More Happy Tail Updates!

Adele, my very first foster dog, has been in her forever home for almost two years now!  She found a wonderful forever mom who adores her and puts up with all her crazy issues!  Adele has also gone on to be a foster sister to other puppies in need.  She has grown into a beautiful dog.  I love seeing how much she’s beefed up since I pulled her out of ACCT, a scrawny mess of a dog.  So here she is, Adelle-

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Temporary Fix

Although the concept of a foster home is inherently temporary, I am sad to report that Tofu will be moving into a new foster home as of tomorrow.  This was not a quick or unplanned decision.  In fact, I was not planning to foster at all this semester because I knew what would be happening in April and May.  I am finishing my last semester in graduate school, preparing for the Annual Student Exhibition, and planning to move back home with my parents.  I will graduate in May with my Masters in Fine Art from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  And soon after that, I am moving back to Scranton, PA to save money and live with my parents.  Sadly, these situations are just not fair to a foster dog.  But most importantly, I cannot bring her when I move back home.  So as I said, I was not planning this to foster at all this semester.  Sure… I could have probably squeezed in a foster puppy less than 4 months old, or a super gorgeous, highly adoptable blue nose pittie who loves cats and other dogs.  But that’s not my typical foster dog, we have plenty of foster homes for them.  I was just going to take a break.

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But when the LCPO president asks me to help out, it’s hard to decline.  I do have a heart after all!  We had been cross posting for Tofu for a few weeks, with no interest.  (Her name was Mama back then) Her scumbag breeder “owner” was leaving the halfway home and about to hand her off the first offer he got.  Actually, the one offer declined once he found out she was spayed (thanks to Almost Home rescue).  No more Mama for this girl.  But another person was still happy to pick her up, we can assume for less than honorable reasons since dog fighting is common in that area.  So things were becoming dire and we just could not see her end up in bad hands.  So I was asked to take her in.  I said yes, but with the understanding that as finals approached, she would need somewhere else to go.  This is something that easier to say than follow up on.  And if I could keep her, I would.

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As a foster mom, I feel responsible for my foster dogs until they find their perfect forever home.  As the saying goes, “Fostering is not a lifelong commitment, it’s a commitment to saving a life.”  I hope that this is the last time I will take a foster in, and have to say goodbye before they have found their forever home.  It truly breaks my heart to uproot Tofu.  She has made amazing progress with me in terms of being a wonderful companion, preparing for that perfect home, and learning how to trust Leroy.  I will be worried about her being moved, confused, and starting this process over again.  And they all must do this again when they are moved to their forever family.

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The one benefit of her new foster home is that there is a well balanced female dog (along with a handful of other great pooches!).  Because of Tofu’s past as a breeder dog with little, if any other socialization, we think that she may feel a little more comfortable with female dogs.  However, it will likely still take her time to adjust and feel at ease with them.  But her new foster mom knows how to take things slow, so Tofu will be given a nice opportunity so socialization with a variety of other dogs.  I am hoping that this benefits her in the long run,  and allows our rescue to know what type of home will be best suited for her in the future.

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But for my girl Tofu, just because you are leaving me, I will not feel any less responsible for you.  I will think about you, and bother your new foster mom with questions.  I will worry and hope.  I will cross post and blog about you.  When someone says they are looking for a dog, I will suggest you.  I will miss your cuddles, kisses, and happy butt wiggles.  I will meet your forever family and see you on your way before you are adopted.  You will always have a piece of my heart.  And I will love and care about you always.  I am sorry that I was your temporary fix, but I am thrilled that I was able to help in saving your life.  You will never live in a yard again; never know loneliness, cold, or hunger.  You are safe and we will take care of you… until that special family finds you and wants to call you their own.  ❤

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If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Sponsor me here!- 5k Race to Rescue

Reactive Rover Graduate

Well, we did it.  We completed our Reactive Rover course.  3 more credits added to Leroy’s training transcript.  Despite all his douchebaggery “reactive-ness” (more on that later), it was a wonderful class and we both learned a lot!  None of the dogs in the class were “cured”, but they all made great progress and worked very hard!  The owners learned about management, disengagement cues, calming signals, threshold, body language, and coping mechanisms. Reactive dogs come with a lifetime of training, management, positive social interactions  and boundaries.  It is an ongoing process.

Now where to start?!  Let’s get some of Leroy’s low points out of the way.

I keep telling myself that Leroy made progress and improved throughout the course. I know he did.  However, it’s very easy to fixate on the negative, embarrassing, overwhelming moments that we went through every single week.  Boy does this dog know how to look like an arse!  So here are some of our low points:

1.  Leroy tried to eat the stuffed demo dog.  Twice.

Photo by Opportunity Barks Behavior & Training

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Poor, innocent, stuffed Fluffy.  You fooled my dog- yes.  But you did not fool me!  While most dogs gave a realistic depiction of how they would react to seeing a real dog,  Leroy went above and beyond. 🙂  He of course threw his typical “reactive dog” fit, which includes a ton of  lunging, whining,  stress panting, and barking.  He finished up by charging Fluffy, aggressively smelling his butt (albeit this part is technically ‘good manners’, though not in the rude way he approached), and forcefully knocking him over, leaving him flopped and dead.  Rest In Peace Fluffy.

Oh wait, he was stuffed.  PHEEWWW!  Oh yes, and this happened twice (the only two times we approached Fluffy).  Talk about embarrassing- Keep it together, Leroy!

2.  Leroy went over threshold at least once every week (OK, probably more than once).  Every week during our first exercise, Leroy would “loose it” and go over threshold.  My 55 pound train-wreck of a pit bull would do his “over-the-threshold” things- screaming, barking, lunging, whining, more lunging.  I’ll say it again, embarrassing!

3. Leroy was vocal, vocal, vocal.  I am that parent in the grocery store with a child that is just screaming, and screaming, and crying, and screaming.  And I’m just looking at the fruit in the produce section.  I’m that girl.  (Note to self- abstinence is key).  Leroy really felt the need to vocalize about everything.  People are moving?  We’re in a new place?  We heard a dog?  We are bored? VOCALIZE, about everything!

4. Leroy tried to eat a few of our fellow classmates.  Mainly, the mini doxie, Theo.  I will give him a tiny, tiny pass.  Leroy never denies having a super high prey drive.  He likes birds, OK?  The Doxie probably just looked squirrel-like for a second there 😉  (Note- there were no dog-dog interactions in this class.  Mr. Doxie was at a safe distance at all times, usually across the room and behind five barriers)  We also had a moment with Serious the Husky mix, but that was a very challenging activity involving proximity and movement for both dogs.  Too much, too soon boys.  All considered, these were only mildly embarrassing.

So the Worst Puppy is at it again! However, I did say that we improved and learned a lot.  And we did!  Let’s move on from all those negative points and talk about the good.  *shakes off* <- I learned that move from Leroy.  After we do a stressful activity, he has to shake it off.  This helps to calm him.  Hooray for calming signals!  Let’s take a quick time-out for a cute diagram of dog body language that I found!

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So since we are calm and ready, let’s move on to the high points!:

1. Leroy has three “go to” calming signals.  And as a high anxiety dog, he does these a lot.  He wants to be calm!  So for the whole Reactive Rover class, I watched him (and rewarded) his Head Turn.  This was especially important because after Leroy reacted at another dog, he would eventually give a very clear Hear Turn.  This was his signal that he was trying to calm himself and wanted to leave the situation!  After all that hoopla, he was ready to leave- Excellent!  Typically after we backed away from the situation, he would Shake Off.  Sadly this is not on the adorable diagram.  But it is a calming signal nonetheless. (Or it is a calming signal to my knowledge- I am not a professional!)  His third calming signal is slightly debatable.  It would be the I’ll Be No Threat, where the dog has his back to the stressor.  Leroy is food motivated.  Like, motivated!  So it’s possible that he was doing a combination of “I’ll Be No Threat” and “Mom, give me food”.  Either way, he got to practice looking at the food treat pouch me instead of the other dogs.  We learned things!!

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Photo by Opportunity Barks

2. Leroy started to “come down” faster, after going over threshold.  During the weeks at the beginning of Reactive Rover, Leroy would go over threshold and stay there for a bit (so to speak).  We often had to leave the room (on top of already being behind barriers) to help him relax and focus again.  He was pink as a Piglet from stress, panting, vocalizing ect.  But every week it seemed to take him a little less time to “get his shit together”.  Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t laying quietly on his side for our relaxation exercises or prancing next to Mr. Doxie.  It was mild, but there was improvement.

3.  Leroy was less pink!  Leroy is a white pooch, and he basically turns pink when he’s stressed.  Pink eyes, ears, tongue, and skin- but there was a little less of that every week.  Possibly the earliest sign of Prozac starting to work, or a combination of going to the same place for the 5th+ time, or picking up on the routine and training- Leroy was not quite the Pink Piglet that he normally is in a stressful environment.  Whoop whoop!

4.  Leroy is a smart, focused, food motivated pup.  Gosh, when he is looking at a treat, he is a focused dog.  Sometimes when we’re in a new place, he gets so stressed that he doesn’t eat.  But I bring the good stuff to class, and he has always been happy to eat and focus to the best of his ability in the class setting.  When he is focused, he can do anything!  Sit, down, watch me, clumsily walk over agility markers, look at that, say hi, leave it (mostly), find it, walk nicely.  When there are excessive food rewards and we’re under threshold, Leroy is focused and can work very nicely!  Even with some minor distractions.  🙂  Good boy Leroy.

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Stay tuned for more updates about what we learned and practiced in the class and what our next training activity will be.  Plus, a birthday this month!

If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Sponsor me here- Donate

Top Ten!

One of my favorite things about being a Foster Mom is learning fun and wonderful things about my foster dog, and then sharing them with potential adopters!  Each foster dog is different with special quirks, likes, and dislikes.  One of the huge benefits of adopting a dog from a rescue rather than a shelter is that we (or any decent rescue) are able to give you SO much information about your potential new family member.  Imagine knowing what you’re getting yourself into, how well trained this dog is, if she has separation anxiety, if she is picky about her food; all before bringing her home!  The reality is that shelters can not always gather solid information about a dog because of the high stress environment.  But alas!  In a foster home, we can get a true read of an individual dog and assess what home he or she would do best in!  So here are the top ten reasons to adopt Tofu 🙂

1.  Happy!-  Tofu is seriously a joyful dog.  I spent ten solid minutes laughing at her yesterday when I picked up a bandanna.  The joy on her face was amazing!  Tofu gets antlers, nylabones, rope toys, balls ect.  None of these excite her in that special “happy dog” way.  But something ridiculous goes through her mind when she sees a bandanna, leash, collar, or scarf.  The wiggling!  Oh the wiggling.  I have no words.  We experience a similar reaction every morning when she is let out of her crate.  Every morning there are smiles, wiggles, happy dancing, joy, more wiggles.  She is a “morning person”.  But more than that, she’s a “life person”.

2. Genuine–  I wrote about Tofu’s past, how she got here, and what her life was like pre-rescue.  But I’ve come to realize that her past has given her a special gift.  She is genuine.  She lets you know how she is feelings and wants to express it to the world.  This is often experienced through tail wags, lap sitting, kisses on your face, and cuddle sessions.  However, she also was genuine about her initial feelings towards Leroy, and will politely know when he’s making her uncomfortable.  Way back when we were crate/rotating, she showed us her snarl teeth and said, “Hey, I’m not sure about him just yet.  Give me time.”  So we gave her time.  But Tofu is especially genuine in her reactions towards other people.  She wears her heart on her sleeve.  When it’s time to have a love fest- you’ll know it.  She’ll be whole-heatedly loving you to pieces.

3. Special–  Well of course, she’s deaf and has slight vision impairment in one eye.  But that’s not what I mean.  Tofu is special.  Something about her just makes you feel like you can accomplish more, dream more, give more.  Tofu makes you feel like the world is in your reach, and your only decision is to decide what you want to achieve.  She is inspiring.  She looks at you and her eyes say, “Just go for it.  I have faith in you.”

4. Home Ready– Most dogs who are living in a foster home will have this in common.  But none the less, it’s worth saying.  Tofu is ready for you.  She is crate trained, housebroken, knows basic commands, knows how to wait for her dinner in her crate, knows how to cuddle with her humans.  She gets it.  I thought it would take longer, since she was living outside, but she’s smart and ready for this life.

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5. Mature–  Dogs typically become “mature” around three years old.  Some of the issue’s I’m having with Leroy seem to have escalated in the past year,  but he is simply coming into his maturity.  Tofu however, is a ripe three years old.  She has likely reached her maturity, so “what you see is what you get”.  There will be little change down the road.  Of course none of this is a guarantee.  But her personality and core self is thought to be pretty set at this age.

6. Perfect Energy Level–  It may seem hard to define the “perfect energy level”.  However, I have a feeling that Tofu falls in the ideal category.  If you want to run, or hike, or even do some agility work, she will be ready with bells on!  If you want to walk or stroll casually, she would be happy to join you.  If you want to play with a toy, oh what fun!  And if you want to cuddle, well as long as there is room by your side.  I do think that Tofu would be a good agility dog.  I don’t know anything  much about this, but she has some serious jump in her step.  So I’d bet she’d figure the rest out 😉  But no matter how spunky your home is,  I would bet she’d do just fine.

7. Cute– Seriously, she’s cute as a button.  Better than that, she’s a Tofutti Cuttie! (Tofu is not endorsed by Tofutti in any way.  It would be cool though.)  But I mean her face!  Have you seen her?  Just look.  Ok.  This one is on you- look at the cute!

I iz cute!

I iz cute!

8. Cuddly– This is something that is very important to me.  Although it confuses me, I understand that not everyone wants a dog that will lick their face, sit on their lap, cuddle during nap time, and be all around cuddly.  But Tofu, she likes those things.  She can hang out independently or nap with Leroy at times.  But she loves being a cuddle bug.  And I would want her future family to love that about her.

9. Good– Tofu is a good dog.  She is not a perfect dog.  But she is learning and she tries very hard.  She wants do the right thing to make her humans happy.  She wants to please.  She wants to kiss you when you’re sad and sit politely while you’re on the phone.  She wants to wait for her dinner, no matter how hard and exciting it is.  She tries not to eat her toys, because I tell her “No” (but they taste so delicious!).  She wants to help you eat your dinner and do all the good things she can to make you happy.  She wants to be a good girl.

10. Adoptable!–  The best thing about Tofu is that she’s looking for you- her forever family!  She is waiting and ready for that right person to fall in love and say those special words.- “You will be with me for the rest of your days.  Your troubles are now my troubles.  I will be here for you, and never leave you.  I promise- I will never leave you.  You are not ‘homeless’ anymore.  You are mine.  And I am yours.”

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If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Sponsor me here- Donate

People Pleaser with Excellent Manners!

Tofu has an amazing quality that I would like to share with everyone!  She is a people-pleaser 🙂  She seems to adore every person that she meets at an excited and genuine level of “omg uu iz mai bef friend evaaa!”  This is dog-speak for, “Are you my forever family?? I LOVE you.”  My family of course gets to meet all of these dogs and they form opinions on them.  Our brother Robert came by recently to say  “Hi” to the pups.  While Leroy was a bit overrun with excitement, Tofu did a much better job of keeping her ‘four on the floor’.  He said, “She seems pretty cool”.  Which is a very good compliment coming from brother Robert 😉

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Tofu and her new friend, Steven

My brother Steven was hanging out with Tofu tonight and he said, “I would adopt a dog like her”.  Now that is a compliment! 🙂  We then talked about her inherent manners and what a good, sweet, girl she is.  In taking a chained, throw-away, breeder dog, I was expecting a lot more work when it came to household manners and daily activities.  She has picked everything up super quickly!  (She does fall up the steps sometimes from sheer excitement though lol)

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Tofu has some serious jump in her step, especially when she seems some type interesting prey.  She can probably scale a 5 foot fence and might really excellent at agility training.  So she may let out one big Tigger jump when she’s super excited.  But she almost never puts her paws on anyone, and she will quickly regroup to her happy dancing and wiggling on the floor.  My mom was also very impressed at her good greeting manners.  She is very happy to meet anyone who will pay attention to her, but she shows her love and excitement through tail whippings, butt wigglings, and smiles. 🙂

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Tofu was also happy to practice her Sits for some yummy biscuits! She did very well ‘listening’ to hand signals from a new friend.  All in all, I’ve been very impressed with her home-ready manners and enthusiasm for strangers.  Now all she needs is the home! ❤

"Sit" hand signal

“Sit” hand signal

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If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Happy Tears and New Beginnings

Jora  was a very special foster dog.  The last time I saw her I was sad weepy nostalgic pathetic emotional a complete wreck.  I had to admit to myself, I adore this dog.  She wiggled into my home despite my “no puppies allowed” rule.  And truly, she grew up with me.  Jora had more meet and greets than any other dog, yet none ever panned out into the right fit for her. She was looked over since she was a scrappy pup of only four months old.  After a handful of meet and greets, a two hour adoption, and a trial adoptive home that decided not to keep her; I was stunned time and time again that these people did not see what I saw.  I was heartbroken that she didn’t have ‘her people’- the ones that would love her as much as I do, but more.  I knew she would find them, but I was becoming impatient, confused, torn, and sad for her.  I wanted to yell to the world, “This dog is amazing and you’re missing out!  It’s your LOSS!”  But I kept it in and tried to be patient.  The hardest part, was loving her so much.  I wanted her to feel the difference between foster love, and forever love.  I wanted someone to look into her eyes and say, “You will be with me for the rest of your days.  Your troubles are now my troubles.  I will be here for you, and never leave you.  I promise- I will never leave you.  You are not ‘homeless’ anymore.  You are mine.  And I am yours.”   And sometimes, I wanted to be the one to say that to her.

This is the lifelong struggle of a foster mom.  I battle with this every time I allow a dog to feel love, often times their first love, but I call it temporary.  Sometimes it hurts more than others.  And with Jora, I just felt that she was so deserving and ready.  I wanted her to be home.

My dad was quite smitten by her as well.  To paraphrase very accurately quote him, “Jora, we’re not allowing any more living things in this house.  None!  But if we were, I would let you stay.”  Leroy and Jora had an amazing bond as well.  She followed him around, played, snuggled, learned, and loved.  And for as amazingly tolerant as Leroy was with all of her puppy antics and instance on playing for 10 hours every day, he really loved her right back.

We lub when mom stays home from skool to write da tesis papers.

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But as it always happens with patience and a deserving dog, we got an email for Jora.  And this one was the one. ❤  Yes, I am happy to announce that Jora has finally found her forever home.  One of the most special dogs that I’ve ever known is officially adopted.  And on top of that, I think that she finally found the most perfect home that will love and appreciate her for all she has to offer.  When you have an adoption where everything just clicks, it’s as if the two souls were just waiting to find each other until the right moment in time.

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First family photo 🙂

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Jora, now Bella ❤

Congratulations Jora, you finally got your turn. I will love you forever my little Peanut ♥

Why I Do What I Do- Take One

In thinking about why I foster and why I wanted to take a break  for my last semester in school, I started thinking about how it affects my life, Leroy’s life, my families and friends lives, and how we adjust and do things differently when there is a foster dog here instead of just a perma-dog.  
Leroy generally enjoys the transition time between foster dogs.  He doesn’t especially love to share his toys.  He takes some time to adjust and feel comfortable with each new dog I bring in.  He doesn’t always want to share me either- my bed, love, kisses, and attention.  So I always have justified that he likes being an only dog as much as he likes having a brother or sister.
After a few weeks with the foster dog, things always settled in nicely and he will play and cuddle with them.  He is a pretty tolerant guy (Jora was always following him around and trying to play).  He is a great foster brother and cuddler to the new pups.  Leroy also helps with training and showing them the ropes of this household.  He does like having a friend.  He just needs to take his time to get to know and trust them.  And this is OK with me.  
However, while Jora has been staying with her new foster family, I’ve noticed that Leroy is more prone to stress than usual.  He gets more nervous about leaving the house, getting into the car, going to the vets office.  He always gets a little humpy  mouthy after a foster leaves.  He’ll spend a little more time trying to get me to wrestle with him.  Maybe he’ll grab a blanket or pillow and try to make love play with it.  Let’s just say, he is a little bit bold for the first week or more after they leave!  
Needless to say, I’m excited to have Tofu as our newest foster!  She’s expected to arrive this weekend.  And maybe in the future we will find another perma-dog to keep him company throughout the transitions.  But for now, the reason I foster is because I can save another dogs life.  Every day that I wait for Tofu I think of her living outside in this terribly cold weather.  I picture her being passed from scum to scum breeder to breeder, kept outside and used for her puppies that were all taken away too soon.  
There is always a dog like that who is waiting to be saved.  So that is why I foster.  
And to show you the long term benefit, I wanted to introduce a happily adopted, previous foster dog of Leroy and Co- Adele!!  
Happy Halloween!
Here is her write up from when she was up for adoption-

Introducing, Adele Belle! The one of a kind girl that only the Philly ACCT could have! Adele is a beautiful 6-12 month old Pit Bull/ Boxer mix with silly Boston Terrier eyes. She practices doga (dog yoga) every day, she loves to rub against your legs for attention, she makes adorable and very funny noises while she eats, and she’s a wiggle butt! She is busy learning some basic commands and eating lots of food so she can lose the nickname, Tiny. Adele loves her foster brother (Leroy) and showed no interest in cats while at the shelter. She is waiting for her perfect forever home 🙂

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She was skinny, has a paralyzed tongue, definitely  possibly inbred, and now she is ADOPTED!

Happily Adopted for 1+ years 🙂

My little Adelle Belle got SO big :)  Her momma loves her very much.  It was the perfect home for her!

Little Adele Belle got SO big 🙂 Her momma loves her very much. It is the perfect home for her!

 

So this is my first Happy Tail.  Adele from Philly ACC, saved from a high intake shelter- now loved and enjoying life in her forever home. ❤

 

If you have any questions about Tofu, Jora, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com 

Visit http://www.lcpoinc.org for more information on our organization! 

 

 

Santa is coming!

Leroy, Jora, and I had a nice time at my parents house last weekend. Jora wrote her list for Santa and asked for a forever home. And on Saturday she had her second meet and greet with a great family! She might just get her wish 🙂

We had some fun making homemade dog treats and of course I had two enthusiastic volunteer taste testers. I’m sure they would have been happy to help while I cooked anything, but since it was dog treats, I figured it was only right if they got to lick the spoon!

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They look good enough to eat! 🙂

Leroy also got in the Christmas spirit by wearing his Mommy’s Santa hat. He is such a good sport 🙂

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Are we done yet?

We hope you are getting into the holiday spirit too!  Please send Jora your good vibes and well wishes- she’ll be doing a trial run with her adoptive family starting Saturday!