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Rescue Dogs and Fostering
A new chapter.
Almost exactly five years ago, my wife Sarah spearheaded a family-effort to begin fostering rescue dogs. We already had a rescue dog of our own, Piper (aka the larger dog in the photos you regularly see in this newsletter). Piper, as I often say, is an absolute saint… and has been since the day we brought her home for an adoption event (pictured above).
Some quick backstory: Piper was found wandering the streets of Texas in 2016. She was starving and severely underweight, and nothing was known about her or her owners. She was brought to a local shelter, but unfortunately, most shelters in Texas quickly euthanize many of the dogs they take in. This is because of the sheer volume they receive. Thankfully, there are groups dedicated to rescuing the dogs suitable for adoption from these “high-kill” facilities, and transporting them to neighboring states, where they coordinate with local shelters to give the pooches a second chance at life. That was how Piper came into our lives.
We went to an adoption event at a pet-supply store in Fort Collins, originally interested in a different dog featured on the rescue-organization’s website. But that dog’s size and energy-level didn’t feel like a good match for our living and family situation. We checked out a few other dogs, and were prepared to leave, when a volunteer brought in a dog we hadn’t seen from a potty-break.
Her newly given name was “Piper,” and while most every other dog we saw that day was barking loudly from its enclosure (as one would expect), this one, billed as a “lab mix,” was as calm as could be. Estimated at two or three years old, she perfectly willingly walked back into her crate, sat down, and just took in the spectacle as if she were a third-party observer.
It was hard to tell if Piper was naturally calm, or if she was despondent from a rough life-journey (which her weight suggested). Whatever the explanation, her demeanor (and admittedly her size) drew us to her. After walking her around the store on a leash, and finding her just as chill, we filled out some paperwork, put down some money, and brought her home with us. We weren’t sure what to expect from there.
She was low-key in the car, and also when we got her inside. But the moment I sat down in our living room — in a story my wife still likes to tell — Piper jumped up, put her paws on my shoulders, and gave me a huge hug — a real, human-like hug.
Piper turned out to be the most affectionate, attentive, well-behaved dog imaginable — a unicorn companion. She’s a keen reader of all of our family’s emotions, and reliably (and remarkably) offers hugs, chin rests, and other forms of consolation at exactly the right time. She has an especially tight bond with Sarah.
We discovered a few days after adopting her that she was not a “lab mix” (though her initial, underweight appearance could explain the confusion). She’s a pit-bull mix, and a lover of all humans and dogs, who has spent her life with us defying and disproving the negative, often unfair stereotypes associated with the “pit bull” label.
So much for a “quick backstory” on Piper (sorry about that).
Back to fostering…
Piper became such a huge source of joy and enlightenment, that my wife wanted to do much more with (and for) rescue-dogs. I wasn’t quite ready to adopt a second one, but I caved to her idea of short-term fostering. And when I say, “short-term,” I’m talking very short. The rescue organization that gave us Piper needed overnight fosterers every Friday to house the “new arrivals” driven into town earlier that day from out-of-state. The organization rarely had enough boarding room for the entire load, so they relied on volunteers to provide individual dogs with food, shelter, a bath, and a little love until the next morning (always a Saturday). That’s when fosterers would drive their dog(s) to the pet-supply store for an adoption event. The hope (and usually a safe bet) was that enough of them would be adopted that day that the rest could stay at the organization’s facility until the next event.
We did this for six months, and it was always an adventure. We hosted lots of shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities, which we promoted on social-media with the hashtag #FridayNightFoster (in hopes of giving our temporary four-legged companions a little extra attention from prospective owners). I don’t know if the online hype actually helped (even with prominent accounts occasionally retweeting my pictures), but it was fun to document the various tenants.
Here’s a taste (with more here):
What I didn’t realize over that half-year was that an additional motive for Sarah’s interest in fostering (she also volunteered for a number of events) was to provide a proof of concept for our family permanently adopting a second dog. In retrospect, it was pretty smart, and the reality was that most of our foster dogs coexisted just fine with Piper (though play-time sometimes got a little out of control).
But we stopped fostering in late 2018 after Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer, and our focus turned to treatment and recovery. After successful surgery at the tail-end of December, my wife proposed that the ordeal warranted the adoption of a second dog, and it was a difficult argument to counter. My only stipulation was that we get a smaller dog than Piper, to make rough play-times a bit less… consequential.
Before the end of the following month, Sarah discovered that a different rescue had just gotten in a litter of six-month-old pit-bull/dachshund mixes. Their size (not to mention their cuteness) fit the bill.
Similar to the situation with Piper years earlier, we visited the rescue with interest in one dog in particular, but it was that fellow’s sibling, known at the time as “Paul,” who immediately fell in love with Piper. He basically made the decision for us, mange and all.
On the way home, we decided “Paul” sounded a little too human-ish, and “Squiggy” was born.
As innocent and cuddly as Squiggy appears in the pictures I post here and elsewhere, he’s actually a pretty wired and ornery dog, and sometimes a handful. So, returning to fostering, and another stream of dogs coming through the Daly household, felt like a lot of work.
It still does, but four years later, we’re about to give it a try anyway.
Truth be told, my wife would love a third dog — a permanent one, and has been lobbying for one for a while. Me, not so much. At 50, I’m generally in favor of less chaos, complexity, and responsibility in the daily routine. But once again, in the spirit of compromise (and presumably with no-strings-attached), we’ve registered as fosterers — this time with the rescue organization that gave us Squiggy. Only, it won’t be of the one-night variety, but rather, in most cases, until the dog we’re taking care of is adopted. We’ll even get a say in who he or she will ultimately go to.
It will be another adventure, and probably a little exhausting at times. What will help is that the entire family is now home for the summer. And the good news for ‘Daly Grind’ subscribers is that, starting in June, there’ll be more variety in each week’s “Obligatory Dog Shot” feature.
Far more importantly, providing a temporary home will free up the rescue to bring in more dogs for adoption. And with so many dogs in this country needing permanent homes and companionship, any extra help in that department is a good thing. The idea of other families discovering their Piper (and yes, even their Squiggy) is certainly an attractive one to me.
I’ll keep you all filled in on how it goes. Let the games begin.
Have a rescue-dog story? Let me know in an email, or in the comment section below.
The William T. Daly School of General Studies
My Uncle Bill (widely recognized as the funniest Daly) passed away earlier this year. His legacy lives on not only in his family, but in the university he helped found, and the students he taught and shaped for many years.
Stockton University’s School of General Studies is now the William T. Daly School of General Studies, and we all couldn’t be prouder.
Last week, I put an old dresser with a "FREE" sign out on our sidewalk. 10 minutes later it was gone. The next day, I saw that my neighbor across the street put a bunch of stuff out on his sidewalk using my free sign (he must have taken my dresser), and I nabbed this!
Bartering is cool (though Squiggy’s not a fan of my playing).
Speaking of Guitars…
Sugartooth front-man and lead guitarist Marc Hutner has started a new video series featuring his absolutely insane collection of guitars (and the stories behind them). Episode #1 is online, and it’s a fascinating watch (for musicians and non-musicians alike). You can check it out below.
And if you haven’t yet listened to Sugartooth’s killer new album, “Vol. 3”, what are you waiting for?
Obligatory Dog Shot
Have you picked up your copy of RESTITUTION?
Interested in a signed copy? You can order one (or five) here.
Already read and enjoyed it? I’d love if you could leave a review for the book on Amazon.
Hot off the presses is an origin story of one of my favorite bands, the Toadies. “Dig a Hole / I Hope You Die” was a cassette single released by the band way back in 1990, almost four years before they would find huge mainstream success with their debut album, “Rubberneck.” The cassette was sold exclusively at Sound Warehouse in Fort Worth, TX (where the band comes from), along with live shows.
It’s been remixed and remastered, and the band just released the long out-of-print single on 12” colored vinyl. It plays at 45 rpm, from the inside groove (which is kind of confusing if you don’t know that beforehand), and it sounds fantastic!
You can pick it up (including signed copies) on their online store.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!