Fostering New Vistas
By Lisa Begin Kruysman
I’m always heartened by the way foster dogs come to find new starts in happy and safe homes. Without any say in the matter (like many humans) some puppies are born wanted even before they enter the world; fortunate to enjoy a comfortable long life with their original families. Others are not so fortunate; starting out life okay, but circumstances change and they find themselves with an uncertain future. Some dogs are abused and neglected outright; wandering from home, with no one bothering to look for them, and still others are deliberately dumped on highways, in parks, or outside of overcrowded shelters.
Each homeless dog has a unique and moving story; unfortunately, those trying to help them can never truly know what these dogs have been through. Those who rescue just do their best to heal the physical and emotional “baggage” they’ve inherited.
In December 2013, in an effort to write about the process, I tried my hand at fostering with a little dog named Ginger. Ginger had been transported north from Appalachia, rescued by a woman named Martha Gayle Reece, who sadly passed not too long ago. Martha had a true Rescue Heart, sharing with me her wrenching stories about her trips to a local shelter when she had to make the weighty decision as to which dogs she thought could be rehomed, knowing the others faced a very different fate. I truly miss our conversations; she had so much to offer.
Back to that dog named Ginger, an unusual-looking little creature. Because she had been found so matted, her muzzle had been shaved. With her fuzzy copper coat, and pointy nose, she resembled a Red Fox. I felt bad for this little girl who was so torn between wanting to be cuddled, and seeking safety in the back of my closet. Her previous life on the street had gotten her into the practice of sleeping while sitting up, often near our front door ready for a quick escape if needed. She was so desperate for love and affection, but had come to fear its source.
My “Foster Coach” Lisa, mentored me through my first foster experience. I took each of Ginger’s adoption applications seriously, wanting her to go to the right home. I found this surprisingly difficult, but just after a few days, Lisa suggested that an older gentleman who lived in town, might just be the perfect match.
As the applicant had been “vetted” my job was to make the special delivery. On a cold afternoon in January, Lisa accompanied me for Ginger’s Rehoming Day. Although Ginger had only been with me for just a few days, I was surprised at my emotional response of letting her go. But I found a way to keep my emotions in check. Lisa even mentioned how calm I was, but I felt I had just done my job, I am tough, (and I’m a good “hider”).
After saying goodbye to my little friend, I needed some alone time. Instead of going directly home, I took a random ride. The Township in which I reside is sprawling, and my Ginger delivery had brought me to an unfamiliar section of town. In an area of generally flat terrain typical of the Jersey Shore region, I discovered a "hidden" hilly section of my town where gracious homes stood on high points offering beautiful sweeping views of the river and beyond. How could I have lived in a place for almost 17 years and not have ever seen this?
Taking in the scenery, I thought about all the displaced pets in the world and those who dedicated themselves to making their lives, and subsequently the lives of humans, better. They did so every day, and I felt honored to share their work with the world.
The events of the week, and of this day, spoke to me on many levels. In doing something new, and challenging, such as fostering a dog, new vistas had literally and figuratively had been presented to me. What other new places, people or horizons waited? If I allowed myself to wander off the beaten path more often, I just might find out.
|Lisa with her rescue dog, Teddy|
Lisa Begin-Kruysman came to writing late-in-life. At age fifty, wanting to author her first book, she sought a topic that fascinated her; that topic was dogs. She thought it would be a nice and easy way to spend her time before she realized that the world of dogs and publishing was far more complex than she first suspected! Using her degree in Psychology, experience as a Human Resources Associate in the entertainment industry and discipline developed working as a self-employed fine artist for over two decades, she persevered and within five years, had written five books and 220 blog posts to-date. In her mission to promote National Dog Week, she maintains a Facebook page dedicated to honoring its 89 year history and sharing its relevance with a new generation. She likes to say the page is growing by “Leaps and Hounds”. When not writing, she enjoys spending time at her home/studio at the Jersey Shore with her husband Rich and foster-to-forever dog, Teddy. Her writing has won awards, including the Maxwell Medallion and the North Shore Animal League America Award granted by the Dog Writers Association of America. Currently, she has several projects that are waiting to be revealed to the world! Please LIKE and follow her Author Page to keep posted on new developments.