Juliana recently had her 1 year anniversary of fostering. Zabora, Baxter, Otis, and the occasional short term visitor have made this past year much different than the first few years we were together. Juliana loved all of the dogs that passed through her door. Some she handpicked, others picked her.
None of them picked me.
Don’t take this the wrong way, because I love dogs and have had a great time helping Juliana take care of these pups, but I never felt connected to these dogs at a deeper level. Juliana would have the first few days with the dog and because of our schedules we wouldn’t have much time to see each other. By the time I was able to interact with the dog, it was as if there were two sides and the dog had already chosen Juliana’s. I honestly never felt included.
And that was mostly my fault.
This changed when Juliana brought Charlie home for a week. I was able to be around the first days he was in the house, but I was also able to hang out with Charlie alone. We spent a morning together working on his hesitation with basements. We built trust and team work (AKA I gave him a lot of yummy food), and this made it easier for Juliana since I was actively engaged with the dog (not that I completely wasn’t with the others).
My point is, taking care of a dog is a group effort. From picking out a dog to training a dog everyone needs to be involved. With Christmas coming up here is an important reminder: it can be okay to give a pet as a gift only if you let the receiver pick out which pet to adopt rather than letting it a be a surprise. As much as we love to relish in the excitement of a surprise, an animal should never be a surprise. And after welcoming a new member to the family be sure to involve everyone. It’ll be better for the pet, and better for everyone else.