I have written about rescuing and fostering (Fear, Fostering, Heart, Hindsight, President). Every time I take on a foster, I wonder if this is the time I will have to make hard choices; if this is the time I am in over my head.
The last week has been that and so much more uncertainty. Not only was I sure that I was in over my head; I once again broke all of my own rules.
Bella is a 15 month old Cane Corso puppy (rule # 1 – no Cane Corsos; #2 no puppies). She was not medically vetted by a shelter or rescue (#3) and I do not have full backing from a rescue organization (#4).
Today is her 11th day with me.
I first learned of Bella on Facebook. Her owner (bad name, bad name, bad name) was going to have her put to sleep. I am not sure what his justification was – *insert crap excuse here*.
In that impulsive way I have when I am about to break my own rules, I found myself commenting on the post and offering to foster her.
It took a village to get her to safety until transport could be arranged from the Fresno area to a halfway point.
The Bella I brought home with me was scared, shut down and would panic at the slightest movement. She was also wagging her tail and let me touch her gently, as long as I let her approach me and I did not attempt eye contact with her. I thought “OK, I got this. It will be challenging and manageable”.
By day three, Bella would not let me touch or approach her. Even a whisper would send her into a panic. She would not eat, she could not manage to enter the house through any door, and my only attempt to put a leash on her resulted in shrieks of abject terror while she collapsed to the ground and peed. In that first week, I had to physically carry (all 85-90lbs of her) her to get her in the house and again to get her into a crate. Each time I had to then mop and disinfect the floor because she was so terrified that she would pee every time I touched her.
At my wits end, I broke rule #5. Rule #5 is that I let Acheron tell me when he is ready to meet a foster dog. Without fail, Ach completely ignores the fosters. Without fail, for reasons all his own, he wakes up one day and decides he is ready. I do not attempt introductions until that day.
This time, I made the decision for him. I needed his help. Even though he wasn’t ready, he stepped up and took one for the team.
Today is the third day and she is a completely different dog. She is still skittish and afraid, unless he is in the room. She plays with him. She races in and out of the door. She follows him around. She has her appetite back.
Three days ago, I was truly afraid that I was going to have to make the hardest decision of all; not because there was no discernable improvement, but because she had gotten exponentially worse.
Three days later, I can see the road to recovery for her. She is acting how a Cane Corso puppy should act, as long as Acheron is with her. Humans so clearly let her down so much that she could not trust me. There was no way she could begin to heal if she could not find a place to begin to trust.
She found it.
I can wait for it to trickle down to me.
You have to find a place for trust to start.
Even when you aren’t sure you can trust yourself.
Even if it starts with the dog…