Dogs have big personalities. You can research a breed and get a general idea of their general disposition, but there are no guarantees. When you have a lot of dogs coming through your hotel, you realize that some dogs fit your family better than others. There are easy-going, chill dogs, high-maintenance, needy dogs, and everything in between. You never know what you are going to get, and you can’t judge a dog by its breed or its looks. I have met the sweetest, calmest pit bulls, and the meanest little yorkies.
Whatever kind of dog you think you want, there are certain dog faces that make you fall in love at first sight. You can’t help yourself. My Facebook feed is filled with rescue dog posts. I see a lot of dog pictures. Did you know that some people sell and or/give dogs away on Facebook? It seems like a reasonable marketplace for dog lovers to find available dogs. One big problem comes to mind – dog-fighting. It is unbelievable to me that this is a thing, but it is. It involves fighting dogs and bait dogs and I’m no expert, but I have become aware that there are dog-fighting rings and they are looking for free or cheap dogs. That is why I am a member of several Facebook Groups for people who are looking to “rehome” their pets. See that puppy up there, that picture in the middle. I fell in love. Mom is a lab-mix, she had an accidental litter, and puppies were being given away on Facebook. I NEEDED to save this one. I had to make sure that it got a good home, a great home. OMG, look at that puppy face. In love.
I drove out into the country to meet the owner and see if I could help her with her puppies. She couldn’t afford to keep them. They hadn’t had any immunizations. She was doing her best, but was worried that the momma dog was already pregnant again. I talked to her about how to make sure the puppies all went to good homes. (Ask for a potential adopter’s vet’s phone number. Call them. Make sure their dogs are up to date on vaccinations and are well cared for. Ask for personal references that you can call.) I gave her info on local low-cost spay programs. I brought home this gorgeous little foster puppy.
I named him Bailey.
Bailey is my perfect dog. He like to snuggle on my lap. He gets so excited about food that he bounces across the floor like a bunny rabbit. He has these super, short daschsund legs, but he bounds across the room and launches himself up on my lap. We call him a flying squirrel. He is an adorably silly-looking, iffy dog mix of Labrador Retriever, Chow, English Bulldog and Dachshund. (I know, because we DNA tested him out of extreme curiosity.) Bailey is my personal therapy dog. He drops my blood pressure and makes me smile so much that it hurts. It didn’t take me long to realize that he was home. Everyone who saw us together knew I was going to foster fail. I know, I know what you are thinking. 1. You can’t keep them all, and 2. how do you not keep them all? So, here’s the thing. I love ALL of these dogs. I love having them here. I love watching them heal and I love seeing them go to their forever homes. Some of them are easier to say goodbye to than others. Some dogs are fiercely independent, and they are easier to send off than the needy ones. Some are really needy, and it can get tiring giving them all of the attention that they deserve. A 90lbs lap dog is not so much my thing. Some of these dogs fit my family just right. Bailey was different from the others somehow. I got a message that he could be added to a transport to New York and I cried. No. No! I’m not okay with Bailey leaving, just no. I had to convince my family, who love him, but hadn’t thought of him as anything other than a temporary foster dog. We had, in particular, drilled the word temporary into the kid’s heads. I failed. I foster failed and I’m so glad that I did. We adopted Bailey and he is my little best friend. I cannot imagine my life without him.
All of my foster dogs wear a little bone shaped tag that says ADOPT ME on one side and has my contact information on the back. I let my family know that I was not giving Bailey up (after lots of discussion) by going to Petsmart and buying him a tag that says BAILEY. It was my $7 way of making him a permanent member of my family. He serves as our hotel butler. He buttles. He is at the door to greet you and will walk you out when you leave. If your feet get cold he will lay on them. If you are stressed, he will jump up in your lap and you will feel the stress melting away.
Some of the local rescues have programs where you can check out a dog like you check out a book. You can borrow them, take them home, see how they fit your life, and then decide if you want to make an adoption commitment. I think that’s great. If you don’t want to try foster-to-adopt, where you agree to foster with an option to adopt, then the next best option is to borrow a rescue dog for a weekend or a week and see if that’s your dog. You will know. The difference between getting a dog straight from the shelter and getting a dog through is a rescue may seem minimal, but in some ways there are advantages to going through a rescue. A rescue will make sure that the dog is fully vetted, meaning its been to the vet, has all of its shots, has been spayed or neutered, and is on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, and has been micro-chipped (invaluable for getting a lost dog returned to its owner). That is what you are getting when you pay an adoption fee . A rescue foster has also spent time assessing each dog and can tell you if a dog is well suited to a house with children, cats, or other dogs. Rescue volunteers take time to call adopter’s personal references, their vet, their landlord. We visit the home and make sure that it is safe and appropriate for the animal. I wouldn’t recommend a large, active 1-year-old Labrador Retriever for an older couple who have had hip replacement and have an unfenced yard, but I’m sure that everybody has their perfect dog out there somewhere. If you haven’t already, I hope you can find yours.
Bailey - fostered and adopted - 2 March 2017 - forever