Seeking Zen with a Foster Dog

FredFred was one day away from execution. A friend of mine, Josephine Bennett, is a huge animal lover and through her I became aware of the plight of so many dogs. My dog history is not really exactly what you’d call stellar. Our Boston Terrier ran away and went to live with my grandfather, who would hold him in his lap and feed him from the table. We adopted a Golden Retriever that was in the midst of a custody battle, and the ongoing drama between his previous owners was too much for my children and then it became frightening. I gave up on dogs, but I had great memories of dogs from my childhood.

This has been a tough year for our family and there have been times I have alternated between wanting to run away, or just sleep. I have friends with wonderful dogs, and I even once went to the shelter to look at dogs. They just seemed to require so much more work than our two cats. Then along came Fred. It all happened so fast.

Fred became our foster dog on Thursday, December 10. I really did not understand what all we were getting into with Fred. I told Josephine that I needed Dog 101. He is not neutered, yet, so he had to be crated when inside. He is heartworm positive, so he has to have medication every 12 hours. I didn’t realize just how big his crate would be, nor did I anticipate the cats’ reactions. We’re working it all out.

I’ve obsessed over some of Fred’s behaviors, but mainly I think he’s behaving normally in a new situation. I’ve worried that he hasn’t barked, but if he did bark, I’m sure I’d worry about that. Last night, on our usual walking route, he stopped suddenly and growled at something. We walk by this house several times a day and this is the first time he’s had a reaction. I couldn’t see anything and it was a bit creepy. As strange as it sounds, I was happy to hear him make some noise.

We’re now on Day 5. What I really love is the walking. When Fred and I go out for a walk, I don’t text and I don’t talk on the phone. I focus on walking. I watch Fred and how he interacts with the environment. I listen to see if I can hear whatever it is that makes his ears perk up, and makes him stop and look around. Mostly, we just walk. I know when he comes over and leans on my leg he wants me to pet him. Fred is getting a lot of petting. In these 5 days, he’s gotten so much better walking on the leash. When he’s ready to come back inside, he guides me to the door and then walks directly to the crate.

I don’t know how Fred came to the shelter, much less how he came to be on Doggy Death Row, but he’s a smart dog. This is what I know. Fred likes me. I still seeking Zen and trying to find some sense in the tragedies of 2015, but Fred is helping. At least when we are on our walks, I’m just a human being, walking a dog.


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