There are few moments in life that you know are life changing as you experience them. 6 years ago, I woke up in a dogless home with the intention of going to an adoption event to gather some information about a local rescue I was interested in getting involved with. The morning went on, I got busy and lost track of time. Suddenly, there was only 15 minutes left of the adoption clinic. I quickly ran out of the house shouting promises to Adam that I wouldn't come home with a dog.
I arrived as the adoption event was ending. I spoke to a woman and mentioned I submitted my application and someone called me during the week and I was interested in possibly fostering. She directed me to another woman and I chatted with her about the responsibilities and process of fostering. She had explained over the phone earlier in the week that they would not be getting more dogs in until mid January and suggested I volunteer at the clinic every Saturday until then to learn more about their group. As we were ending our conversation, a crazy blur of a dog came up to me with his foster mom in tow.
She over heard my interest in fostering and explained that the crazy brown dog at her feet was in need of a new foster home. She wasn't able to take both of her foster dogs with her for Christmas and after the holiday, her other foster dog was having leg surgery. I agreed to take this dog who never seemed to have all 4 paws on the ground at once. I wish I knew then how much this moment would change my life. I would have paid more attention to this dog who would capture my heart and soul.
It turned out that his foster mom lived just 5 minutes from our home, so she offered to follow me and do our home visit to complete the approval of our application. I got in my car and made two phone calls on my way home. The first was to my mom. "Oh, Jenn. You're never going to be able to give this dog up." I assured her that he was just a foster dog. She bet me $25 that we wouldn't be able to let him go. She was right, of course. Mom's are always right.
The second call was to Adam. I had to tell him that I broke my promise. The conversation went like this...
Me: "Hi! Are you still home?"
Adam: "Yea, for a little longer. Why?"
Me: "Ok, good! I'd like for you to meet Corbin."
Adam: "What's a Corbin?"
Me: "Well... our new foster dog."
Adam: "Come on, Jenn! You said you weren't coming home with a dog!"
Me: "BUT He's just a foster dog!"
Adam: "HE?? You said you didn't want a male dog!"
Me: "BUT! He's just a foster dog!"
Adam: "How old is he?"
Me: "Um.. 6 months"
Adam: "YOU said YOU didn't want a YOUNG dog!"
Me: "BUT!!!! He's JUST a foster dog!"
Adam: "What kind of dog is it?"
Me: "Well, he's a Pit Bull."
Adam: "A PIT BULL?! YOU SAID you didn't want a PIT BULL!"
Me: "BUT HE'S JUST A FOSTER DOG!"
This conversation I remember clear as day. I was so unsure of my decision to take in this dog and I was trying so hard to sound confident and absolutely sure this was going to work. Corbin was everything I didn't want in a dog. I was sure I wanted to adopt a female, adult, 40lb Border Collie mix. But, what was wrong with fostering a few dogs while we were waiting for the perfect dog to come along, right?
I pulled into the driveway and Heather and Corbin were right behind me. They followed me into the house and off Corbin went. He went racing down the hallway, bounced off the spare bed, back down the hallway, around the Christmas tree, jumped from the couch to the love seat and back down the hallway to start all over again. Adam looked at me, rolled his eyes and left to run some errands.
Heather finished up our home visit and told me some information about Corbin, then she left to get all of his things. I remember thinking "What the hell did I get myself into..." as I watched her car drive away. As soon that thought popped into my head and my heart had a moment of panic as Heather left... I turned around to find the crazy brown dog was curled up in a ball on my couch. And I thought: He has an off switch. He's not psycho all the time. This is good.
Looking back on that day, Corbin knew he was home. It was instant for him. He settled right in, and that's something Corbin could never do away from home. It took us a little longer to come around.
Before meeting Corbin, I had little experience with Pit Bulls and really only knew what was portrayed about them through the media. So, could I take him out in public? Could we go to the pet store with him? What would people think of me with a Pit Bull? All those questions were quickly answered over the next few days as we got to know Corbin.
He was just a dog. Like any other dog. He loved people and was good with other dogs. He enjoyed car rides and loved chomping on a good bone. He snuggled and gave kisses and loved to play fetch in the back yard. We brought him almost everywhere with us and tried to convince everyone we knew to adopt him. But, he was a Pit Bull, and while everyone he met quickly fell in love with him, they weren't sure about adopting him. Frankly, neither were we.
Corbin spent two months as a foster dog before we finally signed the paperwork to make him officially ours, even though we knew weeks before then that we couldn't part with him. I gave my mom the $25 I lost on our bet, which she used to buy Corbin his first life vest. No one else wanted to adopt him because he was meant to be ours. He knew it from day one.
Corbin wasn't an easy dog. A month after his adoption, he started getting protective, defensive and aggressive. My previous dog knowledge wasn't enough to help us through it. So, we hired a dog trainer that came to our house and trained me and Adam. He gave us the tools we needed to communicate with Corbin and help him be a well behaved, well mannered dog. It was one of the best decisions we made and enhanced the relationship and bond between me and Corbin. We worked with him every day on his training. He even went on to become a Canine Good Citizen.
That summer, we started our fostering journey. By Christmas time, Corbin made it clear that he loved being a foster brother. After proper introductions, Corbin was welcoming of every dog that walked through our door. He was patient, respectful and tolerant. He understood the scared dogs and they all mocked what Corbin did. He knew what it was like to be where they were, and he helped them gain the confidence he had to face the world. It was amazing to watch him coax a dog out of their shell and show them how life can be enjoyed. He really did enjoy it, and so did we.
Corbin really did love life. He brought a smile to everyone he met and quickly captured their hearts. I started this blog to document the adventures he had and our fostering journey and it quickly became so much more. I couldn't believe people wanted to read what I wrote. I decided to write it from Corbin's prospective, he was so expressive and had so much to say. He was half human. As the blog grew, I began realizing that our words had an impact on people. Not only were we having fun and writing about it, but we were bringing awareness to a breed that is consumed with negative media. Corbin was opening people's minds about this breed and inviting people into his world. He was just a dog, like any other dog... the only difference was that he was a Corbin, and there was certainly no one like him. He was showing people the importance of rescuing, adopting and fostering and that every dog deserved the chance to be evaluated as an individual, not characterized by a breed label. He started conversations, changed minds and helped dogs beyond those that entered our home. Over the years, I've received so many amazing comments from people about how their life was impacted by our blog. My favorites were those that said Corbin helped their idea of Pit Bulls, Corbin's stories helped them in their own journey with an adopted Pit Bull, they had never met a Pit Bull and Corbin made them reach out to get to know some, our blog helped convince them to volunteer and/or foster, they saw a dog that looked like Corbin and it encouraged them to start up a conversation with their owner, or simply that Corbin brought a smile to their face that day.
I can't say I'd do anything different if given the opportunity to start over. I loved him too much, and I knew that early on. My love for Corbin consumed my life. It changed my life. I had never connected with a dog on such a deep level. His soul connected with mine and I was forever changed. Corbin came into this world with a purpose. He was meant to be mine. He was wired to be a foster brother. His intention was to change as much of the world as he could, and he did that and more. It still amazes me how many people he touched, and continues to touch after he passed. This day, 6 years ago, changed my life. I will never be the same for having loved the Corbin. There will never be another one, and there never has to be. He will live on through us, through our girls, through the 40 foster dogs he had a hand in molding and those that have come after he left, through the thousands of people who have followed along with his adventures. He was handsome, he was smart and he was amazing. He only needed 6 years here on earth to make his mark. I know he's causing trouble, running wild and comforting others on the other side. His spirit is strong and I'm thankful I can often feel him here with me. I miss him so much every day... he left a hole in my heart that will never be filled. But, no matter how much pain his death left me, I will always be thankful for the time we had with him. He gave me my passion and brought me so much happiness in the 5 and a half years he was here with us.
6 years ago, Corbin walked into my life.
Though his time was short, his impact was mighty.
June 4, 2009 - June 27, 2015