Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Trials & Tribulations of Being a Foster Mom...

This post is from Corbin's mom... Corbin will be back tomorrow.

I was reading through all the blogs we follow yesterday... I usually open a bunch at once in one window and tab through them.  I was clicking away, excited to read about Mayzie eating grass (something Corbin does for the heck of it, never over an upset tummy), the artshow Pip's mom went to, the crazy antics of Frankie... all of our friends always have fun, funny, interesting things going on.  Then one blog caught my eye... titled Wanted, Unwanted.  My eyes quickly went to a fimiliar word in the preview for the post... "Oreo."

This post was by 24 Paws of Love... one of the first blogs that started following us last year when we started blogging, and one of the first blogs we started following. After reading their post and the comments others had made, I was honestly in tears... I write the blog and read the comments everyone leaves, but I guess I never really imagined it ever affecting anyone. I know I get attached to the blogs I read, but I guess this is the first time it's come across that someone has attached themselves to something I wrote, something going on in our lives. Their blog post was about how dogs feel when they get returned and how Oreo's story had really touched them... I was responding to their post when I realized my comment was longer than most of my blogs. So I decided to write a post about this as well.

I hate the bouncing Oreo has done... she is the first of my fosters to ever be returned. The hardest time she has had was when she came to my house. She was a nutcase, whining, crying, pacing... her family handed her over to me in an empty parking lot and drove out of site without a second look back... I felt so awful for her and had no idea how to help her... after two weeks I finally called a behaviorist that works with my rescue... She helped out so much and we have had very few issues with Oreo since.

The first home she went to was when we were on vacation, and when they returned her, I even said to their face that I would have never let her go home with them. They were push over people who wanted a perfect dog. I know they were explained Oreo's issues because I took 10 minutes out of my vacation to talk to them on the phone. I wanted to make sure they understood Oreo's issues. He assured me over and over again that they have had many dogs and they understood there would be an adjustment period and they could handle anything that came their way. 24 hours later, they called Homeward Bound and asked when they could meet someone to bring her back. She was barking at their neighbors and pulling them around on the leash. Simple fix. She doesn't bark at my house... and I walk her and Corbin together with no issues. Take control, how hard is that? They didn't want to bother with a behaviorist. I was glad she came back that time... I didn't want her staying with that family. I brought Corbin with me when I met them at our store to take her back... they watched me walk out with both dogs behaving and walking next to me on a leash.

The second home was my fault... they fell in love with Oreo and I thought that meant what they said - that they'd do anything and everything for her, she was THEIR dog.... and they didn't. They returned her after 10 days. They had a nice fenced in yard, they could handle Oreo on the leash... but she barked when people came to the house. Really? Isn't that what dogs are supposed to do? Didn't I explain to you that she barks when people come to the house? She has a deep scary bark but she's harmless? They couldn't control her when people came over... she jumped on them. I hated myself the day I got that phone call. Poor Oreo was losing another loved one. I felt a little better when they returned her... she never looked back, happy to be back with someone who knew how to take care of her. She knew she could relax... and relax she did. She slept for 3 days when she got back to our house... waking up to eat and go outside.

Then came the single mom and her daughter... a home I thought was exactly what Oreo was looking for, similar to the home she originally came from. While I was angry when the woman called crying and upset that she couldn't handle Oreo's strength... I knew where she was coming from and understood why it wasn't going to work out, nor would it be a safe environment for Oreo. I'd be so angry with myself if I convinced this woman to keep her and she got loose and hit by a car. I knew this was for the best for Oreo. So, back Oreo came... this time it was a little harder because she loved that little girl...

It broke my heart every time she left, and even more every time she came back. I explained to each family over and over again... Oreo is a nervous dog, she needs an alpha owner, someone who will give her rules, guidelines, boundaries... someone who is going to make her feel safe. If you take control, she'll walk on a leash, she'll refrain from barking at anything and everything, she'll settle down in the car. Yes, she'll need some time to adjust... but you NEED to give her that time. And what broke my heart more... was the fact that I felt like I was letting Oreo down each time she came back.
But nothing has broken my heart more than yesterday. Last Friday an application came into the rescue for Oreo... everything looked great on paper - had a large strong pit bull with issues previously. I didn't get my hopes up, but I was hoping they'd come to the clinic so I could meet them and talk to them about Oreo. They came, they fell in love... they adopted. Over and over and over I told him she'd been returned, these are the reasons why... this is what she needs, this is what will help her, she needs time to adjust. They came to pick her up on Sunday and my boyfriend told them the same things... over and over. "Oh yea, I understand, poor dog has been through a lot. No worries Oreo, this is your forever home. We won't give up on you"

Monday afternoon, my cell phone rings. I was at work, so I couldn't answer but I knew it was Oreo. Listened to the message, called back. Oreo is whining and pacing non stop, she's going nuts in the car, she got loose on me at a gas station and ran up to people barking, she got out of the yard, but eventually came back. I was shaking. I was angry, upset and a part of me wanted to just give up on him and take Oreo back. I calmed myself down and offered our behaviorist’s number... explained the whining and the pacing is because she misses what she's related to as her family..... me. Corbin. Adam.

What do you do when your foster has taken you in as her family? It wasn't that her new family wasn't good enough, or that they were like the others... she missed her family. She wanted to go back to us. I explained to him that these were manageable issues... and that if he called the behaviorist, she'd be able to help tremendously. I could hear in his voice that he wasn't ready to give up... But I remembered all too well how wearing that whining was when we first got her. So I left him with Nancy's (behaviorist) number and it sounded semi hopeful... a part of me was still afraid I was going to go home to find her in our back yard, waiting. I ended the conversation and hung up the phone and cried. My poor Oreo... was she ever going to be able to accept another transition? Was she ever going to be able to accept another person as her family?

One of the other rescues girls who has been doing this a lot longer than me gave him a call also. She was much calmer and less emotional than I was... so she seemed to do more explaining than I could at the time. He was going to call Nancy and set up a time for her to help. I hope it does.

I haven't been doing rescue for long, but I sure have learned a lot about people... when they're willing to try and when they've put up that wall and nothing you can say will change their mind... when rescue is better for a dog than the situation their in... when people have stopped caring, they start neglecting. I knew with each of Oreo's past adopters... nothing I could say would change their mind... and if they kept her, they would resent her and I didn't want that life for her -or any dog for that matter. And I keep comfort in knowing, she has a safe place to come back to.

I wasn't going to mention anything on the blog about Oreo being adopted, again. I was afraid if it failed, I just looked like a horrible foster mom who gave her troubled foster dog to anyone. But I read the post by 24 Paws of Love and realized what the blog is for... it's for fun, advice, information, adventures, connections, friends, and support. We know keeping Oreo isn't an option for us... Corbin's an only dog kind of guy and it wouldn't be fair to lug Oreo to the lake every weekend because she'd have a heart attack on the boat... and it wouldn't be fair to leave her behind every weekend either.

I can only hope that this is it for Oreo... she found someone who will work with her, understand her. I hope she has enough left in her to trust and love someone else.

That's my rant. Corbin will be back tomorrow with his usual upbeat posts :o)


  1. This was written beautifully. I can’t foster with my duo – it would just be too much for me so I don’t really get to see/hear this part of working with a rescue. I’m the dog walker, paper pusher, home interviewer, kennel girl for the rescue. It was so nice to hear what foster parents go through and the struggles they have. We are big fans of 24 paws and have followed them for a very long time as well. I think this is a part of rescue a lot of people don’t talk about and I thank you for sharing it.

  2. Poor Oreo and poor you... What a heartbreaking situation. I hope everything works out this time.


  3. I'm crying and am still crying after reading this beautifully written post! I feel so sorry for Oreo and hope she has found the right family at last.

    You're so wonderful and had given her the best care ever, I think Oreo understands it and that's why she loves you all.

  4. I feel so terrible for you and poor Oreo. People just amaze me sometimes - and not in a good way. I find it almost MORE infuriating and upsetting when screened adopters bail on a dog. When you see an abandoned dog in a shelter and you don't know its history, you can create an image of the most useless, selfish dog owner alive. It's an explanation for how these amazing dogs could end up there.
    But when they've fooled you into thinking they care and wouldn't treat their dog as disposable. That's tough.
    One of the dogs my Billy's foster mom took in after I adopted him was an amazing bully mix called Kado. As with many rescues, One Tail at a Time has a clause in their contract that states if you must give your dog up for any reason, it has to be to One Tail. Last night they had a call that Kado had been dumped at Chicago Animal Care and Control because his owners were moving. If they hadn't mentioned in passing where the dog came from, and a staff member hadn't then followed up, who knows whether Kado would have ever made it out of there.
    I know how thoroughly these guys screen everyone who wants to get their hands on a One Tail dog. It's terrifying to think that there are people who will say all the right things, fool everyone, and then turn out to be complete assholes.

  5. Thank you for sharing about your fostering experience. I give you a ton of credit as I can only imagine how difficult it must be sometimes.

    I am so sorry to hear what a difficult time Oreo has been having, but I am so grateful that you have been that wonderful soft place she has needed to fall back on.

    I admire what you are doing for dogs and helping them find good homes. In fact I admire it a lot because I personally don't think I could trust another person and would end up keeping the dog myself. :) It takes a lot of guts to trust someone's word.

    It sounds as if this last guy is willing and there is some hope for Oreo and you. While I don't know that I could foster, I really appreciate you sharing your story because it has helped me get a better understanding of the wonderful service you are providing for the love of dogs and hope that it still exist. :)

    Thank you.

  6. Jenn,

    I am so hopeful for Oreo. She is a great dog and deserves peace and happiness in her life. :) Keep doing what you are doing too because you are making a difference in the lives of so many unwanted dogs. You go girl!


    PeeS Maggie Mae sends a big sloppy kiss to you and Corbin!

  7. We all have our paws crossed that this time is THE time for Oreo. You have done so much to help her. We applaud your tremendous work with her and with all the other pups you have fostered. We are mustering all the very strongest sibe vibes we can for Oreo.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  8. This is so sad... even though i am always hopeful that Oreo will be with his forever family eventually, i hoped she didn't have to go through so many homes. Its makes them confused.

    You have tried.. and whatever happens, Oreo will always have a home with you.

    When people adopt a dog, they have to try really hard and not give up so easily. You cannot expect to get a perfect dog. Each dog looking for a forever home have some issues but those issues can be worked out if there's patience and love for the dog.

    Please don't be sad. You have done so much.. and for what its worth, Oreo knows that you love her.


  9. To Corbin - I read and leave a lot of the time too:( T

    About Oreo... it's very sad for sure, but as someone already pointed out, you're doing your best to help her find a home. It's not your fault that things haven't worked out in the past.

  10. From your many posts it is very obvious that you love Oreo and only want what is best for her. I don't think anybody here would think you are a "horrible foster mom". In fact you are far from it. All you have tried to do is find the best for Oreo and nobody can be faulted for her previous adoptions not working out, except for the people who took her and were not willing to work with her.

    I find it so strange that people are bothered by dogs normal behaviors, barking jumping, etc. I understand dogs need time to adjust, but you would think if people say we want this to be Oreo's forever home they would work hard to make it work. And I hope the guy at Oreo's current home is willing to put in that time.

    Keep up the good work with the fostering. I admire you (and everybody else) that does it. There are so many great dogs out there and you work hard to find them a great and loving home and that is a wonderful thing.

  11. Mom was leaking while she was reading this... We hope that this new home is really Oreo's furever home - she deserves it to be!! It sounds like her new family is at least willing to work with her on her issues.

    We think you have done a tremendous job trying to find Oreo a good home. It's just that those homes weren't the right fit for her. If the family isn't willing to try and work things out then they didn't deserve to have sweet Oreo!!

    Paws crossed for Oreo!!

    Pugs & Kisses,

    Yoda, Brutus & Ellie

  12. And THIS is exactly what our blogs are fur!! We Love all the Crazy Fun WILD Whacky Insane "contests & activities"... BUTT we are ALSO all about being here fur EACH OTHER.. Through Thick and Squirrels.
    I have believed.. all along... that Oreo had found the home she WANTED. She does Not understand that she really Can't be with you furever. She just KNOWS.. she WANTS TO!
    I am Totally TOTALLY TOTALLY convinced that is the reason for her "acting out" with those who have TRIED to give her a furever home. AND to make matters worse.. she has LEARNED that acting out.. gets her a quick ride Back to where She WANTS to be. SOOOOO with this new fella.. she just started doing what had worked fur her in the past. NOW... IF... BIG I F
    he will listen and learn and LOVE.. fur just a FEW MORE DAYS.. You and I Know that Oreo will have a change of heart and decide.. this fella will be.. OK and I guess I (Oreo) will just stay here. IF... IF the fella just follows through.
    You are NOT responsible for any "failed" new homes... THEY failed to give Oreo the thingys that YOU did. THEY are the ones who will Lose Out in the long run. They had the chance fur a Wonderful... BEAUTIFUL INTELLIGENT and sweet soul to share their lives.
    Remember this... from way back in your childhood.... you meet some NEW person and Desperately WANT to be FURENDS.. butt they CAN'T fur some reason. Remember somebuddy like that??? You did EVERYTHINGY you could Pawsibly do to MAKE them be furends with you. You couldn't understand it. How could that NOT be your furend when you thought they were so Fangtastic. ... Well, that is Oreo. She wants YOU. I am sure that you realize that she has given you the highest PAWsible compliment. She has done EVERYTHING she could to be able to stay. BUTT it just can't be.. Not furever.
    She WILL find a situation that is PAWfect fur her. She just has not given up hope that YOU are the One.
    I just PRAY that this new person will give Oreo... a chance to build the feelings she needs to accept him. It would be VERY MUCH Well Worth it. For BOTH of THEM.

  13. This is why I can't foster. I'd never, ever be able to do this without seriously pissing off people.

    I hope it all works out for Oreo. It's a shame that people want perfection from the start and don't want to put in the effort. Sad, sad, sad.

  14. My mom person has that water coming out of her eyes, for both you & Oreo. We admire the work you do SO much. My mom person knows that she is not strong enough to foster, but wishes she was.

    The world needs & appreciates people like you who give your hearts to animals only to have them leave again & again.

    We will be praying that this is Oreo's forever home.

    Nubbin wiggles & hugs,
    Oskar & Pam

  15. Goodness, what a taxing story on everyone.
    I am sorry.

    I have been doing volunteer work with my rescue for years.
    I have fostered as well.

    Surrender situations are so sad when you actual go into the home of someone to get their furbaby family member they have had for years.

    Sometimes, I transported them to the group or I would end up fostering them myself.

    Fostering is very difficult when you are bringing them into an environment with other animal(s). You never know how they all will react. I was fortunate to have things go well with a boy I fostered and a girl.
    But one particular little girl didn't get along with Izzy and it was evident from the first hour.

    I had to section of parts of the house..
    And was albe to get ahold of my group right away.

    They extensively worked to find someone who took her and that became her furever home.

    So, what I am saying to you-
    This is not your fault- I don't know how many people you work with in your foster group.. but you certainly cannot do it alone.

    If Cobin doesn't click with Oreo- then you did your very best. The second adoption as you said or any for that matter is not your fault-

    People seem to think they can handle more then they really can sometimes.

    My group has known me for years. I adopted Josie from them, done walk throughs for them, and of course fostered.
    Now, I say this because with Trixie my fourth foster- when I wanted her..fell in love with her.. even my group told me- make sure- think it over for a week (of course I had an extra set of human hands at the time..hee hee)

    So, I'm not clear the full story- but it sounds like you did the best you could do to find a home for Oreo.

    And do continue to foster if you can.

    My blog doesn't take much about experiences or situations I've encountered.. but I will say- Trixie's situation was a very sad one.. She clicked so well with everyone here.

    Lots of meet and greets before adoptions a must.

    Thanks for sharing your story

  16. When I adopted my daughter I was asked over and over "Are you SURE?" I said yes over and over - convinced this was the child for me. After a few days the shock of leaving a foster home and living with a total stranger wore off and the trauma set in. Where she was somewhat quiet and complacent the first 3 days, she was now demanding, unpleasable, and miserable. She cried is someone looked at her - she wailed if I put her down - she whined if I took a toy away. . . and so on. Once or twice I thought "WHY AM I PUTTING MYSELF THROUGH THIS?" But one look at the sweet angel sleeping or the feel of her warm little arms clinging to my neck made me realize she was worth the trials and tribulations. She made me feel love more than I ever remember feeling it before. She enriches my life.
    Almost 2 years ago we both adopted a pug puppy. We knew it would be work to raise a puppy but we never imagined how much work it really would be. There were times we looked at each other and thought "What ever possessed us to adopt a dog?" But them she snuggles inbetween us and looks at us with unconditional love and honestly all of the memories of hard work and hard times melt away. Because everyday she makes our family complete and enriches our lives with love.
    Oreo is tough. She is a lot of work. But she is capable of bringing such love and wonder to someone. I hope she has finally found the family that understands it is not always EASY to nurture unconditional love.
    Love Noodles' Mommy #2

  17. This post made me cry. I can't imagine giving up on a dog so easily. I love mine to death and no matter how much anyone offered me, I would never give them away or sell them. I don't understand how people can get a pet and expect it to be perfect, never willing to give the dog a chance to settle in and work with him/her on any kind of behavioral issues.

    I feel terrible for poor Oreo. I know she doesn't understand why she's going from one house to another so often and you can explain it until you're blue in the face but she'll never get it. I hope the family who adopted her will work out, they'll be her forever home and that she'll live happily ever after.

  18. Sure hope that everything works out for Oreo.

  19. Our mom is in tears reading this post.
    Our paws are crossed and we have hope that this will be Oreo's forever home!

    Love ya lots
    Maggie and Mitch

  20. we will never understand people. Mom is a volunteer for the French Bulldog Rescue Network. You should see the reasons people give up there Frenchies, sometimes after 7 years, etc. Its heartbreaking...momma says bad words when she hears these stories. Oreo does not deserve that home
    Benny & Lily

  21. Hi Corbin! I gots your pressies in the mail today, a big thank you to you for making my day!

    When we do the home visits for the rescue we always make sure to note everything because we want so much for it all to work out. Momma even notes things others may find silly (like: the person is really tall and we know so and so is scared of large men, so it would be hard for them). But sometimes it's just really hard and although the people really adopt sometimes the dogs just aren't a match. There is a match for Oreo out there. There is a match for us all.

    woof - Tucker

  22. Thank you for sharing your love and fears for Oreo
    I think you're a wonderful and careful foster mom. That is why Oreo feels so good with you.
    It must be frustrating and heartbreaking for you each time he is returned and then try again and have your hopes dashed..poor boy, I too hope and pray this time his new family can take the time and give him the chance to become part of their family.
    I'm Asta's mommi writing this..I know that she is going to be crossing her paws for him too and sends her healing smoochie kisses to you for your worries and sadness
    love to you and corbin

  23. I hope the behaviorist can work with this man and Oreo. I hope we will get an update from you saying it all has worked out. The way we all love dogs is a slippery slope, there is so much happiness but a lot of sadness too. Thank you for helping Oreo. I really think if these people see things through it will work, paws crossed.

  24. A beautifully written post and just reinforces why I could never foster _ I would end up with a trillion dogs and I am not very tolerant of people who won't give thing a 'real' try. I hope and pray it works for Oreo - but if she does come back - maybe she needs to go to a different foster home - it's just too hard on both of you otherwise

  25. Now you've got me crying!

    Rescue is hard work. It's hard on the soul, especially. How can we not get attached to the animals we've saved and tried to heal? Your reaction with Oreo is so touching, and so "typical," for lack of a better word. In other words - you're completely normal! You've done nothing wrong but care for a dog who needs your help.

    At the shelter where I volunteer we always try to place the animals in the best possible home (naturally!). Sometimes, things don't work out as expected, and we've had a few dogs go out and come back. It hurts like heck to have them come back, but truthfully, I'd rather have them come back to us, difficult as it is, than stay in the wrong home.

    Keep up the wonderful work. Oreo will find her place, and maybe this time she has. My paws are crossed for her and you!

  26. Mommy is crying and kissing us now! Poor Oreo :( We hope that this home works out for her with all or our hearts!
    Maddy and Owen

  27. People can be so disappointing. You however are not. You do wonderful work and I really admire you. We have our hopes up that Oreo's new family will hang in there and do what needs to be done...learning how to work with their unique dog and help her to integrate into her new family life...and give it time. People are so impatient! These things take time and effort, as most good things do.

  28. Our paws are crossed that Oreo's new home is a keeper. We will send the power of the paw to Oreo's new dad - sending calm leadership - and to Oreo to trust and connect ONE more time.

    -Gizmo, Bart and Ruby

  29. This really hits home with me, too. We haven't had a foster returned yet, but with time, it's bound to happen. And about Oreo's anxious behavior -- I know that whoever adopts our Stevie Wonder will have to be able to cope with this too. Stevie has grown VERY attached to us and I know she will to her future family too, but it will take time, and they will have to be patient. Fingers crossed for Oreo and for you guys...

  30. I am sorry to hear of Oreo's situation. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes & it is heartbreaking :( Hoping that her new home will realize that she needs love, patience & consistency.

  31. Fostering is really the hardest thing in the world. You fall in love with your foster animal and then have to let them go into the world. It's heartbreaking when it doesn't work because it is like someone is hurting you or one of your own animals. I don't have any answers ... all I can say is that I believe Oreo will find the right home, whether it is this one or the next. Paws crossed!

    All the best,
    Kristin (Pip's mom)

  32. What a moving and honest post, I have linked to it from my FB page as I think all in rescue should read it. Foster Moms ( & Dads ) are often overlooked in my opinion in the good they do and the work they put in and the love they freely give to the animals that they care for. You have done a wonderful job with Oreo and I very much douby anyone could have done better. Frankie was right Oreo does want to be with you but you know that it is not the right thing for you, your family, Corbin or Oreo in the long run.
    The fact she has bounced is testament to the good work, the care, the time and the love you shown this girl and down to the fact others were not committed enough to do the same for her so it is not your fault at all it is theirs. Adopting a dog is not easy, the transition period can be very trying indeed but if you can weather that the rewards are immense.
    I do so hope this time Oreos new owner will weather this period and do the very best for this darling girl, she so deserves it.
    You are an amazing person and the time, effort and dedication you put in shines out in your posts.

    Momma Tea

  33. MayzieMom here. First, I hope you know how much I admire you - and all who are willing to foster. I know it's a road filled with much joy - but heartbreak and disappointment as well. Not for yourself but for the dogs when humans fail them over and over again.

    I think you know that it was probably love at first sight between Mayzie and me. Her fostermom had described her as "sensitive" and told me that her crate was her safe place. But honestly, I had no idea the extent of her issues until we got her home. But even when it started being apparent how deep her fears ran, I thought that because of our instant connection - and because she was now in a safe environment - she'd come around. It soon became apparent that we had a LOT of work to do and honestly, I felt overwhelmed. About 2 weeks after her adoption, we had a particularly bad day. I remember breaking down in tears and suggesting to my husband that maybe this was more than we could handle and maybe we ought to return her to the rescue. But it was said only half-heartedly and my husband made it clear very quickly that she was ours now and we weren't going to give up on her. So we buckled down and decided to do whatever we needed to do to make it work. And, well, you can see how it turned out. :)

    My hope for Oreo (and for you) is that her current adopter is willing to go the extra mile for her, too. I hope he can come to understand that while the road is bumpy and long and full of unexpected twists and turns, it is also full of unmatched beauty and rewards. I have learned so much about myself and the world because of the journey we've taken together and I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

    Hang in there. You've done everything you can and you shouldn't feel like you've failed in any way. I just think that even when it's thoroughly explained to them, most people just don't get what it's like to work with a challenging dog until they're actually doing it.

    I am keeping my fingers crossed that this adoption works out for Oreo. She deserves someone who will commit to her and work with her and give her a wonderful life.

    Thank you for sharing this and thank you for everything you do. The world is truly a better place because of people like you.


  34. Some people just don't want a dog to be a dog... if you get what i mean.. poor oreo. here's hoping that someone can let her be herself! that's all anyone really wants is to able to be themselves i think..

  35. Thank you for sharing so openly the tribulations of fostering. I've cried just about every time I've watched an adopter drive away with a former foster--and I did the same when one came back! But that dog was a truly hard-to-adopt guy, and he found his perfect forever home--Oreo will too!

    I really relate to what you say about loving and longing to hold on to a dog, but knowing its just not right for your other dog, for your household, your life. I struggle with that every day, my emotions all over the map as I go from looking into my foster Fozzie's loving eyes then watching my senior dog be so unhappy with this young energetic male dog around. It is nice to know that I'm not alone! Thanks to the fabulous dogblogging community for allowing us all to support each other.

    Keep up the good work!