How Fostering Changed My Life:
The Untold Story by Simon Welchlin
In the fall of 2004, I took my very first breath of fresh air. My feet touched the ground and I searched effortlessly for my mother for food. In those first few months of life, I was surrounded by my littermates and my mother. I learned how to play, snuggle, and bark. Then the day came in late fall when I was shipped off to a family. I was very young and do not remember if I was put on the streets, in a pet store, or in a little boy’s hand first. I do remember I went somewhere.
To save you the drama of the first two years of my life, I will fast forward my story to the spring of 2006. I awaken to the morning sun of the desert plotting my plan for the day. I know I need food and I know I need water. I am weak, sick, and cannot walk very well with my injured legs. I think to myself, ‘”How did I get here? I used to have a warm bed, a squeaky ball, and people to love me. What did I do wrong?” I shake off the self-pity I awarded myself and begin my day. As I stagger around finding my way, I find myself choking. I have been captured by the dog catcher. I attempt a fight, but I do not have enough muscle to put into it. They give me food, water, and a cold, cement floor safe from predators. I am very frightened in my new surroundings. As a habit, I growl at anyone that comes to my kennel. What I did not know was that the growling was my golden ticket to the Green Mile.
In the blink of my good eye, I see two people in front of me. Again, I growl. They look me up and down with sadness and anger looking at my boney frame and dirty feet. I hear one of them say, ‘We should take him out and see how he does. If he bites us, we will know what we need to do.” A worker helps the women take me out of the kennel. I am still growling and shaking in my skin. They maneuver me into a small kennel where they sit on a bench. I glare at them for a few minutes as they pet me and tell me it is going to okay. I remember one of the women crying at the state I was in. From that very moment I knew my life was about to change. I avoided the Green Mile.
I went to live with one of the women. She rehabilitated me making me a ‘normal’ dog! I was living the life I was meant to live. After six months of going to adoption events and waiting for my family, the woman adopted me. I had a mom! What came next, I did not expect. My new mom brought home another new dog that had also lost his home. His dad died and he was an orphan. She helped him, just like she helped me! I helped him too. I taught him how to play, chase a ball, sit, and play nice to the cats. I became a big brother. This was something I used to dream about it when I was growing up. I love to play, but never had anyone else to play with until now. That dog left one day and did not come back. He had found his own mom. I missed him dearly.
Now in the end of 2011, I find I do not miss him very much anymore. He was my first ‘brother’, but not my last. Over the years since I was adopted, I have helped my mom rehabilitate over a dozen homeless dogs. Sometimes the new ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ stay for just two short weeks or sometimes they stay for three months or more. I bond with each of them in my own special way. I am filled with joy each time a new dog walks through my front door. They each come in with the same scared look I had back in 2006. It is my job, along with my foster mom, to make them feel welcome and at peace.
Often times, I hear people ask my mom if fostering is tough on me as the resident dog. She says, “Yes, it is, but usually only the first day. I drop them off, sometimes he even comes along, and when we get home he always seems surprised his buddy is not there to greet him. It is sad watching him search the house. Within a day or two he is back to his normal self enjoying his alone time with me, but within a couple weeks we have four new paws crossing the threshold needing his help. He knows his job.” I do know my job and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! It is the most rewarding experience in my life to be a foster brother to dogs just like me. I like to think I am giving back to my community.
If you live alone or even have your own brother or sister, but want to help give back to the canine community please consider asking your parent(s) if fostering a homeless boxer is an option for your house. It has changed my life in more ways that I can count and it will change yours too!