Whole Dog Journal's Blog December 13, 2017

When You Break Your Foster Dog's Heart

Posted at 04:47PM - Comments: (37)

Usually, when I foster, I choose a smart and cute wayward adolescent who needs some training and guidance, and I actively participate in the search for an appropriate home for the dog, and then provide guidance and advice to the new owner. Or, I foster a litter of puppies who are going to be adopted lickety-split. Either way, I usually feel great about the whole thing – getting to help a dog become more likely to succeed in his or her happy new home. Today, though, I’m sort of miserable and sad.

As you may have read here before, my most recent fostering project is a heartworm-positive mama hound and her seven puppies. The puppies, as ever, are going to fly off the shelves – that is, they are certain to elicit an ample number of applications from the website of the coonhound rescue responsible for taking on the whole mess and finding the family appropriate homes.  But the mama – who is going to take the mother hound?

I did not particularly enjoy having the mama hound at first. She was so emaciated and neglected when she arrived, 10-day-old puppies in tow, that it was understandable that she was rather protective of her food. I had to make sure no other dogs were anywhere in the vicinity of her food – not even her own puppies, once they began crawling around. She would get a little harsh in guarding her meals from them, and even taking over their food from them, if she got a chance.

It was obvious to me that she has received very little handling and training. If you snapped a leash on her collar, and pulled on the leash (either to prevent her from going somewhere she wanted to go, like back into the kitchen to eat the puppies’ food, or to get her to go somewhere she didn’t want to go, like outside to eat her own food), she would just sort of sink to the ground, the ultimate in passive, uncomprehending resistance. We made headway only when I armed myself with my all-time favorite, most powerful, not-at-all-secret dog-training tool: Stella and Chewy's Chicken Meal Mixers, which I have been using in copious amounts to lure Mama in and out of the house, to reward her for pottying outside on cue, and to follow me and the leash.

Early on, Mama seemed to have near zero personality. That was undoubtedly a symptom of deep stress and anxiety – from being starved, lost or abandoned, picked up as stray, being held in a shelter long enough to have her puppies there, and then being transported to the house where I have my office. She was just very undemonstrative; she didn’t wag her tail or change expression when spoken to or petted. The only clue we had that she actually did like attention was that if you sat in her presence, she would come and stand very close to you; she liked to put her face very near your face – a quite uncomfortable sensation with a dog who has no expression, and isn’t wagging her tail or trying to lick you. She would just approach, stand very close, and hold very still – odd.

Very slowly, she grew more and more comfortable with me and the tenant who rents a room in my office/house. It took her a couple weeks to seem to realize we were keeping her and her puppies safe from the other dog who lives here (the tenant’s dog) and my dogs (who come with me to work), and that there was more than enough food to go around. (Thank goodness, I had just completed the November issue, which contained WDJ’s canned food review, so I had tons of delicious, nutritious food on hand to feed her and the babies.)

She had been here for about three weeks when she first wagged her tail – when I praised her enthusiastically for going potty. She finished, and then put on a submissive grin and trotted toward me wagging her tail, looking for the treat she now understood would be forthcoming, and why. The lines of trust and communication had opened! I actually cried as I fed and made a fuss over her – it was our Helen Keller moment.

Proud mama with one of her babies

In the past couple of weeks, she’s gotten more and more demonstrative, wagging her tail and showing more expression on her face when spoken to. She also started to play with the puppies’ toys – something she didn’t do at first, even when my two-year-old dog Woody tried to engage her in play, by grabbing a puppy toy and shaking it in front of her, then darting away. It was as if for weeks and weeks she didn’t even see the toys, and then suddenly, there they were (even though the toys were there the whole time). Any chance she got, she would steal the puppies’ toys one by one, and hide them under the bamboo in the back yard. Several times a day, I had to go retrieve all the toys and redistribute them to the pups. Darn it! I’ve started to like this dog.

All of this explains why I got so weepy yesterday, when it was time to take her to the

breed rescue’s Western-region coordinator, who runs a dog daycare and boarding facility. Mama Hound is going to stay there while she undergoes treatment for her heartworm infection and gets spayed, and then she will go up for adoption. It’s a nice facility run by a superstar of dog rescue! But when we walked into the facility and she heard and smelled lots of other dogs what I saw on Mama’s face was confusion. She got that shut-down look on her face, and started to do that “go limp,” passively resistant thing again. Clearly, she knew her circumstances were changed again – and the recognition that I broke her trust just broke my heart. I had to keep hiding my face in her coat.

My friend the coonhound-rescue-hero laughed in a kindly way at my tears. She said, “I don’t cry anymore because I know that this is another step along their journey, and things are just going to get better and better in her life.” I get that, but it’s a rationalization that humans can’t possibly make to the dog who only knows what she sees in front of her: “I’m getting ditched again.” UGH.

But I can’t keep her for the next few months as she goes through treatment. I have my hands too full as it is, with the now-very active puppies, who will be getting adopted one by one, and moving, my next challenge. And I would far prefer her to find a permanent home after treatment, rather than play third wheel in my family as a foster dog again. I’m hoping she finds a forever-home with someone who wants a pretty, calm, affectionate, playful hound. If you know someone who is looking for a sweet, quiet companion, won’t you point them to the coonhound rescue site? 

Comments (37)

I'm so sorry that I had forgotten to update the Mama Hound's story some months ago when she got adopted! Her forever home is with some very devoted volunteers for the Coonhound Rescue group, a retired couple who very frequently help transport hounds all over northern California, southern Oregon, and western Nevada! They post pictures of her and their other two rescue hounds very frequently on their Facebook page and she looks very happy indeed.

Posted by: WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns | July 1, 2018 5:24 PM    Report this comment

I can totally identify with Mama's lack of emotion or affection. Just under 5 months ago we adopted a deaf senior English Springer Spaniel who is guestimated to be between 12 and 13 years old. He had had two previous owners and three fosters before we got him. We are his forever home. The vet records showed hat he was boarded. When he came he had no idea what love was. We would pet him and love on him and he would look at us like it was totally foreign to him. He's finally coming to us for pets and I hold and love on him. He doesn't stick around long. He also has an obsession with food as Mama does and will go dive into the other dog's bowls if I don't watch him. When he came to us he was so thin that you could actually see his spine and ribs. He's at a nice weight now and I've transitioned all the dogs over to a raw diet. I am seeing some improvements, thought they are coming slowly. He has a heart murmur and a low grade Cushings, though I don't consider it low grade when he drinks 99 1/2 ounces of water in a 22 hour period and pees lakes! He goes in and out a bazillion times a day. He appears to have a lot of anxiety because of his past life and all the transporting to homes within two states. He paces a lot and licks EVERYTHING - the other dogs, carpets, floors, the patio door glass, the dog beds, furniture. I've tried various herbal and homeopathic treatments for the Cushings and I'm hoping the one I started two weeks ago will start working soon. He needs some relief and I would welcome some, too.
Have ever broken a dog's heart. That would be a painful yes, and what's more, it broke mine to the point that I went into severe depression for about 6 months. In August of 2016 we adopted a 4-5 year old Australian Shepherd/Cattle dog mix. When we first saw him we were concerned about leg tremors he was having. The rescue people told us that their vet had no idea what was causing it. I should have listened to my inner voice and walked away right then. We decided to adopt him anyway and he seemed to do well with our three females - various breeds. He was not agressive to the girls, but his herding instinct was pretty strong. Until he learned this was not an acceptable behavior he would come between me and our sweet old black Lab and not let her near me. We bonded like super glue. Though he was never involved, two of our dogs started fighting each other. They fought three times in four months and the last one was extremely violent. He had also snapped a couple of times at my husband. Ten days before Christmas last year, the day that one of the dogs was allowed off leash after fight stitches being removed, this new dog came up and wanted attention from my husband. He would lick my husband's face, lay his head on my husband's chest, then walk away. He did that three times. I was sitting at my computer about 10 feet away and picked up my cell phone to take a picture. Before I could get it focused, I heard the sound of a dog snapping. He bit my husband's chin and drew blood. As much as I loved this dog that was completely devoted to me, I knew that I could not risk my other dogs, my husband or people that came into my house by keeping this dog. I cried all the way down to the rescue organization to return him. That was one of the worst days of my life. Though I know I did what was right for my husband and our pack, my heart had a gaping hole in it. When no one was around I cried so hard that I would wail loudly. Never had I experienced such pain. I just kept thinking about how confused that dog must have felt when someone that supposedly loved him just dumped him back at the rescue.
I found out that this dog was turned into a shelter by its original owner and it was covered in ticks. He had been given repeated tick treatments as well as tick medication. I later learned that herding breeds can have an extreme sensitivity to those chemicals and it can cause nerve damage, which would explain the leg tremors. I honestly believe it affected his brain because it was like he was two different dogs.

Posted by: DLittle | December 24, 2017 6:50 PM    Report this comment

Great post!
We are currently at the max for how many pets we can have according to our rental lease. We will have to do some thinking and negotiating when we do buy a house about how many permanent pets we want and when we will start to foster pets. Fostering is definitely in my future, but I know I will have to start small to see how much I can handle. A tiny part of me still wants to not have kids so I can devote all of my nurturing resources to animal rescue and fostering a ridiculous amount of animals…
Does anyone have any books to recommend on the topic?

OneDayTop has recently posted for PET : www.onedaytop.com/pet-body-language/

Posted by: elizabethwmcglone | December 19, 2017 8:22 AM    Report this comment

If any problem placing this dog I recently adopted a rescue from North carolina and sure she'd love a playmate,we have ideal conditions

Posted by: sstevall | December 18, 2017 9:09 AM    Report this comment

If I didn't live with a 15-year old foxhound who has developed strong opinions in her senior years, we would be going to get Mama right now. We're in LA, not far. My other one is a 5-6 yo coonhound - a gentle, sweet ABTCR alumnus who would be a wonderful guide for her. I hope she finds a wonderful home! There are definitely people out there who don't want puppies. (Don't get me wrong - the puppies are adorable!)

Posted by: WowieZowie | December 18, 2017 1:09 AM    Report this comment

All well & good, that’s this is apart of her journey but I feel so sad for Mama on losing the human who showed her so much love & security. Dogs are such perceptive beings.

Posted by: TracieP | December 17, 2017 11:04 PM    Report this comment

I just check the website and don't see her listed. Do you know if she is still available?

Posted by: DebW | December 17, 2017 9:12 PM    Report this comment

Oh gosh Nancy! bless you for saving this poor girl. We have been in this situation TWICE (yes we didn't learn the first time!). We found a horribly emaciated Catahoula, he had been abandoned in a remote area near where we walk our own dogs. We decided to foster him and restore him to health. He was in terrible shape and half of what his body weight should be. It took us 5 months to restore his physical health, his emotional health will be ongoing due to the abuse he clearly endured. We found him the most incredible home. My husband in particular was heartbroken to part with him and 7 months on, still has his photo as his wallpaper on his phone! It was terribly hard to part with him due to the abuse he had endured & we feared we had broken his heart & trust, but we take comfort in the fact that dogs live in the moment and we are thrilled to receive updates from his new wonderful family, where he is thriving. We are now currently fostering another little abused pup, only 18 months old, we rescued him from a very abusive situation and have been nursing him back to health (physically and mentally). He needs a very special home which takes time. He has been a part of our family for 7 months now & I fear we might break his heart. You are not alone Nancy, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the title of your story. But thanks to you, this beautiful Momma, has a chance to live a life with hopefully a loving home. There are so many dogs, we just can't save them all. Just know, you are not alone. Thank you for opening your heart and fostering her!

Posted by: Mellonz | December 17, 2017 6:34 PM    Report this comment

A very bittersweet post! Bless you for what you've given this sweet mama and her pups. Several posters have encouraged you to adopt her. Maybe you can. Maybe you can't. But this sweet soul got a glimpse of a loving, understanding home. She'll remember that and know it when it comes to her again.

Posted by: Natalie H. | December 17, 2017 5:21 PM    Report this comment

Seems to me there is a lot of love in this room..Such a wonderful exchange of stories...I also rescue animals and I feel how important this process is to each and everyone of us..I couldn't be more thankful that we are all here to help..Happy Holidays to everyone..:)

Posted by: Dontletemfoolya | December 17, 2017 12:19 PM    Report this comment

Your story touched my heart and I shed some tears as I read it. About 7 years ago I went on a search to rescue another dog to add as a companion for my 5 year old who suffered from separation anxiety. She was someone's dog and was apparently loved and lost. But this new guy that I drove several hours to meet and introduce to my girl had no interest in any of us and only wanted to hump my gal as he was still intact. When I went inside to tell them that we did not think he was right for us and that we wished him well on his trip north with other dogs, we were told that the transport was canceled and that he would be put to sleep in two days. We were at a dilemma. So we called the courtesy rescue in our area and she asked us if we would bring him back and foster him because there were others interested him. So home he came.
We crated and kept him in our kitchen and I immediately started working on training. If he was going to be someone else's dog, he needed to get use to humans. He like your foster was nearly starved. He came to the human society weighing 24 pounds. When we got him, he was about 34 and still desperately in need of about another 20 more. He had no muscle tone, hated trucks, was deathly afraid of riding in a vehicle. We determined that he was tied outside because he knew how to get untangled in a line. We also believe he licked snow and dew for his water supply and ate, bees, acorns and any rodent that came near. He must of lived him in mud hole because to this day, grass feels weird to him and he prefers dirt under his feet.
I resolved to keep my feelings in check because I knew he was not staying. My hubby on the other hand fell in love with him. While I ran my female rescue through routine training, I discovered that this guy was a quick learning and started picking up on all her training moves faster than she did. He only had one accident inside our house and that was on the first day we had him.
While with us, we found out he was heartworm positive and we were asked to continue to keep him while he went through treatment. As we asked about the other interested parties, we discovered that they dropped out once they found out he had heartworms. We continued to work with him and I started him through dog obedience training while we waited for an adopter. He had so many issues it was just one challenge after another. But each day we saw a dog that had no interest in us turn into this loving creature.
I finally told my husband, if we send him off, they will just return him to the rescue so we may as well keep him. Needless to say, he was hoping I would say this. Finn became the most loving dog. To this day, he just wants someone to pet him for as long as they will. He wants total strangers to fuss over him and love him. His tail never stops wagging. I would never have expected a dog to go from a lack of no human interest to this overly affectionate lover. But now he is fighting the battle of his life as he has anal sac cancer. We fed him the best foods, gave him the best care and now after our short 7 years with him we are going to lose him to cancer.
My heart just feels for you and your sweet foster dog. I hope that she finds a wonderful home. I am sure that you would keep her if you could but it still breaks our hearts when we see dogs like these come into their own with some human love and affection. God bless you for taking her in and her pups. You showed her how good life can be. You gave her hope when there was none.

Posted by: Love My Rescues | December 17, 2017 11:33 AM    Report this comment

I totally admire people who can foster dogs, mostly because of the challenges involved in handing a dog over to someone else. Since I'm not getting any younger, I know that my rescue, Charlie, will be the last dog that I adopt, and I keep thinking that fostering might be in my future. That said, I'm probably too emotional, so dog sitting might be a better way to keep dogs in my life without heartbreak to me or to the dogs.
Reading all of the comments, I see the logic in adopting this dog, but I would temper that by saying that you should just keep in touch so she has a chance to find a loving family elsewhere. You can always swoop in and save her if things don't work out for her after she regains her health.
Most important, though, I hope that you won't leave us readers hanging. If you can find a way to impart more wisdom by telling us how it all turns out, I think that we'd all appreciate it!

Posted by: Timid Dog Mom | December 17, 2017 10:33 AM    Report this comment

Bravo to you! I know how difficult it has been for you. between all those pups and their mixed up Mama. I also know how happy you felt at seeing her tail wag and playing with toys. And the emotions you felt when you had to leave her. I am a foster fail. But, I am also a foster success. I have re-trained and re-homed Jack Russell Terriers. Many years later I still hear about the inquisitions the new owners went through with me over the phone before they ever meet the dog. Now I seem to adopt troubled dogs. A week after his 1st birthday, Spudley found his 4th and final person - me. He came with a wild hair up his butt and a fear of anything new to him. I once changed a rug at the door while he was outside. He refused to come inside because of that different rug. He's now 9 yrs, old and I can't imagine being without him. A little bitty Jack (10 lbs.) was 5 yrs. old when I took him. He was too submissive and afraid of men. I had to teach him to sit instead of doing the submissive belly up thing. It was 18 months before he would even drink water while I standing near the bowl. I found out much later that the man at his foster home was a bully. Trooper loves my male neighbors. He is almost 12 yrs. old and an absolute little brat. My latest challenge is my 1st non-Jack Russell is over 30 yrs. A Chi/Shiba Inu mix. A Chi shaped head with a Shiba body and personality. He had been at the shelter for 4 months and deemed unadoptable because of fear aggression. He was on death row. A friend begged me to give him a chance. No one mentioned how severe his fear aggression was or that all but 2 people at the shelter were scared to death of this 16 lb. dog. Two years later, Chance is still a work in progress. I did take him to Petco (a favorite place) a couple of weeks ago for pix with Santa. He saw more people and animals in those 90 minutes than he'd normally see in 3 months. He did do some barking but he didn't go brat crap crazy. No screaming, (Shibas scream), lunging or snapping at anyone. I was actually able to talk to people while Chance sat quietly. As I write this there is a Christmas card on the way to the shelter that Chance came from. He wrote a letter and had me include some pix of him with his brothers plus the pic of him with Santa. YES!

Posted by: Cindie M | December 17, 2017 7:46 AM    Report this comment

I always tell people that I have no magic powers over dogs. If they can bond with me, they can bond with their new mom. I've been in rescue for 16 years and it never fails, I foster a dog that I think loves me sooooo much, then adopt them out and a couple of months later, I see them - thinking that we have a special bond - and they look at me as if to say, "Yeah, nice to see you again but you aren't my mom - she is!" It kinda makes me laugh, really. I love that they bond with their forever family -that's the way it's supposed to be. Not that I don't have more than one foster failure - I have 9 actually (they are all very small! Don't judge me.)

Posted by: rescuekim | December 16, 2017 5:22 AM    Report this comment

I do totally understand that "look" of confusion and defeat in rescue dogs. I rescued golden retrievers for 21 years, and when owner relinquished, I would put the dogs in my car, and the look of total confusion when I drove them away was heartbreaking. I also took in a mama golden who was severely malnourished and gave birth to 17 puppies within 24 hours. That was a time of total chaos and confusion for me as well as the mama dog. Eventually 13 of the pups survived, but were separated. Five stayed with their mama, six went to a surrogate shepheer mama who lost her pups, and two went to hand feeders. I experienced similar protective behavior over her meals from the mama dog. Bless you for taking this mama dog and sharing your/her story with us. It is so important to communicate what our society is capable of when it comes to creatures that are not able to protect themselves.

Posted by: JonesysMom | December 15, 2017 10:50 AM    Report this comment

I also admire you so much for what you do for the dogs you foster and for all the dogs you never meet whose lives are influenced by your Journal. And I know that only you know the stressors of your life and did not make this decision easily at all. But I will also say that I know that there are dogs who give their hearts and trust away with great difficulty, and that I believe that it is only your patience and dog knowledge and commitment that brought Mama out. If you have any room in your life ( I know that you do in your heart,) I would also say to stay in touch with the rescue and to seriously consider taking her . She sounds so very worth it.

Posted by: GracieAndGeorgia | December 15, 2017 8:36 AM    Report this comment

I think what a lot of people don't realize is that once a dog learns that many humans are kind, they can and do learn to love another human. I recently had a foster who had been a puppy-making machine in a puppy mill. She too was shut down and filthy, but at least she didn't have pups, because of course they had sold them. The trainer from the boarding/grooming/training facility that first got her thought she might never be able to function at all normally. She wouldn't move anywhere on her own--they had to carry her. But given time, good food, and a couple of foster sisters who showed her how dogs live in my home, she came around. She will never be a brave, bold dog, but seeing pictures of her in her new home, curled up with her dog sister or cuddled up next to her new human dad on the floor makes me know that I did the right thing in not adopting her myself. Did I worry about her, when her new family took her home? Of course I did. Would she have fit in here? Yes, but she'd have been one of three dogs with a single person instead of one of two with two people. And there's another foster dog keeping my leg warm right now, something I couldn't have done if I kept her.

Posted by: Margaret T | December 15, 2017 8:29 AM    Report this comment

I love beagles because they are cool little dogs. My girl is 16 years old now. I got her from an elderly couple (in their 70's) in my neighborhood thought that keeping a field bred (from actively hunted lines) hound as a house dog was a good idea---NOT!! She was 2, not potty trained, overweight, incredibly naughty, and deeply frustrated. They were at their wit's end and when my then teenage daughter said she would take her, they jumped on it. I came home from work to find a 2 year old beagle in my house. So the kid goes off to school and guess who keeps the hound? Why me of course! I would not let my daughter take her to school because she needed to get herself established and might not have the time to take proper care of a dog---so she stayed with me.

I finished toilet training her in a month and she lost weight in two months mostly because I believe lack of exercise and lack of training was a HUGE part of her problem. Turns out I was right---I have never had an ounce of trouble out of her. She is loving and playful and attentive and very dear to me. The elderly couple we got her from were absolutely amazed at the change in the little hound. We still visit her “grandparents” and they are always delighted to see her.

Posted by: Mel Blacke | December 15, 2017 4:38 AM    Report this comment

I have tears, reading this. I couldn’t foster - I would keep every one of these precious and insecure babies. I truly don’t know how you’re going to get through this, without adopting her, especially after reading and seeing the connection this little dog has made with you. I agree with those who said, “keep her after she completes her treatment. She will be grateful and love you forever, you will cherish this and know you made the best decision.

Posted by: doo ER | December 14, 2017 11:07 PM    Report this comment

You know your situation best, but if it were me, I would adopt her. I've fostered dogs also and had a lot of rescues. Some years back I adopted a 10 yr. old female who had been treated very badly. It took 8 months for her to gain trust but when she did, she became one of the best dogs I've ever had. My present rescue dog has been with me for 6 months tomorrow. He was so terrified, thin and untrained when he first arrived, there were times I'd wondered what I'd gotten into because, frankly, being predominantly pit, he scared me. But the trust he now shows and the bond we are creating deepens every day, as he also learns to trust others. I cannot imagine his pain and confusion at having to go through this with someone else again. They don't all adjust again to new guardians, contrary to popular belief. A friend had the same situation with a dog she took in that was starved and abused. When she rehabilitated it, she felt her home wasn't the best place and felt she should rehome it, which turned out disastrous for the dog and my friend, who now mourns letting it go. I know this doesn't help but you know what's best for you. Follow your heart and check in with her periodically if you can so she doesn't feel abandoned. Then you'll be able to see how she's adapting to make the right decision. The previous comment about using an animal communicator is a good suggestion. I have an excellent one who's proven herself many times over by relaying things my animals tell her that no one else could know. Animals experience grief and abandonment just like us and need understanding and reassurance. Good luck.

Posted by: Lauriel | December 14, 2017 10:06 PM    Report this comment

Keep that dog or take her back after treatment. She needs you. And you need her. My son has a very scared dog and we have seen such a breakthrough with his love. towards this dog. She will remember you. What is one more dog to love. It is such s gift to do what you do. I tried it and failed. I have to just adopt my animals as soon as I see them.

Posted by: Lloveslabs | December 14, 2017 8:57 PM    Report this comment

Nancy, thank you for helping dogs in need. I can’t foster but I do have 3 dogs and 2 are rescues. When I found “Bella” abandoned in the middle of the interstate - clearly in shock, I pulled over and put her in my car and never looked back. I say that this hound needs you: she finally felt safe and knew her puppies were in a good place too. If you possibly can take care of 1 more dog, then bring your hound dog back home. God Bless!

Posted by: dcleve | December 14, 2017 7:28 PM    Report this comment


Try not to be sad. You did the right thing. I do not know if you believe in or have ever used an animal communicator, but that is about the only thing that might have helped & some Calif. friends swear by them, in helping with dog issues. This dog would do great with a senior citizen who needs a gentle or laid back, non demanding companion dog. She "might" also do well with a special needs child. Do let us know how she fairs.

Posted by: Betsy | December 14, 2017 6:28 PM    Report this comment

Adopt her. Yes, not logical. No, not easy choice. Yes, you can't do it every time. But this is not every time.

Posted by: Linda Furney | December 14, 2017 5:58 PM    Report this comment

Adopt her. Yes, not logical. No, not easy choice. Yes, you can't do it every time. But this is not every time.

Posted by: Linda Furney | December 14, 2017 5:58 PM    Report this comment

I feel your pain. I'm fostering a coonhound of my own who nobody looks at twice. But I've heard that there a lot of hound lovers on the west coast so I'm certain your girl will find her forever home. Especially since she is so calm. Mine is still all energy and baying barks at every passing car! Oh, the sounds of a hound! lol. We have to remind ourselves thought that we do our best for them while they are with us and know that even though she was confused yesterday, that kindness you have shown her helped her learn that humans aren't all bad which will hopefully help her trust her forever parent faster when they do come along.

Posted by: Stephenie D | December 14, 2017 5:37 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for a wonderful story. We fostered a mama cat and her five kittens last tear, and I sobbed when we took the last remaining kitten and the once-feral Mom back to the cat adoption agency. But in just six days, both were adopted together! Your work to regain the mom’s trust will make a huge difference to the person who finally adopts her for good. Thank you for keeping on keeping on.

Posted by: Bluemoose | December 14, 2017 5:33 PM    Report this comment

I greatly admire and appreciate the wonderful work fosters do, I do not have the personal constitution required to do it myself. Each dog I fostered would end up being a failure on my part and a permanent fixture within my pack. I know my own shortcomings as it were, but when I bring a dog thru my door they have a home for the duration of their life, with a promise they will never be intentionally hurt or mistreated, they will never be hungry or want for anything that I could possibly provide. If necessary, I will do without in order for them to have what they need. To date I have made this promise to over 15 animals, each of them rescues and all but one died from old age, most living on average of 10 to 12 years. I had one miniature poodle that lived to be 18 and a Dalmatian that we put down at almost 15. Every dog we ever had was absolutely exceptional.

Posted by: BiteMaster | December 14, 2017 3:49 PM    Report this comment

One of the most precious gifts you can receive from any dog is his/her trust. It is a loving trust bestowed on a human. The worst feelings for a person of conscience is breaking that trust, even in the best interests of the dog. They don't understand, like a small child, that they are going to a better life. This is especially true if they had a hard life, such as having been abused by humans or having lived as a stray.

I have only worked in limited ways in rescue (I now support with supply donations and monetary help now), but I recall well transferring a foster to a rescue to have medical care (neutering) and dental care (needed several teeth extracted.) I cried all the rest of the day even though I knew the rescue would find the dog a good home. It hurt to see him go.

Fostering a mother dog AND her pups is an act of love. It goes above and beyond the normal fostering.

Posted by: Three Dog Mom | December 14, 2017 3:47 PM    Report this comment

This post broke my heart, but she'll be ok. To be honest, this is a big reason why I'm worried about being a foster parent myself. I know I'll get too involved, too heart-bound, no matter what I tell myself intellectually. All of you who do this kind of work are heroes to me.

Posted by: lynnfrbs1 | December 14, 2017 2:39 PM    Report this comment

Fostering is a noble act of kindness. I know people who foster and I try to help them when I can, but I could never do it myself because I don't have the strength to let go. Every dog or cat I've rescued (usually as strays) stayed to the bitter end. One girl, a pitbull found tied up over Halloween night to a Bronx lamppost wearing a heavy saddle leather metal-studded vest, stayed until she was over 17 yrs-old and left me this Jan. I current have an 8 yr-old pit-mix from NM who was dumped at a kill-shelter 2 yrs ago by his owner. My companion animals come to me and they don't go out until they stop eating. At one time I had 3 pits and 2 cats. This is why I will donate but not dare step inside a shelter.

Posted by: Czerny | December 14, 2017 1:29 PM    Report this comment

We adopted a 4 year old yellow lab/golden retriever mix in July-2017. He had been abandoned at least twice, (that's as far back as we & the shelter know of). And as excited as he was to come home with us, it was apparent very quickly that he thought this was just another boomerang in his life. He had a pretty serious case of separation anxiety and would whine and yelp around the clock. If I just went to use the bathroom, he would sit outside the door and howl with a high pitched cry, even when I left the door open. It was more than a month before he wagged his tail for any reason. He bounced back and forth to and from the shelter as well as how ever long he was on his own, dumped to fend for himself before being turned over to the shelter by a good Samaritan. While at the shelter, he developed a seizure disorder but the exact cause is still a mystery. He was adopted out to another family before us but they returned him just 48 hours later after panicking during a seizure and running up a costly vet bill. (They were aware of his condition before the adoption.) He was eventually diagnosed as having epilepsy because they could not find a physical cause/trauma that would trigger the seizures. Now, after 5 months, he has never had even 1 seizure since we adopted him and his separation anxiety is almost completely gone. He loves to go on walks and rides in the car. We also have 3 rescue cats so he had learn to share attention and affection. We are currently in the process of weaning him off of his medication to spare his liver and other organs from permanent damage down the road. Even with the decreased dosage, he still has not had a single seizure. We believe they were probably triggered by all the emotional stress he endured having been abandoned and then living in a tiny concrete cell at the shelter for 6 weeks. It could also have been from an allergic reaction to food or starvation. More and more of his true personality is emerging as he becomes more relaxed and confident that we love him and will never abandon him. He also loves to sing along with the blender in the morning! He is a big, beautiful 100lb. teddy bear that LOVES to snuggle and get tummy rubs.

Posted by: SueW | December 14, 2017 12:34 PM    Report this comment

As one foster to another, I cry and it breaks my heart every time a foster leaves me! I know in my head and heart they will find or have found the perfect forever home, but that never stops the heartache. 17 years and hundreds of fosters later, I can so relate to you heart warming/wrenching story and I cried with you. And for Mama dog. I have faith someone with lots of love and patience with adopt her so she can find love and trust once again. Hugs to you.

Posted by: RobinT | December 14, 2017 12:09 PM    Report this comment

When I debated a 4th dog, my vet said "whats an extra 15lbs?) and I say to you Nancy (and you are a hero to me) what's an extra 40lbs. you can do it. keep Mama.

Posted by: Marguerite Christman | December 14, 2017 11:59 AM    Report this comment

Having gotten my first rescue almost three years ago (!), I certainly related to the shutdown, stressed out manner you describe in Mama Hound. I had a beautiful senior girl at the time (I knew she was not long, which is why I got the rescue, to intentionally have overlap) and the rescue girl really tried (too) hard to please everyone with mixed success. Once my senior girl passed, my new girl went through several more periods of anxiety, stress and fearfulness/bravado around other dogs etc. With my vet's help I now have her on a wonderful herbal anti-stress med and finally, in the last four months, I've seen the real doggy come forth in her. It's such a joy. I even felt confident enough to go on a two-week vacation (and my girl stayed at home with a trusted and excellent sitter). She did very well. I live in fear that some situation will come up (god forbid) where she goes into the rescue system again. Not while I'm around. There is something so shattering about dogs who have been in poor/bad situations and the suffering they have endured. It's the most wonderful thing to see them come to life, play, be happy and confident. I got misty eyed reading about your Mama Hound. I pray she finds a good home where she can revel in love, affection, respect and care (sniff).

Posted by: ClscFlm7 | December 14, 2017 11:26 AM    Report this comment

From one foster to another, that is a most heart-wrenching story. Yeah, yeah yeah, we KNOW it's for the best, but as you articulated so well: The poor dog doesn't know that. And when I/we know we have a "special" needs dog, such as Mom is, I/we want to go the extra mile for them. Fingers crossed--taking on a litter deserves a medal!

Posted by: Dane Lover2 | December 14, 2017 11:25 AM    Report this comment

This would break my heart as well. I have tears in my eyes. :( It might take a little longer with her forever home but when she breaks through again, she won't ever have to leave.

Posted by: KimberlyO | December 14, 2017 10:23 AM    Report this comment

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