Ender’s Game

What did you get for Valentine’s Day?

Ender arrived on Tuesday evening from California.  He’s a 3 year old male (ACTUAL) Italian Greyhound that came to me through a series of circumstances via an internet friend in Tahoe.  I first learned of Ender in November, but had just acquired Addy and passed on him, and yet here he is anyway.  How does this kind of thing happen to me?

So it was fate right?  To have an Iggy delivered to my doorstep?

For those of you who are counting – and I know some of you are – that makes an even 10 dogs at Casa de Food Lady.  You know what it DOESN’T make?  Me a hoarder.  More on that later.

Ender is very sweet and can smooch me in the face by leaping from the ground from a standstill.  He is reasonably housebroken.  He gives the cats a wide berth.  He’s very handsome and makes Addy look like a total squirt.  You can really see how IG she is NOT by sitting her next to her long legged brethren.

I like Ender, but so far, I do not love Ender.  Although I do love taking photos of him!

Initially, the other dogs were intrigued by Ender and seemed to like him.  Winter invited him to play right away and even Dexter “I see Mommy and Tennis Balls and everything else is invisible” play bowed at him.  But he’s been here for three whole days and now everybody hates him.  Winter particularly hates him.

When he tries to play with Addy, Ender is over there like a shot (and he is FAST!).

He gets all up in their business.

And then he starts giving Winter the Business.

He definitely gives Winter the NO Feeling.

And when Winter tells him off …

Ender fights back and I have to break it up.  I’m finding Ender a little on the passive-aggressive side … he is all needy and nervous, but he is also kind of a bully / asshole.  I suspect he has never lived with other dogs before.

This would be enough to give me pause, but he also barks ALL.  THE F*CKING. TIME.  At everything.  I bring him to work every day, where he has already pissed off all the puppies by humping them and interfering with their social dynamics, so he has to be crated.  And in the crate (at work) he complains all the time.

He barks at everybody and everything that comes through the door – every visitor gets barked and yodeled at.  We have Nosework classes at the shelter several days a week about 10 feet from my desk and he barks, yodels, grumbles and growls at them the whole time.

Today I took him to (insert big box pet store name here) along with Addy to buy crickets for my gecko and learned something new about Ender, which is that he is leash reactive.  In the space of 15 minutes he progressed from barking/yodeling/grumbling at everything he saw to lunging, snarling and snapping at other leashed dogs.  He doesn’t do this off leash (or at least he hasn’t so far) so I assume it’s leash related, but I HATE it.  I am not unskilled in managing and working with this behaviour, but you know what?  I don’t WANT to.  If I wanted to do that, I have my choice of largely undersocialized dogs at work that I could spend hours working with.  I really don’t want to come home and do it there too.

Is it so wrong to just want nice, reasonably well adjusted dogs?  Haven’t I already put in my dues, over and over and over again?

I also really don’t want to upset the social balance at home, nor do I want to undo all the work I have put into building Winter’s confidence over the last year.

But I reaaalllly want to photograph Ender over and over again ;-)

So far, Ender kind of gives me the NO Feeling too :(  This disappoints me, as I so want a real IG, but I am not sure Ender is the dog for me.

Also, I am thinking of throttling Addy Hole Digger and burying her inside one of her own artful creations.



Also, Ender’s reactivity is rubbing off on Addy, in the space of just three days.  She is hyper-alert anyway, and is already picking up in his barking-at-everything.  Now I’M grumbly and growly.

What I really want to throttle and bury is the coyote that killed my favourite rooster this week.  Mr. Roo was a very handsome BCM who slept in until 9AM and never crowed and was super laid back.  Asshole coyote left me only his one, imperfect, white tail feather :(

That damned coyote makes me feel like this.

The other thing that makes me feel like that are thinly veiled / not very fucking subtle suggestions that I am a “hoarder” on social media.  Especially coming from people who know piss all about me, but are obviously being fed their *ahem* ‘theories’ by people I have thought were my friends.  It’s supremely irritating.  But on the plus side, I suppose it’s a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff.  (What is chaff anyway?  Whatever it is, it’s obviously too chickenshit to come to me directly with its “concerns”.)

For the last 8 years I have blogged my dog life with what some of my (actual) friends consider a startling amount of transparency.  Putting my life out there has both comedy and perils, but I’ve got nothing to hide (when it comes to dogs, that is.  I WON’T TALK ABOUT MY TIME IN PRISON!*) I find it somewhat boggling that anyone can cruise through the back issues of Wootube and see my home, inside and out, the care and interest I take in my dogs, my many musings on their acquisition and my efforts to juggle a pack of divergent and challenging canine personalities, and still have the ball numbing audacity to allude to me as a hoarder.

This is a hoarder.

(photos courtesy of pawshpal blog)

This is not.

When’s the last time you read about a hoarding situation bust where the dogs were anything but filthy, diseased and starving?

Woo is definitely not starving.

Spring thinks she is, because she is on a diet, as she was looking a little porky to me these days.  The thing is, she doesn’t FEEL fat – both she and Winter have “sprung” their chests, which I have to assume has something to do with maturing?  Both of them are only a couple of lbs off their “normal” weight, but both of them are looking wider.  Spring in particular has lost her whippety look and gotten very square all over.  And Winter was always built like a tank.  I’m starting to wonder what kind of terrier, exactly, they are mixed with!

The problem is, when I diet Spring and Winter they bust down the mud room babygate and eat all the cats’ food while I am at work.

But back to the whole hoarding thing … if you all recall, I work for an animal shelter.  I have yet to take home a permanent resident from my shelter to ‘save” it, and spend all my days trying hard to find creative ways to convince people to adopt the dogs in the shelter.  I have run a border collie rescue for the last 15 years and of the 300 odd dogs I have fostered, kept only a handful of dogs.

I have more dogs than probably you, and more than probably most people you know (but I do have friends with more dogs than me, and they aren’t hoarders either).  I’m different from you, but that doesn’t mean you get an automatic pass to insult, belittle or slander me.

And for the record, my house smells of vanilla grooming spray at the moment, because the dogs were all nail clipped, foot hair trimmed and brushed this week, and all you’ll find in my kitchen sink is a plate from my dinner an hour ago.  My floors are freshly vacuumed and washed, there’s dog laundry in the dryer because I obsessively wash and towel dry muddy dog feet after every lengthy exercise outing (which happen twice a day in the winter months and three times a day in the summer months).

Friends come into my home routinely.  They don’t have to wear gas masks (I am dog sitting a french bulldog next week though, so I might have to hand some out … that thing can FAARRRT!) when they do.  So if you are a peripheral acquaintance of mine (or an alleged friend) and you still think I am a hoarder … well, fuck you.

And if you are the coyote that ate my Mr. Roo, well fuck you too.  Extra.



It’s sobering to imagine that five years from now, my life will be radically different for my pack of beloved dogs will be significantly smaller :(


(don’t worry, he didn’t hear anything.  he doesn’t hear much these days)

In other news, Miss “Prognosis Poor” Gemma Bean chomped me but good the other day when I tried to physically make her sit and stay for her weekly photoshoot.  Little shit obviously doesn’t *feel* like she is dying!

Isn’t she getting hairy again though?  It’s sooo cute.  She is so damn cute I can’t stand it.  I never thought I would say that about a maltipoo.

(*I have never actually been to prison.  In case you were worried for a second there.)


  1. Laura in California says:

    There’s such a thing as vanilla grooming spray?! I need to pay better attention in the pet store and hop on that. Never mind the idiots out there that feel the need to dump on you. You have the capability and capacity of heart to make your pack whatever size it needs to be. So neener, neener to them.
    Little Gemma seems a tad ungrateful and may be sticking around for awhile just to keep you on your toes. My sympathies for your rooster, may the next one be as laid back as he was.

  2. Well, to some of us strangers who don’t know you (& whose opinions don’t matter) the face presented on this blog is a wonderfully caring dog person (with a wicked sense of humor) who has dedicated her life to making the world a better place for many dogs. So always remember that for every reader expressing an unsolicited opinion lacking in all the facts, there are many more of us quietly reading, laughing at your delightfully written anecdotes, enjoying your gorgeous photos, & sharing in the emotions that accompany the hard but dedicated world of dog rescue. You owe the readers nothing & yet you continue to share a glimpse of your world with us. & for that, I thank you.

  3. Would it matter if you had ever been in prison? Around here(KC area) some of the best dogs come from the prison program at Lansing/Leavenworth where the inmates work with them to socialize and train them… the dogs go like hotcakes! That wouldn’t have anything to do with the you that you are now…and I love the you that you are now! Keep writing woman! ( and taking your pictures….)

  4. I think one of the most damaging things people can do is toss around labels. And if they think they need to, they should damn well educate themselves first before slandering others.
    Hoarding is defined as: “a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members. When clinically significant enough to impair functioning, hoarding can prevent typical uses of space so as to limit activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping. It can also be dangerous if it puts the individual or others at risk from fire, falling, poor sanitation, and other health concerns.”
    Having known you for years, been to your house and played with your dogs – you are about as far from this as a person can be. To be honest, I generally feel shame for the state of my own house after being to yours.
    People need to spend a little more time looking at themselves and figuring out exactly why they feel the need to fuck with other people’s lives.
    On a happy note, Ender takes some pretty damn fine photos!!!

  5. I’ve heard nothing but good things about you and your dogs from people who (claim to) know you quite well. It would never have occurred to me to call you a horder; obviously you’re the furthest thing from a border. You lavish nothing but care upon dogs that I, at least, would never have the patience to work with. Don’t allow the small minded or self-involved to derail you or even give you a moment’s pause – they aren’t worth it. The coyote, on the other hand, well he’s likely to come back to see if you’ve any more snacks … maybe offer him Ender? (Just kidding!!)

  6. Jan in Oregon says:

    I have read your blog for years and never once thought you a hoarder. I have thought you are a fantastic trainer, handler, photographer, scheduler, have a huge heart and have lots & lots of patience. I have frequently been jealous of your ability to work with and train such a diverse assortment of dog personalities.
    I have 4 dogs and don’t have near the well behaved pack that you do. I have watched you say goodbye to dogs that you brought home, worked with and then found them an awesome home. Not a trademark of a hoarder.
    Ignore those who have nothing good to say and continue doing what makes you happy.

  7. I was really pissed when I read this. (not at you ). People need to mind their own business or at the least if they have something to say then say it to your face. You have done more for the pups that run your life than most. I am also sure from your posts that that you could look at them and tell if something were not right. I live with dogs. ALL of them are and were special and different.
    I went through some nasty stuff for about two years and was in the hospital quite a bit. YOU kept me from loosing it. I would read your blog and know that somehow I would be back with my own.
    By the way, if anyone needs to go into the hosp. in Pa. UPMC has a policy where you can have your dog into visit. I was 90 miles from home but it was a thought. To all the haters out there… maybe you just don’t get it. Maybe, just maybe it’s you and not FL.

  8. *facepalm* I think the hoarder accusations are likely coming from people who can barely manage the time and effort to keep one or two dogs as civilized members of society. Not everyone has the knowledge and dedication to keep 10 dogs looking gorgeous and healthy like your pack. Maybe there’s even an element of jealousy there? Anyone with more than 2 brain cells huddling together for warmth knows you’re not a hoarder. What a bunch of jerks to think it.

    Oh, and chaff is the protective coat around the wheat ‘seed’, the part we actually eat. The old-school method for separating the chaff from the wheat was to take a basket of wheat kernels and toss it up in the air. Being light, scaly, flaky, and pretty much useless (to humans), the chaff just blows away in the wind, while the part that has real substance–the wheat–falls back into the basket.

    Flaky, useless, and prone to getting swept away by the slightest breeze–good description of the kind of people who’d think you were a hoarder.

  9. Why does Ender remind me of Sid from Ice Age? Cute as a patoot, but clearly a little shithead (meant lovingly). I have a dog that sounds similar to him – leash reactive and a Big Funsucker. doG forbid any other dog be having any kind of fun around him – he will break that up tout de suite. Anyway, Ender might not be the right fit for your menagerie, and that’s OK, because you’ll find the right solution for him.

    Hoarder? HA. I scoff.

  10. Don’t mind those people that say you are a hoarder. Those dogs look happy and healthy to me. Wish I had the strength and energy for that many :)

  11. I’m a stranger who doesn’t know you, but I know comedy when I see it (and healthy dogs). Finding a new Wootube post is a highlight of my day (especially since I discovered the photo labels that pop up when you mouse over them).

  12. I ditto all the comments here. I don’t know you personally, but I absolutely adore your blog and the way you write and talk about ALL the dogs in your life. Those with you permanently and those with you temporarily…which by the way, hoarders don’t understand the meaning of “temporarily”. You clearly care for every creature you meet, which is an admirable trait, and one more people should have.

    Meanwhile, I am always impressed with how you deal with dogs with ‘tudes and dogs with issues. I have seen my share of both, and know my patience can run thin. Seems like no matter how thin your patience gets, you still work up more…and I admire the shit out of you for that.

    Keep on, FL. And let the rest of those asshats “blow away in the wind.”

  13. I agree with many of the comments posted here. As a stranger who does little more than read the blog, appreciate the photos (since you do an amazing job, I think, of capturing the many varied personalities of your pack), and comment occasionally, the presentation of you as a person is honest and realistic. You don’t pretend to know everything, or to understand everything about your pack’s dynamics. But you do work damn hard with each and every one of them, you’re constantly seeking to improve your skills and your knowledge, and you obviously have a keen understanding of and deep appreciation for animals in general and dogs in particular. That will never go astray with most of us. The hell with cries of “hoarder”. You’re a huge-hearted woman with a fantastic pack that you love. You take on a lot, but it never seems like you’d never take on so much that it was detrimental to the well being of the group. That’s a hard balance to strike, and you do it well.
    Keep blogging. We’ll keep reading and supporting.

  14. I do think you are crazy – in the best possible way – but the farthest thing I can imagine from a hoarder. I love Anissa’s definition of chaff and her application of it to people. I am sure it hurts when people you think are friends prove themselves otherwise but I hope they are reading your post and everyone’s comments and hanging their heads in shame. You can hold your head high, Food Lady, and keep on doing what you do so beautifully. Thank you for years of pleasure and laughs and your wonderful photographs.

  15. Oh, for goodness sakes, you are *not* a hoarder. Another usually silent voice that appreciates, laughs, commiserates, and enjoys along with you.

    Other commenters have expressed it well and beautifully – I can only add my name in agreement.

  16. I’m glad you have the bandwidth to lovingly take care of such a large pack. They are lucky dogs. I think your blog is entertaining AND inspiring!

  17. These post all say it better than I could. I am a stranger, but the woman I see through this blog is superhuman in energy and commitment to caring for her pack, her home/farm, and shelter/rescue animals. She is funny, talented, open to learning. She (just often enough) becomes angry at injustices, like being berated for being a hoarder when she is NOT.
    Thank you for sharing you, your pack, your photos, and your humor. I’ve appreciated it for 7 years.

  18. “…but that doesn’t mean you get an automatic pass to insult, belittle or slander me.”
    Is it still okay to worry about you?

    You did send Keiran on recently. And is Winter still officially a foster?
    Addy’s behavior looks familiar. My IG-mix is teaching my other chi-mixes the joys of digging.

  19. If you feel you need to worry, then you’ve missed the whole point of my post.

    And actually, last year I sent on Kieren, Holly, Martine, Monster, Shut The Fuck Up, Evil Monkey … I’m sure there are more.

    When the people who know me – intimately – are not worried or “concerned” then neither should the people who don’t know me at all. And expressing that concern (especially publicly) is really just a passive aggressive way of calling me out. And people should tread very, very carefully when engaging in that sort of behaviour.

  20. I always enjoy a new WooTube post, and I’m in awe of your ability to care so well for so many dogs.

    Oh, and Addy is obviously digging coyote traps. Yeah, traps. that’s it.

  21. 1. Gemma is indeed super cute. Spring is still my fav though. :)

    2. Your dogs have a way better life than mine do, despite the fact that I am a good dog owner and I never had more than three at one time. (Down to one now, sigh.) They are obviously healthy, happy, and in good condition. So I have to wonder, is this some kind of Mean Girls bullshit? Like how in high school if you irritated one of them, then you go on one date with a guy and the next day the school is full of rumors about what a slut you are? Because that’s basically what this sounds like, only I’m assuming these “friends” are no longer in high school.

    3. When I was house hunting, I looked at a house that was being foreclosed on and was owned by a hoarder. That… was not a good situation. :-/ It looked a lot like the photos you posted, actually. Those animals did not go outside. Or see a vet. Or have coats that were identifiable as fur. :-/

    4. Your blog is seriously one of the best things on my Internet.

  22. Kt, Mitzi, sage, an pickles says:

    Food lady, as a long time reader (and super major fan), we all lurv you here. You’re clever, witty, and insanely caring. You give so many animals a better chance at life, and all animal lovers and caretakers can see you do remarkable jobs for your pets and fosters alike. Yes you have more dogs than some of us, but they are all happy, healthy, and wellcared for. If anything, I wish I could be more like you and handle more dogs as you do. You are not a hoarder-anyone who has seen this site and has a functional brain can see that. Now please snuggle all your fuzzies for us :)

  23. I’ve followed your photos and blog for years. I’ve never seen anything that would give me reason to think you were anything but a wonderful and caring rescuer and dog owner. Fuck the haters. I hope when I die I come back as one of your dogs.

  24. Janice in GA says:

    I swear, I was probably more of a hoarder when I had 4 dogs than you currently are. My sister has a bunch of cats (currently about 8, I think?), and she’s no hoarder either. She rescues ferals and rehomes them when she can.

    I wish I could keep my TWO dogs in as good a shape as you keep your whole crew. I’m in awe of your ability to manage all your animals.

    You’re wonderful and amazing, and I enjoy every post you write. Give Tweed a kiss for me too, from his Georgia Fan Club.

  25. I can’t say it better than Shasta and Robin!

  26. Bonnie, Beep, Poppet and Noodle says:

    My rule of thumb is new rescue dog has to get along with the dogs that already live in my home. If they don’t, then they are not for me. A peaceful pack is very important!

    Keep up the good work that you do for dogs!

  27. clairesmum says:

    Having followed your blog for several years – since before Dexter was born – I have seen how well you care for your dogs, and that you work very very hard to find the right home for each of them. A hoarder is (among other things) incapable of believing that a dog could have a better life in another home, and you clearly do not have that delusional belief. Your photos and writing have added greatly to my life, and I thank you.

  28. Meh, these people. You do you, Food Lady. I personally enjoy your writing and your crazy crew (I lurv Old Man Tweed). Thank you for the effort of taking beautiful photos for us to enjoy and posting your mis/adventures.

  29. The only thoughts I’ve had when you’ve added a new dog to your pack has been “how does she do it?”, alwasy said with a sense of awe. FL, you rock!

  30. Every time I read your blog, it encourages me to keep on working with the furballs I live with and ummm, clean house more. (There may be hair tumbleweeds that occasionally take out the Roomba). My dogs, on the other hand, wish that this blog wouldn’t encourage me to make them bathe for pictures quite so much. Mah ha ha. (Really bad pictures, but it’s a hobby.)

    I have no idea why certain folks in the animal world start rotten rumors about people that intimidate them. When it happened to me when I worked with a rescue, folks came out of the woodwork to defend me, as they will you. At the time, I had, drum roll please, three cats, three mice, two dogs, and usually had one foster dog. That’s not hoarding.

    I’ve had two vets tell me that my willingness to keep a cat with a birth defect that gave her colon issues has taught them so much about feline constipation management. And as a bonus, the cat is still ruling the house at 7 years old. Managing a chronic health condition in an animal is not cruelty, IF it is managed.

    I’m really sorry that you’re having to deal with this type of gossip. What a rotten thing.

  31. Hey… Even if I never see pictures of your house, I would know you aren’t a hoarder. You are so open with your life and show us your dogs, how could you be? Hoarders don’t even know how many animals they have, much less want to share their lives with people. Envy comes in many forms, and I think people just envy the close relationship you have with your dogs, where you live, and how much you love your life. Ignore the haters

  32. Ah screw the bad mouther! They have NO clue about real life. You are an inspiration! I love your blog. I LOVE TWEED <3 <3 <3! I love the WooTwo, Piper and Dexter……
    (I'm a herding dog breed addict – Aussies in particular). But you have opened my mind to "other" breeds! ;-)
    Keep up the good work FL, we love you!
    Janet, Shy, Cutter, Copper and Spur.

  33. Chichimum says:

    I second Kelly’s note. I am in awe of how much of your life (all of it) you dedicate to your dogs and to rescue! I have 4 tiny dogs and find it hard to keep up. Lol. So basically you are my hero! Ignore shitty people that have nothing good to say, they are basically talking out of their asses, some people only feel good when they are bashing someone else, I just feel sorry for them. I love our blog , your photos and your humour. So give yourself a big pat on the back for how awesome you are!

  34. I don’t think you are a hoarder. Anyone looking at the photos you post can very easily see how well treated all your dogs are, some of them, Mr. Woo, a little bit on the big side.

    The only worry anyone can have about your lifestyle is how much free time you might have after taking care of such an extended dog family. But if you are happy, and it seems to me you are, there’s nothing to worry about, It’s your choice and nobody, dog or human, is being hurt.

    I love your blog and all the photos you post. I must add that Dexter and Mr. Woo are my favourites, but I enjoy the adventures of them all.

    Don’t worry about stupid criticism.

    Best wishes. :)

  35. Andrea/Schnitzie says:

    FL, I have friends from high school who jokingly call me a hoarder, despite the fact that I have never owned more than 3 cats at one time, not including fosters, and I’ve never had more than two fosters at a time, either. The only time I had two fosters when I had three cats was when the two fosters were kittens, litter mates. My high school friends think it’s a funny thing to say. I regard it as filling space because they can’t think of anything more intelligent to say.

    The thought process goes: “I saw a hoarder on TV => So-and-so has more than one animal => So-and-so must be a hoarder…hahahahaha.”

    Idiot stuff. Yeah, and concern trolling. I just stood in to help an 18-year-old cat cross the bridge yesterday because my friend would rather take his late step mother’s cats to the kill shelter than pony up for a vet visit. And then he goes on a trip to India.

    People are idiots. There’s no shortage of idiots failing their family animals. There’s no shortage of idiots who can’t tell the difference between television and real life. Your point on concern-trolling is well-taken.

    People like YOU restore my faith in humanity and make up for the idiots. That is why I’ve read your blog for the past 7 or 8 years. Were you writing in 2006? If so, I was reading. I think you’re great. Love your blog and your FB page. And admire the hell out of everything you do for your family animals…canine, feline, birds, even the fucking coyote. =:-)

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