This is a story about love that may not be recognized at first glance. It is about a little dog named Josie who lost her main man, and then was surrendered to our rescue by his widow. In doing so, she chose a tough step that she felt was in Josie’s best interest. She is not a dog person, her husband was. And try as she might, Josie was not a point of happiness for her. Both she and Josie knew it. We could preach a little bit here, reminding people not to judge these surrenders as being “wrong” without knowing the full circumstances, but what we’d rather do is focus on the love in that decision and the love that rejuvenated the sparkle in Josie’s eyes.

It was not too tough to find a foster home for Josie. She is an appealing little Cairn Terrier, easy going, with a few tricks up her paw that can charm a roomful. What we found, though, was the perfect foster for Josie. Experienced dog people, who had fostered before, and who knew how to help her through losing her home and starting all over. Best of all, they had a big fenced back yard.  Josie had lived all of her previous life in apartments. She seemed to do fine, but there was no big fenced yard, no squirrels to chase, and no real opportunity to play expansively with what is really her favorite thing in the world, squeaky balls.

With the TLC that all fosters offer up to their house guests (really, their new family members who will leave them), the worried look in Josie’s eyes began to shift to something else. She delighted in long play sessions with squeaky balls, and our hypothesis is that the laughter of her foster people likely also boosted the little Cairn’s spirits.  She discovered the joys of running freely, safely squeaking her way around the enclosed yard. The light in her eyes grew to the sparkle we all hoped to see.

Foster dogs bring a lifetime of experiences to their new homes. Sometimes it is trauma we can clearly identify. Sometimes—as with Josie—it is a small broken heart that actually needs a new home to heal and find happiness again. We know love and patience can work wonders. What we sometimes find is that love and squeaky balls can do even more.

~ Mary Gustafson

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