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Foster A Dog Before Adopting
We Saw The Plea in the Local Newspaper
Hello There, VivBounty here to cast my vote for fostering a dog or two to see if you really want to adopt one. I can tell you from experience that there is no greater joy than giving a dog who would otherwise have to be stuck in a shelter, no matter how good a shelter, a loving home and one to one loving care.
Before we adopted our dog, Pedro in Spain 5 years ago, I was reading the local paper and spotted a plea by a small but mighty rescue operation called Noah's Arc about 100 km from where we lived for temporary or permanent homes for dogs. The article, which included photos of some of the dogs described how a dispute between the local authorities and the woman who owned the land the shelter was on necessitated shutting the shelter down. It went on to say that some dogs might be moved to shelters with space for a few in nearby towns, but the older ones and some with behavioural problems might have to be put down.
I immediately e-mailed the shelter saying, we didn't want to be tied down, but we would like to help, adding that our family was abroad and should we need to travel wouldn't want to be part of the problem by having to take the dog back to them for boarding.
The next day we received a phone call inviting us to see the shelter and meet the dogs.
We Went to See the Shelter and Meet the Dogs
We drove an hour down the coast to Murcia, the province south of us and found the shelter. We were met at the gate, learning the shelter was erected temporarily on this land 2 years prior. It looked pretty permanent to me with concrete kennels, spacious chain link pens for single or groups of dogs depending on how they got along, and a little administration office.
We walked past the kennels and runs as all manner of pooch came to the fences seeming to be on their best behaviour, tails wagging and eyes pleading "pick me". There was an 18-month-old Alsatian named Teddy who my husband immediately fell in love with. They were all so adorable and our heart strings were fraying. Teddy had been hit by a car injuring his hip necessitating surgery and thus would need a specially calm home most likely with no children. They all looked very well adjusted and healthy with a generous roster of volunteers who came to walk, feed and generally assist in their care. The energy of the space and that of the dogs was wonderful and loving.
In the office, we were given documents, 2 leads, 1 bag of hypo-allergenic dry dog food as Tilly had a sensitive stomach and one bag of generic kibble for Rafael. As we walked over to the kennel and run they were sharing we learned that Rafael was the only dog Tilly liked and would share her blanket and basket with.
Before we knew it we had both dogs and their belongings in the car with instructions to keep receipts for vet bills, food and expenses which we could turn in for reimbursement when they went to their permanent homes.
A small but MIGHTY rescue operation in Southern Spain
- Noah's Arc Registered Animal Charity - Dog Rescue, Murcia, Spain
Fantastic Shining Example Shows The World How To Stop Animal Cruelty - Noah's Arc is a registered animal charity located in Murcia, Spain. "We rescue animals from neglect, cruelty, help home them where they will be well looked after..."
Rafael, A Bonnie Little Dog
Rafael had the sweetest, most loving little face and gentle nature. He had a home once. Sadly the man who had adopted him passed away and his wife had placed Rafael in the shelter to wait out his quarantine time while she went back to the UK. In Europe a pet passport is required for every dog to travel, and to enter the UK from Europe a clear rabies blood test. One month later a rabies inoculation, the dog must then wait 6 months, "quarantined", but not contained before entering the UK.
All the way home he laid just like you see in the photo there on the back seat of the car peacefully enjoying the 1 hour ride. He didn't make a sound and just looked content to be there. My husband called him "A dear little soul" and if ever there was one, it was Rafael.
We got home, he had a good sniff around, used the garden and hopped up on the sofa to make himself at home. He rarely barked except when Tilly did. He seemed to need a little step to move his bowels so when we went for a walk, he would back up to the raised pavement, sit at just the right angle and then 'go'. With his really short legs and the very high paving in our neighbourhood, this was such a stretch and gave us endless giggles. Rafael was affectionate, ate well, and everyone loved his sweet little face.
Once when I washed the rugs, Rafael didn't like the clean smell of them. You know what happened next, right? He proceeded to have a nice long wee against the bed leg soaking the corner of my nice clean rug. I couldn't blame him for marking his territory. It was his only indiscretion in the whole 7 weeks we had him and I simply washed the rug again without rebuttal.
We got the call that his mommy had returned to Spain to pick him up, so we agreed to meet her outside a large supermarket to hand her back her baby. Being so attached to him, we arrived early so that we could have a last little bond with him, before handing him over with our love and blessings.
When she arrived, Rafael didn't seem to recognize her or be all that excited which understandably made her sad, but I quickly calmed her fears saying how quickly he bonded with us, complete strangers and that he would soon remember how much he loved her. As sad as it was to let him go, we were honoured to have been able to love and care for him if only for a few weeks until he could go back to his permanent home.
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Tilly came with us to adopt Pedro
What can I say about Tilly, except that she was the boss? We guessed that she was up in age from her graying snout. She was an affectionate dog, quite needy and clingy. This is understandable given that she was found abandoned by her family on the beach, if memory serves me correctly. So if she had to defend herself out there for who knows how long, it's no wonder she barked at everything and everyone.
She hopped on to my lap in the car and remained there all the way home. She went through the garden gate, found a spot to relieve herself and happily hopped on my husband's lap while I put feeding bowls down and set up their sleeping basket. Incidentally, neither one of them ever slept in that basket again as the couch was much too comfortable.
We had to feed them separately as Tilly didn't know that she would have loose stools if she ate regular food. Rafael let her eat first waiting until she gave him permission to eat. She hated the cold weather and I couldn't blame her as I felt the same way.
The first night we got these little foster dogs, December 29th, it would have to be 4 degrees Celcius on the Costa Blanca, if you can imagine. We took them for a walk and Tilly literally dug her paws into the pavement after 20 feet refusing to walk any further. I had to pick her up and carry her under my arm the rest of the way until Rafael was ready to turn back. She did this often, especially when it was cold. I guess her old bones really felt the cold.
She was truly a digger, our Tilly. When she went to the beach she would dig and dig until she all but disappeared in the sand and we could just see her tail. Being black she looked so funny with sand all over her and relished being brushed before getting back in the car almost as much as she did her bath and being blow dried afterwards.
One of the volunteers from the shelter, Anne, called us about a week after we had the dogs. She was Tilly's person she explained and that as long as Tilly had a person she was fine. We found this was true as my husband's lap would do until I was in sight. She would have loved to adopt Tilly but she had a very old dog who could not tolerate another one being brought into the family. We assured her Tilly was fine, her bowels had settled down and she was loved and cared for.
After 9 weeks we got the phone call from the other volunteer from the shelter who was adopting Tilly for her mother back in England who had a lovely garden, lived alone and would make a perfect person for Tilly. We were to give her Tilly's measurements over the phone and take her to the airport on flying day.
We disagreed completely and convinced her to meet us at their home a week earlier so that at least Tilly could get used to the pet carrier after some time with them. All was agreed and Anne, asked to join us to bid Tilly farewell.
10 days before we were to take Tilly to her new family, we got another call from the shelter. There were some Husky-cross puppies we should see. Knowing my husband immediately connected with Teddy, the injured Shepherd, they let us know that since we didn't actually list ourselves, he had been adopted to a nice couple with no children.
Tilly came with us to look at the pups, of course. All the volunteers at the shelter greeted her by name as if she was royalty. She walked with us as we took each pup out to see how they behaved on a lead almost putting her two cents in.
We adopted Pedro who sat timidly on the floor in the back between the seats the whole way home, Tilly in her rightful place, on my lap. Once home she let him know that she eats first and as I was training him not to eat her special food, she would come behind me and bark reinforcement. Mind you she was only the size of his thigh, but he knew who was boss and cowered when she barked.
Ten days later, he came along to take Tilly to her new family. As we did with Rafael, we arrived early enough to take both of them for a run on the beach, foster parents, adoptive parents, and Anne who wished she could have adopted her, all together easing the way for all concerned, especially Tilly. We sent her off with our love and blessings as we had done for Rafael and headed home with our new son, Pedro who is flourishing 5 years later, has seen 5 countries, 5 provinces in Canada and God-willing many more to come.
We are so very grateful for Rafael and Tilly preparing us to be Pedro's parents, loving us and allowing us to love them. We hope they are well and happy wherever they are and will carry them in our hearts no matter where we are. We were cheerfully reimbursed for all our expenses and should we have the space in future, would foster another pet in a heartbeat.