Last Spring I saw a Facebook post on my neighborhood page about a found dog. The dog had a microchip with outdated information and the finder was about to take her to the shelter when I stepped in. I got the dog from her and did some detective work to find who she belonged to. Once I found them, I also found out the truth; they didn’t want her. And so my journey began.
I got the dog, named Lady, into a rescue program with the condition that I would be her foster until a home was found for her. The experience was a joy and soon I came to realize that I couldn’t imagine my life without Lady in it, so I adopted her. However, I had made many contacts during my mission to get her into a rescue. I was invited to a private Facebook page where this rescue, Operation Pets Alive, would communicate with their fosters and volunteers.
A couple of weeks went by after Lady’s official adoption and the rescue posted a list, with pictures, of what they called “transport candidates.” These were dogs they had assessed for temperament, health, and other things. Dogs who passed needed 2-3 week fosters. At the end of that time, they would board a truck or plane and head to Northern states. In some Northern states, adoption rates are high and there are less adoptable dogs. OPA (Operation Pets Alive) works with many of these shelters to send dogs (and cats) there to find their forever homes. So, I decided to foster one of these transport candidates. And then another and another and then a litter of 9 puppies!
It has now been around 9 months since this journey began and I have saved 24 lives! Most notable is Piper. Piper was brought into the shelter as a stray the same day she had given birth. She was still covered in blood and her puppies still had their cords. Piper stayed in the shelter for almost 2 days, during which she lost a puppy. Then, OPA Co-Founder, Marcia Piotter, called me and I agreed to take mama and her 5 babies.
When I got them, Piper was so afraid that she would not walk, at all. She had to be carried outside to potty, carried back in the house, everywhere. It was apparent she had never been in a house or on a leash. Her feet were matted in dried mud and feces. It took several days of wetting and picking at it to get them clean since she couldn’t have a bath yet. I took her to the vet and was told she was extremely dehydrated. The wonderful volunteers gave her fluids and the change was immediate, she felt much better. The bones in her back showed and it was obvious she’d never been fed properly. She ate and ate for the first few days.
From the beginning, Piper has had the sweetest soul. You could see her gratitude in her eyes and feel how thankful she is that she’s been saved. Early on, her puppies got sick. What started as 2 puppies being congested quickly spread to all 5. I was so worried that most nights I slept in the same room as them. I kept a humidifier going 24/7 and would take them in the bathroom with the hot shower on several times a day, including 3 am when needed. I truly didn’t know if they would make it, they were really sick. Little by little the antibiotics kicked in and they got better, thankfully. Piper gained her comfort and I gained her trust and she was no longer afraid of walking. Amazingly, she was even potty trained and also extremely intelligent. When she needed something, she would come to me and cry, something I’ve never had a dog do before. Once the puppies reached 10 weeks of age, they left on a plane to Colorado where they all found forever homes. One of them even has her own Facebook page now! Piper was adopted locally by a retired lady who adores her.
Fostering is the most rewarding job I’ve had in my life. I get to give dogs their freedom ride, see their first night of good sleep out of the shelter, gain their trust, see them realize that they are safe and loved and most of all, I get to watch them blossom in so many ways. I also get to teach my 8-year-old daughter how rewarding this job is. My hope is that she will carry my love of dogs with her through life and remember how rewarding giving feels. She LOVES telling her friends all about our rescue adventures. You can follow our journey and many adventures on my Facebook page: Chronicles of a Dog Foster or Facebook.com/FosterLifeTX. If you are interested in fostering or volunteering, reach out to the local shelters in your area. They can either refer you to local rescue organizations or get you setup with the shelter itself. You won’t be sorry!
Regional Marketing Specialist, Houston, Texas