Reuniting Two Years Later

Many of you weren’t around for Little Zee’s story. It was two years ago, far before this blog reached any sort of popularity. I was totally new to fostering, and decided to participate in her rescue from the shelter only because I had the help of one of the most knowledgeable, kind families I know: Love and a Six-Foot Leash. I remember driving Zabora home from her spay surgery, a drugged up, wide eyed dog in the back of my car, thinking, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?”

The first picture I took of a foster dog ever!

The first picture I took of a foster dog ever!

What I had gotten myself into was a remarkable story of how a community came together to save a dog who otherwise probably wouldn’t have had a chance. She was older (we guessed anywhere between eight or nine at the time, though now we know that estimate might have been a bit old), she wasn’t in great health and she had what we guessed was a neurological problem that gave her poor balance. The odds were against us, but our friends at Love and a Six-Foot Leash stepped forward to save her life and never looked back.

Zee helping Mark celebrate his 21st birthday!

Zee helping Mark celebrate his 21st birthday two years ago!

After just a few weeks bouncing between my home and L&ASFL’s home, Zabora found herself an amazing family. The couple she landed with are perfect for her, and she for them.

They named her Medivka and brought her in as their new family member. She has since gone on to become a big sister, too!  Medivka’s family has been so great to keep us updated on how she is doing, every once in a while sending us an email with an adorable photo or quick update (seriously love my adopters). One email recently, though, had a different kind of update.

When she was with us, Medivka’s balance issues had us all stumped. We were unsure if it was vestibular disease, a really bad ear infection with permanent damage or a traumatic one time injury that had long lasting effects. The vet believed it was perhaps the last one on that list, but no one could know for sure. After her parents recently realized she was getting a bit worse, they took her back to the vet. She was diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia, which is a deterioration of nerves in the cerebellum. It explains her loss of balance, and why it has gotten worse (unfortunately, it’s a progressive condition).

Interestingly enough, the disease is a recessive genetic disease in American Staffordshire Terriers. Medivka is a purebred (determined by a DNA test) Am Staff, which explains why she is prone to the disease.  Luckily, though, because it showed up later in her life and hasn’t been progressing at a rapid rate, everyone has hopes and expectations that she has a long and healthy life ahead of her.

Like I mentioned in my post last week, I’m feeling especially nostalgic these days. After going back and forth on email about little M’s newly diagnosed condition, I realized how badly I wanted to see her again. Mark and I talk about her all the time. Before Johnnie, she was the one Mark secretly wished we had kept. We often reminisce about how cuddly, friendly, outgoing and silly she is.

Medivka’s family was so nice and let us come by and visit on Saturday afternoon. We spent our visit on the floor with Medivka, petting and loving on her just like we had the chance to do two years ago. Her family told us how her daily routine is to observe the household happenings and hang out with her little sis, with some walks in the neighborhood and sunbathing in the yard sprinkled throughout her day. She is a very lucky dog – and, this past Saturday, we were lucky former foster parents.

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Thank you, Medivka and family, for letting us visit and remember why we loved this little monkey so much! It’s crazy to think that it’s been two full years since we first met. . . and yet, not much has changed :-).

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Throwback Thursday: The First Post

I don’t know if it’s the cool weather we’ve been having lately that reminds of Autumn and the first dogs I fostered, or the fact that it’s been almost exactly two years, or if I’m just missing all my foster dogs lately – but a little grey pup and the story that came with her to start my fostering career have really been on my mind lately.

Today’s post is a reblogged entry from the very first day I ever wrote in this blog. It’s awkward seeing the way I wrote back then, and how much of a baby I was when I posted that entry. I was only 21! I knew nothing! (I still know nothing!) I remember that it would take me so long to write posts back then because 1. I needed to collect my thoughts in their entirety before writing and publishing, and 2. I tried *REALLY* hard to make sure each post was written the best I could write it. Now I can generally crank out posts with ease. Even if it isn’t reflected in my posts, this blog has helped my writing abilities immensely. Learning how to put your thoughts on paper in a non-crappy way is a skill I’m not sure I would have learned as well anywhere else!

When I was looking back at this post I noticed it was indeed just about two years ago – two years and two days to be exact. So, for those of you who haven’t been around since the beginning, here you go. Here’s the ramble that started it all. If you want to get the full story, you can start on the actual post and keep clicking ‘Next –>’ to follow along. Please excuse the photography, too. I guess at least it is a way to realize how far you’ve come!

Every journey begins with one paw print.

Posted on August 20, 2011

It’s official: I’ve been bit by the fostering bug. It’s the kind of thing that happens slowly over time. For me, it started when I began working full time at the Montgomery County Humane Society.  I have been exposed to a lot since I started working there – some good, some bad. But it all gives you a realistic picture of what the world of sheltering really is.

Due to our tight quarters, my Marketing & Events position landed me at a desk directly next to our foster and rescue programs. I not only get to meet the lucky dogs who go out to foster, but I also get to meet the incredible people who open their homes and their hearts to these animals. I experience first hand the amounts of love, patience, and knowledge that these people pour out to care for these dogs while searching for their forever homes.

One of the most inspirational things I’ve learned from observing the world of fostering is how much emotion and hard work these animals take. The humans that care for them put their hearts on the line and make countless sacrifices to give their foster pet a new life. I wish everyone could realize how difficult fostering is, and what kind of person it takes. Lots of people say, “I could never do it. It would be too hard to give them up.” And it is hard, but I learned it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do.

My first foster dog came along unofficially, but more about that later. That goofy American Bulldog named Otis changed my view of fostering forever. In the two weeks I had him, I fell in love. I was okay with knowing, though, that inevitably I was going to have to give him up. I knew I couldn’t make the lifetime commitment to take him in as my own, but more importantly I knew how many other dogs I needed to help. Otis couldn’t be the last.

With the passing of my family pet, a cranky 14-year old Wheaten Terrier named Barley (whom I miss terribly), my house is finally open to official fostering. I’m bringing my first home tomorrow. Her name is Zabora, she is an 8-year old pit bull whose odds of being adopted at the shelter were slim. I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m clueless. But I am ready.

Zabora marks the formal start of my journey as a foster parent. I’m going to devote my entire life to fostering dogs in need, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I hope this account of my experiences helps to show a few others how rewarding fostering can be, and maybe even inspire them to try it out for themselves.

It takes a special person to foster, but fostering can also turn your life into something special.

This is my childhood dog, Barley, whose recent passing comes with the silver lining of now being able to help other dogs in need. Rest happy, little pup, your paw print will always be the biggest on my heart. 

Well. There you have it. The birth of Peace, Love & Fostering. The awkward, naive, totally clueless birth of PLF.  Thanks for sticking with us for two whole years. You guys rule.