You may be thinking: Why would you bring a foster dog into your family if you don’t know where they came from? Here’s why and what we are all learning in the process:
I am a dog person.
Two dogs, many years ago, made that decision for me. Honestly, once I knew them I didn’t have much of a choice. They showed me the many blessings a dog can shed upon your life. Through them, I was saved from 20 years of a fear of dogs. They gave me strength, purpose and joy in hard times. Taught me lessons in responsibility. They put the “best” into “Man’s (or Woman’s) Best Friend”. I will forever be grateful for those two girls. Their names were Casey and Kiya.
My “girls”, as I called them, passed away – or went to the rainbow bridge in 2015. Casey, while I was pregnant with our first boy and Kiya, three weeks after he was born. In those short three weeks, Kiya was the most loving dog that anyone could ever imagine to our newborn baby boy. We lost a lot and we gained a lot in those few months. A highly emotional time, to say the least.
We knew that we wanted a dog again, but when was the right time?
We’ve been thinking about this for 3.5 years now. It’s been on my mind often in the midst of raising our boys. Yes, since then we’ve added another spunky boy to our mix. And in the world of toddler craziness, potty training, starting school, learning ABCs and manners one would think this might be the worst time to bring a dog to our home. Maybe it is, but I accept the challenge.
Why a dog now?
Even if she is only here for a little while, there is a lot that the boys can learn in a short time.
I do not want my boys to be fearful of dogs. A healthy and careful relationship, built upon respect – YES a great lesson and healthy to boot! A fear of dogs – that was a tough way to grow up, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I can’t think of a better time to build a great relationship with dogs than now, while they are young.
I hope that they find joy and love in a relationship with a dog. Love, unconditional and devoted love, this is something that a dog gives. What greater lesson to learn in life is there than to give and accept love? I want them to feel that, honor it and give it back.
Responsibility, being responsible for the life of another is huge. There are many tiny pieces that go into taking care of a dog and the kids will have their own jobs to help.
Kindness, a lesson every child should have – a dog is a great opportunity to learn about being kind. Every animal should be treated with kindness and respect.
Why foster, you might ask?
Well, there are so many animals out there that do not have a home or a good home. Every living being deserves a good shot at life with a lot of love. If our little family can be a part of giving even just one dog a forever home – it’s one tiny piece of help towards that problem. Until recently, I was unaware that many rescue agencies work to help you find the right foster for your family.
We worked with Florida Boxer Rescue to find our foster dog, Roxy. We were able to give them specifics on what we were looking for in a dog. On our list: a girl (I have too many boys around me), good with kids, on the younger side and good with dogs. They found us Roxy – she is 3 years old and meets all of that criteria. Also, bringing a dog into a home with kids is very very different than bringing a dog home without kids. Florida Boxer Rescue has a mandatory foster period of two weeks. This means that we can have two weeks to decide if she is right for our family. At the end of the two weeks, we can choose to adopt her or put her up for adoption. All the while, giving her a great home, filled with love.
What We Are All Learning:
It hasn’t been long that Roxy has been with us, just 5 days as I write this. But she is currently lying in the sun in the yard while I sit on the porch and watch her enjoy her day. As you might imagine, it was a tough transition.
Moving from her family that she had been with for 3 years to a whole new one, not having the capability of knowing why is unimaginable. But as dogs do it, they adjust and she is too. She is learning to love, trust and play with the boys. Her manners are improving and she is clearly wanting to please us. She is learning who her new pack is and what her place is in it. She is learning that other people can be trusted too and she is getting exposed to new people, dogs and experiences. This too is good for her.
I can already see how the boys are learning to respect her. Becoming more aware of her needs and her space. They talk about how this is Roxy’s bed, her toys, her food, etc… Walking her with me, learning about why we pick up poop. They are helping me feed her, learning about how much and when she eats. They are learning to respect Roxy and her belongings. My rough and tumble 2 year old even gently patted her back today and said: “Nice.” It is a darn good start, if you ask me.
My husband and I are learning that it is quite different to have a dog with kids in the house. Boundaries need to be set that weren’t set before. Our dogs were our kids before and now the kids come before the dog. It’s a healthy hierarchical order, but it does not mean that the dog’s happiness and well being is not important – it absolutely is. There is a shift in schedule – I used to sleep until 7. I now get up at 6:15 to feed and walk the dog before the kids are up. One might think this is a sacrifice, I see it as a blessing. That 45 minutes before the kids get up, just for me, some coffee, a dog and exercise is delightful! Not to mention our post bedtime evening walks in the cooler air, also wonderful.
We don’t know just yet if she will stay with us. In the meantime she is in a loving home. She is just a sweet girl wanting to be loved and cared for. Personally, I would love to give that to her – and to my family. If you are thinking about adding a dog to your family, I encourage you to consider rescuing or fostering. Our favorite breed is the Boxer, because the breed fits our lifestyle. They are active, over the top loving and great with kids. Even if a boxer is not your breed, search out a rescue for your breed. If you are not looking for a specific dog then check out your local shelter. Give a dog in need a good home.