The Bean puppies are all with their outstanding adoptive families this week, inserting themselves into hearts and homes. The families that adopted them have experience with their breed mixes and/or large dogs. Even more importantly, they adore their new family members. I have every confidence that each of those precious puppies will give and receive the deepest love over the course of their lives.
As the pups learn the true meaning of home and family this week, we have been cleaning and reorganizing and getting used to the quiet flow of a household without any foster animals. Last Thursday, I received a feline foster request email including a kitty with a broken leg. I responded that we would love to take him and apply some of my displaced Bean puppy love to his healing. He would have been a crutch for me, in all honesty. But some other kind soul had already scooped him up. So we are foster less and wondering who will be next!
Fostering Amina and her puppies had me reminiscing about our first mama dog. The canine foster request email described Gracie, a blue pittie with clipped ears and an serious expression. She was pregnant, expecting 7 puppies, and was in need of a quiet house without dogs in which to deliver her pups. The foster request email stated that an experienced foster was preferred.
With no experience with canine deliveries, and a rather busy household with four children and a dog, I knew we were not the perfect fit for Gracie. But as the emails continued to arrive every few days, including a whole new cast of pups needing foster, Gracie remained in the shelter and at the bottom of that list. I could not stop thinking about her.
What if we made a place for her in our walkout basement? She could come and go without interacting with Livie. But would our household be too loud for her? Would the sounds of Livie’s barks stress her out? I had no experience with dog deliveries. I had been in attendance for many a cat and horse birth growing up (and in fact had a pregnant cat awaiting birth in foster at the time!), but had never even witnessed a dog whelping at that point.
Another reservation I had, if I am being honest, was the fact that Gracie looked like, well, a pit bull. She had the definitive blocky head, clipped ears, muscular body. The fact that I was hesitant to mention her to Ryan and admit that I was considering bringing a pit bull, raging with maternal hormones, into our home with our children, highlighted my own prejudices.
To be clear, despite the breed, there is some risk involved in bringing any new animal into a home. We often do not know the complete history of the animal or what his or her triggers may be. Any animal is a bit nervous in unknown situations. That risk is certainly compounded by motherhood.
But was it compounded by Gracie’s breed as well?
Ryan and I had a long conversation about the prospect of offering a foster placement for Gracie. I was pretty sure someone else would scoop her up while we deliberated for days. We discussed how to establish safeguards, guidelines for the children, protocols for visitors to our home (often children).
Finally, I reached out to Ann, the foster director at HSHV:
Didn’t initially respond about these guys because we do have a dog, but can’t stop thinking about Gracie (my first shelter adoption was a pit mix named Gracie!).
Definitely not the ideal foster for this sweetie. No experience with dog deliveries (just cat and horse!), dog in the house (could keep them on separate levels, with separate entrances, but I am sure they will smell/hear each other). But if she is approaching her due date and nobody better (!) has responded, I am happy to talk to the family about it and come meet her.
Tell me more!
Ann responded that in fact we were the ideal foster family for Gracie because we were the only ones who had responded with any interest! Any time a pregnant animal can deliver and raise her babies outside of the stress and potential contamination of the shelter environment, it is certainly preferable.
I connected a few flimsy 2 ½ foot tall baby gates together in the basement over a tarp just in case I returned with a dog and headed to the shelter to meet Gracie.