Thursday, January 9, 2014

Off she went, almost as quickly as she came.

People comment all the time that they "couldn't do it," and that "it must be so hard." They are right. 

Fostering is not for everyone and it's certainly rather painful or exhaustive at times. Anelie was our seventh foster Boxer for Northwest Boxer Rescue. She was deaf, she had acquired a bit of a bad rap and she was a very anxious girl, prone to obnoxious behaviors which communicated her lack of clarity for what was happening around her. I have had deaf dogs before and I love them. The uniqueness of a deaf dog really can't be communicated in words, it's ironic actually. In the same way that they cannot hear and discuss their process traditionally, you cannot experience their special energy and sensitivity unless you own/handle/care for one. Trust is taken to a whole new level with a deaf dog. Deaf dogs need patience, creativity, visual cues and stimulus as well as increased companionship. It's not enough for a deaf dog to be a guard dog for people absent twelve hours a day. Imagine if you were locked in silence and then left alone sun up to sun down, would you go a bit batty? I know I would.

Nels Bells, my beautiful girl, she was something completely different after six weeks time. I read a comment by her former foster last night and it was dead on, "Nel loves her leaders," this is so true and she told me she loved me when she waited in the car of her adopters yesterday. Her eye contact, her mental questions directed only to me, they told me I had done my job. Talk about tear your heart out, I felt like I was giving up my own kid because I knew someone else could provide a better life. It's true. I was just the temp housing, the "best we could do for now," a pretty awesome option, but never the perfect one. Doesn't matter sometimes, the heart wants what the heart wants. I think it was in absolutely knowing what she needed that I felt more qualified to care for her, but my life just didn't allow for it. So you celebrate that the answer has come, you tell them they can do this and that she WILL show them something amazing... then you pray. I am very clear in my position as an Area Coordinator for the rescue, I share and share and share some more as far as what the adopter should expect, how hard it might actually be and how to push past it all. I give them every means of contact possible for reaching me, 24/7. I ask questions, suggest hypothetical situations and express the best means of troubleshooting. There's very little else one can do. In this case, they were both sure, but they were both new to this. This deafness thing, they couldn't be sure about that because they've never experienced it before. 

When you foster, *most* of the time you are just the interviewer, gathering information about your guest and cataloging the details of what would make their "best life" possible. We interviewed Nel as a family for those first few weeks and she needed a full time friend. Canine buddies help, our boys were her besties by the end, but she would thrive with constant companionship and then all the ins and out of how to "manage" her would fade away. There were hints of possible matches, but nothing as perfect as a retired couple in a big house full of windows. I mean, come on... when you can't hear you really need to SEE as much as possible. Happy I am, so happy for her to be surrounded by steady love and plenty of beauty to enjoy. She is a queen in my heart, her last night snuggled up so close and sweetly with no hint of insecurity. They committed to her, put pen to paper and then asked me a simple question that I have completely forgotten due to the immediate water works that followed. Whatever it was that new mama Chris asked me, I replied with "the thing is... YOU are exactly what SHE needs." So there it was. We/she is choosing you, you have to answer the call.

Now called Audrey, our former guest will be a queen in her furever home too. She leaves another indelible impression on my heart and I will long for updates as I have for all of our "foster kids," but mostly I will long for stories that she has forgotten me and transferred all of her energy onto her new moms. Once she has, she will fill their hearts overflowing and my joy will be multiplied. No heartache can take that away.

Foster, risk your heart, be filled up and make a difference. A small sacrifice from you, but to them a whole lifetime of difference.

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