The choice to become a foster was a nervous one. In rescue, you can never be truly certain of what you’re getting into, but there is always a need for fosters. I was raised that if you are able and you see a need, you fill it!
We are very early in our journey as foster parents, only having started this year and we have already fostered three Danes. Two are still currently with us, Philo and Sam. Our first foster, Duke was in and out in a blink and a perfect introduction to fostering.
Duke was the “easiest” and a great start. We have two dogs, a Dane and mix (48lbs. Dingo like pup), and they needed to learn that we were going to have guests. Duke being a puppy was not their favorite company, but he was a good boy the taught us it is necessary to be patient and adapt to visitors. Duke staying only a short time also meant we all moved through the learning process and then quickly have quiet time to normalize. But, in rescue, breaks can be short.
Philo came to us after having been attacked violently by his canine housemates multiple times. When he arrived, he had wounds on both elbows and even deeper mental wounds. The external wounds healed quickly and are now hard to see, however, the mental trauma left him so upset he wouldn’t eat or go to the bathroom for three days. He also hated being outside and would just tremble and cower. Yet, Philo never made a face or a growl even with intensive medical treatment, including prying his mouth open for pills. After two weeks, Philo started to eat small amounts of food, including hot dogs just to put something in his stomach for the meds. Sooner than we expected, Philo showed a desire to be with our dogs. Once he saw them following daily routines like eating, playing in the yard, and walking, he quickly followed suit. Philo is a big example of the small victories of fostering, as you see your foster blossom into a “normal” dog, like going to the bathroom, eating a full bowl of food, and not being so scared.
Recently, there was an emergency foster posting for a dog that couldn’t stand on his own. At this point, we had gotten Philo well settled into our home and routine. Being able bodied and home most of the time, we couldn’t turn away from this plea to help. When Sam came into rescue, he was a mystery. He had never been to a vet and the person surrendering didn’t know his date of birth. Sam was only 73lbs, infested with fleas, and unable to use or move his hind legs. We didn’t know if it was simply a pinched nerve or something more challenging, but we were prepared for all possible outcomes.
Sam is such a tolerant dog, which is great with all the help and treatment he needs. My vet saw him right away, declared him free of parasites and referred him to a neuro specialist. The MRI showed a tumor on his spine. Thankfully, GDRI is not a rescue that shies away from tough cases, and surgery was quickly approved and scheduled. Post-surgery we are now working on physical therapy, both at home and at the vets. Sam is now up to 101 lbs. It is so wonderful to see him gain weight and fil in. There are definitely hard days when we wonder how long we can carry on such an intensive process. But Sam now has little bursts of puppy playfulness that make it all worthwhile. Even though Sam struggles to move and do normal things like go outside to go to the bathroom, walk, or play, he continues to be a sweet and gentle boy.
In this short time, we have certainly gotten what we came for and it is our privilege to be able to help these pups. To be able to set them on a safe path and pave a way to a better life, and good home for them to grow into members of a family is exceptionally rewarding.