Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fostering Elsa

Today is October 23, 2013, and it is well over a year since my last post about our foster animals and some additions to our household.

I will try to be brief about updating our foster roster. After we adopted Puddin', who was a Thanksgiving cat, we did not do any more fostering until March of 2011, when we got a call from Skye Kroman, who was the foster coordinator at the shelter -- and a more devoted, determined and inspirational one is hard to imagine.

"I have the perfect foster animal for you," she said.
"Oh?" I answered.
"Yes. I have a white German Shepherd."
(At this point, I'm repeating some of this out loud to Nicky and she is showing signs of panic. A German Shepherd?)
"A German Shepherd," Skye affirmed. "Her name is Elsa and she is absolutely beautiful. She has just had her heartworm treatment and needs to be in a quiet house and confined in her activity for about 6 weeks. I thought that since you didn't have any kids and had a fairly quiet household, you might be a perfect place for her. She can't get excited or be very active," she continued.
Before I realized it, both Nicky & I had agreed to take her on. With Skip's help, we installed a large crate in our computer room where we spend a lot of time and picked her up from the shelter.
And, yes, she was a beauty!

Now, to let you in on a little secret: I always wanted a German Shepherd. When I was little, I had an invisible German Shepherd I used to lead around on an invisible leash. Now, so many years later, I had one in my house as a temporary guest. It was March and when we brought her in, she still had her winter coat, and the "racing" stripes down her back where she was shaved for the two heartworm shots.

She was a lovely tempered dog, but obviously didn't feel good. To treat heartworm, a dog gets a series of two shots over two days (I think). These shots essentially inject a poison into the dog's bloodstream which kills the worms that are congesting the heart. It's a type of chemo, in many ways, and it really affects how the dog feels, not to mention that they have been laboring for a while with a really stressed heart. It normally takes about 6 weeks for the dead worms to be absorbed into the dogs system and eliminated. In the meanwhile, there are these large clumps of dead worm matter inside the dog. Any kind of activity that causes the dog to get excited or to make its heart beat harder has a likelihood of breaking up into a clot like lump and stopping the dog's heart. So it was really really important to keep Elsa relatively quiet.

She loved being groomed, so I would take her outside to potty (about all the exercise she was allowed to have) and then sit with her on the front porch and groom her, pulling out the loose clumps of hair and brushing her with a glove comb. As the weeks went by, we eventually tried letting her out of her crate and bringing her into the TV room to sit with me on the couch. She was just a little too interested in the cats -- not particularly to attack them, but definitely to chase them -- and that was definitely not allowed.

In the meantime, I was able to indulge my childhood dream for six weeks even as I realized that, at my age and with my mobility problems, there was no way I could handle a dog as active as she was going to be when she was over her recuperation period. It was with some sorrow that we did return her to the shelter -- and she was magnificent when we brought her back. Her energy was back and her winter coat was all gone (and our yard looked like a cotton field in full bloom as tufts of white fur stuck to all the grass and bushes!

Elsa found a home less than 48 hours later -- and I feel good about bringing her to the point where she could be someone's forever friend!

There is so much more to go, but that will have to wait for the next installment -- and I hope it won't be as long a wait. There is so much ground to cover...

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