A wiggly reminder

While Oliver was in his last few months I took a break from fostering. After he crossed the rainbow bridge, Kiara and I slowly found our routine without him, with occasional visits from Livingston (my boyfriend’s Doberman and Kiara’s best friend), agility, and snuggling. I was not ready to get back to fostering, not yet. Then last week, while our vet was full for spring break, I decided to bring Alex home to give him a change to get out of boarding.

He is a sweet guy but the first day here he was pacing, whining, unsure of what to do. Kiara would try to play with him and he would not react, so much that Kiara got depressed. The first night was rough, I will confess. He could not find a place to sleep where he would feel secure and he would whine every hour until I would talk to him. He was also probably in pain after HW treatment. I confess that when he woke me up for the 6th time at 5am I started questioning my sanity. I have a demanding full time job, lots of daily work for LFS, agility training, and, hopefully, a glimpse of social life. Why did I add another stress to my life? I went to work tired and grumpy, ready to give up on him. Then I came home and he was as happy to see me as if he had known me all his life. 24 hours of love for a rescue dog are a life time. He greeted me, we went outside to pee (he was getting that routine down too) and then he lied down next to my desk and took a big nap. I guess he was also sleep deprived. He followed Kiara to the toys basket and discovered that carrying around a stuffed toy is very fun.

The second night was better already and he asked to come on the bed with me. I gave in in the hope of a good night of sleep. The three of us slept well until morning. After breakfast he even played with Kiara. The panting was gone, the whining was slowly disappearing. He was always wiggly but now he was also relaxed. The third night he found the famous “magic chair” in my living room, the chair that every dog loves. He got himself comfortable and we all watched TV. At bedtime he settled on a dog bed next to my bed and slept all night. He is now a happy, relaxed, playful dog. Tomorrow we will attempt our first leash walk. Yes, fostering has its stressful moments and, 90% of the times there is not much sleep on the first night. But watching a dog feel safe, probably for the first time in a while, is so rewarding that I will take a few nights of no sleep anytime. I am making a difference in his life and I am giving him a chance to show me, us, and everyone who has been following him on Facebook, what an amazing dog he is. I don’t question my sanity anymore as Alex just reminded how an amazing experience fostering is.

9 comments on “A wiggly reminder”

  1. Trish Reply

    We always refer to the “24 hour rule”. Don’t make any judgments about a foster dog until after the first 24 hours – many times you wouldn’t believe it’s the same dog!

  2. Carl Reply

    Fostering is so rewarding! On several occasions we have had that ‘first 24 hour – OMG, what did we get ourselves into’ moment. But then to watch a pup learn and get comfortable with their new environment and begin to trust and love again little by little and after just a few days it’s like – wow what happened to that shy, afraid little puppy.

    That incredible feeling of satisfaction and just plain joy is hard to explain until you’ve actually experienced it. We are new foster parents – just a year or so – but it is so much fun and rewarding. Seeing the little ones come out of their shell and discover really wonderful new things like the awesomeness of a belly rub or getting to pick out their very own toy at the pet shop. The amazing looks of gratitude you get when they know they are safe and loved just melts your heart.

    Thanks Lab Friends for introducing us to the wonderful world of fostering!

  3. Becky Reply

    I also learned of the “24 hour” rule recently…. the first two days started of a little rough with some challeging moments but every day got better than the last. Everyday she improved on potty-training, learning tricks and figuring out our routine. Although there were those “oh my goodness” moments, the love and affection that my foster gave me still sticks with me. I even cried when it was time to turn her over for the weekend so she could get adopted. 🙂 It is amazing how these sweet dogs can provide you so much happiness in such a short amount of time.

    The most amazing part of our experience was to see how “unaffected” our foster seemed by life despite the fact she was recovering from heartworm and spade procedures and was so skinny and scarred from living as a stray on the streets. She wasn’t afraid or turned off from anything, just wanted to learn from us and love us and try her hardest to make friends with our dog. 🙂

    I know now for our next foster to plan for the “24 hour rule”.. 🙂 Thank you Lab Friends for having us in your family!

  4. Marilyn Black Reply

    ‘But watching a dog feel safe, probably for the first time in a while, is so rewarding that I will take a few nights of no sleep anytime. I am making a difference in his life and I am giving him a chance to show me, us, and everyone who has been following him on Facebook, what an amazing dog he is. I don’t question my sanity anymore as Alex just reminded how an amazing experience fostering is’

    So beautifully put…
    Especially the reference to being there for the dog so he can shine – he simply can’t do that alone…and that relates to all if us in such a profound way. Hence the deep satisfaction for the merciful rescuer.
    Thank you so much for your efforts which have indeed made a vast difference, and not just to the foster lab.

  5. MAry Reply

    I hope you still have Alex to keep. Wouldn’t it be unfair to get his love and make him feel secure, only to return him to the shelter?

    • lfselena Reply

      Mary our dogs are NEVER returned to the shelter. They stay with us until a permanent home is found. Even then, the adopters sign a contract agreeing to never turn him back to a shelter. If they dont want him anymore, at any point in their life they HAVE to turn in back to us. Now that Alex is in LFS program, he will never be back to a shelter !!!

      Elena

  6. Pat Bechtold-Garski Reply

    I’ve been following,Alex,ever since his debut, on your website. His photo reminded me of one of my dear, rescued labs, Zak. Zak passed a while ago, at the age of 14,but memories of him are forever embedded in my heart.Enjoying the updates, posted about Alex, I can’t help but recall the similarities to my Zak. . relaxed, but always happy to rally for a frisbee or tennis ball, loved to be in the company of family, always ready for a romp with neighborhood pups, loved his adventures while walking in the woods or parks, came to my side, in-a-blink whenever called, loved to be hugged and cuddled endlessly. . . To this day, I will never understand why his former owner tried to end his life for chewing a boot, as a young pup. God bless the neighbors who reported the ongoing abuse and demanded the law to step in. Zak was placed with a rescue organization, I became his foster mom turned forever mom. I then,became involved in foster care, for many years. I had plenty of throw-away pets spend time with my family, become wholesome and rehabilitated moving on to loving, forever homes. Fostering is a terrific opportunity to save a worthwhile life that otherwise would have ended, senselessly. God bless all of you, foster parents, for opening your heart and homes to the many pups in need, giving them the 2nd chance they are so deserving of. May Alex find such a home, where he will be loved and appreciated ’till he’s old and gray in the muzzle. . . 🙂

  7. Stacy Reply

    Such a sweet article. It caught my eye because we just lost our sweet Kiara (beautiful 13 year old yellow lab) in January. So when I saw the name I had to read and I am glad I did. Not ready quite yet but I will be soon for another labby in our family maybe even to foster. You are all such wonderful people for doing what you do for these sweet dogs. They are all heart with big sweeping tails and toothy grins.

    • lfselena Reply

      Stacy, we never find a dog called Kiara. In fact most people are confused and do not know how to pronounce Kiara. I love the name. My other rescue before her was called Nala… “The Lions King” lover will recognize why Kiara was a good name for a red fox labrador… Elena

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