What will fostering look like for us in 2021?
I honestly don’t know. Maybe one thing 2020 has taught me is that I can’t assume anything about the coming year.
I have many hopes for my ‘dog life’:
- Mia will be adopted into a forever home and we will foster a dozen more dogs
- Fanny will make progress with her anxiety and continue with agility training and dock diving
- Otis will grow up into a confident companion with excellent obedience skills
- Nancy and I will travel for Who Will Let the Dogs Out to NC, GA, FL, AL, and TN, plus lead a Rescue Road Tri
- We will finish the film, Who Will Let the Dogs Out
- I will write another book
But all of that—ALL of that—cannot be assumed.
(and when I look back at that list, it seems a bit overly optimistic for even a normal year…)
First things first. In case you don’t follow Another Good Dog on facebook, let me catch you up on the tail end of 2020.
All four of the surviving puppies from the Movie Mutt litter were adopted Christmas week.
The final bill for the vet care of the Movie Mutts was $32,000.
And yes, that is crazy.
But what is crazier is that, with your help, we raised $24,000 of that bill!
Fostering the Movie Mutts through parvo was by far the hardest thing I have done as a foster.
It likely scarred my heart, and ended our time of fostering puppies (at least in PA), but it also taught me that there is a vast web of people who care about these dogs and want to save them.
Over 300 people donated via the Facebook fundraiser, directly to OPH or to me. They bought calendars, ordered portraits or pictures, and one generous family matched the calendar profits. It astounded me.
As I said in my final fundraiser post – YOU saved these puppies. Without the immediate and steady influx of donations, it would have been impossible for OPH to risk so much or go to such lengths in their efforts to save the puppies.
And it was that tremendous support that kept my heart afloat through it all. We adopted Otis for a multitude of reasons, but he will always be a reminder of what YOU did and where he came from, and that will inspire me to keep on with this work until all the dogs are safe.
I don’t mention them much (mostly because this is Ian’s effort and not so much mine), but we are still fostering the Frozen kittens.
Elsa was adopted last weekend. Ana is still with us (or will be back soon). We took her to Hershey, where OPH cats are based, so she could be spayed, as well as have her eye situation addressed. It appears that nothing can be done to help her one eye, but we will try a course of medication to help the other one.
I have no idea how much sight she has, but I can tell you it is pretty clear her brain has adapted as she scales the walls of her crate, saunters across my desk to attack my typing fingers, and pounces on Otis’ wagging tail at every opportunity. If you are in need of a kitten to brighten your days, you can apply to adopter her. She is a sweetheart with a very loving, friendly, stable personality (as opposed to her wild sister who went home last Saturday).
Mama Mia is also still here, as she has been more or less since last March (except for some time in another foster home and one brief failed adoption). She has no applications.
I’ve thought a lot about Mia, who spends her days in our kitchen enthusiastically greeting all visitors and wrestling with Fanny, and now Otis, at every opportunity. There is nothing wrong with Mia. In fact, there is so much right—she has solid basic obedience skills, loves to cuddle, is healthy, happy, smart, and friendly.
The reason Mia is still here is because she is happy, smart, and friendly. In fact, she is TOO happy, smart, and friendly. If she were a child, we would probably label her hyperactive and put her on some kind of medication so that she could dial back that over-the-top enthusiasm and learn acceptable social behavior and/or enroll her in the gifted & talented program.
As it is, we wait for an appropriate adopter to apply. Mia needs someone who knows how (or is willing to learn) to handle an overly excitable dog and continue working with her on self-control (ie, you don’t leap all over new friends or race through the house and over the table in your excitement).
In some ways, she is super easy — housebroken and crate-trained, generally quiet, gets along well with everyone, but she’s not a simple dog because she is also super smart, highly energetic, and very intense.
She needs an active adopter or one with a fenced yard who loves to play with their pup. Mia will happily hike miles or hours with you, but she overreacts at the sight of new dogs, so she’ll need someone who is physically strong and can manage that behavior, or someone with access to safe spaces for her to exercise. I take her often to a busy neighborhood nearby for walks, and she is getting better with every visit, but the sight of strange dogs and activity is still novel to her and sometimes it’s hard to reign in that excitement. To control her, I use a head collar or a thunderleash, and high-value treats. Even though she is only 45 pounds, she is a strong, solid, determined 45 pounds.
I’m trying to share these descriptions with a positive spin, because Mia is quite possibly the most positive dog you could encounter. She never has a bad day and is never in a bad mood. She deserves her happy ending, and I wish I knew how to make it happen for her.
It seems unfair that her only crime is being overly enthusiastic. I wonder if when she is older, that energy will wane, but it will be an awful shame if she has to grow old in foster care. We do the best we can here, but we are busy and distracted in a million ways, and this incredible dog deserves so much better.
So, back to my original question—what will fostering be for us in 2021?
I have no idea.
But for now it will be loving and advocating for Mia and Ana, hoping there are special hearts out there who will choose these special souls and give them the forever homes they deserve.
Thanks for reading!
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com.
My latest novel comes out THIS THURSDAY! Blind Turn is a mother-daughter story of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident. It’s available for order wherever books are sold. You can find information about Blind Turn (Black Rose Writing, Jan 2021) and my latest ‘dog 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) at CaraWrites.com.
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 link 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.