Dog-hearted People

It feels weird not to have a foster dog. That’s what this has come down to—my normal is extra temporary dogs running underfoot. Yes, Gala is still here, but as of today, she’s officially been here six months, so she’s less of a foster dog and more of a long-term boarder.

I’m torn about asking for a new foster dog. The only dogs I can take with Gala around are puppies, but I’m traveling a fair amount this month and asking my family to take care of Gracie, Gala, Frankie, and a few random puppies who poop, might be pushing it.

And yet….I really want to be doing something.

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Every day that my puppy room stands empty, I’m not saving dogs. And savings dogs is my addiction. It’s my normal.

I was part of a book festival this weekend in Virginia. It was a well-run festival and I took along my friend, Gina, to keep me company. It was a fun trip with good food and good wine and good company, but I missed my puppy. Nick set up the puppy cam above his playpen and I was able to check in on him occasionally, but it wasn’t the same.

As I sat at my table, chatting with readers and Gina, I thought about the book festivals to come—the ones I’ll do next year after Another Good Dog comes out. I’ll be able to bring Frankie with me and it won’t even seem weird!

Plus, he’s a people magnet. Everywhere we go, he attracts attention. His blue eyes are startling and his happy wiggle irresistible. When people ask me what breed he is, as they inevitably do, I always say, “He’s a rescue.”

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I’m not sure how I became such a dog person. I mean, I’ve always loved dogs, but they were just dogs. I was really a horse-person.

But now, dogs are more than just fun company, now they’re my mission. Until we stop killing so many good dogs in such large quantities, while selling others for thousands of dollars, I can’t be quiet. I can’t let my puppy room stand empty.

I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for purchasing a high-bred dog, and if you chose to purchase a specific breed because it’s what you always wanted, or because you need a hypo-allergenic dog, or because you didn’t know better, that’s fine. I have nothing against you, personally. (Although I might have something against the abuses in the purebred dog industry.)

But when I meet someone and they ask about Frankie and then say, “I have a rescue dog, too,” I just want to hug them. I want to shout, “THANK YOU FOR BEING ONE OF US! THANK YOU FOR SAVING A LIFE!” I do try to work it into the conversation, even if I don’t hug them.

Discovering the dog-rescue community was like finding my people. The other fosters, the volunteers, the adopters. I like them. All of them. Even the ones I don’t agree with politically or socially. Even the prickly ones. I like them because I know they have a dog-heart. I know they also cry at the thought of dogs scared and alone in a shelter, or badly treated by heartless humans, or euthanized simply because there isn’t enough room or they’ve contracted a preventable illness or shelters lack the resources or ingenuity to market their dogs.

These people share my urgency to do something. These people choose to save a life. These people don’t mind putting in the extra effort it sometimes takes to help a dog overcome a history of neglect or abuse. These dog-hearted, open-minded souls choose to rescue. They opt to adopt and by doing so, they help move our society towards solving this solvable problem.

These people who don’t mind slobber on their shirt or dog-hair on the couch, whose favorite place to go is anywhere they can take their dogs. Who trade ideas for leash pulling, crate barking, fast eaters, and irrepressible chewers. These people who care less about what a dog looks like on the outside than who it is on the inside.

These dog-hearted people are my people. And I never knew it.

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If you’d like to know more about how you can volunteer, foster, donate, or adopt Gala or another deserving rescue dog, visit OPHRescue.org.

If you’d like more regular updates on foster dogs past and present, please join my Facebook group, Another Good Dog.

If you’d like to know more about what else I write, stop by my website CaraWrites.com where you’ll find links to my books and blogs. I’m always happy to hear from readers via comments on this blog or by email at carasueachterberg @ gmail.com. Connect with me via Facebook, twitter, or instagram.

Have a fabulous week!

Best,

Cara

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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.

10 thoughts on “Dog-hearted People”

  1. Gala is such a good girl! I’m so happy that she gets to wait for her family in such good care. Hitch was in foster with Erika for four months before we adopted him. I’m so thankful for OPH volunteers like you and Erika who kept him safe and healthy. It just took us a while to figure out that we are his family! Gala’s family is out there, they just haven’t realized it yet. 🙂

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  2. I know exactly how you feel! Fostering has become such a big part of my life that when I am without a litter, I feel as if a part of me is missing. As much as it might seem wrong to hold off, if you are too busy to properly care for puppies at the moment, then by all means wait for a bit until you are. I would never foster a litter without being fully able to care for them to the best of my ability. When the time is right, your next fosters will appear. 🙂

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    1. Thanks! It really has taken over my life. I was with a non-dog friend (although she’s an adopter) the other day and stopped to drop off supplies for another puppy foster. Then when we were leaving I got a call from a local group who wanted to volunteer to help with socializing my next litter. When I hung up she said, “This dog-thing has really taken over your life, hasn’t it?” It truly has, but I love it, so it’s all good. Hoping to find a smallish, older litter to fill in the gap this month. fingers crossed. thanks for reading!

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  3. I was strictly a cat person. When did I become a dog person? My kids found a messed up little toy poodle cross abandoned at a 7-11 store. The dog had been there living on handouts and dodging abuse for 3 weeks. She was so matted she couldn’t see anything. She had obvious tape worms, was skin and bones, and she smelled really bad. “Can we keep her Mom, please?” I looked this mess over and underneath that ugly mess I sensed something positive. The kids had left her on the bottom of front door steps while I decided. I went and found an old blanket and two old chipped bowls and filled one with cat food and the other with water. I went back to the door and the dog was still sitting there, waiting. I said “Would you like to come in?” and I held the door open. She immediately came up the stairs sniffling and whimpering and trembling with relief and joy that only increased when she smelled the bowls. She cleaned the cat food up and she had a long drink and then she curled up on the blanket, going around and around several times, trembling and whimpering. We had to go through some procedures to make sure her original owners weren’t looking for and we could keep her legally. Plus vet check, shots, deworming, license, a trip to the groomer, before she was totally legally ours. Even so, from that moment she came up the stairs she thought of herself as our dog and I became a dog person.

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  4. I love love the Gala video!! You’ve got to make some money so you can reduce more dogs just think of it this way…work = more rescues! Can’t wait for your book. I hear you about the pedigrees! I have never owned one even though they are cute there are just too many homeless animals who need homes. Keep up the good work!!❤️❤️

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  5. You are an amazing person and I am personally thankful for your dog-heart and desire to foster because if it was not for you I would not have Nahla. She brings such enjoyment to our family and I want Gala so badly but I am at my max for pets right now 😦 and I do not see myself moving to a bigger home before the year is over. Gala has been blessed by you and your family and the patience and love you continue to show her. She will find her forever home soon I am certain our prayers are being heard and the right family just has not heard about her yet! She has come so far from day 1 and continues to amaze all of her fans!

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