A Stranger in a Strange Land

Bringing a strange dog home isn’t my favorite part of fostering. The first 24 hours, heck the first three days, even first week, the dog is a foreigner in a strange land. She doesn’t know how to act. She doesn’t know the rules. We don’t know what to expect from her. Will she get along? Will she pee all over my house? Can she be trusted? The cats are never happy. The answers are all over the place.

Pretty much each of the dogs we’ve brought home, with the exception of Wheat Penny (who was a puppy and had no expectations, baggage, or attitudes) has seemed like a completely different dog after a few days compared to the dog we brought home from transport.

Symphony is no exception.11090842_935901093116103_4658826510233429709_o

The dog I picked up on Saturday morning was much smaller than we anticipated. She was nervous, unsure, and peed pretty much every few minutes everywhere she went as if she were marking her territory. (It’s also possible she had a urinary tract infection from the long time spent in a crate for travel from South Carolina.)

She growled at Gracie and threatened the cats. She pulled on the leash when I walked her and escaped out of the house twice (she is a door opener which means she is no dumb cookie). She refused her dinner, was silent, wary, watching us. I never saw her sit down – not once – the whole day. She walked from room to room keeping track of everyone. Although she looks more like a Boston Terrier than a Border Collie, I would guess there is some kind of herding dog in there somewhere.

The first night, I went to bed exhausted from taking Symphony outside to pee every fifteen minutes, walking Carla, supervising all the interactions between the dogs, and cleaning up after Symphony’s efforts to establish her presence. Here’s the thoughts that raced through my mind and kept me from sleeping, I can’t do this. What have I gotten myself into? Two foster dogs is too much for me. I am a wimpy foster mommy. How the heck do these people have three and four dogs? They must be nuts. I must be nuts. This is the last dog. Ever.

Forty-eight hours later – new dog. Happy, friendly, sweet adorable little girl. She sleeps happily in her crate surrounded by her collection of shoes that she has quietly spirited away to her cage. She plays with Gracie, gobbles her food in mere seconds, and is delightfully more or less housebroken. She would very much like the cats to play with her and they are not the least bit receptive to her overtures. Although Crash did play a short game of chase which ended when he climbed to the tippy top of the big pine tree in the front yard.

The kids love Symphony and laugh at her funny smiley face. We’ve renamed her “Stitch” because see….stitch and lilo11053290_935900013116211_8762747800097371945_o

Okay, maybe not as much as we imagined. Still it seems to fit more than Symphony. This isn’t a fancy dog. This is a I’ll-be-your-faithful-friend-to-the-end kind of dog.

DSC_8503She is a merry soul and excellent company. She gardened alongside me all morning planting potatoes until she spied the barn cat who slipped under the shed nearby. She then attempted to unearth the shed and got herself completely filthy in her digging. She had a Meet & Greet to go to for OPH so Ian and I bathed her. This turned out to be quite the wrestling match and all three of us wound up soaked. When I toweled off Stitch/Symphony – wow! She is a knock out. Her white spots were blindingly white and she was even prettier.

She was perfectly mannered at the Meet & Greet – happy to lick anyone who approached her. Lucky for me there was a super nice volunteer there who held Stitch/Symphony for me. She was celebrating the anniversary of the day she adopted her beloved dog from OPH by volunteering at the event.IMG_1659

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That meant I could stay with Carla who spent a good part of the event announcing our presence to the entire parking lot. (Can you spot her in the picture barking? hint: look behind the adorable little kiddos)

She wore herself out with the barking and ate herself silly with the treats offered by friendly kiddos who asked her to sit and shake or just fed them to her because she is such a doll. 11206781_935900266449519_8378588954177058752_o

Finally, she simply collapsed and in very un-Carla like fashion (she prefers a soft resting spot) lay out on the hard cement for a nap.IMG_1666

I still think two foster dogs are too many for me, but these two are both such sweetie-pies that maybe they’ll convince me otherwise before they leave for their forever homes.

I’m sure it won’t be long. It’s clear that Stitch will make an excellent family dog. She has energy to spare, is devotedly loyal and finds it her duty to keep careful tabs on everyone. And as a bonus, she’ll train the whole family to put their shoes away!

And Carla is really something special. Her big heart is healing and is ready for the right forever home. I’m certain that any day now, someone is going to get really lucky! (And I’m going to be left in tears once again!)

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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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