Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Blast from Foster Dogs Past

This past weekend I had news from two of my most beloved past foster dogs.

One of my favorite end-of-the-year rituals is sending a nice donation to my friends who run Animal AWARE, a no-kill sanctuary in Guatemala. I've always thought of it as a child support payment, as the sanctuary has provided a good home to my God-dog Zula, who I rescued when I was in Guatemala the summer of 2005, all these years. 

Zula is the Antigua street dog who one morning came up to me and lay on my backpack; I kept her with me a few days, got her vaccinated and spayed, and convinced my friend Xenii and her indulgent husband Martin to take her. 

All along I've agonized over whether I should send for her, but while my heart longed for her, my head said that there was no way to justify the expense and difficulty of taking in a dog who was happily situated in Guatemala, when so many dogs languish on death row right here in DC. And with my friend Xenii's donation thank-you note this year came an unexpected deliverance from my agony--the news that Zula's been adopted! By two people who love her and take her for walks around Antigua, so she gets to cruise around and see all her old haunts from the perspective of a loved, well-fed family dog and no longer that of a hungry, homeless stray. 

Somehow I never expected to hear this news, and I didn't anticipate how liberated I would feel when I heard it. There's one less dog in the world whose happiness is my responsibility. I can devote my full attention to the dogs right in front of me. Think globally, act locally.

And in another wonderful instance of connecting with a past foster dog, this weekend I also got the chance to groom PJ! PJ was only the second foster dog I had after I moved to this area. A fellow volunteer with the rescue group I was with sent out an email with his picture asking if anyone would take him, as he was running out of time at a high-kill shelter. 

He'd gotten into trouble for sending emails like that because the group had its own list of high-priority dogs who needed to be pulled first (this sort of politics is precisely why I am reluctant to get deeply involved with a rescue group again), but when PJ came off the transport I think everyone knew that the right thing had been done. 

PJ gave me a big happy wag and sniff and pulled to greet me and come in the house. Even though its been 3 years, he sure seemed to remember me and to have good associations with living here. 
PJ and Zula remind me that parting from a foster dog is not a final farewell, but an opportunity to keep alive a connection with a dog while making room in my own life to save more. An important lesson that will help me as I try to separate my sometimes overpowering emotions and love for these things, from my determination to set Fozzie and Sandy up for the best possible success in this lifetime.                                                  


  1. Wonderful updates for both former fosters! Yes, we hear you loud & clear about the politics of some rescue groups; we are steering clear too.

  2. That is just awesome Kirsten, you are an angel to these dogs.

    God bless you.

  3. I like the part about it not being the final farewell, but an opportunity to help more. And seeing updates like these does make you understand why it is all worth it.

  4. Awwww...what a very happy-making postie this was! I bet your heart just fills to the brim knowing that you helped give those doggies a Happily Ever After!

    Wiggles & Wags,

  5. What a lovely post. I went to read about Zula and all your other fosters. You've had quite a few. You're a good woman, Kirsten :)

    My hubbie and I find that street dogs on our travels tend to come up to us too. I think they can sense a mobile food vending machine when they see one :p They're such survivors. Most seems quite accepting of their fate, I don't know if that's the right way to put it.

    Like the dog that adopted us in Salvador. It got water, it got some meat, shade from the sun and some pats. At the end of the day, it just wandered off like it was something that it was quite used to doing. Another day, another tourist!

    Anyway, it's good news that Zula now has a home. She would be 6 by now. Never to late to have your own bed.

  6. Hi Kirsten, thank you - that was a nice post. I hope that Sandy, Fozzie and PJ get to hang out with you forever. We're a good news sort of family.

  7. Its great to read about Zula and PJ. Giving up a foster dog is hard but as you say its not a final farewell when you part. You have given then that chance of a happy new forever home and a family that loves them.
    We look forward to reading more of your stories. You have a huge heart!

    Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx


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