When I received the email on the first of December from one of our Shelter volunteers asking for help for some friends who wanted a Boston Terrier, I knew we didn’t have any at the moment in our shelter. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to help some other needy homeless Boston to find a home. While I selfishly want to see “our” animals all find homes, I know well that there are so many out there needing homes that pointing potential adopters in the direction of other shelters and rescues is something I do without hesitance.
A quick PetFinder search in the Columbus area resulted in several Boston’s awaiting homes through a Boston rescue and I passed on this lead in the hope that they’d soon find just what they were looking for. Unsure how anxious they were to add a Boston to their family, I also told them I’d keep my eyes open and give them a heads up when the next wayward Boston found their way to our shelter.
Yet how lucky that just three days later the Boston I knew would eventually come arrived! Although honestly, I wasn’t quite sure that this little guy would be just what they had in mind. Frankly when I saw him myself, I questioned whether or not to share his arrival with them at all. As you see, the five month old Boston puppy who would be named Popeye was in sad shape and barely resembled a dog, let alone a Boston Terrier. And yet, surely that was exactly what he was.
Hesitant to scare them off with this photograph as for even the most seasoned of us, the sight of the raw, bleeding puppy was unsettling. The effects of mange ravaging his entire body made it hard to see what he might become with time and attention. Nevertheless, I sent a message sharing his arrival but with a warning that it would be a long slow process before he would be available for adoption.
Surprisingly, they were interested in learning more about him and were undaunted by neither his appearance nor the wait. As if somehow they too knew that his arrival just days after their inquiry was a stroke of luck.
While mange is treatable and not costly, it does necessitate close monitoring and benefits from one experienced with maintaining a watchful eye for not only side-affects but also weight changes that impact the mange medicine’s dosage. As such, Debbie Hines our foster coordinator would foster him for the first few weeks and then discharge him to another experienced foster, as lucky for Popeye, Cindy Buckingham had room for another foster as well as ample experience with dogs suffering from skin problems. Cindy’s proven diligence has paid off time and time again with other fosters and as such, Popeye was fortunate to be in her care.
But it’s a long slow process and I had to wonder whether or not his potential adopters would be willing to wait out his recovery. Hard to blame people for being impatient once having made a decision to add a pet to their family and especially when there are children involved who are so looking forward to the new addition. Add in the approach of Christmas and patience can wear thin even for the most disciplined. But wait they would. And while Popeye would not be ready by Christmas, his future family would meet him for the first time and they would fall in love despite his ever improving but disconcerting appearance.
He may have looked pitiful but his personality was undeniably precious. And he was smart! Cindy would have him housebroken in no time and he was soon bouncing about her home with her other dogs as happy as could be. Wearing layers of coats and sweaters to go outside, Popeye was as patient as he intended family. And despite a face that only a mother could love, his foster mother couldn’t have loved him more. As if that love was extra medicine to speed his healing, Popeye’s blazing raw skin began to heal and new hair began to sprout at an amazing rate!
As the weeks passed, lucky little Popeye improved steadily and while he still would require continued medication for a few more weeks, it would soon (by mange standards) be time for him to go home.
It’s hard enough to let a foster go when you’ve had them such a long time and when they are just the best puppy ever, it’s all the more difficult. Add on top of that, Cindy’s dedication to the healing of her charges making it even more gut wrenching to let them go when they still need that extra attention. But it was time. Even the vet confirmed that while he would continue with his meds, he was over the worst of it and a full recovery was just around the corner.
His family was ready too. Communication with Cindy to ensure that they had everything they would need to maintain consistency in all things Popeye as he transitioned into their care, would reassure all that they were more than ready! And when they arrived to pick up Popeye with all the family and even the grandparents in tow, one could not question their excitement nor the significance of this day.
I don’t know who I was prouder of, this family who I have never met or Cindy who I know so well.
It would have been easy for this family to have continued their search for a Boston when Popeye was less than perfect. There were plenty of Boston’s to be had nearby but something made them wait. For whatever reason they were undeterred by the delay and Popeye’s challenges and to see beneath Popeye’s appearance to his heart would only solidify in my mind that he was meant for them!
And I can’t help but be incredibly proud of Cindy, who not so long ago would have been afraid of the challenges of a case like Popeye but now sees it simply as her purpose. And while she fell in love with Popeye too, it was her dedication as a foster that brought him to this day when she could give him over to this family that would benefit from her commitment to his healing and share the joy of this special little dog. Their first dog and one that is destined to bring them years of happiness. And as hard as it is to give some foster’s up, it is this joy that makes it possible. Makes it all bearable.
Surely with tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat, Cindy did what foster’s do. She let him go, knowing well she had done her job and would do the last of her tasks in placing him in the arms of the family that loved him enough to wait for this day. His last day as a foster and the first day of the rest of his lucky little life!
I happen to know and love Cindy. I met Popeye shortly after he came to their home. He was a “lover” but he smelled pretty bad. You only knew that when you were close to him as Cindy is probably one of the most immaculate house keepers I have met. He was very comfortable in his little playhouse in her living room, toys, sweaters and all. Cindy accepted her challenge as she does with everything, determination, love and passion. My prayer is that Popeye will have a long and happy life with his new family but you can bet, Cindy will keep in touch.