Darlin, Diary, dog rescue, fosterdogs, fostering, Hula Hoop, pregnant dog, puppies

The Price We Pay to Save a Dog

I sat down at my computer to write on Monday morning and a text popped up from Hula Hoop’s adopter. She is in love with Hula, now Willow, and sent a picture of her sporting a pretty new collar and surveying her new stash of toys.

“Working from home today with my little love bug! But hardly working because I can’t stop watching her! She is such a good girl and we are blessed to have her!”


These are the messages that make it all worthwhile.

It reminds me of moments like when Hula was a nursing mom and had exploding diarrhea for nearly three weeks. That mess?

Worth it.

Or cooking chicken and rice every day for three weeks to get rid of that diarrhea?

Expensive and time-consuming.

Worth it (and I mastered minute rice).

Or when Hula chewed up and then ate my good running gloves?


But worth it.

I tend to play up all the fun and cuteness of fostering, and there is plenty, but there is also work and mess and frustration and heartbreak.

Which is why I decided to do the Diary of a Rescue Dog. By posting every day and trying to be as honest as I can, I hope it will give you a good idea of what it takes to rescue.

Since posting this plan and then meeting Daisy, I have to confess that I am worried.

I don’t think that Daisy will be the average rescue. She is much more shut-down than nearly every foster I’ve had. She is also in worse physical shape than any pregnant dog I’ve fostered.


Yesterday her temperature sky-rocketed to 105.7 and we had to take her to the Pet ER twice (in a snowstorm of course). Five hours of my (and my husband’s) day in the ER and the remaining hours in the puppy room plying her with treat-infused water and putting cold compresses on her paws and ears in an effort to get her temperature down. Then up at 4am to administer the second dose of antibiotics and check her temp again.

Worth it?

Depends on when you ask me, but yes, in the end, whatever happens now, worth it.

I don’t know if that high fever hurt the puppies and I don’t know if the antibiotics will fix whatever caused it. I truly hope not to ever spend another second inside that ER with the TV blaring pro-wrestling and local commercials watching my sweet dog suffer while we wait.

My heart now resides in my throat because I am more than a bit terrified of the ticking time bomb in my puppy room. There is so much that could go wrong.

Maybe I’m just sensitive to that because she so closely resembles Darlin’, the mama dog who arrived here two years ago this month amid my high hopes and excitement, only to go through an arduous labor and delivery that lasted two days and resulted in five dead puppies. It didn’t end there because we lost a fourth three weeks later and then had to fight like mad to save the remaining three.

That was one of the hardest things I’ve done, not just in my time fostering, but in my life. I wouldn’t have survived it without the help of my OPH family.

I just remember sitting there on the second night about three am, pressing that puppy up under Darlin’s chin for comfort and watching him die while I was helpless to do anything. I don’t want to do that again.

But you know what?

If I have to, I can.

Because this dog deserves my effort and my heart and I will offer it.

photo Ian Achterberg

And because I survived it with Darlin’ (who now has a wonderful home like Hula), I will survive it with Daisy.

I know more now, which likely won’t make one lick of a difference in terms of outcome, but I won’t feel quite so helpless. I also know that no matter how badly I want this to go well, or how much I prepare or how much I have learned since Darlin’s delivery, there’s not a whole heck of a lot I can control here.

photo Ian Achterberg

It’s nature and it’s humans. Daisy should not be in the state she is in. That’s because of the humans who have not done right by her. But nature is powerful and it just might see her through.

I can’t possibly make up for the years of neglect she has suffered in just a few days or a week or two, but I will see her through this to the other side as best I possibly can, giving her more of a chance than she would have alone in a shelter or loose as a stray.

And hopefully in two months, I’ll get another text message from another adopter, telling me how much she loves her new dog, Daisy.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to follow along on the Diary of a Rescue, visit my Facebook writer page (not my personal page) and click like and follow. As I said in my initial blog post about it – I cannot promise a happy ending, but I will promise to share the journey.

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter (which is rarely monthly, February is looking unlikely, but hope to get on out in March).

If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, visit 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.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.



Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now

Another Good Dog cover



16 thoughts on “The Price We Pay to Save a Dog”

  1. Holy French Toast…
    You make me cry, like, *every* day. I so appreciate everything you do and the fact that you share as much as you can about it. I can’t wait to have a space of my own so I can follow in your footsteps ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so ready to explain to Dusty he’s getting a sister who needs Bear’s gentle help and his wisdom to tell her that everything is going to be OK. I remember how I felt when I learned Dusty’s story. Angry at the people who kicked and beat him and threw him out of the truck, and challenged by the fact that he really did choose me. You’re very brave and even more loving, Cara. I’m following the story and hoping all the time that things turn out OK for Daisy. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are doing such good work, Cara! I know it’s hard and frustrating at times, but you have such a good perspective on it. We just do what we can, when we can, and trust that it will be enough. And I’m sure if you could ask the many dogs you have helped place into good homes if it is worth it, they would answer with a resounding yes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly – “we just do what we can, when we can and trust that it will be enough”. I think some people don’t get involved because they think they don’t know enough or have enough time and yet their limited knowledge and time are more than many dogs have.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What beautiful pictures your son took of Daisy! So sorry she (and you) endured a trip to the Doggy ER. I managed an ER (for humans) for many years, and I always told my nurses to treat every patient and family as if you will always remember them, because for sure they will remember you. I think that goes for four legged patients as well. Hang in there and now that Daisy is with you things are looking up for her and it’s going to be OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that thought – treat them as if you will always remember them because for sure they will remember you – so true! I remember the voice of the person who loaded me onto a helicopter even though I was in shock and I remember the resident who sat with me in the wee hours of the night when I was recovering from a Percocet-induced nightmare. I wonder how many ER and first-responders think about that fact.


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