I have taken my foster doggie back to the shelter to interview for her forever family.
She was nervous. I was anxious.
Staff set her up in a kennel away from most of the noise to ease her transition, and I walked around to visit with other dogs.
After a time I made it back to her kennel. But she looked so different behind bars. Not like the sweet girl who had spent two weeks at my house while she finished her medications and completed healing.
But her eyes were the same as she looked up at me and asked, "Have you forgotten me already?"
The question was a direct hit to the heart. But I'm trying not to dodge the tough questions any more, whether under the guise of sparing the feelings of another or making myself feel momentarily better. I try to poke around in the uncomfortable spots, tap into my own wisdom and that of others, and find the truth.
So Lady/Janie and I had a discussion. I admitted I had kept her at a bit of a distance. The plan from the beginning was to help her heal, then help her find another home. I have six other doggies at home I didn't say no to, as well as a few others who are now angel doggies.
Our time with Janie was filled with lessons and not a little stress. Though my herd of doggies agreed without hesitation for her to come stay with us, the adjustment was not an easy one. My only other girl can feel easily threatened and strike out. Janie hadn't learned about personal space, so encountered many warning growls from the others to back off.
She also made me look beyond my remaining wariness about certain dog breeds and into her heart. She was sweet. She was loving. She gave kisses and wanted to cuddle. She came in a Pitbull body.
Yes, she is still learning manners and appropriate actions. But my own dogs--and me--aren't always socially correct. However, she is smart and tried so hard to fit in and get us to play more. During her time here, I realized me and my doggie herd are boring. My dogs tell me when it's time for meals and snacks and walks and all the important things. In between, they nap and I work. Yep, boring.
So we all learned--my foster dog, me and my herd. Still, I came back to the question: how can I let her go? Shouldn't I be so attached to her I couldn't bear to see her in that kennel? How could I put her through the stress of being on display and being judged and maybe going to someone who didn't appreciate her?
How could I let her go?
Then Janie gave me another perspective: Can you keep us all and still be effective at the work you have come here to do? Can you help more animals by focusing on one or by spreading the message we have come here to share? Can you be effective if you DON'T let us go?
I quit breathing for a moment as the truth of that resonated through me.
I had just experienced two weeks of balancing the needs of my own herd and my foster furbaby. Of keeping up with other commitments and crashing into the hard realization I wasn't taking care of myself or making much progress on what I said I wanted to accomplish this summer.
Janie was so right. How could I be effective if I didn't let her go?
So I will continue to support her while waiting for her perfect person or family. Just as I did when my sons grew up and moved out to build lives of their own, I will cheer my sweet Janie when she goes on to bless another family with her presence. In the meantime, I will cherish our time together and the lessons she has taught.
And I will continue to spread the message so many furbabies have given me. There is so much humans and animals can learn from each other. Now is the time for all of us--humans and animals together--to build the better life we have all been seeking. Hand in paw, let us walk, run, play, laugh and love into that fantastic world we have been envisioning!