Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups

Helping dogs on the road to forever, forever finding ourselves as we walk that road with them.


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Guest Foster Post: A Lucky Pauly In My Life

Hello Lucky Bloggers!


A few weeks ago I invited some of my fellow fosters to take advantage of this space and take the opportunity to write about their own furry houseguests looking for their forever homes. I am pleased to introduce our first official guest blogger and guest foster here on the Lucky Blog….PAULY and his foster dad, Rudy! Pauly has been with Lucky Dog looking for his forever home for nearly 4 months now, which is just crazy given how handsome and sweet he is. But here I shall turn it over to Rudy to tell you all about his journey as a Lucky Dog Foster and why Pauly is so great. Enjoy, and THANK YOU Rudy for coming out to tell us a little about Lucky Pauly, whose adoption bio can be read at http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/22330662!


Duane and I adopted our dog, Luke, from LDAR on July 11th 2009. LDAR was then a few months old and that was my first month as an official Green Card holder. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment of 890 square feet with a roommate, and Inky, Duane’s loyal cat for the last 13 years. Since decided to get involved with LDAR, one of the hardest parts has been saying good bye to our fosters. This is why (and call me a coward or call me French) I always made sure that I was not there when it was time to give my farewell.


Since 2009, we have probably fostered between 15 to 20 doggies. I could say that Pauly is our latest one, but in the 6 months he has been living with us, we have overnighted a few dogs (3 dogs and a cat in a 2 bedroom apartment–so much fun!). We started fostering him in late March; I picked him up from the list because he looked a lot like one of our previous fosters, the magnificent Charlie (formerly Snoop), whom we fostered for 9 months! He got adopted and was returned a month later and Duane brought him back home a second time. I have to admit: I have fallen in love with every single one of the fosters we have had, and Snoop, because of his breed, his personality, and his background grew on me pretty quickly–so much that after a few weeks, I asked Duane to adopt him, even though I knew while asking that we could not afford to have a second dog. You can imagine how I felt when he left ….and came back….and….left again….I reminded myself that I should not care about my feelings because it is all about the dogs and saving and taking care of them. I am aware I am not the only foster parent falling for one of the rescue dogs, and I immediately feel better when I picture the dogs on their way to an happy home.


However, with Pauly and his resemblance to Snoop, I know that I asked for trouble…and I am in deep trouble. Pauly is a beautiful Labrador/mastiff mix, probably 2 years old and proud of every single one of his 55 pounds! 55 pounds of flesh trembling with happiness, waiting at the door to greet you with kisses all over when you come back home. I was apprehensive when we got him because of the cat (she is not a dog lover; it took several weeks for her to get used to Luke) so I was quite relieved when Pauly sped in the opposite direction when he first saw her, even if he developed quite a fascination mixed with fear toward her. My heart skips a beat when I see him approaching her slowly like a spy and waiting for his daily sucker punch (she does not have claws on her front paws, so at least he never gets hurt).


It took him a few days to get used to our routine. We realized he was quite a fast learner–he got used to the crate within a week, but it took him a little longer to be fully house trained (though in his defense, he did show signs of wanting to do his numbers before actually doing them inside the house). He was crate trained within a few weeks. Duane, who is very good at it, taught him how to sit, although he knew how to give you his paw ( weird I know). Today he goes to his little bed in the bedroom when told to. One thing about Pauly: he is a professional jumper, which is one of the reasons  we would not recommend him to a family with young children as he is also not aware of his own strength. That does not mean he is not good with kids….Pauly is getting along with everybody and everything! He plays on a daily basis with Luke . He loves his time at the dog park. He is not quite a runner, as he will try to trip you, although I think with a shorter leash, he will do just fine.

His favorite hobbies? Besides following the cat, following Luke, and following us, his favorite thing is to come  behind your back, put his legs around your neck and proceeding to lick your face (even your hair!!!!) until you get into the ground or try to escape from him. I am, as an adult (I had to grow up I know),  aware that I can not afford to adopt a second dog and I have made peace with it. I know for certain that my life would not have been the same without Duane, Luke and Inky …..the same way my life would not have been the same without all those dogs we have fostered ….the same way it would not have been the same without LDAR ….and now Pauly, my Pauly-Doo ( his nickname).


As I write this message, I can see him in his bed sleeping and snoring, and I am more and more convinced that he helped in the process of rescuing me by bringing so much happiness in my life….sometimes when I am sad, I just have to cuddle with him and I’ll feel better. Sometimes I think we need them maybe more than they need us. I am sure after reading (if you do finish reading) his story, you would want to meet the legend in person and fall in love with that cute fella just like we did, I feel happy that I get to be a part LDAR’s beautiful mission. Until then, we will keep taking care and loving sweet Pauly until it will be time to say good bye….until it will be time for me to skip another farewell process (maybe the hardest yet) and go cry in the bathroom or in the backyard.


***UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Pauly was ADOPTED by his loving fosters in October 2012. A very happy after for Pauly-doo and his new parents, Failed Fosters Duane and Rudy!***

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Grace, Faith, Healing and Learning

Hello Lucky Bloggers,

I realize that things have been pretty quiet here for the last few weeks. I’ve come back to this space a few times trying to figure out how to tap into what I’ve been doing here and how to communicate with the community that has been following along our foster journey with us. The last few weeks have been challenging, and I have debated long and hard whether or not to talk about those challenges publicly. But in creating a public forum to talk about the wonderful fosters that come into our home while they seek their forever homes, I realize there is a responsibility to be transparent and honest with the people that come into this space in hopes that we can learn and grow together.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the line between loving and letting go of our fosters: loving them as hard as we can to provide them the best home they can get before they move onto their best home, their forever home. Never in my writings did I expect that letting go would come to mean something completely, unexpectedly, and horribly different in the days that followed, when Seth suddenly passed away in our care. When on a trip to the dog park with Ollie (our own dog), Ivy (a Lucky Dog recently adopted by my in-laws who we were dogsitting), and Seth, my husband had Seth securely tethered in the back seat and wearing his martingale collar, the window partially open. This was like every other trip to the dog park we had taken, and we had come to learn Seth liked sticking his head out the window during car trips and smelling everything outside.

On this particular day though, while driving down a local county road, something caused Seth to climb out the window. We will never know what it was, or how a series of freak events could happen so quickly and end so terribly. Seth’s collar snapped, and though Nick pulled over immediately to get him back in the car, Seth ran into the next lane of traffic and an oncoming car, unable to stop quickly enough, struck him.  He rushed him to Crossroads Animal Care Center, our vet 2 miles down the road, who said there was a faint heartbeat and sent us to Woodbridge Animal Hospital, the emergency vet 10 minutes away (very kindly keeping Ollie and Ivy with them in the mean time). They conducted CPR at Woodbridge, but Nick was told air was not going into Seth’s lungs because he had suffered trauma to his trachea. They could conduct a tracheotomy, but in all likelihood he would be brain dead. He contacted Mirah, our Executive Director at Lucky Dog, to find out what to do, and given the circumstances, it was determined that the most humane thing would be to let him go. 

I got the news while in the middle of my Saturday summer session class, and went into immediate shock and hysteria. As Nick recounted the events and told me what happened, I broke down into sobs and started pacing around campus, eventually finding a bench where I sat down and a million thoughts went through my head. The only one I can really remember is “Oh my God, we killed our foster dog”. I felt lost and horrible, not knowing what to do or where to go. Feeling as though somehow we had ultimately failed Seth and the second chance he had been given at life, and failed Lucky Dog as volunteers.

I talked first to Mirah, then to Pam, who is our South Carolina volunteer who actually brought Seth up to DC. All I could think to do was apologize and take the burden of blame for what had happened. But both of them gave me a reassurance that I didn’t expect, saying that they didn’t blame me or Nick. Everything that is asked of us to keep our fosters safe was done, as was everything to get Seth immediate vet care after the accident. It was a freak accident, and there’s just nothing we can do about those. They told me in his final days and moments on this earth, Seth was a happy dog who got to know love before he left it. He had come from a world where people were awful, where his previous people had moved from their home and left Seth behind in it. It explains so much about why people were so scary to him, and why when we went away for a weekend he was so excited that we came back for him.

I had seen the progress that Seth had made in the six weeks he was with us, in learning to trust, love, and find out that strangers aren’t so bad. It continues to break my heart that his progress was cut short. I’ve been trying to make sense out of everything, and still find myself grasping for answers as to why this happened. While I think I am going to be searching for answers for awhile, I have found comfort in my Lucky Dog family and the kindness they have offered. We talk about the human side of fostering, but I’ve seen it in full force with the outpouring of love and  support offered. I was worried that people would judge and blame us in the way that I immediately took self blame, the way that Nick has replayed in his head what happened that morning over and over again. But instead I have found empathy, love, and grace. I have been reminded that this bad situation doesn’t make us bad fosters. In fact, we received flowers and a card from all of our past fosters telling us they loved us (whichever pup coordinated that effort effectively turned the waterworks on hard for me). I have rediscovered a lot of faith in the human spirit amid what I can only seem to describe as a foster’s worst nightmare.

I have been told by many of my foster friends that this could have happened to any of us, and as I keep thinking about it, grieving, and letting go little by little, I know they are right. And maybe that’s a part of the reason why I am writing here about it.

With most things in this life, when I don’t know where to turn I google search to point me in the right direction. But when I googled “what to do when your foster dog dies” I was met with articles, blogs, and rescue sites that talk about what happens to dogs when they don’t find a foster. How fostering is the thing that helps save well-deserving pups from “doggie death row”. They don’t talk about the 2-shot puppy whose delicate immune system, despite taking all precautions and working to keep them safe, contracts Parvo virus and doesn’t make it. They don’t talk about situations like what happens with Seth. Or the dogs that have behavioral issues from their pre-rescue life that, despite all efforts, are too far gone to be saved and present a threat to the world around them, and the kindest thing may be to humanely let them go (an interesting and reasonable article on this is on behaviorist Jim Crosby’s blog).

The hard side of rescue is knowing that we can’t save them all from the shelter, at least not yet. The longer we keep educating the public about the importance of spay/neuter, why to opt to adopt rather than shop, and how to be responsible pet owners, we will hopefully continue to see progress. But with 9,000 animals dying daily in shelters across the country, we still have a lot of work to do. 

The last few weeks have come to teach me about another hard, but less visited side of rescue. It involves that tiny population of the dogs saved from the shelter, but for whatever rare and unforeseen circumstance, are unable to be fully saved for a long second life beyond its walls. So you have to make peace with believing and knowing you gave those dogs the best life you possibly could for as long as you could, so that they do leave this earth knowing they were loved. I believe Seth knows that. I believe the other fosters and volunteers out there, who have loved and lost in a similar way, know that the moments spent with those dogs, while maybe too brief, were precious.

And because we still have so much work to do, I owe it to Seth to not lay down in grief when I have been given so much grace.  I owe it to him not be too sorry and sad to help any more Lucky Dogs, but instead to do more in his memory. I picked myself up that weekend 3 weeks ago and went out to coordinate our Sunday adoption event, finding strength in those around me to not be a puddle of tears for three hours. 

This weekend, I will take on a new foster, who has been waiting to come up from South Carolina for a year but has not been able to because of her shy dog needs and being unable to find an adopter willing to adopt her off transport. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified, but maybe welcoming Cora Beth into our home with that fear will help us understand each other a little more, and together we can move forward into brighter tomorrows. I don’t know what’s ahead (other than that we’ll be driving with the windows shut and child locks on indefinitely), but when I think of the importance of what we’re doing, and why foster homes need to step up, I believe it’s something I need to do. I’m very grateful to Lucky Dog that they trust in us to keep moving their mission forward, and want to do all that I can to honor that trust the best I know how.

In September, I will lead a team of walkers striving to raise money for Lucky Dog Animal Rescue at Strut Your Mutt Baltimore and am personally raising as much money as I can for this organization with Seth in my heart as my honorary strutter (to donate or to see my progress, visit http://www.strutyourmutt.org/participant/lynnheun). You can also join our team at http://www.strutyourmutt.org/team/luckydogdc  to walk with us on September 22.
This whole experience has made me really want to believe there is a heaven more than I ever have before, and that the Rainbow Bridge does in fact exist. I’m grateful to Seth for all he did to help me find the better parts in myself when he came into my life, and I am grateful for the grace, faith, healing and learning that has come through his leaving it. But until that happy reunion in the next life I’m praying for (hopefully my childhood dog Lady is looking after him in the meantime) I intend to make each moment count for each Lucky Dog that comes into this one now.