adopters, dog rescue, foster dogs, fostering, returned dogs

And He’s Back – One of our Fosters Returns

I wondered what I would write about this week since nothing exciting had happened and our foster dog situation hadn’t changed, but then….as is always the case in dog rescue, things changed.

To be specific, Bowflex, the most amazing foster dog we’ve had in quite some time, the dog I said would get adopted quickly and did (in eight days!), the dog we all loved, most especially Fanny, the only foster dog we’ve had in years who was actually housetrained. That dog. That perfect dog.


Was returned.

I’d heard from his adopters a week or so ago that there were some issues with separation anxiety and the crate, but I figured Bo would figure it out soon enough. He did whine and bark here in his crate his first few days, but at night he always settled down in ten minutes or so and was quiet all night.

During the day, it took a little longer, but he eventually gave up his whining and accepted his fate in the crate.


I encouraged them to be sure not to let him out while he was still complaining and that they might have to simply let him ‘cry it out’ like a baby. I suggested they leave their other dog in the same room as Bo for comfort.

The next email said that Bo was ‘food aggressive’ and had gotten into a ‘tussle’ with their dog, which was a surprise to me because we saw none of that here. In fact, I could feed him and Fanny in the same room, give them treats and work on obedience training simultaneously, and even when food was left out on the counter, Bo never stole a morsel, even though he was certainly tall enough to.

I encouraged the adopters to contact OPH training. Our rescue likes to remain a resource for our adopters and I felt certain that training would have some ideas.

Then we left for a long weekend at the cabin with Rockee and Fanny. Rockee loved the cabin and spent one happy afternoon baying and barking at whatever he saw (or imagined) in the woods, his gorgeous throaty sound filling the hollow. He was a first-rate hiking buddy – slow and steady with no yanking for miles and miles up hill and down.

He and Fanny had many happy hours wrestling and chasing and got along great the entire weekend.

On Saturday I awoke to a message from OPH that Bo was being returned. Could we foster again even though we had Rockee and two of the Pep Boys still with us?

Of course, we could. Bo, as previously mentioned, was one of our easiest and most enjoyable fosters ever.


So a few hours later, he was returned to our house where Ian was taking care of the Pep Boys and Gracie. Ian enjoyed his company all weekend and reported that while there was a little complaining about being in his crate, no issues.

Shew. I wondered if maybe we had let Bo get adopted too quickly and once at his new home, he revealed his real self. Thankfully, even now that we have had him four days, he is exactly as he was before his adoption.

No food aggression issues here – we tested him by treating him and Fanny side by side and then really pushed the limits by eating a meal on the coffee table while he, Fanny, and Gracie were in the room with us—no problems at all. I’ve kept him in the kitchen with Fanny and Gracie while cooking and again nothing. He is very hungry, that’s for sure and we’ve doubled his rations to try to put some weight back on him. He returned thinner than he left, likely due to the anxiety he experienced.

Every dog is different in every home. That’s the bottom line.

Did the adopters do anything wrong? No. I’m certain they will find the right dog for them and hopefully OPH will be able to help them on that quest. But if not, I’m just grateful they are choosing to adopt a rescue dog. There are plenty to go round.

Bo was a bad fit for heaven knows what reasons. We aren’t privileged to what dogs are saying to each other and while Bo seems like an easy guy and didn’t have issues with dogs he’s met here or the dog park, he did have issues with the adopter’s dog, who is older and not quite as energetic as Bo. I don’t get along with every person I meet either, and while I might humor them for an hour while they are visiting (as Bo did his adopter’s dog here at our house), living with them is an entirely other story.

So, Bo is back. Which to my everything-for-a-reason mind means that his real family is still out there somewhere. And now he’s ready to find them. Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy his company.

If you’d like to meet him in person, he, along with Jack will be charming the children at theK9&Kds event in Norrisville this Thursday. And then you can find both of them at the adoption event in York on Saturday from 5-8pm at the Pet Valu on Springwood Road, unless they get adopted first.

Rockee is a bit loud for indoor events (he has a tendency to greet other dogs loudly and longly), but if I have enough help and the weather cooperates, he might also join us at the Adoption Event on Saturday.

Never a dull moment…

Thanks for reading!

Cara Sue Achterberg with pupCara

If 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 You can follow along on our next trip (we leave Feb 28) on the blog and on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

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 coverIf you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs . It’s available anywhere books are sold.

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

Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact:




21 thoughts on “And He’s Back – One of our Fosters Returns”

  1. Cara, it’s so great that you and OPH don’t have a ‘blame the adopter’ mentality. I think there are too many people involved in rescue that think ‘well, the adopters just didn’t try hard enough.’ While that can be true, it sounds like the family did try, but maybe Bo and their dog got off to a bad start and there was no going back. So glad Bowflex had you guys to land back with.

    May the Pep Boys and Rockee find their homes soon, so things don’t get TOO interesting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s crazy to think that every adopted dog is going to be a great fit based on a 30 minute meet and greet. We all need to be realistic. That is what I appreciate about OPH – they believe that transparency helps us find the best fit AND we rescue for life, so we always take them back.


  2. We adopted a one year old dog and he came with a few issues but they were minor and in many ways he was a great dog. He had been through several homes and we ran into some of his previous owners and it was hard to believe they were discussing the same dog. Separation anxiety? Nope, but then we had a smaller female dog who adored him. Crate issues? None, but then his buddy was crated right beside him in her crate so they could sleep touching. Leash issues? Not with us but then when he yanked us off our feet a few times and tried to drag us down the street we put a Sprenger on him for walks for a while and that problem vanished. After a bit, if he started giving me a hard time I’d just take the Sprenger out of my pocket and show it to him and he’d instantly become a perfect gentleman again for the rest of the walk. Aggression? Never saw a sign of it except those four times someone tried to mug us over the years. Food aggression, well yes, but if he tried it with the little female she’d give him a serious attitude adjustment right quick so it was never our issue. He did once steal a slice of pizza as a toddler went by at nose level but honestly, one could hardly blame him for that one. I mean talk about overwhelming temptation, and we had plenty more pizza. Destructive? No, but then we made a point of wearing him out with long walks and ball throwing sessions once a day so he was usually too pooped to bother wrecking stuff and he always had chewy around that tasted better. I suspect in this case the other dog didn’t like him in her space and he knew it. As you said, it just wasn’t the right fit with the right other dog.


    1. I think you’re right – the chemistry between the two dogs just didn’t work. Bo is still doing great and I finally realized the crate barking he was doing here was directed at the cats – his crate was in ‘their’ room (my office). I moved the crate last night- and now blissful quiet. I also switched him to an airline crate with a big comfy blanket and I think he likes the nest it creates. Every dog is different in every home – but I do love that saying that every home should have a dog and every dog should have a home. It just needs to be the right one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Please be careful about letting dogs “cry it out” in their crate. It can easily lead to what’s known as “learned helplessness”, which effects the dorsal vagal nerve and leads to depression. There are better and more effective ways. I realize that sometimes there’s no choice, but it should be an absolute last resort.


    1. If anyone knows you and follows you Cara, they know you would never push a dog beyond his limits. You’re the best! Ahhh so sad it didn’t work but glad he has a positive home to return too! He’s so darn cute!!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ll have to look up learned helplessness in dogs – a new one for me. Thanks for the tip. Bo is doing fine in his crate since I realized his issue wasn’t the crate so much as the cats that wandered around it. Moved to a different room and changed to an airline crate with a big, comfy blanket to create a nest with and he slept quietly and peacefully last night with no complaints. They are all such individuals, sometimes I need one to remind me of that fact. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! I nosed around your site and love your attitude about animals -the world needs more of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I certainly wasn’t implying that’s what you were doing, not at all. Just trying to bring a little awareness of alternative approaches to Separation Anxiety Disorder. Most of my work over the past few decades is with fear, trauma and anxiety issues with dogs.
        I think what you do a absolutely fantastic – I wish more people opened their hearts and homes the way you do!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a big fan of crate training.
    I get that it works for some dogs and it’s fairly easy to do but there isn’t much evidence for its effectiveness.
    But I know it has its supporters and I guess if it works for them that’s cool.
    And maybe those people will will be absolutely appalled when I say that a dog is a part of my pack and I make allowances for their behaviour without automatically calling it “good” or “bad”.
    For me training a dog is just seeing what the dog enjoys doing and then adding commands to it. I’m a hippie like that.
    And I get that when you foster dogs it’s a completely different kettle of fish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the greatest appreciation for hippies! I also think the dogs are part of our pack, even the fosters. I’m enjoying the current pack and hoping in a few days we’ll be able to introduce all four of the ‘big’ dogs to playtime together.

      The biggest thing I take from meeting and hosting so many is that they are all individuals and need to be respected as such. We use the crate mostly to manage the dogs and be sure everyone is safe in what can be a crowded house, but I also think some dogs really need their crate time. (plus many adopters will find it necessary to crate their new dog, especially in the beginning). My personal dog Gracie and our current foster Rockee both prefer their crate and retreat to it for the better part of the day, sleeping there with or without the gate closed (I close it to move dogs through their rooms). As I said, they are all individuals and we are sorting out Bo’s preferences.

      And you are so right – dog behaviors are not ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ they are individuals.


    2. I’m actually not a big fan of crates either. My dogs were all trained to be in them because when we travel to other people’s homes or a hotel the people feel better about having the dogs in crates. I have a much daughter-in-law who is terrified of dogs so when we visit her, the dog is in a crate and she relaxes. However day to day at home we just don’t use them except with new dogs or youngsters.


      1. I think that’s a good attitude and agree that a dog needs to be crate-trained if you plan to travel with that dog. For my personal dogs, I follow their lead. Gracie loves her crate and seems to feel more secure in it (when we’ve had to borrow her crate because we have too many foster dogs, she stresses and is always sneaking into any available crate). Fanny, on the other hand, isn’t such a fan, but she also willingly goes in a crate when requested and some nights sleeps in her crate.

        Foster dogs are another story. Until they’ve had a chance to decompress and until we can introduce them properly to our dogs and get them house-trained, they spend a fair amount of time in their crate. For the ones that don’t like a crate, they are gated in the kitchen, but everyone sleeps in a crate at night because that’s the only way I can know they are safe while I’m not watching them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely, which is why I said “with new dogs”. Also as you say, she dogs love their crate. I’ve had that type as well and they are anxious and bothered by not having a crate. I had one dog who was happiest in her crate with a blanket over it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to get annoyed when people returned dogs to the shelter, but I now believe that if they really don’t want the dog, it’s much better we get it back and can give it a chance for the right home. (Far better than being listed for free on Craig’s list.) And I agree that just because Bo wasn’t the dog for them doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with Bo or with the people who adopted him. Sometimes it’s just not a good fit, for reasons we’ll never understand, because dogs can’t tell us, and sometimes people don’t tell the whole truth for fear of being judged. Bottom line is Bo is safe with you and will find the right home eventually!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I don’t remember you writing about Bo; when did you originally foster him? I wonder what made him so well behaved at your place and hard to handle at his adoptor’s. Maybe your way of managing him was different. Who knows. If only dogs could talk. You mentioned taking your chances with him by eating a meal on the coffee table in the living room with all the dogs in the room. How could that be a trigger… I couldn’t quite follow that. Were the dog’s dishes on the table? Not too familiar with canine mealtime dynamics. Keep doing your part for man’s best friend.


    1. Bo was returned for ‘food aggression’ and one of the things they reported was that he became aggressive towards their other dog while they were preparing food in the kitchen. Dogs are different in every house. Here at our house we never saw any aggression for any reason, so likely it was a personality conflict with the other dog. Totally normal. It’s like forcing two individuals who have never met to suddenly live together and share the same parents. Dogs are decidedly more flexible than us, but it doesn’t always work.


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