“Urgently seeking fosters for two 6 month old dogs.”
A week before Christmas, our family responded to this call for help. We already knew the rescue organization as we had connected with them a few years ago, hoping to find a fur-sibling for our other rescue, Zeda. But at that time, Zeda was not ready to welcome another dog into our home; she was protective and territorial and, while we wanted another dog, Zeda just wasn’t ready to be a big sister. Now, though, as she is 8 years old, less anxious and a bit more mature, we felt that she was ready for a four-legged friend in our home and, so, we had been keeping our eyes open for opportunities to foster – to test her once again. And since we were all home for the holidays and we didn’t have plans to entertain anyone, we stepped up to this call. “Yes.” However, by the time we got back to them, it was too late; the dogs found other fosters.
That same message was followed by “We have 10 puppies that we need fosters for or we are going to have to leave them behind.”
“How old are they?”
“About 6 weeks.” Gulp.
Dave, the boys and I flew through a string of texts within minutes: it will be a lot of work; we all have to agree to help out; the dog will not know anything; Zeda will be such a momma….. Without any real idea of what we were in for, we agreed to bring a puppy into our home.
The rescued dogs are from one of the northernest communities in Ontario. To give you an idea of how far north they were, they were transported south to Thunder Bay, driven to Sudbury, then Vaughan and were then distributed to their fosters in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). There were 2 six month old puppies, 5 six week old puppies, and a few kittens. That Sunday night, when Dave headed out to coach his hockey team, I happily headed to a gas station by the highway to pick up our tiny foster.
Within 5 minutes of driving the puppy back home, my car stunk – not a fresh stink from a nervous dog, but a stale, absolutely rancid one. “Gross!” My nose shut down and I felt my chest tighten; I could not breathe. Without even seeing the dog, I knew that it was filthy. My mind raced. What am I going to do? What had we gotten ourselves into? We signed up for this. The dog needs us. When will my husband be home?!
As expected, the nameless puppy brought the stench into our home, but we were told not bathe her for a few days as she had been through a lot over the weekend. She and her siblings were separated from their mother on Friday night when they were dumped in a cardboard box at a community centre. (Who knows what that means in northern Ontario?) Of the ten puppies, two froze to death, three were distributed to homes in the community and the five others – all girls – were rescued and brought to the GTA. I think that the females were sent out of the area because the shortage of vets in the north and cost of treatments meant that they wouldn’t be spayed; sending them away meant that northern communities didn’t have to worry about more unwanted puppies. For this reason, I’m willing to bet that the pups that remained were all males. That Sunday night, we welcomed a tired, frightened and barely 6 week old girl puppy (if that) into our home. Our only job for the night was simple: hugs and cuddles with the cutest but stinkiest dog ever.
After cautiously introducing the our dog to the foster, the rest of the night was spent showering the little girl with affection. Before lights went out, we put her back in her crate with our now 22 year old son’s old baby blanket and listened to her yip and howl until she released a deep sigh and feel asleep.
None of us, including the pup, had any idea what the next 24 hours would look like. But I am fairly certain that we all went to sleep feeling a little less anxious and a lot more love.