And we have a winner!
Best foster dog EV-AAAAAAA!
This is what I tell my children when they plead with me to adopt Momma Bear. I’m very clear that she is still a foster. Yes, I love her. Yes, she is the nicest mannered dog we’ve encountered. (Including our own dog.) And Yes, she is happy here. But NO, we are not adopting her. We’ve been over this. (And over this.)
Momma Bear wins the Best Foster Dog Ev-aaaa Award for many reasons.
First, she’s got perfect manners. I mean perfect. Better than most of my kids. Okay, she does chew up nerf darts, but I think that’s a plus, not a minus. (Less darts for me to pick up.)
She may be a big dog, but she is careful to stay out of your way. She’s attentive to the whereabouts of everyone and is never underfoot. She’s the first foster dog who never climbs on furniture. Never. She won’t even lie on the dog bed.
She’s quiet and saves her barking for important things like the UPS guy on the porch waiting for a signature or my 19-year-old son when he’s locked out at 2am (his father forgot he was home for Thanksgiving break).
Over the holidays, Ian, the cousins, and I took her to Pet Valu for a fancy bath. It was not her favorite all-time activity, but she allowed it with minimal protest. (We also took Gracie because she stunk after rolling in horse manure. She was not nearly as obliging and the boys also got a bath.)
She is VERY tempted to chase cats and squirrels, but only goes
to the end of the leash and stops. She has yet to take me skiing across the wet grass.
She is perfectly housebroken. And when I say perfectly, I mean it. No accidents. At all.
(I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about fostering dogs. They are never perfectly housebroken. The write-up may say housetrained, but that’s an optimistic take on their potty habits. Every dog we’ve ever fostered has peed in my house at least once, usually more. We’re learning and now limit their privileges for the first few days, keeping them out of carpeted areas. I’ve accepted it as part of the deal, and no longer freak out when it happens. Besides, who wouldn’t get wigged out after a 10-12 hour van ride in a cramped dog crate, a rushed bath given by two tired and annoyed spa employees, and then being dumped in an unfamiliar house with a snarly girl dog who is socially awkward? I’d pee, too.
She’s the best snuggler. Granted, you have to get down on the floor to snuggle with her. But every one of us has done it- spooning beside her large furry self to watch movies, rubbing her head while you play cards with the cousins. I even caught Addie (my most dog-averse child) lying next to Momma Bear on the hard, cold kitchen floor, arms wrapped round and quietly telling her what an awesome dog she is (Addie jumped up quickly when I appeared with the camera).
Many, okay, pretty much all, of the dogs we have fostered have been sweet. They’ve won our hearts quickly and given us as much love as we’ve given them, but Momma Bear’s love is different. It’s almost reverent. I know that sounds odd when we’re speaking about dogs, but her affection is so honest. She adores us. But then, she seems to adore everyone she meets.
Considering her history, this is more than remarkable. A lesson we could all learn from. Her cut ears and tail and the large pink scar on her elbow are the obvious signs that life has not been easy for this girl, but there’s a few other clues as well.
We have a large island in our kitchen. It creates a passageway between itself and the counter/sink/fridge against the wall. Momma Bear will not walk through this passage, even after living here over a week. She simply takes the longer route around the other side of the island where there is more space. She won’t step foot into our front hall which is also fairly narrow, even though if she did, she could reach the water bowl (we’ve had to install a separate bowl in the kitchen for her).
Something very terrible happened to this sweet dog in a passageway. Something worse than humans cutting her tail and ears. When I wait for her to walk the long way around to the kitchen door, I am angry about that. Angry that this world does not always value the life of an animal. Angry that someone could hurt a dog as gracious as Momma Bear.
But then I look at her sweet, trusting face and I realize that her heart is bigger than mine. So, I try to let my own expand a little. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. It’s changes everything.