Since moving to Los Angeles, one of the most dog friendly cities I’ve ever lived in, the idea of getting a canine companion has been pretty ever-present. I have my own place (and basically no furniture for a furry friend to destroy) I live a twenty-minute walk from the office, and said office is dog friendly.
I am a stubborn and impulsive person for the most part (shocking right?) so once the idea lodged in my head, I was pretty sure that I was going to just rock up to one of the many pounds, choose a furbaby, and whisk him or her away to a life of spoiling and laziness.
My new friend at work is a foster mum (Mom for the North Americans/Mam for the Europeans) to animals in LA that need a temporary home, between the shelter (and the big green needle) and their fur-ever homes. In a rare moment of pause and measured decision-making, I decided that maybe fostering first would be a better initial step into the world of grown up pet ownership.
And so I reached out to my friends contact at Pacific Paws Rescue and told them I would be available to foster a dog.
Within minutes my phone was flooded with pictures of pooches that urgently needed somewhere to go, to save their lives and to allow another dog to be pulled from the kill shelters. A possibly pregnant terrier who had been living in a homeless mans shopping cart, a sweet sad old boy with grey in his muzzle, and Bobby and Brownie, a bonded pair of tiny middle-aged boys, one with no teeth and a tongue that hung out, and one with bent/deformed front legs.
I was overwhelmed, especially as I had been considering this after my trip to Australia. I told the rescue lady that unfortunately I could only take someone for a few days before June 5th. Bobby and Brownie NEEDED to be moved, and so, I committed to 5 days with two small dogs, with zero fostering experience.
5 things I learned after 5 days fostering the two derpiest dogs in America
- Shelter dogs have had it rough
The first thing Bobby (the white half of this dynamic duo) did when he left his crate aka cage, was shit and piss in 5 separate locations in my apartment. I had had the foresight to roll up and move my carpet, but it was literally a race of, clean up dog excrement before he goes again. When I finally yelled out “No!” Bobby got freaked out and ran back to his crate. This was his reaction:I don’t know what the full story is with these two, what they have had to endure in their relatively short lives. But the fear and mistrust was immediately evident when they walked in the door, and it took 30 minutes of gentle coaxing and treats until they would come and sit with me on the couch. I must have stroked them for two hours, gently placing my hands on them to let them know it was okay. And they both melted like butter in my hands. It broke my heart.
- Differently abled is not Disabled
Despite his deformed front legs, Brownie moves pretty fast. He is a little dog on a mission, and at first I carried him everywhere and picked him up and put him places. I saw his disability, not his ability. I learned pretty quickly that he wasn’t some hopeless case when I came back into the room and found him on the table. How a dog who army crawls and stands all of 6 inches high got up there… is a mystery for me. Bobby was no different. The foster people sent soft food for him, and yet he was chowing down on the small dry kibble right alongside his brother. Sure…his face was a total messy disaster, but having no teeth didn’t stop the greedy guts from gobbling down just as much food as a piggy little dog with a regular mouth.
3. A positive attitude is contagious
After a few hiccups (I seriously tried calling the foster people shortly after the video above – I was very freaked out that these dogs were mentally unstable) the small dogs and I settled into a quiet routine. They would follow me from room to room and then fall asleep on the couch next to me. Everything was the best thing ever for them, a quick trip outside to pee on the patch of grass outside my front door, a cuddle on the couch, a trip to Alfreds coffee…these tiny pooches who looked like total derps and had been passed over time and again, were the happiest little muffins on the planet. I imagine it felt like getting out of prison to them. And their energy inspired me, as someone who is never home in this hustle bustle city, I found myself making excuses to leave things early, just to get home to be around them.
4. Everybody loves a derp
Wherever we went, people cooed at these pups. I mean, they do make a pretty hilarious pair, especially Bobby with his ridiculous tongue. Everybody wanted to pat them, to take photos of them. I would catch people glance at them and then look away smiling. I had an old lady call across the street to me that they were the cutest dogs she had ever seen. And they ARE pretty damn cute. Away from the shelter, bathed, and stroked and loved for five days, the dogs are pretty much glowing. It is astonishing to me that they have been overlooked for so long…what makes them different makes them SPECIAL.
5. We can all do more
I have been pretty selfish the last 6 years since finishing University and moving to various place. I always knew there were animals out there that needed help (even temporary) but I never really thought about it, and I guess it never really occurred to me that I COULD BE THE CHANGE I WANTED TO SEE IN THE WORLD (cue emotional backing track). But the truth is, I’ve had more fun with Derp1 and Derp2 in the last five days, and felt more connected to my new home, since I got here. Helping them gave me a purpose, and now I am on a social media crusade to help them find their forever home.
In summary, although intimidated at first, I think fostering (even shortly) has been an amazing experience, and I hope that these two rag-a-muffins get adopted next weekend at the adoption fair. I am doing everything in my power (harassing people via the internet/striking up random conversations with people in lines/ubers/at work/drunk in bars) to make sure that the two derpiest dogs in America never find themselves back in a cold concrete cell. And if nobody adopts them, well then I guess when I get back from Australia I’ll just have to foster them…indefinitely.