Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Pieces of My Heart - Being a Foster Mom

      Sometimes things are thrust upon us that we are not ready for, not even the slightly bit prepared for; but nonetheless events unravel and we are left with the decision to respond or turn away. I have never been very good at turning away... I can work hard to avoid these certain situations in the beginning, but once I am asked for help; I can never turn away. Not until I am satisfied with the result... Or at least happy with the current path.

      Last fall we had a foxhound join us on the farm for a short week after being rescued from certain death at a hunt camp. He came to us skinny, battered, bruised and shaking like a leaf. Loud sounds made him shiver, and he was very uncertain of new people.. especially men. He spent the week with us living out happily in the barn at night, and with our dogs in the acre run behind our house during the day. He became part of the furry family. But we worked hard not to get too attached; we knew he was going to a new home at some point. And we wanted to save ourselves, and him, the removal from our family.
      He went out to a couple a couple towns over, and we thought he would be happy. He spent a couple months there with another dog companion. But changing circumstances put him back in our lives... It's funny to think that some people can so easily pick up a dog, love him for months, and then decide to put him in a shelter without a second thought. They dropped him off and that was that...

      So we finally made the decision to bring him in the house, it was freezing outside and there was no other option. I couldn't let him suffer any longer than he already had... Our Aussie had a different idea around this, and so the first week was very high stress for everyone. He would herd the new pooch around the house, and constantly try to dominate him. They drove us mental. But one day they settled. And things got a lot better. Until they got a lot worse.
      After such a hard life, this poor dog had turned to a fight instinct to survive. So whenever he was spooked beyond control, he would lash out. He never hurt anyone, never hurt any of our dogs... But he was a bit scary for my family. While he had become my loyal companion, it was clear to everyone that he wouldn't fit here long term... The decision was made that while we had planned to rehab him and find him a forever home; we weren't capable of giving him that home anymore. And so a search began to find the right home. Unfortunately because of his fear aggression we needed a home that would be able to handle his needs of comfort, calm and quiet and easy.

      Which brings me to today.
Today I took Barney to an amazing rescue kennel and horse sanctuary. They assessed him and loved him. They quickly saw the dog I had been falling in love with the past 3 weeks. But I also saw more too. Barney and I were connected... When he got worried in the new environment he turned quickly to me and ran over for comfort. He always looked to me for guidance and approval for each step. I was overwhelmed with guilt. How could I let us develop such an attachment, when I knew I had to let him go again? All I want is for him to have the right home. To find consistency, love and sanctuary. He has the biggest heart and he deserves so much more in this life. He has been passed off too many times and he needs a forever spot.

      Being a foster mom is the hardest job I've had to endure this far in my life. I've found new pieces of my heart on this journey... New pieces of strength, but also of overwhelming appreciation. I will never be able to do this job again. For as much as I have grown in this experience, I have also broken down. I know now that I am not strong enough to let go the way that is needed... Being a mom means making the hardest decisions against everything you feel in your heart, for the right of this life you have taken responsibility for. For this heart, this soul and those eyes that look to you for the world.
      I have found the greatest appreciation for my own mother in this journey, for how many hard decisions she has made for me in my life. And how many pieces she must have of her own heart by now. To know that feeling is one of the most important aspects of our lives, because it separates us from just our own life force, and expands it to another's. To feel this much is a gift.

      And though I feel so broken now, thinking constantly of Barney's eyes running to me for safety. I can only hope that since I know in my heart he is so capable of loving us, that he will be capable of putting the pieces together and loving another. His forever mom. Not just his foster mom.

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