I had intended to write about something else this week but I’m working on the September E-Newsletter and am reminded once again of the amazing commitment our Final Refuge fosters have to the dogs they welcome into their homes. I’m not talking about just giving an old dog a home. I’m thinking about much more than a simple act of kindness.
100% of the dogs in our care right now are Final Refuge dogs. These dogs will be cared for by their new families for the rest of their lives. They’re old, sick, and require more than just a warm bed and good food. They aren’t a “quick fix” and then off to being adopted by someone else. They aren’t considered adoptable because of their physical, mental and/or emotional issues. But … their quality of life can (and is) improved by the care they’re given in their new homes.
Yes, Old Dog Haven does pay for all veterinary costs involved, but it’s the dedication and commitment of our FR families that makes it work. I’m talking about endless trips to vets, eye, ear, skin, dental, and various other specialists, constant monitoring, patience (be sure you read the story about Sandy in the September newsletter) in the middle of the night trips to emergency, an extraordinary amount of positive thinking and encouragement, and the willingness to take the time necessary to help dogs feel welcome and valued.
In addition to the “doing” aspect of fostering, our Final Refuge families have a mental and emotional outlook that enables them to be in the moment with their dogs, to emotionally connect with them on many levels, to focus on healing, to understand that dogs want to be well and to encourage that perspective every day, to have the strength to say goodbye when it’s time for their dogs to leave their bodies, and the love and respect to grieve for them when they’re gone.
And then there’s the pride shown in their dogs. Final Refuge families bring their dogs to events so they can be ambassadors for Old Dog Haven, they chart their progress on Facebook and post photos showing how well they’re doing, and they even throw parties for them to celebrate birthdays and their lives together.
In most cases we don’t know much—if anything—about the dogs that come to us so our FR families are helping dogs begin a new chapter in their lives without knowing the content of previous chapters. Past history information might be helpful I suppose when specific behavior issues surface, but really it all comes down to starting over and helping dogs understand that their lives will be different now.
I’ve said before that senior dogs are amazingly resilient and adaptable, but so are the people who care for them. In many cases household routines are disrupted and altered because of the needs of the new dogs, but our dedicated families do that willingly with smiles. Lives are changed (both animal and human) and that’s not always an easy thing to do.
Having said all of this, why would people want to take in a Final Refuge dog? If you ask our families, they would all say pretty much the same thing:
“Every day is a bonus day.”
“He’s brought a lot of love and humor into our lives.”
“How did I get so lucky?”
“We love every moment of being together.”
“I tell you, these hard earned struggles beat anything.”
“Each day is a gift.”
I could go on and on but you get the idea.
Thank you to ALL of our Final Refuge families for everything you do for our dogs. Paws up to all of you!