Last weekend was a pretty big weekend for us: I left Johnnie at home with my parents for a full 36 hours! To me, that meant I wasn’t around to help them if she was having one of her over-stimulated bouts of puppy-behavior, I wasn’t around to exercise her if she was getting a little too bouncy and I wasn’t around to construct activities for her if she needed some mental work. To them, that meant they got to watch Johnnie for a day or two, feed and water her, let her out to go to the bathroom and play tug or fetch with her every once in a while. Can you tell which of us was more worried about it?
I’m going to confess something to you: I am becoming a bit of a helicopter mom. I am so worried about what might go wrong (even if I have no reason to think it will) that I try to micromanage every little experience Johnnie has. So when I knew I wouldn’t be around to do that for a weekend, I got a little freaked. It’s not that I don’t think my parents will take great care of her – they’re amazing foster grandparents and J is extremely lucky to have them – I just don’t want anything to go wrong because of something I could have prevented, ya know?
I left them with pages of instructions for different scenarios that might come up and I filled the freezer with kongs and chew toys in case they needed a way to entertain her. The morning I left, my mom, like the all-knowing, full-of-wisdom mother she is, told me, “Don’t worry about things you don’t have control over. She will be fine. Have fun!” and sent me on my way. I was relieved that they weren’t worried about it, but I was still crossing my fingers that Johnnie would be on her best behavior!
It turns out that sure enough, like I should have realized all along, I had nothing to worry about. Johnnie was totally fine for them the whole weekend. My mom even took Johnnie out to the barn with her on Saturday evening. It was another moment of panic for me (did she meet any off-leash dogs? did she see any cats? what did she think of the horses?! ahh!), but everything went great. My mom even sent me a whole slew of texts “from Johnnie” about their trip to the barn, full of play-by-play photos! See how it went:
“Foster G took me on a care ride! She’s got lots of supplies in her coat. She took me to learn manners in a new place.”
“It was a place with big dogs LOL. The big dogs have big feet and they smell funny. The dogs don’t like to play. They just stand there.”
“Do you know what else I did? I found new smells. Do u know that big dogs don’t poop in the back yard like me? I found the big bucket where they go.”
“I met new peoples. Only Chris knew to ignore me until i sat. The girl peoples were over stimulating, but Foster G made me sit anyway. Those girls were picking up & taking pictures of me & acting all goofy.”
“Foster G decided I wasn’t using the thinking side of my brain anymore ’cause I wasn’t paying attention. Then I didn’t want to sit anymore. I decided I like sit pretty better.”
“Foster G said “fun over” and she took me to another big dog house but I had to wait in the car where it was warm & quiet. She put some stuff in the big dog house and I got my brain back. Foster G was fast & i could see her so I didn’t get worried. I also got a drink and that helped me relax.”
“When I got home FG wanted me to eat. She gave me some yogurts but she made me WORK for my supper! I finished my dinner and FG said she wanted to take a rest. I said I’d watch some TV w her before she leaves.”
So two things can be taken away from these messages from “Johnnie”: 1. I have the most amazing mom who goes way out of her way to not only take great care of my foster dog but also to make sure I know that everything is okay and 2. I need to stop worrying so much! Of course I will forever predict worst case scenarios and therefore prepare myself so I can set my dogs up for success, but I need to remember that the world won’t end if I’m not in control of every little thing. Sometimes the kids have to live a little and learn on their own, right? (Though only after training and being set up for success and put in safe, positive scenarios and. . . okay, I’ll stop.)
One of the biggest aspects of fostering that this relates to is when Johnnie goes home with her new adopters. I’ll have to realize that they’re going to need to learn things on their own. They’ll have their own challenges with her and, while I’ll be able to help them to some extent, I won’t necessarily be able to fix every problem for them – but that’s why she’s theirs and not mine.
To adopt your very own learning experience Johnnie Cash, email firstname.lastname@example.org.