Lexi’s great escape

It helps to have a foster brother as an accomplice.

Brodie is very good at letting Lexi out of her crate — but only when he is told to. If I haven’t mentioned it lately, border collies are pretty darn smart.

–Mary Jo


Bath time


It’s all fun and games until the foster puppy needs a bath.

Lexi wasn’t very thrilled with her first foray into the tub, but she didn’t jump out and she didn’t get me too wet.

I’m working on her bio today and I should be ready to post her as available for adoption later this week. Brodie thinks I should do it today. She has commandeered his bed, his toys and his mom. He thinks maybe I should foster fish instead. (And they don’t need baths.)

–Mary Jo

Coming out of her shell


Sweet, little Lexi just kicked Brodie off his bed.

She was wandering around my office this morning while I was working, squeaking and gnawing on various toys. Brodie was warily watching her from his perch on his elevated bed. She strolled over and climbed up, pushing him off as she curled up in his place. I think she just wanted to share with him, but Brodie didn’t trust her so he hopped down.

Granted, Brodie is a bit of a pushover. But he’s now curled up in my lap, making typing and working a wee bit difficult.

Lexi immediately jumped down and strutted over, pawing at my leg, insisting she come up in my lap too. She just wants to be with me or with Brodie or with anyone, really.

Getting comfortable


It’s always interesting when a new foster comes into the house. Unless it’s a teeny puppy, a new dog is usually feeling things out the first few days. There are new people and new sounds and all sorts of new things and places to figure out.

It usually takes a couple weeks for a pup’s true personality to come out. When they feel utterly comfortable, that’s when you can start determining who they truly are and what kind of home they really need.

The first few days Lexi was pretty low-key. She just wanted to be held and she slept a lot. Now, she’s found every toy in the house. She bounces on and off the couch, realized she can jump on the bed and quickly got Brodie’s number. She tackles him and will gently try to shove him out of the way if he’s getting my attention.

But it’s all incredibly sweet. She just craves attention and loves everyone. If you say “no,” she stops. She will sit for treats and take them gently from your hand. She learned “touch” and “down” very quickly and will stick by your side in the yard. She just leans against you, as if trying to absorb your full body into hers.

It will be interesting to see who she becomes. Brodie just wants her off his bed.

–Mary Jo

P.S. I wrote about her story for my real job (fostering should be my real job!) so please check it out if you have a chance.




An incredible journey


Yesterday, a little puppy took an amazing trip. With the help of an army of volunteers, she traveled from Louisiana to Georgia, on her way to what we know will be a wonderful new life.

Meet Lexi and I dare you not to be smitten.

This little girl was found alone on a gravel road in Hamburg, Arkansas, after someone saw a truck leaving the deserted area. Members of Walking in the Sun Rescue picked her up, had her scanned for a microchip and were flabbergasted that this gentle little soul  could possibly have been dumped. They made sure she got vaccinations and was dewormed and put her into a temporary foster home.

A few days later, I saw her picture on my national border collie rescue group with a request for rescue. I knew she was far away, but I had to try. I figured I’d be shot down because the distance was way too far. But Mindy from the rescue said no problem and immediately set her impressive volunteer network in motion.

Yesterday, Lexi (renamed because we already had a Flora in the rescue) was picked up in Bastrop, Louisiana, and was whisked through Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia courtesy of transport volunteers Meredith, Linda, Bama, Suzy and Elise. Each drove an hour, two hours or longer, stroking the pup, who calmly accepted all of her kind chauffeurs, asking only for lots of petting in return.


The drivers sent photos along the way and I soaked it all in, waiting for my new arrival with crazy anticipation.


John and I finally got to pick up Lexi from Elise here in metro Atlanta last night and she was just as perfect as I had hoped. She just wants to be held and petted and loves everyone. Even after her incredibly long day, her tail was just thumping and her tongue was out, trying to lick everyone in sight.

All evening, Lexi mostly slept. We kept her in a crate so Brodie wouldn’t overpower her with his initial burst of craziness. She slept all night without a peep and woke up with a sunny tail wag, pawing at my leg to be held.

She likes her crate, appears to be housetrained, likes toys, sits for treats and has the silkiest, softest coat. Her tail never stops thumping. She doesn’t bug Brodie yet, other than commandeering all of his mom’s attention.

She’ll eventually be available for adoption with Phoenix Rising Border Collie Rescue.

Lexi went on quite an incredible journey thanks to all sorts of awesome volunteers. I am overwhelmed by the power of rescue and amazed at the joy puppies can bring.

–Mary Jo



Great expectations


I’m expecting. A bouncing bundle of puppy joy will be making her way here tomorrow.  Brodie and I are gathering supplies (see above). And this little puppy is on quite a journey. But more on that later because I don’t want to jinx it.

First, apologies, because I’ve been remiss in puppy updates. Since I last updated this blog with fierce Izzy, I’ve had a zillion puppies come through. There was fluffy Henry and Penny, teeny Gatsby and Daisy, wild and smart Noah and perfect little Faith. A lot of them were pretty young and we seemed to be always swimming in potty pads and puppy food.

Most of them were in and out relatively quickly and all of them went to amazing homes. It is ridiculous how happy I am now when my phone lights up with a photo from a beaming parent showing Faith asleep upside-down or Izzy (now Stanna) frolicking in the mud.

I took a break from fostering after Faith to restore a bit of sanity in the house. Back to back to back puppies took a toll on Brodie who isn’t sure if he’s supposed to herd them, protect them, play with them or hide from them. (I cheated for a few days to help a mama doodle and her pup, but I digress.)

But my break’s over and a little girl is heading this way. She was found wandering the streets and needed rescue. Someone scooped her up and saved her and now she’s coming here.

Thanks to the power of people in rescue, she’s making a five-state trek! More details to come, but I hope you’ll be part of her journey.

–Mary Jo

Fight or Flight


Izzy is absolutely fearless. She will stalk moths in the backyard like a lioness. When Luke started banging his long-abandoned drums in the basement, she marched right up to the noise and grabbed a drumstick. She is bold and brave and courageous.

My personal dog Brodie is none of these things. The first time he met Izzy, he was on one end of a leash and she was on another. He was barking like mad, wanting terribly to play with the new foster pup. He was spinning and rearing and play bowing, eager to get to her. She was calm, sitting quietly, as if assessing the situation.

They sniffed each other, with Brodie quivering with anticipation. Then they were free and Brodie did his thing…racing around the yard showing off his speed, hoping the new addition would play his favorite game, “Chase me and admire how fast I am!”

But Izzy had a similar game: “I’ll chase you and catch you and drive you crazy.”

Izzy may not look totally like a border collie, but she certainly acts like one. She tried to herd Brodie all over the yard. She stopped only to crouch down low in the grass and creep along, pouncing and trying to nip at his heels. Fortunately, he’s fast. But she’s fast too.

Brodie realized very quickly that this wasn’t as fun as he thought it would be. He also realized that she couldn’t climb the steps so he vaulted onto the deck for safety.

He stood there panting as she crouched at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for him to come back down and play.

Now they do the same thing in the basement. He races down to greet her (that’s where her crate is), forgetting who he is messing with. Then she chases him all over the junk in the basement. He spins and leaps, vaulting over her and the assorted old printers and boxes, then runs up to the landing for a breather, as she waits at the bottom of the stairs and they have a standoff.

When they’re racing, she occasionally grabs his fluffy plume of a tail or any assorted body part and he yelps because her puppy teeth are very sharp. Apparently, a normal dog would give her a slight correction and she would learn that’s not cool. But Brodie’s response is flight, not fight.

One day Izzy will test her boldness with a dog that will not just run away and she’ll realize she has to play a little nicer. And the good news for Brodie is that it looks like Izzy won’t be grabbing his tail for much longer. An amazing couple came to meet her this weekend and they’d love to take her home.

It’s OK if Brodie isn’t all that brave. He’s very sweet. And very fast. Just ask him.

— Mary Jo




Puppies like to chew on things. Toys, newspapers, fingers.

Fortunately, Izzy has lots of toys. I got her a really cute purple puppy-sized rhino as a welcome gift. She immediately went to town on that smiling guy, gnawing on his horn and arms. She was very proud of herself when she managed to dislodge a limb. See above.

Other than being great at chewing, Izzy is crazy smart. She has learned “sit” and is very good at it. This morning she decided “down” was pretty easy too. Especially when there are treats involved.


She also got her first bath, which she did not love. But she took it like a champ. Now she smells so much better. Tomorrow she gets to run around the yard without a leash. But we’ve had torrential rain, so it’s a swamp out there.

She’s going to need another bath. And another rhino.

— Mary Jo


Meet Izzy


I set off our house alarm at 4:30 this morning. I had crept down to the basement to let out that little monster above and totally forgot about the alarm. I mean, with all that cuteness, who thinks about security?

Meet Izzy, my newest foster. She’s 4 months old and a border collie mix and just a little adorable spitfire.

I found out about her two weeks ago when we were vacationing in Utah, hiking (or walking, as Luke says) in several ridiculously breathtaking national parks. The admissions director at the Atlanta Humane Society emailed me that one of their rescue partners in Alabama had been nursing a puppy that had been abandoned along the side of the road. She had some serious skin issues that were healing, but she had lost a lot of her hair, so she would need some recovery time. Would I take her?

I received this photo:


Of course I was jumping up and down and couldn’t wait to get home. We were getting a foster puppy!

Then the next day I got bad news. The pup (named “Darlynne” at the time) had been exposed to parvo on her trip to Atlanta, so she had to be quarantined for two weeks. Poor little thing.

It was a long wait. I pestered my contact at the shelter A LOT. Parvo can be deadly to pups and can spread crazy fast. But AHS is a wonderful facility and only the one pup had it and was treated very quickly and successfully. “My” puppy was fine and I was able to pick her up Wednesday.

After all she had been through, I expected her to be timid and scared. I had all these sweet, girly names picked out for her. But when they handed her to me, she immediately began licking and squirming and gnawing and she was just perfect.

On the way home (about an hour and a half in Atlanta rush hour traffic) she was stellar. She watched out the window, not missing a thing, in typical border collie fashion. At one point, a couple in the car next to us were waving and grinning at her, responding to all that cuteness.

Of course there will be loads of updates to come. She’s in a mini-quarantine in the basement still as we’re making sure she’s free of any shelter gunk. But Brodie knows she’s there and is eager to play. We’ll see if he can hold his own against this little ball of energy.

–Mary Jo


From Pax’s new family


Wow! When we think of what it took to get Pax to us, we are amazed! From his “life flight” from Memphis to Atlanta and the months of treatment and care from Phoenix Rising and his amazing foster mom to her persistent belief that she needed to hold out for a particular set of circumstances she labeled “the perfect home”… just, wow! We know we have a special dog and are grateful to everyone who had a part in his rescue.

For those of you who want to know the happy ending, here you go:

After his foster family left, Pax spent about an hour scrambling around our house trying to figure out where his foster mom was hiding. Then he tried to convince our 12-year-old Aussie and 2-year-old Cavalier that they should play. No go—mainly because Pax’s way to let you know he wants to play is to bark and play bow, and his new bros are not noisy in that way. But as his foster mom has shared, Pax is nothing if not adaptable, and in short order he learned to change his communication style. He also quickly figured out the old guy is in charge, and Pax is content to let it be so. Today you are likely to find the three of them snuggled on the couch or bed, and we’ve even caught them playing a friendly game of tug of war over a favorite toy. He roams the house and backyard freely, keeping the world safe from the tyranny of squirrels.

As I write, Pax is engaged in one of his favorite past times: hoarding shoes. He goes around the house and finds shoes and gently (he never leaves a tooth mark) brings them to the living room and stockpiles them. He doesn’t chew, just piles them up and keeps an eye on them. This may turn out to be a great service to our family. At least we will know where to find our often far-flung footwear.


Looking to the future, we know Pax will influence us as much as we influence him. When he first came to us, he mainly wanted to be around the females in the house. Now, he is firmly attach to our dad-person who is training him as an exercise partner. Because of Pax’s heartworm condition, he hadn’t been able to exercise a lot, and we are working on building his stamina. For the first day or two a brisk walk around our block was plenty, but by the end of the first week, dad had him out on longer walks in the woods. After week two, dad came home and announced, “I’m going to have to get in better shape to keep up with Pax!”

As an indication of how much Pax has made us his family, he now whines whenever we leave him—especially dad.

Finally, we want to say again, thank you so much to his foster mom and her meticulous , loving care of Pax. We are really grateful that people like her and organizations like Phoenix Rising have the heart and stamina to take risks on long-shots like Pax. We promise to take good care of him and keep in touch.

— Pax’s family

The next chapter


Saturday morning Brodie raced into his crate with a peanut butter-filled Kong, never even looking back as Pax made his waggy tail-way out the door to the car. They didn’t have a touching farewell moment, but these two incredibly bonded buddies did have a couple of amazing wrestling sessions the day before and even shared all their favorite squeaky toys and the ottoman. Dogs know.

So John and Pax and I headed to Pax’s new home in the Carolinas, ready to deliver him to his new life. All was well and good for the first half hour or so until there was the distinctive smell of well-digested dog food. Apparently, Pax was nervous too. So we had to stop and clean up a little dog regurgitation. Pax looked forlorn until we got on the highway, and then he put his head on his paws and just watched me.

One more clean-up stop later, we finally arrived at Paxie’s new home. He bounded out of the car and his smiling new dad was waiting for him. Tail wagging, Pax ventured into his new backyard, thrilled there were squirrels to chase and trees to mark and so much room to run.

Checking things out


Pax strolled through the house and immediately found the water, leaving a trail of slurps behind as he found the toys and, more importantly, the treats. His canine brothers weren’t necessarily ready to romp with him in the yard, but he was optimistic. His human sister showered him with hugs and rubs and he knew, obviously, she was going to be his friend. She even promised he could sleep in her bed. I’m not sure that tail ever stopped.

He checked in with me a few times, but mostly he explored. He went from person to person, knowing he had found his people and they were great. At one point he was racing around the backyard and went tearing inside, but missed the door and bopped through the screen. His new family laughed and he looked terribly surprised. There will be things to learn, Pax.

At one point, Pax and I had our moment. I crouched down with him and kissed him on the head, telling him how much I loved him and how amazing he was. He looked me in the eyes and gave me his paw as if to say, “Don’t worry. Everything will be OK.”

That’s the moment I will forever hold in my heart.

Saying goodbye


There really was no reason to stay. Pax was fine. No, he was great. We figured it was best to just quietly leave so he wouldn’t be anxious. The last I saw was him sitting nicely with his two canine pals as his dad and his sister gave him treats on the porch.

Yes, his tail was wagging.

I waited until we got in the car to break down into some serious crying. I told John that I had made a terrible mistake and we had to go back and get him right now. That he was perfect and amazing and we needed to keep him.

But John knew it was just my heart having a moment. We drove away and I finished all the tissues I had wisely stuffed in my pocket.

All the way home, Pax’s new family texted me photos of him lounging on his couch, making himself at home, begging for pets and being happy.

I am telling myself that he misses me a little. But I think he knows he’s right where he’s supposed to be.

–Mary Jo