A Perfect New Home For My Foster Dog Odin

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When, back in March, I scheduled a week-long vacation for early July, I of course had no way of knowing a huge, dog-related story was going to erupt the week before. I also didn’t know that a great home for my long-time foster dog was going to pop up out of the woodwork in the days before I left. Both events left me scrambling and off-balance.

In early July, someone had commented on a video of my foster pup, Odin, and my young dog, Woody, that I had posted on the WDJ Instagram account: “How has he not been adopted? He has home skills, is dog social, and couldn’t be more stinkin’ cute! Come on, people!” And I had responded, “I haven’t been trying THAT hard to promote him. Been super busy with life stuff. No actual adoption attempts are likely to happen in the whole month of July, for various reasons. In the meantime, I keep visualizing the world’s most perfect home for him. We will see.” And then, just a few days later, I received a message from a friend: “Are you still looking for a home for Odin?”

A Perfect Family

“Maybe,” I responded. I wanted him to find a home, but it had to be a perfect spot. Given his many months of having to suffer many daily applications of various eye medications, he hadn’t yet spent much time alone, and above all, I wouldn’t allow him to go to go a home where he might end up alone for many hours a day. I wanted him to live with a person or family who had lots of time for him, who liked to play and be active, who might take him somewhere that he could swim, and who would let him live indoors and sleep on the couch or beds.

The more I heard about the family that my friend knew, the more I thought that perhaps this was it – the best place for Odin. And yet, the very thought made me weepy. But I agreed to meet the family. They came to my house twice, once on Friday and again on Saturday, spent hours watching and playing with Odin, and telling me about their house and family. It seemed like a perfect fit. I sent them to the local shelter to fill out the adoption papers and pay the adoption fee. I was leaving town Sunday night, and they could come pick him up Sunday afternoon to take him home.

Odin kayaking on a lake
Odin went camping, and loved kayaking, and sleeping in the kids’ tent

It was perfect and awful, all at once. I told them I wanted to take a picture of the whole family with him before they left with him, but as we approached their car, I started crying and didn’t want to make them uncomfortable or embarrass myself. Odin jumped into their car happily, sitting on the back seat with their young son. I gave Odin a kiss on the nose and told him to be a good dog, and turned away quickly, calling over my shoulder, “Send me a picture when you get home!”

Time for a vacation

I had spent the days before I left town making sure that my house was clean and organized and ready for my house-sitter/pet-sitter, and that I had all the Kong toys I own rounded up, clean, filled with canned food, and in the freezer. That morning, I had also rounded up Odin’s favorite toys and chewies and bed to send home with his new owners, but I hadn’t yet packed MY suitcase for my trip (I think this is a common dog owner thing). Fortunately, that kept me busy, and not crying much, all the way until the sitter, one of my son’s friends (and a young man I have known for 23 of his 27 years) arrived at my house for a briefing about Otto and Woody and the house. And by the time we finished with all that, it was time to head for the airport.

By the time we were at our connecting airport, my phone had received a number of photos of Odin and his new best friend, the young son in the family with three kids, at their home. He and the young son both looked perfectly happy.

Our vacation had officially started, but I was not yet done with work I promised to do before I left town. I had also spent the previous week talking to people I know and respect about the most recent update from the United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning the connection between diet and cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). I had started writing a blog post that contained my own thoughts about the update, and I had written pages and pages, deleted pages and pages, and wrote even more. But I kept changing what I felt was most important to say about it. As each day passed since the FDA update was published, more analysis was published – some that I found very good and insightful and some that I found to be hysterical and inaccurate.

The FDA Update Is Still On My Mind

I finished the post on the second leg of our flight, and sent it to our publishing HQ to be posted on the WDJ blog site. And then I tried to turn off my brain – I didn’t want to think about saying goodbye to my little Odin, or the news about the DCM investigation, or my dogs left at home. My husband, my son, and I spent five days at my sister’s house in a tiny town in the Colorado mountains, hiking some high peaks. Then we drove back to Denver, where my son competed in a tournament for his sport, and where we met our 7-year-old grandson and his mom, and spent a day with them before taking the boy back to California to hang out with us for a few weeks.

Hiking path in Colorado
We hiked in places like this in Colorado for days – bliss.

But the FDA update and the news coverage of it was explosive, and as much fun as I had on vacation, I couldn’t help but peek at the news and comments on my blog post a few times. The issue is complex and analysis of the information in the FDA’s update is varied. People are still confused and upset – and it doesn’t help that the owner of practically every dog who is sick or has died in the past two years thinks it is probably due to the fact that the dog ate grain-free food at some point, and posts this as fact on social media. No matter that the dog had eaten a grain-free product for a matter of days, or had a health problem that had absolutely nothing to do with the dog’s heart.

I will be writing more about the DCM issue, and also posting links to voices/sources that I respect (such as this one). I am completely sympathetic with those who have lost pets to DCM and possibly related causes, and also concerned that so much misinformation and hysteria is being shared.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Wonderful! I’m so happy for Odin and wish him a long, healthy and happy life with his new family. I can only imagine how hard it was for you but thank you for all you’ve done for him and please ask them to send regular photos of him so we can all see how he’s doing. x

  2. This made me a little weepy, but also brought a huge smile to my face. I think Odin is going to have a wonderful life with his new family, thanks to you!

  3. I agree! Please try to let us know how he’s doing! We all grew attached, like you. Thanks for being such a diligent champion for dogs.

  4. I cry as I read this. Happy tears? Sad tears? I’m not sure! ! I’m so happy he’s happy, and he definitely looks happy. And the boys look happy! Thank you for all you did to bring him to today, and thank you for sharing!

  5. CONGRATULATIONS on Odin’s adoption, Nancy…just proof of what a wonderful foster “mom” you’ve been these many months. I know how painful it must have been to give him up…but he has a fantastic, loving new forever home, thanks to YOU!

  6. What a Wonderful Story about Odin finding a perfect home. I think Foster Moms have Special Hearts to do this work. And speaking of hearts, I lost a beloved dog to DCM last year, so I appreciate good articles that help me understand this issue with factual information, since I fed one of the listed foods, thinking I had done well for my clan. I have since gone to raw food, but wonder if my Blue would still be here with me had I done so earlier. Life can be bitter sweet. Here is to more Sweet for everyone, knowing how much our dogs improve our lives.

  7. Oh Nancy, I am so happy for you and Odin! While your heart may be heavy missing this little guy, he looks like he is happy with his forever home! I cried reading your July 18th post, as I am sure many will. You are a good soul, keep up the great foster work and writing for Whole Dog Journal. MJ

  8. This is great news! I’m so happy that Odin’s found a great home. He looks so happy (and so healthy)!

    Thanks for all you’ve done for him. I second Sheila’s comment: please ask them to send regular photos so we can all see how he’s doing.

  9. So happy to hear about Odin. We lost our Miniature Schnauzer in May to cancer. Still mourning the loss. On a mission to adopt a young dog.

  10. I’m crying with you as I understand the highs and lows of fostering. You want them to find the perfect home. You put the words to the heavens and when it happens, I ugly cry from joy and sadness. I’m so happy for Odin that he found his perfect forever home. I hope they will stay in touch so you can see how well he is doing. Thank you as always for your stories. They always touch home with me as I’ve had many of the same experiences.

  11. Still don’t know what to feed my precious Dolly… bought the best, I thought (and she’s very picky, feed boiled chicken from health market). I looked at ingredients on Wellness Raw Rev….has all the “No no’s” I just read about…. WHAT DO I DO TO FEED DOLLY HEALTHY???

  12. I’ve followed this feisty little pup’s story from the start. How wonderful for Odin! Every pup should have their own little kid to grow with, play with, sleep with and love. My heart is full! Good job, foster mom! You are awesome!

  13. Robin stated it perfectly….so I say DITTO…a double blessing upon you for being the incredible human you are… you give me faith that we can be the best version of ourselves.

  14. That is such good news about Odin! I got all teary eyed reading about his new family. Please keep us up to date with him!

  15. You are a great dog owner/advocate/place holder! Bravo to you for being able to give Odin everything he needed since the day you laid eyes on him. That you were able to give him this last best gift is wonderful. A part of your heart will never heal but I know you have a very BiG heart. Now Odin has a boy of his own, and you can hold a place in your heart for the next Odin that will need you. When things get sad and crazy in this world, I’m heartened that there are pet people like you. Heal and then get ready for your new adventure.

  16. It’s funny how happy and heartwarming things make us tearful. My heart was touched by Odin’s (and your) journey from desperate situation to health and a new home. You are indeed remarkable!

  17. I was so happy to hear about Odin. I fell in love with him and followed all your articles about him. Your dedication to and love of dogs always amazes me. I cannot imagine a life without these wonderful creatures and like so many others, my head is spinning with all the DCM issues. I am now making every effort to feed a human grade food for approx. 25% of their daily meals, but I am losing sleep over choosing a kibble that will not kill them. If I had very small dogs, I would definitely feed them all human grade, but unfortunately with two large dogs, I simply cannot. Even many of the human grade and organic high end wet foods contain peas, legumes, and/or potatoes. One of the top human grade wet foods I was supplementing the kibble with contains those ingredients. I thought perhaps if I could find a baked kibble instead of an extruded kibble, that would be wonderful, but alas finding a good baked kibble without one or all of those ingredients is proving impossible. I am sorry to be rambling, but I am so confused.

  18. I am 78 years old, have lived with and loved dogs my entire life — and I am still totally amazed and in awe of how open and loving dogs’ hearts are.

  19. No one has a “right” to this, nor does Odin’s new family have any obligation, but I’ll still hope to hear about how he is getting along.

  20. You are so strong to give Odin to his forever home. Reading your posts I know how much you love him. It looks like he is in a perfect place and he and the young boy will grow up as best friends.

  21. Odin is the perfect boy he grew into because of you and your loving care. It’s hard to pass them on but he’s got a wonderful home and leaves space for you to take in another special furry babe. After one, comes another, all individual and special.
    Thank you for what you’ve done for this special boy.

  22. Be glad! Odin has found his place in the world and you helped him find it. A few tears are allowed 🙂 You did a wonderful job and I’m so happy for you and Odin.

  23. Congratulations to Odin and his new family, but my condolences to you. But you’re a hero for fostering dogs and getting them ready for forever families.

    I’ve also been reading everything I can about DCM. I’m also alarmed at the hysteria, and the political maneuvering by various groups (a certain Facebook group comes to mind) and the fact that so many people are willing to divide into various camps and malign the integrity of opposing camps. I went to Petco a couple of times recently, and it was hard to find anything that *didn’t* have lots of legumes and potatoes in them, except for the Big 5 brands that had lower protein and more dubious protein sources. There doesn’t seem to be anything in between. For those of us that want to feed a meat-heavy diet (to include a variety of meats, fish, bones and organs) with some vegetables and even grains or other starchy carbohydrates — but not legumes, which seem to be problematic, there don’t seem to be many commercial choices. So I continue to feed mainly raw, with bones, fish and shellfish, organs, and home-cooked grains such as oatmeal, hemp hearts and chia seeds, and some veggies, with a bit of kibble as mainly training treats.
    Many standard veterinarians or canine nutritionists want me to believe that byproducts are just as good if not better than fresh meat or meat meals, or that corn gluten and wheat gluten are perfectly find foods for dogs, or that I shouldn’t be reading dog food labels at all. I think it comes down to “nutritionism,” as defined by Michael Pollan, vs belief in the value of whole foods and limited food-based supplements. The first view seems to think a completely fabricated diet from food parts that are reconstituted and recombined in a lab and dosed with artificial nutrients is superior to feeding dogs whole, real foods that dogs and their ancestors (and we and our ancestors) have evolved eating, or as close to it as we can get in the modern world. It’s truly a clash of cultures.

  24. Yay for Odin and Nancy and the new family! I cried and smiled as I read about the Odin’s new forever home and his new boy. Thank you for all you do for so many animals. And thank you for the deep analysis of the food issues. I’m relying on you to help us find some path through the confusion… no pressure. 😉

  25. I’m so happy that Odin has found his forever home! I started to cry, too….I hope you will continue to receive updates from his new family and pictures that you can share with us I’ve shared the whole story with my own pup, who has her life-long eye issue—she was happily wagging her tail! You have my unending admiration for all you do in fostering and training otherwise homeless dogs. God Bless you, Nancy.

  26. Kudos to you and Odin when the family that adopted him! Yes, everyone would love to have some pictures of Odin and his new family 🙂 Thanks again Nancy for all your hard work and doing the best thing which is saving our dogs and finding them loving homes!

  27. Happy ending for Odin, stories we all love to hear and read about. My hats off to you, a true dog lover who goes above and beyond to help not just dogs you care for but all the dogs. Thank you for your dedication and work on DCM research and informing us of your findings so we can feed our dogs a nutritionally balanced healthy diet for an active long life.

  28. I am a senior who lost she best friend of 15 years .i live
    On a fixed income so I can’t spend much money but would love to find another best friend . I must have a small dog that I can handle my friend was small I could pick her up she was a Shih Tzus .does any one out there have such a dog

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