Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fostering Escapades, Chapter One: A Duct-Taped Heart

I'm an unabashed dog lover; there's just nothing quite like having a dog around to love.  I'll take the hair and muddy pawprints if I have something soft to pet.  I know there's people that are totally in love with their dog, and then once they have a kid the dog plays second fiddle.  Now, this certainly doesn't get me any closer to that elusive Mother of the Year award, but dogs in my life have always been told they how loved they are far more than the people in my life.  (don't call Child Protective Services, I swear they're reasonably clean and fed!).

The Family Dog position in this household has been vacant for quite some time, for various reasons, one of which being the fact that we just spent a year on the other side of our planet.  Although having a dog grace our household again is never far from my mind, the roadtripping that we're doing this summer isn't all that conducive to furry companionship, so all hiring for the position remains closed.

Shortly after we settled back into our lives here, a neighbor of ours posted on our neighborhood's Facebook page about an urgent need for fostering a dog.  My Fluffy Pet-Wanting Radar sounded an alarm for sure, but I've always chalked up dog fostering as a ruse to get a dog into your home, at which time you'd pretty much have to end up adopting it.  Isn't that the way it works?  All I hear about are 'foster failures'--people who take in a foster pet, fall in love with it, and keep it.

But fostering--wasn't that the perfect way to fill my need for something lovable around here?? (not that my kids aren't lovable, mind you).  I ran it by the Head of HR (Sam), and he agreed that we could have a temp position available to up the fluff quotient in the house.  And while I'd like to say that the root of my desire to foster a pet came from my innate hope to instill a sense of caring for the needy in my boys, in all honesty it was purely selfish.  That Mother of the Year Award isn't looking any more likely, I know.

The very next day, Colorado Canine Rescue gave me a crate, food, toys, a leash, and a collar, and that Friday, after making it very clear to the kids that THIS WOULD NOT BE OUR DOG, WE ARE JUST SAVING ITS LIFE AND PROVIDING A SAFE HOME UNTIL IT'S ADOPTED (and wrapping some duct tape around my heart to insulate it from that pesky emotion of love), our first foster dog made its way from a high-kill shelter in New Mexico where it was scheduled to be put down that weekend to a parking lot in Denver, where we picked her up.
on the way home
Sally, as Kenyon named her, was an Australian Shepherd/Bernese Mountain Dog mix, and had the softest fur ever.  As you can see, after a bath, she settled in nicely.
She was an absolute pleasure to have around--she slept by my bed, followed me from room to room, and was perfectly happy to be a true companion to her human.

helping Jackson with his homework
After just two weeks, the foster organization notified me that an adoption application came in for her.  It looked great--a retired couple had another Australian shepherd and liked to take long walks each morning out in the country.  I called them, and as soon as I started telling them about Sally...I started sobbing.  Not just a little teary-eyed, but can't-get-words-out-sobbing.  Somehow, I was able to choke out some sort of assurance that I was not a crazy person, but that Sally was just really such a wonderful companion.  I guess duct tape isn't the fix-all for everything, because it sure didn't help a damn with protecting my heart.

The day Sally left to start a life with her new family, I managed to keep it together and was truly happy for her.  To help fill the void in my home (and heart), I arranged to have our next temporary fluffy pet arrive later that same day.

I am the last person who you'd think would be a candidate for fostering...but I love it (and the kids do, too; hear that, Mother of the Year judges?).  Taking in a dog is easy, and rescuing from a high-kill shelter that took in 4000 dogs last year and euthanized 2000 of them is directly saving a life.  Try it; you won't be disappointed.