Barkalona, dog rescue, Edith Wharton, Flannery Oconnor, fosterdogs, fostering, Frankie, Volunteering

Fostering Can Be Fun and Easy

One of my semi-permanent foster kitties, Luna, seems to enjoy smacking our new foster dog, Bo (he is Bowflex on the OPH website and was Tick at the shelter).


Bo is like one of those overly eager to please, see-only-the-sunny-side dogs who pokes his nose into everything, including Luna’s face. He chases the reflections from the prism that hangs in my window as they waver and wander over the walls, and he quickly changes course, no hard-feelings, when Gracie snarls at his enthusiastic overtures.


He is refreshingly simple, gets along with everyone, and (so far) has no interest in chewing inappropriate items. Judging by his popcorn catching skills and the fact that he appears to be already housebroken, he must have had a family at some point in his young life.

The other behavior that makes me wonder about his previous family is that he seems to be looking for someone. He peers out the door and whines under his breath. I let him out and he takes a few steps before wanting to come right back in.

Bo came from Cheatham County shelter in Tennessee, a shelter Nancy and I visited on our last shelter tour. Cheatham is a testimony to what can be accomplished despite a tiny budget and a rural setting with good leadership, excellent staff, and a strong volunteer program. Having witnessed how volunteers interact with the dogs at Cheatham, I know why Bo sits so willingly before we go in or out of the house or his crate and why he has rudimentary leash skills. I’m sure those are skills he picked up at Cheatham. He arrived cleaner than most incoming fosters and was even wearing a sweet yellow bowtie.

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It’s only been a few days, but Bo gets along beautifully with Fanny and Gracie and every person and dog he has met. He is learning about cats and I’d guess Luna will have him schooled in short order. If you’re looking for a family dog or a first-rate best friend to go on adventures with, Bo is your guy.

After spending only a weekend with him, Nick’s comment was, “He won’t be here long.”

I don’t think so either. This is a nice dog. Adopt him. He reminds me of two other previous nice foster dogs, Snoopy and Houdini.

He’s a nice blend of the two with the easy-going energy of Snoopy and the curious, sweet ways of Houdini.

Speaking of adoptions, Bell left with her new family on a 30-day trial adoption. The longer trial period is partly because she has another week of recovery from her spay surgery before she will be at full-speed (although, to be honest, she’s pretty much at full-speed already and containing that will be a challenge and perhaps the best test, for her new adopters). The trial period is also because the adopting family also has a Bell-ish dog who likes to play rough and tumble, so they will need a slow, careful introduction.


They met a few weeks ago before Bell’s surgery and we went for a nice hike and had a brief period of free play in our fenced yard. That went fine, but I insisted on the trial period because I know Bell well and she can be a LOT of dog, so I want them to have plenty of time to work through the settling in period with no pressure.

All of that said, the adopters are wonderful people—smart, dog-wise, and outdoorsy. Their other dog is well-trained and clearly adored. It’s a great home for Bell, so I’m hoping she can make it work and she isn’t too overly-enthusiastic about her good fortune. Fingers and paws crossed, people!

Bo is a reminder of how fun and easy fostering can be after a year of some of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced as a foster and as a person. In February it will be one year since Daisy came into rescue and lost all her puppies in one weekend. It’s been seven months said I had to say goodbye to my beloved Frankie. Add to that Thelma’s fevers and lost puppy, Flannery’s issues, plus Houdini’s disappearance and I am very glad to put 2019 behind me. My heart is still on shaky ground, so it’s been healing to have a few months of puppies and now this sweet boy.

While fostering is not always as easy as this, it is certainly never boring and every experience teaches me something. OPH saved more than 1000 lives in 2019; twenty-six of those were my fosters. As you can guess, it takes quite a village to rescue that many animals. If you’re looking for a new challenge in 2020, consider fostering or volunteering for your local shelter or rescue.

Thanks for reading!


Cara Sue Achterberg with pupIf you’d like regular updates of all my foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips from OPH training, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.

For information on me, my writing, and my upcoming book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One  Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, visit

And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit

Our family fosters through the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes, a network of foster homes in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and south-central PA.

Another Good Dog coverTo read ‘the rest of the story’, look for Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs wherever books are sold.

I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at

Many of the photos that appear in my blog posts are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to contact her about taking photos of your beautiful dog, you can email her at




3 thoughts on “Fostering Can Be Fun and Easy”

  1. So excited for Bell! Fingers crossed that all goes well for her and that her trial period is simply confirmation that she is exactly where she is meant to be.
    Glad that you have a “fun and easy” (and probably short term!) foster pup now. We all need a sprinkling of simpler cases among the medically fragile, reactive, litter bearing, and simply lingering fosters. Looking forward to reading more about Bo!


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