I’ve always had pets. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m a huge animal lover. My furs keep me company and, they don’t bug me too much when I’m writing…yeah, they do, but it’s okay. They bring a lot of love and fun into my life.
Since the popularity of social media has skyrocketed, I’ve become more aware the plight for homeless animals. This is a subject that breaks my heart and angers me. It’s an enormous community problem, and it happens everywhere.
Fortunately, my hometown humane society has evolved into a state of the art facility with a 95% exit rate. A year ago they did renovations and rebuilt. More kennels, a vet on staff, and they hired a director who is interested in the well-being of their temporary tenants.
While the overhauls were in progress, old kennels were torn down and dogs were kept in makeshift kennels, inside a tent. The area was hot with limited space. Unfortunately, because of the lack of room, many pups didn’t live long enough to find their forever homes.
It was heartbreaking. The Humane Society begged for fosters. I toyed with the idea, and a photo of a pretty girl named, Thina made up my mind. She only had until 2:00 pm that day or she would be put down. They’d destroyed a lot of dogs that week, and I had to save her. I filled out the foster form and sent the email.
Sadly, I was too late, but I vowed to save someone in her memory. In tears, I skimmed through the urgents listed, and picked out another girl, Becca. Nervous, I drove to the shelter. Daniela, a shelter employee met with me. We went through the regulations, she asked me questions about my dogs, then we got down to the real business, picking out my foster.
Before I could inquire about Becca, she asked if I would consider taking a fearful dog. I answered, sure, not quite understanding the level of fearful she was talking about. She introduced me to Bree, a shepherd mix, who’d been at the shelter several months. Bree cowered in the back of her kennel and barely moved.
Bree, Daniela explained, topped the urgent list and was next in line to go. Because she was so scared, she didn’t show well. The staff didn’t think anyone would adopt her, and she was a favorite. Would I be willing to take her?
Next to die?
Of course, I took her. (Becca was later adopted) Once home, she promptly did her business in the middle of my living room. I have floors, no biggie. Mess cleaned up, I put her in a room to decompress. It didn’t go well. She destroyed the room. Over the months, I lost three sets of blinds, sofa cushions, and window sills. I had many exasperating moments with Miss Bree. Eventually, she calmed. And I calmed. I learned her triggers, and how to avoid them.
My two dogs, Malcolm and Laynie have been essential in her training. They’ve showed her how to behave. She’s still shy, but Bree’s blossomed. She doesn’t tear up, although I keep a close eye on her during storms and fireworks, which tend to frighten her. She prances around, confident, and shows herself to be the gorgeous girl that she is.
My Other Fosters:
Bessie – I didn’t intend to foster more than one dog, but this girl caught my eye as I was leaving with Bree. Her expression was pleading. She was begging to be saved. I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Two weeks after bringing Bree home, I picked up Bessie. She’s the only foster I’ve actually requested.
Bessie’s a hoot, full of personality, and bigger than life. I called her Bossy Bessie because she liked to be in charge. Bessie stayed with me for five months before she was adopted. She has a mom, dad, a human and a fur sister. She’s doing great.
Lacy – Lacy’s a ten-year-old lab, surrendered because her owner passed away. Her mom’s daughter actually wanted to put her down, because “she couldn’t stand to look at her,” but the Humane Society talked her into surrendering. Lacy was slated to go to rescue, but it was around the Christmas holidays, and they couldn’t take her right away. They needed a place for her to crash.
I brought her home. She was overweight and filthy, but she was the sweetest girl, and so loving. A bath made a world of difference, and winter was fairly mild, so we walked a short distance every day, until the rescue took her. I would’ve had no problem keeping her forever.
Tipsy – Probably my coolest foster story so far. The foster FB page asked someone to take Tipsy. Due to anxiety, she kept trying to dig out of her kennel, and was tearing up her feet. I agreed and brought her home, but I hated the name. It sounded like the day after New Year’s. She didn’t answer to it, so I changed it to Torie.
Torie was adventurous and just the cutest, little girl. She didn’t like being alone, though. She loved to be close to people. I had her about a month when I received a message from the foster coordinator asking me to bring her in.
A college student, Ryan, left the state for an internship, leaving his dog with a trusted friend, this past September. Ryan returned in December to discover she’d ran away in October. He happened to check the shelter pages, and he found his girl in foster. After a tearful reunion, Torie/Harper was returned to her dad, and she has moved to be with him in California.
Dodge – This guy was the oddest of my fosters. He had no clue how to be a dog. He wasn’t socialized, and he didn’t trust people. My two pups had a real hand in showing him the way to behave. Besides being a looker, he’s very smart, and catches on quick. My other dogs took to him right away, and he’s been their favorite foster sibling.
He’s a quiet and unassuming guy, a real couch potato. Regrettably, he wasn’t cat receptive, so I had to return him before we found an adopter. He’s back in foster and doing very well.
Jordy – Jordy was a sad, little boy. He came from a hording situation, and didn’t acclimate to the shelter’s noisy environment. They said he growled and barked in the kennels and shied away from human contact. He wouldn’t even wag his tail. Animal control wanted to put him down, but the Humane Society persuaded them to let them work with him.
His behavior at the shelter was total opposite of what I experienced when he came home with me. The tail never stopped wagging. He’s happy, energetic, full of kisses, and he loved to snuggle, all the time. A true Velcro puppy. His new mom graduated college and took him home to Missouri last week. He’s doing fantastic.
Zeus – This fellow is one cool dude. He’s loaded with energy and personality. He was an adoption return, I suspect he was brought back due to his strength and stubbornness. Zeus was a quick learner and extremely alpha. This youngster tried his alphaness on my old boy, Malcolm, and Mal put him in his place.
His activeness kept me in stitches. Gotta love those ears! He has an opinion on everything and doesn’t hesitate to give it. He also has a gentle side. He’s a cuddler and gives lots of kisses. He’s been adopted by a young military couple, and he has a fur brother who looks and acts just like him, except he’s brown.
Happy –Fearful doesn’t come close to Happy’s demeanor. This beautiful girl came into the shelter injured. They amputated her hind leg, but that injury doesn’t compare to her physiological problems.
She cringes in the corner, her head bowed, sometimes trembling. I almost have to carry her out to do her business. Today, I took her off lead, and let her loose outside. She walked around the yard and then sat. She seemed to enjoy the outdoors and the freedom that came with it. When I called everyone inside, she answered to her name, came in with the rest of the crew, and went to her room. Huge step, Happy girl!
When I took this girl, I was afraid I would have her a long time. But a compassionate, understanding family wanted to meet her, and after introductions, they decided to adopt her. Tomorrow, she’ll go to her forever home. I didn’t even have her a week.
People always tell me they can’t foster, because they wouldn’t want to give them up. It’s true, every dog takes a piece of my heart when they leave. The shelter keeps a box of tissue on the counter, just for me. But when they go, I’m left with wonderful memories and complete satisfaction. Most wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t taken them. Yet, they are alive, and they’re thriving in loving homes. That knowledge makes every good-bye tear worth it.
By the way, still no adopter for Bree…if no one steps up, that’s okay. She’s good staying here with me.