Foster Child

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I need to calm down a little. Right now I’m so excited it feels like I’m about to have a heart attack. It’s not as if it came out of the blue or anything. I’ve been wanting a dog for a long time now, but suddenly there are big changes coming up around the bend and I’m getting a little bit panicky at the moment. Here’s how the story goes:

I met my friend K back in the summer of 2008 and blogged all about it later in a post called A Dog Called Yo. At the time, K had just purchased Yo from some homeless kid who was too sick to take care of him. K and I bonded over our love of animals and promised to get together for more walks along the canal. Fast forward to about a week ago when K (whom I have yet to go on a walk with, but has been a Facebook friend ever since), posted the above picture with a caption that read “looking good after a bath (he was full of burrs).” I commented on what an adorable little munchkin he is and left it at that. Then, still reading K’s comments on FB, I learned she had found him wandering the street, visibly lost and/or abandoned. She had searched for the owners quite thoroughly without success and was now looking for a good home for him since she couldn’t keep another dog, as she already has two. I wrote back that I would consider taking him in, but for the fact that my landlords were radically opposed to having a dog in the apartment. But the more I looked at his picture, the more I thought that this was possibly the opportunity I’ve been waiting for.

I called K who gave me the full rundown about what kind of dog he is (probably a Poodle/Bichon mix, about 10 lbs—the size of my cats—maybe 3 or 4 years old, very friendly, not at all yappy, eager to please but still needing training). She made it very clear she wasn’t willing to give him away to the first person who just found him cute without realizing what kind of responsibility a dog is, and risk him ending up at the pound or wandering the streets again. I know exactly how big a commitment a dog is. Much like having a kid at the beginning, especially when they’re still puppies. For the past couple of years I’ve been thinking a dog might just be the ticket to help get me get more disciplined and back into a daily routine, not to mention force me to get out of the house not once, but several times a day, every day of the week.

On Saturday I wrote an email & attached the above pic, asking my landlady J whether they would consider letting me bring him home on a trial basis for a few weeks and sent it out like a bottle to sea, feeling hopeful but not expecting much to come of it. Then, against all odds, got a reply last night, saying they were ok for a few weeks trial and “p.s. he’s so cute I’m sure my girls will want to get to know him!”. I had started working on a watercolour just then but after that couldn’t sit still long enough to finish it.

K had him fixed last week, whereupon the vet confirmed he is still a puppy and only about a year old. When she called me this morning to discuss our arrangement, she spent some time going over the responsibility that a puppy represents, just to make sure I realized what I was getting into. She suggested I get a crate or cage to help with the training process (and also give him a safe haven from the cats & vice versa, was my thinking) so the first thing I did was call around and look at craigslist ads etc to find a used crate or better yet, just a loaner for the time being. After calling the SPCA and my vet and leaving messages to potential sellers, I tried out the pet store where I get cat food every month and was told that sure enough, they have a loaner they keep for just this kind of occasion. I could hardly believe my luck and rushed over, hoofing it up the hill with just a couple of minutes before closing time.

When I got there, I found this HUGE folded up cage. I decided I would manage taking it down the hill if I took baby steps and plenty of breaks along the way. Carrying it was no joke and I couldn’t walk more than 20 steps without having to stop and rest for a bit. This gave me plenty of opportunity to think over what I’m getting into and I suddenly started  panicking, thinking that maybe this whole dog thing would turn out to be as big a burden as the cage was at that moment and that maybe I was getting in over my head with this fostering business. Albeit I’m doing better these days, there are plenty of reminders that I’m still far from being fully recovered after all. Before I knew it I had a complete meltdown. At least I had managed to make it home by then, so cried my little heart out with just the cats around, who by now are completely freaked out and probably sensing that something big is about to happen. But in my 40 years, I’ve learned that a meltdown is nothing to get worked up about and is not in the least indicative of bad things to come. Quite the opposite in fact, as it’s often been the case that things have turned out better than expected.

So that’s it basically. Now I’m just waiting for K to call me back so we can arrange the hand over which I imagine will happen within the next couple of days. In the meantime I plan on giving my kitties plenty of loving and hope they don’t hate me for the rest of their lives for bringing a third kid—of the canine sort no less—into THEIR home. Just a foster kid for now, but of course I’m hopeful that it’ll all work out and we’ll all live together happily ever after.

Wish me… wish ALL of us plenty of luck.
Fingers and toes crossed.

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7 thoughts on “Foster Child

  1. I'm excited to be your FIRST commenter! Okay – deep breath. It's TOTALLY normal that you are feeling how you do. I'm glad that you have the perspective to know the "meltdown" isn't foreboding in anyway. It makes sense you would be stressed out. It is a responsibility. My mother was so upset when I got my first cat (don't even talk about the 2nd one!) because the cat would "tie me down"…..I'm finally in my ripe old age – almost 40 :) I'm realizing that you have to "give up" some options to open the door for others – I guess it's part of committing to something. But if you don't commit than you won't get the depth of the amazing-ness you get when you DO take that leap!The good news – you can foster and see how it goes.The pup is super adorable. I am happy that you are sensitive to how the cats will react. I don't know anything introducing a dog to cats, but I'm sure there is lots of information online about it. I know with dogs/cats and babies, they say you should bring a piece of clothing/piece of fabric with the "others" scent on it and bring it home before you bring the animal into your home.Can't wait to get updates and I'm super surprised and happy about your landlord's response. I can't imagine that every happening in NYC! T

  2. Tamar: my landlords are good people and quite open-minded. I suppose the fact that she is a yoga instructor might have something to do with it and I'm grateful that we have a good relationship. I've started reading tips online about how to introduce a puppy to a cat household and your idea of introducing the dog's smell first is a very good one, which I will follow up on since I'll be meeting my friend this Fri to meet the pup and also bring home something to place in his crate so that cat can explore a little before he actually gets here. Of course my main concern, other than worrying about my own capacity to take care of him, is for the wellbeing of my kittens. After all, they came first and we have special relationships that I would hate to lose. I know that the puppy will be fine and probably want to play and make friends, whereas cats in general aren't so keen that way, to say the least. And yes, for all these reasons, a trial as a foster really is the best way to figure out if this can work out for everyone concerned. Thanks for your input!

  3. I gave up trying to predict feline behavior decades ago. I find cats to possess such unique personalities that I think it's impossible to predict their reactions to any new soul entering their "space". That's why I love cats. They're unique…each and every one.I've also come to learn that the early interactions of cats (with other souls) can't be considered harbingers of relationships to come. I've seen cats try to kill each other, initially, only to become the best of friends months later. Like I said, I adore cats 'cuz they defy my understanding. I consider them "teachers" not "pets".

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