Fostering is Bitter Sweet

Feeling very grateful this afternoon. Just made it home from Pittsburgh after having to extend what should have been a 2 day trip to a 3 ½ day trip thanks to weather.

I agonized about whether to stay safe in Pittsburgh or chance it through the mountains in a snowstorm to get home. I felt bad leaving my husband in charge of my menagerie. But good man that he is, he cleaned horse stalls, hauled buckets, took Galina for endless laps of the yard, mixed up her semi-complicated food concoctions, and vacuumed up all the exploded Beanie Babies. He said – stay there, I got this.

And still I hedged.

The kids would miss school I worried. Surprisingly, the kids were not at all concerned about missing a day of school.

Finally, I realized that the biggest reason I wanted to get home was Galina. I worried that she was confused by my lengthy absence. We’ve bonded quite well in the past week. I didn’t want to be yet another adult deserting her.

And I just plain missed her. It didn’t help that my husband was sending me adorable pictures via text all weekend while he was in charge of her….

Like her run-in with a roll of toilet paper….

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And her sweet face and wagging tail blur as he talked to me on the phone….

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Or the cozy scene last night…..

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He even posted a telling video and tagged me, much to the amusement of my friends.

The two of them quickly became fast friends, but he is definitely the more lenient parent here, allowing her to have her way with multiple stuffed animals, the edge of one carpet, and several pieces of furniture. (This is why its risky to leave fathers in charge of toddlers, especially on a Saturday when there is beer involved.)

Driving home, anxious to get past the bad weather and worrying about what I would find at home, I wrestled mentally with the whole idea of fostering. There is an inherent risk involved in fostering such an adorable dog as Galina. And really, pretty much all dogs are adorable in their own way. Will I cry when she goes? Will it be like this with every dog? Can my heart do this on a monthly basis?

The kids enjoy Galina’s antics, but they are already surfing the new listing of dogs coming up on the next transport. Addie’s main fondness for Galina is her name. She likes to say, “She’s Galina with a Ga,” in much the same way her favorite character from Wicked always introduces herself as “Glinda with a Ga!” Ian is eyeing up the husky mix, the last dog on the list of dogs coming up later this week. Brady finds Galina amusing. Watching her destroy a small nerf globe, he remarked, “She can destroy the world.”

I know Galina will go eventually. And I know that’s the point. Fostering is a lot of fun. And it feels good to help these dogs. But I’ve discovered in this life, that when you do anything to help others, whether they are people or dogs, you have to be willing to sacrifice something of yourself – your comfort, your time, your cash, and quite possibly a bit of your heart. I want to foster. I want to help as many of these precious puppies as I can. Hopefully, the letting go will get easier.

Over the weekend I heard from a potential adopter for Galina. It sounded like a perfect home with a wonderful family. As I answered her questions, I was torn between selling Galina’s finer points and warning that this little beagle can wreck an entire house (when not properly supervised). In the end, I was honest about her adorableness and her chewing habit. I directed the potential adopter to this blog figuring that way they would know what they’re in for. There was e-mail silence for the next 48 hours and I figured Galina scared them off all on her own.

In the end, I arrived home to an e-mail explaining that the dog that had been their first choice was made available, so they were going to pass on Galina. I felt sad for Galina, but relief for me.

I know another great home will come along. And until then I’ll keep enjoying her company and supplying her with stuffed animals. (Btw, we’re excepting donations – anything except Beanie Babies who explode in an endless shower of small plastic granules that never truly seem to go away no matter how much your vacuum.)

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Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

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