Baxter – Foster Dog

Poor Baxter. Poor, ridiculously-cute, half-a-floof, skin-falling-off, learning how-to-be-a-dog Baxter. Please enjoy his story thus far….

Baxter’s story began on December 3rd when a wonderful person was told by a worker at the dump that someone had dumped a puppy and he thought it was still alive. The puppy was found lying motionless, hidden between the dumpsters at the concrete wall. (The pup would not have been seen if not for the workman.) They scooped his near lifeless body up and cradled him in their arms as they rushed him to the shelter.

At the shelter he was named Baxter and treated for parasites and vaccinated. It was finally determined that due to his extreme parasite load he was severely anemic and required a blood transfusion. That helped a lot, but he was still frozen in fear and you could just tell he felt horrible. So, he went into foster with prescribed antibiotics.

He lived in my guest bathroom for almost a week, just feeling craptastic. Eating, drinking, peeing and pooping normally (on pee pads – he was and is an impressively fastidious little dude), but he just had no energy.

The sad Baxter.

After a week of him looking like hell, I was concerned, was he going to become interested in life? Then, finally, we received a very clear indication he was ready to live: joyful puppy destruction!

Baxter made SQUISHIES!

Yay! It was time to integrate him into my pack because nothing teaches a puppy how to puppy like a pack. It has been constant and consistent improvement every single day as he continues to build muscle and gain weight. He has been introduced to, and played very well with, new and different people, dogs, puppies, and one cat. All went very well and he has the potential to become a wonderful companion.

Baxter being handsome on December 25, 2019
Proud of his digging skills!
Tired and happy after a full day of play and digging fun!

As Baxter began to develop into a puppy (as opposed to the saddest statue you’ve ever seen) he developed some hilarious habits, my favorite of which is his love of sitting on my dog Jane. Jane is the best puppy raiser I’ve ever had, she guards them, loves them, is patient with them, but still teaches them what is (and is not) okay. Baxter really likes to sit on her as if she were a pony, Jane doesn’t like it – but wow does it make me giggle!

Oh Baxter!
Jane is really very patient! ♥️
Baxter with foster sister Ziesa.
Baxter with foster brother Dobby.
Baxter with friend Sansa, “We killed a pillow together! Let’s eat each other’s faces! 😍😍😍”
Baxter loves squishy beds, nylabones, paper, and shoes. Thankfully he has never done any damage to the shoes, but he is a bit of a kleptomaniac about them. All paper (obviously) must be destroyed and shaped into new squishy bed. 🤦‍♀️

Baxter still becomes nervous and stressed in new environments, however his reaction to stress is to freeze and become still and quiet; if you’re holding him he squishes into you. Baxter is a very easy dog to love. He really relaxes most easily when their are other dogs around. Thankfully he is very food motivated which makes training a lot easier. He has excellent manners and sits to say please. He has become potty-trained to go to the bathroom outside on his own, however I have allowed him free access to the outside as often as possible. He uses pee pads like a champ if they are his only option.

Belly skritches are the BEST!

He now weighs a whopping almost 16lbs! All of his hair has grown back in and he is getting TALL! He flies away today (I am meeting the travelers around 2pm.) and although we are all going to miss him, he deserves the best forever home in the world – preferably with at least one additional packmate. ♥️

Mr. Baxter derpily snoozing a couple hours before leaving for airport after a morning of play and fun. ♥️

Writers Block & Revenge

So……I’ve had horrible writers block since my father passed away. Like, I’m avoiding writing and am not letting myself take the time to even write a few things down. ☹️ It is super weird AND annoying. But, I’m working on it. 🤞

Also, I have a SUPER clingy dog whose name is Humphrey. He is SO clingy and needy that he just forces his 90lb butt into laps and tries to pin people down and slurp-lick them with his creepily large (and moist) tongue while staring at them with slightly bulgy but INTENSE eyes. It’s just A LOT.

So, please forgive my rather inappropriate joy at forcing Mr. Humphrey into a full spoony cuddle and when he wants to wiggle to freedom I just soothe him and hold him tighter until he starts looking at me like, “dang lady, this is kind of A LOT!” while I giggle and laugh. 🤣🤣🤣

Overheard: Nipples

The other day was a fairly quiet day, and there I was a’ tippy tappy-ing on my ‘puter trying to learn how to do my new job whilst allowing my subconscious to deal with the ongoing anxiety about insurance costs and how not to lose medical coverage and figuring out how to quit my old job when I realize I am over-hearing a man attempting to explain to the vet tech that the cat he has at home is a female because it has nipples.

*****Record scratch*****

…..say what now?

It was like beautiful theater. I couldn’t look away. A very small part of my brain was SUPER excited to see where this was going to go.

Vet Tech explains that male cats have nipples. Man agrees, but counters that they don’t have as many nipples as female cats. Vet Tech asks a volunteer go and grab friendly male cat.

Vet Tech showed him the male cat’s nipples and counted them one at a time (he was a VERY friendly cat). CatNippleMan still seemed to think this was malarkey, but you could tell he had started to think.

I couldn’t help it, I had to ask, “Sir, do female humans have more nipples than male humans?”

After everyone giggled and chatted for a while about mammalian nipple counts, it all finally clicked for him, and for a beautiful few minutes much happy laughter was had by all, including the poor man who will always be thought of (to me, anyway) as CatNippleMan.

Unexpectedly Wonderful Chow Chow

I am incredibly blessed to know some wonderful people, but it is naieve to forget as often as I do that there are people that think casual cruelty is acceptable.
This is yesterday’s example of casual cruelty.
A fine handsome boy who is incredibly self-assured, confident, and just nice – these are all rare traits for any breed of dog (or human!), but to have them all in a Chow Chow that someone, either out of stupidity or with deliberate malice, put a rubber band around his neck until it ate into the skin causing a horrible infection? Frankly, it’s almost unbelievable.
I brought him to the animal shelter yesterday afternoon and he will be sedated and his injury cleaned and stitched today.

Pretty Birds

Dear Jane,

Yes, you now weigh a whopping 20.8lbs which is SUPER big and SUPER impressive. However, even with all that heft and your intimidating hopping and oofing (referred to as her hop-en-de-oof), I’m still going to recommend that you not get into a standoff with that red-tailed hawk. Kthanks!

I don’t know what she was thinking but I heard the (loud as hell) song birds sending out their ALERT! ALERT! PREDATOR NEAR! which sounds more like a frantic cheepcheepcheepcheep.

Then I heard screech of the hawk up high, which led to me hearing the “oof!”. I go outside and there’s Jane, up on her back feet, full on Hop-en-de-oof-ing at the sky.

I know that in theory she is now out of prey-size range, but not gonna chance it.

Just finished belly-laughing!

FoodLady Chronicles – that time Dobby farted:

Good morning all,

I thought very little in this world could be funnier than a dog audibly farting; I was wrong. I was watching Dobby and Jane playing tug with an old hair tie and debating whether it was worth redirecting them to another toy (as I had already done with a roll of toilet paper, a shoe, and a fork; they were in rare puppy zoomy form this morning!), or just let it go to the graveyard of destroyed hair ties (disclaimer – never let dogs play with hair ties cause they can swallow them, etc. etc.). Whilst mid internal hair tie rescue/recovery debate, Dobby, who was sitting at an odd angle while Jane tugged her hardest, farted. I only know this because he was sitting on the tile at such an angle that his booty made a sound kind of like a fog-horn blew on a blade of grass to make a squeaky whistle.

All. Play. Immediately. Stopped.
Other dogs ran over. And then all of the dogs, including Dobby, spent time investigating Dobby’s butt and the tile trying to figure out where the sound came from. I was bent over silently laughing and shoulders shaking and while I can’t exactly explain why, the canine fart investigation looked a lot like a construction safety incident investigation where everyone kept looking (sniffing) at the incident (butthole) and then looking (sniffing) at the location of the incident (tile). At that thought I honked in a gasping breath from laughing so hard which distracted everyone away from the butt-tile-squeak investigation and into the why-lady-honk investigation.

All dogs have returned to their regularly scheduled state of sloth, it was a lot of investigat’n for one morning. 🤣🤣🤣

I’ll just find other people’s videos…

Good morning y’all!
So, you know how some people have a natural talent as a videographer?
I am *not* one of them.
I attempted one flirt pole training video where the dog was only in the video about 20% of the time and, at one point, I dropped the phone. Basically it was a lot of video of the grass. This morning I attempted a pull/push training video where Ziesa, as soon as the camera was on, immediately stopped doing the normal dog thing and turned into playdough as well as me accidentally blocking the microphone with a pillow so you just see my mouth moving but no words.
Not my skill set.
But I did make myself belly laugh when I watched them, so that’s a win.

There’s a woman…

Morning all,

I’m trying to get back into writing here first, instead of just posting randomly on Facebook. It’s very easy for me to put writing off to do other things, but writing gives me clarity.

Yesterday was quite the clusterf*uck of random crap, but for the sake of brevity (and the point of this post) I had to drop and zoom my butt over to the animal welfare clinic to get a dog I’m watching for a family a health certificate so she can fly out on today’s rescue flight to Miami to get her closer to her forever home in South Carolina (holy crap that was a long sentence!). One of my favorite people at the clinic is a vet tech that I have been acquainted with for years and the best way I can describe her is that her soul makes me smile. Don’t get me wrong, she has a shit job. But she cares and she tries, and that’s all anyone could ever want. Yesterday she looked wilted and when she saw me she reached for a hug. Not a, “hey, hi, nice to see you” hug, but a “help, I hurt” hug. A little while later she told me the story and while my initial feeling was more HULK SMASH MEAN LADY WHO MADE GOOD PERSON SAD, my brain overrode the impulse.

There has to be a better way to communicate to the general public that the clinic is open 6 days a week and every day that they are open 11+ animals are dropped off. There are not 60+ homes per week looking to adopt pets. The math sucks. Let me tell you all, these people FIGHT to not have to euthanize any animals. Today a flight full of adoptable animals is heading to Miami and then the animals will be heading on to various partner (no kill) shelters throughout the states. Unfortunately, just a few days after that, the shelter will again be over capacity.

I reached out to the master of risk communication, Peter Sandman (via email), in the hopes that maybe he will have suggestions of an effective way to communicate to the people who bring in litters of puppies again and again that everyone does their best to help them find homes, but PLEASE let us spay/neuter your pets. Here’s what I wrote:

Good day,

For lack of a better introduction, I’m a long time listener, first time caller. 😉 I have been studying your excellent risk communication trainings in my career as an industrial hygienist and I find the field of risk communication fascinating.
In addition to IH work, I volunteer with the local St. Croix Virgin Islands local animal shelter and I have noticed there doesn’t seem to be a good way for workers to explain to people that are surrendering animals (over 11 animals are relinquished daily) that the shelter will provide veterinary care and will do their very best to re-home healthy animals, however as a last resort, some animals will end up euthanized.
No one that works there ever wants to euthanize healthy animals but because of shelter size constraints and the never ending influx of animals, there is occasionally no choice.
The spaying and neutering of pets would be a good step towards a reduction of surrendered animals, unfortunately there seems to be a cultural trend against spaying and neutering here in the Virgin Islands.
Would you be able to suggest any communication guidelines I could share with the shelter staff to help increase public awareness and understanding of the importance of spaying and neutering?
Or a better way to inform people that are bringing in yet another litter of puppies or kittens that they are adorable, but that finding homes is an ongoing and exhausting struggle and that there just aren’t 60+ homes looking for pets every week.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration!
All the best,

So, to the mean lady who called one of my favorite people a puppy killer which made her hurt, please remember that people do not work at an animal shelter to become rich and famous (because glamorous it is not); they work there to try to help make a positive difference in the lives of animals and while slogging through both literal and metaphorical crap every. single. day., they also need to be treated kindly.

All my love,


(I’ll update this post if I hear back from Peter Sandman!)

Well, quandary….

So, thoroughly enmeshed in my first “mid-life” crisis, but there is one issue I have to think through, decide, and resolve pretty much now:


No, Jane….I am the FoodLady, not the lady made of food.

She’s confident, intelligent, strong-willed, and just frakking adorable. And about two weeks ago I said,

“yes, I will train this well adjusted little monster to be my next diabetic alert dog. She will be short-legged and not intimidating, so this should work!”

And the universe said,

“Bwahahahaha! Foolish mortal! You have the audacity to make a plan!? Look what I can do!!”

*cue explosion of Foodlady’s life*

I mean, nothing really horrible has happened to me, it was just brought to my recent attention that it is officially time to begin looking into a career change; mostly because my friend/coworker has decided it is almost time for her to leave this program because of our horrible soul-crushing manager (and seriously, if my friend and I aren’t working together, dealing with this horrible manager just isn’t worth it).

So, finding new employment? Not easy at the best of times, and extra not easy with a service dog in training.

And then there is the big scary question: do I stay with my career in health & safety (which I do love) or, do I try working in dog behavior/pet care industry (which I obviously love)? And there are more questions too – if I stay in Health & Safety do I want to go back to work inside the refinery? Part of me misses the excitement, the sense of urgency, and just learning the new and glorious ways in which humans can really frak things up. But a rational part of me also remembers the incredibly annoying, inefficient, and downright stupid belief in that place that quantity of time spent inside equals quality of work being done (it doesn’t), and that I never really fit in (although this is usually true, regardless of where I am and what I’m doing), and that my entire life while working there was that refinery and when it closed, I was left with nothing and nobody and I remember going through some of the toughest times of my life. Conversely though, working in the pet care/training business *really* means working with a lot of people who generally don’t want to learn, listen, or pay.

Ugh. Anyway. Right now, the only decision I have to make is do I begin taking better care of myself by putting in extra effort towards training Jane as my future service dog? Because I am having a tough time thinking about letting her go to just anyone.

Vacation – done wrong; and now updated to be horrifyingly depressing.

So, I had a call on Monday from someone asking if I could adopt their 16 puppies.
*record scratch* “Uh….say what?!”
Now, I remained professional, educational, and helpful – but holy shitballs, the sarcastic commentary actively running through my head during that phone call *really* tried to fight its way out of my mouth:
“Sure!? Who doesn’t have room for 16 extra dogs in their life!?”
“Uh, no.”
“We can try to market them as a crazy dog person kit? But we would need to include a pooper scooper and a dump truck of kibble.”
“Well, behaviorally speaking, I never recommend anyone adopt two siblings at the same time…..but I’ve never read anything negative about adopting two litters at the same time!”
The list of snark and head-shaking goes on.

Anywhoodle, I took vacation time from work yesterday so I could escort the fluffernauts to their big day at the shelter (spayed, etc.) and then hover around anxiously to make sure they were okay. I also took vacation time from work for today because I convinced the person with the 16 puppies to agree to getting their three female dogs spayed today in exchange for my assistance in getting the 16 puppies to the shelter as well as playing taxi for the human to go to the shelter too. I’ve convinced the AWC to meet me there with the transport truck, because I don’t see everyone fitting into the wrangler very well. LOL
Wish us luck!

Also, I think I’m doing vacation wrong.

In other news, how cute are the fluffernauts on the way to the clinic yesterday?! The a/c was blowing ON them but they still clung to the cold beverages like it wasn’t 65 degrees in the jeep!


Yep, that was the plan, but as is the case with my life – humans plan and the gods LAUGH.
Waiting at the meeting place to meet AWC person, and the person with the puppies told me on this mornings call that she has given away 5 or 6 puppies yesterday (she told me 6, but told me she still has 11 – so the math is not computing) *sigh*
And she wants to get them all fixed, but now wants to keep them and find them homes……
One step at a time.

And now, depressingly updated:

Depressing update (seriously, if you don’t want to know – stop reading now. It is okay not to know): all of the puppies and one of the adult females tested positive for parvo virus. As you may or may not be aware, parvo is a very contagious and deadly viral disease, especially to puppies. Adults can usually survive but require intensive veterinary care (including meds, IV fluids, and occasionally a transfusion). The owner decided to have all of the animals brought in put to sleep.
I had horrifying flashbacks all night of the young daughter who loved these dogs helping me put them into the vehicle. I know in my mind that this is just a worst case scenario and that I didn’t do anything wrong. That this could have all been avoided if the adults had been vaccinated and spayed. But my squishy middle bits? Yeah, I destroyed a little girl. A sweet, helpful, dog-loving young lady who, through no damn fault of her own, just had all of her friends taken away and killed by some stranger – and this is killing me.
And don’t forget the industrial hygienist public health part of me – that part is FREAKING out because this lady gave away like five of those puppies to people, who probably have other dogs, who might be unvaccinated….
There is a HUGE parvo outbreak on island right now – this will not make it less.