Our Trifecta of Foster Dogs

It’s felt like we have been in a holding pattern for many, many weeks here. Flannery, Daisy, and Thelma have become permanent fixtures. Our whole family has adapted to life with them.

Don’t leave the kitchen gate open or ANYTHING on the floor or chairs or table or counter edges that you care about or is toxic to dogs. (Thelma)

Don’t let the other dogs out in the dog yard or leave the dog door open. (Daisy)

If the heat gets too much or it thunders or the neighbors start shooting off their guns or their fireworks, move Gracie, Thelma, and Flannery to the kitchen, so Daisy can come inside to go in crate. (Daisy)

When the milkman or the UPS guy comes, put Flannery in my office so she doesn’t lose her mind. (Flannery)

Remind visitors to keep fingers to themselves. (Flannery)

At mealtimes (6am and 6pm), they each have their own dining room. Gracie eats in the living room, Flannery in hallway or office, Thelma in kitchen, and Daisy on the side deck. Water bowls in the living room, kitchen, and side yard have to be kept filled, plus Daisy’s ‘special magic water’ (with the homeopathic drops in it) must be refreshed daily.

I alternate walking buddies daily for a two-mile hike up the hollow – Daisy one day and Thelma/Flannery the next. (Gracie has arthritis and can no longer walk with me.) There is no running, even if it weren’t six thousand degrees outside, it’s too dangerous. Daisy gets a little anxious if I’m running, plus she has a heavy coat and while she’s gotten SO much better, I still worry that something will frighten her suddenly. Taking Thelma and Flannery out together requires my FULL attention as they are both more than a little ADD on walks and leashes can quickly become lethal.

I keep everyone’s dates up on a whiteboard on the wall so I won’t forget a flea/tick treatment or a heartworm preventative. Who gets what to eat is also listed in case there is a substitute waiter for that seating.

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Wednesdays are big dog days. Flannery has agility class at 9am. We have to pack our bag with plenty of treats and leave early so she has time to potty before class after the thirty-minute drive.

Later on Wednesdays, I load up Daisy and take her to my friend Gina’s neighborhood for her walk and visit. She has gotten better and better on the busy streets. Last week, a man came walking by us. A few months ago, that would have meant that I’d have to grab her collar and she would drag me in the other direction. But this time, she wagged her tail and actually pulled me toward the man (who didn’t notice her or react). She doesn’t miss a step when we pass other dogs or lawnmowers or even blowers or weed trimmers anymore!

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Truly, with these three here, fostering has felt like a part-time job. And it’s not one I can hand off easily to my incredibly patient and willing son. So, as I prepare to head out for a much-needed and longed for sabbatical in the mountains, everything will be disrupted.

I am still shocked that Thelma hasn’t been adopted. Yes, she is a chewer, but beyond that she is the dream dog that every adopter asks for – good with people (especially children), good with other dogs, crate-trained, not a barker, housebroken, good on a leash, happy at the dog park, friendly, sweet, young, and under forty pounds. She truly IS the sweet spot when it comes to adoptable dogs. Yes, she will require that you Thelma-proof your house, but what great incentive to keep your house tidy?

Alas, she is still here. And I won’t be. So, Ian will be in charge of her and I know that inevitably, despite best intentions, something will get eaten that shouldn’t get eaten. The boys are young adults after all, they can’t be expected to live without permanently installed earbuds, so it’s entirely possible that a few things will slip by them, like the lid to the Tupperware left on the table or the dish towel that didn’t quite make it to the laundry or the mail set too close to the edge of the counter.

I’m very grateful that instead of regular boarding where Daisy has gone for several weekends already this summer, she will instead spend the next three weeks at a new Board & Train partner only twenty minutes from my house. I’m so excited for her and really hopeful that time in a new home environment where ‘mom’ is an expert will help her take the next step in her confidence. What I mostly hope is that it will prepare her for being adopted. It is time that this sweet girl finds her family.

Which just leaves Flannery. I am headed off for three weeks of working on our tiny cabin in the mountains, hiking, and writing. Flannery will go with me. She is great company and seemed to enjoy her first weekend with us there.

This past Saturday, she was keeping me company while I was scrubbing walls in the kitchen, when something outside caught her eye. We both ran to the door to watch a black bear amble through our yard, just steps away from the door and into the bushes. He watched us and we watched him for a few moments and then he sauntered away into the woods. It’s a testament to Flannery’s smarts that she did not bark at the bear, considering that Flannery barks at EVERYTHING.

She also enjoyed flirting with the porch cat, who came with the house. The previous owner of the cabin took everything except this kitty (and a rusty folding chair with his name on it, an old TV, and a bag of potting mix). She is semi-feral and runs from us if we approach, but follows us when we are outside, sleeps on the porch, and waits at the kitchen door early in the morning mewling for food. She also has a kitten who is much more skittish. I am making plans to trap them and have them spayed while I am down there this month.

Flannery has two agility classes left, one before we leave and one next week, which I will drive back to take her to. She really, really loves it, but at $150 for five weeks, it’s not something we can sustain or ask the rescue to pay for. I’m trying to convince my handy husband to build her some equipment, but he’s pretty busy renovating our long-neglected cabin right now. There is a dog park about thirty minutes from our new cabin that has a few pieces of equipment, so we will definitely trek there while on our vaca.

So that’s the latest. It’s unlikely you will be hearing from me on this blog in the next few weeks. But after that I’ll be back and writing and telling you about my September trip to Alabama to visit shelters and learn about their dog situation. If Daisy and Thelma ever get adopted, we will likely foster again, but until then we certainly have our hands full.

Be well. Enjoy your summer. Take your dog for a hike! I’ll be thinking of you! I will try to post some of Flannery’s adventures on Another Good Dog, plus any updates I get on Daisy.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my occasional e-newsletter.

If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, visit AnotherGoodDog.org, where you can find more pictures of the dogs from the book (and some of their happily-ever-after stories), information on fostering, and what you can do right now to help shelter animals! You can also purchase a signed copy or several other items whose profits benefit shelter dogs!

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more pictures and videos of my foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog Facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.

 Best,

Cara

Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now

Another Good Dog cover

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 “Our Trifecta of Foster Dogs”

  1. Have a good trip. If Daisy’s trainer/host writes a report about their time together, please share it on here if you’re able to. I and I’m sure your other readers would enjoy hearing about her time with the trainer, particularly if she has any further breakthroughs. Will this cabin be a place that your children will eventually get to visit too? Must be nice to have a little getaway spot.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks! I will share any news I get on Daisy. The cabin is an investment we’ve been saving for a long time. Once we renovate (I think of it more as resurrecting it – serious neglect), it will be a dog-friendly vacation rental that hopefully, pays for itself and provides a place for us to escape to and maybe someday live in.

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      1. Nice. Virginia… my old stomping grounds. Nice to find the name of a Virginian city I’m familiar with in one of your earlier blog posts talking about an OPH event: Alexandria. Best wishes with the renovating, and I hope that it can become a much-loved vacation or permanent living spot.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Does Thelma do okay at adoption events? Could an OPH volunteer take her, or would she be too nervous without you? Could you get Ian to do a photo shoot with her and some kids to post on the adoption page? Have fun at the cabin and hope the bears stay away!

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    1. I’m hoping we’ll find a volunteer to take her to the event on Saturday. She’d be fine without me – she’s the easiest, most loving, friendly dog. I have one video of her with children, but it shows exactly what you shouldn’t let kids do with a new dog (which is what makes Thelma so amazing!) so I don’t want to put it up on the site. Other than that, I’d have to find some children to pose with her, which I will do if she’s still hanging around when I get back, which I doubt she will be. This girl is SO adoptable. It’s a mystery why she is still here.

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    1. Hi Leah! Glad you like the posts! Gala is still in foster care with an amazing foster mama who loves her and works with her every day. She has a foster sibling now and they are doing great together. She even goes to events sometimes. She seems happy and is definitely loved, but is yet to find a forever family willing to give her a chance.

      My foster kitties moved to the ‘cat house’ which is the OPH adoption center in Hershey, technically a house where the adoptable kitties live and hang out and wait for someone to pick them. It’s a neat place where you can visit with the cats and they are all roaming free in the house and have cool climbing structures and windows to look out and friends to play with. Phyllis is still there waiting on the purfect person, but Opal was adopted.

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