Dora does the laundry

Before her rescue, Dora lived outside in a yard with several other dogs. She wasn’t pampered or spoiled, and she most certainly was not responsible for any house chores.

Being two years old and all, she must have figured that she has been slacking and she’d better make up for lost time. So on day two of her grand adventure in our foster home, she got right to work doing the laundry.

Mama, what are we going to do about all of these messy garments?

While bashful Sir Chick always hides during laundry time because of the loud noises the machine makes, Dora the Explorer boldly stood by for the whole endeavor, even venturing to sniff out the goods, determining which was the smelliest.

This shirtsleeve is the smelliest. It hints of lawyering, and perhaps a touch of miso soup.

Inspecting the laundry-in-waiting wasn’t enough for this brave girl, though. She insisted on checking out the washing machine contents before we took the dirty clothes for a spin.

Mama, the load in here is all gym clothes. I guess my dress shirt skirt can wait until the next go round.

Wait! I thought I saw a piece of kibble in that pants pocket . . .

It turned out that Dora was a very good laundry assistant. After helping fish the treats out of various pants pockets and identifying which shirt had the most interesting scent on its sleeve, she bravely played patty cakes with the washing machine during the spin cycle, play-bowed to the dryer as it fluffed, and did her very best to hold still while I did my very best to use her back as a folding table. She’s got a ways to go, but at least the girl tries!

Holding still isn't so easy, lady. Don't you know this bod was made to boogie?

For more info on adopting Dora the Explorer, click here or contact us at info [at] loveandaleash [dot] com.

Meet Dora the Explorer!

Pop quiz: Which of these two ladies is Dora the Explorer, a silly cartoon character loved by children all around the world? Tough question — it could be either, right?

While these two cute girls share a name, only one of them is our new foster dog. We are thrilled to introduce our newest resident, Dora the Explorer!

We hadn’t been home from our Thanksgiving trip for 15 minutes before Dora trotted in, butt wiggling and tail waggling like there’s no tomorrow. Her little feet barely had time to tap dance across the room in excited fashion, and we were already consumed in giggles at her cuteness. After all, just look at that mug!

Miss Dora has the cutest expression we’ve met in a while, but she’s not just a pretty face — she has a BIG personality to match. In the recent past we’ve gravitated toward the shy, introverted dogs for foster — we’ve found them to be easier to integrate into our home. But Dora needed a soft place to land, and it just so happens that she loves to party. She’s the kind of party guest who brings a bottle of the good stuff, gets your grandma dancing with a lampshade on, and then politely cleans up after everybody’s gone home. Dora’s taking all of us for a joyride, and if she can help it, we’re all going to have a smashing good time!

"If this is a party, then where's the cupcakes?"

Dear fostering, we missed you!

Dear fostering,

Oh, how we have missed you. We thought it would be easy to quit you. We thought that with everything going on, we’d forget about you for a little while. We moved, after all. To a new state. Halfway across the country. We took a two-week road trip in California. Moved into a house full of boxes. We had Big Things on our minds. You should have been pushed out of our brains.

And yet. I couldn’t get you out of my mind. We bid our Curious Georgia farewell in DC just days before we took off for our road trip, and got our pit bull fix at BAD RAP and Hikeabull just days after we arrived in California. And as our return — and subsequent drive to our new home base in Austin — drew near, I got the fever. The foster fever.

So we got here, found the essentials in a mountain of boxes (coffee maker, underwear, cell phone chargers, dog treats . . .), and immediately started to get restless. I would think about sweet little pit bull noses, and my leg would start to twitch. I would think about warm little pit bull bellies, and my fingers would itch. I would see a pit bull riding in the back of a car, and my face would break out into a big grin. I would clear a spot for our foster crate in the guest bedroom, and my heart would flutter. Fostering, we missed you so. When could we start anew?

We got home from a Thanksgiving trip last night, and this marks our first full week in Austin since our move — seems like a good time to start a new adventure. So fostering, we’re finally reunited. And it feels so good.

Giving Thanks

We have much to be thankful for this year, and wish you a beautiful holiday weekend with plenty of time to reflect on the blessings in your own life.

Chick is planning to over-eat and spend the day napping in the sunshine. We hope your Thanksgiving is equally peaceful and full of warmth.

With much love,

Your friends at Love and a Six-Foot Leash

A different kind of dog rescue

A craigslist furniture hunt this week led me to the doorstep of a remarkable woman. She is an artist, an eccentric, a carpenter, and a collector of antique and vintage furniture and architectural goodies — the types of things that others may cast aside as junk. She sees the beauty in these pieces, lovingly restores them or repurposes them as something new, and decorates her property with the ones that she doesn’t sell on craigslist or at flea markets. Walking through her yard feels like stepping into the secret garden.

A. lives on 10 acres in a rural county southeast of Austin. On her property she has created a beautiful, fanciful sanctuary for herself, her family, and a few dozen animals. Aside from being an artist, A. is an animal rescuer. Her work with animals is loving and true, but it’s pretty different from the type of animal rescue that most city folks are accustomed to.

She travels all around Central Texas collecting furniture and salvaged goods from demolition sites, general stores, and industrial warehouses. Everywhere she goes, she meets animals in bad shape — half-dead geese, abandoned cats with broken legs, lonely dogs chained to rusted trucks, and litters of puppies dumped in a ditch.

Pretty often, she arrives home with her salvaged treasure of the day in the bed of her truck, and an animal or two in the cab. She takes them to the vet when they need it, and finds them new, better homes when she can. All dogs and cats that pass through her home are spayed or neutered — at A.’s expense. Her rural county does not have any free or low-cost spay/neuter clinics for homeless animals, so she has to cough up the costs. She has never paid for an animal, and doesn’t want to make money off them either. She lists the animals on craigslist for free, and then carefully interviews any interested parties to make sure the homes are good ones. She can’t be as meticulous as an official rescue, but she does what she can.

Some of the work she takes on is even harder than this. She tries to forge trusting relationships with families whose pets are not being cared for properly, to encourage them to do better. Her corner of Central Texas is fairly poor, and a lot of families keep dogs and cats loose on their unfenced property or chained to their porches or sheds. Many of these animals have no shelter and little food. Most are not fixed, and when a new litter of puppies or kittens shows up, a family member rounds them up into a box, drives them a few miles away, and tosses them in a ditch. According to A., this is not uncommon. She found a few of her own dogs and cats as ditch puppies and kittens.

When she can, she convinces families to let her pay for a spay/neuter for their pets. She offers flea and heartworm meds when she can afford it. When the families seem uncommitted to their animals, she offers to take them away and find them new homes. Sometimes she’s successful, but it often takes her months to break through. Just after my visit, A. was on her way to visit a man who has a friendly young pit bull permanently shackled to a four-foot heavy rusted chain. She thought that maybe today would be the day that she convinces him to give the dog up. This was not her first visit to his property, 8 miles away on a dirt country road.

On the way home, my eyes scanned the highway’s edge, looking for ditch puppies or injured cats on the side of the road. As I drove along, I wondered: how many brave-hearted individuals are out there, engaged in this independent, unofficial sort of animal rescue, flying under the radar of so many of us? And what can be done to help individuals like A. work even more effectively to touch more lives?

Chix-a-lot week: Meet my evil bathtub

Well, she’s gone and done it. My mean mama has given me a bath in my new bathtub.

I had high hopes for this new house, but it turns out my new bathtub is just as evil as my old bathtub. Maybe even more evil because there’s a snake that spits water, and mama can hold it in her hand and make it spit at me. If it isn’t obvious just from me typing about it, I hate that snake.

Mama says the snake helps me get her get the dirt off my belly. I like the dirt just fine where it is, but I guess my evil mama prefers me to be as white as can be. Look at all the dirt in the bathtub. I worked hard to adhere it to myself, and she just ran it off into the water with her evil soap and her evil snake.

Maybe the worst think about taking a bath is that it reveals my top secret superhero spots that I work very hard to keep hidden from the world. They are the source of all my powers, and I swear they are weakened if everybody sees them. Just look at my secret ear spots and my leg spots — you’re not supposed to be able to see those!

Ok, but I have to admit. When the evil bath is over, one of my favorite things happens. Mama lifts me out of the bathtub and snuggles me up in a big soft towel. She rubs me all over and then lets me wear the towel like I’m Yoda. I kind of love it, but I pretend I’m still mad at her because I want her to know how much I hate bathtime.

And then another good thing happens. A long time ago mama and I made a deal — I will give her one bath of good behavior in exchange for one high-quality rawhide chew, payable upon completion of the evil bath. Here I am waiting with my payment by the back door to go out and chew it in the sunshine.

I would never, ever, ever say that it’s worth it, but I sure do love those rawhide chews in the sunshine.

I hope everybody is having a good week and steering clear of those evil bathtubs and the evil spitting snakes!


Chix-a-lot week: Meet my new yard!

Hi guys!

I missed a few Chix-a-Lot Fridays because I was having so much fun playing with my uncle Tex the Lab at my grandparents’ house that I just didn’t have time to write. Plus I’m not great on the phone and mama was traveling in California, so I wouldn’t have been able to help her with the blogging anyway. So I’ve declared this week to officially be Chix-a-Lot Week!

Some of you have been reading for a while and remember that this foster brother supreme (me!) had to hang up his Maryland crab mallet and make the long three-day journey down to Austin, Texas, where he was happily reunited with his cowdog boots and pearl snap shirts. That’s right, we’re back in my homeland, Austin!

I can’t wait to start fostering other pit bull dogs again– it’s been almost a month since sweet Curious Georgia broke my heart by moving to her new home. But mama says we’re not ready quite yet, since we have a house full of boxes and haven’t even found our dog fostering supplies like our crate, extra leashes, bowls, and bribes treats yet. Hopefully we’ll get our first Texan foster dog right after Thanksgiving, yippee!

In the meantime, I want to introduce you to my new back yard! It’s my very favorite part of our new life, and it’s going to be perfect for all the dog fostering I’m going to do. It’s much bigger and much sunnier than my old yard, with plenty of stuff to sniff (the next door neighbors have free-range chickens) and plenty of places to roll around and scritch my own back (we have our own grass)!

This here is my new Live Oak tree. I have a couple of these in my front yard too, but this is the big one in my back yard. It’s my favorite place to take naps and sunbathe.

See that funny post there? That’s there to support the branch that sits on top of it. Live Oaks grow very very wide and not just tall, and sometimes they can’t support their own weight, and they need our help and the help of supports in the ground. This support supports the tree, and I support the support by peeing on it, eating all of my kongs right next to it, and taking all of my outdoor naps right under it. We’re getting to be good buddies!

Next up is my fire pit. When it gets cool at night in December and January, this is where we’ll invite our human and doggie friends over to sit around looking at the twinkly hot thing they make in there. Sometimes they put food on sticks and warm it up on top of the twinkly hot thing. Once I even got lucky enough to snatch one of the sticks that had been holding a sausage, and I ate the whole thing because it was covered in delicious sausage juices!

Okay, here is my mama’s new garden, and behind that, you can see some of our oak trees in the front yard. The people who lived here before had dogs too, and they cleverly put up an extra fence to keep the dogs out, can you believe it? I guess their dogs liked digging up tomato plants to find the compost and fish emulsion buried underneath as much as I do. I guess I’ll just have to admire her herbs, peppers, tomatoes, squash, and other goodies from out here. Oh well.

And last but not least, here is my very own dog house! Now mind you, I don’t do dog houses since the regular big house is my dog house. But still, it’s pretty neat to have a dog house in my yard. I plan to keep my foster brothers and sisters in there if they misbehave. Or that’s what I’m gonna tell them to keep them in line, because I’m nasty clever like that.

I hope you enjoyed meeting my new Austin yard!

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