We got our first foster dog almost immediately after telling Marisa that yes, we would foster dogs. Because I have three young children, I made it clear that the dog had to be GUARANTEED kid-friendly. No pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, or Dobermans in my house. Or any dog, regardless of breed, that had known behaviour issues. Marisa sent us Cookie, a young lab mix whose elderly owner had to give him up.
Cookie was cute– as long as you viewed him from the side. But the minute I got a look at his underbite, I started to sweat. I didn’t like the look of those teeth. He looked like there might be pit bull in the mix, and I e-mailed Marisa in a panic. Don’t worry, she reassured me. The person who had him before me was sure he was fine.
Marisa was right. From the moment he walked in, Cookie was a submissive sweetheart. His fear of abandonment was huge. He followed me everywhere. He cried until I let him sleep in my bed. When I let him out to pee, he did what he had to do and ran back inside. With some trepidation, not knowing if he would be destructive on his own, I left him by himself the second day he was here. Our house is a duplex; he cried so loudly, my neighbour’s son though he was trapped in their garage.
We gave him tons of love, and he adjusted. After a few days, he stopped crying, but he still insisted on sleeping with me. Like the fool I was, I even took him to the dog park; I had no idea how he would be with other dogs, or even if he had his shots. I was lucky; he sniffed around, wagged his tail, and behaved like a gentleman. (I know better now!)
Cookie was the best introduction to fostering you could hope for. He was affectionate, playful, loyal, submissive, and obedient. After only a week, someone found him on Petfinder and put in a request. Marisa, however, wanted him neutered first, and I didn’t want such a trauma to be his first experience with his new owners.
Rescue organizations don’t have a lot of money. Vets vary in price depending on location and the success of their practice. Our city is situated on a river, and vets on the south side tend to be cheaper than those on the north. The vet Marisa sent Cookie to seemed nice enough, but the office was seedy-looking– not so much dirty as dingy. I didn’t like Cookie being there, but the vet gave Marisa a good price.
To make matters worse, of all the bridges spanning the river, the one closest to this vet is the one I call the Tinkertoy Bridge. It’s about 3,000 miles high, and looks like it’s made out of Tinkertoys. You expect the whole thing to collapse halfway across. Fortunately, I only had to drive over it twice; another volunteer dropped him off, as I couldn’t make it that day, but I made sure I was the one to pick him up. To say he was happy to see me is a vast understatement. Driving the Tinkertoy Bridge is always harrowing; try doing it with a seventy-five pound dog in your lap. That’s fun.
About a week after the surgery, Cookie’s new owners came to claim him. They were a mother and daughter who already had a miniature pinscher from Marisa’s rescue. Cookie and the other dog took to each other fine, and I haven’t seen Cookie since.
As I look back on the experience, I realize I made a huge mistake letting Cookie go. I had it in my mind that we were fostering. I wasn’t ready to own a dog. Now I know that dogs as obedient and well-behaved as Cookie are few and far between. Our Best Friend is a pretty good boy, but Cookie was more obedient and less aggressive. I miss Cookie; I want to know how he’s doing, I want to see him and find out if he still remembers me. At least I know that without us, he would have been put to sleep, and instead he’s alive and well and bringing joy to his owners and his doggie friend.