We are setting off on a whole new animal adventure! We’ve become a foster home for dogs and puppies! These creatures are rescued from kill shelters in the south and ferried up north to find forever homes. For reasons I lack the knowledge or the resources to determine, animal shelters in rural parts of North Carolina and South Carolina can have up to a 90% kill rate. Perhaps people in those parts don’t believe in neutering their animals, or maybe there just aren’t enough homes to go around. At any rate, I’m not asking any questions, I’m simply offering a warm space and a happy family to shelter a dog until he finds his forever home.
Why foster, you ask? Good question. Here’s my short answer: Cause we want another dog, but we don’t want another dog.
Now here’s my long answer: I miss my dog. Lucy was the best dog a girl (or a family) could ever ask for. She graced our lives for 17 years. She ran with me, even training for a marathon, protecting me against aggressive dogs, friendly good ole boys, and even the occasional possum. She matched me stride for stride and never said no. (A feat I didn’t appreciate until I tried to run with our other dog, Gracie, who routinely yanked my arm, tripped me, and ran in terror, dragging me for the ride, from any dog or person who approached us!)
Lucy had perfect manners, never peeing in the house, stealing food off the counter, or chasing the cats. Perhaps her only fault was killing the occasional chicken that wandered into her territory. But who could blame her, she was a fox hound after all.
Lucy put up with untold indignities, helping to raise our three kids. She moved with us twice, learning her invisible fence territory in hours and always respecting it.
She was gentle, beautiful, playful, and when the occasion called for it, fierce. She killed the groundhog that was leaving holes in my pasture, the bunnies that ravaged my garden, and the possums that simply freaked me out. She threatened anyone who threatened us, but backed down as soon as we asked her to.
When she died last August, she left a gaping hole in our collective heart. There is no way to replace her. Around Christmas time, we decided it was time to begin looking for another dog. Gracie was lonely and becoming neurotic. She went in and out incessantly staying outside for mere minutes before scratching at the door to come in, only to beg to go back out soon after. It was if she’d lost something and was certain it was outside until she was outside, and then she was sure it was inside.
She began chewing on her back and legs for no apparent reason. She didn’t have fleas. There was no rash or injury. We tried changing her diet, to no avail.
She chased the cats, bit the Fed Ex delivery man, and began escaping the invisible fence on a regular basis.
Finally, it dawned on me. She missed Lucy, too. With no example or company, she’d gone slightly feral, driving us all nuts. It was time to find a friend for Gracie.
So we combed the websites. We visited shelters. We walked strange dogs. We filled out lengthy applications and enlisted our friends to be references. But none of the dogs measured up. None would do.
And then I saw a friend’s post on Facebook showing off her new foster dog. You could foster dogs? I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this. We fostered horses for a rescue a few years back until our pasture became overloaded.
I discovered that not only could we foster dogs, but there were literally dozens of rescues looking for foster homes in our immediate area. The one I chose serves a large area – Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and DC. I liked them because they moved a lot of dogs. I didn’t want us to take in some oddball unwanted dog and be stuck with it for years. They were professional and passionate, an important combination. Many of the rescues I considered were loaded with passion, but lacked the organization and professionalism necessary to succeed. And beyond that – everyone I talked to seemed cool. They were interesting and smart. By sheer dumb luck they also happen to value natural, healthy dog care doling out coconut oil to help build the foster dog’s immune system and cranberry extract to avert urinary tract infections.
So, after lots of questions answered, forms filled out, references checked, more forms filled out, and Gracie vaccinated for Bordatella, we were given a list of dogs headed our way on a transport that arrives tonight! I looked through the options. I wanted to pick a good dog for our first foster. There were little yappy dogs available which would have pleased my daughter, and big, energetic labs that would have pleased my youngest. There was one enormous mastiff-type dog laden with issues who seemed to need a foster home the most, but in the end I chose a sweet little beagle with floppy ears and plenty of play. She’s about half the size of Gracie, so hopefully Gracie won’t be intimidated. The picture on the website isn’t great, but here it is –
Her name is Galina, which is an odd name. I’ve discovered that rescue dogs all seem to have odd names. One dog we considered about a month ago was named Cornbread, and another Burrito. Maybe the name they are given has something to do with whatever the rescue worker is having for lunch that day. I don’t know where Galina comes from. I thought it was a city in Texas, but I googled it and it’s appears to be the name of a wedding dress designer. Somehow it doesn’t suit a beagle, but we’ll go with it.
So, tonight we pick up Galina in the parking lot of a Bowling alley just off the beltway at 10:30. She’s probably already enroute from South Carolina, so I’m sending positive energy her way and hoping for safe (and warm) travels. My husband is trusting me on this, and I can tell he’s a little nervous about meeting strangers in a parking lot in the dark of night for a beagle, but the excitement is building at this house. We’ve rounded up blankets and toys and a food bowl just for Galina. Gracie has kicked her neurotic tendencies into overdrive, going in and out at an alarming rate (granted it is -2 out there).
Here we go!