Ode To the Resident Dogs

They come in, often skinny and scared. They may smell funny. They might creep into the best bed. They need attention. They don’t know the house rules. They are the foster dogs.

 

And the heroes of this scenario are often thought to be the foster parents, who open their lives to this parade of needy pups. Without foster homes, SHUG and many rescue groups couldn’t do what they do.

 

But look a bit closer. Who are the real heroes? The resident dogs. They are the ones who move aside – over and over – and let strange dogs into their space. Without their kindness, foster families couldn’t take in foster dogs.

 

The resident dog lets little Binky get the upper hand during some roughhousing.

The resident dog lets little Binky get the upperhand during some roughhousing.

Think about it. The resident dogs are models for the often scared and confused foster dogs. The resident dogs show them how good life can be. They teach them that people are OK, that humans leave but then they come back, they teach them that potty is best done outside. They may share their toys, they participate in some games of “bitey face.” If the foster dog is young, the resident dog might put up with some roughhousing -- with a bit of puppy teeth thrown in for good measure.

 

The resident dog, right, may get in the car to accompany the scared foster to appointments so they are not alone.

The resident dog, right, may get in the car to accompany the scared foster to appointments so they are not alone.

The resident dogs may relinquish the best couch or the best bed with grace and maybe just a little sigh. A good resident dog may lay on the floor next to the crated foster – to keep her company – or even offer up a butt as a pillow. The resident dog may get in the car to accompany the scared foster to appointments so they are not alone.

 

But there is more. The resident dogs may put up with a little pee where it doesn’t belong, an occasional flea or two. Rarely (fortunately) they may have to put up with a growl or a snap. After all, foster dogs are not always perfect.

 

And after all this kindness, the foster dog moves on. It’s with much happiness, but we never really know the impact on the resident dogs. Are they happy to see the stranger leave or do they mourn the loss of a friend?

 

There are times when the resident dog reaches out a paw and says this one stays.

There are times when the resident dog reaches out a paw and says this one stays.

There are times, though, that the resident dog says no to the plans to move on. Not this one. Not this time, they seem to say. And they reach out a paw and that one stays.

 

The resident dogs are the heroes. Without their kindness, so many dogs would go without homes of their own. If you have one of these special dogs, give them a kiss for us.

 

6 Responses

  1. Cindy

    Love this! So true!

  2. Kristen Hopper

    This is such a great article. Yes, the dogs do welcome in the new pack member. Very loyal to each other and our human family. Big was having a little nightmare last night. Big let out a little cry, and Snoopy’s head was immediately up and looking at me like, Do Something! I rubbed Big and reassured him everything was ok. He never woke up. Dogs are understanding and kind by nature.

  3. Carolyn Flajnik

    I’m moved to tears. Nobody ever stops to think about the resident dogs in foster homes, so thank you for this loving article.

  4. Susan

    This brought tears to my eyes, remembering the passing of my best foster role model and teacher, Kai, and also the time I failed to listen to one of my resident dogs who tried to tell me that she had found her BFF and how she grieved when I allowed that foster dog to be adopted by another family. But mostly, they are tears of gratitude for my dogs who graciously tolerate so much from all the foster dogs that pass through. Without my own dogs, fostering would be almost impossible. Thank you, SHUG, for reminding us just how precious our own dogs are to our rescue efforts.

  5. Rebecca

    This is the reason we kept our last foster though we had said no more small dogs, fostering only. She is the only dog, besides our Nephi’s best friend (another retired racer) who is already adopted, that he has ever really played with, he protects her from the cat and even lets her settle down on the bed or couch with him.

  6. Oh my, did this ever hit home. I always worry about my dogs when I bring yet another foster through the doors.

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