Sunday, August 16, 2009

Howard's Happy Ending - Our Final Post

As the title indicates, this will be our final post. Mostly because our life with Howard is perfectly joyful for a thousand reasons. First, Howard is simply THE happiest dog ever! His tail never stops wagging - wide cheery wags, twirling wags and thump, thump, thumping wags - when we walk into a room, say his name or simply look his way and smile. Howard's eyes light up when we come home. He is utterly jubilant...thrilling us with a buoyant tigger-like greeting followed by a crazy tazmanian devil dash for a toy snatch from Daphne and his big finale, the famous couch dive. It's like coming home to a circus act each day.

Howard's zany antics keep us laughing. One of many examples is when he wakes up. First, he shakes his ginormous head which sounds like a helicopter lifting off. Next it's the long downward dog stretch with yawn-owl, followed by a massive sneeze, not a dog sneeze, oh's a house shaking old man sneeze... AAAHPHCHHOOOBRRR! Then he happily trots off ready for whatever. We laugh every time. Howard's sleeping habits are equally amusing. He either sleeps curled up like a fat python or flat on his back - hind legs spread eagle, front legs down by his sides or on his chest. I could go on and on... like I said, a thousand reasons....

If you have only happened upon this blog for the first time, it is an amazing rescue story that, like many I imagine, has a happy ending for all, but most importantly, Howard. Howard joined our family on November 22, 2008. We were brought together by an unusual set of circumstances, but I like to believe it was simply fate.

Howard was an owner surrender - rescued by two by very special ABA volunteers, Sandy and Mari. He was an older boy, malnourished, dangerously underweight, parasite infested with numerous large cysts. He was crated for 12 hours or more a day and basically neglected because his owner did not have time for him. Still, Sandy said that the moment she met Howard she knew he was special. Apparently, despite the fact that he was completely disregarded by his owner and living a hopeless existence, Howard remained a calm, sweet, kind and gentle boy at heart who absolutely deserved a second chance, if he survived.

While some thought Howard was unadoptable, given his age and health issues, Sandy and Mari disagreed (thank God) and made Howard's rescue their personal mission. Howard was fostered by Mari while Sandy provided his food and they both provided care and love. Mari also called upon her friend, Caren, to join Howard's cause. Caren works at a veterinary clinic in New York and graciously took Howard temporarily so that he could get the medical treatment he needed, which included neutering, cyst removal (8 in all), blood work, parasite and de-worming treatment as well as thryoid treatment. Caren personally paid his extensive medical bills. After Howard's medical treatment, he returned to Mari's and spent the next two months recovering and gaining weight. Mari and Sandy gave Howard a taste of the life that he deserved. In return, Howard apparently provided quite a bit of his unique quality of entertainment.

Not long after Howard's rescue, Sandy met my husband and I during an ABA volunteer assignment. The next day, Sandy and I spoke on the phone and got to know each other. I told her that we lost our male bullmastiff, Harley, in August to cancer and had just started to look for a companion for our female, Daphne, who was very depressed. We originally wanted and were waiting for a puppy, but then start to think about rescue. She mentioned Howard, describing what an amazing boy he was and that she thought he would be a good match for us. She said they were being very particular about his adoption because he was so special to them.

The next week, we brought Daphne to Connecticut to meet Howard. He was mellow and calm while approaching her, which she appreciated as she is a bit timid. We also watched Howard interact with Mari's puppy, Ilsa, with whom he was playful, gentle and tolerant. While his physical appearance was a little shocking with the massive scars and thin body, we felt for the guy. We couldn't bear the thought of leaving him. Plus, as Sandy said, it was clear that there was something special about him. It was a good meeting and we agreed that he would be good for us.

A week or so later, Howard came home. From the very moment he arrived, he seemed to feel right at home. For Daphne, it took more time to adjust to him, but they are now at ease with each other, friendly and playful when the mood strikes. There are never squabbles and as time has passed we catch them laying next to each other outside or at different places in the house. Howard's personality is so sweet and loving, we can't comprehend how he could be treated with anything but love. He is sweet, affectionate, funny, energetic, yet mellow too.

Mark and I feel like Howard has always been in our life. He has given us more joy and laughter than we could have ever imagined possible. He healed our aching hearts and filled the hole that Harley's death left behind, including Daphne's, who was so depressed that we were scared for her health. We have often expressed our gratitude to Sandy for bringing us together and do so again here, thank you Sandy. We also of course want to thank Mari and Caren for the critical roles they played in his rescue. If it were not for each of you, Howard would not be the healthy thriving boy that he is today - you are truly amazing women. While there are a thousand successful rescue stories that inspire you to continue this work, I hope that Howard's story will always hold a special place in your heart.

To those of you considering rescue, I hope you will read through this blog and see that rescue is an amazing and wonderful experience. With Harley's death and Howard's adoption, we have a new appreciation for the finite time that we have with our precious animals. Howard has taught us that love for a rescued dog is just as deep and profound as that for one raised from a pup. He has also taught us that a dog does NOT have to be young and physically perfect to be awesome. In fact, what we love most about him are is imperfections, his crooked smile, sideways tongue and scars give him character, make him unique and remind us that some of the best things don't come in a perfect package.

If you haven't read this entire blog and do, I hope you enjoy it. If you've read this final entry and feel inspired to rescue... you will not regret it. Again, this is one of a million successful rescue stories. I encourage you to find more, especially those that rescued the Michael Vick dogs. To those of you who have shared this journey with us, thank you. It has been a truly remarkable experience.

Finally, to those of you who rescue, foster, and rehome dogs, cats, animals of all kinds, you are amazing people. It takes a strong heart, compassion, selflessness and courage to do rescue work and I admire you. Thank you for rescuing and saving the lives of those who can not help themselves.

Kim, Mark, Daphne and Howard Olson

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Howard Knows...

As we enter March (with a nasty snow storm!), Mark and I look forward to seeing Howard and Daphne's spring fever. The sun is getting warmer now and Howard and Daphne will hang out on the deck on nicer days. We will enjoy more frequent walks during the week as sun stays up longer and longer.

Howard continues to amaze and amuse us. While he appeared comfortable in his new home with us from day one, we see that the longer he is here, the more relaxed he becomes. We feel that our consistency has shown Howard that he can depend us to care for him. That is, he knows that he will have breakfast at 6:15 and dinner at 5. He knows that when Mark and I have dinner, he and Daphne will share mine. He knows that when we leave the house, he will get a treat filled kong. He knows that we are home on the weekends, he will sleep late, share breakfast with mom and go for a long walk. He knows when his harness and leash are on he's going to have fun. He knows that after Mark and I finish dinner, he will get a little treat and then go outside for last potty of the night. He knows that Monday is the worst day of the week for all of us, and seems a little sad the first part of the week. He knows that every weekday Sheree, his petsitter, will come to let him out and feed treats. Most importantly, we think he knows we love him unconditionally and that, for the rest of his life, he will never again have to wonder what the next day will or will not bring. He will just know.

Of course, Howard has taught us many things as well. We know that he will wag his tail whenever we walk into the room. We know the tickle spot on his tummy. We know he loves to countersurf, but that it is our fault if we leave something in his reach. We know that he prefers to sleep on the couch at night, but will come sleep in our bed now and then. We know that he can't eat peas because of his crooked jaw... We know that he loves milk. We know that he can barely contain himself when he it's time for a walk. We know that he sneezes like an old man whenever he goes outside. We know that as an older dog, he has as much spunk and personality as a six month old puppy. We know that he can be trusted with other dogs, people and children. We know that we are lucky to have been given the opportunity to share our life with this extraordinary dog.

Thanks to those reponsible for saving his life and bringing him to ours (you know who you are)!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Where does the time go?

Hello. It's been too long since I have updated our Twobullies blog. So let's get to it...shall we.. Howard is doing amazing. He is fully adapted to his new home and has become Mr. Routine along with sister (or girlfriend) Daphne.

Howard has been with us since November 15th so we are approaching our three month anniversary, and on Valentine's Day weekend no less. Note to self: bake something special for Howard and Daphne this weekend.

While it has only been three months, we feel like Howard has been with us forever and he seems to feel that way as well. I would say that between the time he spent with Mari and the three months with us, Howard's health is thriving. We have not been the vet once since his anal sac issue (phew!) cleared up and he simply lives to eat! Of course, we're total pushovers for that because we know he was malnourished in his former life (which we don't like to think about).
For the first month or so, Howard had his own room where he stayed during the day while we were at work. It was a cozy room with a large cozy crate (from which we removed the door - so he knew he would NEVER been in there all day!) complete with foam bedding, blanket's etc. He also had a lovely new shag area rug, a chair and half, if case he didn't want to crash in the crate or the carpet. He also had two windows to see outside and a small hallway just for change of scenery. Mark and I really put a lot of thought in to his "pad" and he seemed pretty comfortable, at first! Then about a month later, after nearly two weeks of hangin out with Daddy while he was on vacation, Howard decided he was done with his room.

You see, during Mark's vacation Howard and Daphne were livin the high life (while I was working - hmmpf!), sleeping late, lazin' around the house, taking walks during the day with Daddy. Howard had gotten into the habit of coming upstairs with Daphne after breakfast and going back to bed for the morning. So the Monday that Mark and I both went to work, Howard was upstairs on the bed, relaxing. I called him from downstairs.... no response. I called him again... "Howard, come get your kong, mommy's going to work!" Nothing! Ok... so this dog has been like -- my shadow until today! I realize, he's not coming down, he doesn't want to go into his room. So, I left. He's never gone back to his room.
One of the best things we've experienced is the first time that Howard and Daphne played together. It was so great to see them hopping and play bowing with each other. When they really get going, Howard turns into zany boy running like a over sized greyhound from one end of the house to the other. Daphne can't keep up with him so she just stays in the middle and tries to, as Mark says, "hip check" him on his way by. They also tend to just hang out together and most of time are in the same room when we come home. They have even learned to share the "green couch" the number one favorite in our house.

Anyway, I will try to post more...but things have gone so smoothly with Howard that I have little to report and fear the blog will become boring and repetitive. So our posts may become few and far between, but we will do our best to keep up with it.

Adopting Howard has been an amazing experience. Sandy told me once that Howard is a "once in a lifetime" kind of dog. Boy, was she right!! (Sandy, have I thanked you lately). His spirit and spunk are simply incredible and when I think of what could have happened to our boy, my heart breaks a little. (with pet sitter Sheree - above)

Sandy told me that she sent this blog to a fellow volunteer because some feel that older dogs are unadoptable and Howard's story is proof that is simply not true. I'm going to just take a minute to use this medium as a soapbox. My husband and I love all animals. We are especially fond of dogs, and the bullmastiff specifically. When we lost our 7-year old to cancer last year, our hearts were broken, but we knew that there were so many dogs out there that needed homes.

At first we were discouraged because so many rescue dogs have issues that were not conducive to our home environment considering we had Daphne to think about. Then we met Howard and saw how amazing he is and how Daphne responded to him, his age was simply a non-issue. In fact, for us, if any dog needs a home, it's an older dog. We feel that even if a dog has only a short time left on this earth (and who really knows for sure), why not make it the best time ever! Afterall, as Howard as shown a lifetime of hurt can be healed quickly with unconditional love. : )

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year!!! Thanks for the video camera Grampa...enjoy our New Year's Eve storm video!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Yesterday, Howard, Daphne, Mark and I celebrated Christmas with our families. After opening and destroying some of the many (and still unopened) presents, we went for a nice walk and came home to get ready for company.

Daphne and Howard had fun opening their presents. At first, Mr. Howard wasn't quite sure what to do with his present, but as soon as he saw Daphne tearing the paper off hers, he caught on quickly (as usual). So...Howard grabbed his gift and retreated to his favorite spot on his favorite couch and started tearing!!

His first present was a lion! He nuzzled the orange fuz and before he tore poor lion's head off, we gave him his next present!!

The pictures really tell the story of Christmas morning. The rest of the day was spent with family. Howard was such a good boy even with little 16-month old cousin Braeden running around. Of course, dinner was a treat food with a bit of prime rib roast, green beans and some homemade gravy courtesy of grampy.

Howard and Daphne's day ended with an early bedtime as Mark and I went to visit the Olson side of the family at Auntie Janice's. We knew Howard was tired because when we looked back as we were going out the door, he didn't even get up to follow. Normally, as soon as we walk out the back door (even just to go outside for a minute) he's behind us scratching to come too. Of course, the five hour nap made for a midnight burst of energy, which daddy helped to cure with a quick round of play. Both Howard and Mark fell fast asleep in the living room. A perfect day, as Christmas should be!

Friday, December 19, 2008

If Howard had a myspace page...

It has been nearly a month since Howard came home. In the last few weeks, we have all been getting to know each other. Sometimes, I find myself making mental notes of Howard's unique, funny and yes, patience-challenging qualities.

So if Howard had a myspace page his profile would include a current photo.... and the following:

Name: Howard
Male -Bullmastiff
7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 years old
(dependimg on the moment)
Quote: I love to eat!!!

Mood: Happy

Nickname(s): Tank, Destruct-o, Stink-butt, Fartboy, Mr. Howard, Howie-wowie, Buddy, Handsome...etc.

Hometown: Attleboro, Massachusetts
Favorite Food: Anything...

Favorite Activities: Eating, evening walks with mom, couch wrestling with dad, stealing toys from Daphne, playing, ripping, tearing and destroying toys!

About me: I am a middle-age bullmastiff who was rescued by two wonderful ladies in Connecticut. My former life was....not what it should have been and I needed lots of medical care to get me back on the road to health and well-being. Thanks to Sandy, Mari and Caren, I had eight large, ugly cysts removed, parasites killed, thyroid treatment, and most importantly, my faith in people renewed and my big old heart repaired. After two months at my foster mom Mari's house I was adopted by my new family. I now live in Massachusetts with my new mom, dad and sister, Daphne. I also have two grampies, two grammies and many aunties, uncles and cousins. I have been here for a month now. I have met so many new people, all of whom love me because I'm adorable and sweet (if I must say so myself). I am so happy now because I finally know what it is like to receive unconditional love.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Home Alone (Sort of)!

Last week Howard had a successful first work week as a part of our family, and we are happy to report that he adjusted unbelievably well. He learned our workday routine very quickly and seems to appreciate it. The morning routine has two parts, part one: is a 6:15 breakfast, courtesy of Mark, outside to do his business, and short rest. Part two: before I leave, he goes into his room where he gets a kong and then naps until his petsitter, Sheree, arrives.

Throughout the week, Sheree was nice enough to call me (the nervous nelly of the family) to give her report. Each day, when Sheree arrived, she would peek in the window of his room. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, he was alert and looking back at her, letting out a single WOOF! When she looked in the window on Thursday, Howard was sound asleep in his chair, curled into his signature sleeping donut. She came in the house, turning off the alarm and Howard was still....sleeping!! She called me to say, "hey... great guard dog!"