Several weeks ago I was extolling the benefits of fostering dogs. After all, it’s noble to house poor homeless creatures while they await adoption; and it’s fun getting to know lots of different types of dogs. It’s a win-win, right?
Many friends asked how I could invest time and love into puppies when I knew they would be going to live with other families. I simply smiled and said I was lucky because I got to enjoy their company for the time they were with us and I knew that because they were all going to loving homes, I didn’t mind giving them up. That worked well for Chappie, Fitz, and Lola.
But then I cast my eyes on Ruby, and all that was thrown out the window.
I picked up this tiny furball at Hopalong in Oakland and placed her in the carrier for the ride home. You wouldn’t believe how much sound can be produced from such a tiny creature. All the way to Berkeley, it sounded like parrots being strangled. I was frankly surprised that she was actually in one piece when I let her out. Immediately upon release, she romped around with no apparent memory of the screeching horror of the previous half hour.
Ruby wasn’t always Ruby. She came to us as Frida, probably because of her tell-tale Rottweiler eyebrows that suggested Frida Kahlo. But after a week of living with her, she never felt like a Frida to me. After week two, her pictures were going up on the Hopalong site to introduce her to the world. I had no doubt that hordes of people would see those eyes and want to take her home with them, so I knew she’d be placed quickly.
So that wasn’t the reason we decided to keep her.
Because she was the youngest foster we’d cared for, she was the most work. Not yet housebroken, Ruby has peed and pooped in every room of our house except the downstairs bathroom. She’s also chewed up the bill of Dave’s favorite cap. And our skin is covered with teeny bite marks where we have become her personal chew toys.
So we didn’t decide to keep her because she was the easiest pet to care for.
Our old hound dog Rufus is less than thrilled that we brought a slobbering pooping machine into his territory, especially when she tries to play with him or share his food. And as chill as our cat Cartwheel is, he was not exactly welcoming of this new addition to the family.
So our decision to keep Ruby had nothing to do with her potential as a companion for our other pets.
So why did we keep Ruby? Well, one reason for me is that I never got to see any of our other dogs as young puppies, and I always wished we had. Because we got Ruby when she was only 8 weeks old–and pups aren’t adopted out until they’re at least three months old–we would have had her for at least a month before we’d have to give her away. That’s a lot of time to get attached. And to tell the truth, it doesn’t take any time at all to get attached to Ruby.
The other reason? We fell in love. And who can explain why we fall in love? So we are now officially among those dubbed as “foster fails.” There are worse things we could be…