As of January 2017 we have fostered 38 dogs in 4½ years. That’s not an astounding number: I know many people who foster several times our annual average. Sometimes they have 6 or 8 dogs at a time, we generally have two or three (plus our two). But we take in the hard cases. We get the heartworm positive dogs that need to be nursed through a long treatment and recovery period. We take in those with “behavioral issues” and turn unmanageable hooligans into adoptable companions. It is trying work. Not all have been major challenges (most are simply large dogs who were never trained to behave) but there have been a few.
In nearly every case the dogs we foster go off to some other state where a rescue organization helps them find a forever home. In a few cases, that rescue lets our Rescue Coordinator know when the dog is adopted and sends a picture of the new family, which she shares with us. That’s a wonderful way of giving us some closure. In a very few cases we are able to keep in touch with the adoptive family and watch as the dog settles in and enjoys his or her new life. That is extra special. Most of the time we are one part of the large machine, made up mostly of unidentified volunteers, that makes animal rescue possible.
A while back we fostered a dog named Dune. A hellcat of an animal who I almost sent back as unsalvageable after a particularly frightening episode where he knocked me down and chewed on my head … almost. But I decided against it at the last minute.
I could not give up on him: we were his absolute last hope. I wrote about that in an article titled The Dune Decision. That article came up on Facebook recently, and some of the folks who are now working with Dune found it and started sharing it around their group. This morning his current handler, Anne, wrote this:
All day I thought about what I wanted to write on your wall. Thank you seems so small. I am the volunteer at Eleventh Hour Rescue that has the privilege of working with Dune. Your article from last year when his time with you was over and he came to EHR is spot on. I met him at a time when I needed another pet project like I needed a hole in my head. I am not a trainer, just a volunteer that likes big dogs. He was pathetic but he picked me. He tested me and pushed my buttons and many times I thought about giving up on him. But I couldn’t. He wouldn’t let me. I learned his personality and how to help him. I think he looks for you. He looks into the faces of everyone we walk by and sometimes there is someone he follows. I am going to pay better attention to whether those people look like you now that I have seen your face. You would be so proud of him. He is so smart. And so happy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not giving up on him. You made the right decision💗. And while I have thousands of pictures, here is one from us chilling at the park last week.
That sent me looking for a Kleenex. It’s a good thing we don’t often receive such recognition for the part we played — we’d go through a lot of tissues! But a little, once in a while, is very nice: it validates what we try to do here through canine foster care.
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