Dear Foster Mom

My friend Kiersten sent me this the week before we brought Laynie to her forever home. At the time, I couldn’t read it, it made me too sad. Now, after writing my letter to Laynie, I think this is what she would write to me.

Dear Foster Mom
Author Unknown

There I sat, alone and afraid,
You got a call and came right to my aid.
You bundled me up with blankets and love.
And, when I needed it most, you gave me a hug.

I learned that the world was not all that scary and cold.
That sometimes there is someone to have and to hold.
You taught me what love it, you helped me to mend.
You loved me and healed me and became my first friend.

And just when I thought you’d done all you could do,
There came along not one new lesson, but two.

First you said, “Sweetheart, you’re ready to go.
I’ve done all I can, and you’ve learned all I know.”
Then you bundled me up with a blanket and a kiss.
Along came a new family, they even have kids!

They took me to their home, forever to stay.
At first I thought you sent me away.
Then that second lesson became perfectly clear.
No matter how far, you will always be near.

And so, Foster Mom, you know I’ve moved on.
I have a new home, with toys and a lawn.
But I’ll never forget what I leaned that first day.
You never really give your fosters away.

You gave me these thoughts to remember you by.
We many never meet again, and now I know why.
You’ll remember I lived with you for a time.
I may not be yours, but you’ll always be mine.

Love you Laynie. So glad you are doing well in your forever home!

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You Know You’re an Animal Lover When…

Jim and I just got back from our one year anniversary celebration in New York City. When I was looking through the photos I took I realized the only things I photographed were animals. I don’t know if it was because I was missing Nola Muffin or if it’s because I am just obsessed with animals, or both. While I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city, I only felt that these were worth capturing in pictures:

A dog park we came across down by Pier 88.

People say that Nola looks part Vizsla so we were happy to have one in the park that we could look at and compare her traits to. And, I am obsessed with French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers and there were a whole bunch playing there! They were so cute. Also, I took photos of the Sea Lion feeding at the Central Park Zoo.We loved how they trainers used commands just like in dog training. Every time they did a trick I was thinking to myself, Nola can do that! Nola actually does know some of the tricks they did, like ‘kisses’ and ‘high five.’ The trainers even used a Kong for the ‘touch’ command (look at the trainer to the left, at the end of the pole he’s holding).Jim and I also commented on EVERY dog we saw in the city, wondering it’s breed, saying how cute it is, wondering how hot he/she must be. Seriously, I know I’ve commented that we are crazy dog people but our love for animals even takes over our vacations! Oh well, we had a great time.

Oh, and by the way, we went to see The Lion King on Broadway. Of course.

Celebration Time!

It was one year ago this weekend that Jim and I became Mr. and Mrs. So, tomorrow we are off to New York City to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary with a Broadway show and some sight seeing. We will also be celebrating placing Delaynie and our first successful foster experience! Nola will be staying at my parents’ house, and she is looking forward to a weekend of being spoiled by Pépère.

Hope you all have a great holiday weekend!

My Letter to Laynie

While trying to find some closure on my fostering experience, I remembered the blog that inspired me to foster in the first place, Love and a Six Foot Leash, wrote letters to their foster pups when they found their forever homes. I decided to try it, and this is what I came up with:

Dear Laynie,

I remember the day we picked you up like it was yesterday. It was late in the evening when we arrived at your first foster home and you were chasing the cats and running from room to room. I wasn’t sure what to make of you, and you could have cared less about us. We corralled you and leashed you up and off we went, starting a new adventure together. You came right with us, trusting that things would be ok. In the car you were curious and wouldn’t sit still. When we finally got home you were still crazy. You had more energy than Foster Dad and I knew what to do with. That first night you just didn’t stop!

Our first full day together was when I got to see your real personalty. I could tell that although you didn’t seem to have much training, you were so willing to please and so smart. As the days went by you tried so hard to learn to do everything we asked of you. We appreciated how fast you learned to ‘wait’ by the door, for food, and just when we needed you to stay in one place. You worked really hard on ‘down’ and ‘leave it’ and you almost got them! Walking on a leash was a little challenging for you, but you hung in there as Foster Mom and Dad tried to help show you what we wanted. And through it all you never stopped wagging your tail.

It was so amazing watching your transformation even over these two short months. Your coat become more shiny, your nails got trimmed, your ears cleaned, we made sure you wouldn’t have any more babies, and we made sure you knew what it felt like to be loved unconditionally. What a difference we saw in you! It was such a joy watching your pure, unfiltered happiness in all the new experiences we exposed you to. I’m so glad we got to show you the beach, and the river, and even our kiddie pool in the back yard. Maybe you were a fish in a previous life because you seemed to be your happiest when you were in the water.

The thing I am going to miss the most about not having you here is all the snuggling we did together. You were such a snuggle bug! I loved when you pawed at the blanket asking me to lift it up so you could come under and curl up with me. My favorite time of the day was every morning after you ate when we spent time snuggling on the couch before I got ready for work.I know we didn’t let you sleep on the bed the whole time you were here, but the last couple nights when I caved and let you up with us were the best. Even though you snored right in my ear, I couldn’t have been happier having you cuddle with me.

There are a few things I want you to try to remember as you settle into your new home. First, try and be calm. I know there is a cat and a rabbit that live there too, but leave them be. They don’t want to play! Also, please try and keep working on not pulling P and A down the street while you are walking on the leash. They are little and you are strong! And the last thing is always remember that people love your kisses and whole body tail wags. You are so good at sharing your happiness with everyone around you, so make sure you do it everyday!

Laynie, you came to us as an underweight, over stimulated, untrained crazy dog. We weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into with you. You were bouncing off the walls, pulled the crap out of us on the leash, and drove Nola crazy. But once you settled in, we really got to see what a wonderful dog you are. Although it wasn’t always easy, having you in our home as part of our family for the past two months was absolutely amazing. You were our first foster dog and you really dug deep into our hearts. We will see you again, but probably not for a while, so we hope you continue to adjust well to your forever life. You made an impression, monkey, and we will never forget you. We will always love you and are so happy you were a part of our lives.

Love,
Foster Mom, Foster Dad and Nola



The Final Stop on the Farewell Tour- Laynie’s Forever Home

We brought Laynie to her forever home Saturday. The whole ride there I was anxious about how it was going to go. I think Laynie could sense it; she came and climbed on my lap in the front seat. Normally I would tell her to go to the back seat, but this time was different. I enjoyed every last second I had to pet her. When we got to her new house I went through all the stuff I brought for her- her harness, gentle leader, food, blankets, toys, etc. Her new mom was very gracious and humored me as I described every last detail about our routine with the monkey. I set up her new crate with her blankets and pillows so she would feel more at home. We chatted for a little while as Laynie explored the house. Then Jim and I knew the time had come. We said on the ride up that we wouldn’t stay too long, it would be too hard on everyone. Each of us said our goodbyes to Laynie. I kissed her, and Jim picked her up and held her like a baby. Her forever mom gave her the duck she loves and when she ran into the other room to chew him, we knew that was our cue to leave.

I cried almost the whole way home, all two hours. Then when I got home and cleaned the house and put away all of her stuff, the crate, her food bowls, the blankets she snuggled on, I lost it. I mean lost it. The uncontrollable, can’t breathe in between sobs crying. It was just so final, she was gone. Things got better as I opened the shades that had been shut for two months to help curb Laynie’s barking, let Nola go in her toy box that had been closed because they couldn’t share, and when Nola just seemed like her old happy self- playing with Daddy in the backyard.  And then I got this update from Laynie’s mom:

Danielle,
Thank you so much for bringing Laynie to us, along with all her goodies. I just wanted to drop you a quick e-mail to let you know that these first few hours with her have gone very smoothly.  We have spent a lot of time outside. I got the pool set up for the girls, so Laynie has been in an out of that. She played ball for a little while, but mostly has just been walking around the yard investigating. She has done really well with sticking near me in the yard and she has been listening good when I say “here”. I think she is tired now as she just curled up on the couch. I will keep you posted as things progress and will let you know if I have any questions or concerns.

Thanks again for all you have done for Laynie. She says thank you and that she loves you 🙂

A flood of emotions came over me after I read that. I was happy that she had a good day, but it made me miss her so much. The rest of the night was full of sadness and hopes that Laynie was still doing ok. Then on Sunday, I woke up with a migraine and proceeded to cry most of the morning while trying to deal with the pain. I got another update from her mom later that afternoon:

Laynie has had a very busy day. A took her for a ride in the car. She said Laynie rode really good and just sat in the back seat looking out the window. She got to meet some of A’s friends. She has done awesome today. We played tug for a bit and she did her little crazy run for few seconds….lol. She helped me get my flower boxes ready for planting and she helped me clean up the last pile of leaves.
She seems to be settling in well. I will send you more updates tomorrow and I will post more pics 🙂

P

Again, I was so happy to hear she had another good day, but it made me cry even more. Why was this so hard? Am I just the type of person that falls too much in love with a dog to be able to do this more than once? I found this article from the ASPCA about saying goodbye to a foster and I realized how I am feeling is normal. A few things stood out to me:

It gets easier with time. For many people, the first time you say goodbye to a foster pet is the hardest—the second time is easier, the third, even more so. While you never stop caring for the foster animals that come into your home, you will soon realize that the sadness is often replaced with the satisfaction of knowing you were instrumental in saving a life.

“Don’t feel guilty. After days, weeks or even months of bonding, it can be painful to say goodbye to a foster pet. You may even experience strong feelings of guilt for not adopting the animal yourself—this is to be expected. However, it’s important to understand that while these feelings are natural for you, animals are incredibly resilient and adaptable—your foster pet will become part of his new family and be living happily ever after in no time!

“Take a break. With the constant demands of foster work, you may begin to feel a bit burned out—and that’s completely understandable. You may also simply need time to process your feelings in between fosters. It is important to recognize these feelings and follow through with the break. While you may feel guilty or pressured to immediately open your home to another foster pet, if you burn out completely, there will be one less foster home available—so take time!”

Reading that my guilt, sadness, and thoughts of needing time to process everything were common helped me so much. And the last thing the article suggested:

“Cherish the memories.”

I will never forget the little monkey and the fact that we helped her as much as we could. From her snoring, to her snuggling, to her uncontrollable tail wag and goofy personality; there are so many things that make me smile when I think about her. I may never stop missing her completely, but that’s ok. I think in time the sadness will go away and the happy memories will take over. She was a very important part of our lives, and us to her’s. She will always have a special place in our heart as our very first foster dog.

Farewell Tour Continued…and Mom’s Day

The second stop on Laynie’s Farewell Tour this weekend was Fuller Farm. We have been taking her there since we started fostering her a couple months ago and we wanted to make sure we took her there one last time.

Then we made the third stop on The Tour at my parents’ house for Mother’s Day. Laynie had been a couple times before, but not with my whole extended family there. It was a beautiful day and both her and Nola had a great time. They played in the pool (my parent’s babysit Nola a lot so they have a pool at their house too).

And slept on the deck in the sun.

It was a little too hot for Nola, so she sought out some shade behind one of the outdoor couches.

And then Laynie thought that was a good idea and tried to get some shade under the table.

And they both tried out the chair.

Laynie has become a wonderful ambassador for pit bulls. Whenever anyone asked what she was, I was proud to say that she was a pit bull. I think some of my family members were surprised at how calm, loving and well behaved she was. Many of them have probably never met a pit bull, or like me before we got Nola, had a negative image of them that stemmed from ignorance and the media’s portrayal of the breed. I’m happy they all met her once before she goes to her forever home.

It also occurred to me as we celebrated all the moms in my family, that Delaynie is a mom, too. It still shocks me that people don’t spay their pups and they can have babies so young. I bet Laynie was a great mom. She probably snuggled those puppies so much! And by the looks of her belly, she fed them well! Three of her four puppies, Hazzard, Kink and Mavis, are still in foster homes and are available for adoption though B.U.R.N.

Nola and Laynie’s Day at the Beach

One of our stops on Laynie’s “Farewell Tour” this weekend was Ferry Beach in Scarborough. We weren’t sure if Laynie had ever been to the beach since she spent most of her short life in a crate in Northern Maine. We discovered almost immediately after we got Nola that she was a beach pup, and we knew Laynie loved the water, so we wanted to see how she would like the sandy paradise.

To say she liked it would be an understatement. She loved chasing Nola through the water, chasing her ball, and playing with all the friendly pups we met along the way. She REALLY loved chasing the seagulls, and we let her since there was really no where for her to run off to.

She ran and played so much that she was covered in sand and tired as heck when we got to the car.

We’re glad we could enjoy another adventure with the little monkey and experience one more moment of pure joy (and slobber) her face.

Nola Muffin Monday: My Foster Sis’ Laynie

Hi everyone, Mommy asked me to write on her blog about Laynie. She keeps telling me that she’s only going to be here for a few more days and that she is going to her forever home. It’s been a long two months with her here, and  I’m really glad that this is not her forever home, but I think there are some things I am going to miss about Laynie.

When she first came here I was confused. Mommy had packed that big black box and left for a little while. Daddy said it was for work. When she came back she brought a big black dog. Mommy and Daddy took us for a walk together and instead of going home like Payson does when we walk with his mom Shelley, she stayed. In MY house! Can you believe it? I spent the first couple of days trying to show her that this was my house- my toys, my food, my Mommy and Daddy. But she was just so pushy and Mommy said she wasn’t leaving, so I decided it was easier to just let her stay and let try to be ok with it. Mommy and Daddy did help me when she tried to take my bone or when she bit my legs when we played. Man, does that hurt! She’s got some serious teeth! I am NOT going to miss that.

Mommy said we had to be nice to her and show her that we love her because she hasn’t had an easy life like I have. I don’t know what they are talking about, did they forget everything that has happened to me?! How can they not remember that mean dog that bit me, or when my nail broke and the vet had to make me sleepy to fix it, or when I was coughing so much I couldn’t go to daycare. I mean what is worse than not being able to go to daycare and play with my friends?! But, I guess they are right. She did have some puppies when she was only 7 dog years old. Although it might be kind of fun to have puppies around to play with. Also, they said she lived in her crate for a long time. I liked my crate but I wouldn’t want to be in there all the time. So, I tried to pretend like I didn’t care when she would always have to sleep with her leg on me, or her back to me, or even all the way on top of me. I figured it was the least I can do.

Once I got used to sharing everything and having my routine all changed, I tried to teach Laynie the ropes because I am the older one, even if it is only by one month. I taught her that she should ignore the squirrels, birds, and cats that we pass when we’re walking. She is still working on that one. I showed her that you have to go back to Mommy and Daddy when they say ‘here.’ And when they yell it with a deep voice you REALLY have to go back. She is still working on that one, too. I taught her that you get more attention when you are calm and that jumping up isn’t something the people like. I tried to show her how I get into the bathtub all by myself and that it’s not scary, but she really doesn’t like it and Daddy always has to pick her up and put her in. And, most of all, I showed her that life can be full of fun, love, and lots of kisses when you have the right people like my Mommy and Daddy.

She taught me a few things too. Like when she plays with the ball she brings it back- all the way back to Mommy and Daddy! I really don’t know why, they always get it for me when I don’t bring it back. But she seems to get a lot of ear scratches when she does that, and the game goes longer! Also, I see how much it hurts Mommy’s arms when Laynie pulls her down the street, so I try my best to stay right next to Mommy. Secretly, I want to be up in front like Laynie, but I get more chicken treats if I stay next to Mommy.

Everyone keeps using the word foster when they talk about Laynie. Mommy and Daddy are fostering Laynie, Laynie is my foster sister. I don’t really know what that means, but from what Mommy and Daddy have been saying, we helped Laynie. They seem really sad lately and they said this weekend was the last weekend we’d have with Laynie. All I know is that we got to go to the beach and play at Fuller Farm this weekend and we had fun! Although I get annoyed when she takes my spot on the couch next to Mommy, I think I am going to miss that little black dog. I am looking forward to getting all of Mommy and Daddy’s attention, and getting to play with my toys again, but I am glad that we could help Laynie find a forever home. I guess fostering means being annoyed and having to share, but also helping another dog that needs it.