Mixed Emotions of Foster Dogs and Dog Fosters

DSC_8427After all the exuberant happiness of our last two foster girls, it is quite a different story with Carla. My best guess is that she is mourning. She misses her family. After all, she was with them for four years; it’s a big loss for her.

Every now and again I catch a glimpse of the happy girl that’s buried in there somewhere, but most of her time is spent lying around, looking sad. To be fair, she is a hound and forlorn is the default expression on most hound faces, especially ones with droopy eyes and long ears.

The appetite that we were warned about is not in evidence. She barely eats her meals and refuses all treats. She has yet to attempt to even counter surf (although she has the height and reputation to excel in this sport). When I’m bummed out I don’t eat either, so I get it.

Today she is talking a lot. She gave me some hound mutters when she first woke up and then spent the afternoon standing on the deck barking at the woods – certain there was something afoot in there. Hounds, maybe particularly coonhounds, have a lot to say. Carla was quiet during her first few days, but now she is vocal. Maybe she’s decided we’re worth protecting or maybe she has simply found her voice.

I took her for a run and was delighted to discover that she is an excellent and inspiring running partner. We did the fastest 3 ½ miles I’ve done in months. She was all business, never stopping for her personal business, and only a few times tugging towards an errant squirrel. I truly hope her forever family includes at least one runner.

And maybe a camper or hiker or hunter. She’s all about the woods and most especially, the stream. That’s when I see the real Carla. She lights up and pulls towards the creek when we approach, happily splashing in it as I do my best not be dragged in behind her.IMG_1638

On Monday, Wheat Penny (now Ladki – Hindi for lady) left for the high life as a spoiled only child of a super loving mama. She must have a wind at her back. She is one lucky dog. I spent the day keeping her close, even letting her destroy a pen in honor of her leave-taking. Such a sweet puppy. I will cherish the time we had with her and hope for periodic updates.DSC_8371

At least two people in the last few days have expressed to me how much they wish they could foster, but don’t think they could stand to give up a dog. I’ve thought a lot about that. It does hurt, but for me, it’s a sacrifice worth making so that we can help more dogs. I know there are plenty of great homes out there and people who can love a dog as well or better than me. So I’m willing to be a link between a sad, possibly terminal life in a shelter and a happy forever home even if sometimes that tugs at my heart and leaves a lump in my throat. I don’t have to be everyone’s forever home.

What’s making me re-think this foster idea is Carla. She is almost exactly the dog I’m looking for, the one we spent all those hours visiting shelters in search of. But I don’t want to be a foster fail (foster lingo for a foster mommy who adopts her foster dog). I want to help more dogs. It is very tempting to hold on to Carla. I know we could make her happy here, but I am also certain that there is a forever home out there waiting for her. Someone else looking for a dog just like Carla.

So for as long as we have her, we will love her and nurture her and work very hard to bring out the happy dog I’m certain is there beneath the surface of all her present sadness. Because she is not a young dog (she’s six), she may not be as quick to be adopted. And that’s okay because she is a welcome guest here for as long as she needs us.DSC_8421

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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.

10 thoughts on “Mixed Emotions of Foster Dogs and Dog Fosters”

  1. This is so beautiful, i might be tearing up. It is so moving when people are so wonderful and full of love&live in the mist of all the bad. You are truly beautiful people, your sacrifices change lives and make the world a better place. I congratulate you,as the whole world does 2. 👐

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You said it so well that there are families to love them as well or better than we do. It isn’t easy to let go but it I harder to watch them die in shelters without foster homes.

    Liked by 1 person

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