First off, let me tell you this is a story with a very happy ending! You may shed a tear along the way, so I want you to know there's joy at the end. After all, it is a Christmas story!
Our Hero Answering A Call To Foster "The Leftovers"
I'm changing the names to protect their identity. Let's call our orphans Molly and Max.
Molly and Max arrived in a crate and huddled together,
too shy and scared for eye contact and refusing to come out
A call went out across the state asking larger towns to help shelter the dogs. Our daughter's city dispatched volunteers to pick up 8 dogs and bring them to the city's shelter. Right away they held an Adopt-A-Thon and a few were adopted, but not many.
The problem with rescues like this is that the dogs are often overwhelmed and unsocialized, sad and shy as was true in the case of Molly and Max. Not many people who come for a happy healthy puppy can see the wonderful soul hiding inside a raggedy older orphan, right?
So a call went out for "Fosters"... people willing to take in a traumatized dog or cat and help them learn to trust again -- to feed them, warm them, and eventually cuddle them when the animals are willing enough to accept a warm hand in friendship.
Sad Note: If a dog can't be socialized, or if there are too many excess dogs, the only alternative is euthanization, which most animal shelters avoid at all cost.
Our daughter and son-in-law already have two adopted dogs and two adopted cats, but still they were willing to spend their holiday time off fostering a dog until after New Year's when the shelter will be up and running again.
When they arrived at the now closed Adopt-A-Thon, they were told to choose from the "leftovers" who had been passed by. A "bonded-pair" of chihuahuas -- shivering, shaking, and clinging to each other -- caught our daughter's eye.
Bonded pairs (dogs that grew up together and are only adopted out together) are especially hard to find homes for since most people only want one dog. Daughter decided the bonded-pair were the most in need of a loving foster home, and our story picks up from there.
The first night Molly and Max huddled together, too shy to come out of the crate, so newspaper, water and food were placed outside the opened-door crate and the laundry room door was closed to give them some peace and quiet.
Next morning, the two were carried outside for a potty break. Chihuahuas are cold sensitive and poor Max had come from the shelter the night before without even a little sweater to keep him warm.
Although they both shivered like crazy in the far reaches of the yard, they would not come near the back door or the two "foster" humans, so unfortunately a madcap chase ensued until the two were corralled and carried inside.
Hearts racing, the pair were placed in a blanket on the couch where they curled up and buried their heads into the blanket and avoided eye contact.
On Monday, the orphans were approached only with kindness by the family dogs and the humans until they all ended up within petting distance of foster mom.
Our daughter's first attempt to pet the pair can be seen in a video, but I need to work on the connection to get it to run.
Here she shows us the size of the two and how close she managed to get to them without panicking them again.
It breaks my heart to see dogs try not to show any reaction when they're being stroked by a loving hand when most will turn right over and hope for a belly rub! If you look at the picture below you can see Molly stares straight ahead when being petted.
At the end of the video, Molly actually glances a little sideways to see if the hand is maybe coming back for another loving stroke. I think this is the place where the ice started to melt around that little pink heart!
Sorry! Working On Getting The Video To Run
On Monday afternoon, the first order of business was a trip to the store to buy Max a blue hoodie to warm him up, and to give him a little sense of protection.
Molly's hand-me-down sweater someone found for her at the shelter was a little smelly, so she got a new bright pink one too!
Max has a loose snaggle tooth on the left here, it will have to be removed
Sweet Lily accepted that Max just couldn't relax those front legs!
The two dogs are very skinny. Food in a crowd of 100 at the orphanage must've been hard to get at when you're as little as these two are!
That must be why, from the very start, whenever meals and snacks are served these two desperately shy little ones are the first to get right in the chow line as quickly as they can!
As they blossomed, these two bravely started out running even Lucy (affectionately known as Phat Taters) who is down to only 7 pounds overweight and has been on a "gentle diet" ever since she was adopted last year.
Lucy, Who Has Been Reducing Since Her Adoption, Provides "Butt Warmth"
Foster parents create an analysis sheet to help the shelters find the right homes for the fostered dogs.
They're Loving The New Bed Bought For Them On Their Ride And Placed In Their Favorite Spot On The Couch...The Luxury Lifestyle Indeed!
Waiting Outside The Kitchen Praying For Dinner To Be Served
"I'd Like A Second Serving Please!"
They're still a little shy, but daughter feels they've made it over the hump so to speak...
We have a feeling that one of our homes might be a match, and they'll be part of our "fur-ever" family. At any rate, even if they go to an unknown home, this will be the Christmas our family will remember as The One With Max And Molly!
Max Got A Second Sweater Too "Just In Case"
I'm posting this story to highlight the need for foster homes and to help spread an understanding of how fostering works for animals, the trials and rewards associated with fostering, and why foster homes are so badly needed.
Thanks for dropping by!