Have a little time?
Need some unconditional love?
Maybe, just looking to give back a little in this life?
Then now might be the time to be a Foster Mama (or Papa) to a dog one shot away from nothing.
(Mira, my 6th foster dog and one I should have kept....:)
I got involved in dog rescue and fostering in 2008. I did it for a couple of reasons.
One, to be honest, I was looking for someone to love, my kids had grown and I'm a nurturer at heart (even though I had never thought of myself as such) but when the house was empty of demands, schedules, homework, practices, etc. after 20 years, I found I had some extra attention to give and no one to give it to.
(Here's Trixie, now known as Hailey, who my parents fostered through the summer of 2011)
Two, I have been so fortunate to have had such amazing dogs in my life: (Puffy, Willy, Tasha, Cita and my sweet boy Teiko) How could I not do something?
(My first dog, Puffy and me taking a "nap")
Three, I read a heart-felt plea about truly honoring your dog who had passed, by giving another dog a chance.
So 10 foster dogs later. I've learned a few things...
- Dogs want to please you. Just not always the way you're expecting....
- Your energy - both good and bad says more to a dog than your voice.
- All new dogs will "mark" your home at least once....
- Dog (and kids) need structure, rules, discipline and time to be free
- Joy comes in quick moments and you had better pay attention: Like a wagging tail, a play bow, a successful "Come" or "Sit" and sometimes, if you are lucky, a full jump of joy.
- Your trust in the dog is a powerful tool for training.
- Your heart always has room for just one more dog and that's why you can let go.
So here's Dakota, my parents' and my latest foster. Dakota is truly a rescue in that she came from a neglect situation where she was forcibly surrendered by a dog-hoarding family that also kept wolves, yes...wolves. For the first three years of her life, she was kept in an outside pen behind the barn (and yes, Wisconsin winters suck). When coming to shelter, with no socialization to the real world, she was timid, cowered and would back-up from everything. The only comfort she could give herself was licking her skinny hip.
Thankfully, the family gave her to the local humane shelter, which spent the time getting to know her sweetness. After a few calls and emails, Dakota found her way to GSRAW. With a couple of months of love, attention, care and discipline she has just blossomed into an amazing young dog. Yes, she has a lot to learn yet, but dang, she's come so far.
Today Dakota and I worked on some house-dog basics. She conquered the stairs. She hammered the word - "Come" (always have a great $1000 treat - like ham). She worked on the sit, stay and wait commands. She wore out my arm with a Wubba and her absolute joy to play. She sniffed every tree on our one hour walk. And she didn't knock over the miniature poodle, Cita.
The best moment: She gives hugs. Really! She'll jump up gently, put her front paws around your middle, tuck her nose in your side and just be.
Here is a great dog who just loves to be in safety and kindness and knows how good she has it.
And the sad....she could have easily had been euthanized like so many others - because of her initial fear of new things.
And imagine that. What a loss of joy.
PLEASE, please consider fostering. It makes your heart feel so good and it really does make a difference!