foster dogs, foster fail, fostering, hard to adopt, kittens, parvo, puppies

A New Year of Fostering

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!

Cara

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 carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

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: nancyslat@gmail.com.

10 thoughts on “A New Year of Fostering”

  1. I relate to Mia. I’ve always been over-the-top, too active, too enthusiastic, too easily moved. Age has tempered that as (naturally) interaction with others (especially during the teaching years). I deal with it by taking myself out for walks and riding my bike to nowhere and doing my own thing as much as possible so when Im compelled to interact with “normals” I can keep it under control a bit. It’s crazy how off-putting happy enthusiasm can be. Give Mia a big hug from me. Tell her she’s a good dog. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a big compliment for Mia – that you recognize some of you in her. She is just so earnest and happy and completely clueless that she gets in her own way. I wish there was some way to explain things to her, since there isn’t we just keep at it. I will pass along your words – she IS a good dog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice post. I think it’s neat that you have a cat whose name is spelled just like mine and who has sight issues, just like I do. And she likes to keep others on their toes, just like me. A late friend used to call me the Anacat after I got a bit worked up over unexpectedly getting milk in a cup of tea I had (I don’t take that in my tea, just sugar), and now you actually do have a cat named Ana, AKA an Anacat. Ha ha. I hope she and Mia get adopted soon. Would you mind copying and pasting the updates from the fundraising Facebook page you wrote for the Movie Mutts after the updates you shared on here late last year? I try and get onto the page, but get a message that the content can’t be found. I, and I’m sure other readers who haven’t been able to get onto the page, would like to read first-hand how things ended. All the best in 2021.

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    1. Hi Ana – that IS pretty cool that you and my Ana have so much in common! She’s pretty special, which you no doubt are too. I will try to figure out if I can pull off the fundraising updates – I’ll have to figure out where I left off. If I can do it, I’ll add it in next week’s post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just checked your recent blog posts to see where you left off when it came to sharing your updates on the Movie Mutts from their fundraiser page on Facebook, and the last update you copied and put on here was from the afternoon (I think; suddenly I’m drawing a blank, grrr) of December 7th. I know FOR SURE that it was from December seventh, I just forget the time of day that was listed, if any was. You’d said that you’d share the updates you posted on the page after your last one on here when you found them in this week’s post, so I thought I’d try and help you out. I asked for them, after all. Wink. Have a good week.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My first 2 fosters for 2021 are sweet, kind, beautiful 4-and-5-year-old Redbone Coonhound sisters who were purchased by a lady in NC for $3000 (for the pair) from someone in Kentucky as bear-hunting dogs. One was pregnant when she arrived, and neither wanted to hunt bear. They were kept in an outside pen (must have been filthy by the condition of their skin). The little mama dog had her puppies about a month ago, and they all died of exposure.
    The lady was not able to get back in touch with the person who sold her the dogs. He blocked her calls, but, to her credit, she did have the presence of mind to post them on Redbone Hound Rescue where I found them. She advertised them as being so sweet they would make good family dogs, which is the absolute truth. She met me in Rocky Mount, so I did not have to make the entire 3 hour trip to her home. She was a very nice, “dog loving” person, so it seems incredible that she would allow these, and her other 6 hunting dogs, to live in such deplorable conditions. Again, she paid $3000, but there were no shot records on either of them. This is so typical of the mind-set of many people who hunt hounds (but . . . believe me, not all).
    These lovely girls have been an absolute joy since I’ve had them. They have not had one “accident” in the house, they love everyone, get along great with all dogs, and are so appreciative of their new life. They are what makes dog rescue so worthwhile.

    Like

    1. Wow – what a story and REMARKABLE that hound dogs are housetrained! They have always been the hardest to housetrain for me. So glad they are with you and how incredibly sad about the puppies. Hopefully, you will get them healthy and find them homes in no time.

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  4. You’re right in that no one knows exactly what 2021 will hold, but we can each make our plans and work hard to fulfill them. I think you’ve done great work with Mia and Ana, and really hope you are able to take the road trip you have planned to promote your book. Thank you so much for all you do for homeless animals, and especially for the littler of pups who came down with parvo. That is truly heartbreaking and would make many people just walk away from the whole dog rescue life. But you stuck with it, and because of you, enough money was raised and enough time was given that at least some of them were saved. (You know how often entire litters are lost to that horrible disease.) So just keep following your heart and do what you can, and 2021 will be a good year, whatever you do with it!

    Liked by 1 person

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