So becoming a foster mom was something I had pondered for some time, but seemed to be held back by. I was interested, curious, and thought it would do my little JRT bundle of energy some good to socialize with other dogs and perhaps have an every so often puppy playmate to burn off energy with. But I wouldn’t even say I had 100% committed in my head to being a foster mom when I ended up with Nina, our first foster dog. While my head wasn’t 100% committed, my heart made up for it when I saw this little black and white beagle at a Lucky Dog adoption event in Georgetown, who had just come up a day earlier from the same shelter Ollie hailed from. I was casually inquiring as to whether another dog had a foster, which, to make a long story short, ended with Mirah, the director of LDAR, asking if I could take Nina, who desperately needed a foster to keep her from being in boarding with a case of kennel cough. “No” just wasn’t an answer I could find justifiable cause to utter.
Next thing I knew I was signing a foster contract and being awarded a crate and a small dog who was so weak that she couldn’t walk on a leash and needed to be carried. And a part of me was wondering what I had gotten myself into (and how much trouble I was going to be in with Nick, who my impulse control neglected to confer with), but a bigger part of me seemed to know this was something that needed to be done. There was really no question about it.
Nina was pretty much terrified and wouldn’t move from my lap when we first arrived home and I sat on the back deck with her. Tired and seeming so incredibly sad, it broke my heart. Oh, and as a side note, Nick was pretty annoyed but eventually forgave me. Then Ollie, apparently just about every dog’s best friend, came out into the back yard to see what was going on. Immediately, almost magically, Nina perked up and immediately began walking and sniffing with a new sense of inquisitive excitement. A weight was lifted off my shoulders and I thought this wasn’t going to be so bad.
Having Ollie around really helped Nina build her confidence, and it wasn’t long before she started developing a fun little personality. Other than one sleepless night (this ended up being the night when we resolved her crate needed to be moved from the office to the bedroom) and some challenges in potty-training (also not completely abnormal) she was a lovable little ball of fur, and after only one week Nick and I started having talks of missing her when she was gone, and after only one dog seemed headed toward the road of failed fosterhood. This is what Lucky Dog calls their fosters who end up adopting their temporary house guests.
Fortunately, another young couple prevented us from becoming failed fosters when they got approved to adopt her. We only had Nina for about 10 days when we sent her to a sleepover with her AC, Vernisha before going to NJ for the weekend. I pretty much knew she would be going to her new home before we got back and that would be my last time seeing her. I didn’t expect to get attached, but found myself sobbing in the car after I dropped her off. I was going to miss the little drama queen, who howled at me every day I came home from work and opened her crate. I think it was because she was our first. And while challenging, it was remarkably rewarding. To help get her healthy, happy, and into her new home was absolutely awesome. This was definitely a volunteer experience I wanted to have again.
Two weeks later we picked up Wiley, who had an even shorter shelf life. I picked him up off transport on a Saturday, and brought him to an adoption event in Georgetown the next day. Here, he made a lot of fans and got an adoption application, which was screened and approved by Wednesday…and on Friday I was bringing Wiley, renamed Winston by his adopters, to a beautiful new house in Northwest DC.
I joked to Vernisha, the AC for both Wiley and Nina, that my fosters must not want to hang out with me and feigned hurt feelings, but in reality I couldn’t be happier when these dogs find their forever homes. While we can’t save them all, every dog that makes it out of foster care or boarding and into a permanent home means one more dog from the shelters LDAR rescues from has a shot. Just in 2011, when my life got lucky with Ollie, they have rescued over 500 dogs from euthanasia in a shelter, which in my mind is a pretty big deal.
After taking a few weeks off full time fostering because of weekend travel prohibiting me from attending adoption events, Lucky Dog had a massive transport for their Pet Fiesta weekend, which had Lily on it. Lily is an 8 month old, 46 lb Shepherd mix. Truth be told, I thought she would be a smaller 25 lb dog when I picked her up, but her Petfinder bio was a little off. Nevertheless, I found myself wondering how she didn’t get adopted immediately at the weekend’s events, she was awfully cute and clearly very sweet. Bringing her home, I also learned that she was great with dogs…even if she had 30 lbs on them. As I write this entry, she and Ollie are sleeping together in her crate. Cats…well, after a few days I thought it relevant to note that she would probably be better off in a cat free environment. Meeko terrified her and she wanted to chase him away.
I know that bigger dogs tend to have a harder time finding homes in a metropolitan area full of condos, apartments and townhomes, so initially I was concerned about Lily’s prospects. Until I realized how she not only had looks (I mean, come on, look at that face) and personality, but brains. She was smart. Very smart. It only took her a night to learn sit, and by the week’s end she could also give paw and lay down on command. While I will never say a dog is housetrained, she knew what to do immediately when we took her outside, and has not had an accident in the house yet. She loves her crate and loves her people, and as of yesterday had 3 interested adopters, one of whom is a family in Sterling with a big house and two boys ages 11 and 14. Lily and I went there after yesterday’s adoption event, and she and I both approved of the house and family. So now we’re firming things up with her Adoption Coordinator, and expect she will be in her forever home within the week. So I expect Lily will go into the collection of dogs that spends no more than 2 weeks with me before moving onto greener pastures, and since I have promised Nick no new fosters until after our August wedding, I’ll have to redirect my attention to highlighting some longer term dogs, or those who have been in boarding with one of LDAR’s doggie daycare partners.
For those of you interested in helping a dog find a home and having a furry companion in your life, but who are maybe not ready for a long term commitment, consider becoming a foster. Or if you have a dog, like me, and want to help expand his social circle, fostering is awesome. Lucky Dog always has a need locally, but if you’re out of the DC Area there are many reputable animal rescues that could use help from fosters to save more pups. Or even volunteers to help showcase the dogs at weekly adoption events. There are many opportunities to support finding some great pups their fur-ever homes, and you’ll feel as warm and fuzzy as the pups you save if you take advantage of them. 🙂
Hugs and puppy kisses,
Lynn, Ollie and Lily