Thursday, September 27, 2012


Did you hear my heart break Saturday? I tried not to let it make a sound but I fear you might have caught it anyhow.

I opened a car door and good, funny, driven, happy, smart Sir Wynston Churchill hopped on in just the way he's been taught to do. I gave his new mom a hug and a big smile and got in my truck and drove off. I didn't cry then. I haven't cried since. I have had tears prickling my soul ever since. I have called Wyn when I call the dogs, and I keep looking for him everywhere. I'll get over it. He was over it before he got to his new home.

It's funny  this masochistic (that is "tending to be self-destructive") thing they call fostering.

We've been actively fostering for 18 years and I have lost track of exact numbers. To be honest I wasn't  ever really good at keeping them but there are a number of partial lists around. Amazing how well I recall most of the individuals. Thanks to moms and their litters and some crazy projects (200 fish, 100 budgies come to mind) it's certainly over a thousand foster animals. Maybe well over a thousand animals, perhaps it's better I haven't kept track.

Many many many of them have slid into my heart and will always live there. Irvine, the kitty deliberately soaked in oil, Sadie the saddest little bc mix I've ever met, Cleopatra, the first turtle we fostered, dear mutilated Conrad the cockatoo, Rainbow the crazy calico girl, Bacchus the husky who stood on our dining room table, Lola the little rabbit who fought so very hard to survive; the list is endless yet every one of them got a piece of my heart. They gave me huge pieces of theirs back. So it all balances out right?

It's really quite amazing how happy many of the fosters are to see us long after they are very happy in their forever homes. Lola the Pom, Cassie, Emma and many others sure know how to make a person feel appreciated and special! The palliative fosters that are with us for years take a special place too - Pompeii, Pete, Kizmet, Ibby - each one of the oldies have thrived here. The orphan puppies wiggle right in too!

Wyn will have a huge piece of our hearts forever and a day. No doubt placing him was one of the toughest to date. He had been with us 102 nights and, apart from two nights when we were in Banff, he was never further than arm's reach from Sally and me. If this lead hadn't worked out it is quite likely he'd be permanent. If he bounces back (and yes even wonderful dogs do sometimes)  the same could be true. But he is in a super home and all reports to date have been  great.

How do I do it?
Simple; I suck it up Buttercup and put the animal's interests ahead of my own. By placing Wyn  I've made him, Brody and Sampson all very happy. I've made Tom, Sally and me a little sad but we will be OK. Wyn will be wonderful and that's pretty special.

Why do I do it?

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." 

Helen Keller, wise woman that she was said this many years ago. I first heard it about 1980.
Her words resonate deeply with me. If I can do it, and doing it is a good thing how can I not do it? By placing our most of, and our most adoptable, foster animals we are able to give a good home to the permanent crew. We are able to know that financially we can manage to feed our gang and keep them in the style to which they've become accustomed. We could (and do) deal with an emergency bill .. and feed the worlds most expensive kibble. We can fit everybody in the vehicles we drive. We have enough love, dog beds, toys to go around. We can give back to the world in a concrete way and keep a spot open for those most in need. 

The hole is always there, sometimes bigger than others. I'm pretty sure my heart will heal and my eyes will stop prickling when I think of Wyn. Maybe not, thinking about Quiz can still make me happysad. And that's OK too. 

If you want to foster but are afraid of the hurt of letting go all I can do is urge you to try it once. If you want to be a foster failure - awesome! But if you have to let go here are a couple of tricks. If you know girls fit into your house foster boys. If you don't like a certain breed much foster it! If you aren't crazy about a certain species try fostering them. Once you develop callouses on your heart you too could try fostering an ideal puppy and maybe you too could place him!


Sara said...

Oh, happy life to you Mr. Wyn! I'll miss you, and those adorable ears.

Foster moms are awesome people :) Maybe someday I will take the challenge.

Laura and The Corgi, Toller, & Duck said...

That is so great!! Bright future for Wyn!

Kiyi Kiyi said...

Awww good for Wyn! I'm happy/sad for you (was rooting for you to keep him!).
The way I picked my foster dog was to pick the dog that was the least attractive to me - short coat, spotty marking, girl, puppy, ect. AND I almost was a foster failure even then LOL!

andrea said...

Thanks all :)
The next one might be easier to place - tho she's pretty cute too!

Muttsandaklutz said...

I LOVE that photo of him --- he looks so happy and satisfied with life!

So interesting to read this post and hear of some of the incredible animals who've entered your lives, and the perspective of fostering... In another life I would love to at least try it, but with the personalities of my current two it would take quite a bit of space management for the first while... not the most welcoming environment for an animal in transition. Food for thought, though.