THE CRAZY DOG LADY
Crazy dog lady - a title that I gave myself and wear proudly. Ever since I was a small child, animals where the center of my life. I always had a mini zoo at home. Hamsters, fishes, dogs, lobsters, turtles, parrots....lots and lots of parrots. Also, all the injured animals found outside, were dragged home, in efforts to save them. Many birds and small rodents, have had a shelter in my home. I also am saving snails from roads, since I could walk. To this day, never leaving a snail on the road to be crushed.
Growing up, it seemed like a normal thing, for a child to be fascinated by animals, but my fascination and love was one, that I never grew out of. I always chose animal company, over humans. There were times when I was allowed to stay home with my pets, instead of going to the kindergarten, because I felt more comfortable that way. All my life, I joked that my pets are my emotional support animals. Until, eventually, at my late age of 34, I was finally diagnosed as a neurodivergent. It suddenly made sense why animals mean so much to me and my "joke" became a reality.
I was a responsible child, not one that gets a pet and forgets about them. I did, indeed, get up early to walk a dog and was looking forward to it.
While I had many animals through out my life, some are more significant, but all are never forgotten and still at heart. Barfi, a rotweiller that my uncle got for himself, was one of the first once loves of my life. Back in the day, they were rare. I remember, I was very little, before school age, when she arrived from Moscow. Unfortunetly I was sick when she arrived and I was not allowed to see her for a while. But I will never forget that small black ball researching me upon our first meeting, when I eventually got to meet her. Barfi became my best friend, we jumped rope together, danced and played games. Unfortunately Barfi lived only a very short life, as she was poisoned by a veterinarian and despite all attempts to save her, eventually she passed away, leaving a hole in the heart to this day.
Jerry, a tiny black stray, found on the street, that my aunt brought home, was another heart that collided with mine. She had incredible wisdom. Wisdom that could not be tought, she was born with it. Street smart so to say. She often seemed more like a human than a dog. She was my companion and best friend, eventually she also moved in with us. I have a blurry memory of what happened. I just know that one day, I believe while we where away, Jerry ran away, maybe from fear that we left her. We searched for her for years, but she disappeared. This was pre social media and phone days, pre shelter days, where a dog, in deed, could just disappear. It haunts me til this day...
some of the very embarrassing childhood photos
My biggest love, until Josie, was Vudzi. A tiger coloured American Staffordshire Terrier came into my life when I was around at the age of 6. She was also a completely new breed in the country. We were looking for a dog for my protection. This was around 18 years ago, when shelters where not an option. We were looking for a dog that could be trained as a personal bodyguard. Upon visiting Vudzi's home, we where greeted by a huge muscular dog right at the door, quietly starring at as. It was uncomfortable to walk in, but we quickly learned that, the impressive exterior was hiding the biggest love bug.
I got to go into kitchen and play with around 11 puppies, just making haos and having the time of their life. Only one of them approached me, stole my napkin from my pocket and wanted to play with me. And we knew, that was it, this is our dog. So we took that chubbyness home after few days. Vudzi was my first introduction to the bully breed and no dog ever, seemingly, could measure up to those wonderful, fascinating and utterly wrongfully discriminated dogs. To this day, I am loyal fan and fighter for their rights at every opportunity.
Vudzi was the center of my world. I grew up with her. While, looking back, indeed many things would have been made differently now (including her ears), but we loved her beyond imaginable and I am sure she knew it. Vudzi participated in every event of my life. She even went to me on every first date. Weekends where spent in the nature with her. Eventually, she send me away to collage and sadly soon after, passed away from blood cancer. I could not force myself to return home for over half a year, because I could not imagine coming into home and not having her greeting me. She was close to turning 11....11 years together, with her being a crucial part of my growing up. After she passed away, she became my guardian angel, visiting me in my dreams, specially at times when I had it very hard. The dreams stopped, when Lucy came into my life with the same eyes, Vudzi had. I believe she found me again and will, indeed, find many more times in the future.
HOW I GOT TO TODAY
Growing up I wanted to be a journalist a psyhologist, a lawyer, a diplomat, a translator...
Eventually marketing and advertising caught my attention as well. The two biggest loves of my life - animals and photography - never seemed like an option, for a career. My mom always thought, I will either become a veterinarian or run away with a circus. Neither happened, but animals continued to follow me through out my whole life's journey. As well, as photography. And now, in my mid 30's I decided to give in and follow my dreams, of living the life I want to. I might not succeed. Or maybe at least not in the way I would hope to. But! None of the attempts will feel as waste of time, that - I am sure of.
My dog rescue will never become a job. If it would, it would shift priorities and I don't want that. I want to just hands on help animals. My photography and other projects, I hope will, indeed, become my source of income, so I could have the freedom to work from home and according to my own schedule. That way, my work with dogs would not have to be compromised, nor would my furr children have to spend a lot of time without me. Separation anxiety is a real thing! And I am not only talking about the dogs :)
Animals are essential for my survival. Maybe that's why I feel so passionate about giving back and helping them as much as I can. Without a pet by my side, I feel like a part of me missing, I feel more anxious and have difficulty to fully focus. Looking back, it was always like that. Therefore, at every opportunity, I have at least one or the other pet of mine with me, from taking hamsters to school with me, to taking my dogs everywhere with me now.
HOW I GOT INTO FOSTERING
How my 4 Beloved Paws started, you'll be able to find in the story about Josie. But it did not start with fostering.
My rescue organisation started from a small, two room apartment, in a city, while I was a student. I did not had a plan or any idea how to do it, but I was determined to figure it out. I always figure things out, along the way, usually at the last minute.
As I was in another country, I had to do everything remotely. So, I started from researching all the shelters I could collaborate with and contacting them via email. Surprisingly, all those years ago, out of the many shelters I contacted - only one - greeted me with joy, enthusiasm and the will to try. It was Sjuzi's shelter called "Happy Paws" . From the very first interaction, it was obvious why their name is like that and I knew it will be long lasting friendship. Now, years after, I know almost all shelters in Lithuania and some abroad. Have worked with most of them as well. Now It's me, who get's contacted, by new shelters or volunteers, with an offer for collaboration :)
Considering my, back then, living situation, my approach was to help dogs get adopted, while they were still in Lithuania and send them directly to their new homes. Often it happened without me even meeting neither dogs nor owners. I had no means taking them into fostering. I relied solely on collecting enough info from the shelter, to give to possible owners. This was difficult and long process. I did manage to work like that for quite a while and get enough dogs adopted.
After adopting Sjuzi and parading her outside shelter, I got the first reality lesson, that as soon as you take the dog out of the shelter - it changes the outlook on the dog. While the dogs are in a shelter, they wait there, often, for many years or even forever. That was my first realisation, how important fostering and volunteering is. The "invisible" dogs become very visible and even on demand.
So it happened, I had to relocate for few months to Lithuania, soon after Sjuzi's adoption. Upon arrival, the very first night, I received a small puppy, into foster care, which was already promised to someone in Denmark. Few days later, my visit to a shelter, to check out some dogs, led to taking few dogs for a walk on the beach. On the way there, one of them started coughing and turned out to be sick. The trip to the beach ended, without starting, and turned into me taking in, the sick dog, to foster in my Lithuanian home. To avoid Josie, Sjuzi and foster kiddo getting sick, the dog was placed on a separate floor and I had to switch clothes before and after visiting her. Was disinfect everything, at all times. She also could not be alone, so I slept on the floor with her, although not much sleeping was happening. It was a tough week. But that was my first taste for fostering. While I was there, I sent to new homes quite several dogs and expanded more relationships with shelters.
Moving back to Denmark, I moved into bigger apartment, on our current island and continued fostering. But doing it in a rented apartment, with neighbours, was a challenge, so I had to do it with brakes in between. Eventually, as my pack expanded, it was time to settle down in a place, where I don't have to worry about damage, deposits or pesky neighbours. With the help of my best friends and many great people, I managed to buy my first house. Because of that, I was able to give LU a home and bring 4 Beloved Paws and my fostering, to a new level.
I always wanted to write a book and have my own photo galleri. I want quite a lot of things. Mainly, I just would like to, to leave something meaningful behind.
I always knew, I don't want children, not my own at least, so I used to say, that one day, if I feel ready and I want to, I could adopt. I am a mom though, in my life, my pets are my children. Not in a some kind of compensating for something way. I hate it when people assume that, when you say you are a dog mom. Definition of mom is not only biological term, it's also, simply, devotion, love and care about someone. All which we provide to our pets, while receiving that in return.
Animals are my medicine, my meaning of life and my motivation to get through, of whatever happens. I think I chose not a bad category to be focused on :) In a way, I hope, I am kinda leaving some kind of legacy behind, through my 4 Beloved Paws and my own furr children.
At the moment I am focusing on establishing myself as a photographer, mainly in animal category. I started this blog, to please my passion and love for writing. I continuously foster and send dogs to new homes, to the best of my abilities. I do have ideas for also fostering children in the future, providing them animals filled experience, that hopefully would teach them compassion and resilience. That's much further in the future project. And last but not least, I am assisting Popsi on her journey as a therapy dog for elderly in elderly homes.
I am not sure what the future holds for me, but I hope that I am going the right direction, one step at the time. I tend to live by the motto "Live for today, hope for tomorrow". It got me this far :)