Post-Fostering Paranoia

It’s a funny thing: No matter how badly I want to place a foster dog or foster puppy, no matter how much time and money and trouble they have caused me, the minute they leave to join a new household, the worrying starts.

For the past month, I’ve been fostering a goofy little mixed breed dog with giant ears. I called her Kiki, after the only repeated syllables I could call out loud that she would respond to (no response whatsoever to “Puppy! Baby! Beebee! Bobo! Mama! Taytay! Lala! etc. ). She has been a tiny pain in the butt: Adorable and friendly, housetrained and easy to train, but also a counter-surfer, prone to picking up eyeglasses and gardening gloves and carrying them off to far corners of the property, and of course, our biggest complaint, actually driving my “fun uncle” dog Woody crazy with her desire to play all day long. He’s up for playing some, but her style of play is very bitey/nippy, and his sensitive ears and jowls and lips and, most of all, his good humor, were showing some wear. I was taking a couple hours every day to take Kiki someplace for a super long run alongside my mountain bike, or an off-leash hike, and still, she was pestering the heck out of Woody. For his sake especially, and because it was taking so much of my time to run her every day, I really wanted to get Kiki placed ASAP!

Doesn’t Woody look a little tired?

Through the generous sharing of my “please help me find an adopter for this dog!” posts on Facebook, finally a perfect home appeared last Sunday: A woman who lives on five fully fenced acres in a rural area, is retired, and likes to both jog and ride mountain bikes. Any skepticism I had about a woman older than me riding mountain bikes was shot down when she drove through my gate in a big brand-new pickup truck with a bike rack mounted in the back. Yay! Her sister also lives on the property and has two dogs, so she brought the dogs along and we introduced the dogs, and it totally seemed like they were all going to be able to get along.

After the adopter filled out the adoption agreement from the shelter, I put Kiki in her truck and kissed her nose, fondled those magnificent ears one last time and, of course, burst into tears, waving the truck through the gate too choked up to shout a goodbye.

Kiki and the adopter’s sister’s Border Collie sleeping in the back seat on the way home

The adopter sent me a picture from the road: Kiki sleeping on the back seat of the truck with her sister’s same-age Border Collie. It was all going to be fine!

But then, I sent her a text about a tiny thing I forgot to tell her later that evening, and didn’t get a response. Not the end of the world, but a tiny worry started to grow.

The next morning – still no word. I have to say, I sort of expected another photo – Kiki running around her property, sleeping on her couch or bed, playing with the Border Collie… something! Over coffee, I fretted some more. What is the fencing on the adopter’s property like? Would she call me if Kiki got out and wouldn’t come back to her, or would she be too embarrassed to do so?

I sent the adopter a text: “If I promise not to be a pest, will you send me another pic today?”

No immediate response. Shoot! Come on!

I took her mountain-bike riding several times. She would trot and lope along for five miles, never leaving my back wheel. A terrific biking partner.

I’m only slightly ashamed to admit the next thing I did was pull up a Google Street View of the woman’s address and look at the fencing. It looked good – but oh! Gates! I wonder if Kiki hopped out of the truck when the adopter got out of the truck to open the gates! Shoot! She did that to me more than once (and once locked me out of my car, stepping on the armrest control panel, too). But that was right at my house, and she didn’t try to run away, she just ran into the yard. What would she do at a stranger’s gate, with a stranger calling her?

SHOOT – I should have warned her about how Kiki often tries to jump out of the car when I get out to open my driveway gates. I should have made sure she had a leash on her!

When another 30 minutes ticked by with no text, I escalated. “Alright, I have to admit I am fretting because I forgot to tell you that she would sometimes try to get out of the car behind me when I got out to open my gate. And I imagined her jumping out when you opened your gate. If she is lost, PLEASE don’t be embarrassed but let me know RIGHT AWAY so I can come help look for her! No judgment! I should have told you!”

That bowl, full of kibble and ready to be fed to Woody, was on the table above her. She jumped up and knocked it down with a huge CLANG! She showed absolutely no fear but dug into the chow. Kiki 1, Nancy 0 points for good management.

I know, I was sounding like a crazy person, right? By the time another hour ticked by, though, I was absolutely certain that’s exactly what happened. I was trying to figure out how I was going to get all my work done this week if I had to take all day Monday off, looking for Kiki in a strange town. . . . and then the text with a selfie of Kiki and her adopter arrived. “We’re good!” it said.

Instantly, my worry evaporated. “Okay!” I thought to myself. “She’s just a minimal texter! I won’t worry!”

But you know, I probably will.

I was discussing all this with a friend – someone who has gone on most of those Kiki-tiring hikes and bike rides with me – and she said, “Couldn’t you write up a contract that says the adopter has to send you a photo a day for a few weeks?” Ha! I could – but maybe I will just send them this blog post, instead.

But look: Many, many dogs escape from their new homes in the first week – especially ones like Kiki, who were once picked up as strays and spent time in a shelter. Kiki was also previously adopted twice and returned, and then spent a month with me! If she got loose, where might she try to go? It’s anyone’s guess! Adopters really have to make sure they keep ID on their new dogs at all times, and pay special attention to gates, doors, and even open car windows. Keep them leashed any time you leave the property until you have a great bond and a good recall – and check in with those former foster people!

** Postscript: As I was writing this, Kiki’s adopter sent me about five videos of Kiki playing with the Border Collie, and showing me around her acreage and home. It all looks terrific. I’ll sleep well tonight!

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