by Claudia Kulvinskas
Our guest blogger this week is Claudia Kulvinskas, a new foster for ODH. I think those of you who are already fosters can relate to what Claudia is saying, and anyone thinking about being a foster might be inspired to do so after reading Claudia’s blog. Thanks, Claudia. We look forward to hearing more about your adventures with Bug in future blogs.
I stared out the window, chin in hand, fingers drumming in anxious impatience. The transporter would be here any moment and my mind was whirling with a multitude of thoughts. Would she like me? Would I like her? What if she was really sick and no one knew it yet? What if she had behavioral issues I wouldn’t know how to handle? The thought of having to call Judith to tell her I failed made me feel slightly sick. I haven’t had a dog in ten years; was it like riding a bike? Would it all come back?
The transporter pulled up outside the gate, and my anxiety was replaced with excitement. She was here! Bug was here! After a whirlwind of activity in which Noel also arrived to ensure we were both settling in, Bug and I were left alone.
We looked at each other. The poor girl was filthy, and if misery had a smell, she was exuding it. Her coat was so outgrown and matted in spots I almost contemplated changing her name to Rags, for ragamuffin. “But you’re not going to look like that forever, are you?” I said to her. “You and I are going to get up close and personal as soon as 5:30 hits. I’m sorry baby, but all I have is a shower.”
Personally, I don’t think she cared. She didn’t fight me one bit, and I suspected she wanted to be clean as badly as I wanted her to be. After two good scrub downs, I dried and combed her out as best as I could, paying special attention to her ears. Within the hour we were both dry and fed, and she was on my lap snoozing away. My heart realized that, yes, it does all come back.
The first month involved us learning about each other. Bug arrived with a UTI, so until that got cleared up I had to be extra vigilant about getting her outside regularly. I had to learn all about her likes and dislikes, such as what food and treats she prefers and what kind of toys she likes to play with. I had it easy though; she had to learn the routines and rhythms of a new home and human on top of having separation anxiety.
By the beginning of the second month and after several vet visits, she was almost a brand-new dog. Her bad eye, which I knew about from the beginning, had been removed and she had been spayed. Her UTI had been cleared up. She had gotten all her shots, had been chipped, and had gotten shorn and clipped at the groomers. Her bad eye had been putting consistent pressure on her head, and without a constant headache she has a whole new energy level.
Bug’s favorite thing to do is spend time outside, and I am more than happy to oblige. Every human friend I have made since moving here (except one) doesn’t like hiking and will only glamp. I know, right?! I have a whole road trip planned this summer, and I am thrilled to have a dog to take camping all over Oregon and California. She won’t tell stupid stories, complain about the dirt, get drunk, or demand I stop at every single historical site we pass.
While I am preparing for the trip, I am trying to teach her good car-riding manners and how to walk properly on the leash. We take close to two hours’ worth of walks every day, and on weekends (and soon most evenings!) I make it a point to go to a park or trail somewhere so she gets to smell new things. The one day a weekend I allow myself to be lazy, do chores and putter around the house is doggie torture for her, but I remind her the rest of the week is all about her (I still don’t think she gets it). Bug absolutely adores the beach, chasing the birds into the water and swimming after them. I’m thinking I might learn to kayak and teach her to ride with me in the water. She loves it when I let her take the lead and she walks me, although I can’t do that too much; Miss Bug gets a big head and thinks she’s the boss if she’s in charge too often.
You know that prance really happy dogs have when they’re walking along? Within the past week or so Bug has begun to prance, and it has filled my heart with joy. While she still has her moments of anxiety when I’m gone from the room for too long, and even though she grumbles when I clean her ears and put in her eye drops, her new-found prance tells me she is at peace with her new life and is happy again. I feel so, so blessed to be the human to give it back to her.