Baby the Dog

Years ago – though it feels like a lifetime ago – and before I owned my sugarplum Mia, there was the original mischievous sprite: A dog named Baby.

At one of those “What am I doing with my life” crossroads, I started reading about dog rescue groups and volunteered just a tiny bit of time to Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue, in Ontario.

This tiny bit of time wasn’t heroic, nor world-changing in any way, as we maybe first imagine volunteering will be. Nor did it stick: Within a year I had fallen in love with writing film reviews, and I gave this new passion all my time, outside of my day job.

So, yes. A volunteering fail, on the days I’m hard on myself. Which is most days. No, if I’m being honest, it’s every day.

But it was also a small glimpse into what seems like an alternate reality: Communities of people, who band together, who give all their time and savings, who clean up dog barf and risk getting mauled.

Everyday. For nothing. For a dog, or many dogs, that they will say goodbye to in the end. Some volunteers foster their dogs for months, or years, with a painful mix of love and knowing that any day it could be time to let go.

And so, like many others who learn about animal rescue, it started with hours each night, devouring all the information I could, and living in utter shock at what I found. I’d come to work drained and with cry-eyes, with images of injured and traumatized death row dogs filling my head.

I’d meet these people, these incredible and amazing people, and couldn’t fathom how they  manage with their huge hearts and their brave faces. Their homes nearly have revolving doors, as they often welcome four, five, six new dogs. With few questions or objections. Biting dogs, backyard escapee Houdini dogs, diseased dogs and even terminally ill dogs.

When you foster a rescue dog, you soon stop caring about wanting a perfect dog. A breeder dog. A picture of health and obedience. A lucky dog. You find yourself wondering how many rescue dogs could you squeeze into your tiny apartment – because anything is better than the life they have now.

And so we started me off with Baby, an owner-surrendered Shih Tzu mix with an overbite. A playful, ridiculous goofball of a dog. And oh my, was it ever love. Within a week I had submitted my application to adopt her. A “foster failure” as it is jokingly called in rescue circles.

Baby Sleeping close up 1.jpg

But there was a problem. My goofy girl had separation anxiety, and as our bond grew, so did her condition. Neighbours complained about increasing amounts of barking while I was at work. Claw marks on the door were soon dabbed with bloodstains, as she had scraped until her nails were chipped down to their quakes.

So as my heart broke, she was immediately re-homed. They found a retired foster mom who could be home with her all day. Her adoption papers now voided, and my home suddenly feeling emptier than it ever did before.

Baby Eyes Openjpg.jpg

Within weeks, Baby got adopted by a great lady who works from home, has a huge backyard and other dogs to keep her company. And although I truly hate goodbyes, I know she found the right home.

What I learned from Baby is what I really wanted: A crazy, goofy, imperfect dog. Later, when I was ready to try again, that’s exactly what I found in my Lhasa Apso, Mia.

But that story is an even more emotional one, so I’ll have to save it for another day.

I still hold all at Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue in the highest regard. They changed my life as much as Baby’s. If ever interested in volunteering or in adopting a dog, I recommend them wholeheartedly. You can read about them at http://www.psbrescue.com

2 thoughts on “Baby the Dog

  1. I too have rescued and fostered. I am still an inactive volunteer for two rescue groups. Inactive because as you know, you fall in love with some of these fosters and that’s what we did with one we named Lucy, a Boston Terrier. However, just to shorten the story, our oldest dog in our own family didn’t accept Lucy (they were both alfa dogs). We wanted to adopt her and become “foster failures” as you say, ( I guess technically we already were) (Another story) but without the acceptance by Rosie, it was impossible to do. Lucy went to a wonderful man who had nothing but time to spend with her. We were so grateful to find her a really good home. It did just break our hearts to do so though and we decided it was time for a break from fostering so we could rally up our stamina and muster up the strength again that it takes to do this job. My suggestion to anyone wanting to foster is , YOU MUST get it clear in your head that you are doing what you can do to help this dog become adoptable and you WILL BE letting it go. Sometimes that might be a week, sometimes longer. We had one for nine months before she was ready. Also, some of these dogs come from the worst of the worst environments and are traumatized, usually filthy, matted, and don’t know how to socialize with you or even accept you as some one who will be good to them. All they know is fear and mistreatment. It takes real commitment and work to bring them around and teach them so that they will be adoptable. I’m not trying t scare anyone off but just letting you know, although it seems like it would be fun(and it is, at times) it is also work, commitment, and the ability to love with all your heart and then let go. I know I have repeated myself but this is not a job that can be taken lightly. Oh yes and it is volunteer…..your payment is the satisfaction, the love, and the knowledge that you gained by caring for and teaching each dog what it means and how it feels to know love. That, the feeling you get in your heart and in the pit of your stomach each time one leaves you is worth more than any money anyone could ever pay you. God Bless anyone and everyone that can make that commitment and God Bless the adopters for their decision to adopt a rescue.
    Sandy
    PS I hope you will read a few of my posts. A good one to start with is “The odd couple” and another one “Chickie”. If “Remembering Rita” is posted on my site, it’s one that will bring tears just FYI if you decide to read. Be sure to stop by and say Hi. I will be following you now. Glad I found your site.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sandy,
      Wow thank you for this amazing comment and sharing your thoughts! I’d like to convert this comment into a guest blog post, so it can be more prominent on here. Do I have your permission to do so?

      Liked by 2 people

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