How fostering animals can impact a person

A continuation of my previous story regarding Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue

Oreo (left) and Bella Anne (right) with their new families on adoption day. Dolly’s does this weekly, on Sunday mornings for potential adopters to come, meet the animals, and see if they’re a good match. These pups found their perfect people.

In my previous article I stated that my family has fostered for the rescue. We took in 2 dogs after our move from the West coast, following the cold month of February. Their names were Oreo and Bella Anne, and they are two dogs who’ve taught me to look at things in life from a different perspective.
Oreo was a 4-month old husky mix, short in stature but a mighty child. He was confident, stubborn, and bold. Just a bundle of puppy energy. He was found in Oklahoma on a stormy night, starving and looking for shelter from the rain. A couple found him under the eaves of a store building since the shop’s owner refused to bring the pup inside. His mother and siblings were nowhere to be found. Bella Anne was a 7-month shepherd mix, who was found with her twin sister and pregnant mother under a bridge in rural Oklahoma. She was the exact opposite of Oreo; shy, terrified, submissive. We have no other information regarding her backstory, but we were glad that she was still with her family.
It’s easy to remember the first days with both pups. We fostered them at separate times, Oreo being the first. While Oreo was the easier of the two to adapt to the family life, he wasn’t always so open to us. Especially not with strangers. Dolly’s Legacy finds their animals from many situations, but their full backstories don’t always come along with them. Whenever we tried petting Oreo from a high angle, he flinched and cowered low. This behavior was an apparent sign of abuse, possibly from someone hitting him on the head when he was younger. Bella Anne was more difficult. On her first day with us, she did what animal behaviorists call an army crawl, covering her stomach from any contact. It’s a method animals use for protecting their vital organs, and she perceived new people as a threat. Never had she or Oreo bit me or my family members in an aggressive manner, which made me pity them more. They didn’t want to hurt us, they were just scared.
Fostering dogs has taught me a few important lessons in life, which I never fully thought about until after I saw both dogs go to their forever homes. It was first about being grateful, and cherishing the moments you have in life. There was a moment during each of their stays where they acted differently than how they usually acted. Oreo, with all his puppy energy, bolted into the living room, made a few runs in a giant circle and returned to his crate. I assumed it was his case of the zoomies, but when he ran to his bed, he rolled onto his back and calmed down. Then, he looked at me, blinked a few times, then ran towards me. He fell into my arms and stared at me for a while. I was confused at first because he doesn’t normally act like this. Bella Anne did a weird thing too. One morning, before our usual walk, I woke to her sitting beside my bed. I was more shocked with her than with Oreo because she never played with that toy. When she noticed I woke up, her tail started to wag and she jumped onto my bed. I wasn’t prepared for the showering affection and didn’t think twice before calling the rest of my family. I later understood why they acted the way they did. They realized they were finally in a home that wasn’t going to abandon them. They now had a family to call their own, even if it was temporary because there was no way we were going to let them return to the roads where they were found. They were mentally at peace, and so were we.
Fostering also taught me about patience and committing many hours to work with the mentality of not getting anything in return. But I got something big in return, something money can never pay me in large sums. It was trust and seeing the journey of two creatures who needed to learn to trust me before loving me. The countless nights of Oreo crying for his deceased mother, or the times when Bella Anne nearly bolted after her harness broke, were events that stick to my memory. Imagining the pain of a child without his guardian, or being so petrified of something as simple as a bike, aren’t things many people think about. But we still share the same feelings of sorrow and pain, just like any living creature. It wasn’t easy getting these rescue dogs to trust me, but being patient, and thinking in a positive light, are what helped in the healing process.
We all face trials in our life. Some hit harder than others, but that’s just how life is. What we can do is simply prepare for it at best, but most of what we learn comes from what we experience. My experiences with fostering two young dogs have shaped me into a better person than whom I previously was. Again, fostering isn’t something one is forced to do. But the impact a rescue dog has on both the animal and the family keeping them is amazing. It’s sad in some cases, yes, because they come from the worst places. But their journey from when you get them to months later is worth seeing in person. I was happy to think on their adoption days that the work had paid off. They were off on their next journey in life, one where they wouldn’t need to worry about being abandoned again, and I could go home happy for them. Oreo now lives with a college student and his roommates in Omaha. His adopter was a first-time owner, and his anticipation on adoption day was apparent, despite the mask. “Thank you,” he tells me, “for taking such good care of him. He’s a great dog.” His roommates also thanked me, and Oreo was off. Bella Anne joined a home with five other children, the oldest being 7. The family recently lost their dog, and thought adopting another would be best to properly heal. The kids and parents loved her at first sight.