Fostering is so many things. It’s rewarding, meaningful, challenging, rewarding (yes, I know I said that already, but it deserves to be in there twice), entertaining, difficult and fun, among other things. It also teaches you A LOT. I’ve learned about tons of things about dogs. How to read (some) dog behavior/body language, how to manage two rowdy dogs, I’ve become better at ‘training’ dogs and learned to rely on myself for trying different techniques before reaching out to the more experienced.
I’ve also learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned when to say, ‘This is all I can do’, and ‘This dog isn’t a good match for my family’. Basically, I’ve learned my limitations (whether they are mine, my family’s, my dog’s, or my environment – aka city living). See, my goal is to help dogs. To help pit bulls specifically, but if the occasional Phoebe or Husky wanders in, okay fine, these guys fit that category of dogs needing something that I could give.
This past weekend, as you know, we took in UPS (now named Rayven) from BARCS. She is adorable! Check out her shenanigans with Knox this past weekend.
They played and wrestled and had a ball of fun.
But we realize, Ups (now Rayven), was just not a good match. I’ve learned in doing this (bringing a dog into your home, whether adopting or fostering), a good match outweighs cuteness. Rayven will make someone a fabulous pet. She’s friendly, responsive to training, and fairly calm in the house. In my opinion, she needs a backyard and some training. Rayven loves other dogs SO much which is fabulous, but makes for a difficult walk to go potty. Especially when you are doing this four times a day, with another dog. When each walk results in bumping into a handful of dogs, it becomes chaotic. I’m committed to training my fosters. I’m committed to having them be ambassadors for their breed. I was failing. Rayven is walking so much better on the leash in just three days. She is pulling less and really understanding heel. Walking with Knox helps I think. But all is lost when she sees another dog and I’m not sure we’ve ever walked without seeing another dog. She needs slow exposure to this, in a controlled environment and she’s just not getting that here.
We’ve been spoiled by MABB, but we think it is deserved. MABB has done a great job matching fosters with our lifestyle and our family. We are active and have an active dog (PLEASE don’t take this to assume that two active dogs is better… it’s not for us, not in our little rowhouse without a backyard. We also need to consider our young active pitbull and his needs too). We live in a city with buses, sketch-balls, firetrucks and lots of dogs right outside our doorstep. We need a dog that can thrive in this kind of enviornment…and if not thrive, at least adapt and possibly grow. We do not want to further traumatize a dog.
We need a dog that we can help. We need a dog that fits. Rayven wasn’t that dog. We love her. We love her underbite. He wiggle butt, and her puppy antics. We love how she melts for belly rubs and how she assumes everything and everyone is her friend. She just wasn’t the right dog for us to foster…and there certainly is not a shortage.
As guilty as I’ve felt about this. I can’t write it off as a total failure. There have been some successes. We changed her name to something much more adoptable. Goodbye UPS, hello Rayven! She’s black, its football season, and we’re in Baltimore. Could there be a better name?! We caught on to her itching and rash much quicker then it would have been caught at the shelter and she is now on meds that should clear up a staph infection very quickly. We also got to gather a ton of information on her for her bio online. Right now, it doesn’t even age her correctly and says nothing personal about her whatsoever, so we can get that updated (she’s about 8 months according to the vet tech who did her skin scrape). She knows ‘sit’, is catching onto ‘stay’, is totally housebroken, and will patiently sit at each curb, with a little reminder, before crossing the street.
This is not a failure but a lesson learned. In order for us to continue fostering, we need a foster that leaves us with the feeling of wanting to foster…of enjoying it more days than not. Of continuing our commitment and not throwing in the towel. Of feeling like “look what we did!!!” not, “Gosh we suck at this” every day. If we feel we are failing day after day, and every walk is summerized as chaotic and a step in the wrong direction— are we really doing this pup justice? On some level, the more positive experiences one has with fostering, the more he/she will do it. MABB has this down pat. They keep us coming back for more by matching us with a dog that will suit our lifestyle.
Guilty as I feel, I do know deep down that I have an obligation to help those dogs that come into our home, and I have made a commitment to fostering for the long haul. And I am excited for what the next foster will teach me…
And he’ll be here tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted!