By Theresa Santiago Adams
**Content warning: Images in this post are VERY graphic, but Theresa wants to show the horror of shelters and abuse, healing, and the power of fostering**
I knew the minute I brought him home, he needed a new name. His old name didn’t fit. A new name for a new life. I googled, and searched and hemmed and hawed. And finally I found the perfect name: Wyatt.
His name means “survivor”. And that’s exactly what he is.
The first time I laid eyes on him, he was cowering in a corner, groggy from pain meds, his head wrapped in bandages. After being abused, neglected and dumped at the shelter, he was placed in a kennel with two other large dogs. A common practice given the level of overcrowding the shelter experiences. Even as a 60 lb Pitt Bull, he was no match for them.
Those two dogs attacked him; ripping his ear in half, tearing huge gaping holes in his neck and mangling his face beyond recognition. Dozens of stitches covering his face, neck and legs. And yet, his eyes were gentle. He wanted help. He wanted to be free of pain.
He wanted to be loved. And I knew I could give him that.
Wyatt the day he was pulled from the shelter
Image on left: Wyatt's ear and neck post-attack
Image on right: Wyatt's leg post-surgery
I brought Wyatt home, placed him in my office which I decided was the best place for him since it was quiet and I could shut the door. That first night he cried. Imagine: alone, in pain, frightened, in a strange new place with strange new people. Could he trust me? Would I hurt him too? I went and laid down next to him. He slept. I didn’t. The next several nights were the same routine; go to bed, wait for him to cry, go lay on the floor with him while he slept.
After about 10 days, I weaned him off his pain meds. He was healing. Wounds were scabbing over, scars were forming where there was once raw skin. The swelling on his face was going away. I could finally see Wyatt’s beautiful face. And he could finally sleep on his own.
For many more weeks, we worked on getting to know each other. I slowly gained Wyatt’s trust; approaching cautiously with hands open so he could see I wasn’t going to hurt him. I would give gentle pets on his head, careful to avoid his wounds. Over the course of several months, he came out of his shell. Little by little. Day by day. One day Wyatt suddenly ran in the backyard with the other dogs. Another time he spontaneously came to me and nuzzled my hand for pets.
He began playing with toys, asking for treats and breaking (minor) rules. In short, Wyatt was becoming a dog. And it has been one of my greatest joys to watch this sweet, gently boy blossom into the silly, goobery, playful dog he was meant to be.
People often ask me why I rescue dogs. This is why. This life I saved, this boy I helped. Wyatt is the reason I rescue. Yes, it’s hard. It’s challenging, and frustrating and stressful. My house is always a mess. It’s never completely quiet. Someone always needs attention or discipline. But I love what I do.
I love these dogs. I love that I can make a difference, that I can save a life.
It’s often difficult to impress upon people the need for foster families. It’s almost impossible for them to wrap their heads around the staggering numbers of animals admitted to shelters and rescue groups across the metro area, let alone the state. People often say to me, “oh I could never be a foster parent, I’d get to attached”. Well, I do too! I fall madly, deeply in love with every single one of my foster babies. And I hand them over to their new families with mixed emotions, knowing I will likely never see them again, but at the same time understanding that it’s the best decision for them.
Being a Dog Mama and fostering are the most rewarding things I have ever done. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help animals reach their potential and have a better life. And no, not every foster dog is a serious medical and psychological case like Wyatt. In fact, most are perfectly well adjusted dogs that just need a chance at life.
Give fostering a chance - you could save a life too!
handsome wyatt fully recovered
Wyatt loves almond butter snacks!
By Janne Ruhnke
Janne is fostering beautiful Australian Shepherd girl Ginger. Janne has all these wonderful stories and examples of how she socializes her foster girl. Oftentimes fosters come to us and have to learn to play and just be a dog. We hope you love reading about Janne and Ginger's adventures together.
Ginger is a little over 1 year old with a lot of energy! When she first came to us she warmed up to us quickly, but we realized she needed some help. She was so fearful and protective of food and her face. We think she may have had an abusive past. We didn’t let that stop us even though it was hard work. We have had a behavioralist come out and train us on how to train her. She has made amazing progress and is becoming more and more friendly by the day! She actually really loves playing pass/tag with a ball! She love balls, treats, and lots of play time and attention! She knows sit, lay down, and shake.
We're still working on "stay." She would really enjoy someone who is willing to work with her to learn even more tricks and even agility stunts! We tried the ones at the dog park today, and she almost went up it. Almost! She is crate trained though she tries to sound sad so you will let her out. She wants to steal your covers and cuddle up next to you on the bed! She is respectful of your stuff and would do well free roaming as long as you don’t leave food out. She will find it and trust me she knows how to open out car food container! We got really lucky because she came to us completely house broken and will let you know she needs out! She really enjoys being the center of attention and getting to go to the park for walks, car rides, to public events like the medieval fair, and especially Starbucks runs as long as you share!
Everyone is constantly talking about how beautiful she is! She recently learned what it’s like to be at the dog park! I was super nervous for her at first because I was not sure exactly how she would react. What I noticed is she is just a puppy in a big body. She does the iconic puppy dance moves to try to get friends to play with her. She ran and ran! Even got 4-5 other dogs following her! She loved being the pack leader! I believe Ginger would do well in a home with a yard or even an apartment as long as she go daily walks. She really does best in a harnesses or slip leashes for walking over standard leash and collar. She is a big puppy and just does not realize that cat does not want to play! She does really well with my nephews and the kids she has seen in public but has never lived with children. If you think you have what it takes to give this girl an amazing life please reach out! There is nothing more I want than to get to talk about this dog. I want to help you learn how to train her, and I want you to love Ginger that I have so learned to love.
By Olivia Herrera
At first I had my doubts about fostering. Would I have enough time? Do I really want that responsibility? Am I sure this will work out? The answer..... YES!
Of course I have enough time, the time I spend browsing Netflix or Pinterest would be much better spent taking and adorable dog for a walk! Responsibility? Yes you do have to watch them and make sure they don't get into anything (as with any animal), but again I clearly have the time to teach them and they learn quickly what they should and should not do. And I am so happy I am doing it, because it has definitely worked out!
The dogs from Country Roads Animal Rescue that I have fostered so far (Thelma, Louise, and Seraphina) have been nothing but fun loving souls. It makes my day to come home to those happy faces knowing they were saved from the euthanasia list or even an unloving home.
What a great feeling it is to help the helpless and see a sad innocent creature turn into the playful happy one it wants to be. So if you want to be less busy and more productive, talk less and do more, then give and get a little more joy in your life by volunteering to foster.
by Natalie Andrews
I had been slightly hesitant with the idea of fostering. I live a “city life” in downtown OKC and wasn’t sure how fostering would really fit in. Now looking back over the past couple weeks, I’ve realized that my reasons for not fostering were completely selfish- beyond completely selfish.
My foster “MENA” is one of the greatest joys of my day. I’m not saying the entire fostering process was perfect— and hear me out… she was my first foster and she almost died the second day I had her after being rescued from “jail”. This beautiful soul had pneumonia and it was bad. I mean bad. For those of you who don’t know Maria (founder of Country Road Rescue Society), she was my saving grace through this process. Already emotionally attached to my foster I stayed in the vet ICU until they would ask me to leave. Mena was in ICU for 5 days; each day was as intense as the day before. Then day 5 happened and it was wonderful. Mena came home and we have been getting her to 110% of pure ‘Mena-ness’.
This amazing creature is incredibly smart, gorgeous and sweet beyond words. Not really knowing Mena’s past but knowing how she was treated in “jail” and that she was being put down because she was “timid and shy… not compatible” – boiled my blood, boils my blood. I look at Mena and know that she is going to make good things happen… service dog, family dog, best friend and the possibilities are endless.
Everything that happened with my Country Road Rescue foster has been worth it. When it comes to fostering the only word that comes to mind is Compassion. Take a chance, open your heart, your home and you will change a life… just maybe not the one you originally thought.