Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fostering My Love of Dogs

By Bridget Keenan, Director of Development

I just enjoyed my first experience as a dog-mom. I’ve found myself being tempted toward dog ownership recently, and I figured becoming a dog foster parent is a good way to learn if I’m the dog-type. My cats are super-affectionate, but I can’t bring them hiking, or to the local coffeehouse, or to HSSV’s dog-centric Walk ‘n Wag event. So I applied to be a foster mom and stuck my big toe in the water, dog-wise.

Casaundra, who manages our dog foster program, went easy on me with my first foster. Enter “Fergie” a little 9-pound Chihuahua/Mini Pinscher mix. She came to HSSV as a rescue from a local shelter where she was a stray, and she was terrified. She clung to me the moment she was put into my arms on a Friday afternoon. I was instructed that my only job was to love her up and build her confidence by introducing her to new things. I could do that! I zipped her into my fleece uniform vest and went back to my keyboard, and in about an hour she stopped shaking from fright.

She was very scared that first weekend, but came out of her shell by Day Two, and started showing signs of confidence. She was so affectionate, curling up on my lap or by my side, or being held on my shoulder like a baby. I nicknamed her “Lovebug”.

Even my cats got used to her, and she soon chose my cat Marigold as her best friend, chasing her around the house and batting at her playfully. My favorite moments were when I’d be watching TV covered by my “pet blanket”: Fergie and my two cats, all asleep along my body (chest, lap, legs). She got along well with my office-mate’s Beagle, Chip, too.

I struggled with wanting to adopt her, but knowing that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to care for other dogs in need in our foster program. In less than two weeks, I had successfully loved her up and built her confidence, and Fergie was ready for adoption. Within two days, she was adopted into the perfect home where she will have heaps of time and love devoted to her. Her new owners are a lovely couple who keep in touch and let me know that she is bonding quickly with them, and is fun and playful; they adore her.

It's a great experience being a foster mom. While it pulls on the heart-strings as I balance loving them completely and trying not to get too attached, I also trust the adoption system we have in place, and know HSSV will find the right home for them. It’s extremely gratifying knowing I’m the critical bridge between HSSV and their permanent home. Next week I’ll meet my next pooch, and the process will start anew.