That’s how I look at fostering. A foster dog is just a friend of mine who is looking to find his special someone. I love Tucker; he is my happiness, my joy, my everything. But this summer, I began missing those foster-friends, just as I’d miss my guy friends if I only spent all my time with a boyfriend. Tucker and I found love with each other; it was time we helped other canines find that same connection.
It used to be that within 24 hours of unemployment, I had a foster dog. The need is great, and since I had been dogless, I could take any dog. They didn’t have to like other dogs, they could have separation anxiety, they could be skittish and fearful. Now that I have a rescue partner, any potential foster has to get along with him as well.
After over a year, on the final day of 2014, Tucker and I finally got our first canine houseguest, our very first foster-friend.
For Hayden’s eight years of neglect, he still is a puppy at heart. He has large skin tags on his ribs, his elbows have calluses from lying on concrete for years, the tips of ears are destroyed from fly strikes, and his mouth is lacking all his original teeth. But when Tucker asked him to play, he was all in.
There was much play,
The sad fact was that this dog knew “Come,” “Come ‘ere,” and “Hey.” That’s right. He responded to, “Hey, come ‘ere.” When I told Christy that, the name of all names came into being: Hayden. It suits him well. A distinguished, intelligent older gentleman with a bit of a goofy side.
We have a rule in our house: no yelling. That goes for me and for Tucker. He doesn’t bark and I don’t yell. So when I had to raise my voice to get Hayden to get off the kitchen counter, Tucker slid out of the room and curled up in a ball in his bed.
Tucker is a good size. He can be next to me in the kitchen while I’m cooking and his face is still three feet away from the food. But Hayden, with no boundaries and lanky German Shepherd build, is three inches from what I’m preparing. Now with less yelling and more coaxing, when it’s dinner time Hayden must be outside the kitchen (although his giant paws manage to be within the room.)
A year ago around this time, Tucker had busted through two soft-sided crates, ate a wooden stirring spoon he had extracted from the dish drying rack on the kitchen counter, consumed the bill of my favorite hat, and pissed and shit in the house.
But love conquers all.
Tucker and I have bonded and found our rhythm; we are a team for life. He’s confident in my love for him and gets that any other dog is a guest—a foster friend that we both enjoy and love—but will never come between us.
I believe the perfect home for Hayden would be one in which someone has recently lost one of their two seniors dogs. The one left behind grieving and in need of a new friend, but no one in the family ready or willing to take on a young, spry dog at this time. Hayden still has a spring in his step and is ready to throw down if another dog is so inclined to a wrestling match, but he also wants to lie on soft, cozy bedding, gaze into a human’s eyes, and give kisses.