Hi, my name is Lynn, and I’m foster failure.
2 years and 2 months ago, I started fostering dogs. Over and over, I welcomed dogs into my home, and lovingly passed the leash onto their new happy ever after. Although I sobbed my heart out the first time I did this, with each temporary house guest that followed, we became more skilled in the art of Loving and Letting Go. I felt triumphant in the fact that while I had often considered my previous fosters were to stay with me, I ended up being proven wrong over and over as my fosters trotted off into the sunset with their new families. And I was happy about it, because it meant I could continue my foster chronicles with the next dog. One more dog saved, one more dog adopted. Just like every rescue with limited resources, I realized my own individual resources were limited within the context of that rescue. I knew if I were to adopt, fostering would have to stop.
When Balton came into our lives, I expected that he would be no different than the others. Though he was returned to Lucky Dog within days of his first adoption for bad behavior, I had met him at adoption events before and thought for sure the aggression being reported was simply misunderstood behavior. It sounded nothing like the Balton I had known. Surely in a home who had seen as many fosters to success as ours, Balton would shine once more and be adopted again in no time. So, sure, we would foster him and help him find that right fit forever home.
Little did we know at that time, we wouldn’t as much be preparing Balton go to his new home as much as we would be preparing ourselves to be it. Though we definitely gave it the old college try, and from the very beginning I had recognized his potential…and his challenges. For a dog who clearly suffered fear based issues and reacted to the world he didn’t trust because of them, he was one of the easiest dogs I’d had in the house. Almost immediately housetrained, quickly comfortable with us, and kind of a couch potato, happily napping while I worked in my home office. He easily adapted to our house rules, and both played well with Ollie and showed him respect. If he could do well in our home, clearly there must be a forever home out there for him.
Months went on. We made progress, and we backslid. We celebrated accomplishments, and then we faced new challenges that we hadn’t seen before. We sighed in frustration, we cried out in happiness. And sometimes, we just cried. Cried over mistakes made, and times I felt I failed him. Cried when I had been sure I was doing things right, and then we have an incident that makes me question everything. But through the roller coaster of emotions that came with fostering a fearful, reactive dog, the two things that remained constant were my faith in this dog, and my refusal to give up on him.
Through this experience, I have studied, reflected, and put into practice the lessons I’d been learning about the challenging and awkward, but wonderful and beautiful, dances with dogs. And a couple weeks ago, I faced a decision point with my dancing partner. Balton is a wonderful dog, and I continue to believe in him – but my initial visions of the life I hoped to lead him to were fading, with light reflecting towards a different path. So, with the support and love of my other dance partner, my husband, we made a decision to continue dancing. We agreed to adopt Balton, knowing full well the dog he is, the dog he can be, and understanding the path between those two points is one that has some unknown turns. But, we will navigate that path as we have with fosters past – through faith, trust, and love for our pups.
We signed the adoption contract this weekend, and Balton traded in his Lucky Dog ID tag for one of his own. I don’t know if he feels like he’s finally home, or if he had felt that way months ago. But, he’s here, he’s ours, and he’s got lot more stories to tell. So, although we’re not fostering for now, we’re still going to blog about our continued journeys, about other Lucky Dogs who we will recognize as honorary fosters, and other things we find interesting and important.
So, thanks for joining us for the ride so far, and we hope you’ll continue to stay with us!