Monday, October 11, 2010

Foster failure part ii

I nearly became a foster failure with Mikey.

Mikey (foster #4) had a hard time for awhile there. When his owner died, he went to the shelter and fell into a deep depression. Homeward Trails rescued him and soon after he contracted pneumonia and nearly died. But HT's director and founder Sue Bell nursed him back to health, after which I took him in. We think he was about 9 or 10 when I got him.

At first, he was really sad and just wanted to lie on his Mikeybed (every dog who comes to my house has a bed whose name is preceded by his own. Same with 'food,' 'house,' etc.) But I soon found that a belly rub was much appreciated, and we spent the evenings as belly rubber and belly rubbee, with my girl Bella happily chomping bones beside us. As he grew more accustomed to us, he opened up, and became a very expressive, happy boy. Slow, short walks became longer, more frequent ones as he regained his strength. Eventually, as soon as we left the house, he would pull toward the woods, eager to run along the trails with Bella.

He was very vocal on the trails, woofing his excitement. Sometimes he'd run ahead and then return, barking at me insistently. "Really?" I'd say, "You saw trees? Rocks? What else?!"

Here he is in full happy barky mode:

I fell hard in love with Mikey and I started thinking about keeping him. I just wasn't sure I was ready to give up fostering. While I was considering, I took Mikey to his first adoption event and a woman walking by fell in love at first sight.

Letting him go broke my heart, but knowing how much his family loves him helps, as does the fact that they let me take him out for adventures. And his family in turn fell in love with Bella and have kindly watched her when I travel; I happily do the same for them.

In fact, Mikey's family is away this weekend, so guess who is sleeping on my living room floor, post-barky woods romp, right this minute?!

What is a 'foster failure?' part i

You may have heard the term 'foster failure,' and, like me, thought it meant a foster couldn't hack the fostering life and had to give the dog back.

Au contraire.

Foster failures are those folks who fell so hard in love with a foster that they adopted him. Yes, it happens all the time. No, it shouldn't scare you away from fostering. Alot of people who foster do so to get to spend some time with a few dogs while helping out rescues and shelters, and fully expect that one of their canine guests will stay forever. Others fall in love over time, realizing how well a certain dog fits in their life. A third set believe a dog will have a rough time getting adopted due to age or ability (or lack) or issues and decide to keep their foster. Many people fall into all three categories.

'Failure' is a pretty harsh word, but I have yet to meet a FF who feels as if he or she failed.

Teri shares a wonderful story about her FF, Walter, on the "Happy Tails" portion of the Homeward Trails rescue site. (Note to readers: If you're ever feeling blue about all the homeless cats & dogs out there --or, actually, about anything at all--reading the "Happy Tails," "Happy Endings," "Alumni Updates, " "Our Alumni" (etc.) portion of a shelter or rescue website will brighten your whole week.)

Are you a Foster Failure? Email me your story to share!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jack the jack

Bought some dog food yesterday; not Bella's usual, but the owners offered me a 30-lb bag for 20 percent off. In the evening, in the driving rain, I met Jack the Jack Russell in a Safeway parking lot; a kind WV volunteer had driven five hours to DC to deliver him to me.
Jack was freaked out, but calmed down when I let him lie on my lap for the ride home. In the apartment, the sweetie had to sniff everything, of course, but he also felt the need to lift his leg on some things too. I managed to stop him just before he peed, lifting him up only to watch a stream of urine arc through the air and land on a shirt of mine in the basket against the wall. Nice.

Tonight was quite something and I'm about to drop, so I'm getting this down fast. Not enough sleep, as I crated Jack so he wouldn't pee freely, and he was not pleased. Loudly not pleased. Opened the door tonight to the acrid smell of poop.

Rushed the dogs out to let them do their business, and it was Bella who had the diarrhea. I had forgotten to mix the new food in with the old. Came home and checked the bathroom and, sure enough, she'd pooped all over the floor.

As I walked back and forth between garbage and mess, Shadow, aka Jack, followed close at my heels. When I came back out in the living room, something was all over the floor. Pee? Not sure. Cleaned it up. Between all the cleaning, scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed my hands. Turned my back to scoop out some kibble and one of them peed (spit up?) in the same spot I'd just been scrubbing.

Once everything was clean and I had washed my hands for long enough that I could consider eating, I enjoyed some tomatoes with feta, after which Jack achieved his aim of being constantly petted. Leaning down low to pat his little head, I couldn't balance a newspaper on my lap, so I was forced to watch that show on MTV about the New Jersey 'guidos' who tan and pull each others' hair.

I left out that Jack has a rash of some sort and the poor boy is itching like crazy. I wrestled him for five full minutes to get some Benedryl down his throat. He kept spitting it out. At one point, I thought he had swallowed it, but he waited til I set him on the ground and, yet again, he spit it out. Had to laugh.

But got him to swallow and now, about 40 minutes later, he's resting--without my hand on him--on the floor. Oh wait, he's up. And back itching. Poor boy.

Poor me :).