Where to start…
Our foster, Athena, was supposed to come a few weeks ago. There was a delay in her arrival from the shelter due to her having a rough spay operation and also that they had to remove a mammary tumor (it turned out to be benign). They had a hard time getting her incisions to heal and she was at the vet for over a week. I wasn’t for sure if we were even going to get her.
This did not stop me from planning. I bought bigger crates, I bought baby gates and I drove 40 minutes to buy the food she was currently eating so that we could slowly transition her to better food. It also gave me a chance to train Doug away from he mudroom.
When I went to pick her up on Saturday, she still had sutures (which I knew would be the case). Upon looking at her underside, it was obvious it didn’t look like it was supposed to. The area where the mammary tumor was removed should have been flat, instead it was raised up like a tennis ball.
We got her in the car. She was timid but sweet. Her sad eyes told her story.
The meet and greet with Doug did not go very well. They lunged at each other pretty early on (on the walk on leash). There was snarling. I was worried about this since Doug has never ever reacted this way but I was more worried about the state of her incisions.
The vet that the rescue uses got us in right away. When we got into the exam room, I noticed that she has a heart-shape-spot on the side of her body.
It took two vets and two vet techs to remove the mangled staples that were buried in her swollen incision areas. They flushed the areas out. They opted to not do new sutures because of the infection, they wanted to see if they would close better on their own, without the staples. They cleaned out her ears, they may never have been cleaned out before, and we left an hour-and-a-half later with her antibiotic and instruction that she should not be outside too much, or lay down outside at all. Her incisions were susceptible to more infection.
She remained sweet as could be.
I got her home and into the mudroom. Doug was hyper aware she was there and kept trying to jump up on the gate (I had three gates separating them, I am nothing if not efficient). She was extremely uneasy in the mudroom. She did not like being in the crate our outside of the crate near the gate. Even when I was in there with her, she was uneasy. I don’t know if she had ever been in a house before. If I left the mudroom, she tried to jump the gates, not a good idea in general or with her incisions.
I tried everything. Leaving her in the mudroom with a visual of me to see if she’d calm down. I went into the mudroom with her. I gave her a frozen peanut butter Kong, then a bully stick, then cheese. She wouldn’t eat. I put Doug in his crate in the office and brought her into the house to see if she would calm down. She didn’t.
It was only outside that she was relaxed. She had lived an outside existence for many of her years. After a few minutes outside, she would prance around, sniffing, occasionally coming up to me. It was a gorgeous day on Saturday so I would have stayed outside with her all day had it not been for her incisions.
Every time I brought her back into the house, she panicked. Her and Doug growled at each other from afar, although Doug did start to relax a little. He had no problem eating his Kong or bully stick. But she just barked and whimpered and paced.
I tried to get her more comfortable in the house. The rescue group’s trainer called me and we chatted about her anxiety. Was it Doug? Was it me? Was it the house? Was it how she felt? I had a had a plan for if her and Doug hit it off and for if they didn’t. I however did not have a plan for her being uneasy in the crate, mudroom or house in general.
The trainer asked me to send her photos of the incisions, that maybe the vet was being overly cautious. Once they saw them I think they agreed that she needed to stay as clean as possible to hopefully avoid more surgery. We chatted about options and decided to take her to the 24 hour vet (it was evening) so they could get her calm and get her some pain medication (something we had not gotten at the first vet appointment, even though I asked for them). It was painful to look at her incisions, it had to be painful for her to have them that way.
This vet was about 40 minutes away. She calmed down dramatically in the car. She was timid going into the next vet but I went with her into the back room and got her settled into a cage in the back treatment room. She was perfectly calm in that cage. She sat down and then laid down as I sat with her. She was much more comfortable in this setting over being in my house.
I went over everything with the techs, said my good byes to her and went home. The plan was for her to stay there until they decided if she needed surgery to clean up the incisions.
I went home and felt defeated, mostly for her. I had not thought that day one would be easy or great, I only thought it would be as good as it could be. But with the state of her incisions and her anxiety level, I felt like she had a much rougher time than anyone ever deserved. I’m not sure knowing about her health issue would have made me plan differently.
Doug rounded out the first day of fostering with marking all areas she touched. Luckily for him, I love him and I was way too tired to care.
Tracey, words cannot define how caring and loving you are. Poor Athena…but honestly she could not have found a better MOM!!!! Please let me know if you need anything! My sons and I were looking for a foster (that gets along with kids and a pug) but haven’t stumbled upon one yet. The previous found a home.
She’ll be ok…I imagine she was uneasy because she is nervous and doesn’t feel good. She needs time to decompress – poor thing, such sad eyes. Patience is everything. You know how to do this. Read to her when she gets home, let her get used to your voice and then worry about acclimating with Doug. She can smell him and that’ll help her get used to him, too.
This is good advice, fostering isn’t easy. When I took in Mikey and Eddie (at the same time) Ziva was a crank pit, she lunged and hated them both for a solid day. Day two was much better bit still stressful, Eddie also doesn’t do well inside the house it took him a couple weeks to quit pacing and learn to relax. One thing I think that helped was when he’d start pacing I’d take him to his bed which was off limits to the other dogs.
Please contact me if you want to talk about ideas! Fostering is hard but worth it, it may take some time but I’m sure they will learn to love each other . ❤
Just know: YOU. ARE. AMAZING.Fostering is hard. Super hard. Nothing can prepare you for that. She just needs time. And love. And patience. I know you have all of those things to give.
She probably feels like crap. She is probably very scared, totally defeated, and has never had anyone she can depend on. She needs to realize she’s safe. When she realizes this, you will see a light in her eyes she never knew was there and it will be a truly beautiful sight.
The need for a new foster to “decompress” is real. This article is very helpful : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steffen-baldwin/chill-out-decompression-t_b_8331986.html
Please just know you’re doing an amazing thing. You’re literally saving a life. I know it can be insanely frustrating – the first few days with a foster always have me asking myself “why on earth did I sign up for this!!” At first, it can seem like you’re causing more distress to your dog, the foster dog, and yourself. But just give it time. Even when it seems hopeless, please know that things WILL get better! I have always found solace in discussing concerns with other fosters (many seasoned fosters have “been there, dealt with that” and are happy to offer advice or a shoulder to cry on), you could absolutely reach out to me any time!! Please remember you’re making a difference in her life 🙂 All of these things you’re feeling are normal. These struggles are normal. Just keep swimming – you’ve got this!!!
Bless her heart and yours too! I’m so sorry the first day didn’t go well. I can’t imagine what poor Athena has gone through so far. It’s just going to take some time and I’m sure once she feels better physically the adjustment process will speed up considerably. She will soon realize that she has hit the jackpot!
Oh poor, poor baby! I hope all works out for her and I hope the uneasiness with Doug was just due to the pain. Your such a great women! Hugs to all
What a sweet, sweet girl… She’s in good hands, and I have no doubt living with you is exactly what she needs. You found each other for a reason!
Seems like for Doug there’s nothing a little pee won’t fix. Poor darling Athena hopefully her health will improve sokn. Its so hard to see them in pain.
Athena is adorable! <3 Glad you took her back to the vet to get things figured out. You're the perfect person to handle medical issues!
The Mr. said she might be freaked out that the house smells like 3 boys (boy dogs). Doug is a little intense & she doesn't sound like she's up to that level of nonsense yet. Sorry it's tough right now. Hugs.
Wow those sad sad eyes. I hope this dog feels better very soon, and I hope the doug and athena wrinkle irons out as well. She could not be in better hands than you.
Oh the poor girl – how lucky she is to have you on her side. Doug will hopefully come around – she probably also smells of vet, surgery, foreign areas, stress – he may just be reacting to that. Good luck – and keep us all posted.
Monty, Harlow, and Ramble
As someone who adopted a dog who had been very ill and was taken in, cared for, and socialized by foster parents, I cannot thank you enough for what you are doing. I’m thankful every day that someone had the heart to do that for my Pinky and I’m thankful that you’re doing that for Athena. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do but you are up for the task! You’re saving her life and she and her future forever family will always be grateful for that, trust me 😉
That heart on her side? She’s beautiful! I hope the incisions heal soon and she is able to calm down.