Cherry Creek, Nevada – USA
I call him Foster because I don’t dare risk forgetting that he is my temporary charge, and will soon go to a new home. And there, presumably, will receive another new name.
Animal advocates have recently negotiated an agreement with the local animal control unit, to offer foster care for unclaimed animals. Currently, animals are allowed only ten days before they are killed. The new foster program provides an additional sixty days to find adoptive families for these unwanted dogs and cats.
Evidently, Foster and I are the first case in the program — and in just three days, Facebook has proven an effective means for this venue; Foster has already been visited by prospective adopters, who will take him home with them on Friday.
Oh my goodness! What a wretched little bundle of distress he was, when I went to pick him up on Wednesday. He screamed and snapped at the animal control officer as he tried to pick him up. I didn’t fare much better with the poor tike, and we finally ended up herding him into a small carrier with the help of a large carpenter’s level.
The “shelter” is a horrible place! The first thing I noticed was the absolutely unbearable acoustics of metal metal metal. Every contact creates a screeching echo that hurt my ears. Just imagine the agony this causes the hyper-sensitive ears of a canine! And while I understand the need for stainless steel for the sake of hygiene, I noticed that none of the kennels had any beddding, whatsoever.
Foster was scheduled to die on Friday – which meant that he had spent eight days in a metal cage with no padding for his delicate little chihuahua bones. He was gaunt and terrified. It’s a long drive from town to my place in the country, and the little one calmed down before long, though he kept a vigilant eye on me most of the way. I talked and talked, to let him get used to my voice.
The first day out of the hole, I just let him stay in hiding underneath a rocking chair. He could come out if he wanted, and the front door was left open so he could go outside into a small enclosure, if he chose to.
Little by little, inch by inch, Foster began to venture out. I talked to him quietly, making no motion toward him. On the second day, he didn’t seem to be making any progress toward socialization. No problem; we’re not on a deadline. I think 59 more days are plenty of time.
Much to my surprise, and for no apparent reason (other than that maybe he wanted to be next to my big dog, Mocha), Foster suddenly decided to let himself be petted. It was obviously an act of great courage, as he crept up and put his head next to my hand. We went about it all cautiously. After a few minutes, he skulked back under his chair, and I was satisfied that we had made progress.
Sometime during the night, I felt a tapping on the side of my bed. That’s Mocha’s signal to go outside (though she rarely goes out at night, anymore), so I dutifully rose up to let her out. Surprise again! The tapper was not Mocha, but Foster, wanting to come aboard! Naturally, his request was granted.
And so, from that point on, Mr. Foster has made steady advancement toward normalcy. He has gone from ratty little hellcat to absolute charmer in just three days. He is one prime example of the power of unconditional acceptance.
Canon 60D EOS