Confessions of a failed fosterer

This was going to be Part II of The Mind of a Hungarian Refugee. We thought we would have another chat with George following on from an interview earlier this year to find out what he thinks on his second GOTCHA Day anniversary.

But George had a better idea. He was going to interview Mummy and ask her how she feels two years on. OK, Georgie, over to you!

George: Has it been two years? It seems like only a year ago that me and my other Hungarian friends had just arrived in the UK.  We were at the South Mimms Service Centre. When the door of the Transporter Van opened, I looked out and saw a lot of vehicles – things that I’m actually afraid of because you see, I was a street dog and those big cars, especially the trucks and the buses – they were scary. They honked at me when I got too close to them.

The air smelt different. Several people I had never seen before were milling around. They spoke a different language. I didn’t know what they were saying. Some of the dogs in the van were being taken out of their crates and I wondered if someone would let me out too. Then I saw you and Kim coming towards the van.  I had no idea who you were and all I could think of was – there are three others on that side of the Transporter Van and I better make sure I got your attention. img_3769-3-2So I put up my paw – and it worked!  img_3767-4-2-2The man who drove the van opened my crate. I was sooooo excited. He took me out and held me for awhile. img_3775-3Then he handed me over to you. img_3790-2-2And Kim made sure that I had on a collar in case I made a quick dash. I’ve never had a collar on me and thought it was strange why you hoomans were pulling me by the collar.img_3776-3You then took me in your arms and went into a car. So, were you coming to get me?

Mummy: I was George, only as a fosterer. I was looking to possibly adopt a dog through Hungary Hearts Dog Rescue but I wasn’t ready when Hilda asked if I could help foster you.  I reluctantly did because I didn’t know you and I had never fostered before. And I didn’t choose you but I don’t think you get to choose when you foster. I wanted very much to help dogs get rehomed but it’s a different matter when you’re asked to do something about it other than just give money. I was terrified. 

When I saw how dinky you were, and how interested you were in humans, I wasn’t afraid any more. But then another fear gripped me. The fear of making a decision whether to keep you or let you go in ten days.

George: Why Mummy? Did you not love me immediately?

Me: My heart was bursting with love when I saw you, and yes that paw thing that you did, totally got me.  Let’s say, you had me at “hello.”  I did not expect to feel that way. I just wanted to do a bit more than hand over money.  So while my heart was going boom-boom-boom, my head was saying, steady on! Be practical.

What if you’re not allowed to have two dogs in the flat? So I had to make sure that it was permissible.

How much more expensive would it be to have another dog – insurance rates, cost of food, vet visits? It all added up, I have to say. But not necessarily double the cost of one. The insurance gave me a break. It wasn’t two for the price of one but it was discounted and I found a cheaper plan. The food, well, Darcy needed to lose weight and as I reduced her food intake and add your little dinky self to the equation, again it wasn’t doubling. As for vet costs, yeah, it did add up.  Whoa! The annual check-ups, the deworming, etc, etc. And of course the grooming! Crikey! Not to mention treats and Christmas presents.  And if I went away, sending the two of you to the House of Mutt would definitely be a cost factor.

On the one hand you’re easier to manage, thankfully.

George: Do you have regrets keeping me?

Mummy: No, George, it’s not about regrets.  In retrospect I think you were meant for me, just like Darcy was meant for me. Everything happens for a reason. I couldn’t see it then and sometimes I still lose sight of things.

I am very thankful that I was given the opportunity to learn to love through you. And I am very glad Hilda was very patient with me and gave me a second chance in fostering you. You were not easy, but you make me want to protect you. Maybe it’s because you were so dinky and it makes me cry thinking you were out there on your own trying to make your way through life.  But you also worried me when you started being aggressive to Darcy in your resource guarding stage. Whoa, I thought! This little Dinky Winky is a horrible beast attacking my darling girl, Darcy. She didn’t know what had happened to her secure home.

George: Oops! But that was all I knew – my life on the streets was about survival.

Mummy:  I know. I didn’t think it was “intentional” or I would have given you up, but it wasn’t fair on Darcy and you really frightened me for awhile. How was I going to make peace in our home again. But with the help of Vanessa, the dog-behaviourist, we managed.

But there were other issues – you would become feral whenever there’s something somewhere that got your interest. My word! Sometimes I wondered if you would break that trance of yours and eventually come back. But we don’t know, do we? Because I could not chance that happening.

George: No, I don’t know either. I have never been lost so I don’t know what it means to not return.

So, has it become easier now with two dogs?

Mummy: Well, it’s easier for me, conscience wise to leave you both at home together. But overall, honestly, no!  Thankfully you are dinky compared to Darcy so it’s better than having two cockapoos which was what I was hoping to get. But it is more difficult that you’re a boy. Darcy walks and finds a place to pee discreetly just ONCE when we go out, while you’re shooting your way down every path we take. This crisscrossing the pavement finds me all tangled up all the time. I wish you wouldn’t!!!

George: Oops! But that’s Mother Nature calling me. Sorry. So what other things makes it difficult to have two dogs?

Mummy: It’s also harder to go to shops with two. You and Darcy, particularly you, are very good whenever we go to restaurants. You don’t make a fuss, you don’t beg, unlike Darcy. But I get very conscious of having two dogs when I do go with the two of you. We need to be considerate of the places we go to.  Many restaurants have kindly let us in but when their clientele complain, they would immediately revert back to no dogs allowed policy.

George: Is that why you leave me with others often?

Mummy: It isn’t so bad, is it, George? You like playing with Jaffa and Maddie.  And it is also because my friends are very fond of you and would happily take you – but would hesitate with Darcy because she’s not as engaging as you and she’s a bit bigger and more difficult to handle.  And there’s also the blog. You know it is Darcy’s blog and she needs to be there to write about her “adventures.”  

George: You mean like this blog? 🙂

So, Mummy, do you really love me as much as you love Darcy?IMG_5413Mummy: George, I learnt something when you came to live with us. In fact, I learnt a lot.

At first I thought I was being disloyal to Darcy. I never consulted with her about you coming to live with us. It was all about me, my life, my schedules. I felt guilty about Darcy and about how I felt about you. Then I felt bad for feeling that way because you needed a home. 

After my uncertain start with Darcy three years earlier, I wondered why I was putting myself through it again. You had no idea that you’re not suppose to pee and poo inside the home. How can I forget the day when Jane and I were sitting in the kitchen talking when you squatted and poo’d in front of us? We knew you did not know better. And yup, there was a bit of picking up poo and cleaning up after you for about two weeks. But you learnt quickly. It didn’t take long. But then I didn’t trust you to be at home. You were still unsure of your surrounds, so I took you with me everywhere and it was easier as you were small. 

As we walked along the street people would stop and ask what breed of dog you were. Heinz 57, a mutt, a mongrel – a rescue. People would have guessing games. Many thought you had schnauzer in you. Really? They guessed Shih-Tzu because of your overbite, or rather half of one. IMG_5409And of course Yorkshire Terrier.  But now we know and we see it all – Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Shih-Tzu. You’re definitely a small dog breed!  But the interesting factor wasn’t what you are but people would stop and say you’re a beautiful dog. 

I felt very protective of you but I was not sure I was in love with you. There were many days when I thought it would be easier to give you up.  So many takers – not a problem.  But I knew I would be thinking about you all the time.  I quizzed myself.  I loved you but not in the same way I loved Darcy – and I was troubled.  Then a wise friend said to me – we never love two people the same. (Thank you, Tammy) You can’t because no one is the same so you can’t love two beings the same way.  And as time went on, I would look at Darcy and felt a oneness with her. And I would hold you in my arms and look at your little button nose and weepy eyes and my heart would be overflowing.  I realised that the heart is a very strong muscle – it doesn’t only work to keep the human body going but it is expansive and capable of loving more than you think you can. And Tammy was right. I cannot compare you to Darcy. She taught me a lot about myself just like you are doing for me. 

I love your cheeky ways – always wanting attention, to be touched, to be held. I love how curious you are about the world – stopping to check things out.IMG_6668_2Even though it meant you running off when you shouldn’t. 

I love your big brown eyes looking at me img_5542and especially when you sit and beg for attention. unnamed-114-2-2Did I teach you how to do that? 

 

I love how small and vulnerable you are IMG_4277-580x435-4-2yet you’re not afraid of the big world we live in.IMG_6692_2You may bark your small shallow barks at motorcyclists with helmets or chase away big dogs who should enter our boundaries at the Hyde Park meets but you cower when a cyclist rushes past you or when I open the frozen freezer and it makes a loud noise you run to hide.  You think you’re bigger than you are but you’re actually a very frightened little thing. I wonder what I need to do to help you with those fears.

You love the human touch. You love being held, you love being stroked, you love your tummy rubbed, you love to snuggle.  And I would give you as much of those as I possibly can.IMG_3429So George, I hope you are happy with us as much as we are happy you’re a part of us.  It’s not perfect.

George: I know you get really frustrated with me sometimes but I am learning. You know I love to chase squirrels and I find such enjoyment in that. It’s not that I don’t know my name, it’s just I am distracted. I do come back when you call IMG_4319because I now belong to a family – you, Darcy and me.14102695_10154403037591668_6478962966071670793_nBut sometimes that Charlie comes into the picture. 🙁img_5381

Darcy: HAPPY GOTCHA DAY, George! You know I love you. And we have each other when Mummy leaves us at home.img_5802

4 Comments

  1. Sue Ellis-Nixon

    Oh you sound just like me and our dogs I have three rescues, the last one was a Hungary hearts rescue dog I was supposed to be fostering, but I could not let him go he needed me so much to help him get used to his new life. He follows me everywhere, we love him so much and all three although from different rescues, all get on really well. I am not very good on my I-pad a bit of a silver surfer.xx You can friend me on Facebook I am getting a bit better at using that, I can send yiou a photo of our three lovelies. Great to see you are as loving to your wonderful dogs as we are to ours, it is a shame all people world wide are not as loving to all animals as we are. Xx it was a lovely read. Well done! Xx it was a good read for someone interesting in rehoming a rescue dog it gives a good insight from the dogs point of view when coming to a new country, new home , new family, new language new everything, your story will make people understand how it is for the dog. Well done you! Xx

  2. Sheryl Sundheimer

    This was the sweetest article. I have always had 2 rescues at a time.

  3. Margaret Danks

    What a beautiful post Georgie. I think I love you almost as much as mummy. Happy gotcha day little fellow. Xx

  4. Sian Widner

    So very sweet! Should I admit I cried while reading this? George reminds me so much of my sweet rescue Harvey. He looks like him and loves like him. I must say my Harvey has both healed and stolen my heart! I am so happy George found you and Darcy!! X

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