The puppies have all gone home. Sigh. It was only two weeks, but it sure felt like longer.
Ian confessed to me that for the first time ever, he got attached to a puppy. Usually he views the puppies as work, knowing that more often than not, during a litter’s time with us the responsibility of caring for them will fall to him. (His mother being a busy, overcommitted woman and all.)
When we learned that Ian would be studying at home for his first semester at college, my first thought was not—oh my poor son missing out on the right of passage, it was – oh good, we can still foster puppies!
The families of rescue foster moms unwittingly foster also. For some it is a family commitment, but for many, like mine, they are simply pulled along for the ride. I’ve long said that if I met an untimely demise, I am certain that Nick would never foster another dog. Ian, though? He’s pretty all-in at this point. I imagine him fostering on his own, once the on-his-own life starts.
Addie is already looking into whether she could foster kittens in her NJ house she rents with four other young adults. Fostering kittens is something I’ve always wanted to do too, but we’ve been saddled with two foster cats who have been with us for over a year, preventing us from getting involved with OPH’s cat program.
Neville and Luna are not OPH cats. They’re more like freelance fosters.
They are cats that belonged to someone who was being evicted that we agreed to look after until their owners found them a home. (And yes, we are suckers.) Of course, once installed in our house that owner disappeared into the ether and nary a single possible adopter has ever materialized. Brady claims he will take the cats with him to the house he moves into with friends at the end of this week, but Brady is allergic to cats, so while I’m hopeful, I’m not convinced they are really leaving for good.
The other reason we can’t foster any (more) cats or kittens is Mia. She has a serious prey drive and whines at the door to the ‘cat room’ on her way in and out of the house.
So, if you’re keeping score, of the five animals currently living in our house, three are semi-permanent fosters. Mia is still here and likely thinks this is her home, but we’re working daily to prepare her to be adopted and be successful in her next home.
Mostly that means working on her self-control. It’s her biggest challenge. Her excitability gets in her own way. Her level of happy and enthusiastic is way off the charts, in fact, the chart is actually in another room. I have never known a more wiggly-butt dog in my life. It looks painful sometimes how her wag goes from the tip of her tail all the way through her body. The slam of her tail on anything nearby is a crack like a hammer.
Yesterday, the dog warden stopped by to inspect my ‘kennel’ (I’m required by PA law to have a kennel license because I foster more than 25 dogs a year) and in Brady’s rush to come inside and tell me, he neglected to lock the kitchen door and Mia bounded outside to greet the warden, jumping in his truck to cover him in kisses. Miraculously, or maybe because of Mia’s enthusiastic greeting, we passed our inspection.
Mia is learning to dial it down though—slowly. She knows she must sit to leave her crate, sit to leave the room, sit to have the leash put on, sit to go outside, sit to come back in, sit to have the leash taken off. Sit, sit, sit. I imagine it’s a word she loathes with her entire being, if she were the kind of dog who could loathe anything.
She loves all of us, and anyone else who visits, in a wide-open, all-encompassing way that compels her to lick any leg within reach. All day long you hear the cry, “Mia! Stop licking my leg!” Even with colder weather requiring pants, she is still licking our jeans or shoes. She simply can’t help herself.
Only Fanny enjoys her all-day overtures, but I separate the two of them for my work day because I can’t supervise that level of play and concentrate on work.
Mia accepts her fate, alone in the kitchen, licking anyone who comes in for another cup of coffee or a snack, and spending the rest of the time lounging on the Frank bed waiting for a visitor.
This dog deserves her own person. She will be the best, best companion, lavishing her affection unabashedly on some lucky soul. I just wish that soul would turn up soon.
Meanwhile, no foster kittens, no foster dogs. I might sneak in a foster-puppy or two if given the opportunity, but like Mia, I’m trying to practice self-control and not let my enthusiasm for puppies cloud my judgment.
So we continue to work on self-control. Mia is learning to rein it in, and maybe I am too.
Thanks for reading!
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com where you can also find more information on my new book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, (Pegasus Books, July 2020). And be sure to join me LIVE every Tuesday on the 100 Dogs Facebook page for “Let’s Talk Rescue” where we continue the conversation started by the book.
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.
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 where you can follow the blog that shares stories or find the ink to our brand new podcast!
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.
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: email@example.com.