The beast bounded full-throttle into the house with his characteristic smile, ready to greet everyone with big sloppy kisses (whether anyone wanted them or not.) My pug didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to think. But once he crossed that threshold, there was no turning back, no turning away this foster dog.
And I’m glad we didn’t.
Buffalo came to us from Hope Lives Here Rescue Society, a Red Deer-based animal rescue that relies on foster families to help in their rescue efforts. They pegged Buffalo as a Rhodesian ridgeback-cross around a year and a half old weighing in at 70 or 80 lbs. With a rescue dog, it’s hard to know anything for certain – quite a contrast from Perlin’s Cadillac Style, aka Caddy, our 24 lb purebred pug born near Tofield on August 12, 2007.
With Caddy, we knew exactly what we were getting. With Buffalo, we didn’t, and I think that – more than anything – is the hardest part of fostering a dog.
We didn’t know what kind of toys were his favorites (the answer: rope toys, or anything Caddy is playing with.) We didn’t know if he preferred carrots over snap peas (the answer: he hates all vegetables equally, but will take them rather gently from your hand before spitting them out.) We didn’t know how much water he drinks or how much he sheds or how often he does his business (the answer to all three: a lot.)
We didn’t know these things when he joined our family, but he introduced himself to us. We got to know him over time, and we got to learn about his quirks and foibles.
We found out just how much he loves to eat by training him to sit, lie down, and stay for his dinner (he picked up on that one pretty quick.) We saddled him with a myriad of nicknames like we did with Caddy (aka Caddybear, Caddyman, Boobear, Booboo, and Stinkyface,) including Buffy, Buffyloo, Buff, Buffer, Rufio, and sometimes Buffoon. We laughed over his insistence that he be allowed to curl up in our laps, size be damned. We came to know that a soft hand on his side and a gentle call of his name would ease him out of the dreams that caused him to kick and whine.
And I think that – more than anything – is the best part of fostering a dog.
There’s no doubt that fostering a dog is hard. You bring a creature into your house that you don’t know. You train him a little or a lot, depending on the dog and on the day. You feed him and walk him and brush him and play with him, caring for him until his forever family comes along. You sit by his side as he meets potential adoptive families, praying that this will be the one (and kind of praying that it won’t be, because you’re not ready to let go yet.)
You grow to love him. And then you say goodbye.
Yes, fostering a dog is hard, but letting go is even harder. I cried when Buffalo left us Saturday morning, almost three months after he came to us: tears of sadness that I wouldn’t get to see his face again, wouldn’t get to stroke his ears and tell him that he’s loved every day.
But also tears of happiness that he’s starting on a path that will lead him to a fantastic forever home, in part because we fostered him.
Hope Lives Here is a non-profit animal rescue based out of foster homes in Central AB. HLH focuses on saving abandoned, homeless dogs and placing them into warm, loving homes until they find their furever homes. For more information on fostering or adopting a dog through Hope Lives Here, please visit www.hopeliveshererescue.com or like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HopeLivesHereAnimalRescue.