In my previous post, I spoke about Franky, our new family member who joined us on Labor DAy. Since then, he has made great strides, overcoming so many of the demons that haunted him. He still works hard at this every day, but has learned to enjoy all the good things the world has to offer him. We have loved watching him evolve into an affectionate, happy little boy.
While this is a very nice story to read, rescue is not for everyone. Despite having rescued 4 dogs, 3 cats and countless other species over the years, the sweet little boy curled up under my elbow as I type this proved to be my biggest challenge. This is not because his previous life was any less traumatic than the others, but because at the time he needed me the most, my heart was not ready for him.
Having just lost our Pippen 2 months earlier, my tank was on empty. I had not navigated through enough of my grieving process to start replenishing that love supply to give any other dog but the two she left behind, and they were grieving her loss right along with me.
Years back, I learned about the 3-3-3 guidelines of dog adoption. I've always kept these milestones in the back of my mind when our dogs have come into our family, because during the tough hurdle times it does help to know that what you are going through is normal and will pass. With Franky, this little card was like a guiding light on days that I just didn't think I had it in me to love this boy. I was beating myself up because here I had this sweet little guy who wanted nothing more than to please me, and I wasn't falling head over heels in love with him.
I have never done fostering myself, but I have several amazing friends who make it their life's mission. I have heard countless stories of dogs who get adopted and returned, and in fact my Pippen was one of those dogs before we adopted her. On one particularly bad day, I found myself watching Franky sleeping and thinking he would be happier somewhere else. I felt like the worst person on the face of the earth. My grief had pushed me to a new low. I needed to shake it off and recognize that he was sent to me for a reason, even if that reason was not apparent to me at the time.
In the weeks that followed my rockbottom moment, I watched as he checked off the milestones on the card. Almost like a straight-A student, right around his 3-month mark with us, he became a new dog. His facial expressions seemed to change, his body relaxed, his eyes softened, he started acting silly and derpy. He also started spending more time with my husband, our teenage son and his girlfriend.
We started a routing in the evening, where I get one of the blankets from his crate and bring it to the couch. He wraps up in it and I rock him to sleep on my shoulder before tucking him in for the night. I don't remember when I said it for the first time, but one of the nights I tucked him in I told him I loved him. After the words came out, I realized that I had not only turned a pivotal corner in my grieving journey, but I had saved another life in the process.