Since last October, I started a new career as a foster home for dogs taken from the streets or from difficult situations and, well, I can’t seem to stop. It started out with a friend of a friend calling to ask if I could take in an Italian hound that they found on the street. I accepted and this sweet, tall, brown Bracco, stayed at my home for two days, until his owner was found (after ads on the internet and Facebook) and he went back home.
The same day he left, they called that they had found a box of 4 puppies by the garbage can -- could I say no? There they were, three little black things hardly moving and opening their eyes. They stayed about two months in my “dog room” and then they found three beautiful homes. In the meantime, someone found a Yorkshire in a park, and of course he ended up in my home, for less than a week, sexually harassing my old and out-of-business Griselda, who let him do his business with the patience of a saint. Eventually, he was adopted by a volunteer at one of Rome’s shelters who had just lost his own, very old Yorkie.
What happened next? Some rest and relaxation? Of course not!
The same man who found the three black puppies had found a little female Breton, that of course needed to find a new home: so there she comes, just sterilised, photos taken, ad put out on the internet and a lovely home found within less than a month.
Then the voice starts to spread: Daniela does fostering.
Beginning of November a girl calls: she found puppies in a field by a busy road, in the rain. They are scared and it’s really difficult to try and get them, but if she manages, can she bring them to me? I replied with a big angry NO and of course the same evening the puppies arrived, all shaky and shy. They were then adopted by Maria Teresa Formica, who provides for a wonderful loving home.
In the meantime my friend Nicola tells me about a relative of his in the countryside who had this very old little dog house, which looked old and ruined, so he started wondering if he should ask to have it, fix it and use it for his own dogs. While contemplating this, a dog’s face peers out of the old dog house, tied to a very short chain: a spectacular young female English Setter! Well, he thought about it, I thought about it and a couple of days later, in the middle of the night, he rings my bell and comes in with the female Setter, adventurously kidnapped from the unloving cousin. She stayed with me till December 4th, when Nicola and I, after thorough checks, go to Naples to give “Gea” to her new adoring family. They already had a Gordon Setter, so now their family was complete: mum, dad, two kids and 2 dogs!
Note: 99% of the people who know about my love for animals and the fact that I foster, ask: “But how can you possibly give them away, after you’ve had them and loved them?”
The answer is easy: for each dog I foster, care for and find a loving home for (this I couldn’t do without the precious help of Loredana: firstname.lastname@example.org because she does the pre/post adoption checks), TEN more show up from the street, from desperate situations, from desperate volunteers who rescue them all. Since the ones I send to a happy forever home, I really have no problem “getting rid of them” to make space for new ones who’s turn it is to find a happy home. It’s quite simple, isn’t it?
Well then, where was I?
Those 2 puppies find a happy home, I drive them to Maria Teresa’s home and on my way there I receive another call: 2 puppies found near the garbage can and could I maybe possibly take them in? So I meet this guy in a parking lot and take over the two tiny puppies who barely move. I take them to the vet to check that they are ok and take them home. It’s November 20th. These two puppies will stay with me, growing and chewing on anything available till the beginning of January (as they were really small). In the meantime three Labrador puppies need to be taken in, and I can’t put them in the house with the other two, so I keep them in the wooden house in the garden where I keep the tools. They stay from end December to beginning of January.
After that I took a month off fostering and went on holiday, leaving my babies to a friend’s care.
Too soon after I come back from my holiday and start again: in April, a female Breton is found in a field with her two puppies, too weak to be able to stand on four paws, dragging herself on two. She was skinny beyond imagination, while her puppies were young, strong and vigorous as puppies should be. The mummy gets worse and a volunteer takes her in because she needs drips and constant care which I can’t supply being at work all day. Unfortunately she didn’t make it, but her puppies found loving families.
Earlier I had read an ad about a 16 year old dog that spent over 11 years in a shelter, and I couldn’t help it: I adopted him to offer him a golden retirement. He’s really old, walking the perimeter of the garden over and over and trying to get out as soon as the gate opens.
Lately he sleeps a lot, falls a lot, eats a lot less and seems very weak. I fear his time is coming.
In the meantime I hear about a Pomeranian being kept for over five years on a small balcony never going out or inside the house, under the rain, receiving food and water from merciful neighbours. The little dog was rescued and came to me very quietly, very grateful and a happy dog from day one. A loving family was waiting for him too and he left at the beginning of May.
A female Maremma shepherd came to stay and quickly found a great family in Tuscany with other dogs, donkeys and ducks. A German shepherd also came by and was quickly adopted in Treviso. Stella and Panna came to stay, a Border Collie and Labrador mix who were found on a busy street, both adopted. Beginning of June I answered an ad saying “fostering needed for 5 days, because after that she will be going to Tuscany on a longer foster”, the shepherd/retriever came and stayed for two months in my home where she learned that she didn’t have to defend herself from other dogs and from people. She left at the beginning of August to a wonderful forever home in Rome Eur.
In August I adopted a Pug, as I have a passion for molossers. The poor guy was found a week earlier in the countryside in Puglia, completely dehydrated, skinny and blind. He was brought into a veterinarian clinic where he stayed until I adopted him, so he was brought to Rome and immediately taken in by my vet where he stayed for over 10 days, improving very little but still giving us a hope that he might make it. He stayed with me at home for a couple of happy weeks, then went back for tests, but the results were worse than the previous time, so he had to stay in the clinic again, which is where he died in September. Poor baby, I’d only had him for a month but I loved him dearly.
In August I heard of this Pomeranian girl, Maddy, whose owner was pregnant, so no more room and time for the 8 kilo dog and out she was and into my home. She stayed three weeks and fortunately found a happy family.
Then I adopted my 6th dog – and I promise that’s it for the next year at least!!! A 14 year old female of 3.6 kilos who’s had two heart attacks, a stroke and has a tumour the size of a tangerine on her belly. She walks in circles until you get her attention and loves to hide in the smallest, most difficult corners of the house. The other day I found her barking desperately in the room where I keep her while she eats. I went in to see what was the matter and realised that she had found a monster that looks just like her... in the mirror!
Early September I also heard about a couple of beautiful English Setters that were found together with their 11 puppies! They were heroically rescued from the street and taken into a shelter, but soon after the puppies started to get sick and had to be taken to the vet. Seven of them died, one, Paloma, was so weak that she had to stay in the clinic longer and guess where the remaining three went? That’s right, they came to my home. All three of them were happily adopted and Paloma was adopted by my friend Nicola. Now the mummy and daddy are left in the shelter, they are young and beautiful and need to be adopted together. When they were found, the daddy was completely skinny and they thought he must be sick, but then they realised that he wouldn’t eat so that the mummy could. Breaks your heart, doesn’t it? When she was taken to the clinic to be sterilised, he cried the whole time!
After the setters left I said I would need a break for a few weeks because I’m exhausted! With my six dogs, full time job and constant stream of houseguests (rescues), I need to slow down or I’ll die and will be of no use for the next emergency.
I finish that sentence and receive a call from a girl who found a Jack Russell mix who had delivered her puppies in a traffic divider (spartitraffico). She was very fearful and aggressive and no one was allowed to come close. The volunteers bravely stole her puppies so that she was forced to follow them onto the car and be brought, as you can imagine, to my home.
The first three days I could not even come close to her and left her food about 1.5 metres from her, then one day she came growling to me and asked to be pet. It took about two more days for her to trust me and come close and touch her babies. Now she loves me and worships me. The three puppies have all been happily adopted. She’s still in my home but should be going to her forever home next week, after which I will REALLY take a break for a few weeks.
If no emergencies come knocking by then, I will foster a couple of dogs from the shelter in Tivoli, the shyest and saddest ones that need to be socialised then prepared for adoption....
Anyone interested in this kind of experience?