The Art of Dog Fostering: Lila Jean finds her home!

Our home–AKA:  the land of wayward dogs.  (we are fairly certain there is some sort of a dogwhistle version of morse code shared between the lost, lonely, abused or underfed; which has provided us with no less than 20 dogs who have found their way to ‘The 2101’ over the past 9 years.)    –Most of which, we have been able to happily reunite their ‘parents’ or find a fabulous home.  (Though, after 10 years our options have begun to dwindle a bit.  If you do not wish to own a pet–you may want to keep your distance.  **Consider yourself warned.**)

In October,  a fellow wedding industry pro (Im talking to you Chelish Mooore!) posted the pup below was in a kill-shelter (Ill not take this time to soap box my thoughts on what a disgrace NC in terms of both ‘shelters’ and breeding regulations.) and needed a foster/adopter.

Her shelter name was ‘Lalo’ and she caught my eye.  (In part due to her resemblance to my beloved Sammy who died almost 2 years ago from cancer) but mostly because she looked very young and…excessively smiley.)

I tagged my husband (as I often do when I see the cuteness) and instead of the typical ‘don’t get any freaking ideas’ he replied ‘If she is still there when we get back from vacation that is the face I might have to foster.’

The bullet version of the next 3 weeks go like this:

  • Head to Maine for an insanely amazing vacation
  • Return from said vacation and see on Facebook not only is she still there–she is listed on a site called ‘Last Day Dogs‘ and just like it sounds, she has limited time before this less-than-a-year old pup would be destroyed.
  • I take to Facebook and no one offer to help.
  • 4 hours before she is to be put down I start asking how WE can help
  • Last Day graciously offers to pay her adoption fees if they can find a foster…no one offers to foster.
  • Though in the middle of wedding season, dealing with “reactive”  dog of our own…we took her in until we could find another option for her.

Since we had confidently decided we COULD NOT take in a 3rd dog,  as I prepared to pick her up the next morning I feverishly began reading articles on how to avoid the ‘foster fail.’ (Meaning–falling in love and keeping the dog as your own.)
The net of the reading consisted of the following sage words:

  • Do not change the dogs name
  • Do not buy the dog gifts
  • Do not refer yourself as ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’
  • Though socialization is great–you should not make them a part of your ‘pack’
  • Do not take millions of pictures
  • Do not over-scrutinize  potential adopters (Yes–screening is good but finding a reason to rule out all potential adopters is a sure sign you are headed for a ‘fail.’)

Below you can see our journey and how to use these tips to avoid being  a ‘foster fail.’ (And see how Lila Jean found her furever home!!)

Day One:
Bring home foster dog and decide the name ‘Lalo’ is much too difficult to say and promptly name her Lila.  (the name you had always wanted to use if you had another boxer.)  Wait–wasn’t that ‘foster fail rule one??
…But swear its simply because its also 2 syllables and close to ‘Lalo’
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Day 1-7
See her ribs, and scars and overbred ‘parts.’ Realize she has just had babies and someone has most likely bred and dumped her;-(
Also realize she was clearly abused, afraid of men and have your heart break open just a bit as she slowly warms up to you only.how to foster failBegin to see this face…everywhere.
2016-01-01_0010Day 7-21
Take her in to be spayed by our friends over at Spay Neuter Charlotte and bring her back to heal.  Learn she is heart worm positive and whip worm positive and will need to begin aggressive treatments as soon as she is healed enough to do so.

Take a million pictures, including this one and think:  #thateartho
2016-01-01_0009Take more pictures…including selfies…
Have husband scroll though phone and realize it is full of pictures of the foster and repeat the phrase “We ARE NOT keeping her” approximatley 10, 000 times.

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Drive her to West Innes Animal Hospital for heart worm treatment an hour away and have her look so scared and grab a hold of you as attempt to leave.  Feel heart in throat as you hand over the leash.  Have nurse comment on what a ‘pretty collar’ she has for a “foster.”
Claim its only because its a hand-me-down from her brother.
Realize you said brother.  (wtf?)
…and walk out thinking– ‘we cannot keep her.’

Left:  outside of vet hospital before drop off                                                                              Right:  post-treatment pickup.
2016-01-01_0007Have rescue email to say good news!  They have had a ton of interest in Lalo and one possible adopter  would even take her in right after her heart worm treatment!  (You silently correct her…its Lila, lady and feel somehow defensive that someone wants to ‘take her.’)
You  let the rescue know you have also have interest from some folks. (and you actually do…a few friends have fallen in love with her.) You  let the rescue know you have it handled.  

Days 23-60

Learn her favorite spot to rest as she heals is the small of your arm.
2016-01-01_0008Learn she can make this face.  (and still think she is just gorgeous.)
2016-01-01_0006Watch her ‘come into her own’ and heal both physically and from whatever trauma she suffered and go from biting husband to adoring husband.    (Whilst he continues to proclaim 10,000 more times “We are not keeping her.”)  –Of course not: that would be insane.  We are only  fosters.
2016-01-01_0004Decide she has been through a lot and could use just a few toys…and clothes.
2016-01-01_0005Learn that a queen bed is not sufficient for 3 large dogs.  (sorry decorative pillows and husband.  #noroomforyou)
2016-01-01_0003Day 60- approximately 90 (we have now officially lost track of days..)
Watch her continue to heal, learn she is an #alphafemale and a mamas girl and is starting to (much to our Pitties dismay)  fit in quite well around her.
Accidentally call her by a first and middle name…to which husband just shakes head and say ‘She has a middle name now?’  (Yes..and its Jean.  thankyouverymuch.)
Silently notice he does not say “we are not keeping her.”

‘Jokingly’ say–‘you know, I think she was sent by Sammy’ (pictured below) as she arrived in October (the month he died)  and realize…you sort of think he did ‘send her’ and realize you quite like having a ‘mommas dog’ back in the house.

Husband: “We are keeping her, aren’t we?”
Me:  “Of course not, we CANNOT have 3 dogs!!  ….the pittie doesn’t love her…    Pet care is crazy expensive when we travel…   We would need to pay for training…

(This was our Sammy boy. The original ‘mamas dog’)
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December 20, 2015 (My birthday.) 

Me:  Cannot imagine life without this now-spoiled puppy.  Email rescue to let them know we are officially a ‘foster fail.’
Pay adoption fees.  (Now Lila and I share a bday and adoptiversary:-)

Welcome home Lila Jean Bradley–worlds best foster failure.

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**  Please dont let our ‘foster fail’ story deter you from fostering!  Fostering is an amazing way to help these pups.  You DO NOT have to fail.  I think this pup was meant for us or it would have never happened this way as we have fostered many dogs and not chosen to adopt them.  Should you wish to open your hearts, home or wallets…stop by the Last Day Dogs site and make 2016 a great news year for a pup in need.
PS:  sorry for the crappy iPhone pics…she has no pro photos as we did not intend to her to be permanent;-)  (soon..Im sure.lol)

Cheers to much love and epic adventures!
Cass

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