My next foster dog arrives tonight, a pregnant shepherd mix from South Carolina named Daisy.
I plan to chronicle her journey in realtime on my Facebook writer page. If you’re not on Facebook, I will collect those entries and publish them weekly on this blog.
Word of warning: there are no guarantees here. This is a shelter dog with no history, so while I hope there’s a happy ending coming, that may not be the case. Mama dogs who land in shelters have often not had any kind of prenatal care, may be undernourished, riddled with worms, and definitely not talking about who the baby daddy is. My most recent mama dog had a near textbook delivery, while the one before that was tragic. I want to be honest about this business of rescuing dogs and will share with you the story, no matter the outcome.
Shelter dogs arrive with all kinds of unknown baggage, some we can help them with, some we cannot. Inviting a new foster to your house is always a roll of the dice. The shelter and the rescue have done all they can to increase your odds, but when it comes down to it, there’s always an element of risk. For me, that risk is worth it to save a life. I hope by sharing this journey with you, you’ll decide it’s a chance you might like to take too.
This rescue actually began a little over a week ago when I got the email asking if I might consider fostering Daisy. People often ask me how we get these dogs and whether we have a say in what dog we foster. The answer to the first part of that question varies wildly, but as to my choice – yes, it’s always the foster’s choice.
Here’s how it normally works – One of our ‘shelter pullers’ (the people who work with the rescue coordinators at the shelters) determine which dogs OPH will bring north. That list of dogs with pictures and what little information we know is then forwarded to all the available foster homes.
OPH never knowingly brings up aggressive dogs, so the dogs on that list have been screened for people and dog friendliness. That assessment is made in the shelter where the dogs have landed for any number of reasons and may be sad, stressed, and/or confused. We work with shelters whose assessments we trust, knowing that they, like us, don’t have all the information.
OPH foster families choose the dog they’d like to foster from that list which usually includes dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages. Some fosters find their ‘niche’ – big dogs, chi-mixes, girl dogs, lab-types, scruffies, and pick those dogs consistently. Others try out every kind of dog imaginable and make their choices based on individual dogs or the greatest need.
I foster some of those dogs, but I also foster families – litters and pregnant moms. I’m able to do this because I work from home (and have developed a tolerance for vast quantities of poop).
Many times, when I get a request to foster it is urgent. Puppies and pregnant mamas are at risk in a shelter. Sometimes they arrive by plane or special transport, and sometimes they come north with the regular OPH transport.
We have a puppy coordinator, Barb, who keeps track of which OPH nursery foster homes are available at any given moment. Barb works with the shelter pullers and rescue coordinators before reaching out to us.
When Barb asked if I could foster Daisy, my immediate reaction was YES! I just wanted that girl out of the shelter and safe. I did not take the time to look ahead in my schedule to be sure I would be here for the next 10-12 weeks it will take for the puppies to be born, weaned, adopted, and for Daisy to be spayed and adopted. I said yes before remembering that I’ll be gone on a Rescue Road Trip (you’ll hear plenty about this soon!) in a little over eight weeks.
When I confessed this to Barb, she said, “We’ll figure out something,” which is a special OPH talent. Like so much in rescue, we will focus on the dog in front of us because we have no idea what we’ll be dealing within eight weeks.
As I write this, Daisy is already on the transport van headed north. On a recent transport, a pregnant mama began delivering her puppies on the van. So, everybody please say a few prayers today that Daisy holds on.
Daisy is approximately 52 days along. Normal gestation for dogs is 58-68 days. So hopefully, we have a little time still. But if you back up to where I started with this post, you already know that 52 is mostly a guess (although a good guess because the director at the shelter she is coming from is also a veterinarian who has seen plenty of pregnant shelter dogs).
If you’d like to follow along on this journey day by day look for posts and live videos on my Facebook page, Cara Sue Achterberg, writer (not my personal FB page). If you click ‘like’ and ‘follow’ I believe that Facebook will let you know when there’s a live feed (although Facebook’s actions remain a mystery to me).
I’ll post a weekly recap on this blog. I’ll also post some highlights in the Another Good Dog group, but don’t want to overwhelm that group which is for updates on all my previous fosters and of course, the delightfully entertaining Flannery, my current foster-wonder. Here’s the latest video of her chasing her tail and a few shots of her snuggling with Frankie:
Thanks for reading!
If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, check AnotherGoodDog.org, where you can find more pictures of the dogs from the book (and some of their happily-ever-after stories), information on fostering, the schedule of signings, and what you can do right now to help shelter animals! You can also purchase a signed copy or several other items whose profits benefit shelter dogs!
If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more pictures and videos of my foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog Facebook group.
Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now