I Fostered a One-Eyed Pekingese -- and Couldn't Give Her Up!
It’s been nearly a year since my beloved Basset Hound, Lucy, made her journey to the Rainbow Bridge. I’ve always had a dog, so I knew that when I was ready, I would open my heart and my next dog would find me.
Around April, I started to think about it. I had some travel to do over the next few months, both for pleasure and business, so I told myself that some time after the first of the year would be a good time to consider adopting a dog. Adoption is the only option for me. Knowing there are thousands of dogs languishing in shelters in need of their forever homes makes it an easy decision.
In June, I attended BlogPaws, the annual pet writers' conference. A hot topic of discussion was the need for foster-carers to temporarily house pets who are making the transition from shelter to a new adoptive family. I met with people fostering for various organizations, including Catster’s own Cat Lady, Sarah Donner, and her husband, Michael, who have found homes for more than 80 kittens.
I had some concerns, mainly that I would become too attached to my foster dog. With that in mind, I called Sherri Franklin, the founder of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco. I first heard about Muttville about five years ago when I participated in a Secret Santa Paws gift exchange in a group here on Dogster. Dogster member George Underwood had listed a donation to Muttville on his holiday wish list. I became a supporter immediately, and when Lucy passed I donated all of her belongings to Muttville.
Sherri assured me that she could talk me down if necessary, and would give me a dog that might not necessarily appeal to me. I told her that I have a soft spot in my heart for senior dogs, and tend to be attracted to the dogs who are deemed less adoptable -- special-needs dogs who might be blind or deaf or missing a limb. "If they need one of those little carts to get around, well, I'm done for,” I said.
The next day after work, I drove to Muttville to pick up my foster dog. I was met by a couple of volunteers and a pack of tail-wagging senior pups. I squealed with delight at the reception and scrubbed bellies, all the while wondering which one would be going home with me.
Then I saw a thin-furred, one-eyed, barrel-chested, bow-legged, snaggle-toothed creature confidently waddling down the hallway. “Oh my!" I exclaimed, “What is that? She looks like a little warthog!” One of the volunteers told me that this was Beasley, my foster dog. “Are you kidding me?" I laughed. She was exactly the kind of dog I love. I wondered whether Sherri was trying to set me up for failure!
Beasley, a 10ish-year-old Pekingese, was an owner-surrender to Los Angeles Animal Control; the people who had her since she was a puppy got a new dog. (What I think about people who give up a senior dog for a puppy is not suitable for print.)
After I filled out all the paperwork, Beasley and I headed to my place. I was now responsible for her daily care. My job was to shower her with love and attention and prepare her for adoption into a permanent home. Muttville picks up the bill for medical expenses and, in some cases, the cost of food and supplies. I was also required to attend one adoption outreach event a month with Beasley and to introduce her to people interested in adoption.
First, Beasley had to go to the vet for blood work and a senior wellness exam. She had six teeth pulled and the growths on her back and right-back leg removed. The biopsies on the growths came back benign, and her blood work looked really good, although her thyroid test was slightly abnormal, which would explain some of her skin problems and her warthog tail. The vet said that it was probably caused by recent stress, the infection in her mouth, and poor diet, so putting her on a wellness supplement rather than thyroid medication would be fine.
While Beasley recovered, we settled into a routine. She fit in perfectly with my lifestyle, which is somewhat active but just loungy enough. Within the first week she had five nicknames -- the Bee’s Knees, Beezy, Beez, Bee, and Beenie. (Uh-oh! We were falling in love.) We took slow strolls around the neighborhood and through the park, with plenty of stops to sniff around. Beasley refused to go up or down stairs, preferring to be carried -- not unexpected from a breed who, centuries ago, was carried in the sleeves of robes worn by members of the Chinese Imperial household.
She came to work with me at Dogster HQ and sat quietly in my lap for an hour-long meeting. (Pekingeses are the ultimate lapdogs.) She took the train and rode the bus like a trouper, spent weekends away with me, and met my friends, their children, and their pets. She even held her own with my mom's Greyhounds and has made friends with my feral cat, Cow! Beasley won the hearts of everyone with her permanent wink, pronounced underbite, and funny walk.
A few weeks later, Beasley had her staples removed. She was active, eating well, and enjoying being doted on. I was already very attached, and so were my friends and family. But I was determined to help her find the perfect forever home, and it was time for her to start meeting people.
And then I got the email from Muttville. Someone was VERY interested in adopting Beasley.
The woman was offering so many of the qualities of a forever home I wished Beasley could have. I called to tell her more about Beasley and found myself trying to talk her out of it. “She’s deaf, she’s not really housebroken, you have to take her out every few hours, she has some car anxiety ....” But no matter what I said, her enthusiasm for Beasley didn’t waver. After I hung up, I cried for two hours.
The next morning, I put the “Adopt Me” vest on Beasley and we headed to a Muttville adoption outreach event. I knew that Sherri would be there. Because she has years of experience placing dogs in their forever homes, I needed to know if she felt this applicant could provide Beasley a better home than I could.
Several people had already inquired about Beasley, based on her profile in Muttville's book of adoptable dogs. As soon as I heard this, I turned to Sherri and said, “Can I talk to you for a second?”
We walked outside and I told her about the woman I had spoken to, and that I thought she would provide a good home for Beasley. Then I took a deep breath and said, “The only problem I have is that I love Beasley, and I don’t think I can let her go.”
Sherri laughed. "I am surprised it took you so long!” I had clearly been set up! "Do you think really think I should adopt her?” I asked.
"I can’t make that decision for you, but I think you would provide a wonderful home for Beasley,” Sherri said. Then she asked whether I would like her to take off Beasley’s “Adopt Me” vest. "Yes, please,” I replied.
And so, a little more than a month and a half since I began fostering Beasley, she got adopted -- by me!
When I posted the news on my Facebook page later that night, comments like “Who didn’t see that coming?” and “I am not surprised!” poured in. However, my favorite comments were from the editors of Dogster, who had started teasing me to start writing my “foster fail” article the day I picked Beasley up from Muttville. One read, “You owe me an article. :) #bestfailever.” Another was more direct: “So I have all the photos for the article -- can you get me about 900 words by 9 a.m. Monday? ;-)”
Well, here you go! And Beasley and I are living happily ever after.
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