HEROES

FOSTER

Fostering.  Many people are scared of this word, because they automatically believe it is a long term commitment, that the dogs are all mangy, ill, and aggressive.

I always refer to my blog The Life of a Stray, because many times, the dogs on death row, fighting for their lives, belong to someone. They escaped their leash, their yard, or their “owners” dumped them in our kill shelter and didn’t think twice about it. If they DID think twice about it, shame on them for not going back.

Let’s break this down, okay?  These sad eyes that are looking up at you, as you walk through our city shelter, are very much scared, confused, and many of them are suffering from physical pain and even PTSD. Yes, dogs can get PTSD, thanks to humans and their cruel nature. There are dogs that have gotten lost and couldn’t find their way home. Their families were not aware that San Antonio KILLS A LOT of dogs/cats everly day, despite the recent pledge of San Antonio being No Kill. There are dogs that have gotten lost, the owner actually was responsible enough to microchip them, but they made the decision to leave them there. There are dogs that have been on the streets their entire life, only to find comfort in woodsy areas, curled up against trees as shelter from the weather, and battling for any morsel they can get. They are emaciated, sick, and slowly dying in the worst way. Does this make them less worthy to bring them into your family?  If that is your mindset, then you have no business having a dog at all. People like that make me want to throw up in my mouth.

I call our good quality fosters, Roll With The Punches Fosters, because that is exactly what they are. A little poop on their carpet?  Ain’t nothing but a chicken wing. A sprinkled leg lift on your couch? Okay, so we are looking at some basic obedience training. Let’s do it. Fearful, hiding under the bed?  Let’s take a step back and give them some space, and let them come out when they feel comfortable enough to do so, when they know you are there to help them, not hurt them. There is help out there, there are traps and rescuers who are experienced with these situations. A growl? Oh yikes, call the calvary!!  It’s a vicious dog that must be returned!!!  Spare the heck out of me. You try being locked up in a noisy, scary kennel for days, having a history of abuse and neglect, and not feeling good!!  You try having to fight for each scrap of food with other dogs that are bigger or more stronger than you. You would be pretty unsettled, to say the least. Most of the time, these dogs are not “aggressive”, so take a chill pill and stop with the labels. There is a reason for everything, and these dogs can be rehabilitied,  and sometimes just love and care does the trick.Do you not have love and care?

Stop returning dogs to these rescues that are saving them. When you return a dog, you are taking the place of another dog that needs out of the kill shelter. To put it bluntly, you are killing another dog, to get rid of this one, because you don’t want to put forth the effort to make the necessary adjustments.

Let’s talk adjustment period. One day will not do, so if the dog is not perfect, they WILL MOST DEFINELTY need at least a week, even two!!  If your lifestyle does not allow at least 30 minutes-1 hour a day to work with your foster dog, then don’t even bother. Rescues beg and  plead for a foster home!!!  There are not all of these fosters lined up to take them in, and most rescues are foster-based, so there is no shelter space in which to keep them safe. You are doing the rescue and the dog a great disservice. These dogs have NO WHERE to go, and you are putting back the responsibility and stress on the team leaders of these rescues, which is cowardly and irresponsible.

If you are a serial dog returner, off with your head. Just stop. You are not helping these rescues by bringing them back, when they have to spend countless hours trying to find another foster home, when they could be saving another life instead.

Please, consider that dog, and what they need to grow, and move forward into an adoptable and flourishing family member. There will never be enough fosters, but the ones that do step up, and make grand gestures to keep these dogs safe, fed, loved, and medically healthy….they are HEROES. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts, and they should never doubt that their efforts go unnoticed. Saving lives is everything, just look at the frightened faces in the shelter, and on the streets, and look at them now. Fosters save these lives, they nourish them back to an emotional and physical state of health, and they show them that all humans are not bad. They are HEROES.

A Different Kind of Grief

grandma

As I have written in prior blogs, my grandparents raised me since I was eight years old. They saved my life, and I mean that in the literal sense.

As my Grandpa developed dementia and progressed into Alzheimers, he was always “present” with me for some reason.  He had fleeting moments of confusion when I was near, but he always came back. I was his “daughter”, all the way to the week that I lost him. He knew me. I will always be so grateful for that. The grief that I suffered in his absence was consuming. I knew he would die, but I wasn’t emotionally prepared, because he was always with me, emotionally and physically.

As my Grandma has traveled down her own path of dementia, it has been slow and steady. She has experienced mood swings of uncontrollable tears, anger, and has had such a fight in her to desperately hold on to her mind. She always told me, “when my mind goes, so will I.”  And here we are.

I spent several years with her, bringing my kids over to visit, helping her clean her home, making her meals, anything that I could do to feel helpful. She had these awful mean setbacks with me and my babies (they WERE babies at the time) back then, and I tried to roll with the punches, but anyone who knows me well, already knows that is impossible for me.  I feel too much, care too much, and am quick to feel hurt. Deep down, though, I knew that she couldn’t help it. The disease was taking away her life as she knew it. She was struggling with it all, and fighting it tooth and nail.

She is lost now. Completely. She looks through me, not at me. She is in her own world of whatever it is that brings her comfort. She has left us, and her body will be next. I will have so many beautiful memories to share and remember her by.

I had been carrying around such a heavy weight of guilt, not visiting with her very much this past year.  I have decided to let myself off the hook, though, because one person can only do so much, and as my blog says, my  cup runneth over.  I am really trying so hard, just to live and thrive from day to day. My Grandma knows that I love her, she knows that I was there during a confusing time for her, and she knows that I am a presence that resembles family to her.

Dementia sucks. It devours a person’s sense of being, their whole purpose, and it spreads through them like a cancer. When they leave you in this manner, it is a grief that hurts as bad as when they are no longer physically there. To the core. Anyone who begs to differ has not loved someone with dementia or alzheimers.

Make amends. Stop holding childish grudges. Stop waiting for the other person to apologize first, and make your wrongs right. Own up to your mistakes, because chances are, you are responsible for someone else’s heartache.

We always make grand elaborate comments and gestures about FOREVER. But you know what?  We don’t have forever. We are supposed to live each day as if it were our last, but we do not. That one person that has your heart won’t always be there. Why leave words unsaid?

#getyourheadoutofyourass