.

I feel so grateful for this gift, and I can’t wait to pick the perfect place for it in our new house!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated or asked to write any of this about; I just really like these people! I mean, wow. 

The dog is suspicious (of our news)

You can't tell, but she's listening to Mozart right now. #classydog #gsd

She’s listening to Mozart while I finish a calligraphy job. She’s a very classy shepherd.

Pyrrha seems to think something is up, and she watches our movements very closely these days. Her crate is another room; we’re living amid towers of cardboard boxes; furniture is slowly being removed; Guion was gone for a week on a business trip; and I have been giving her a regrettably paltry number of walks lately.

She’d be correct in her suspicions, because something IS up: We’re moving!

And to our very first owned home, no less. We close the first week of December, and everything has gone so smoothly so far that it seems safe to announce this now. We can’t wait to be in our new house; it’s so unbelievably good and perfect for us. Pyrrha, naturally, has no idea what’s going on, but I think she is really going to love this giant new yard:

New backyard!

New backyard!

More to come soon, but this is just further explanation of my frequent absence on the blog. Can’t wait for Pyrrha to see the house for the first time and get settled. Although all I can think about is my favorite post from Hyperbole and a Half: Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving. Allie Brosh is a comic genius. (And Pyrrha reminds me of her neurotic shepherd mix. Ha!)

Have you moved with your dog(s)? How did they handle it?

The good shepherd puts herself to bed

Puts herself to bed. #goodshepherd #pyrrha

When Pyrrha is ready to go to sleep, she’ll let you know: This polite lady likes to put herself to bed. And then give us annoyed looks if we’re still up talking, listening to loud music, or watching sarcastic sitcoms. She’s an old lady at heart.

Although she still is a bit neglected right now, we’ve been able to squeeze in a few night walks and longer walks during the day on the afternoon that I work from home. I am excited for our next few weeks, and I think she will be too, once she figures out what’s going on. (We hope to close on our first house in about a month! Fingers crossed that everything continues to go smoothly! And pictures to come…)

Do your dogs have any “polite” behaviors that you didn’t teach them?

Review: Castor & Pollux Organix chicken treats

I have been wanting to try an item from Castor & Pollux’s line of organic products (aka “Organix”) for a while, so we jumped at this review opportunity from Chewy. We got a chance to try the brand’s organic chicken cookies:

Castor & Pollux Organix treats

The cookies are solid, small discs (bigger than a US quarter) that must give off a very alluring aroma, because Pyrrha came running as soon as I unzipped the bag.

Castor & Pollux Organix treats

Close shot of the cookies.

In her eagerness to win one of these cookies, Pyrrha gave her best begging eyes and even knocked the bag off the table with her muzzle.

Castor & Pollux Organix treats

OK. I’ve been patient.

Castor & Pollux Organix treats

Knocking the bag off the table in her enthusiasm.

Castor & Pollux Organix treats

Smells good!

In short, she’s a big fan!

Castor & PolluxIf you’re not familiar with the brand, Castor & Pollux markets themselves as “the leader in organic and natural food for pets.” In the United States, this seems to be true. The company was bought by Merrick in 2012, which seems to have raised its profile in pet supply stores.

This product is USDA Organic-certified and made in the United States, which can almost always put a pet owner a bit more at ease. These treats also tout a very trustworthy ingredients list:

Organic Chicken, Organic Peas, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Oats, Organic Barley, Organic Chicken Fat naturally preserved with mixed Tocopherols(form of Vitamin E) Natural Chicken Liver Flavor, Organic Flaxseed, Rosemary Extract

I think these treats are too hard to use for training purposes (in which tiny, soft bits always seem to work best for us), but we will certainly enjoy them as the high-quality biscuit for when Pyrrha has been an extra good girl (or for when Guion needs to make some bribing magic happen). At Chewy, a 12-oz. bag of these treats sells for $6.09, which I think is a good deal; the bag is generously sized and filled up almost to the top, so it even feels like you’re getting a lot for such a high-quality product.

One other comment about Chewy itself: I am SUPER impressed with their shipping times! I don’t know if we happen to live really close to a distributor, but we seem to always get our Chewy products within a day or two of requesting them. Impressive service, to say the least!

Has your dog ever tried a product from Castor & Pollux? If so, what did you think?

Disclaimer: We were provided with a bag of these treats in exchange for our honest review.

The ambiguous one-eared German shepherd

As I mentioned in my last post, this dog likes to share her emotions through her ears. They’re very expressive.

For example, here we have the “ambiguous one-eared German shepherd”:

The ambiguous one-ear up

Here, she’s not so sure about me taking her photo and is wondering if the fact that I have my shoes on means we’re going for a W-A-L-K…

Hope you all have happy and peaceful weekends with your dogs!

Playing with Heath

On Sunday, sweet Heath came by for a brief play-date, relieving Pyrrha from her weekend of boredom. (She was cooped up inside with me while I slowly recovered from whatever upper-respiratory-nastiness this is.)

Play date with Heath

Handsome Heath!

Isn’t he handsome? He has such a beautiful mane and manly coat.

It was unseasonably hot, so the dogs tired out rather quickly, but I think they had a great romp.

Play date with Heath

Play date with Heath

Play date with Heath

I love the goofy faces they make in the middle of play:

Play date with Heath

Play date with Heath

Play date with Heath

Play date with Heath

Tired, happy pups! Taking a break for some kisses.

Play date with Heath

Play date with Heath

We hope to have Heath over again soon!

Play date with Heath! #golden #gsd

Good luck, Trina!

This brilliant, sharky, sweet little puppy is on her way to a happy life with a young family!

Trina the shark

Trina the shark

I am happy to report that Trina (soon to be named something else, probably) went on trial with a family who has a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old lab mix, Belle.

Trina the shark

The meeting went quite well; Trina was nervous about Belle at first, and kept barking at her, but within a few minutes, she was her typical wiggly puppy self, and did her best to make Belle love her. (Belle wasn’t so sure, but she seemed tolerant, kind of like a mannerly dowager.)

As you can see, I think our crazy little girl has found her happy ending!

Trina went on trial today with her new family! #happyendings #dontbecry

Trina with her new family.

Semi-related life update: Because we recently learned that our landlords are selling the house we’re living in (BIG sad face), our housing situation is kind of up in the air right now. So we’re going to take a hiatus on fostering. I’m sad about this, but this is the best decision for us right now. We’re hoping that the stars will align so that we could buy our first house — and then, of course, we could keep fostering easily — but everything is uncertain right now. I’ll keep you posted!

Hope you all had nice weekends! I’m still basking in that fuzzy feeling after seeing another foster happily adopted. It’s such a nice, intangible reward.