Play by Play of the Foster Dog Circus that is our Life

I really like the Facebook feature, Memories. If you aren’t familiar with it – Facebook randomly sends you private posts with pictures from posts you made on the same date in history.

Recently, this picture came up –

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It’s from a year ago when we were still relatively new to fostering. Since our foster dog, Carla, had become part of the family, we’d agreed to babysit two other foster dogs for another OPH foster who was going away for the weekend. She could have put them in boarding but both dogs were sort of special needs. Hitch was incredibly shy and prone to running away (something we got to experience first-hand when one of our teens left a door open -twice! I got a lot exercise that weekend…) and Kylie who was…well Kylie was a little like our current foster Gingersnap – super sweet and VERY active, and maybe a wee-bit manic. It turned out to be a fun weekend and the first time we’d ever had four dogs in the house at once.

Now four doesn’t seem so crazy. In fact, as we watched our merry band of four last night, I said, “I like our little herd,” and Nick said, “Me, too.”

Let me catch you up on the comings and goings of our latest fosters. I think a timeline might be in order:

Wednesday 5//11  Maria Reynolds and Eliza Hamilton are taken home by their adopters. When Maria’s adopter arrives he has no crate and no helper, so I offer him a towel to cover the seats of his very clean car into which he is about to place Maria for their 2 hour ride home. I warn him that several of the puppies have gotten carsick. He chuckles at this and I hand him Maria whom he holds awkwardly, as if she might spring a leak at any moment. I ask if he’s ever had a puppy and he nods – “Oh yes, my family had puppies.”

I’m assuming this translates to his mother/father cleaned up after/house-trained/fed/watered/walked/ and in general did all the WORK involved in having a puppy and he and his siblings played with the puppy. At least that’s how it works in my house. Someday my kids will be adopting a puppy and someone will ask, “Have you ever had a puppy?” and they’ll say, “Oh yes, my family had LOTS of puppies – probably fifty or sixty.” But will my kids know how to care for a puppy? Maybe.

Back to my story – after the adopter leave with Maria, I email his adoption coordinator and say, “I have a bad feeling about this – can you please check on this puppy?” She assures me she will. I cross my fingers and hope I am wrong – dreams and good intentions can only take you so far.

Eliza’s adopters arrive and can’t be more excited or prepared. Such a difference from earlier. They are uber ready, but it still doesn’t stop Eliza from barfing all over her new mommy on the car ride home.

Friday 5/13  Last puppy, Peggy, leaves for her happy home and her super nice family bring us a donated bag of dog food as a parting gift. It is obvious this pup will be spoiled and loved. We are all happy to see Peggy leave as she has cried for nearly two days whenever left alone. I get reports that the other puppies have also had their share of tears. I’ve spent the previous two days typing with Peggy on my lap and learning to do many things one-handed. It brought back memories of when I had a baby in the house.

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Sunday 5/15  Gingersnap arrives. She fills the house with her crazy energy and Schuyler is VERY happy for the company. Ginger is enthusiastic (perhaps the biggest understatement of this post) and while she does her share of crying when left alone, at least she doesn’t pee in my house.

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Tuesday 5/17  We get word that Maria is being returned. No one is surprised by this. I worry all night and all the next day – imagining her in a crate all alone crying endlessly.

Wednesday 5/18 Maria arrives safely back at our house that evening, no worse for wear. I know it’s been a tough week for her and for her adopters, so we lavish Maria with attention, but no one more than Schuyler who is beyond happy to have her pup back with her.

Gingersnap also proves to be a playmate with endless endurance. Maria is one happy pup.

Thursday 5/19  Schuyler goes home to her forever family. It is a perfect fit and I am so happy for Schuyler – she will have a wonderful life loved by an understanding family of good dog people. I get happy reports on the Hamilton Puppy Connection facebook page that she is settling in beautifully. Smiles all around for this special dog who deserved this special home!

Friday 5/20  We are all set to leave for a weekend in Virginia, but first I draw up a puppy-care chart and schedule for my kids who will be left in charge. I list ‘walk puppy’ every two hours all day and ‘clean puppy pen’ and ‘play with puppy’. It is two pages long. It reminds me of when we went away and left the g-parents in charge of our kids when they were young. I’d draw up menus and directions and lists upon lists of activities. Looking back, I’m pretty certain they ignored my lists, but it was something I needed to do for my own comfort. I’m hoping the kids won’t ignore my lists, but figure they will learn a lot about what it means to care for a puppy.

On the way out of town, we drop off Gingersnap at boarding. I know she will be fine there. They won’t mind her barking as my teenagers would. Plus, I won’t lie awake worrying that she slipped a leash or got out a door or was yelled at when she spent too much time in a crate and complained (loudly).

Monday 5/23  We stop for Gingersnap on the way back to town. She goes ballistic in the kennel office when she spots me. Wow, it feels good to be loved at that level (and she’s only known me a week!). Ginger is MUCH more enthusiastic about our return than the kids.

Ten minutes after we arrive home, Chris arrives with our newest foster named Fannie.

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Fannie came in on transport the previous Friday, was picked up by a volunteer, cleaned up, and taken to an OPH adoption event that weekend before being dropped off with Chris on Sunday (Thanks Barb!). Fannie is sweet and cautious and at first isn’t very sure how to handle the exuberance of both Maria and Gingersnap or the snarling welcome from Gracie. But she adjusts within the first hour and assumes her role in the pack – watcher. She watches the other two wrestle and quietly takes the toy they forget about.

And so now we are a pack of four. And generally a happy pack. I’ve gamely walked three dogs at a time, sometimes letting Maria help by walking Fannie.

Maria is scheduled to go home tomorrow. Fannie is such a doll baby that I’m sure she will be gone within the week, but something tells me Gingersnap will be my running buddy for a while longer. Which is fine by me. She’s more than enough dog for me.

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Ginger hanging with us watching the game last night (in her snake position which she uses to slither up to everyone sitting near us to say hello – this is her sidling up to Sonja)

 

 

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Published by

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.

6 thoughts on “Play by Play of the Foster Dog Circus that is our Life”

  1. Nothing like opening my e-mail to see your latest blog post and a picture of my sweet baby Hitch! He definitely is no longer the little man that you knew! Because of great fosters like you he has become a totally different and amazing dog! I don’t think running away would even cross his mind these days. He would have to give up his life of luxury and snuggling. 🙂

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  2. Too bad they don’t make puppy treadmills for your kids when they watch the dogs. So glad the adopter of Maria was smart enough to return the pup! Good instincts. What dog wouldn’t want to spend the day at your home, it’s like a Disneyland dog park.

    P. S. My book “Girls Weekend” arrived. I will start reading it after I am done with one of the two books I am currently reading. Can’t wait😉

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    1. I do know an adopter whose puppy (and her other dog) walk/run on a treadmill – so it’s not beyond possibility! Hoping the kids will think twice later in life when they consider adopting a puppy! You’ll have to let me know what you think of Girls’ Weekend when you get to it! Thanks for reading!

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      1. I will. Really want to start reading it because I LOVE your blogs about the dogs but I am a disciplined kind of personality so I must finish the other two I am reading and unfortunately am a slow reader because I only read in my lunch breaks.

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