An Unexamined April

April was a bit of a blur. So I thought I’d dig through my photos and figure out what I’ve been doing for the last month that so profoundly curbed my writing activity.


Oreo Cookie Ava, actively seeking a sponsor in Ball-a-holics Anonymous.

The polar vortex comes to a slow and stubborn end

Nearly 100 inches of snow and countless sub-zero and single digit days later, our grand Michigan winter has finally come to a close. But not without a few last gasps for air.

Here’s what it looked like on April 14:


And here’s April 15:


And here, thankfully, is April 29:


A return to playdates

I chose to hibernate this winter with the help of lots of books, booze, pizza and Walking Dead reruns. Thus my dogs were forced to do the same. So now that the ice age is over, we’ve jumped back into our playdate group with pizazz.


Peaches assumes her favorite play position


Buster and Bolt have a stick munching contest

Peaches meets Scarlett, the crazy Corgi puppy

Peaches meets Scarlett, the crazy Corgi puppy

Buster reunites with his brindle bosom buddy, Ivan

Buster reunites with his brindle bosom buddy, Ivan

And Peach encounters Hugo the Giant, part lion, part Muppet

And Peach encounters Hugo the Giant, part lion, part Muppet

A return to professional development

As much as I hate to admit it, all the cool dog geek stuff in the midwest seems to happen in Ohio. So I’m frequently forced to cross the border for professional development opportunities. Earlier this month, the vet tech program at UC Blue Ash in Cincinnati hosted Sophia Yin for a Low-Stress Handling workshop, which included all of the great foundational operant and classical conditioning info I’ve heard her present before, along with a bunch of new video cases featuring a range of cat and dog handling techniques.


photo 3 (1)

And apparently Ian Dunbar will be visiting the Buckeye state in June as well, so back down south I’ll go.

A return to volunteering

In the past month, I’ve logged somewhere in the ballpark of 45 shelter volunteering hours across two different shelters. At one shelter, I’ve had the pleasure of walking and working with 50+ different dogs, and at the other all I’ve been permitted to do so far is laundry, TNR trap cleaning and a few dishes, and the soonest I’ll be allowed to attend dog walker training and interact with dogs there will be mid-June. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of experiences, to say the least.

Too much to summarize from those many hours, so here are a few random highlights:

Big shepherd puppy, Maxx was the largest dog I’ve ever handled. He was a cuddly beast who came into the shelter, was adopted a day later, returned a few days later and then immediately adopted again. Here’s hoping this last home works out and that he’s happy and healthy and able to hear his owner with those big ass ears.

Big Maxx

Beauty here was isolated, not to mention nameless, for weeks at the shelter with her large litter of puppies. Once the pups were old enough for adoption, all were adopted in one day at a Puppy Shower event, leaving yet-to-be-named Beauty behind. I took her out for a walk and managed to snap this photo of her, which was subsequently posted on the shelter’s Facebook page with a “Let’s find mom a new home before Mother’s Day message.” 87 Facebook shares and a day later and she was adopted. Happy Mother’s Day, Beauty.

Mama Beauty. Was isolated in the shelter for weeks with an enormous litter of puppies, all of whom were adopted in one day at an event, leaving her behind. We posted this photo with a "Find Mom a home before Mother's Day" plea and 90+ shares and a day later, she was adopted.

Big girl, Isis is my big, brindle love at the shelter right now. She’s getting overlooked a lot and it’s a real shame because she’s an incredible dog. She has a MONSTER wiggle butt and an equally big smile. She’s also a dog who is now manageable and easy to walk for other volunteers after getting her fitted with a front-clip harness. Imagine that.

Lovely lady Isis. She's definitely a gal that's taking longer to get adopted, which is a shame because she is an affectionate wiggle butt desperate for some attention. Love this girl.

Lovely Lady Isis

Oh Clyde. I must have been harboring some preconceived notion about hounds, because for some reason I didn’t think I’d love Clyde as much as I do. I only met him yesterday and I’m sure he’ll be gone by next week, but what a lovely, lanky gentleman. His flippy-floppy ears and sad hound dog howl are just too much for words.

Clyde. I guess I've been harboring some preconceive notion about hounds, because I didn't expect to love Clyde as much as I do after taking just a 25 minute walk with him. He's a lovable puppy with a sad, hounddog howl and I expect he'll be snatched up rather quickly.

Handsome hound dog puppy, Clyde

And of course. . . . Miss Ava, STILL at the shelter. Waiting for that perfect person who’d be happy to find a stunning, high-drive dog who may be a bit aloof, but totally makes up for it in other ways.

Ava says, "This way to ADOPT me!"

Ava says, “This way to ADOPT me!”

Thanks to a few Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons and some generous harness donations from dog training friends, I’ve also become a bit of a harness-fitting, organizational lunatic in between dog walking shifts.

After hanging up this handy dandy, cheapo door organizer, we now have a place to label and organize harnesses and toys specific to individual dogs, complete with a demo puppy and some fitting guidelines posted on the wall. I love cheap, simple solutions.


I also dug up a handful of self-adhesive wall hooks to replace the old, cluttered leash stand in the hallway.


And a return to fostering

The last time I fostered dogs was in late 2010. That very long hiatus was in part due to a rather discouraging experience with an old rescue group, and also the inevitable result of not wanting to impose further on the successful 1 cat + four dogs dynamic we’ve had going here for a while. Until this week . . .


Tasha is a young, female Rottie who’s midway through heartworm treatment and having a hell of a time staying calm in the kennels. She can’t be in the outdoor runs next to other dogs because of the energy level, which means she’s stuck in a small indoor run all day with just a couple brief bathroom breaks. So to our house she shall go . . . but just for a couple weeks. Stay tuned.


A one-year anniversary

And last but not least, I would be remiss in not recognizing the May 1st anniversary of a rather special injury that had me walking ZERO dogs for many weeks this time last year. Happy to say that other than some very minor nerve damage and scar tissue build up, this baby is equally ready for a day of leash handling or my next “bar fight.”

May 1, 2013

May 1, 2013

My sister-in-law refers to this as my Harry Potter scar. Sounds good to me.

photo 1 (1)

May 1, 2014

About emily douglas

Emily Douglas authors The Unexamined Dog blog and writes regularly about "pit bull" advocacy, humane education and the parallels between the education field and the dog world. Emily and her dog, Peaches volunteer as a registered therapy dog team in the Southeast Michigan area, where their visits are affectionately known as Peach Therapy.
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4 Responses to An Unexamined April

  1. Karen Peer says:

    Emily, I do so enjoy reading your blog, always makes me smile or laugh out loud. Keep on keeping on can’t wait to hear what happens with your foster. We are loving our foster dog who we have now had for 1 year. Uh yeah do you think it’s time I admit to foster failing…. ughhh

  2. Pat says:

    I too love to read your posts. They are thoughtful, insightful and often bring a laugh or two. I love hearing about your life with four dogs and Kitty Mose and following the antics of Peach in particular. Your fur kids are such loves.
    Thank you for bringing light and joy into my life.

  3. writetowag says:

    Shew, that is one nasty gash!!!! Thankful it has healed and you are back to rock and roll again!!!! Whooo Hooo!!!! That over the door organizer is simply pawesome…Your pics are gorgeous!!!!

  4. Pingback: Lambs! | Mo Bloggin'

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