Some of you may have noticed the newest section of my website. Pawsome Fosters is a space dedicated to “difficult” to adopt pets. They may be seniors, suffer from long-term health issues, have behavioral problems or a myriad of other problems. However, my hope is that by sharing them, and their stories they’ll finally find a furever home.
Each month from the first of the month until the 3rd Saturday of that month rescues can submit their fosters. I’ll feature the winners on my website, in my newsletter, and on social media. Plus, I’ll post follow-up stories there too. If you know a foster who might be interested in Pawsome Fosters visit my website and send us an e-mail. Just be sure to the read the rules. :)
But this isn’t a post dedicated to that, no. This post is about why I am doing this. Why I care so much about animal rescue.
In 2011, my husband and I both graduated from college. Our daughter was 3, and we moved into our new apartment. And the best part? We could have pets! In fact, the allowance of pets was a major selling point for me.
By then, I’d worked in dog rescue for awhile. It was my Aunt’s fault, really. In high school, she invited my brother and me to an adoption event at a local Petsmart. We held leashes and snuggled with all types of pooches. I was in hog heaven, and I was hooked. At that time, neither of my parents had dogs in their homes. When they’d divorced, my mother forced us to find a new home for the family Labrador, Buddy. Lucky for us, Grandma saved the day. And he lived out his years as a therapy dog, and as a part of her reading program with the Newspapers in Education program. But I digress…
Anyway, I wanted a dog very badly, and I begged and begged my father to let us bring one home. He said no, and I was heartbroken. Now don’t be too hard on him he was only being reasonable. At that time, us kids mostly lived with our mom and saw him on weekends, and he worked long hours and had an hours-long commute.
In college, I kept supporting rescue. I continued to volunteer, and I visited the shelter to walk dogs and pet the cats. Each time I left a little more broken. Every pet needed a home, and I couldn’t give them one. Some of them were there for a long time.
Now, back to 2011. As soon as we settled in we started looking for the perfect furry family member. I enlisted the help of my Aunt. She still acted as a foster, and by this point, she had helped hundreds of dogs find homes! How awesome is that?
She sent me the profile of a little brown dog (little being a relative term, you’ll see why later). This dog was skin and bones and heartworm positive. I had to meet her. We drove out with our daughter to a house on the lake. My Aunt accompanied us so that she could help temperament test the dog. For those of you unfamiliar with that term it essentially means following a prescribed set of procedures to determine the dog’s ability to tolerate touch, sound, etc. Responsible rescues to this before they pull a dog from a shelter. But we wanted a lifetime friend, and I had a 3-year-old. Better safe than sorry, I figured.
We knocked on the woman’s door, and she brought Merit out. She was a shy thing, with the saddest brown eyes. She let us pet her, and we took her for a walk. Then she met Josie. Almost immediately she rained kisses my daughter’s face, and when she was rewarded with a giggle, well to my daughter’s delight, she gave her some more. On June 8th, we brought her home. She’s been a puzzle, our Merit. At first, she was very sick from the heartworm treatment. It is very hard on their bodies. We ended up spending thousands of dollars to get her better, and she almost died. I’ll say this, use a preventative. There are plenty of versions that aren’t too expensive, and many of them prevent other common ailments like fleas, as well. I use Revolution for all three of my dogs.
In December of 2013, we’d been struggling with Merit. Whoever she’d lived with before rescue had done a number on that poor girl. She was head shy. She had terrible separation anxiety, and she wasn’t a fan of loud noises. To top it off she’d began to lick herself until her fur fell out and her skin was red and raw. We’d tried a few things, but nothing seemed to help. Then, one day, my Aunt sent me a picture of a Beagle, and a message. “This would be a perfect dog for you.” My response? “But it’s a Beagle.”
Growing up I’d attended an in-home daycare, and the director bred Beagles. I remember going into the backyard shed with her kids to look at the puppies. If you’ve ever met a Beagle, then you know they walk out of the womb barking. :) Now imagine a whole bunch of them. It was a bonafide doggie chorus! No, thank you. But my aunt, she's tenacious. She wasn’t taking no for an answer. So, reluctantly, I brought Josie to visit him. When I walked in he bared his teeth, and I was pissed. I turned to his foster mom in shock. My daughter was still little, and I didn’t want an aggressive dog. Turns out, baring teeth can also be a sign of submission. Definitely, Google it. It is a fascinating topic. Walter is essentially smiling, just like a human would. :) He was incredibly sweet with my daughter and so on January 4th, Walter joined our family. He settled right in, and just I’d hoped, Merit’s anxieties improved drastically.
In 2014, my family gathered at my house to celebrate a birthday or something along those lines. Anyway, my Aunt asked if she could bring her newest foster, Spree, with her. Spree is a Yorkie/Chihuahua mix and was only a few months old then. They didn’t want to leave her alone for too long without an opportunity to use the bathroom. They’d brought many of their foster’s to my home since we moved in to socialize, and bonus, our backyard is fenced.
She was a tiny thing, but man she was a pistol (still is). Merit, and especially Walter, had a grand time playing with her all day long. When my Aunt left, I felt a pang of sadness at her departure. Spree was so cute and sweet. My argument to my husband was that every kid needs to raise a puppy. I told him that was my problem too. Growing up I’d never really had a puppy. I’d surely be a better wife and mother if I did. So reluctantly he agreed, and the rest they say is history. On Thanksgiving, she moved in and took up permanent residence in my heart. And although these days you might hear me refer to her as my little asshole, you can be sure it's uttered with only the utmost of love. I love my little rat, and she knows it. :)
Merit, Spree, and Walter are my fur family. Comforting me in times of sorrow and stress. Being a willing ear while I endlessly re-read a section of the book I'm editing. Without them my house would be cleaner, my days would probably run smoother, and I’d save an awful lot of money. But my home and my heart would be empty.
If you’re reading this, then there’s a fair chance that you’re an author, you know one, or have at least toyed with the idea of becoming one. If any of those stand true, then maybe, you too have struggled with this dilemma. Do I look for an agent? Or make a go of it on my own? Though neither question is easily answered, what it comes down to is this: do your research.
Seems simple enough, you can just Google it, right? And to that, I say, “Well sure.” Of course, you can Google it, but you’re going to get about a billion plus search results. Okay, maybe not a billion, but you’ll certainly find an overwhelming amount of content to sift through. And if my college years taught me anything, it’s that not all sources are good ones and that everyone has an agenda.
Over the year’s, I’ve learned who could be counted on as a reliable resource, and I'd like to share a few of those with you.
She pretty much wrote the book on self-publishing. In fact, on Twitter, she refers to herself as a “new adult pioneer”. And well, it’s true. On her website, she has a page dedicated to self-publishing. She lists her reasoning behind her choice to self-publish, and she is generous enough to share which freelancers she uses. She even guides you through the process of uploading your book to multiple online retailers. More importantly, she’s worked with a traditional publisher and has self-published. She’s familiar with both worlds, and it lends credence to her advice, which is compelling.
If you’re a self-publisher, and you’re not subscribed to his e-mail list, then get on it! Not only does he offer awesome free webinars on a regular basis. He teams up with other successful self-publishing professionals to build support tools for indie authors. I’ll be honest, though, I’ve been to plenty of the webinars, but I haven’t purchased any of the tools. Why? Well cost for sure, but I have a Master’s degree in Educational Technology. So when it comes to tech, well I can confidently say that it’s kind of my thing. And if you’re like me, then check out Product Hunt. You’ll love it!
Consider that I’m 27 years old. I grew up with social media. For years, it’s been my second life. I’ve observed first hand how other brands built a following. But for any of you that are not tech savvy, well Joel’s got your back, and you could really benefit from his insight.
Like Joel Friedlander embodies self-publishing, Derek Halpern personifies social marketing. This dude knows how to sell, and the best part is that he tells you how to leverage yourself and your brand. I was introduced to him through a site called Startup Resources. And just to be clear, if you’re a self-publishing author, you are a startup business. They suggested subscribing to Derek Halpern’s website social triggers. So I figured it couldn’t hurt to sign up, and honestly I don’t regret it. His advice is sound, and hey, his work is wildly entertaining. In fact, in my dream world, Derek and Joel would team up and design the most comprehensive and amazing self-publishing resource ever. A girl can dream, right?
In the end, I self-published because it made sense for me. I felt like I had a firm grasp on social media and present marketing strategies. Most importantly, I knew where to find the information I needed to build success. And though, on occasion I’ve had to return to what I believed were my long passed late night study sessions of my college years, I wouldn't trade it. I love being in complete control of my work, my content, and my brand.