Gary, the 8-month-old pit bull mix, & I have spent this first week of foster getting to know each other. He learns my habits while I learn his. It’s a fair exchange, I think.
He’s teaching me how he signals to go outside & do his stuff. That’s just what I wanted. Then I can tell his permanent new “parents” what to look for. Good boy!
And he’s learned he can sit in the kitchen while I cook, but not to expect anything that he’s allowed to pick up off the floor. He sits quietly & watches, not really expecting anything except an occasional “good boy.”
Today, Gary spent the day just hanging out, learning as he goes. He learned I don’t mean the fly swatter to hit HIM!! Just flies. But, oh, he was afraid of it. I put it on the floor & let him smell it. Explore it. But he soon backed away, well, ran away. Nope, doesn’t want anything to do with that.
I told him & I’ll tell him again & again: That will NEVER happen, Gary. No one will ever hit you. He trusts and he’s “my” dog, but he is afraid to be hit. If I say “go” and point away from myself, he cowers & runs from my hand. If I say “sit” while I’m standing, he lowers his head and runs away.
He’s quick to come back with encouragement and a happy voice from me. We’ll be working hard on that. He follows me everywhere & sleeps next to me on the floor when I’m watching TV, sitting outside or at the computer. He does love me and he’s learning that I will never do him harm. If he feels insecure about something, he’ll run to me & sit on my foot or lean against me as he looks at the scary thing. Sweet baby.
Gary also spent a lot of time today playing — with Ursa or alone with a toy. He just loves to play either way. He tires himself out big time. But after a little nap, he’s ready to go again. He is just a puppy, after all.
And running at 100 mph around the yard. Honestly, if you didn’t know he had just 3 legs, you would never guess. He loves to chase a ball (always returns it too) or just run like crazy.
We had our first company since Gary’s been here. He was terrific. Not timid with them and not obnoxious either. He approached respectfully with a calm demeanor and wagged his tail and waited to be petted. How good!
Gary watches as Ursa, our own Pit, gets table scraps and he doesn’t. He’s very good about it, though, and just watches, never approaching.
As a foster parent, I think it’s my job not to encourage what might be seen as bad habits by an adoptive family. Nor do I let him sit on the furniture. That might seem cruel since Ursa is allowed, but Gary’s not my dog. A potential adopter might see those things as undesirable. Once he gets his real home, his new family can spoil him all they want. But, I feel it’s my job to make him as good as I can to increase his chances of adoption.
But, you see, everyone who fosters might not feel that way. Someone else might feel the need to foster just so the animals can get away from the shelter & get a vacation from the shelter to be hugged and cuddled. That’s okay too!!
Our dogs, cats, bunnies and other critters are fostered for reasons that are as varied as the reasons they ended up in the shelter in the first place.
If someone tries fostering & decides it’s just not for them after all. That’s okay too. Or, it might be that a person falls so in love with their foster, they just can’t part with them & end up adopting them themselves & that’s okay too, for sure!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that no style of fostering is more important or less important than another. All are needed!
Right now, it’s Gary, Ursa and me. And we’re doing just fine. He’s ready for his forever home right now. I’m just trying to make it a little easier to get one. That’s how I see my fostering job. Just a little stop on the trail home. Just a little help along the way.