Today, December 30th, marks the one year anniversary of me and your foster dad Eran adopting you. It also marks the one year anniversary of the day we took away your pain, gave you wings, and set you free.
All of my foster dogs got letters when they left me. It felt like closure to the journey of loving them and letting them go. Even though you weren’t technically my foster, you still deserve a letter, Bug. But when we said goodbye to you I just didn’t have the words. I’m hoping that now, one year later, I can put words together in a way that will do your little soul justice.
You came into our lives during the snowy month of March. I remember the text your dad sent me. “I think I decided on one.” We’d gone to the shelter the night before to check out foster candidates, but no one really clicked with Eran. The next night, one dog did. That dog was you. He described the way you acted when he met you. Outgoing, wiggly, goofy, lovable. You sounded perfect. You were perfect.
The first day with you was a whirlwind. Everyone was so excited you were home! You went on a walk, you met your six new human roommates, you enjoyed a stuffed Kong and even did some clicker training. You were fitting right in, and you loved being out of the shelter.
Then it happened. You growled at one of the roommates that first night. I think we were all a little unsettled, but we chalked it up to first night jitters. Transitions are hard, we get it. You’d been through so much, after all! We’d show you really fast that the world isn’t a scary place. We weren’t worried.
You opened up to us so much over the next few months. We learned all about your perfect little quirks. We learned about the rhino run you did when you were excited. We learned how far apart your eyes went whenever you worked on a frozen Kong. We learned how stinkin’ brilliant you were as you showed us how quickly you mastered new behaviors. We learned how food motivated you were when you figured out every single food puzzle your foster family diligently created for you. We learned how hard you snuggled, and how perfect of a couch buddy you were.
We also learned that you were a sensitive soul. It turns out the world was scarier than we realized, and that you had some fears ingrained in you that we just couldn’t combat. What we wouldn’t have given to just be able to talk to you, Bug. We would have told you there was no need to be worried all the time. We would have begged you to just trust us, to know that we would take care of you.
If there was one person who helped you find some inner peace, it was your dad. The bond between you and Eran was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. He’s fostered other dogs before and after you, but he didn’t love any of them the way he loved you (even if he says differently). Eran spent some time funemployed while he and his housemates fostered you, and during those months it was just you and him a lot of the time, Bug. I watched you two go on daily road trips, sometimes to Campbell as you helped him overcome his own fears, and sometimes to a secluded hike so the two of you could escape the city for a little. Your dad would also bring you by my work for a midday visit almost every week, and those visits would brighten my whole day. He used clicker training to teach you an entire repertoire of behaviors. You turned him into one amazing trainer, you know that? He worked with you, sacrificed for you, and advocated for you.
Despite his best efforts, and the efforts of everyone else in your foster home, we couldn’t make you comfortable. Your rescue group supported you every step of the way, working to find you a foster situation that might better fit your needs. You know, that quiet home out in the country with no other pets – the one everyone looks for that is nearly impossible to find.
You finally landed with a wonderful family. They were so dedicated to you and they loved you like we loved you. We got updates, and I even got to go visit you. I was so proud when I was able to show them all the behaviors you knew, especially since we hadn’t practiced in a while. You flew through them with ease. You never ceased to amaze me, Buggy. Everyone continued working together to try to ease your worries, hoping for a breakthrough.
I remember the phone call to this day. Your fears and anxieties finally got the best of you. I know you didn’t want to hurt that girl. I know you were reacting from a dark place, a place you didn’t know how to control. You finally showed us that you couldn’t take this world anymore, that you were no longer capable of handling the stress that came with simple, every day life. Hearing what happened, and realizing how deeply distressed you were – Buggy, that broke my heart into a million pieces.
Eran and I immediately got in the car and raced to pick you up that night. We were your happy place. The three of us together, in our blissful bubble where the outside world didn’t exist. If I could have realistically given you that bubble for the rest of your life, I would have. I think Eran and I both would have.
When we came to the devastating decision that we were going to say goodbye to you, Eran and I made it official that you would leave this world with a family of your own. We signed that dotted line, Bug. You were ours. You were our perfect, goofy, block-headed, cross-eyed, black rhino. Gotcha.
You were in our lives for nine beautiful months. What we learned from you, however, will stay with us for a lifetime. I see you in the animals I help at the shelter. Eran sees you in the dogs he continues to foster and help through his advocacy work. You’re everywhere, Buggy. Your impact will linger much longer than the too-short time you were here on this earth for.
We love you, Bug. Thanks for running full force into our hearts. We miss you every day.