Dangerous, Life-changing Love

Here’s my dilemma- just how much should you love on your foster dog? Galina is such a mischievous little love muffin, that we all can’t help but return her affection. And that seems dangerous for all parties involved.DSC_7901

OPH offers all kinds of training for fosters, which has been super helpful, but it occurs to me that I haven’t asked the question I should probably have asked most – just how much affection should you shower on your little charge?

When Galina arrived, she was nervous and shy and we coaxed her to accept our touch. Now it’s been two weeks and she demands it. She snuggles up to us on the couch, races to greet us when we enter a room, jumps up on anyone who fails to acknowledge her enthusiasm.

Should I have withheld some of my attention, kept my distance? That seems like the smart move. But Galina has blossomed under our affection. It’s given her confidence. She stands taller; she’s napping more, and chewing a little bit less. So maybe instead of being a dangerous thing, it was the most important element of our care for her. As important as the food and probiotics and coconut oil that has brought a shine to her coat.

Laughing with Brady as I struggled to put the leash on our over-enthusiastic puppy who couldn’t wait to go for a walk this afternoon, I said, “See that? That’s pure joy.”

She’s ready to meet DSC_7903her new family. She’s a different dog than the one we brought home on that bitter night over two weeks ago.

This weekend we took her with us when we visited my dad who is recovering from double knee surgery. It was an hour’s drive. Galina was nervous in the back seat, much like the night we brought her home. She stood, swaying and chasing her balance on the turns. Eventually, she popped her head up between the front seats. I assured her this would be a good trip. My parents love animals and they had a beloved beagle when I was little. Slowly, almost unperceptively, she wiggled her way into the front seat and curled up on my lap. Then she slept peacefully the rest of the drive.

As predicted, when we arrived my parents enjoyed hosting her. With the exception of one tube of hand cream, she was on her best behavior in terms of chewing things she should not chew. Over lunch I suggested maybe they could adopt her. I knew they weren’t interested in having a dog. In fact, my mother is adamantly against it (I think my dad could be swayed). So, I wasn’t really serious and not at all surprised when the answer was absolutely not.

I can’t help but hope that someone nearby adopts Galina. That way hopefully I can act as a favorite aunt and maybe even keep her whenever her new owners vacation. This might be overstepping my bounds as a foster mommy. Another question for the next person-in-the-know at OPH, perhaps.

About ten or eleven years ago, a stray dog turned up at our house. We had a building crew here installing new gutters and I was never certain if the dog found us because he enjoyed hanging out with the guys or if one of them dumped him on us.  He was a sweetheart of a dog, but at the time I had three little kids and I couldn’t handle another dog.

We kept him for a few days – bathing him and unearthing a beautiful brown and white collie-like dog from the matted, gray mutt he had been. I took him to the local rescue and had him checked for a microchip. No dice. After a search for the owner failed, I gave him to my friend Sheila in my YMCA class.

Over the years, Sheila has let us know how “Buddy” was doing. Her family adored him and I loved hearing about his happy home. I heard from Sheila just recently that Buddy had passed. And it reminded me that Galina isn’t our first foster, Buddy was. So it gives me hope that like Buddy, Galina is also only hanging with us for a little while, just until her real family is ready for her.

I know the day is coming soon (and in reality I know the sooner the better for all of us) when OPH will let me know that an adopter has chosen Galina. I can’t wait to meet these lucky folks. They will be getting a smart, fun, sweetheart of a dog. And I will be jealous.

It goes without saying that I adore this little dog, but she’s not mine and she can’t be. She loves us, too, though, that’s evident. I foresee a lot of hearts breaking when she is finally adopted. But it will also be a happy day. A day when this limbo ends and Galina can start her real life.IMG_2818

1 thought on “Dangerous, Life-changing Love”

  1. I forget if I asked this before, but are there some paid staff at OPH? It’s good that they can partner with people skilled in training and caring for dogs, doing it as a profession. Looking forward to reading more.


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