My husband, Tim, first fostered a Yellow Lab named Jack in 1995. Tim was becoming active as a founding member of a local dog rescue when he removed Jack from a shelter. The young pup was curled up in a ball, trembling at the back of his crate and Tim’s heart broke at the sight. While one may call Jack a “failed” foster since he never left, he was certainly a successful rescue and adoption.
When I met Tim, I knew dog rescue was a prevalent concern and a huge part of his life. First clue? He was sharing custody of Jack (as well as Ben, a Black Lab, and Alex, a Golden Retriever,) with his ex-girlfriend, Stacy. These dogs were his children and they became mine too. Sadly, after losing Ben and Alex at the ages of 13 and 14, sweet Jack passed in February of 2009 from a long battle with cancer as Tim, Stacy and I curled around him in a circle of love.
BILL, June 2003
Bill entered Tim’s dog adoption program in 2003. Bill was a 129 pound, highly overweight, skin-flaking, Border Collie mix who nobody showed interest in. He undeniably chose Tim as his person, growing depressed each time Tim left the kennel.
We brought Bill home every other month when it was Stacy’s turn with Jack. After a much needed bath, a good diet with no allergy inducing fillers and weeks of throwing tennis balls down the hill, Bill’s weight dropped to a healthy 95 pounds. He could physically lay his head comfortably on the floor and rest his legs together without the excess fat in the way. His fur grew in a thick, jet black and he was absolutely dashing in his new tuxedo, even after laying in the dirt.
We suspect Bill had never been in a house. He cowered at his own reflection in the windows and stole everything we owned, from the remote to the mop, burrying it outside. On two different occasions, when Bill didn’t get his way, he stood and peed on the floor while staring at Tim. It took a good year to break him of his need to hoard and everything else fell into place as well. Bill eventually became settled, content and attached, as were we.
After investing 9 months teaching this dog how relax and to receive affection, Tim got a terrific lead on an interested family. They were perfect, but for the fact that I couldn’t let Bill go. This was nearly a relationship killer. Unfortunately for that family, Tim and I did keep Bill for our own (and, with our relationship thriving, Tim and I were married in 2006). After years of obeisity eroded his joints, Bill received a hip replacement. It allowed him to play hard and happily until January of 2009 when we lost Bill suddenly to an undetected and ruptured mass. His death was a traumatic loss.
PETEY, January 2006
Petey, a beautiful brindle pitty pup, was rescued from the streets of Virginia at 3 months and brought to New York. We immediately recognized how smart he was from day one of fostering. He learned to sit, stay and lay down within a week. I loved to watch him sit like a cat until he’d pounce after his toys, shake them up and throw them about. He loved to watch animal shows on television and seemed to like horses best. He grew fast too, his mouth quickly capable of carrying three tennis balls at once. He could barely fit one when we first took him in.
In the short month we had him, he exhausted us with his bounding energy and, with a tiny puppy bladder, his need to pee at all hours of the night. Of course, we were also dealing with Bill’s recuperation from hip surgery so we were already running on empty. We taught Petey well and loved that little guy, but we needed our lives back too. We were ready to find Petey a home, which was not difficult at all considering his winning personality. He is now in charge of a great space and, from the photos we’ve seen, he takes up his own leather couch and probably controls the remote too.
MOO, November 2008
Moo, a black and white lab mix, was already a fabulous dog when he came to us. The most we had to worry about was his high prey drive, particularly after he dragged me across the lawn at the wrong end of the leash to meet the cat … for dinner.
Moo, too, was with us for just a month but we grew very attached. I sobbed when we took him to his new home and my heart would have broken but for the faith we had in Moo’s new family.
Donna and Dave send updates and photos, allowing us to watch Moo blossom into a dog for all occasions. He goes for daily morning drives to get the paper, takes RV camping trips in the summer and channel surfs from bed on cold winter nights. His is a one-dog show and he gets all the attention one could ask for. It was certainly more than we could offer having to cordon him off from our cat. This family was the perfect match and there is no question we did well in letting Moo go. We’re just glad he’s still in our lives, if only through email.
ALEX & LUKE, April 2013
Luke and Alex, rescued from a puppy mill, are gentle, friendly, and kind spirited people-dogs who love to do everything together. Alex has speckled ears, Luke a speckled nose, and both are adorable beyond words. At just 25 pounds and under a year of age, these little guys will curl into the center of your heart and live there forever.
Patience is Luke’s strong suit, as evidenced by living with his little friend. Tiny Alex likes to be the boss of Luke, but Luke remains kind and sweet no matter the stolen toy or bop on the nose from a stray paw. There is rarely a growl or bop back. He just gregariously lumbers on his way to the next fun thing.
Luke is as fond of people as he is of his brother. He’ll sit in your lap and rub your face with his head, fully enjoying soft caresses and quiet time.
Alex has his own playtime agenda, but he too loves a soft caress, having overcome his fear of hands reaching over his head in a matter of days. If you tickle his inner thigh, his leg stretches back and out in sheer bliss, nearly toppling him over. It’s a wonderful signal of a growing trust.