A short time ago, I was asked if I would foster a sweet dog that was on a long road back from nearly starving to death. Found on the streets in the dead of winter, he was a mere shell of himself. A ten month old puppy weighing under 20 pounds nicknamed Butterscotch by the veterinary staff tending to him, he was less than 25% of his ideal body weight. He needed a quiet, childless and animal free home in order to rest and recover. Having recently lost my best friend Hailey, I was a little skeptical that I would be emotionally and mentally able to handle the request. I was willing to give it a try since it would only be a mere two weeks and he had an adoptive family, who renamed him Duke, waiting anxiously for his arrival.
Upon seeing a texted photo of him, I was horrified at the emaciated shape of this poor guy yet, he had a look in his eyes that couldn’t be denied. Riddled with guilt, I told them I didn’t think I could handle it. He looked way too frail to be leaving the care of a veterinary hospital. Thinking that was that, I pushed him out of my thoughts. Or so I thought.
Butterscotch arrived on a Friday after 5 more days of veterinary care . I saw those eyes and about 5 more pounds on his frail frame. Ok, maybe I can do this. He bounded in here with the energy of a dog that was only 25% of his ideal weight but he did it with all the energy he had. He was wearing a sweater because he didn’t have enough fat on him to protect him from the cold. It wasn’t until I peaked under the sweater that it really hit me what bad shape this guy was in. Needless to say, he would be keeping that sweater on.
Over the course of the next three weeks, Puddin’Head, Bub, Buddy, whatever I was calling him that day, and I went on a journey that was equally uplifting as it was exhausting, physically, mentally and yes, emotionally. He brought back the pain of being a nurse to a patient who couldn’t tell you how they were feeling. He gave me a lesson in trusting someone enough to let them help you without question. As he literally grew before my eyes, his spirited personality brightened. He showed me what resilience and determination will get you. He showered me with gratitude and love after only knowing me a short time. But more than anything, he brought back the joy of having a dog in the house. In such a short time, he became such a big part of my life. Even though I promised myself I would not become attached, he wouldn’t allow me not to. I was no match for his huge, spirited, fun and loving personality.
Days after Duke left, I was informed that the family decided not to keep him. Upon further reflection, they felt they were not ready to have a dog in their home. In such a short time, I became so protective and caring of this guy. He deserved so much more. Yet, the question popped in my head that if no one came forward to adopt him, how could he be placed in a shelter? He thrived and grew in such a short time, I was concerned he would have a major setback. It was obvious to many that his foster home would make the ideal home but I still had questions. Not about Duke but about me. Was I ready for the commitment again? Would I be able to provide him the love he needed and gave to me even though I wasn’t quite ready to love again? More than anything, I did not want him to feel unwanted in any way and I did not want to adopt a dog before I knew I was ready because ultimately that would be unfair to Duke.
Duke being Butterscotch, it did not take more than 2 weeks for him to find a new home. And as they say in the shelter business, he hit the lottery. Now named Shooter, he is in a home with two other fur friends and a loving family. Even though he found his forever home, a part of me wants him back but a bigger part of me knows he is where he was meant to be.
I still miss “Puddin Head” and he will always have a home should he ever need one again. Good luck on your journey friend and thank you for helping me with mine.