Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Foster #5: Darling

As I explained here, there are a variety of reasons why a dog might be in need of a short-term foster home of the kind that Peter and I provide. Our first four fosters were all arriving in the DC area from high-kill shelters in the South, and our fostering them included picking them up from transport, fostering them in our home overnight or for the weekend, and taking them to their first Lucky Dog Animal Rescue adoption event. Unlike those first four, Darling arrived in the DC area a few months ago, and she needed a foster home this past weekend just while her long-term foster mom was out of town Friday through Sunday.

We picked Darling up at her foster mom's house on Friday evening. We had been warned about her shyness, so I was very surprised when she came bounding up to greet me at the door (Peter had to wait outside because there are two other dogs in the home who aren't crazy about unfamiliar men). Once we got Darling out of the house and onto the sidewalk, though, she seemed to realize that we were two unfamiliar people taking her away from a familiar place, and she started whimpering and pulling back towards the door. We coaxed her into the car, and she spent the car ride home alternatively trying to look out the windows and whimpering in concern.

By the time we arrived back at our house it was pouring down rain, which put a bit of a damper on our usual strategy of introducing Lily to a new foster dog on the sidewalk in front of a neighbor's house and then taking Lily and the foster on a walk together. Still, we knew it wasn't a good idea to just barge into Lily's "territory" with a new dog, so we braved the rain for an abbreviated walk just around our neighborhood's cul de sac. Lily and Darling complained far less about the drenching rain than I did, and by the time we got inside the house they were perfectly comfortable with each other.

Lily and Darling hanging out together on the stairs on Saturday morning

That night and over the course of the weekend we were pleasantly surprised to discover that, while Darling is certainly a shy dog, she is nowhere near as shy as Lily was when we first brought her home (although in fairness to Lily, we didn't already have another dog present to reassure her). Possibly because she is being long-term fostered by a woman, though Darling was wary of Peter she bonded immediately with me. She seemed to have decided that I was mama duck and she was a duckling, and she was going to follow me around accordingly. The entire time that she was with us, every time I moved, Darling moved. Every time I stopped moving, Darling stopped moving. When I reappeared from the bathroom after taking a shower (and therefore being unavailable to her for 20 minutes or so), she greeted me with joyous, slightly frantic euphoria.

Darling and Lily got along wonderfully together. While Lily loves other dogs in general, as I mentioned here we have had fosters with whom we needed to do tie-down training because they were constantly in Lily's face. Lily likes to play for short bursts, but she also likes time to relax. Darling seemed to understand this, and while she and Lily had a blast playing together, they also spent a fair amount of time calmly napping or just hanging out next to me on the sofa. Needless to say, the tie-down was entirely unnecessary, as Darling demonstrated impeccable "doggie manners."

While I have enjoyed the time I got to spend with each of our previous fosters, Peter, Lily, and I are a fairly low-key, chill family, and it was clear that our past fosters, all of whom were higher energy, would not have fit in with us permanently. We were happy to have those past fosters stay with us temporarily, especially knowing that we were helping them along the way to their forever homes, but I never got overly attached to any of them. Naively, I thought that maybe I was just really good at compartmentalizing my feelings and remaining suitably detached.

Darling proved me wrong. She does have a bit more energy than Lily, but between how well the two of them got along and her sweet duckling routine with me, she stole my heart. It turns out that I am no better at controlling my feelings than anyone else (and probably much worse at it than the amazing long-term fosters who keep pups for months or even years on end and then still manage to say good-bye when they find a forever home). It was just that we had not yet fostered a dog who fit in so well with our family. If Peter and I could adopt another dog right now, Darling would have been our foster failure.

But it was not meant to be. Current circumstances are such that, at least for now, Peter and I are committed to remaining a one dog family. Peter patiently reminded me of this more than once over the weekend when my emotions started to get the better of me and I began hinting that maybe we should give in to the foster failure temptation. Darling's wonderful long-term foster mom picked her up at our house on Sunday evening, and I managed to keep it together long enough to say good-bye and didn't start bawling until the door had closed behind them.

So, sweet Darling is still available for adoption. Maybe my loss could be you (or someone you know's) gain? Her petfinder profile can be viewed here, and contact information for her long-term foster mama is included therein. Her ideal forever home will include at least one already resident dog, as well as a person who thinks she is as wonderful as I do.

1 comment:

  1. Yay you for taking her in for a bit. She is crazy cute!