Sunday, March 2, 2008

I Am A Foster Home

Since Belle came in to my life, I've learned many things, experienced many things that I never could have predicted. Four years ago I was a middle aged wife with an incredible husband. Our children were on the brink of starting out on their own. Than the unexpected happened. My husband lost his fight with Crohn's disease and suddenly I no longer knew who I was, or where I fit in this world. Oh sure, I was still middle aged (though feeling very, very old). I still had kids that loved and needed me. But now the partnership that had defined who I was for almost 25 years was over. I was adrift. Unanchored in a sea of grief so vast I despaired of ever finding the shore. And then Molly asked if we could get a dog.

A life-saving question and she doesn't remember asking it - particularly when one of the beasts has been up to no good.

Today, not only is Belle a part of our household, but Cody (a golden retriever rescued by RAGOM) and Ole (a kitten rescued by Cans for Sam) have joined our family as well. I volunteer for RAGOM, doing transports of dogs surrendered or found as strays.

So why all this history you ask?

This morning I realized that I have found a new identity. That I've started to figure out where I fit in this world. The revelation came in the form of an e-mail from RAGOM which contained an essay written by a RAGOM volunteer and board member, Sarah Bright Braverman. The essay was written as advice for those who foster rescued dogs, love them, and then somehow find the way to let them go. To find loving homes that can give this homeless pet the permanence and love they need and deserve. But as is often the case, well-written words have more to offer than the immediate purpose for which they were written. For me, they were metaphorical resonating on three levels; my life with Belle, my life with RAGOM, and my life with my human family.

Be it fostering a dog, raising a child, saying goodbye to a beloved spouse, our time with one another is temporary. We just like to fool ourselves that those we love will be with us always. By remembering we are all foster homes - well, that allows us to dare to love again.

Sarah writes:

And, thus, I will let him go. On to a new life, where he will be cherished, adored, loved and protected. I have done my job, I gave him wings, now I must kiss him and let him fly away.

I am a foster home. I do this because it’s a way for me to say thank you to the dogs who have shared my life – they have brought so much happiness and love to me and my family. I want to pass that on to needy dogs, dogs that haven’t been as lucky as mine.

I am a foster home. I am a temporary safe place. I dream of a time where we are out of a job, when no shelter or rescue can exist because there are no homeless dogs, a time when people make a lifetime commitment to a four-legged family member. But for now, I’ll keep doing what I can, one dog at a time. The best gift I can give them is a temporary foster home, a road to a new life, and a new family that will love them and keep them forever.

I am a foster home. My tears are for me, not for my foster dog. I may regret not keeping him, but it’s my regret, for me, not for him. I can handle that. The regret I can’t handle is if I had to say “no” to fostering a needy dog because I chose to adopt so many that there is no more room at the Inn.

I am a foster home. There are more dogs waiting right now – needing me.

I am a foster home. My foster dog is safe now. He doesn’t need me anymore.

I am a foster home. I love them, guide them, protect them, teach them and LET THEM GO.

I am a foster home. He will be in my heart and mind forever.

I am a foster home.

May each of you find the courage to fall in love over and over again, and the strength to say good-bye and good luck. Remember, there is another dog waiting…another dog that needs you just like this one did.

1 comment:

Sara Latta said...

Oh, Lu. Thank you for this. And thanks for all that you are doing.