After Cookie left, the kids wanted another dog immediately. There was a black lab/Bernese cross on death row at one of the country pounds outside the city, and one of Marisa’s volunteers dropped her at our house. My girls named her Bernita.
Bernita, for a pound dog, was grossly obese. Almost immediately after entering the house, the dog pooped in the kitchen. I blamed myself, thinking she had needed out after her long car ride from the pound, and I should have realized it. I took her out to pee, and she took off, racing through three yards before I cornered her. She refused to come when called, and when I tried to pull her, the collar came off. She was too heavy to lift. So I just turned my back and walked off, and thankfully she followed me home. After that, I only took her out on a leash.
However, I couldn’t take her out enough, and the puddles of pee accumulated in the kitchen. Bernita had arrived on a Wednesday evening, and by Thursday night, I was at my wit’s end. She waddled when she walked, and often just plopped down, seemingly unable to walk any farther. She was fearful, but not aggressive; she would cry and roll on her back when given an order, but would not obey it.
I couldn’t have a dog peeing all through the weekend, especially as we were invited to friend’s for lunch Saturday. I didn’t want to deal with an incontinent dog, and asked Marisa to re-home her immediately.
Predictably, the kids were hugely distressed. Whatever her other faults, Bernita was a kid’s dog. On her first night, she spent an hour going from room to room, cuddling all three kids in turn. On Thursday night, she just climbed into bed with the Middle Child, and cuddled her all night. She lived to love and be cuddled by small people.
But the maintenance was beyond me. Although it was a Friday in December, and the Sabbath came in very early (around 4:00), we all loaded Bernita into the van and drove her to a new foster family about 30 minutes away. The new fosters were “professionals.” Melinda was a stay-at-home mom, with three kids and her mother living with them. They had two dogs of their own, a Bassett hound and a Great Dane, four cats, and had foster birds and bunnies from the SPCA. They also had a fenced-in back yard where Bernita could be let out instantaneously when she had the need.
My kids patted all the cats, cooed over the bunnies, and made friends with two little girls, one of whom was attired in a princess costume. Poor Bernita cowered in the entrance hall, terrified of the Great Dane. Fortunately, her bladder held. She was whimpering and terrified when we left, and two of my kids cried all the way home. We spoke to both Melanie and Marisa later; Bernita got over her fear, settled in just fine, and her indoor peeing became a problem of the past. But my girls still talk about her as the “cuddliest dog ever,” and it reinforced the message to me, lost through the perfection of Cookie, that fostering a dog could be more work than one is ready to take on.