Our foster world is pretty quiet these days. And that’s a good thing.
I’m busy getting ready for the release of my new book, 100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelter and Rescue. It’s a strange time for all of us, dogs included.
OPH has been saving dogs in record numbers with near-weekly transports bringing between 50 and 100 dogs each trip. We’ve onboarded 125 new foster families in just three months. To give you a little perspective, in all of 2019, OPH added 89 new fosters for the entire year.
This is the silver lining of COVID-19. Plenty of those foster families, ‘failed’ on their first foster dog, but that’s to be expected. I hear worries from other volunteers that many of the new fosters will fade away when ‘normal’ life resumes, but even if that does happen, something has definitely shifted. When faced with an uncertain future and left home alone, the instinct of so many was to rescue. To me, that is huge; it’s a paradigm shift.
No matter what happens, the experience of fostering has changed lives and more importantly, saved lives. That’s worth celebrating. The news that many shelters are emptying out – that is also worth celebrating.
But in the hard places—the dog pounds of Tennessee, the high-kill shelters of the deep south, and the towns and counties that have no shelter, no rescue, no animal control services—the pandemic has not changed things for the better.
In fact, with kitten and puppy season in full swing, too many animals are suffering. Economic uncertainty and job loss will undoubtedly mean more animals abandoned and dumped, more misguided people trying to make a buck by breeding and selling their ‘purebred’ dog, and donations drying up as money belts tighten.
Rescue is the primary outlet for many shelters in the south and some of the northern rescues and transport companies have not operated during COVID-19. OPH has been an exception—stepping up instead of stepping aside. I’m proud of our rescue, amazed by the shelter pull team, the reference checkers, the adoption coordinators, and all these new (and old) fosters. They are moving mountains at an unprecedented clip.
At the same time, I am bracing myself for what is to come as life resumes and economic hardships begin to take their toll. I have experienced serious stress, interspersed with moments of panic, as the date of the book’s release races towards me and I have still yet to even see a copy. [My fears are not unfounded. When I received my first copy of my novel, Girls’ Weekend, the pages were out of order from a printing error. Luckily, there was time to do a new print run, as it was still two months from the release.]
I worry that my book’s message will be missed, crowded out by a distracted population, constantly barraged with bad news, hard news, devastating news. And this book is too important for that to happen. I have never written anything so important. It is an outpouring of my heart, but more than that, it is a manifesto on sheltering and rescue. We can do better. The solutions are not hard. What is hard is changing a mindset. That’s what I hope my book will do. But first, it has to find its audience.
This pandemic has taught all of us the real meaning of shelter. It is time that America’s animal shelters were just that – a safe place for animals in danger to rest, recover, and find a new life.
The message of 100 Dogs is that we can rescue these dogs. It’s within our power. If you’d like to learn more about the book and help share its message, please like/follow/share the 100 Dogs & Counting Facebook page. And if you’re active on social media and/or involved in rescue work and are interested in being part of my book launch team, please email me ASAP.
I will post LIVE videos on the page of readings of Another Good Dog and 100 Dogs & Counting, interviews with shelter directors, dogs from the book, fosters, and rescue advocates, plus book trailer videos, reviews, and rescue stories. When it is finally safe to have them, I will announce book signings and events on the 100 Dogs page.
Meanwhile, Tito is resting and recovering from his heartworm treatment. He’s not a big fan of crate life and no matter how many times I explain it, he doesn’t understand that this is temporary and for his own good.
We’ve been taking slow walks through the hollow, enjoying the quiet, preparing him for his new life in a forever home. Fingers and paws crossed that this dog who started life out on a logging chain will soon have the life he deserves.
Thanks for reading!
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 books, visit CaraWrites.com. I have a new book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, coming out in July. If it sounds like something you’d like to read, I’d be beyond grateful if you’d consider preordering it. Preorders contribute to the success of the book, not only giving me and my publisher some peace of mind but hopefully attracting media attention.
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 WhoWillLetTheDogsOut.org.
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.
If 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.