Friday, February 24, 2006

Foster Puzzles

Imagine trying to solve a mystery when the only witness is a mute and you have no information about their past.

That's what providing a foster home for a dog is like.

You can guess some things right away by how they act. Ashley, for instance, warmed instantly to Annie but seemed afraid of me. From that we guess that she probably had a female owner. The Pound said she was found with a nice collar but no tag, and she was in excellent health. She had been spayed and had a nice coat and good weight. From all that we infer that her owner cared for her and was fairly responsible.

How the dog behaves, certainly at first if not so much as time goes on, can also give you some clues. She refused to come in the house for a few days, whining and mincing her steps at the door. We guessed that she'd been an outside dog, but on the other hand she seems to be well potty-trained, as she hasn't had any accidents at all. We had to give up on that clue and just accept what she's willing to give.

Sometimes for "Fun with Fosters" we sit on the porch and call out different names, trying to see if they respond to any. In fact Annie made a comment the other day that Ashley didn't know her name, but I realized that was wrong. She knows her name, but we do not. Ahsley was just a random moniker assigned to her at the pound because they didn't know her real name either, we're all totally in the dark about even this most basic fact.

We're in something of a race with Ashley, as with all of our foster animals. We have to try and solve enough of the mystery to be confident that they will be good pets, but we have to find their new home before we fall in love with them completely. Otherwise we'll keep them (like we did with our dog Lacy), and that's one less spot for the next dog in need.

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