So Long, Jenga.

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Everyone knows by now that Jenga went to her forever home last night, as I chronicled her every move on Facebook. As was the case when Angie was adopted, I had a tremendous mix of emotions, mostly stress while at the shelter. I had a bazillion thoughts running through my head…what if they don’t like her?….what if she falls apart without us?…..are we making a mistake not keeping her?…..will she dazzle them with her goofiness?….and on and on. I guess that’s normal, and just like with Angie, she trotted off with her new mom and dad as if we never even existed. The nerve of her! Kidding, I was fine until that very moment, and immediately lost it and hugged Paul, who said, “want to go inside and pick a new foster?” Good man I married. I pulled myself together, went over and gave Sunny (who was heading into foster care) a hug and we headed home. Basically, I have been fine since they drove away, except for those moments when a silly Jenga thing pops into my head…her running through the house, with a blanket trailing behind her…laying sprawled out, hanging off the couch…the way that she would put her face in mine as we fell asleep….her exuberance with training….her desperation to get some animal, any animal in this house to just play with her, pleeeeeeaaase!
Fostering is hard work, emotionally and logistically. Emotionally, it is a rollercoaster. Since both dogs had health issues when they arrived, there was quite a bit of worry. Once those were addressed, we worried about their training and getting them house-trained and having good manners. Both Angie and Jenga were excellent pupils and training was pretty much a breeze. They proved themselves able to focus and generalize and willing to learn. Angie’s biggest issue when she left was separation anxiety, which I have said before I thought was more about our arrangement here than anything and Jenga’s biggest issue was being a clutz…and that, well, I don’t know that we can expect that to change 🙂 Paul and I sleep separately when we have a foster, mostly so the foster isn’t the only one without company at night..and because when both Angie and Jenga got here, they were both so sick that we felt keeping a close eye on them was important. This is not something that is even the least bit of an issue for us…it’s just something we do as part of the job. So, for the first time in 7 weeks, I got back into bed with my husband, 2 dogs and 2 cats. It was quite a bit more crowded than we all have gotten used to and when I came back from the bathroom at 4am, I found Trixie and Savannah snuggled quite closely to each other in my spot. Cozy….and I felt terrible moving them, since they were probably thinking, “ahhhhh, she’s gone again…”, but, I carved out my spot once again. They’ll have to resign themselves to less space once more.
I can say in all honesty, that I probably enjoyed Jenga’s company more than almost any dog I have ever known, except for maybe, Taz, my first dog as an adult and my favorite dog ever. Jenga has a goofy quality about her that was sort of cartoonish….think Scooby Doo and his wildly scrambling legs. I also imagine that if she could speak, she would sound very Scooby-ish. Jenga is just one of those dogs who everyone who meets her, knows she is special. With her huge, square head, her long body and expressive eyes, she just wins everyone over. Every person that she came into contact while with us was enamored immediately. Her personality is just so likeable and enthusiastic that she is impossible not to like. This dog who, when I first met her, was not looking so great, and was super uncertain about everything, blossomed into a social butterfly who liked everyone she met and I think that knowing she was safe and loved with us is what made the difference. What a gift it is to be able to do that for an animal. For me, and I am pretty sure for Paul, too, it makes handing them over easier…knowing that we did the right thing by them. Healed them, fed them, trained them and loved them so that they were ready for a lifetime of happiness….and, that the pain and uncertainty of the past was where it belonged…in the past.
Having said that…the handing over part is not easy at all. I feel like I have a huge hole in my heart that, I guess, will only be filled by the next dog. And, there will be a next dog…just not until I get back from California in May. The fact that Paul asked me last night if I wanted to go in and pick a new foster says so much to me about our commitment and love for each other. Paul comes from a different culture, where animals are not valued as family members the way they are for so many of us here in the US, but, I think that volunteering at the shelter has caused him to look at this in a whole new way and I am so thankful for that. I think that nursing a sick animal back to health has been a gratifying to him as it is to me. I am so glad we are doing this together…and that I married someone who is willing to put up with all of this!
Jenga’s new family has promised to keep in touch, so I’m sure I will have updates. And, even though it won’t be for about  a month…I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the question “who’s next?” isn’t constantly running through my head. Fostering is far and away the best rollercoaster I have ever been on!
This is Jenga the first time I met her…at the end of January. I was struck right away by how sad she seemed. I fell in love with her immediately.

This is her a few days ago, after about a month and a half of living with us. Relaxed, happy and transfixed by giant bees!

And, this is Jenga last night, with her new mom and dad. Happy Gotcha Day, Samantha, Dave & Jenga 🙂

In other news…Lovefourpaws is hosting the first big on-site adoption event of the year this coming weekend! Come down to ACCT and meet some great people, and find your new best friend! Save a life…you’ll like yourself better for it 😉

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