About Me

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My name is Lesli Hyland. In my fifty one years on this earth, my home and my heart have been graced with the company of twenty four dogs. Many came to me as seniors. All of them taught me something and helped determine the course of my life. I became a dog trainer because of them. I met my friends because of them. My husband and I are are forever bonded by our mutual connection to them. Currently, as a Dog Walker I have access to other people's dogs and I am allowed to experience their unique personalities. The dogs make me a better person by forcing me to closely examine my motivation, my actions and my choices. Everything I do affects their behavior, safety and happiness. It is an awesome responsibility. The dogs keep me honest.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Heart Talk

My dogs come to me in different ways.  Sometimes the dog needs special care or training that I know I can provide.  Sometimes after fostering a dog I suddenly realize that "Auntie Lesli" has switched to "Mom" in my heart and the dog stays.  Sometimes I am in the exact right head space to raise a puppy and I seek out that special baby.

But there is a less common, but very powerful phenomenon I have witnessed over the years.  Sometimes when I meet a dog, there is an immediate, emotional spark; a unexplainable connection.  It has happened only a few times to me.  It happened when Pogo, a mixed breed puppy was born in my spare bedroom to a pregnant foster.  It happened with Pistachio, a 14 yr old Cocker Spaniel when I met him in the shelter kennels.  It happened with Dinah, a senior Beagle when she was brought into the shelter office as a stray.

I adopted those dogs without a moment of hesitation and I enjoyed amazing relationships with all of them.
They were mine from the moment I laid eyes on them.

That instant connection happened with Tawnie as well.  Tawnie is a herding dog cross.  She was horribly shy and traumatized after being confiscated from a hoarder.  I felt that familiar "pop" in my chest and that inexplicable pull when my eyes met hers.  But in this case, I tried to think with my head instead of my heart.  I was dealing with three ailing, senior Beagles at home...it wasn't a good time to adopt a dog.  So I ignored  my gut and it had catastrophic consequences.  Tawnie was adopted out to less than capable people and she bolted shortly after they brought her home.  She spent 10 months in the woods, over a Vermont Winter, before finally being caught in a live trap.  Tawnie came home with me after that.  It terrifies me that I almost lost her.

Currently my husband and I have 7 dogs - Tawnie, of course - We estimate she is 6 yrs old now.  She is my constant shadow and has become a social butterfly!  Everyone loves Tawnie! 
Pogo is still with us.  He just turned 15!  He is my heart.
Belle and Tucker, our Vizslas, are 10 1/2.  Belle, we bought from a fantastic breeder as a puppy.  I have enjoyed every moment of our journey together. We adopted Tucker last year after fostering him.  He is my husband's dog.  He goes to work with Dad and does 'guy stuff'. He had severe separation anxiety when we took him into foster.  That has been drastically improved through medication and behavior modification. He needed us, so he stayed.

Lupie is a 4 yr old Chihuahua/Rat terrier cross.  She was adopted 3 years ago after fostering.  She was my first tiny dog and she has taught me alot about training the wee ones.  I adore her.

Cubby is a 5 yr old Chihuahaha.  He was sitting at the local shelter, not being adopted, due to his medical and training needs.  My veterinarian is a saint.  He helped me afford Cubby's double knee surgery.  We house trained him and his other supposed behavioral issues disappeared in our home.  Cubby is the cutest, sweetest, biddable dog. He lives to be in our laps and is fantastic with other animals.
Mamacita is our newest.  She is a baby at a year old.  She came to us as a pregnant foster.  It became apparent early on that though she did a good job raising her puppies and she was appropriately deferential to my other dogs, she had alot of social challenges.  I could see the potential under the reactivity.  I knew I could bring out the best in this dog. We adopted her.   She is smart and fast and funny.  She is turning into a great agility dog. 

Seven dogs is alot.  We certainly were not looking for another dog...

But this past weekend I visited my friend Claudia to bring her a rescue Vizsla she had offered to foster.  One of her dogs, James, is a 9 yr old Beagle.  I met him a year or two ago while he was still being called a foster dog in Claudia's home.  When I first met James I felt that familiar phenomenon at work, but he was safe and happy with Claudia and I had enough dogs at home, so I walked away.  I've kept tabs on James through Claudia and have enjoyed pictures of his happy face.

When I walked into Claudia's house this weekend I was unprepared  for the intense emotion that rushed to the surface when James walked into the room. Uh oh.  This is ridiculous, I thought.  He is in a great home!  But when I half jokingly offered to take James off her hands, Claudia looked thoughtful and said , "I was surprised you didn't adopt him last time you were here". Hmmmmmm.

A couple days later, after discussing it with her son, Claudia asked me if I was serious about taking James.  One of her other dogs bullies him alot and Claudia thought James might be happier with smaller dogs to play with...

So it looks like we'll be adding another dog to the family.
I have no doubt that James belongs here.

Thank you Claudia for understanding.

Thank You Brian for "getting it" as well and welcoming another mouth to feed.

Thank you to all my friends who refrained from calling me a lunatic when I told them about James (even if they were thinking it...)

Thank you Melissa of Libby's Haven for Senior Canines for giving permission for James to move from NH to his new home inVT.

More to come!