Fostering Sadie:: How Our Rescue Became a Foster Support Dog

Fostering Sadie:: How Our Rescue Became a Foster Support DogThere are all kinds of things tossed your way when you begin the journey to becoming a foster parent—and afterward. You are required to take hours of training both in-person and online in order to earn and maintain your fostering license. There are resources {hopefully} through your agency and the Department of Family and Protective Services that give you bundles of information. If you’re a sliver of Type A like myself, you’ll consume any blog, podcast, or whitepaper you can get your anxious little fingers on even if they are remotely connected to adoption or foster care.

All of these are great. And you should participate—training is valid and necessary and everyone needs to enter the fostering process with their rose-colored lenses shattered and their eyes wide open to the many possibilities and scenarios that lie ahead.

But for us, we had a secret weapon. We had Sadie.

Meeting Sadie

Fostering Sadie

Like many rescues, Sadie came into our lives at a time when we weren’t looking. When I, in particular, wasn’t ready. We had recently lost our buds, my shadow, my best furry friend. My heart was in far too much pain to entertain someone else. My husband was quite content with his Catahoula and life as a one-dog family was going fine. Besides, we were in the middle of becoming foster parents. Who needed something else on our plates?

Then there were cages. Just right there, so unassuming, on the curb by Target. Who in the wicked world? We rarely pass by rescues without at least expressing our gratitude for them and the obligatory tale of yes, we’ve only had rescues ourselves. And then…that brindle face.

“We’ll just look at her,” he said. Pffft. So we held Mariah. {Dreadful name. Didn’t fit her at all.} And then? Then we left. We went to Target and bought the 47 things we didn’t actually need and happened back by. She was still there! That minx.

So what did my husband do? He took her out a second time! I had a good talk with Mariah. I told her all about Napolean, my darling boy, and how you see, I just couldn’t take her right now. She seemed mildly understanding.

Foster Love

Fostering Sadie

Now if you’ll remember, we were in the process of becoming foster parents. We can’t just bring home a dog. There’s a lot of work involved, new paperwork to be filled out, pets are expensive, and what if she doesn’t like kids? Cue my friend with a child that just spontaneously walks up to that same curb…

She walked right up and said, “Oh! Are y’all getting a dog?” No. I explained some of my hesitations while her 5-year-old beelined for the puppy. Sadie licked that little girl up and down like a popsicle. Fine. I see you, you clever girl. “Looks like she okay with kids,” chimes the ever-helpful husband. {side eye} Still not sold, they begin to talk to us about Mariah’s tale.

She is actually being fostered by a family {with kids, mind you, really drilled this point home} because she had to be removed from her owners. She had already had at least a litter or two and someone had used her for target practice. As I ran my hand over her I could feel a BB still lodged in her hindquarters. They told us that despite the rough beginning she had a sweet disposition and in her current placement she slept on the 12-year-old’s bed. But {there’s always a “but”} she was heartworm positive. Having just lost a dog to a heart condition, I wasn’t sure I could handle it. But, I couldn’t put her in the crate either. Then, her foster mom showed up to take her home.

Sadie Reese

Except she didn’t. Because I couldn’t. We signed the papers, bought a collar, and Mariah became Sadie Reese—and came home with us.

We didn’t know it then, but Sadie would be our gateway to some tough conversations. She began her new unofficial job as a foster support dog. We don’t directly tell our placements, but they make the connection. While they squeeze or pet Sadie, we begin to share her story. We gently tell them that she had a home that wasn’t always kind, that they did some things that hurt Sadie very much, and scared her. As a result, nice people came to help her and brought her to live with a caring family. They loved her so much! But they wanted to help other puppies, too. So, Sadie came to live with us. Now it’s our job to take care of Sadie and love her—even if she’s scared of things sometimes, like loud noises.

They make a connection to our Sadie love that is beyond what we could give them. It’s as if she “gets it,” even if she can’t talk to them. They see themselves in her story. Even if there is not another foster placement in our home at the time, they’ll always see Sadie as another foster kiddo just like them and they don’t feel alone. In-kind, Sadie looks out for them and lets them know that she’s there for them and that this is a safe place. 

She was hurt, a little scared, but someone wanted to take care of her—they loved her just as she was. And now she has a huge extended family whom she cares for very, very much. So if you see Sadie Reese, give her a high paw and maybe a belly rub. She’s kind of a rockstar.


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