A Perfect New Home For My Foster Dog Odin

When, back in March, I scheduled a week-long vacation for
early July, I of course had no way of knowing a huge, dog-related story was
going to erupt the week before. I also didn’t know that a great home for my
long-time foster dog was going to pop up out of the woodwork in the days before
I left. Both events left me scrambling and off-balance.

In early July, someone had commented on a video of my foster
pup, Odin, and my young dog, Woody, that I had posted on the WDJ Instagram account: “How
has he not been adopted? He has home skills, is dog social, and
couldn’t be more stinkin’ cute! Come on, people!” And I had responded, “I
haven’t been trying THAT hard to promote him. Been super busy with life stuff.
No actual adoption attempts are likely to happen in the whole month of July,
for various reasons. In the meantime, I keep visualizing the world’s most
perfect home for him. We will see.” And then, just a few days later, I received
a message from a friend: “Are you still looking for a home for Odin?”

A Perfect Family

“Maybe,” I responded. I wanted him to
find a home, but it had to be a perfect spot. Given his many months of having
to suffer many daily applications of various eye medications, he hadn’t yet
spent much time alone, and above all, I wouldn’t allow him to go to go a home
where he might end up alone for many hours a day. I wanted him to live with a
person or family who had lots of time for him, who liked to play and be active,
who might take him somewhere that he could swim, and who would let him live
indoors and sleep on the couch or beds.

The more I heard about the family that
my friend knew, the more I thought that perhaps this was it – the best place
for Odin. And yet, the very thought made me weepy. But I agreed to meet the
family. They came to my house twice, once on Friday and again on Saturday,
spent hours watching and playing with Odin, and telling me about their house
and family. It seemed like a perfect fit. I sent them to the local shelter to
fill out the adoption papers and pay the adoption fee. I was leaving town
Sunday night, and they could come pick him up Sunday afternoon to take him
home.

Odin kayaking on a lake
Odin went camping, and loved kayaking, and sleeping in the kids’ tent

It was perfect and awful, all at once.
I told them I wanted to take a picture of the whole family with him before they
left with him, but as we approached their car, I started crying and didn’t want
to make them uncomfortable or embarrass myself. Odin jumped into their car
happily, sitting on the back seat with their young son. I gave Odin a kiss on
the nose and told him to be a good dog, and turned away quickly, calling over
my shoulder, “Send me a picture when you get home!”

Time for a vacation

I had spent the days before I left town making sure that my
house was clean and organized and ready for my house-sitter/pet-sitter, and
that I had all the Kong toys I own rounded up, clean, filled with canned food,
and in the freezer. That morning, I had also rounded up Odin’s favorite toys
and chewies and bed to send home with his new owners, but I hadn’t yet packed MY
suitcase for my trip (I think this is a common dog owner thing). Fortunately,
that kept me busy, and not crying much,
all the way until the sitter, one of my son’s friends (and a young man I have
known for 23 of his 27 years) arrived at my house for a briefing about Otto and
Woody and the house. And by the time we finished with all that, it was time to
head for the airport.

By the time we were at our connecting airport, my phone had
received a number of photos of Odin and his new best friend, the young son in
the family with three kids, at their home. He and the young son both looked
perfectly happy.

Our vacation had officially started, but I was not yet done
with work I promised to do before I left town. I had also spent the previous week talking to people I know and respect
about the most recent update from the United State’s Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) concerning the connection between diet and cases of canine
dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). I had started writing a blog post that contained
my own thoughts about the update, and I had written pages and pages, deleted
pages and pages, and wrote even more. But I kept changing what I felt was most
important to say about it. As each day passed since the FDA update was
published, more analysis was published – some that I found very good and
insightful and some that I found to be hysterical and inaccurate.

The FDA Update Is Still On My Mind

I finished the post on the second leg of our flight, and sent it to our publishing HQ to be posted on the WDJ blog site. And then I tried to turn off my brain – I didn’t want to think about saying goodbye to my little Odin, or the news about the DCM investigation, or my dogs left at home. My husband, my son, and I spent five days at my sister’s house in a tiny town in the Colorado mountains, hiking some high peaks. Then we drove back to Denver, where my son competed in a tournament for his sport, and where we met our 7-year-old grandson and his mom, and spent a day with them before taking the boy back to California to hang out with us for a few weeks.

Hiking path in Colorado
We hiked in places like this in Colorado for days – bliss.

But the FDA update and the news coverage of it was
explosive, and as much fun as I had on vacation, I couldn’t help but peek at
the news and comments on my blog post
a few times. The issue is complex and analysis of the information in the FDA’s
update is varied. People are still confused and upset – and it doesn’t help
that the owner of practically every dog who is sick or has died in the past two
years thinks it is probably due to the fact that the dog ate grain-free food at
some point, and posts this as fact on social media. No matter that the dog had
eaten a grain-free product for a matter of days, or had a health problem that
had absolutely nothing to do with the dog’s heart.

I will be writing more about the DCM issue, and also posting
links to voices/sources that I respect (such as this
one
). I am completely sympathetic with those who have lost pets to DCM and
possibly related causes, and also concerned that so much misinformation and
hysteria is being shared.

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