I had the best of intentions, but I was wrong. I thought I had found the perfect home for my foster dog, Nadia. Actually, I thought I had found the perfect dog for a good friend.
My friend had lost her dear companion dog of 13 years and she was grieving. I had a wonderful young dog that I was so sure was the right fit…not to replace her old boy, but to fill the void in a new and equally special way. It just seemed perfect. To me.
In my dog rescue work, I jokingly say I keep a mental Rolodex (Yeah, that’s old school, I know. Kids, a Rolodex is an old tool we once kept on our desks that was a spinning address book. Contact information and fun!). I store a list of people in my mind who have expressed interest in adopting a dog. Then, when I find a dog, I spin through that mental Rolodex to see if I can find a good human/dog match.
I compare it to fishing. I’m never pushy about placing a dog…I just toss a line out there in the form of a photo or a short text/email/message. If the target says no, I reel the line in and move to the next fishing hole.
But if the target nibbles, then we start talking.
Well, this time the target took the bait, and took the dog, but it was just never right. It was never a comfortable fit, though both human and dog wanted it to be. They did love each other. But over the weeks and months that followed, the dog was becoming increasingly stressed and displaying unmanageable behaviors in her new home including strong aversion to being left home alone.
My friend tried everything. Training classes, crate training, private training in-home – anything and everything that might resolve the dog’s growing anxiety. Short of trying to get Nadia a companion dog (she did not feel she could be a two dog household and I respect that, plus there are no guarantees it would have helped), or putting the dog on medication, she tried everything.
Perhaps it was too soon for this human to have another dog. She certainly gave it her all to make it work, though. Maybe it was the wrong timing, or the wrong dog. Maybe this dog couldn’t handle being an only dog. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason for the mismatch.
And maybe, just maybe I wanted it too much. It’s possible that I wanted this to work so much for both human and dog that I didn’t go through my normal adoption questions and “think it through” process. Maybe. (Hey, I already admitted I was wrong once in this post. Don’t push it.)
It rarely happens. Jim, my partner in life and rescue, and I rarely have a dog returned. But when it does happen, we are 100% here for the dog. We take her back immediately. Our foster dogs are our responsibility for life. We will always take them back if things in their new homes truly can’t work out.
In the last couple of weeks, we have found homes for Annie, Piper, Skye, and Cinder. Next week, Tori is leaving for her wonderful new life and Morey will go for a home visit with his potential new family. I feel great about these placements. They all seem like perfect fits and I will provide support to the new owners as they settle in with their new canine companions.
It’s unlikely that any of these dogs will ever need us again. But still, we have made a promise to each and every one of them.
I hope they don’t somehow all need us at once someday. Wow. I shouldn’t even toy with that thought.
But now I have to focus on Nadia. She is back and she is out of sorts. She loves being in our home. She loves playing and romping with all of the other dogs. But she is not settled. Something is off…or missing.
When I stop, clear my mind and look at her, I feel an ache in my heart that was never there before. I feel a certain sense of heaviness. There is a connection missing, there is an air of unrest surrounding her. It shows clearly in her posture, in her actions, and in her eyes.
We will work through it. She is back here because it was the right choice for her, as well as for my friend. They both tried very hard. They both feel the loss. For anyone who says they would never give up on a dog, well, sometimes we have to set aside our human determination to do what is best for the dog. That takes strength. My friend did what was right for Nadia.
In the end, the right dog will land in that very good home, and Nadia will find her intended person. I believe this and Jim and I will work to make it happen.
We will work through Nadia’s issues. The concern that seems to cloud her face will clear. She will learn to relax and trust the world.
And she can have all the time she needs to figure it out. I promised her that the day I found her cowering in the brush at the side of the road, I promise her that today and always.
It’s just a little detour on the path to your happily ever after, Nadia. Just a detour.
Time to go fishing.