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Big, Black and Ready to Play

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you can understand why the case of a black lab mix who’s been waiting for a forever home for more than a year would resonate with me.

Meet Fontane:

Fontane the black lab mix

This dapper dude is just 4-1/2 years old, but he’s been in the market for a home for about 18 months.

Fontane is an athletic dog who already knows basic obedience.

This Aurora Adopt a Pet foster boy is a graduate of Second Chance Pups, a prison-based training program in Nebraska that pairs rescue dogs with offenders.

In addition to sit, stay and all that usual stuff, Fontane is both house and crate trained. And he’s eager to learn more if you’re ready to teach.

Fontane would be best in a home with no cats, but he would love to expend his energy in a house with active adults or a family with older children. He does need a yard with a privacy fence.

Fontane the lab mix

Fontane is current on vaccinations, heartworm negative and currently being fostered in Lincoln, Nebraska.

If he seems like a match for your family, contact shellyreneclark@gmail.com or auroraadoptapet@yahoo.com for more information and an application.

Fontane black lab mix

To see more of Fontane’s adorable-ness, watch his video.

Please help Fontane find a home by sharing his story!

Foster Failure

In the dog rescue world, the phrase foster fail often has an ultimately positive meaning.

Rather than going to a new home, a foster dog turns into a forever dog. Whether he bewitches his temporary peeps or just never gels with new ones, it’s all good. He’s safe, with people who love him.

I wish I had a foster fail story like this. But I don’t.

My foster failure story sucks. It involves intense bonding, intense fear, blind love, sharp teeth and a needle.

If you’ve been following this blog for long, you already know a lot of the story.

Almost two years ago, my boyfriend and I found a black dog.

Wayward dog #3 - Charlie Machete

The big mutt did not want to be caught, but Zach, my hero, managed to loop a leash around the snarling beast’s neck and gain his trust within minutes.

So began our adventures with the dog who came to be known as Charlie Machete, a striking black mongrel with a shovelhead, feathery tail, a lean, wiggly body and no manners.

He tore up our yard, bounced around our house like a “pinbull” and perched on countertops like a semi-domesticated panther.

He also occasionally growled at our friends, and tangled, expensively, with our golden retriever.

But for all the chaos Charlie Machete wrought, he could also be quite charming, trading tricks for treats, jogging tirelessly at my side for miles every day and snuggling close all through the night.

black dog on a walk

Best. Running. Partner. Ever.

We always knew that, for many reasons, he could not be our dog forever. However, we could see Charlie Machete’s potential. We loved him so much we were sure someone else could fall for him, too.

And they did – twice. But each affair was short-lived, and the second time he came back to us by way of a shelter three hours away.

Back under our care, he seemed a little calmer and a little more fearful. He was accepted into a rescue group but never liked meeting strangers at adoption events. He sometimes peed submissively in the house.

Eventually, Charlie Machete and our golden seemed to have worked out their issues. Charlie Machete even got himself a very tiny girlfriend and joined playgroup a few times at daycare.

But his distrust of most people – even some with whom he interacted regularly – persisted.

And then, recently, his fear came out in a rage against someone who inadvertently approached him in a way that made him uncomfortable. When I yanked on his leash to keep her safe, he redirected his frustration toward me.

No one was hurt, thank goodness, and the dog behaved calmly as soon as I removed him from the situation.

But that moment, the latest in a handful of close calls over the past year and a half, changed everything.

If I could build a bubble around this dog that I love so much, I would do it. But I cannot. And I cannot continue to risk him hurting another person out of misplaced fear.

Machete bat ears-crop

Tomorrow, the vet will come to my house, and I will give up on my foster dog for good.

It will be the hardest day I have had in a long time.

I’m sorry, Charlie Machete. I know that in ways I have failed you, despite my love for you. Thank you for all you have helped me to learn.

DIY Duds for Your Dog

Even you can make your own dog clothes.

black lab mix standing

He has seen the DIY light.

Because I’m a sucker for upcycling and DIY, the rag bin at the recent Dogs on the Lawn event at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art caught my eye.

I had read in the event schedule that one of the activities involved making shirts for your dog, but I didn’t know exactly what that meant.

I was thinking blank doggy tees and magic markers.

But the art students leading this activity were far more crafty than that!

They clearly had figured out what we have all known for a long time:

Dog apparel is expensive in the same way as women’s swimwear and lingerie. You pay a premium price for very little fabric because it’s cute.

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$11 on clearance at Fab.com.

For the art students, a way around investing in a bunch of pre-made doggy shirts was to upcycle old fabric. Their rag bin consisted of various shapes, sizes and colors of well-worn and soft T-shirts.

Next to the bin were several patterns for cutting the cloth into no-sew, homemade doggy duds.

Because I didn’t have any of the wayward dogs with me and the event was winding down, I grabbed a yellow shirt sleeve that seemed big enough for an elderpin to squeeze into.

Then, I proceeded to the screen printing area.

Guests could choose one of several patterns and colors. There was a pretty cute outline of a dog with a heart design, but I chose something more representative of this particular day.

I picked a shuttlecock, a locally-understood symbol of the Nelson, which has a giant shuttlecock sculpture on the lawn.

A student helped me screen printed the piece of fabric for me and pinned it to a clothesline with everyone else’s so the ink could dry.

DIY dog clothes from old shirts

I was pleased with the result. But back at home, I realized quickly that even a stretched out T-shirt sleeve is a bit too snug for an elderpin.

Nevertheless, the project did not go to waste. It makes a very nice neck band for one Charlie “Chetty” Machete.

And the color suits him well, since he is undoubtedly a yellow dog.

black lab mix wearing yellow neckband

Have you ever made your own dog clothes or done screen printing at home?

If you want to upcycle the scraps in your rag bin, check out this eHow article about making old dog clothes from things you have around the house.

To try your hand at DIY screen printing, try out this Instructable.

Ouch!

If porcupines were tree branches, they would look like this.

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Long-haired Luke picked this up in his golden tailfeathers last night during our jog along the Trolley Track Trail.

He squatted down to do his business, and when he stood up, this foot-and-a-half-long weapon was swinging from the underside of his tail. Because his fur kept him safe from the thorns, he seemed more confused than anything – like a cat with a string tied to its tail.

Never have I more wished to be carrying a pocket knife on an outing.

However, instead of cutting around the evil entanglement, I spent ten bare-handed minutes, gingerly tugging strands of hair away from the sticky, hair-like thorns, many of which lodged themselves in my skin throughout the process.

Charlie Machete seemed to be laughing at us all the while.

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Oh well, it was an adventure!

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, several thorny varieties of deciduous trees grow in Missouri. I think our spiky branch was new growth from a black or honey locust that fell off due to the recent snowstorms.

Many honey locusts grow along the part of the trail we were on. They have a terrifying appearance, their own branches wrapping around the trunk like wooden barb wire.

HoneyLocustThorn

What hazards must you watch out for on your outings?

Dogs in Boots: A Tragedy

After the first round of snow blanketed Kansas City, I suited up Luke and Charlie Machete in their winter weather gear.

Due to his propensity to get ice balls stuck between his toes, I recently began putting boots on Luke during snowy walks.

As with most things, the golden retriever tolerates the boots. And as long as they stay on, they do keep his feet dry and clean. Sadly, he lost one boot in deep snow five minutes after this video was taken.

golden retriever in snow shoes

Pro tip: Dog boots are not so good for trudging new paths through snow drifts.

This was first time I ever managed to get boots on Charlie Machete. He seemed so uncomfortable, however, that I did not make him wear them out of the house.

I am pretty sure if I had, a certain snide little elderpin would have never let the black lab mix live it down.

Let me know what you think of this video. Scooby’s cameo is my favorite part.

Have you ever put snow shoes on your dog?

Dogs in Snow

The white stuff is melting fast now, but before that happened I snapped some footage of these Kansas City canines carousing in the snow.

Let me know what you think in the comments – this is my first attempt at video editing!

Return of the Blizzard

On Tuesday, the world outside our Kansas City windows looked like this. image

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In a follow-up to last week’s snowstorm, Snowpocalypse II dumped another 10-12 inches across the metro, and pretty much shut down the city.

The dogs and I didn’t mind too much, since it was perfectly possible to snuggle get work done on the couch in the home office.

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Can’t you see I’m working here?

And then, suddenly, it was no longer possible to be so productive. Right after I snapped that Instagram of Charlie Machete playing office, we heard a loud pop across the street.

A transformer had exploded, and the power would be out for the next 20 hours or so.

Reportedly, some 100,000 people lost power at some point during the storm.

As one of them, I feel incredibly lucky that friends and family offered us a respite from the cold overnight.

Bonus: The sleeping accommodations included a fireplace and Charlie Machete’s spastic girlfriend Roxy.

Wherever you are today, I send you warm wishes!

Have you ever been stuck with your dogs and no electricity? Share your story in the comments!

My Dogs Ate My Paycheck

The obedience champions I grew up with never ate my homework.

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Neither have the dogs of my adulthood – even during the year I took Spanish classes at a local community college and really did have homework.

However, my dogs do take a bite out of my bank account all the time.

Usually, they tear off their fair share for food, treats and maintenance medicine. Sometimes, unexpected health needs require a bigger bite of the budget.

Other times – like this past weekend – the dogs don’t really make me spend the money at all. But I still blame them.

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The consumer pet industry loves him as much as I do.

I blame their muddy little feet from which I have to protect my car and home.

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The brand name Pet Rebellion seems so apt.

pet hammock for  a car

The last car hammock I bought only lasted a month. This one seems tougher, and it has pockets for leashes and water bottles and bones.

And I blame their very dogness for being so awesome I can’t help but celebrate it through the purchase of items created in their likeness.

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Well, we do need kitchen deco (and a dog to serve the coffee).

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How could I not buy this?

Grand total for non-essential yet nice-to-have dog-related items purchased over the weekend: Approximately $80.

Ouch. It hurts!

But I can’t help it. It’s their fault!

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“It’s good to have a red chair cover on Oscar night.”

What kind of purchases do you make because of your dog love?

Snow Day in Kansas City

A big ol’ blizzard came through yesterday and turned Kansas City into a winter wonderland.

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In the end, the snow was as deep as Scooby is tall. Needless to say, that made going outside a real challenge for the elderpin.

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Charlie Machete, on the other hand, enjoyed every romp he got in the white stuff.

The weather wasn’t all fun and games, though. At least 7 cars got stranded right outside my house throughout the course of the day, and wrecks littered the roads and highways all over the city.

The Big Snow of 2013 (aka Winter Storm Q) led to a state of emergency being declared in Kansas City, with schools, businesses and even some medical facilities shutting down for the day. I felt grateful to be able to work from my warm, safe home all day, surrounded by the dogs.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Executive Orders

After celebrating my 31st birthday all weekend, it seems my break from the daily grind has been extended.

presidents day dog meme

Secretary of Defense Charlie Machete and Vice President of Waywardness Luke Jones delivered the message for their boss.

president's day camo miniature pinscher meme

The Wayward Dogs hope you have a relaxing President’s Day!

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