I did it again.
I’m fostering another animal.
This time, it’s a dog. Something about his picture on Facebook struck a chord within me. Maybe it was his soulful brown eyes, or maybe his scraggly, matted face. Or reading that he was probably 10 years old and scared at the shelter.
A stranger had dropped him of at the Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Shelter (ACCT). He had been found wandering in the streets. In terrible shape, he had been clearly neglected – with rotting teeth, nails so long they curled under making it difficult to walk, cataracts in both eyes and a coat completely matted. So matted that his ears were completely filled with knotted fur. He was underweight at only 7 pounds.
As I filled out my foster parent application and waited in the lobby, I watched as person after person turned in their pets. It made my stomach turn – on a typical day, ACCT can take in over 125 cats and dogs. Per day. For all kinds of reasons: house soiling; barking; I'm moving; I can't afford to pay for his health care; I don't like him; I'm suddenly allergic; We're having a baby. And we all know their fate – only the lucky few make it to a new home.
I was excited, anxious, leery and hopeful. Anxious to spring the little guy out of this joint. Leery that I wouldn’t be able to get him adopted because of his heath and age. Hopeful that I could make a difference in one animal’s life.
He climbed right into the carrier was completely silent during the entire drive home. Not one peep. We made a quick stop at the groomer’s to see if we could get some of the matts shaved off, which took over 2 hours. But he wouldn’t let us near his face or ears or even clip his nails.
Once we arrived home, he wolfed down dinner and immediately curled up on a blanket. He stayed there for the next 15 hours and slept.
When he finally woke up, I had a skittish, weary, scared dog who shook when I came near him. He cowered at sight of a leash and resisted going outside for a walk. He preferred to stay in his crate and sleep, and only come out to eat.
But by our third night, I actually got a tail wag when I came home from work. Which quickly progressed to lick and him curling up next to me on my couch.
And the next night, he was sleeping in my bed.
I named him Finn, and he’s about to learn just how great life can be.