It was a red-letter day for Boomer, my latest foster pup. He
trotted boldly down my driveway and boarded the CARE, Inc. truck
that would take him from middle Georgia to his new home in Delaware. Seven of
his kennel buddies from CARE, Inc. were already in the truck, including his
brother Dover. Boomer and Dover were rescued by CARE, Inc. at such a young age
that their health and personalities were never compromised. And being pups,
they found forever homes soon after their photos were posted on CARE’s Adopt-a-pet
Another dog in the truck is Pink, a Pomeranian-spaniel mix whose
start in life had not been as rosy as Boomer’s. She had bounced around through rescue
kennels for most of her life, arriving at CARE, Inc. middle aged and matted.
After being treated for heartworms she was ready for a home, but potential
adopters couldn’t see her beauty under the ragged coat, especially in a shelter
with so many youngsters. Her break came when my granddaughter Zoie wanted a foster
dog project of her own during her vacation to our farm. I helped Zoie pick out
Pink because I knew the little ragamuffin would give her the satisfaction of
making a huge difference.
Sure enough Pink’s ragged coat turned powder-puff soft after
her bath. We also discovered she reveled in being bathed and brushed. We learned
that she’s an avid traveler who loves to meet and greet people on sidewalks, at
the farmers market or anywhere else.
At the shelter she was so wildly energetic from lack of
exercise that she was difficult to walk on a leash, but once she came to my
place and could run off excess energy in the woods and pastures, Pink calmed
down into a balanced dog that could play hard with the children but also settle
down on the couch for a nap. She had meticulous house manners and loved to
cuddle, convincing us that she had a good home at one time.
After her spa week was over, I was able to post a vivid blurb
about her personality and handsome photos that caught the attention of her future
owner. Without those few days of foster care, Pink could have eventually died
of old age at CARE instead of enjoying her new lease on life. It’s sad that she
went unnoticed for so long.
Shirley’s break came earlier in her shelter life. She had
just arrived at CARE one morning when I came for my two-hour volunteer shift. A
rusty black, wire-haired little thing with a mustache--someone said she looked
like the Grinch's dog. She had been
practically feral, scavenging the leavings of a herd of hogs--a very dangerous livelihood
for a small dog. She was terrified of life in general. I scooped her up and
just held her for two hours instead of trying to walk her.
I didn’t think she could be made presentable enough or
confident enough for adoption, but she deserved a more comfortable life even if
she was destined to spend it at a rescue kennel. So I brought her home to participate in granddaughter
Zoie’s spa week project. After her bath Shirley looked and behaved like a
different dog. Her coat gleamed a shiny blue-black, and we discovered that her lugubrious
expression hid a playful personality. We checked out her house manners, which
were impeccable. Just getting to know her for a few days helped me take more appealing
photos and write a blurb descriptive enough that a family in New Jersey recognized
she would be a good fit for them. As it turned out, Shirley’s shelter
experience lasted only a couple of months instead of years.
Shirley's owners send me occasional updates about her life.
Hearing from the adoptive families is my reward, and it's worth more than any
amount of money. I never tire of anecdotes about how Shirley puts up with
gentle maulings by their four-year old daughter and how she loves to ride in
the car---the little everyday happenings of a happy dog in a loving family. It
all started with a bath.
Neither Pink nor Shirley would have been considered
adoptable at an animal control facility simply because they had passed the cute
puppy stage of life. Add Pink’s heartworms and matted coat and Shirley’s
timidity; these two would have been put on the fast track to euthanasia. A no-kill shelter without volunteers to
socialize and foster would have simply warehoused them until they died of old
age. A spa week of fostering made all the difference for these two and the
families who now dote on them.
If you have longed to try fostering but don’t know whether
it would work for your situation, consider giving a kennel dog a spa week or
weekend or just an afternoon. It will do you and the dog a world of good.
Adoptable Dog of the Week--Shirley has two puppies at CARE, Inc. who are ready for
adoption. Caitlyn is a
beautiful golden red wire-haired terrier mix and Mae Mae is black like
Shirley. Since neither of them remember much about their hard life before CARE,
Inc. took them in, they don’t have Shirley’s timidity. They are typical, rowdy
terrier pups ready to take on the world. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more
information about them.
Inc. dogs can now be transported to new homes anywhere in the lower 48
states, thanks to the transport service Doggie
Express now operating in Georgia. There are many online resources about
fostering or adopting older dogs, the Senior Dog Project is a good
place to start.