Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fostering Odie

I visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for the first time in April of 2009. What an amazing rescue operation it is, and the biggest in the country! My reason for going was that I was interested in working with some of the Michael Vick dogs...I had followed the story closely and wanted to see first hand how dogs who'd been through such an abusive past would behave after being worked with by trainers for nearly a year. The ones I met and was able to walk still had fear issues and crouched to the ground when we'd walk on a leash. The damage sustained from whatever hell they endured while being owned by Mr. Vick was palpable. It was obvious they'd endured a lot of bad and not enough, if any, good, before arriving at Best Friends Sanctuary.
While I was visiting, I met a little pittie named Odie, who'd been at the sanctuary for awhile. He'd come there as a stray from L.A. and developed a fence running/barrier aggression problem, since there were other big dogs on both sides of his wire fenced area. He looked tired. As a general rule, pit bulls do not fare well in a kennel environment for very long.
Best Friends has a policy that allows visitors to take a dog off the property for an "overnight" if they'd like to. This gives the dog a short break from his kennel life, and allows him to decompress a little and get a taste of living with a human, instead of inside a wire run 24 hrs a day, seven days a week. I decided I wanted to take Odie on an overnight and took him to stay with me in my hotel room. Odie is a white dog, but he was basically tinted a red color from living in the red sand desert at the sanctuary. I wanted to give him a bath so he could feel "new" again, but my room had no tub. I brought him into the bathroom and filled the ice bucket about a million times with warm soapy water that I poured over him in the shower, until he was shining white again. He looked beautiful! I then wrapped him in a blanket and put him up on the bed, thinking, by the time I get out of the shower, he'll have destroyed everything in the room! To my surprise he was in the exact same position asleep on the bed!
When I returned him the next day, I mentioned to Best Friends that I would foster him, honestly not knowing if they did that...I mean the sanctuary is in Utah and I live in NC! They shipped him to me within a couple of months and now he's been with me for about 8 months.
Yesterday I got an email that someone's adoption app went through for Odie and that we'd soon be making arrangements to fly him to Maryland to live in his new home. I cried like a baby when I got this news...because as much as I want him to have his own home with no other male dogs (he's DA with males), I have fallen in love with him at the same time and secretly (and selfishly) want him to stay here.
The new home is actually perfect for Odie. There is only one other dog, and it is a female, which Odie will love! He will be more in the spotlight, where now he is here with my other two dogs that I do therapy work with a lot. He will get to stay out of his crate more, since the husband works from home. He'll get lots of leash walks with his person and new doggie friend.
Alright, the new home IS actually perfect for him. I am feeling somewhat better today after getting my big cry about it over with last night.
I will follow Odie and keep up with how he's doing through his new family and I'll think about him often and about how we bonded while he was with me. I feel great that I could be his "bridge" while he adjusted to living in a home, and waiting for his forever home to come along.
Fostering a dog is a very emotional thing to do, and not for the faint of heart! I'd highly recommend it.