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.

Throwback Thursdays: Little Zee

In a recent attempt at a somewhat DIY project (more on that later) I was looking over old foster photographs. Going through the hundreds of photos I have of my first foster Zabora – now known as Medivka – made me miss her. Made me miss her really bad. She was such a gem of a dog – a dazzling, tender personality hiding behind soulful honey eyes. Just thinking about it makes me want to scoop her up for one of those snuggles she was so good at. Being stuck in nostalgia, I’ve decided to re-post some photos of her, especially since so many of you discovered Peace, Love, and Fostering after she left.

Her story is quite remarkable, actually. An Elderbull predicted to be somewhere over eight years old, with suspected creaky bones and a weird neurological disorder that left her bumbling all over the place. She was cute as a button and sweet as sugar, but was continually overlooked at the shelter because of her age. Lucky that Aleksandra from Love & a Six-Foot Leash knows a great thing when she sees it and plucked her out of the shelter right as soon as she could. Then hundreds of people came together to support Z’s road to recovery, proving to us all how amazing this community really is. You can read about Zabora’s story on Love and a Six-Foot Leash’s posts about her, and right here on PLF in our early days.

She is doing amazing in her home, by the way! Which is no surprise considering what a sweetie she is. Here are some of my favorite photos of her that show just how charming her little pittie personality is.

Can you tell she does a lot of sleeping? Then there was that time I fell flat on my butt and she ambled over to the rescue. What a love.

It’s always nice (and, yes, maybe a teenie bit sad) to look back on past fosters. You miss them, but you’re also so satisfied knowing they’re happily sleeping in the homes of their forever families. I’m so thrilled that’s the way the story went for our beloved Zabora/Medivka!

Never a dull moment.

My intent for these next few posts was to introduce you to Zabora, tell you a little more about her back story, and show you how well she fits in to a family. I’m tweaking that a little, though, thanks to my first experience with a foster emergency. Nothing like jumping straight in, right?

Usually when I am fostering or dog-sitting a dog they come to work with me. Zabora had to wait to become “the office mascot” for a few days while she recovered from her spay. Five days post surgery I finally bought Zabora to work. She happily slept at my feet all morning with intermittent bursts of “nesting” with the towels I brought her. She seemed content. After visiting with some humans and giving tail wags galore, out of no where Miss Z started bleeding extensively from her suture site. Sure that it was a busted spay stitch, I rushed her to the vet. Shoot. There goes another few days of recover and definitely lots more dollars.

Turns out Zabora actually didn’t bust her stitches (phew). But what she did have was a ruptured blood clot. A big one. A combination of factors caused the extreme bloodiness. She was in heat for the spay and, because she was bred so many times, she had excessive mammary tissue and vasculature at the incision area.   Poor Zabora, as usual, had everything working against her. The rupture was inevitable as she healed. She now has a drainage tube and lots of bandages, and the worst part is she is stuck at the vet for the next two days. I’m so relieved she is fixed, but it feels so weird without her at home!

There is an interesting twist to this story. Remember that incredible volunteer I told you about who facilitated the entire rescue of this little girl? Well, she also happens to be the author of a very impactful blog, as well as a high-profile member of the online community of pitty/elderbull/rescue advocates. Lucky for our girl, this wonderful volunteer used her resources in the social media community to launch a fundraiser for Zabora. The results? Mind blowing. People are giving like this elderbull is one of their own. I am going to dedicate an entire post on the remarkable generosity of these individuals, but for now let’s just say… Zabora’s expenses are well taken care of.

Now we just need her to have a speedy recovery so she can come back to where she belongs: in a safe home where people love her.  The faster she gets back on her feet, the faster we can start (continue) telling the world about how great she is, the sooner she can find her forever home. I know there is the perfect family out there, I just hope we don’t meet too many more speed bumps on the road to finding them.

Hope you’re feeling okay, pup. See you tomorrow!

It just keeps getting better.

Zabora first came to my attention when one of our incredible volunteers at the shelter took a liking to her and asked me to help find out more about her.  Of course I agreed, happy to help if it made finding her a home any easier. I decided to go meet her for myself. The first time I walked to her cage she gave me one of those calm but enthusiastic tail wags and licked my fingers through the bars. I made a mental note of how nice she was, and went to look up her paperwork. Her evaluation only confirmed what I thought: gentle, calm, people oriented, eager to please were all words used to describe her. The only problem is that time is not on her side.  Miss Zabora is eight years old. Old enough to have wrinkled skin and creaky bones, old enough to get passed by the people looking for “a younger dog”, old enough to not be given the chance that she deserves.

A few days went by and that same incredible volunteer started spreading the word of a wonderful little Elderbull at the county shelter in need of a home. While working and volunteering at the shelter you learn a lot of things, one of them being that an older dog who is also a pit bull who also has health problems does not have the best chances in a shelter overflowing dogs. This volunteer knew that in Zabora’s case action needed to happen sooner rather than later. The rescue group Jasmine’s House stepped forward to take her on one condition: there was a temporary foster home to care for her while she recovered from spay surgery. That special volunteer scrambled to find her a temp. home, to no avail. Emailing back and forth with her about the situation, I knew Zabora needed a home, and I knew I wanted to help. I just wasn’t sure I could commit to what she needed or put my parents through a new dog merely days after putting my childhood pup to sleep.

It turned out, though, that the best cure for heartache is to put another wiggling bundle of joy in your life. It’s like picking up where you left off. The day I brought Zabora home she walked right in to the living room and sat down at my dad’s feet where he was reading a book. I had no idea what to expect from her, but it sure seemed to start off right.

It felt like almost instantaneously that she won my family over. Watching her get comfortable with us has been a joy. It’s been a learning experience and we’re finding out more about her every day, which brings new hurdles and speed bumps. It also brings us giggles, smiles, and a brightened day.  So we’re stuck on her now, and we’ll see this girl through to the new loving home she deserves.

More about this pretty girl later.