The following post is by Laura Leigh Highland, Red Paw foster and member of the Red Paw Leadership Committee
Around this time last year, I had been volunteering with Red Paw for a few months, mostly helping with transports, fostering here and there and doing table events. I had fostered mostly cats, but the occasional dog would come to hang out at my house for a few days. Lola was in a fire with her kitten brother Limp-Limp* (he had a club foot, I called him Jimmy when I had him) who was staying at my house while her owner recovered. Lola was staying at the Pet Hotel but was in need of a foster. I thought it over and decided to give it a try.
From the moment the transport volunteer dropped Lola off at my house we instantly clicked. She fell right into the groove of things and got along great with my dogs, was super lovable and affectionate, and just all around perfect.
As the two months Lola was staying with me passed, I knew saying goodbye to her was going to be super hard. The best thing about fostering for Red Paw is when the animals get reunited with their owners. It is great to see families getting put back together after something terrible happens, but saying goodbye is the worst part of it all. Most of the time you are able to suck it up and do what is right for the animal, but this time I knew it was going to be different – I was in love.
The plan was to drop Lola off at PAWS to have her spayed and then a transport volunteer would take her home to her family once the surgery was over. That morning we woke up, I had her say goodbye to her foster brother and sister and we were on our way. She is a great passenger in the car; she lays right down or sits and looks out of the windshield like a human. It’s adorable. Now came the hard part, saying goodbye (even replaying all of this in my mind currently has me in tears). I brought Lola into the PAWS waiting room and we were told to have a seat and that someone would be with us soon.
So this was basically it- time for goodbye. Lola and I had a talk. I told her how much I loved her, how great of a dog she was, and how happy she had made me over the past two months. I was a mess. I couldn’t help it. Tears were everywhere, and even the person working behind the desk at PAWS was crying. Goodbyes are the worst.
I said goodbye to Lola and gave her about seven thousand kisses, head scratches, and hugs and left. I had done this before, said goodbye to an animal I loved after fostering it, but this was different. Something did not feel right. That dog had my heart. I went home and snuggled with my two other dogs and tried to get my heart to stop hurting. It was hard to sleep that night. Something was missing…the sound of Lola’s flat faced little snore.
I do not remember much from the days that followed, I think it was only a day or so, it felt a lot longer. What I do remember is where I was when Red Paw founder Jen Leary called me to tell me that Lola’s owners found out from their landlord that they could not keep her and they needed to put her up for adoption. I remember saying “OK, I’ll go right now. I want my dog back.” I picked up my friend and we headed to West Philadelphia to pick her up within the hour. Lola said goodbye to her family. It was sad and a little awkward, but it was for the best.
Lola was coming home! I couldn’t wait to have her back. I remember petting her and playing with her ears the entire ride home. We were very very happy. In my head at this point everything was still temporary, I was still Lola’s foster, and I was going to find her a home (hopefully a home with a friend or family member so I could still see her all the time). For a month I did what any good foster mom with an animal up for adoption does, marketed the hell out of her. I wrote on Facebook constantly, talked to my friends and family, attended events, and we were even featured on the news! No one contacted us about adopting Lola. It was crazy! “She is adorable!” “So well behaved!” “Great with dogs and kids!” You would think this dog was running for President the way I talked her up.
Every time we would head out to an adoption event or a potential adopter would inquire about her on Facebook I would get a knot in my stomach. I had to face the facts: Lola did not need a home, she already found one. She was home.
Lola has been in my life almost a year now. She has made me laugh, made me yell, and made me cry. She taught me about fate, that sometimes, things just happen for a reason. As I am writing this she is curled up on my bed with her brother and sister, snoring the snore of a dog who is loved, a dog who is home.
*Limp-Limp was also reunited with his family. When they could not keep him due to the landlord issue he was rehomed to a family member.