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

Well, this is happening


My legs are totally asleep. I just spent the last hour with Pax curled up in my lap. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that 35 pounds isn’t necessarily lapdog material. But I think this sweet boy figured we are on a countdown and I need as much of his affectionate self as possible.

See, Pax met his future family yesterday and they were perfect. And, as you know, I told him he wasn’t leaving here until we found perfection.

So now we only have a few days until this part of his story ends.

I know I’ve left way too many disgruntled applicants to get to this point. So many people fell in love with Pax too. It was really hard not to. That face and that gentle nature. And his story of redemption. I’m so sorry if you’re unhappy with me because he’s not snuggled up on your lap right now or heading to your home shortly. If you haven’t already found him or her, you know there’s the perfect dog waiting for you too.

But Pax found his new family. We were just his way station, getting him ready for them.

They loved him and he loved them. He bounced all around their great little dogs, wanting them to play like he and crazy Brodie play. They eyed him a little suspiciously, but wagged their tails. Pax knows he will eventually win them over. And he met his new people for scratches and head rubs and showed off his talents and amazing squirrel-watching skills.

Man, I will miss this wonderful, amazing dog. He will have a piece of my heart forever. That’s it. No crying now. I will save that for when I see that furiously wagging tail one last time.

Until then, Pax has forsaken my lap (my circulation thanks him) and jumped up to try to snuggle with Brodie. He’s sharing the love because he knows we are all going to miss him ridiculously.

–Mary Jo



It was so gorgeous last weekend that I took Pax to the park every day without his crutch, Brodie. He was fantastic.

It was baseball opening day which meant kids and bouncy houses and a PA announcer and pennant flags everywhere. There was also a horse show and dogs were out full force. Pax was a little bit prancy, but was a champ. (Brodie would’ve crawled up to the top of my head, barked at everything, and maybe had a heart attack.)

One thing you may have noticed about Pax: He is a flashy dog. Fortunately, he doesn’t know how handsome he is, but strangers certainly do. We got stopped several times on each outing from people telling us how gorgeous he was and asking if he was a border collie.

When we got home and I relayed the news, my husband stood up for Brodie, defending his handsome honor. I told him the only reason people don’t compliment Brodie is because they are too busy trying to get away from his craziness.

He is gorgeous too, but just doesn’t show off his best side in public.

I hope Pax’s new family won’t mind all the admiring good looks. So far, he’s managed to stay incredibly humble. But he sure makes Brodie grumpy when he gets to go walking without him.

–Mary Jo




I love my personal dog, Brodie, so much. He’s silly and smart and so loving. But he is special in a frustrating kind of way. I thought I did a good job socializing him as a puppy. He was the star of his puppy obedience class (he is mostly border collie, after all) but then something went awry.

Our older dog, Crash, who was his idol, passed away and not long after that, some loose dogs in the neighborhood jumped on us twice during walks. After that, Brodie just became a bit more spazzy than normal.

This was Brodie as a puppy, trying to get Crash to play.  Open the door. Close the door. Please play with me, Crash!

New things have to be introduced slowly to Brodie and he’s still very leery. Treats help when I trim his nails, but you’d still think that each time I was threatening to chop off a limb.

Pax is not that way. I used the dremel on his nails because I thought it would be less scary. Fine, no problem. It was easy. When I went to clip them (the BIG, SCARY CLIPPERS!), he nosed the clippers then just decided to lie down and let me trim away.

Things are just normal with Pax. He is still tentative on walks without Brodie, but the guy with the leaf blower is only scary for a second and the huge Dumpster is worth a sniff, not a panic attack.


My dog trainer friend calls Pax “adaptable.” That’s why he was able to go from a hoarding situation to my house and he’s such a happy boy. When I call his name, his back end wags so hard I think it’s going to fall off. I think he will have no trouble at all adapting to a new life in a new home. I do like to think he’ll miss me and his bonkers foster brother just a little bit.

But my Pax has found peace. The name sure fits.

–Mary Jo


Tongue Out Tuesday?


I admit I didn’t know there was such a thing as Tongue Out Tuesday. But Pax decided to participate today. See above.

Just an update for those who have been asking…he’s had loads of applications, but so far we’ve yet to find the perfect fit. I’m still talking to people and sorting through emails. We came very close, but the stars just didn’t align.

Here’s a new, simpler bio:

Sweet Pax wants just a few simple things in life: a person who is home most of the time, a canine buddy, and a fenced-in yard where he can run and play. Well, lots of treats and snuggles would be pretty amazing too.

We’ve had lots of interest in this striking boy, but he wants you to know he’s so much more than a pretty face. Pax is so terribly smart that he can pick up commands in minutes, so he really needs to go to a border collie-savvy home where someone will continue working his brilliant brain. Pax isn’t very high energy; he likes walks and car rides, but is perfectly happy as a couch potato, too. He’d prefer a home without kids and cats because they are so unpredictable. Pax is 2 years old, 35 pounds and just amazing.

And he doesn’t mind posing for photos.

–Mary Jo

Pax in video


Excuse my video skills, but I put together an “adopt me” video for Pax very early this morning. Please take a look and share if you know anyone amazing.

We’ve had some awesome applications and there may be a few possibilities, but still looking for that perfect combination of someone who is home a lot and has a canine companion and fenced yard.

Have a great day!

–Mary Jo