Adventures In Fostering: Foster Fail Or Pass?
Saying goodbye can be bittersweet, as Kevin Roberts knows all too well. As an active foster dog parent, Kevin has had to part with many dogs, just like Francis, when they find a forever home. But (sigh!) it’s all for the best…
After four weeks, things were going smoothly – our newest foster, Francis was fitting in perfectly. He was a wonderful house guest, and my mind kept turning to thoughts of making him a permanent resident. That would make this a “Foster Fail” – that’s when you take on a foster, fall completely in love with them, and adopt them. I was determined not to fail. I had my work cut out for me… just look at this list of things that I loved about Francis:
- He was easy to train, and happy to learn new things. Training Francis was fun, he’s such a keener and so attentive. That’s my kind of dog!
- Francis fit into our active lifestyle. He would chase a Frisbee for hours, never tiring. On top of that, he was a happy, hard-working puller. It took little training for Francis to get into the spirit of harness work, and he loved to help pull the scooter or canicross with us.
- Our permanent pack of dogs loved him. There is now a giant crater in what used to be the lawn from Burger and Francis running around each other in circles all day. He was respectful of Belle, and she even let him play with her. This is rare as Belle is not overly fond of her own species (what you would call a dog snob). Francis was cool with River too, the oldest dog in the pack. River was no match for his adorable puppy antics, and could often be found playing with our newest addition.
- He’s so cute! When Francis gets excited or he’s focused intently on something, his ears stand up and touch together at the top! It looks so goofy, but it makes me smile. Adding to his adorableness is a little pink spot that adorns his nose… it’s like a cherry on top of an uber-cute sundae!
The Bad, and the Naughty!
Don’t get wrong – not everything during our four weeks together was sunshine and unicorn farts. Francis proved that he was capable of pulling of some not-so-cute feats as well.
Francis has a fetish for chewing on household items. Yes, I know… it’s our fault for leave these things out, but still, the replacement costs were really adding up! Just a few of the items he got a hold of included a pair of dress shoes and a couple of soft sided kennels. I know that puppies and soft sided kennels do not mix, but they were set up for the adult dogs to use when they needed a break from all those puppy antics. Francis would leave the kennels well enough alone when they were occupied, but as soon as they were vacated – NOM NOM NOM! Gone in seven seconds! After he shredded two of the kennels, we had to get crafty and construct temporary housing that could withstand Hurricane Francis.
Francis also ate through Burger’s leash. Twice. While out on walks, waiting for traffic, he turned his razor sharp teeth to the fabric and sawed right through the leash. On a positive note, Burger never realized he was free, but had to walk home with a leash that was considerably shorter than we started out with.
Will It Be A Foster Fail or Foster Pass?
Even with these lapses of cuteness, I was still tempted to “fail.” Besides, no suitable candidate had come forward. I believe that all things happen for a reason, and the reason that no one had come forward yet to adopt this dog was a sign that I adopt him permanently.
That’s not to say that there was no interest in Francis – anyone who met him saw how lovely and sweet he a dog he is. How could they resist those good looks and little pink nose? When they got down to cuddle him, he would pull out his signature move: lying back into their arms, looking up at them with the most adoring face. Man, does he sure have some sweet moves!
But once the attraction of a cute face and cuddles wore off, reality would kick in. Francis is a young, high-energy dog that needs serious exercise every day. It’s not for everyone.
I guess fate had other plans for Francis, because a dog-loving family, complete with a teenaged son, came for a visit. They lived on the outskirts of town, and the father owned his own business, so was able to take the dog to work.
A first date was set – Francis was tired from daycare and would make a better first impression. The first thing the dad said when he saw Francis: “That’s a great dog right there!” Of course, Francis was affectionate with them all and the bond began to form. The family decided to take Francis for a walk – another good sign.
Next up was “the talk” – this is when I assess if the perspective family is a good fit with the foster dog. As I chatted with the parents, Francis was in his glory as he played with the teenaged son on the floor. Everyone talked about how much they loved their current dog, and the activities they enjoyed with her. She had also been a rescue, and it was clear that this family really loved their dog.
After a nice visit, we wrapped things up, and I encouraged the family to go home and talk about Francis and the changes it would mean in their life. I explained the adoption process and how things would go if they were interested in taking this further. I also told them my own rule about foster dogs – I never let a dog go home with a family until the third date. It’s easy to get excited after meeting someone the first time and get caught up in the energy. As well, they needed to see Francis on a day that he wasn’t tired out, just so they would know what they were getting themselves into. Finally, Francis had to meet their dog to determine if there was a match.
When things are meant to be, it doesn’t take long for the pieces to fall into place. The following dates went smoothly, with Francis and his new sister hitting it off wonderfully. As the potential adopters came over more frequently, Francis spent less time around me and more time with his new family. He walked well for them all on his leash, played with their son, and took treats gently from their fingers. I was proud of his good behavior.
It was also pretty clear how much they loved Francis already. Plus, it was evident with his waggy tail and goofy grin how he felt about them! The adoption was put into motion and the best possible solution was in place. Even though I was so close to failing and adopting him myself, this was clearly the family for Francis. He has so much love to give and it was a really great fit.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…
The time came to say goodbye. His new family was coming to pick him up. I packed Francis a bag of his food and a few of his favorite toys (so he wouldn’t forget the happy times he spent with us). As soon as he saw his new Mom, he ran to her, she clipped the leash to his collar, and he walked out the door. Not so much as a glance back – Sniff!
Francis broke my heart – but in a wondrous. From his chance meeting with a sympathetic rescuer in a high-kill shelter, to the volunteers who transported him, and to the rescue that sets this kind of miracle in action every day – I’m thankful that I got to play a small part in Francis’ happy ending.
Fostering is difficult; it has its ups and downs. I will have my heart broken again and again, and I think that it’s completely worth it. If you don’t believe me, just ask Francis and his new family!