So Long, Good Buddy, Our Foster Dog

The call came on Monday morning.

The man who had come to our house several weeks ago, decided he wanted Buddy and reimbursed us for what we spent on him at the vet, was coming back to pick him up. He had been traveling throughout the past few weeks and I told him he could leave Buddy with us until he got back and could concentrate on building a relationship with his new 4-legged boy.

This was our first fostering experience, mostly because I felt I couldn’t do it and would get too attached. After all, 3 of our 4 current dogs were to go into a rescue, but once I had them, I couldn’t let them go.

I knew from almost the beginning that Buddy wasn’t ours and so I tried not to let a bond develop. I read articles on fostering dogs, I tried the tricks other fosters use. I tried to concentrate on his faults (this was hard, as he was truly one of the best dogs we’ve ever had). I tried to remind myself I didn’t like male dogs (again, hard since he didn’t find it necessary to pee on everything). I told myself we didn’t have the space (but he had found a bed and corner all his own).

Buddy was doing well here, he had come out of his shell and wasn’t quite as shy. He had almost quit ducking every time we reached to pet him. He had a routine, got along well with the other dogs and even joined in howling sessions before mealtime.

By last weekend, our friends were asking if we were just going to give the money back the new owner paid on the vet bills and tell him we couldn’t give him up.
We thought about it.

The worst part for me was that as his primary caregiver and maybe one of the first people to show him affection in his life, he began following me everywhere. If he couldn’t see me from where he was laying, he would get up and find me (not a difficult task in our house).

We thought about what he would think being uprooted and moved again with a person he had only saw twice at our house.

He tried so hard to please and was really a very sweet, good boy. Would he feel dumped again?

Then I heard from mutual friends that his new owner was so happy and excited to get him and couldn’t wait to get home from his travels so he could bring him home.

I know we did the right thing, for us, for our Fearsome Four, for Buddy’s new owner and most importantly, for Buddy.

Which Living Large reader put bets that I couldn’t let him go, was that David? I did, but I didn’t want to and I cried. Rescues can have my money and I’m happy to contribute food to other fosters, but I don’t think this fostering thing is for me. I gave it my best shot, I tried not to get attached, but I did.

I’m trying to keep this quote in my mind when I think of Buddy:

“Some think it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.”
— Sylvia Robinson

Have you ever fostered a pet or a child? How do you keep from getting too attached?

You may also like...

24 Responses

  1. Since my current two aren’t keen on other dogs, without a lot of work, we don’t foster.

    But, even if I had well-adjusted pooches, I’m not sure I have the foster strength.

    Sure, I volunteered at a shelter for years and never adopted one pet, but having one in your home for weeks at a time … that’s a whole different thing.

    Congrats to Buddy and to you.

  2. Vida says:

    Kerri, I totally commiserate with you because I am in exactly the same situation! Tia, our little Greek hunting hound rescue will be leaving us on the 6th of June to travel to Germany where a lovely family with 2 kids, 2 other dogs and a house and garden await her arrival. She has been with us since last November when we found her shivering with cold and half starved, under our car. Since then she has become part of our family and my heart clenches at the thought of letting her go. I would keep her, but here in Greece rescue work is a conveyor belt and I’m sure that another needy little creature will be coming along soon. With our permanent canine pack of four, we hardly have room for more. Fostering is a TERRIBLE activity, so painful! I am devoutly hoping that Tia fits right in with her new family and console myself thinking that we have saved her from a life of misery and hunger as a stray. But still….. sob!

    Glad that Buddy’s new owner loves him so much, he seems like such a sweetie in your stories and the photos.

    • Oh, Vida, I feel for you! 🙁 However, once the initial grief wears off and you hear from that family about how your baby is doing, you’ll feel better about it. We do what we can do and even though it hurts to let go, it’s part of the process of this thing called rescue.

      • Vida says:

        Thanks Kerri, it helps to think so. I am already taking photos of her, to look at later and laugh at her antics and I am making a CD for Tia’s new family with lots of photos and info.

  3. Sharon Waldrop says:

    I’ll chime in as another crier! It’s always a good thing when a foster dog gets a home, although it can be tough on the foster parents. It would be impossible not to become attached! It’s people like you, Kerri, who make this world a better place.

    • There’s people who do so much more, Sharon. I’m just trying to help whenever I can. There’s others who have saved so many more. I didn’t go out looking to foster, this little guy came to us. I’m sure there will be more (sadly). I am now trying to figure out a way I can make a bigger impact since I know I’m not really cut out for the fostering thing.

  4. Brian says:

    We know exactly how you feel. We are holding at three rescued dogs, having lost our beloved Isa the Rottweiler last January. She protected us for 10 years. We fostered a wonderful pitbull that turned into over a year. Very tough giving him up. More dogs than I can count have come through out doors, usually for a day or so as we try to find their owners or a new home. (will not take dogs to the county shelter-would sooner kill the dog than try to find a home) It IS hard. Thank you for being there for Buddy. Most people just won’t risk the pain of loss, much less the trouble.

    • OMG, Brian. A year? I couldn’t have handled it, but I am SO glad there are people like you who can foster. Our county does not have a shelter. This is a rural area and if someone doesn’t step up to rescue a stray, the people out here will shoot the dogs rather than see them starve or become a snack for the wildlife we have here. It’s heartbreaking. I’m just glad my neighbors helped with Buddy. I’m confident he will have a good life. 🙂

  5. olivia says:

    I have fostered neither child nor animal but I have been caregivers for both. I looked after a few kids for many years before and after school and when one of them, a friend of my youngest child, was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of twenty I grieved for ages and ages. I still miss him. I also spent a weekend looking after a hamster named “Verushka Salt” when my daughter was in elementary school. The kids took turns bringing her home for the weekend. I carried her around in my pocket and didn’t want to send her back to school with my daughter. I even get attached to plants. I’d probably adopt any stray waif, human or animal, that appeared in my vicinity. I guess I bond really easily with any living creature. Bless you for having such a tender heart and still be able to give Buddy up to a loving home.

    • You sound just like me, Olivia! We had thunderstorms last night. I know Buddy’s new owner was prepared as he mentioned the weather forecast yesterday. Buddy hated thunder. I would comfort him, but I sure didn’t miss having to do that at 2 a.m!

  6. MarthaandMe says:

    Oh, I’m sorry it was hard! I couldn’t do it either. I would end up with a house filled with dogs everywhere you looked. I think it takes a special kind of person. I couldn’t do human foster care either!

    • The man who took Buddy called me this afternoon to let me know that everything was going swell. Buddy was baying in the background at something. He shared some funny tales with me, like Buddy seeing himself in the mirror last night. I feel much, much better. There’s the reward everyone talks about, Buddy is in a good, loving home. I think part of it for me was that dogs do not leave our home until they’ve passed. I had to keep reminding myself that Buddy isn’t dead, he is perfectly well. And now I know he is also happy!

  7. Tami says:

    🙁 Bless you for giving fostering a go. I become so attatched to just about anything. I don’t think I could do it. I know I couldn’t right now with little kids.

    • Yes, I think doing it with kids would be hard. They would get attached too. We were kind of pushed into this as Buddy was a stray that would have been shot (that’s what they do in the rural communities) if we hadn’t taken him. Before I knew it, my friend who found him, found a home for him. Or, I would probably still have him here. 🙂 I feel better today, especially after speaking with our vet who said Buddy couldn’t have gotten a better home. That makes me feel good.

  8. Kathleen Winn says:

    I’m sorry you had to say goodbye to your dear friend, Kerri. I’ve found homes for abandoned animals and I know how hard it is to let go. There always seems to be one that tugs at the heart more than others. I kept a litter of kittens, rescued from my sister’s barn, for a couple of days before taking to Wayside Waifs. In that short time, the tiniest of the litter, really bonded with me. She started purring a tiny baby purr, whenever I picked her up and even learned the sound of my voice. I cried all the way home from Wayside Waifs. But- her future if left in the barn, would almost certainly have been a miserable and short one. At least she was given a chance at a loving home and good care. How wonderful for poor little Buddy, that you took him in and cared for him and now he has a loving home. It’s amazing how an animal can quickly steal your heart.

  9. Alexandra says:

    A few years ago a stray cat adopted us. We could not take her in, because my husband is allergic, but I fed her after resisting for a while. At first she was quite wild, but as the weeks passed, she let me pet her. Someone had abandoned her after a summer vacation. As the temperature got colder, I started looking for a new home for this new friend. She won the jackpot when our librarian decided to adopt her. I go and visit this gentle gray kitty once and a while. Any chance you can go visit Buddy?

  10. V Schoenwald says:

    Kerri, It is absolutly the hardest thing that one can do if a person does this. I do the ICU nursing for the humane society that I get calls on, and once I get these mangled pets, and spend weeks or months healing them, and caring for them, they don’t go on to new homes, as generally people are not generally capable of taking care of handicapped pets, with one leg or 2 or 3. You have to be able to work and accept them running through the house the way they are, which by the way, does not stop them, my 2 and 3 legged cats can run faster than the 4 legged, quite funny and entertaining to watch to say the least. I generally do not do this any more unless it is an emergency, as I know what will happen…it gets to join the mad house I have.

    • You know, I thought about this yesterday, V, after seeing pictures of a rescue who was trying to place a dog with two broken legs. I guess it doesn’t matter if we’re trying to nurse the physical or the mental wounds of their former lives, it’s just as hard to let go.

  11. Kerri, I cried while reading your blog. I know how difficult this was for you -the lady with the big heart.