Can I Have Just a Word with Adopters?

When I get an email from the adopters of one of my dogs it always makes my day. I don’t know if after I’ve fostered hundreds, I’ll still feel the same way. So far we’ve fostered fourteen dogs & puppies. I still wonder and worry about all of them. And hearing they are doing well and are loved never ceases to plant a smile on my face that lasts for hours. I share the news with my husband and children and patient friends who indulge me as I regale the latest tale of my foster furbaby.

DSC_7920Galina was our first and will always hold a special place in my heart. I can still picture her sweet little self snoring on the futon beside my desk. She had such energy and taught us quickly how destructive a foster dog can be – especially a beagle!

DSC_8233And adorable Wheat Penny, how could we not love that sweet face. She was our first taste of puppy and what a treat she was. And then came Stich (Symphony) who was easy and fun and adorable. I remember thinking, “How could anyone not want this dog?” Her big smile and her pile of hoarded stash in her crate were a constant source of amusement.11053290_935900013116211_8762747800097371945_o

DSC_8640And after Stitch was Carla. Oh, Carla. She was with us for three months. Such a big heart, such a big dog. When she arrived, she was so depressed and we watched with wonder as she came back to life. Her barking cleared the room. Her long legs got my winter legs moving again and we recorded probably more than a hundred miles running together. She loved to splash in the creek, sneak naps on the forbidden couch, and keep tabs on those dangerous cats on the porch. It took so long to find her forever home, but we never minded. It was fun to pretend she was ours.

To make up for all the dogs we couldn’t foster while we had Carla, we signed up for a whole litter of puppies! I still miss their sweet breath!

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I remember how Boz nestled into my chest when I picked him up, his adorable puppy-self so contented. I remember how Jillie Bean jumped up and down begging me to pick her up and made that funny pterodactyl sound when she yawned. And Marzle was such a physical puppy. When I bent down to pick up other puppies, he would climb on my back and several times he bit my pony tail and yanked, demanding I notice him. I can still see the serious look in Lug Nut’s eye and feel his round, fat tummy. I smile when I think of leggy Chick Pea towering over the others with that sweet smile and knowing look – she was the smartest of them all. And Homeboy/girl! We had her the longest. She was never pushy like the others, just grateful for any attention you gave and happy to entertain herself with the toys abandoned by the other puppies clamoring for my attention.

IMG_1934After the puppies was Frank. The dog who stole my heart. He has been gone a week today. I am hoping I won’t miss him so much after more time passes. Great dog. The best. Giving him up twice was a workout on my emotions, but I also learned so much about fostering from Frank. He made me face up to the reason we were doing this and forced my hand on how much it mattered to me. Deciding not to adopt Frank meant I was making a real commitment to all the dogs we will help going forward. I let him go, so that we could help so many more.

imagejpeg_0Texas and Tennessee were a whim. I never intended to foster more than one dog at a time, but couldn’t take one and not the other. So they brought their energy and friendly love to our house. I never realized dogs could be so smart. Watching them stalk the horses and the chickens with such intensity was amazing. It made me realize how much we underestimate our dogs. Losing Texas was a shock and a mystery that will probably stay fresh for years. I feel honored that we got to shower him with love and life before he was gone way too soon.

IMG_1318And Tweety! Okay, so we only fostered her for about 22 hours. She was such an awesome dog that anyone who meets her will understand why she was swooped up so quickly. I won’t forget her expressive eyebrows and her whole-body-happy energy.

I was having a conversation with another foster at an OPH event recently and telling her how I’d just heard from one of my puppy adopters and how happy it had made me. I love the pictures and the stories. She said, “I don’t think adopters realize how much we love these dogs and how we worry.”

Whenever one of my dogs is adopted, I tell the adopter, “Please let me know how he/she does. Stay in touch.” I know that won’t always be possible. Life is busy and who has time to send email updates to an overly attached foster mom? Most times we only spend twenty minutes, maybe an hour tops with these people. Not long enough to form the kind of bond we’ve already formed with their dog. So, I get it. But a girl can hope.

I was sharing this sentiment with a friend at lunch today. She shrugged and said, “They probably think you’re glad to have the dog out of your house and don’t think you really mean it.” Oh, but I do! And yes, I’m happy to have the dog out of my house, but only because he’s moving to such a wonderful new one!

Bark Wag Wine OPH 2014Next week OPH will have their big fundraiser Bark, Wag, and Wine at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg Virginia. I’ve heard that fosters sometimes see their adopted dogs at this event. I LOVE that idea. I’m not certain any of my adopters have plans to attend, but I’ll be there. I hope some of you will be, too.

If you want more details on the event click here. Here’s my pitch – I am a Virginia Wine lover. We plan entire vacations around visiting wineries in VA. I have a map in my office with little pins marking all the place we’ve been. I hope to someday retire to Virginia and be a sommelier at one of the wineries. That would be my dream gig. In fact, we’re headed to VA at the end of October for four days and will visit at least eight wineries we’ve never been to. So, keeping that in mind, I have to tell you that Chrysalis is one of our favorites. It’s a beautiful setting, but more importantly, the wine is fabulous and the staff is fun.

So, even if you’re not in to dogs (although if you’re reading this, that can’t possibly be the case), come for the wine! It’s also a family and dog friendly event, so if you don’t go anywhere without your two-legged or four-legged children, bring them! And one word of warning – I’ve been watching the steadily growing list of AWESOME silent auction items. When the call for volunteers went out, I signed Nick and I up to monitor the auction during the last hour. I know how that looks. And you’re right. So you might want to bring a big checkbook if you plan to outbid me.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Can I Have Just a Word with Adopters?”

  1. I adopted Noodles from OPH in April 2014. The foster mom is Melissa Mackey. She forwarded your article to me. It is interesting to know that foster parents get so attached to their dogs. I don’t understand how you have the courage to let go of your dogs. Once I see a dog, I don’t want to let go. As Melissa puts it, I would be a foster failure.
    Thank you so much for being a forter mom and saving so many lives, human and canine.

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    1. Thanks for writing Faye! Whenever I mention foster failures, my husband gets angry and says – Why is that a failure? I’d call it a foster success. He’d keep every dog we fostered if I let him! I only let them because I know they are going to someone (like you!) who will love them and letting them go makes room for another good dog!

      Like

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