What's it like to be a foster?
How many have you fostered?
Don't you want to keep them all?
It must be hard to see them go?
All questions I get asked all the time. My answers remain the same... it's hard work, I have no idea, no, I love seeing them with their own people.
If you follow these pages at all you know me as "Herself". I'm going to tell you the tale of my latest two fosters, Louise and Heart. AKA the Dixie Chicks.
It all began one early evening on a hot early summer day. The email asking if I had room for two that had been picked up by animal control. One was on her fourth trip through and the owner wasn't going to take her back. Sure, I said, but we are going away for the weekend. Can another volunteer (also my pet sitter) go get them and bring them to the house? Sure was the rapid answer, whatever works. So off I went.
I got the call that the Dixie Chicks had been picked up and delivered as promised. Things were going smoothly. Or so I thought.
When I arrived home and opened the door I heard the sound no owner of more than one dog wants to hear...coughing. A lot of coughing. A lot of coughing around my seven healthy dogs. Coughing.....
Immediately dogs were ushered outside. Crates, water buckets, bedding and food bowls were all washed and disinfected. Two crates were moved to the far end of the room, after they were emptied of all the uneaten food the Chicks had buried in their bedding. St. Francis was asked to please keep my seven from getting sick.
The next morning was a trip to the vet. Two sick and starving dogs made a pitiful sight. They were great patients while getting poked and prodded. They were given shots and pills and good wishes. The brand new, just-out-of-school vet told me that Kennel cough is a long time healing. Next time maybe he will tell me something I don't know. I heard my regular vet laughing from around the corner.
So the healing started. It was a long and slow process. For days they wouldn't/couldn't eat because of the coughing. I tried every expensive brand of canned dog food and every stinky cheap brand of cat food I could find. No go. Well, maybe a bite here or there. Much to the chagrin of my dogs, I threw out a lot of food.
Back to vet... they won't eat I cried; they are losing weight, I lamented. So more pills were given along with a cough syrup. The suggestion of baby food was made. Maybe those baby hot dogs, chirped one of the techs. I was even told what shelf they were on at Walmart.
Of course the baby hot dogs worked to a degree. As did Pupperonis. But not enough to but weight on. Hubby thought Vienna sausages might work. Plus, he said, they were a whole lot cheaper. And they did. It's amazing how happy one can get when slowly feeding two dogs a can of sausages. Besides dog can't live on Pupperonis and sausages alone.
Meanwhile infectious disease control that would make the CDC proud went into affect. You petted one of the Chicks, here is your disinfect wipe. You handled their bowls, here's your wipe. You stood by the fence and told me how good they were looking, here's your wipe. They touched a toy, it went into the washer. My new scent was Eau de Disinfectant.
Yet another trip to the vet for more food suggestions. Had I tried yogurt? Yes. Buttermilk? Yes. Walmart brand cat food? Yes. Arby's roast beef? Really? I live in the middle of nowhere Alabama! So they got steroid shots instead. And more pills. And I bought more foods I thought would tempt them to eat.
The pills didn't agree with Heart. Or maybe it was the pebbles she was eating. Vomit everywhere. Pebbles, who would have guessed? A quick dose of mineral oil and a call to the vet. Did she need X-rays and surgery? No not yet, maybe more mineral oil and just watch her. And I did. No more pebbles were found.
And then St. Francis took pity on me. The Chicks ate some kibble out of my hand. One friggin’ piece at a time. Nothing out of a bowl. But it was ok to eat kibble off the floor. But just a few pieces. And then a paper plate with a drop of yogurt mixed with the kibble was ok. But not too much yogurt. And not the Greek kind. And finally five weeks into this journey they ate out of a bowl. And they ate and ate and ate some more.
Louise prefers a bit of Freshpet with her kibble. Heart will only eat hers straight up.
And slowly the coughing stopped. And they ate more. And they played more. They gained weight. They ran around like two young Brittanys should. I told St. Francis I would get him a statue to put in my garden.
So they were finally deemed well enough to get all their shots and to be spayed. Their pictures were taken and their bios were posted. Hopefully soon they will be moving on to new homes. Yes, they will be missed if for only the lessons they taught me. Who knew about a product called Freshpet?
- Post-Script Update: Louise will be flying off to her new home in a couple of days. I’m hoping she decides to return the two shoes she has hidden before she leaves.
- Second Post-Script Update: WOO HOO!!!!! She just returned a clog!! And a hand towel I didn’t know was missing !?!?!
- Third Post-Script Update: Heart has turned into a wild semi- mannered girl and found herself a forever home. Her new Mom is looking forward to either whipping her into shape or more than likely being whipped into shape herself!