The Joys of Fostering
By Myra Hill

Is gratitude a doggy trait?  No one can ever convince me that it isn’t ... I swear that I have seen it and felt it.

There’s no feeling in the world quite like the joy you feel in witnessing the transformation of a rescued dog under your care. It is truly miraculous.

Granted, taking home a dog with little or no history takes a certain amount of courage, along with an open heart. But I’ve found great joy in watching lost, unwanted, sick, and/or aging dogs grow more and more comfortable, confident and affectionate ... often learning for the first time what being a dog is all about. This small stranger begins to change daily; and when, after spending time with you, your new friend gives you doggy kisses and goes potty where and when you’ve directed them to, your heart sings with joy.

In time, how can you not become attached to your furry house guest? By knowing you are the first step on his or her journey to happily ever after. Your heart will swell with pride for your contribution of time, patience and love, much like preparing a child for kindergarten. If there is a trace of sadness, it is soon erased by heartfelt comments from adopters on how much they love their new family member.

I am able to recall every dog that has entered my home and touched my heart. Some stayed a short time; others for weeks until the perfect home was found. Naturally, I wanted many of these dogs to keep for my very own. To me, the greater their need, the more I loved them. By letting them go I was comforted knowing that there was another little soul needing my help and love on their way to their forever home.

One of my first fosters was an old, broken-down black terrier who I named Raggedy Andy. While he was not a Peke or Pom, CPPR took him in knowing he was frail, but wanting him to live his last days surrounded by love. At first sight I thought, “Ugh. Why would I be given this poor creature when it’s obvious no one wanted to take him home from the shelter?” I couldn’t foresee that he would become handsome and lovable ... so necessary to be adopted. But everyday he became more endearing. His ears would go up just a bit more, and there would be a little more tail wagging when I walked into the room. I saw an amazing change in him as I fed him the best food, sat close to him, petted him and spoke softly. These were my gifts to him.

But he gave me a much greater gift—the gift of unconditional love—which fueled my desire to foster another unfortunate angel, and another after that, and another after that. And while it’s true that I helped to change their worlds, they truly changed mine in the most wonderful ways imaginable.

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