What a difference a year makes. Although it seems like she’s been part of our family for much longer, it was just one year ago when I got an email from a Harbor Humane Society volunteer with a picture of Sandy, a skinny little female Boxer who had come in as a stray. I had no thoughts of adopting her – we were already being overrun by Lily, who at the time was still in her puppy phase and was creatively destroying our house and everything around it (trees, garage doors, porch columns, entire sprinkler systems – just little stuff like that). But I thought I might try my hand at fostering, because if anyone can love and pamper a Boxer, it’s this family.

I met her the next day and my heart broke. She was so skinny and malnourished that it was kind of uncomfortable to pet her – imagine running your hand over a spine and trying to avoid all the bald and sore spots everywhere else. Her nails were curving around past her toe pads, her fur was crusted with feces because she was choosing to go in her kennel, and she had obviously had a litter of two or puppies, even though she seemed quite young. But she was SO sweet. I played with her (and thought it was strange that she knew how to fetch but didn’t know how to tug – how un-boxer-like!), took her for a long walk, and just sat with her for a while. I cleaned out her kennel, and then broke her heart by putting her back in it. I told her I’d come get her the next day, and I did.

The photo I received from HHS volunteer Sue Defoe

The rest, as you know, is history. (October 2012: The Grumpy Pups Pack Is Growing!) Despite telling everyone she was just a foster, we adopted her, changed her name to Georgia, and haven’t had a dull moment since!

One of the reasons we didn’t want Georgia to go to another family is because of her extreme separation anxiety. She was growing attached to us (and us to her), and I couldn’t imagine having to break that trust and start over with another family. For months she would panic and thrash herself around when left in a kennel, but she would panic and eat things that were dangerous to her when she was left outside of a kennel. It got so that I didn’t like leaving the house. At least once I thought we were going to lose her because of the things she ate while we were gone. But we’ve now developed a routine and some safety precautions that have kept things peaceful for quite a while now. She’s still full of anxiety, but I imagine it will still be a few years before she really mellows out.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Georgia, snapped quickly with an iPad on one of her first nights with us.
She was absolutely broken down, but she didn’t hesitate for a second to put her trust in us.

She has finally learned the joys of tugging, which I’m pretty sure is in the Boxer blood. She didn’t seem to know what to do at first, but now she and Tyler are constantly duking it out for the tugging championship title. She also did not “know” how to lay on her back. Sounds strange, but she couldn’t do it. She would wave her legs in the air and flop from side to side, but she couldn’t just relax and lay stretched out on her back. After a year, she is now finally able to do it for a few seconds at a time. She keeps working on it, which is so cute. She wants so badly to have her stomach pet, but she gets so excited that she can’t relax!

As you can see, she pretty much receives the royal treatment around here. 🙂

We just love having Georgia in our family. She’s so joyful and sweet and loving and goofy, which is a nice break from Tyler’s grumpiness and Lily’s scheming. We’ve found that she loves to sleep in, give hugs, eat like there’s no tomorrow and carry a tennis ball like a pacifier. She also gets on my lap every time we have a campfire out back…because 55 pounds is not too big to be a lap dog. She snores so loud that we can hear her through the floor sometimes, and it makes us laugh.

Getting hugs and love from my son.

As I’m writing this, Georgia just came over to say hi. As I reached my hand out to pet her, her whole body just exploded in a happy dance. Pure joy.

 From the very start, she fit right in with Lily (top) and Tyler (middle). Each has their own unique personality, but they complement each other perfectly. And they couldn’t get along better.

Who could say no to this face?

There is just a real joy in giving an adopted animal a better life. It never gets old, even to their last days. Truthfully, Georgia seems to appreciate things so much more than Lily, who has never known anything but being a princess!

Last week, playing her favorite game at the beach. Running, playing, hanging with her family and her pack–does it get any better?



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Springer spaniels in a field of Michigan wildflowers

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