About three years ago, I ventured into the world of becoming a foster parent to puppies. Prior to that, I had a brief stint working in pit bull rescue (was unemployed at the time). It was so rewarding. The advocacy group I had worked with utilized the local shelter where they had four outdoor kennels. It was our job to visit and play with the dogs and clean up their kennels. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend some “me” time by going and meeting up with the coordinator, unlocking a kennel and walking a sweet dog to the play yard. We got to run, play fetch (well the dog did that) and give lots of tummy rubs. In return we got lots of doggie kisses and affection.
After I returned to the work-world, I missed the dogs. I also knew I wanted to continue working with pit bulls. I won’t go into the advocacy side of all of that because that’s a completely separate and long post. I met a woman who worked with a pit rescue and she became my mentor. She preferred taking in Chihuahuas as fosters. Personally, I’ve never been a small dog fan; for fear of tripping over or stepping on them. Bigger dogs have always stolen my heart. Working with a rescue is great, because they provide crates, gates, food, vet care, etc. All you provide is love, a safe home and help them get ready to become part of a family.
My first foster pup was Lily. She was a small black pit mix, with just a bit of white on her chest. She was such a cutie with a high energy level. She loved attention. Reeses, my recently rescued German Shepherd mix, was always by her side the first few days. He fell into the role of “big brother” right away and fulfilled his need to work. He had a full-time puppy-sitting gig.
My biggest challenge with Lily was housebreaking. She was stubborn as the day was long about going potty outside. Needless to say, my rugs took a beating with all the clean-up I was doing. We recently tore up the rug and put down laminate. Carpets are not friends of foster puppy parents. If you foster and have carpet, having a steam cleaner is a life saver.
I only had Lily for about two months, before a young couple came to meet her. They were a bit hesitant about her still not being housebroken, but she won them over with her charm, cuteness and puppy-kisses. They filled out the application for the rescue. My mentor went and did their home evaluation and then I got the call. We needed to meet up so Lily could go to her new home.
This is the worst part of fostering, in my opinion; saying goodbye. My six-year old was crying and even I shed a few tears as I passed Lily off to my mentor, so she could drive her to live with her new parents. Lily was adopted by a couple who lived on a dairy farm. Someone would always be home with her and she’d learn to work around the animals. She would have a hound-dog brother and her new parents had family that already had pit bulls and were waiting to take her swimming in the pond. She found an ideal home.
Over the years, I would receive a text here and there as Lily grew and bonded with her new family. I got reports she fit into the family very well. The last update received, was a picture of Lily and her brother, sitting next to their parents feet, with a sign announcing their engagement. More happy tears fell. While you don’t often get updates, it’s the best feeling in the world when you do.
My daughter still talks about Lily. I remind her that because of our efforts, Lily didn’t sleep on a cold floor. She could play whenever she wanted. She learned how to play with other dogs and she felt loved. We did our job and found her a home. It’s hard to say goodbye, yet when they truly find their furever home, you can be proud of the work you put in.
Note: There is something in the fostering world known as a “foster fail”. This is where you fall in love with your foster pup/dog and can’t bear to find them a new home. Their new forever home is your home.
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