As different as they may look on the outside, foster homes seem to be their own breed of people. One of the common traits they share is their willingness to plunge into new adventures with blind faith and a strong sense of optimism. While working with an established group takes away most of the guesswork about temperament, saying 'Yes' to a foster dogs brings a series of unknowns to your life. How long will the dog be with you? (it could be weeks, months or in some cases - years) How will you handle starting from scratch with an untrained dog's kindergarten basics? What kinds of surprises and lessons will the project bring? How will you weather the days, and we all have them aplenty, when you're tired and you just don't want the responsibility anymore?
I've never done a marathon before (ack!) but I imagine that the emotions are similar, including the initial adrenalin rush and, later, the exhaustion and finally, the sheer delight of stretching yourself towards a fantastic goal that goes beyond what you ever thought you could accomplish. That, and convincing your friends and family that, No, you aren't crazy and could they please support you, thankyuverymuch?
There is no better example of fearless foster homes than the people in our circles who do compassion holds. We ask them to take on a very sick or somewhat troubled dog that, most likely, will not have a happy ending. And we ask them to provide a temporary life and full-time love for that animal. See that chopping block over there? Put your heart on it, please.
Kerry, left, opened herself up in April to a little old lady dog (Gemma) who was too creaky for a shelter adoption program. Her job was to provide some TLC so Gemma could die happy rather than alone - which could happen in a week or three or maybe more, depending on Kerry's timetable and the dog's health and comfort. Well, in this situation, the creaky girl rallied so well and fit so nicely into her dog pack that Kerry decided to keep her. Which makes for a great happy ending. But the fact is, Kerry was willing to take that little girl on no matter her health issues and even if she didn't* fit into her household for keeps. And that's the fearlessness that blows me away. "Whatever happens, I'm here for you. Whether it's to keep you, or transition you to a new home, or whisper in your ear as you pass over to your next journey. Whatever it takes."
The nuts and bolts of fostering (crating, training, juggling pets, etc.) are child's play compared to the work-out you get learning to be flexible, brave and relentlessly committed to helping your foster dog over the finish line. If you have a stubborn streak and a can-do attitude that you want to put to good use, fostering might just be for you. Check back soon to read up on some favorite BR foster homes' favorite lessons earned while putting their hearts on the line.
Meet: Ella - a damsel in distress
In a crazy coincidence, this creaky little old lady came into the Oakland Animal Shelter the same week Kerry announced her plans to adopt Gemma. She wandered onto the grounds of a roofing company and was aided by a couple who went to the trouble to take her to a vet and buy her a pink collar.
Unfortunately her former home has not come looking for her (How in the hell do you lose a precious old dog?).
She's unassuming and gentle and forgiving and very, very hungry -- and Yes, she's in need of a compassion hold or better. Here we go again: another project with another unknown ending begins.
If anyone reading would be interested in providing a safe haven for Ella, please let us know!