Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fenway (not the park)

This will be a fairly quick post.  I just got back from a weekend trip supervising the youth group at my church on their annual winter retreat.  To put it simply, I'm tired, I'm thrilled to hug my dogs, and I'm tired.  My brain is running on fumes, but I got some bad news last week that I'm sure some of you can sympathize with.

A foster dog that stayed with me last year was returned to the shelter.  He is a Springer Spaniel, who was originally taken by the animal control officer when he was left tied to a tree for a year by his family, and was repeatedly left without basic necessities.  When I met him, he was petrified in his kennel; shaking and flipping himself every time anyone got close to him.  So, I used my patented "sit there and ignore them until they fall in love with you" move, and ta da!  He eventually crawled over and pressed himself against my side, putting his head in my lap.  Once the trust was established, Fenway got what seemed to be the first haircut of his life.  We left a little hair on top of his head and on the tip of his tail for personality, and prepared him to come home with me for some much needed socialization.  That was when I got the bad news.

Fenway had heartworm.  I wasn't entirely surprised, but its so sad to see a young dog put in such preventable situation.  So now I had a much longer term foster, and Fenway began his heart worm treatment.  If you've never cared for a dog as they fight this disease, it is a tragic and miserable experience for you both.  Fenway spent the entire day in clear discomfort, constantly moving from one spot to the next, exhausted but unable to sleep.  He would whimper and stretch, and there was no way I could explain to him that he had to just wait it out, wait for the worms in his heart to die and dissolve into his bloodstream.  That was the hard part.

After that, all I had to do was keep Fenway from being too active.  That is what the vet says; what they mean is keep his heart from beating so fast it explodes.  Lucky for me, Fenway was not a wild and crazy guy.  In fact, we spent most of our time just hanging out, doing this:

Fenway had some behavioral problems too.  He was insecure, but well meaning with people, while other dogs made him nervous enough to lash out.  But before his recovery time was over, we had a home lined up for him.  The family had two kids, which I thought was too much for him, but a volunteer at the shelter raved about them.  A few weeks after he went home, they sent some pictures.  The girls loved to brush him, and he walked them to and from the bus every day.  He was my final foster before going home from summer break, so it was good to know he was happy.

Of course, I already gave away the ending to the story.  Although the family didn't get in touch with us, they began having trouble a few months ago.  Their girls and their friends were too rambunctious around Fenway, but would not listen to their parents when told not to pester the dog.  This went on for a while before Fenway began to growl at the girls, then snap at them when they got in his face.  Sadly, they waited until Fenway bit one of the girls to finally call the shelter for help.  They were advised to surrender him, for everyone's sake.  Luckily, Fenway was still a genuinely sweet, well behaved dog.  But his insecurity was worse than before, primarily with people.  He did have a much cuter hair cut.

I'm happy to report that Fenway was quickly adopted into a new home.  I'm even happier to report that it is a child free environment with an older couple who have a lot of experience with dogs.  They are also planning on working with the trainer at the shelter to help Fenway build confidence and be a much happier guy.  But this was my first foster to come back, and I sure do hope it's the last.  I was kind of a mess for those few days that I knew he was there, in a kennel, without a clue what was going on.  Have any of you had an experience like that?  It's hard enough to give part of your heart to a dog that you know isn't spending their life with you, but it's terrible to think about an animal that you truly care for being unhappy in a home that you sent them to. 

That's enough sad talk for one day, I need to catch up on the latest episode of Fringe and then make my way to my bed with the misfits.  Hopefully I'll dream of warmer weather, like we had when Fenway lived with us.


  1. Aww, I'm sorry to hear about Fenway - that is rough. It's great he got a better-fitting home so quickly. I hope this is the perfect fit for him.

    If you get a chance, can you send me an e-mail at I couldn't see another way to contact you. Thanks!

  2. Hi! We are stopping by after seeing you on Dog Foster Mom's blog! We are adding you to our Google Reader and would love if you would follow us too!


  3. We just found you on Dog Foster Mom's site too, and we're so glad we did. Your story about Fenway is sad, but doesn't it have such a happy ending? Aren't you thrilled that he, in the end, has found his home with an adult family who has experience and will devote the needed time and training to make his life more peaceful and steady?

    follow our foster:


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