“Things never go the way you expect them to. That’s both the joy and frustration in life. I’m finding as I get older that I don’t mind, though. It’s the surprises that tickle me the most, the things you don’t see coming.” – Michael Stuhlbarg
I was not supposed to be there.
It was Labor’s Day – the last day of the Schaumburg Fair. My parents, who were visiting me for ten days, wanted to attend this festival. After much hemming and hawing, I chose to stay back and complete an urgent assignment that I had ignored for far too long.
Apparently, parents are not conducive to productivity. I spent almost all day – every day – gabbing with them while letting my work slide.
My decision made, I dropped face down on the bed, ready to take a nap before beginning work – because, you know, that just make sense!
But, despite twisting and turning for a whole hour, I couldn’t sleep. My heart kept nudging me to attend the fair with my family.
When my restlessness reached a crescendo, I threw caution out the window and dressed in my best outfit – ready to seize the day!
An hour later, two hours before the fair was scheduled to end, we all jumped into the car and drove the one block away to the fair.
The sky shimmered in the golden sunlight. The breeze cavorted around us as my mom and I fingered the merchandise at several artistic booths. The addictive sounds of childish chatter, girly giggles and mechanical whirring (of the rides) exploded in the air.
In all, it was the perfect day for a family outing.
Who knew that my last minute decision would turn into a memorable gift that would keep on giving?
The Fetching Tails Foundation
“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ― Karen Davison
I have been double-minded about fostering a dog for the last six months.
Adopting Oreo – my 18 month old ‘Bassador’ (Bassett+ Lab) – in June, 2014 was the best decision of my life. This ornery, whip-smart, exasperating and melodramatic pup’s antics lends unlimited joy to the most unsatisfying days.
But fostering was a different level of commitment. Loving a dog – even for a few days – and then letting it go can be heartbreaking. My intuitive husband was unsure about whether his uber-emotional wife will be able to handle this separation.
(Guess he was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to give up the dog and that his home would be usurped by our four-legged friends!)
So we kept postponing any discussions about fostering.
Until that fateful day in the Schaumburg fair when the decision was made for me.
After a particularly dizzying ride, we took a leisurely stroll through the fairgrounds towards the eating area.The fair was ending in twenty minutes. We wanted to grab a snack and leave before the mob descended on us!
Suddenly, my husband grabbed my arms and directed my attention towards the Fetching Tails Foundation booth.
“I think they are urging people to fill out foster applications,” he whispered.
My soul instantly lurched in delight. Was this a sign?
I turned around, walked back to their booth and spent some time chatting with the founders of this relatively new Illinois-based organization. The simple mission of this volunteer-run organization is to find a “forever home” for our adorable canine pals.
Two minutes later, my hands were filling out a foster application. They were moving of their own volition. My brain was not involved – at all. I was joyously swinging to the rhythms of my heart.
The very next day, on Tuesday, I found myself completing online applications, signing consent forms and participating actively in FTF’s Facebook groups – oohing and aahing at rescued dogs who, for whatever reason, were abandoned and desperately needed love.
Given that I have a PhD in procrastination, my proactive ‘fostering’ measures made my husband laugh. He was ecstatic to sit in the sidelines while his wife took charge – for once!
Clearly, I needed to do this and he was letting me fulfill my desires.
On Wednesday, September 9, five hours after my husband dropped my parents off at the airport, I got a private message from one of the FTF coordinators and co-founders.
“A 4-5 year old dog was just dumped at the shelter by her previous owners. Are you willing to foster it?”
One look at those expressive, almond eyes and my heart purred happily.
Daphne became my first foster.
Daphne: An Old Soul with the Purest Heart
“Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness?” —Jonathan Safran Foer
Daphne – a tiny, 44-pound lab/beagle mix – was a paradox.
She was a loner with restless legs; a gentle lady with a childlike curiosity; a quiet damsel with a caffeinated personality.
Her first night at my place, I slept in between my two canine-kids, with Oreo placing his head on my feet and D pushing her face into my neck.
Despite my creaking joints and aching bones, I have never had a more pleasurable night.
There is nothing this Snoopy – as I referred to her – liked more than poking into every crevice in my pantry, placing her paws on tall countertops, curling next to her sitting area in my office room, and, most importantly, resting her head on my feet while I massaged her ears.
Oh – and pushing her nose into trashcans.
I once saw Daphne with her neck inserted into my trash can’s lid! It was the most amusing sight of my life.
After guffawing for ten minutes, I quickly placed the trashcans on top of my bathroom counters – where they stayed until her departure!
Daphne LOVED humans. She would follow me everywhere and lay down next to me while I clacked away at the keyboard.
Alas – Daphne didn’t warm up to my romantic pup. Oreo couldn’t stay away from this beauty, and drove her nuts with his licking, his nipping and his energy!
Everywhere she went, there he was, until she finally started growling and barking at him – her tail wagging the whole time.
(It felt good to see my pup starving for attention, considering his mum – aka me – is usually the one doing the begging!)
Unfortunately, this dainty darling struggled with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and a horrible wheezing sound – which was later diagnosed as kennel cough – the whole time she was here. I didn’t mind cleaning up after her or spending hours massaging her chest. I just wanted her to feel better.
When her coughing worsened, I would gather her in my arms and rock with her on the recliner until she calmed down.
Clearly, Daphne had embedded herself in my heart. I didn’t want to judge, but couldn’t help but wonder why her owners just dumped her because they were moving. WHY?
A Bittersweet Separation
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras
On Sunday morning, I dropped Daphne at an adoption show. On Sunday afternoon, my husband let me know that she was being adopted.
My heart sank.
I knew this day would come. I knew my sweet friend would have to leave. I knew she deserved a forever-home.
Knowing any of this didn’t lessen the heartbreak. I sniffled into my pillow for ten minutes after which I cuddled her for ten more.
I wanted to NOT think about my final goodbye – for just one more evening.
I wanted to hold her close – for just one more hour.
I wanted to massage her ears and chest – for just one more day.
On Monday morning, my eyes twinkling with tears, I dropped her off at the vet’s place. She had to get spayed and treated for the kennel cough.
I had already said my goodbyes, so it was a quick drop-off. Her scent, however, still lingers in my car.
Are You Letting Your Life Surprise You?
“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” –Ashley Montagu
The whole experience taught me that, sometimes, it is okay to stop planning and start leaning INTO your LIFE. Just go with the flow and see what happens.
When I dropped my plans to ‘write’, I was blessed with a lifetime of memories. I also found the inspiration to complete my assignments quicker. Because life is the greatest muse.
My mentor and favorite blogger, Katherine Kotaw of Kotaw Content Marketing, once said, “Seek stories everywhere.”
I haven’t heard a more empowering or powerful writing quote. My ‘fair excursion’ gave me the material for a social media post, this blog post, and the motivation to complete my frustrating assignments.
Most importantly, it gifted me with lifelong memories of a beautiful lady who stole my heart with nary an effort. LOVE YOU, Daphne.
Can’t Wait for My Next Foster….
Three days ago, I took my Oreo to the vet because he had started making those wheezing noises too.
The doctor looked at me gently and said, “I think Oreo got his kennel cough from your first foster, but I hope this doesn’t change your mind about sheltering other dogs.”
Surprised, because that thought had never entered my mind, I quickly reassured her saying that nothing is going to stop me from fostering more dogs.
Daphne will always hold a very special place in my heart. I can still hear the pitter-patter of her elegant paws; I can still smell her unique odor; I can still feel her soft furs against my chin.
Yes, giving up a dog breaks your heart, but knowing that he or she has found a loving home makes the heartbreak well worth it.
Oh – and the trashcans are back in place ;)