Luke: the Foster Fail
by Chelsea A.
At 26 years old, I got my first dog Bella. Within 24 hours of bringing her home with me, my heart busted at the seams and everything made sense in life. It was me and Bella forever. She unlocked my heart and gave me more joy than I had ever experienced before. Shortly after, I came across 3 tiny, abandoned kittens, which needed immediate care. They turned out to be my first foster experience. It was hard and it was wonderful, and Bella and the 3 kittens became best friends. I didn’t really have any expectations going into it, I just listened to my heart and made it work. In the end, my mom adopted the 3 kittens and they got to stay in my family.
After this experience, I knew I wanted to continue working with animals in need. I thought I wanted to work with puppies but ended up fostering dogs with special needs, and that has been some of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Each dog would come and stay with me for a while. Quite a few of them were scared, neglected and depressed. But after weeks or months of consistent love, affection and comfort, they became different dogs. Their true personalities came to the surface.
I welcomed the opportunity for them to stay in my home for as long as possible and coordinated with the shelter to meet prospective adoptive parents. I wanted these dogs to go from one loving home to the next loving home. They had all been traumatized in the past so the progress I made could have been stunted if they had to go back into a shelter environment and spend so much time alone. Also, since I knew the dogs so well, I got to help the adoptive parents understand if this was the right pet for them. I became a dog/owner matchmaker which was incredibly fulfilling.
The hardest part about fostering is letting go of an animal that you’ve come to love. There were many tears over the years, but it always felt right. For every dog I let go into loving, new arms, I got to help another find that same fate. Over the years, I’ve fostered about 15 different dogs, all uniquely wonderful and all adopted into permanent, loving homes. It’s been immensely gratifying.
The last 2 dogs I fostered were found on the streets in LA and wound up in a high-risk shelter. The pups were about 2 years old and looked to be Havanese. They were brother and sister, one alpha and one omega.
They were young, high energy, not fixed and very scared. The adoption agency asked me to step in for a few weeks while they found an adoptive parent. I did… and I fell in love. Not only with their connection to each other, but how uniquely different they were despite being brother and sister. Soon, we began showing them to potential adopters, but I quickly realized that they really couldn’t be separated. Not entirely. And they were just such incredible pups that I didn’t want to stop caring for them. My in-laws adopted “Katie”, the little girl, and my husband and I adopted “Luke”, the little boy. I happily became a foster failure!
Bella passed away in February, but not before her and Luke became the best of friends. Bella was patient with all the animals I brought into our lives over the years and I’d like to think she helped teach them how to trust humans again. She was protective and endlessly affectionate towards me and my family. Since her passing, Luke hasn’t left my side. He is my shadow, quietly mourning with me for however long it takes. It’s incredible to me to see where Luke started and where he is now. Our journey would have never existed if I hadn’t started fostering all those years ago.
We had a baby girl in June of 2016 who is 4 years old now. We recently told her the story of how Luke came into our lives and showed her the photos of the dogs I fostered along the way. She said she wants to start fostering again as soon as possible. So that’s our plan. Fostering resumes in 2021.