It had been nine months since my Shih Tzu’s GG and Mason had passed. GG at 20yrs old and Mason at14 years old. I wasn’t doing good. I joined the Facebook group The Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss and Grief Support. The people who belonged were grieving their loss of pets just like me. It was during this time I started noticing articles in the paper about abused dogs and overcrowded shelters. It seemed like there was an article every day about a rescue or shelter dog in need of a forever home. Their stories were heartbreaking . My heart melted with each story I read about a dog who was abused or a breeder that was only interested in making money. I wanted to do something, but I had two big problems one my spouse said no dogs, and two I promised GG I wouldn’t get another dog. I talked to my sister and daughter for their opinions. My sister said why do I want to put myself in that situation again of the dog dying. My daughter said if that would make me happy then do it, but get a rescue. I struggled mentally for days trying to decide what should I do. I knew I wanted to help even if it was just one dog. A miracle happened one evening my spouse had been for days watching this show called Lucky Dog on YouTube. It was about a trainer that trained dogs for their forever homes. I couldn’t understand why was this on the television if she was against another dog. Later that evening she said let’s get another dog. I was shocked. I didn’t ask the reason for the change. The house wasn’t the same it was quiet, and the quiet was deafening. I think she felt it too though she never said anything. I was partially overjoyed because a bigger obstacle was the promise I made to GG. Someone the in the Facebook group said something that made me see that I wasn’t replacing her but, doing something good in memory of her. I made my peace with her, and the hunt was on.
When I looked in the paper it wasn’t just to read it was to search for my dog. I want to say right here that each person that has lost a dog or any animal has to make the decision for themselves if they want to get another. Some people wait a day and some never get another. Every person is different there is no set time that you need to make up your mind. A puppy is a lot of work and energy that I wasn’t sure I could handle. I still wasn’t sure an adult dog was for me I mean they would have been molded by someone else. I decided to keep my options open. Fort Meyers was reeling from Ian so I thought there would be plenty of dogs that would need a forever home. I have to admit I knew nothing about getting a dog from a shelter or rescue. I had always bought my dogs. I found rescues and shelters in Fort Meyers with adoptable dogs that you viewed online. This is something most rescues and shelters have available. Then I discovered there was paperwork for rescues and shelters were first to come first to pick. I connected with Peggy Adams Rescue which seems to be well-organized and caring. They only had cats and big dogs at that time. I knew the kind of dog I wanted small and female. I saw a lot of big dogs online and still do. Don’t get me wrong I had a golden retriever that was the best, but I just felt a small dog like a Shih Tzu but not a shih tzu was best for me. I got a little frustrated between the big dogs and the application I decided to try PetSmart. I read they got their dogs from puppy mills and the only way to stop them was not to buy. I tried to rationalize getting one of their adorable dogs but I just kept going back to what I read and gave up that idea. My journey of getting a dog bought me to see why PetSmart still can make money selling dogs. The bottom line is that dealing with PetSmart you go in pay or set up payments and walk out the door with your dog. You get so wrapped up in a dog’s cuteness that you forget about his/her health or where he/she might have come from. There is no filling out an application that someone decides whether they feel you’re right for the dog. I started looking at different county rescues and shelters. I had no choice but to fill out applications and browse dogs online. It was a morning ritual I did for days. My favorite website was Petfinder where I could narrow my choices down so I wouldn’t have to look at dogs that I had no interest in. Petfinder also lets you choose how far you were willing to travel. I chose 100 miles thinking if necessary we could stay overnight at a hotel. You would think that with all the applications I filled out, I would hear something, but I heard nothing not even for fostering. Then it dawned on me my age no one was going to give a senior a dog. I could have used my spouse’s information since she was younger but then I felt it was her dog. A crazy thought I now realize. This I feel is another reason PetSmart stays in business they do not judge.
I was shocked when I read about a rescue whose director (I don’t remember her exact title) gave a foster parent expired medication for a dog and wouldn’t give a vet permission to help the dog. It was at this point I went to my spouse with a heavy heart and said “I’m going to stop looking if a dog is meant for me God will make it possible.” I got depressed because I wanted to help but no one wanted to give me a chance. I didn’t completely stop because in my email each morning Petfinder was asking is one of these your dog?. I couldn’t help myself from looking and filling out an application. I did try looking on Facebook. I never went through with any connections I made. I saw pictures of the same animal on different websites for sale. Please be very careful if you decide to go with Facebook to look for your dog. There are some very shrewd scammers out there waiting to prey on you.
One day my spouse and I were walking to the store, and I received a call from a woman named Connie she was a foster parent to a dog named Snowflake. I had filled out many applications and seen so many dogs I didn’t know who Snowflake was. I practically ran back home to call her back, but first I need to relax and find a picture of Snowflake in my sent mail. I didn’t know what she needed to know about me and my living conditions. I couldn’t believe it was this God giving me a dog. What I remember most from my first conversation with Connie is her saying she was an advocate for Snow (snowflake). Connie saying that gave peace in knowing she wasn’t just trying to get snow out of her house. It made me feel like she cared. She gave me all the information I needed to know. I don’t remember everything but here are a few things you might ask a foster parent: What’s the dog’s temperament? Ask about her bathroom habits, How does the dog get along with family members, and How is adjusting to a new environment. The foster parent should make you feel like she cares more about the dog than about another notch in the belt of getting dogs out. A day or two later we were on our way to Connie’s I think my spouse was more excited than I was if that was possible. When I saw snow I knew she was right for us. I think my spouse talked and asked more questions I was too much in awe of getting snow even though she was hiding under the couch growling at us. Connie again went over the information she had about Snow. I think the only thing I would have liked more of was Snow’s history. I held my breath it seemed like to the end of the meeting waiting to see if Snow was ours and she was. We left Connie’s house with a smile on our faces. We talked the entire two-hour ride home about how our lives would change. Here’s something that astonished me Connie was going to Europe on vacation so I figured she’d done her part and I wouldn’t hear from her again. I got a text from Connie checking to see how Snow was getting along. That’s what you call caring. I don’t know if all foster parents are that caring but I do hope so. It’s been about three months since Snow joined our family. We don’t regret the day that Snow came into our lives. I will always be grateful to Connie for putting us together. My spouse who says she’s not a dog person is but I won’t say that to her. She takes as much care in Snow as I do. I call her the general because she makes sure Snow gets her walks in and does training with her. Snow looks at her as her playmate. Connie still checks on Snow with comments on Snow’s Facebook page My First Rescue Dog: Snow or on Instagram @rescuedogsnow. When I decided to write about my experience of getting a dog I asked Connie if she’d answer some questions.
These are questions I asked Connie. I have not changed any words.
• Why did you get started being a foster parent to a dog? I have always
owned dogs since childhood. Someone mentioned Florida Little Dog Rescue (FLDR) and I started looking through their website and saw they needed fosters. I filled out the applicant on the website. for fostering. One of the admins called me to discuss fostering with the rescue. It was a great conversation and I was even more determined to take on a foster.
• Do you have any dog of your own? I have two dogs they were foster fails. Which means I couldn’t let the foster go and adopted them.
• How did your family feel about you being an advocate for dogs? Everyone might
not have been for it in the beginning. There have been times when my spouse.
would like a break from having a foster. My adult children expect a new fur face when they
come to visit. There have been times the household took no foster breaks, many times.
due to vacations or some extended travel plans.
• How long have you been involved with Little Dog Rescue? My first foster
was in 2015. A beautiful, smart white poodle named Christopher. I still get updates on
him from his Mom Ariel.
• Why you chose this rescue? FLDR vets all their pups with a wonderful Vet
in Osceola county. Not all rescues are as thorough as FLDR. All pups and occasional
cats/hedgehogs etc. get spayed/neutered/ teeth cleaned and all appropriate vaccinations.
They take injured, senior and sick animals from Polk, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and
Orange counties. Not all are small dogs watch the website there are currently several very
large pups waiting for their forever homes. (They were there at the time of Connie’s response and might not be there now).
• What procedure do you have when bringing a new dog home? Generally, I
always crate new arrival until I understand their personality and
temperament. Pups coming from the shelter are sometimes fearful, depressed, or confused and
many are all of these things. I put them in a not-high-traffic area in the house and access how
they react to my cats and dogs and how they work on a leash. I have a large, fenced yard
for them to relax outside in a quiet environment. I crate for their safety
until I know they aren’t going to eat my furniture or chew on a wire plug. I feed
my fosters the same high-quality food as my pets. I watch for upset tummies due to
food changes as well as how they react to visitors of all ages.
• What is some problem you have had being a foster parent? It can’t be all.
good. House training: some don’t need any work, and some do. I always in beginning take
them out every couple of hours, which sets them up for rarely having an accident.
One Bernese mountain dog puppy 3 months old ate the arm on a teak outdoor chair, of
course, not all of the arm but his handy work is still there.
• What is the hardest time you had in letting a dog go to his/ her forever
home? You wish you could keep the dog. I foster failed a couple of times but
I still cry when they drive away with their new parents. Some of the pups who were
broken spirits and we watched bloom into a happy state of mind were probably the
• How do you match the dog with forever parents? You tend to get a sense.
of people and how they touch, watch, speak to, and handle a pup during the meet and
greet portion of adoption. I always have a conversation before scheduling the meet and
greet. So I already have some idea of the adopter’s personality.
Have you ever made a bad match, or a dog returned? Yes, one out of about 55 of my pups.
came back. A retired couple fell in love with a very active pup and adopted him but he was.
too much for them.
I also had a couple come to meet and greet and it became apparent only one of them was.
excited about adopting. I said they should go home and think about adoption. It was.
awkward but in the best interest of my foster.
• What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a foster parent?
Be prepared to love and let go, and know that patience is a gift to a frightened confused animal. Who likely came in as a stray/lost or surrendered to a loud scary shelter by people whom they depended on and most likely loved.
Fostering is usually a volunteer job. The pay comes in the form of knowing you’re giving that animal another chance at love.
When you get a rescue dog there is just a rewarding feeling. If you lose your dog you’ll know when if ever the time is right to bring another into your family. There are so many scams out there on social media so use your brain instead of your heart. Don’t let anything stop you from your forever dog there is a Connie out there for you if it’s meant to be. I learned a lot from this experience. I hope what I learned will benefit someone out there that’s ready to bring a fur baby into their life. If you’re interested in donating, adopting, or fostering please check out Florida Little Dog Rescue the rescue Snow came from. If you have any questions please email me at anitadpowell @gmail.com. If you have any questions for Connie send them to me and I will forward them to her. Good Luck in finding your rescue.