Dan and I have a vizsla named Winston. We absolutely adore him, and you may be able to see why:
He is a very HAPPY (and talented) boy!! As much as we like believe he was just BORN perfect, we understand that we gave Winston a chance to be the loveable, irreplaceable companion that he is.
Part 1: The Heartbreak- Why we got involved
This summer, our friends Josh and Emily were approached by two stray dogs near their apartment- out of the goodness in their hearts, they took these two dogs into their tiny apartment, with their current dog, and gave them a home for two days while they literally went door-to-door trying to find their owners, to no avail. They could not keep, nor did they have the space, to permanently house these two dogs. However, within the span of two days, they became very attached to these two mellow, well-behaved, and happy dogs.
The catch was, Josh and Emily had to take the dogs to McLean County animal control first; the AC would hold the dogs in case someone reclaimed them, and would perform a "behavior test" on them to determine if they were suitable for companionship. Wishbone would legally be allowed to find these dogs a home once these prerequisites were met. This was the only option, so of course Josh & Emily obliged.
The AC is a kill-shelter that does not advertise the dogs available for adoption and has a bad reputation for killing bully breeds regardless their temperament. When Josh brought them in, it didn't seem promising based on their interactions. At this point, Dan and I were trying our best to help our friends save the lives and find homes for these dogs. After a week at the shelter, we helped by calling the AC... day after day. Asking if they took the temperament test. Asking if they found an owner. Asking if they could finally be relinquished to Wishbone...they would NOT give us any clear answers. This was really getting under my skin. We even asked if we could just stop by to see/play with/take these dogs for a walk... they said NO. After awhile, they stopped answering the phone (caller ID?)...
We had known of Wishbone Canine Rescue through a friend who had been fostering dogs with them for a while. I learned that "fostering" entails taking a homeless doggie into your home and caring for it until Wishbone find a home for him/her. After countless calls to Animal Control, I called Wishbone Canine Rescue and talked to Lisa, the founder. Turns out she had been actively trying to get information on these pups just as I had, with the same "response." I told her that we would be willing to foster one or temporarily both of the dogs if Wishbone was able to collect them from AC. She promised that she would do her best!!
My gut would turn and my heart would tug every time I called AC...Dan and I become so frustrated with their lack of information about these two dogs that we actually requested a FOIA on them... and got one! We found out that they had not been "destroyed" yet and that their owner was in the "legal system" and that "nothing could be done" with these dogs because they were still technically the owner's property (why were they running the streets then?? Did he let them go??). We also found out their "real" names- Lulu and Snickers. After a phone call when they finally answered, they "promised" that they would call me with an update on these dogs.
I'm sad to say, but I never called back- and I never heard back from AC. After over a month of heartbreaking phone calls, I didn't bring myself to dial the number again... because honestly, I doubt I could have made much of a difference.
Part II: Doing our Part- Taking Action
What I did know is that it BROKE MY HEART to see perfectly happy and loyal canine companions potentially killed because they could not find a home, or didn't have the opportunity to do so. Instead of sitting around and crying about it...Dan and I decided that we would DO something and start fostering homeless pups with Wishbone Canine Rescue! We had been toying with the idea of getting a second dog...so now Winston has a new playmate every 1-4 weeks :)
We learned that by fostering with WBCR:
- All dogs are spayed/neutered, microchipped, and receive veterinary care (at no cost to the foster!)- thanks to SmartVet.
- All foster homes receive food, crates, collars, leashes, and other accessories deemed necessary for the dog.
- You are under NO obligation to foster or continue fostering... By becoming a "foster parent," you essentially sign up for an email list of "foster needs"...once you are ready and decide to foster, you decide WHICH dog you want to foster, and have a forum (ie a facebook page) of people to help guide you through the fostering process; but if a specific dog just doesn't fit with your home, you can usually swap or simply return the dog.
- You are supposed to bring your foster dog to weekly adoption events- if you can't, no problem. They can arrange someone to pick up your pup, bring them to the event, and then drop them back off at your house! Same thing if you are going out of town- with advance notice, the dog can be placed in a different foster home.
- You are not required to "advertise" your foster dog- that is what Wishbone does via their website, facebook page, Petfinder, adoption events, print and radio ads, etc. It sure does help if you do, however :)
We quickly realized that fostering was fun and very rewarding!
Meet Our Fosters:
|Buttercup's baby- Louie!|
Poor Gus, he still does not have a home :( He is a big lovebug- all he wants is to chill with a human friend! He is a happy-go-lucky, easy dog when he's around his people; we tried fostering him for a couple days, however, with our schedules, we were not home enough for him to be happy :( He suffers from pretty severe separation anxiety- he would be a GREAT dog for someone who is home all day, like a retiree, stay-at-home mom, work-at-home professional, etc.! His owner relinquished him and his brother Rocco when she moved into a community that didn't allow "Pit-Bulls" (STUPID breed-specific rules!!). Here he is in supermodel-form on a WBCR cover ad!
Oh, his brother Rocco is looking for a home too!! Here he is with ANOTHER WBCR doggie, Roxie (also looking for a home).
|Rocco has the red collar! He is Gus's brother, and Roxie is his foster sister, also looking for a home!|
We took the week off from fostering, since Dan was out of town for his Northwestern O&P program orientation in Chicago and I had a busy work schedule, but we'll keep you updated on who we save next! :)
Some people ask HOW we don't keep these dogs- don't we get attached? The answer is: Yes, we do get attached. I've shed a couple tears after each dog left. But we take a step back and remember WHY we are doing this- Wishbone will find these pups a happy home, and then we will be able to foster another healthy dog at risk of euthanization or a lonely life in a shelter.
Part 3: What YOU can do!
There are so many ways to get involved! The best thing that you can do is ADOPT one of these loveable pups and make them a part of your family :) If you can't do that, you can:
- Foster! Even if you can only takes dogs during the week or on the weekends, the foster organizations like Wishbone will likely really appreciate the help!
- Sponsor or donate money or supplies. Next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a bag of dogfood and bring it to your local shelter or organization
- Volunteer your time! I know that Wishbone uses volunteers to help out at adoption events, walk dogs at the facility, help out with "Vet days" on Thursday, cleaning, paperwork, and even transport dogs from shelters to Wishbone or from Wishbone to their new owners. There is a whole network of "transports" from all over the country... we can save dogs from just about anywhere, just like people can adopt dogs from anywhere!
- Or if you don't have the time, money, or space, even just reposting information on facebook/twitter/etc. can make a difference!
Even if you do not live in the Bloomington-Normal area, there are MANY agencies like Wishbone all over the country- If you are a dog-lover, find yours and get involved :)
If you are local, visit Wishbone's website and/or facebook page, and contact them for more information! They are very responsive to email. You can always ask me questions too :)