Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to fail at fostering, part 1

The first time I decided to foster a rescue dog was, what I thought, a well-planned and calculated decision. I have always wanted to be in a position where I was able to help a rescue by fostering an animal temporarily. It was ultimately one of the main deciding factors in buying my house over continuing to rent an apartment. I truly feel fosters are at the core of rescue work, and the rewards of taking an animal out of a concrete holding pen in a shelter and introducing them to being safe and loved are immense. After months of volunteering and prepping my new home for a dog, I finally got my chance! One of the dogs with Plenty of Pit Bulls I was already familiar with, Bella, was in need of somewhere to stay for a short weekend until her new foster could take her. I figured this would be a great test run at fostering since I'd already spent time with Bella and it would only be for a few days until her new permanent foster was able to take her. Little did I know I was immediately about to fail at being a foster!

The moment we brought Bella to our home I went into professional foster mode and began my mental checklist (I was determined to ace this!):

Step 1: Introduce Bella to resident dog on neutral ground.
Step 2: Show Bella her quiet "safe space" to get away and adjust as needed.
Step 3: Show her around the house and to the important areas, such as her water bowl.
Step 4: Provide a calm and loving environment (the most important one).

This was turning out to be a piece of cake! The animals had proven they could get along without issue, Bella seemed unbothered by being in a new environment and she had already found a comfy spot to lay. With the first two nights smoothly out of the way, it was time to prep her for the upcoming adoption event that weekend. Bath time proved to be somewhat of a traumatic experience. I realize most dogs aren't fond of baths, but Bella was just down right terrified. That's one of the things to remember when you take in a new animal, whether fostering or adopting, you never know what they may have gone through in life or how it has affected them. It's your responsibility to take their fears in your hands and show them that everything will be alright. Slow steps are key to learning what trust and love are for an animal who may have never received those essential gifts. We worked through it together, and Bella was ready to make her appearance the next day and find her forever home!

The adoption event proved to be a turning point on our views of sweet Bella. This hadn’t been her first time attending an adoption event, but for some reason nobody had shown that much interest in her at prior events. We knew how much of a sweetheart Bella was, but why hasn’t anyone else seen the potential that she could bring to their family? As she lay in her crate looking up at us, her back side turned to the view of the public, something in our hearts decided this wasn’t the life she deserved any longer. Like it usually does, a conversation started with a debate to whether this should be a permanent decision or not. Thankfully we got the push we needed that day. Bella started to get some attention at the adoption event, and two different families seemed to fall in love with her. They each vowed to rush home and submit their applications online at a chance to make Bella their newest family member. In any other circumstance this would have been the best news ever, but for two people who had just fallen head over heels for the sweetest little girl, it was decision time.

As she looked into my eyes that day, it seemed she was telling me she was tired of being passed around from house to house. She was ready to stay put and look forward to spending countless hours on her special couch, or curled up in a bed with her humans. She liked her new brother who would get excited whenever she would get excited, and participate in the wild spider monkey antics she enjoyed. She was also getting to know the furry creature who would dart through the room with a puffed tail, taunting her to follow. Bella had everything she wanted and needed right where she was, and she was loving every minute of it!

With Bella fitting perfectly into our family at such a fast pace, we made the decision to keep her. As we quickly learned, this automatically entered us into a group of people who had done the same thing as we had: Failed. We joined the countless thousands of people who had made the commitment to take in a homeless animal temporarily, in hopes that someone would adopt them, and instead fell in love themselves. The term is commonly referred to as “foster failed”, and unlike its negative connotation, is a wonderful thing. I now get to wake up every day to a dog who is full of life, love and most importantly happiness because the intentionally selfless decision I made turned into a selfish one. Bella now lives in a home that will never abandon her or turn her over to a new environment for the rest of her life. Our family may have spontaneously grown over the course of a few days, but the decision was nothing but genuine and heartfelt. This is how you fail at fostering!

                                                                                              - Jude Macera

No comments:

Post a Comment