The Aftermath of Dog Fostering

There is a tangible shift in the energy of the apartment.  If the sound and movement in a space were represented in a quilt, our quilt would have a giant hole in it.  The only thing to do is to repair the hole.  This means putting things back to where they were before our guests arrived.

I gather the toys we didn’t send off with the dogs.  I move the remaining food and treats to a cupboard in the kitchen.  I hide the chewed up laptop chargers in a drawer.  I start mentally calculating how much we spent on our week of dog fostering:

  • fee to have dogs in apartment:  $250
  • donation to shelter:  $200
  • dog supplies:  $280
  • replacement laptop chargers:  $160

Instead of adding it up, I conclude with “A week with Lucy and Rex, Priceless.”

But, as I continue to put leftovers away, I realize it would be a sound financial decision to foster more dogs since the money we’ve already spent would cover their costs for the most part.

But am I ready for the next foster dog?  I fold and remove the crates from the living room, gather up the dog blankets and throw them in the laundry, vacuum away the dog hair, and steam away the odors.  When I am done, I have transformed the living room decor from “Dog Kennel Chic” to, well, let’s just call it “Human Occupied.”  There are no signs that dogs ever lived here.

I sit on the couch for a minute, stretching my back and think about the advantages of not having a foster dog:

Sleeping.  I not longer feel on edge, waiting for the dogs to bark or do something loud that must be interrupted immediately when living in an apartment building.  My own anxiety is more of the problem than the dogs, but a problem none-the-less.

Going Out.  We are free to come and go as we please.  When Pat took me out to dinner for my birthday, it was the only two hours we left without the dogs.  Lucy was an only dog by then.  We put her in her crate with a special chew treat and a bone and then went on our way.  She wasn’t barking when we left and she wasn’t barking when we got back, but there was a Post It on the door that said, “Please stop the barking!”

Bird Watching.  I can walk along at my own pace with my eyes in the trees.  When I am training dogs to walk on a leash, I don’t notice a single bird.

Although the quiet and the freedom feel good, I still find myself looking around for the dogs.  The hole in that quilt leaves me feeling a little cold.  Before I know what I’m doing, I’m looking at the calendar and wondering if I could take in the next foster dog in a week or so.  I’m hoping I will be well rested by then.

 McKamey Animal Center

All-in-One Resolution

Let’s say, for arguments sake, that when you thought about your New Year’s Resolutions for this year, you decided that you wanted to lose weight.  But, instead of setting that as a goal, you decided to set some specific steps as goals instead.  Your New Year’s Resolutions might look like this:

  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator every time you go up or down the 4 floors to your home.
  2. Get up earlier so there’s time to start every day with a walk
  3. Eat less
  4. Take a long walk at least 3x a day

Perhaps you will undertake these resolutions for a week or two and then, the elevator is mighty nice when you come home with a load of groceries.  Suddenly, the next time it’s harder to take the stairs.  Getting up early wears you out, makes it too difficult to walk in the morning.  Soon, you’re sleeping in and skipping that morning walk.  Then, you’re not walking at all.  And, when you give up walking, you spend more time sitting near food and suddenly your food consumption goes back up.

I think I have the solution for these New Year’s Resolutions.  First, if you don’t already live in a 4th floor apartment or condo, move into one, but make sure they allow dogs.  Second, make a single resolution to foster a pair of adolescent dogs who have apparently lived in the woods most of their short lives.  Preferably ones who don’t know how to walk on a leash, aren’t potty trained, think elevators are leftover from the holocaust, and have never been around traffic.

Log, Day One, Early Morning:

4:15AM Get up.  Get dogs out of crates.  Put on leashes.  Take them outside as quickly as possible, pausing to squat down and call them every time they balk at walking on a leash.  Coax them down the stairs, which are only slightly less terrifying than the elevator.  Walk around the block while reassuring dogs they are not going to die.  Make sure they both go potty.

5:00AM Feed dogs breakfast.

5:15AM-6:15AM Take Dogs for long walk in the dark, in the pouring rain.  Discover one dog doesn’t like puddles.  Carry over large puddles when necessary.  Discover other dog is capable of backing out of his collar if panicked.  Feel grateful said dog doesn’t run away after escaping from said collar.  Avoid getting poop on hands when picking up out of tall plants (which seems to be Rex’s preferred potty).

6:15AM Return to building.  Coax dogs up stairs to entry door.  Coax dogs through the door.  Coax dogs into stairwell.  Coax dogs up the stairs.

6:30AM Attempt to dry dogs with large towel they think is a new chew toy.  Get dogs back behind the barrier separating the non-puppy-safe area from the semi-puppy-safe area.  Watch dogs wrestle and try to keep them from waking up all our neighbors.

7:00AM Curl up with said dogs on couch.  Smile to self while nodding off.