Goodbye puppies, Goodbye things

Things have been, well, crazy. There are a lot of things, and well, we need fewer things. I’m thinking about minimalism. Not hardcore, nearly empty house, bare white wall minimalism, but living with less. I used to move into a new country and new house every couple of years. With every move, I sorted the entire household and decided what to give away. Packing and unpacking is a lot of work. You never want to unpack something and say, why did I keep this? We accumulate so much stuff in our homes. My life feels cluttered. We have bought a house in New Orleans, settled down, and there is no big move on the horizon. I need to start getting rid of stuff that isn’t important, isn’t necessary, and isn’t bringing me joy.

Dogs are not stuff; they are family. But foster dogs are a temporary joy. They come and they go. Of the 26 fosters so far, we have had two that have been here a long time. Tres: almost 6 months, through surgery and rehab, and Henry: 8 months through heartworm treatment. These two are both healthy now and ready to move on. It isn’t going to be easy to say goodbye, but it is time. We just can’t keep them all.

Henry has an amazing local adopter! When I pulled him from the shelter last March, I had no idea that he would be with us so long, or that he would be the one that sleeps next to my bed at night. He is our longest staying guest, and not because he isn’t wonderful, but because he needed to get through heartworm treatment before his rescue would let him be adopted. He is a great dog. I have loved every ambling walk and every car ride with Henry. He slows me  down. In a good way. Thanks for teaching every puppy to howl Henry. Love you!


I recently got home from a 1,600-mile road trip to get our second longest staying guest, Tres, to Ohio, so that he could be transported on to Ontario. He is having a great time with his new foster family, and has met his potential adopters. (They have a foster that doesn’t get along with big dogs, and a couple of pugs who got along with Tres just fine.) We had several applications for Tres locally, but none of them were the right fit. I think he will make a great Canadian! It has been a wonderful experience, watching him get stronger week by week. Tres was dealt a really rough hand, and his tail never stopped wagging. Whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, I think of Tres, who never did. He deserves a wonderful family!

We lived a little on the edge at The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs this past summer. Eight or nine dogs at once is a pretty big commitment. At several points, I joked about there being a thin line between myself and a dog hoarder. When I look back and realize how many dogs we had as guests this summer (Tres, Lucy, Bernie, Sasha, Nola, Whit, Bruce, Cocoa, Murray, Rocky, Marshall, Lewis, and, of course Pen, Ollie, and Bailey) my first thought is what were we thinking?  I mean, I would do it all again, don’t get me wrong. There was a BIG need because of hurricanes in surrounding states and communities, and we worked hard and we made it work. We also narrowly missed a hurricane. We were lucky. That would NOT have been particularly easy to get through. As we were closing the hurricane shutters and getting ready to shelter in place, I thought of all of our stuff in this house. How much of it would I really miss if I lost it all? Have you ever thought about that? With the Texas and Florida floods and the California wildfires, people are losing everything. It makes me think about things.

I had a unique overseas experience years ago, before I had dogs. My family was nearly evacuated from Turkmenistan when their crazy dictator died unexpectedly and it was unclear if there would be a peaceful succession. The plan was – you leave your house with the expectation that you may never be able to return. You can’t take much. What do you take? I realized that there are documents and paperwork that are hard to replace, and there are photographs that I would grab, and that was about it. All of the rest of my household was completely replaceable. Its all just stuff.

Maybe we shouldn’t have so much stuff?

We might think that the more we have, the happier we might be. It doesn’t work that way. The more we have, the busier we are. The more we have, the more important we think we are. Perhaps, the more we have, the crazier we are.

So, I’m slowing down. I’m learning not to take on too many things. But, of course, I got back from my road trip and I had previously committed to springing a dog from a shelter. I had been watching him for weeks, hoping he would be adopted, and he wasn’t. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Thai is a 1-year-old brindle dachshund-mix. He was a stray. Poor little guy was stuck in the shelter for almost a month. I think I chose well. He is great. He was super nervous when we picked him up. I took Anna with me, so that she could sit with him in the back seat for the hour-long drive home. That worked really well. He cuddled her and kept licking her face all of the way home. He was nervous when we got home, so we brought the dogs out into the yard one by one to meet him. (We know that we are overwhelming as a pack.) The only way that I can describe it is that he bounced and ran all over the yard gleefully for hours. Thai wasn’t fond of his first outdoor bath though. It took several attempts to get him through that. He smells better now. Much better.

Thai fits right in here. He is just slightly smaller than Bailey, and bigger than Mya. He’s about 30lbs. He was not neutered, and because the universe conspires to create cute puppies, Mya went into heat upon his arrival. (Mya will be spayed, but we are waiting for her to complete her heartworm treatment and be completely healthy before we subject her to surgery.) Thai went straight to the vet to be neutered. Sorry buddy.

We should have a little sign:
 Welcome to The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs, no balls allowed

So, even Thai is getting rid of something (his reproductive capacity), because the world just doesn’t need more dogs that need homes. Sadly, we have too many of those. The good news is, as soon as I posted Thai’s picture, an amazing couple fell in love with him and they are adopting him this weekend! Yay Thai! You hit the jackpot with your new family and we are so happy for you!

Thai was foster #26. That is a lot of dogs.

I have too many of lots of things. The more things I have, the more things there are that get dog hair on them. Seriously….dog hair is insidious. It.gets.everywhere.

While all of the dogs are asleep (and their hair temporarily stays put on the dog beds), I’m going to be boxing up some things to be donated. While I’m doing it, I’m thinking about what things mean the most to me, my husband and my kids, my photographs and memories, my writing, and Pen, Ollie, Bailey, Henry, Mya, and Thai – the current pack. This is all that I need to be happy. I love my beautiful, old home, and my banana trees, and my books…I’m thinking about keeping only what is really useful and important to me. Goodbye, things.

Hmmmm….Maybe would should get a tiny house and a TV deal? TINY HOTEL FOR DOGS? …on the beach!


I just need to slow down, and clear out the mess, the noise, the extra, unnecessary details of life.

This is all I really need, right here:

Oh, and since Henry and Thai are heading out to happily ever after, of course I am getting more fosters, because that’s why I do this, and that’s what softens the blow. I miss them all when they leave our little hotel,  but I smile because their departure is making room for more that need to be saved.

Can I be more of a minimalist and have 6 dogs here? I think so. Its all about remembering what is important. I think that is why I take so many photographs of my family and our dogs. It makes me slow down and hold onto the beautiful moments, and all of the messy, hilarious ones. I don’t ever want to forget.  I just want to hold on to the moment.