So the time has come for Harvey, our 2 ½ year old Doberman to learn to share, and to bond with another dog beyond play dates. My husband and I discussed for many months the best way to go about this. We dreamed of having a second dog that could play with Harvey for an hour or so every day, which would give us a bit of a break.
Adopting a second dog concerned us. What if Harvey and the new dog truly could not get along? We can’t adopt another dog and then turn around and decide he’s not a good fit and give him up – yet we know dog relationships can be unpredictable. Plus, a second dog is a serious financial commitment for the next 10-15 years for which we aren’t fully prepared.
The idea of fostering a dog came into the picture and I started researching local rescue organizations. I searched for a rescue group that was well-organized, relatively large, and had an air of understanding for the foster parents in their organization (like understanding that Harvey is our permanent priority, and offering support to fosters who experience issues).
At the dog park, another owner/foster was happy working with BARCS in Baltimore, and we heard good things about Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW) in Greenbelt MD. We decided, after reading many websites, on Homeward Trails in Arlington VA, with whom we’d had some interaction at MOM’s adoptions events at Mighty Healthy Pet in College Park, MD.
We picked up our first foster, Betty, a grown but emaciated, beautiful Bluetick Coonhound, at an adoption event. She was a Priority Foster, meaning she’d been in a boarding kennel since her rescue from a NC puppy mill where she’d had her puppies taken from her and sold. Dogs don’t learn to socialize and learn house manners in boarding so the foster experience is very important for their development and eventual successful adoption.
Betty was calm, quiet, and sweet… and quite out of her element. We had to give her patience and training for a couple weeks but she was eager to show that she was a great family dog. She and Harvey might as well have been aliens to each other. They had no common interests and, for us, it was a bit like running a family made up of an elephant and a rooster – they needed different things and went opposite directions, always. But they tolerated each other and got a long fine.
Betty was a bit of a celebrity. Everywhere we went people recognized her striking hound face and telltale (telltail?) bluetick markings and would shout at us in approval. Matt, my husband, and I started a blog for Betty and a twitter account, as her good looks and wonderful personality translated well into social media. She quickly made friends, and gained over 300 followers who cheered her on as she searched for her new home.
After a couple of potential-adopter meetings, Betty found her new mom. It was a great match, a lovely woman who had no other dependents on which to focus; Betty would be her main gal, and Betty loved that (no pesky Harvey vying for attention). I’m sure they’re still working through their new life together, as its only week 3 for Betty in her new home. It was clear that Betty was ready to trust and love a new mom and that her new mom was smitten as well.
Friends and family expected us to break down when Betty was adopted. We weren’t sure either, how we were going to handle it. But it was an amazing feeling to know that we’d helped this wonderful dog become ready for her new home. In comparison, if I had to give up Harvey for any reason, I’d be heartbroken completely… but this is different. We knew our goal, and we made it! We were a tiny bit sad, and we missed her hugs and doe eyes, but mostly it felt great*. Betty will always have a place in our hearts as our very first foster, but our adventure had only just begun!
*Each foster pet that is adopted makes room for another to be saved from euthanasia at a shelter!
Coming Soon: Part 3 of Adventures in Fostering
Within days of Betty’s adoption, our second foster dog, a young puppy, would change us, and Harvey, forever.
Alyssa works at multiple MOMs locations.