This blog has moved!
You can now find me (and, more importantly, the dogs) at Kate with a Camera.
Head over there to see what's been going on with us since we stopped posting here.
You can also like my new Kate with a Camera Facebook page.
See you there!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

This Blog Has Moved

In case you missed the news in my last post: I'm no longer posting here. I am now posting at Kate With A Camera. Head over there to see the latest.

Add the URL to your reader:
Like my new Facebook page:

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Change of Address

Even though I just got back, I'm going to do something completely insane: I am moving the blog.

*Cue sounds of rolling thunder and clap of lightening.*

It's no secret that I haven't been happy with the name of this blog for awhile. It's treated me well, but I need to move on. Now that I've come back from my hiatus I think it's a good time to make the jump, so this is the official "heads up big things are happening here!" post.

I will now be blogging at Kate with a Camera. I may try some fancy automatic forwarding and re-direction from Twenty-Six to Life to the new blog, but in case that goes horribly wrong (I have no idea what I'm doing so it probably will) you can do a couple things to make sure you don't miss anything:
1. Like my new Facebook Page. Updates will all be posted there.
2. Bookmark my new URL and add it to your reader. I'll now be posting at I even have a new welcome post up over there for you so you know it's really me :)
For everyone who likes to skim posts, here it is loud and clear: 

I will, of course, be posting more annoying helpful reminders - I don't want to leave anyone behind! But new posts will start going up at Kate with a Camera from now on.

And because a post isn't really a post without pictures, here are some Instagram shots for ya:
(I'm katewithacamera26 on Instagram)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blog Flashback: A Special Needs Dog or Just a Special Dog?

*****Continuing to re-share some of my favorite old posts this week, and I couldn't do it without sharing about how sometimes "special needs" doesn't mean "hard to live with" or "needs too much medical care" or "shorter lifespan." I originally posted over a year ago about Melanie's eye problem. She has something called KCS, which means that she doesn't produce any tears and she needs daily medication to manage. Since her diagnosis, Mel is still doing as well as ever. Stubborn and getting her way in all things (just like she deserves). Her last eye appointment went really well and the vet couldn't be happier with the condition of her eyes. I sometimes wonder if Mel's condition would really be designated "special needs" if she were in a rescue. In my mind I tend to think of "special needs" as requiring more adaptation for the dog to safely live in a home. Like a blind or deaf dog, or one with other mobility issues. Maybe Mel isn't "special needs" in the strictest sense of the term, but her ongoing medical care would certainly put her on some kind of "special" list. Regardless, she's awesome and not going anywhere so maybe that point is moot, but the point is that the most special dogs can be the ones you never expected.*****

As I become more entrenched in the world of animal rescue I'm seeing more and desperate listings for people to save dogs. I won't lie, it's not easy stuff to read and lately I find myself hiding more and more of my facebook feeds. But that isn't what this post it about.

In a lot of those posts I see dogs listed as "special needs." Sometimes the dog is blind or deaf, and sometimes the dog has long lasting medical issues.

It struck me the other day while I was reading about some of those dogs that Melanie - my Mel who we have had for over eight years now and love to the dickens - could be considered a "special needs" dog because she has KCS.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a chronic condition of decreased tear production. Or in Melanie's case (because she doesn't do anything halfway), she doesn't produce any tears at all. Left untreated, KCS (also known as "dry eye") can cause scarring of the cornea (which is irreversible) and blindness. However, when properly treated the long term prognosis for dogs with KCS is very good.

It took some time, but we found a combination of eye medications to treat her KCS so that today you would never know she had a problem. Since she doesn't have any tear production whatsoever (which is pretty rare from what I've been told), our treatment regimen is pretty extensive. It involves several different eye meds administered multiple times each day. Despite the severity of her KCS however, administering her medications is easy as pie. In typical pit bull fashion, she takes everything in stride. Here's a video of T giving Mel one of her medicines.

If Melanie wasn't in our home - if T hadn't picked her up from the side of the road that day 8+ years ago and brought home a skinny, sick pit bull - there's a good chance that her condition would have landed her on an early euth list. Adopters wouldn't want to take on the burden of a "special needs" dog, and rescues might find it hard to justify the expense of her medicines each month. Or, since her condition took some time develop, someone else may have haphazardly dumped her at a shelter once she was diagnosed after living in a home for years.

The thought of that kills me.

She is such an amazingly special dog in so many ways.

Melanie is the dog that plays with the new dogs we bring home, even now in her senior years. She is the dog that endured two TPLO knee surgeries and all the rehab that went along with them, but never once lacked tail wags and kisses. She is the dog that snuggles with me under heated blankets on cold days. She is the dog that kids love to pet, and loves to be pet by kids. She is the dog that can outwit me (and even some trainers) with her cute face and clever personality. She is the dog that teaches puppies their manners, but still loves to snuggle with them. She is the dog that will eat an entire loaf of bread and hide the evidence so you'll still feed her dinner too.

She is the dog that can, and will, sleep anywhere.

She is the dog that changed my mind about pit bulls forever.

That makes her pretty special to me.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blog Flashback: The Honest Truth About Pit Bulls

*****This week I'm re-sharing some of my favorite posts from the blog. In light of the recent vote in Miami-Dade, Florida to keep the ban on pit bulls in place, I thought this was worth the re-share. I think it's important to remember that when we advocate for pit bulls we are really advocating for all dogs. So many dogs are classified as "pit bulls" when there is no basis for it. The term "pit bull" itself is so subjective it's practically meaningless. I've seen boxer and lab mixes - without an ounce of staffordshire terrier in them - be called pits based solely on their size and boxy head. With such a subjective threshold you never know what dog will be labeled a "pit bull" next.*****

There's a lot of stuff out there about the pit bull "debate." Doing volunteer work I hear no shortage of pit bull "facts" and am constantly amazed at the amount of misinformation there is. People tend to get really worked up about the issue (and I readily admit to being someone who gets worked up by it) so it's sometimes difficult to find a reasoned, objective take on pits as pets. But in the interest of putting out "real" information, I'll give you the straight-up truth:


That's it. They are only dogs. No better or worse than any other dog.

Does a labrador's jaw lock? No. A pit bull's doesn't either.

Will a golden retriever suddenly "snap" and attack for no reason? No. A pit bull won't either.

Pit bulls were not bestowed with special powers beyond those of any other dog. Just like any other dog, each pit bull has his own personality. They can be energetic or lazy, love or hate cats, play fetch, jump, be stubborn or have any other of the hundreds of personality traits you might find in a dog. But they're still just dogs and like any other dog, they need homes and companions and families to be a part of.

Sure, just like any other breed they're inclined towards certain traits. Like any other terrier breed (and there are a lot of them) they're more inclined to have a higher prey drive (and a high prey drive is for animals, not people), but that's certainly not a hard and fast rule. Heidi loves cats and seems to take it as a personal insult that the squirrels don't want to actually play with her. But pits have also been bred over many many generations to be affectionate and loyal towards humans. Pit bulls lovepeople. That's why Nemo tolerates all the stupid things I dress him up in. He likes me and I give him lots of love for his patience.

So, in short, a pit bull doesn't deserve all the hype his fat, square head gets him. In the dog world, he's really nothing special.

Okay, fine ... maybe he's just a little bit special...

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blog Flashback: Relief

****This week I'm re-sharing some of my favorite posts from the past.  I originally shared this post last October after our foster dog Boo was adopted. Watching a foster dog move on to another home is always a little bittersweet, but it's also the moment that we were waiting for from the very beginning. That moment when the dog could truly go home.****

I think everyone who's fostered a dog has heard someone say "I don't know how you do it. I would love to foster, but I wouldn't be able to give the dog up!" I know I hear it all the time at adoption events and from friends - hell, I used to say it myself.

I don't fault anyone who says it, because it's certainly not easy to see a dog leave your home, but here's the truth of it: I was sad to see Boo leave our house... but it was also an enormous relief.

Over the weeks I had grown attached to Boo. She was a great little dog and easy to love. She just wanted to be with people and would follow us (especially me) around all the time and cuddle up to us whenever possible. She crate trained quickly, got along with our dogs, was housebroken, and was an all-around great companion. The first word I used to describe Boo when I first spoke to her Person was "Easy. Boo is a really easy dog." When I watched her drive away with her Person - away from me - I cried.

But by the time I got home and walked through my door, I felt a huge sense of relief.

I walked into my house and was greeted by my dogs. Seeing their happy faces and wiggle butts, I was reminded that Boo was never mine. She was in my care for a time, and I treated her like she was one of my own, but she never truly was. She belonged to her Person from the very beginning, they just hadn't found each other yet.

When Boo found her Person, it was a relief to know that I didn't have to worry about her anymore. It's a relief to know that she's in good hands now. Hands that will give her the individual attention she deserves, while my own hands are often full with my three other dogs. It's a relief to know that every night for the rest of her life, Boo will be snuggled up to her Person, content in the knowledge that she will always be there for her. It's a relief to know that her life won't be uprooted again, that she won't have to live in yet another home, and that she will remain comfortable and happy for the rest of her life.

I don't judge people who don't take on the commitment to foster a dog. It's certainly no small thing to take responsibility for the care of a pet. Even I - an undeniable crazy dog person - am not a serial fosterer because our household can't handle the constant turnover of one foster dog after another. We just do what we can, when we can, and hope it makes a small difference.

But it does make me sad to hear people give up on fostering because of what should be the happiest part of fostering. Finding a dog's forever home isn't something to fear or be anxious about, instead it's the moment that all dogs need and deserve. It's what fosters look forward to and start working towards the moment that they pick up their foster dog.

Becoming a dog's foster isn't about giving the dog up, it's about bringing the dog home.

And it's a relief to know that I've helped one more find her way.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Flashback: "The One"

*****I know I need to catch you up on a lot of stuff, but, first, indulge me in something a little different this week. After I took some time off from the blog earlier this summer, I've had a chance to look back at some of my old posts. I've never re-blogged any of my old stuff, so I thought it'd be fun to re-share some of my favorites this week. I originally published this in May, so this post isn't very old, but it's one of my favorites and worth sharing a second time around. Plus I like that The Hubs snapped a pic of Nemo and me together. Heart that dog (and The Hubs too).*****

I hear people talk a lot about how a certain dog is The One for them. They love all their dogs, but there's that one dog that is their Heart Dog. Just a little bit special. Just a little bit different from the rest.

I think it's great that people have that kind of connection with a dog. It doesn't detract what they have with their other dogs at all, they just have that one super-special bond.

A lot of people ask me which dog is my The One, which one is my favorite. They give me a little wink or a nudge and say, "it's okay. Everyone has one. Which one is yours?" For me, I always have a hard time answering. It's easy for me to say Nemo - but as soon as I say that I remember how amazingly awesome all of my dogs are in their own ways.

Nemo is my awesome cuddle dog. He loves to be loved. If you sit down on the floor, he will make a beeline for you and settle right into your lap. He does it every single time, without fail. He does it everywhere, with everyone, and it's awesome. Together, Nemo and I have our own little rituals. He has a particular spot next to me where he sleeps at night and whenever I come home from work he brings me his ball to show me how glad he is that I'm home.

But Heidi is good at everything. She can handle any situation. She's the dog we bring places so we can show off how great pit bulls are because she doesn't get stressed in new environments with new people. And on top of that she's a super-snuggler too. She loves to curl up in your lap regardless of what you're doing and she'll chill out there for as long as you let her. Unlike Nemo, she doesn't do it for everyone. She's chosen her special people and only does it with them.

Melanie is her own special kind of special. She's isn't super cuddly, she isn't really eager to please. She's typically on the lookout for her own interests - she wants what she wants and has that classic pit bull "stubborn" attitude. She'll do what she needs to do to get that treat, but she's definitely not doing it just to make you happy, she just really wants that food. But every now and then she does get cuddly with me. And in those moments I know that she's doing it because it really honestly does make her happy. It's what she wants more than anything in that moment, and because it's me that she wants, it makes me feel special too.

And then of course there are the dogs that are no longer with me, but whose lives were so intertwined with mine for a time. There were the dogs I grew up with in my childhood, and Cookie, the first dog I ever adopted on my own, and of course Molly, who was with us for so many years.

I don't know which dog is my The One. I like to think they are all The One in different ways. But maybe we all have it backwards when we ask which dog is The One.

Maybe they aren't my One. Maybe I'm theirs.

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