Today was Stella’s last day with me before heading off to her (hopefully) forever home! I LOVE her new family and I know she’s going to do fabulously with them, but it was kind of a bittersweet day for me; Stella’s lived with me since October and she feels like part of the family. I am sure going to miss her. Anyway, before I took her over to her new home, I wanted to spend the day with her doing all the things she loves. So this morning, we had a good old-fashioned sleep in; she cuddled with me and Nellie and we all hung out together and watched the Food Network for a while. She got a (delicious if you’re a Stella, gross if you’re a me) lamb heart for breakfast and then we headed off to meet Karen and Brew for a hike around Frog Pond.
Fancy Dog On A Rock shots of Stella and Brew!
After a little break at home to pick up her crate and get everything situated, we headed out for another one of our favorite things: fetchy ball at the local school playground
A montage of Happy Dog Returns From Fetch shots
The three stages of grief in re: having to wait for the ball to be tossed (I ask her to down between throws to prevent her leaping up and grabbing the ball off the thrower.)
After that, I brought her back to the house to say goodbye to her foster sisters, loaded up the car with her stuff, picked up Karen and brought her over to her new family, who were thrilled to see her. She was super excited to see them (‘let’s not jump on people when we first say hi’ went totally out the window) and was just as excited to check out the new toys and awesome new bed they had gotten for her.
I love this little dog an unbelievable lot, and I am so happy to see her safely launched. While her adoption isn’t yet finalized (her rescue does a trial period to make sure that the fit is good), I think she’s going to love her time with her new family for as long as she’s with them, be it a couple of days or the rest of her life. If it isn’t a perfect fit, she will come back and we will keep blogging; if it is a perfect fit, then I am so happy for her.
When I tell people that I foster, they nearly always say one of two things:
1) “Oh, I couldn’t do that; it would be so hard to let them go”
2) “How do you manage to not keep them all?”
And I have to say that while I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone (I don’t, after all, foster very frequently), for me, it IS hard to let them go, even if I feel absolutely great about their placement (which I sure do in Stella’s case). I am not going to lie; we are all a little bummed out here at the house tonight. And I do have a moment with every single dog I foster where I think, “Oh, they can stay, we can probably make it work”. This is especially true with a dog like Stella, who fits in really well and has just the kind of personality I love in a dog. My dog Nellie was Foster Fail #1, and if my circumstances were a little different, Stella could easily have been Foster Fail #2.
But even though it’s hard to say goodbye, there’s one major reason why I do it and keep doing it: Stella’s an amazing and special dog, but she’s not unique. Wherever you are reading this from, there’s likely a shelter within 30 minutes of you, and that shelter is probably overflowing with smart, funny, crazy-in-a-good-way dogs with big smiles and pretty eyes who will lick your face and crawl in your lap and work hard for you and make you laugh every day. And in general, what they need is pretty basic: they need some good food and a safe place to sleep, a little basic ‘this is how to live among humans’ training and someone who loves them and cares about them and thinks that they are worth something. Depending on where you are, a lot of those dogs are not going to make it out of the shelter alive (this is doubly true if, like Stella, they’re some kind of pit mix), and that’s a tragedy, especially because what turns a nameless faceless shelter dog into a Stella is pretty simple: it’s love, and it’s someone looking at them and saying, “you are special”. It is a huge thing to be able to take a little dog and make them feel happy and healthy and safe, and then let them go off to be the light of someone’s life. And not keeping every dog means that I can keep being that bridge for scared, lost dogs in the pound: I can continue to be the person that looks at them and says, “I see you. It’s going to get better from here.”
Bon chance, little Stelladog. It all gets better from here.
PS: I will keep the blog active, at least for a little while, so I can keep posting updates from Stella’s new family as they come in. And maybe I can persuade them that they want to blog themselves! (HINT HINT, New Friends from the Internets!)