A Day in the Life of Theodore Roosevelt

In light of Monday’s holiday (President’s Day here in the US), I thought I would share some photos of my presidentially-named dog, Theodore Roosevelt.  Y’all have seen plenty of Teddy snapshots, but I am a crazy dog lady who cannot put her camera down.

Teddy sleeps in every day.  Seriously.  If I wake up earlier than 8am he won’t even open his eye.  Clearly, Teddy is a dog who appreciates his leisure time.  But once he wakes up…

He’s immediately ready for a walk and stares at me impatiently while I lace up my shoes.

Teddy & Josh: Men about town.

After his walk, it’s home for breakfast and a whole lot of raw-hide chewing.

Later on, Teddy takes a ride to visit his grandparents!

Back at home, the sleepy Ted snuggles in for a nap.

Teddy’s adorability aside, one of the reasons I so love sharing photos of him is to encourage others to consider animal adoption.  Shelters in the US are overcrowded and have high euthanization rates, and thus each animal adopted from such a situation is a life saved.  I’m not claiming to be a hero for adopting Teddy – no, he brings more to my life than I could ever repay him for.  What I’m saying is this: shelter dogs deserve your love.  They should be adopted, cuddled, and spoiled.  Did you look at the above photos and think, “Boy, I would love a dog like that!”?  Well, he’s a rescued mutt that was once a stray and he’s the best friend I’ve ever had.  Want to find a best friend of your very own?  Head over to Petfinder.com or AdoptaPet.com.  I’m partial to Friends of Retrievers, because I can personally vouch for their adoration of the dogs they rescue, but there are plenty of fantastic groups that have animals for adoption.

Does anyone else have a rescue story?  Did you meet your best friend in a rescue or shelter?

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good morning, Monday: Better late than never.

I know, I know – it’s not morning any longer!  This particular morning found me rushing to get to class and I had no time to craft a Monday pick-me-up post.  However, while the day is already in its postmeridian hours, I still have a multitude of things to do.  I’m running on just a few hours of sleep and absolutely need some external forces to jump-start my afternoon.  Here’s what I’ve come up with to keep me going on this sleepy Monday:

First, some happy news: Over the weekend, I received notification that four of the dogs up for adoption from Friends of Retrievers Rescue found their forever homes.  Not only is this happy news for those pups, but means that four spots are now open in foster homes and four new dogs can be pulled from shelter situations and listed online for adoption.  Happy news always helps me get through a long day, and this is some of the best I’ve heard in quite a while!

Next, I’d like to share a song I frequently turn to in times when I need to self-motivate.  I can’t listen to “Ce Jeu” by Yelle without breaking into my ridiculous version of dancing.  There are few jams that pump me up quite as well as this one, and I hope you find it works the same wonders for your Monday afternoon as it will mine:

And there you have it!  Instant Monday motivation, brought to you by animal lovers and French pop stars.  Happy Monday, y’alls!

Save a Life: Adopt a Companion Animal!

Earlier today, Josh, Teddy, and I encountered a sweet older man in the grocery store parking lot.  The man, parked in the spot next to ours, rolled down his window to inquire what happened to Teddy’s eye.  I explained that we didn’t know, and had adopted Teddy from a rescue organization.  The man peered through his enormous glasses at Teddy, glanced at Josh and I, then said, “I bet he’s the best dog you’ve ever had,” going on to explain that he and his wife had adopted a dog as well.

Today wasn’t the first time I had such a conversation – many of the dog owners we cross paths with have found their best friends in shelters or rescues.  Adopted dogs make ideal companions for so many families, and with countless homeless animals needing forever homes, it amazes me that folks still head to pet stores or breeders when searching for a dog.  Millions of potential companion animals are euthanized each year – animals guilty of nothing.  These creatures would have been loyal and loving companions had they been given the opportunity.  The Humane Society of the United States comprised this list of the top five reason to adopt your companion animal.  A quick Google search will produce many other organizations advocating adopting instead of purchasing.

Clearly, I feel strongly about animal adoption, which is why one of the things keeping me busy over winter break has been my new volunteer job with Friends of Retrievers Rescue.  FOR Rescue is the organization we adopted Teddy through, and they are a remarkable, compassionate group of dog lovers.  Based in Alabama and Tennessee, FOR Rescue works with a network of foster homes in the southeastern US, taking in animals that have been surrendered by their owners, living in overcrowded shelters, or (as in Teddy’s case) living on the streets.  The animals are adopted through animal rescue websites where they can be seen by potential adopters in several states.  The group rescues all breeds of dog and even some cats!  I’ve been wanting to do some animal rescue work, so I was thrilled when a call went out for data-entry volunteers.  My job is to receive information about the dogs from their foster families, then post them on AdoptAPet.com.  It’s only a few hours of work each week, but I’m already in love with the entire process of animal rescue.  There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing that one of the dogs has been adopted.

If you’re unable to adopt at this time, donating to FOR Rescue is a supremely helpful way to contribute to animal rescue and will help pay for vetting, preventative medicines, dog food, and so on.  However, if you or someone you know is in the market for a new best friend, I highly recommend taking a look at FOR Rescue’s website here.  I can personally vouch for their organization and confidently assert that they are some of the most animal-loving individuals I’ve encountered.

If you’re lucky, you might even find a dog as cute as Teddy!

Vote For Teddy!

The organization that saved my dog, Friends of Retrievers Rescue, is making a calendar.  They invited dog parents to submit cute pictures of their pets and are now having a contest on their Facebook page – whichever 12 pictures receive the most “Likes” will be featured in the calendar.  We (obviously) entered Teddy, and one of his pictures seems to have a chance!  Think he’s adorable?  Head to Facebook and check out Friends of Retrievers!  The calendar contest is contained in their photo albums, and there you’ll find this picture of my favorite dog:

Also, if you love animals and feel like helping out a dog in need this December, be sure to check out Friends of Retrievers website, where they have options to sponsor special needs animals for the holidays.

Happiness came in a 40lb package.

I’m unsure how I’ve failed to write a single thing about my best friend in the world, Theodore Roosevelt.

I first saw Teddy on Petfinder.com in March 2010.  At the time, Josh and I were looking for a place to live with friends of ours.  The timing was perfect and we found an ideal space that was happy to allow a small dog.  (In all honesty, I would have changed my circumstances to accommodate the dog – he was the most perfect and adorable creature I had ever laid eyes on and that remains true today.  I had no choice but to adopt him!)

Seriously, who could say no to this face?

Teddy was listed for adoption by an animal rescue group based in the south.  He was in a foster home in Alabama after being saved from a small town called Center Point.  Teddy had been stray, living with his mate and their three puppies.  After several complaints from townspeople, the sheriff of Center Point decided the only reasonable way to take care of the strays was with a shotgun.  He scheduled time on a Wednesday to eliminate the little homeless family.  Fortuitously, a local animal welfare group heard about this and on the Sunday before Teddy and his family were scheduled to be hunted and put down, a group of truly kind souls hit the streets of Center Point.  They located the dogs and scooped them up using some special equipment, thus saving five lives.  (I still get pretty emotional just thinking about this.  The idea of someone hurting Teddy pushes maternal instinct-esque buttons in me that I never knew I had before I adopted him).

To make things more lousy and complicated, Teddy was found without his left eye.  He underwent several procedures while in foster care to close the socket and drain it of remaining fluid.  He was also found with broken teeth and scars – all on the left side of his tiny, adorable head.  What happened is a mystery, but I can tell from the way Teddy cowers around tall men that someone treated him very, very badly early on in life.

Teddy makes a fantastic study-buddy.

Josh and I submitted pages of paperwork to the rescue group, Friends of Retrievers Rescue.  After a couple of phone interviews, we were approved to adopt and began the process of getting Teddy to us.  He was driven by an animal transport company from Alabama to Windham, New Hampshire.

Looking fly in his winter coat from Muffinhead Dog Jackets!

It was a week’s worth of waiting from when we were approved to adopt Teddy until we could pick him up in New Hampshire.  My excitement that week was tantamount to all of the anticipatory birthday and Christmas thrills from my entire life (combined!).  We arrived in New Hampshire to meet Theodore on May 8th, an overcast Saturday.  The Park-and-Ride pickup spot was full of other adopters (which made my heart swell!  I love people who love animals).  The transport van pulled up and everyone gathered by the sliding side doors.  Inside were stacks of crates containing nervous looking dogs.  Spotting Teddy was easy – he was in the front row.  He looked so much smaller than I had imagined!  He was the second dog to be released into owner custody.  We put on his new leash and the first thing he did was bolt towards a flock of little brown birds on a nearby patch of grass.  He hopped around, enjoying his freedom from the crate (Teddy detests confinement more than the average dog), then settled into the car with Josh and I for the ride home.

Hanging out in the blanket fort room with Josh.

Since that day, Teddy has been the best friend a girl could ask for.  He loves to cuddle and share snacks with me.  He is a bit neurotic like me, and we have developed a pretty strong codependency.  I could not have asked for a better companion.  I adopted Teddy at a time when I had few friends and lots of stress – he has made dealing with those troubles infinitely easier.  It’s damn hard to be sad with a 40lb pup slathering your face with messy dog kisses.

Ted’s first time playing in the snow!

This isn’t to say that dog ownership has been easy.  A few months after adopting Ted, we found out that his eye socket was still producing tissue to fill the empty cavity.  This caused swelling and pain in his non-eye, and required over $2000 worth of diagnostics and surgery.  He underwent a complete inoculation in October 2010.  Seven short months later, and Teddy was diagnosed with heartworm disease at a routine vet visit.  He just finished treatment for that at the end of this past summer.  His love of non-dog-friendly sweets has prompted a small handful of trips to the emergency vet.  He is terribly inconvenient, occasionally eats out of the garbage, harasses my cat, and has awful-smelling flatulence.  I hate walking him in extreme temperatures (which we have plenty of in Maine), and I hate sweeping animal hair from my floors every day.  BUT – I readily do all of these things because Theodore pays me back 100x with unconditional love.  Each and every hassle of dog ownership is absolutely worth it.

Decked out in his Halloween costume a week after having his inoculation.

There are many incredible dogs like Teddy waiting for people to rescue them.  The number of dogs being euthanized in high-kill shelters each day is startling, and I wish more people would consider adoption before going to an animal breeder or pet store when searching for a companion.

I really don’t think anyone could find this level of adorability in any dog other than a mix-breed!  Lab/Chow/Pit never looked so handsome!

Perhaps the best family portrait of all time.
Adorably gangster?
Hilarity in the kitchen!
After this was taken we headed home for snacks and snuggles.
The perfect dog.

If you are considering bringing a companion animal into your life, please consider adoption.  There are so many incredible animals waiting for loving people to rescue them.  Start at Petfinder.com – there you can find every kind of companion animal in every area of the country!  I would be even more pleased if folks would take a minute to peruse the website of Friends of Retrievers Rescue, the group that saved Teddy.  If you’d like to help but can’t adopt at this time, FOR Rescue is constantly in need of donations to help feed and medicate their animals.

Oh, one more thing!  If you’re interested in the exceedingly cool jacket that Teddy has, check out Muffinhead!  Josh’s friend, Emily finds various clothing items while thrifting and up-cycles them into dog coats of all kinds.  Teddy loves his winter jacket and we’re hoping to pick up a Muffinhead raincoat for him soon, too!  It would come in handy now, given all the rain that Maine has been subjected to of late.  Speaking of, I’m going to go enjoy this overcast weather with a cup of tea and my Dedalus Book of French Horror!