Gingerbread 014

“She had no particular breed in mind, no unusual requirements. Except the special sense of mutual recognition that tells dog and human they have both come to the right place.” Lloyd Alexander – American Author of Children’s Literature (1924-2007)

Decorating the house a few weeks before Christmas, I came upon my Hooper’s original Christmas stocking. As many know, Hoops was our beautiful Portuguese water dog born just two days after Christmas. In late August we lost her when she passed quickly from illness at age ten.

My first instinct was to pack her stocking away, but instead, I hung it in the window near our Christmas tree so she could continue to be part of our celebration. This got me thinking of something I had said to her just before she passed, “When the time is right, send mom and dad a little fur-angel to make us happy.”

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to come to meet many people from all areas of “Dogdom,” in researching my book chronicling the history of National Dog Week. I have interviewed groomers, trainers, dog-centric authors, a pet psychic, doggy fashionistas, rescuers, transporters, Spay and Neuter Advocates and those in the therapy and service industries. I also came to know those who are active in the Fostering world; individuals who take dogs and puppies from high kill shelters and transport them to temporary homes before they are rehomed.

I had always wanted to foster, but unfortunately, our Hooper did not love other dogs and was extremely jealous. She would have made life for a foster quite unbearable. I had often found myself saying, “I will foster in a few years when our Hoops is no longer with us.” When fate changed that, I thought the time had come to explore the world of fostering in a personal way.

I told Lynne Fowler of Oodles of Doodles Rescue Collective that I was ready to give it a try. Lynne is a school teacher in Monmouth County, NJ who founded her organization in 2009. She told me to keep an eye on the puppies and dogs that were ready to make their journey and to let her know. I chose my pup (or she chose me) when I saw a picture of a little terrier mix named Gingerbread who was in Virginia.

When my husband saw the photo of Gingerbread, he said, “Are you sure that’s a dog?” With her shaved muzzle, and wild russet-hued hair, people told me she looked like a bear cub, a red fox and even an opossum.

Rich and I collected Gingerbread and her friend Suri on I-95 the day after Christmas in a wild rain storm. She had made her journey with several other dogs on Christmas Day. Ginger sat way back in her crate looking at me with her big soulful eyes. Suri, an absolutely gorgeous Havi/Malti mix tried to play with my fingers and kept kissing my hand. I sat and sang to them as we made the forty-five minute trek home. I had once read that puppies loved silly songs with their names included in the verses and that this calmed them. These two got the same song with their names inserted!

I am going to stop here and continue with my fostering experience in my next post. I will let you know that I only had the pleasure of Gingerbread’s company for less than three days before she was placed, and yes, we did become attached in that short time. Be it 48 hours, four weeks or four months, the ultimate goal of Fostering is to save the life of a homeless animal. While this may not be emotionally easy, I will tell you that just knowing you did that will make up for any sense of loss you may feel when you surrender “your” dog.

There are so many dedicated people who have fostered hundreds of dogs, sometimes five to twenty at a time, so I ask them to forgive my “newbieishness,” (new word I made up) and understand that I use my blog as a platform to introduce those who are not as active in the dog-world to new avenues of understanding (at least I hope I do) and create awareness. I write with the hopefulness that if even one person sees things in a new perspective, I have made an impact.

There is a complex network of individuals involved in the process of Rescue and Fostering and in a subsequent post I will talk more about the “technical” aspects of fostering and introduce you to some of the dedicated individuals involved in an interview with Lynne Fowler.

For now, I wish everyone a very Happy New Year. We here at the Jersey Shore, as in many other places in the nation and world, truly look forward to a restorative period, appreciating what we are left with, hopefully learning from our errors and finding new ways to make life better for mankind and our companion animals.

You can help by leaving comments, sharing and perhaps thinking about how you can make your own contribution.

Rest, Revive, Restore, Recreate, Rescue and reap the rewards.