So…..I Fostered

As any of my regular readers know, my wife and I have been building a new life in our soon-to-be retirement town in the mountains of North Georgia.  One of the areas we’ve focused on is volunteering with a local “no kill” pet rescue charity, Tri-State Pet Rescue.  Every Saturday, we can be found at “The Barking Lot”, working to get our rescue dogs adopted by loving families.  It’s rewarding, and we really feel like we’re becoming a part of our new community.

A few weeks ago, my wife fell in love with a small dog who had a sad story. In short:

She fell in love.

Today, she writes about it.  I’m very excited to present to you the FIRST EVER GUEST POST FROM MY WIFE!  I trust you’ll feel her emotion through her words, and perhaps you’ll even be motivated to considering fostering rescue dogs yourself!  Without further adieu, I present to you my wife of 29 years, writing on a topic she feels deeply about, and one which will likely shape our future retirement.

So…..I Fostered.

Fostering a dog was never on my radar.  We had a “mean” dog at home who didn’t like strange dogs coming into “her space”, so fostering was never ever an option.  All that changed about a month ago when I was volunteering at the Barking Lot.  The Barking Lot is the area in Blue Ridge that our rescue organization uses every Saturday to bring our dogs to help them get adopted.  

This Saturday Animal Control showed up at the Barking Lot with a few dogs of theirs for us to try to place for adoption.  The officer opened a cage door on his truck and before my eyes was this Chihuahua mix shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.  

On closer inspection I realized he was sitting in his own urine and feces and my heart broke.  

This little guy was beyond terrified.  

I quickly scooped him up, gave him an impromptu bath and held him most of the day.  When he wasn’t adopted that day, I knew there was no way I could put him back on that truck when Animal Control returned.  So that was the moment we decided to foster Paco!  

Our big hurdle was our one “mean” dog.  We brought Paco home and kept him in his crate for the sniffing intros with our dogs.  We soon realized that the “mean” one was actually acting friendly.  We soon took Paco out of the crate and thankfully “meanie” took to him right away.

fostering a rescue dog
Paco and “meanie” became close friends

Paco quickly became this charming wonderful antic-filled bundle of joy who was impacting our home. After a couple of days with him I knew what was on the horizon…heartache for me.  

He was stealing my heart and I wasn’t sure I could handle that.  

How can you not love a face like this?

I almost called our organization’s director to ask to put Paco on Transport.  Our organization drives or flies dogs to other areas of the US that have strict spay and neuter laws which leaves them with not many rescue dogs for people to adopt.  

I thought the quicker he leaves the less pain I will feel.   

But before I could act on my selfish impulse I had a wake up call.  

You see, as with any charitable endeavor, this was not about me or my feelings, this was about Paco!  It hit me then and there that we were his “bridge” to his forever home.  

Here with us he experienced a safe environment. He learned that couches were to cuddle on and food bowls were always full. 

Fostering a rescue dog
Paco quickly became a member of our family

He was realizing what if felt like to be a part of a family.

Paco The Rescue Dog
Paco expressing his love when he couldn’t be with me (click to view)

He finally knew love!

Paco recently was adopted by a wonderful lady and in two days I must deliver him into the arms of his new Forever Mom.

Yes, there are tears now as I write, and tears will certainly fall on that day and probably many days after, but they are so worth it.

You see, Paco needed me to get him to the next chapter in his life and I needed Paco to help me see outside of my life.  Thank you Paco for teaching me what it means to be a foster mom and showing me that giving of my heart is never a bad thing.



  1. Paco is a beauty! And a sweetie! The photo with him and “Meanie” in bed is priceless. Thank you for rescuing him and being the bridge to his forever home. I know it’s going to hurt to give him up but you’ve done a wonderful thing. Paco was lucky to have you.

    My first cat had been fostered. A couple found him in a park in NY on a bench, quivering. They came back the next day with a carrier and found him in the same spot and took him home. He was on display at PetsMart through a rescue agency. But he was fully grown, not like the adorable little kitties everyone stops in for. But he was peaceful and I could tell he wanted love, so I adopted him.

    He was very nervous for several days. He wouldn’t eat or let me touch him. Several vets told me that the way he acted so frightened with people was evidence he had been abused. But eventually he became a lap cat. Meanwhile when I got his records I realized his foster parents spent close to $200 on his vet bills, knowing all along they would not keep him. So you can see why I have a special place in my heart for foster parents.

  2. Paco has been gone now for almost 2 weeks. It has been hard. He was a great little dog and is missed daily. I love to hear stories of rescues like yours! It’s amazing to hear what these animals have been through and yet they still have so much love to give. Thanks for being a Rescuer!!

  3. Paco is a cutie for sure. So great how you are using you love of animals to help them first and foremost as well as get yourselves immersed in the local community.

    We lost two cats in the last couple of years. Mrs. PIE and kids are hankering for a couple of kittens and I know when they present a few pictures to me, my heart will melt and I’ll give in….!!!

    1. It is hard not to melt! I am sure a kitten or two will be in your future. We love working with the dogs, it brings such satisfaction when they get their forever home.

  4. Awesome story! You two are doing amazing work – our dog is from a local rescue that came from down south (we live in MN).

    We also tried fostering, it was an interesting experience. The dog we took in was big and could leap our chain link fence without a running start. Stressful few weeks until he found his forever home. We may do it again in the future (I know Mrs. AE would in a heartbeat) but for now we are sticking with monetary donations to the shelters.

    1. Thank you for rescuing! Our agency delivers dogs to MN, who knows…he may have been one of ours. Paco was an escape artist too! He was so much smaller than our dogs that he fit though places that ours never could. That is stressful! Thanks for fostering…it is truly a sacrificial endeavor.

  5. Thank you for opening your heart to hurt and helping Paco find his home.

    We adopted our husky as a pup nearly 5 years ago. On our hour long drive to meet him for the first time we told ourselves that we were going to be sensible, and we were only going to look and we would sleep over any decision. We took one look at his beautiful blue eyes and that was that, he came home with us that day.

    1. Husky’s are beautiful dogs! We totally understand that impulse when you see those sweet pups. You just can’t help falling in love!

  6. Great post, and congratulations. We lost our dogs last year and will remain dog less for a few years into retirement, but no doubt we will adopt of foster in the future.

  7. So sorry for your loss. That is so hard when they pass. We have a 14 yr. old and we know we will soon feel that pain as well.

  8. Amazing post!! I feel like I can make your feelings and emotions my own.
    We currently have an adopted dog, straight for the highest kill shelter in the area, and a rescue cat.
    I am a huge advocate for adopting rescue animals, and I want to be able to foster dogs in the future, once my work schedule allows me to dedicate more time to rehabilitating these pups, who are very often scared with such sad stories in their past.
    i do worry about my current dog being a little “meanie” – she adores her cat brother but she is very picky with her dog friends. I always thought she had to be the only dog in the household, but maybe she will be like your dog, and with proper introduction, she could become a good hostess for a foster dog in the future. 🙂
    One thing I do fear a lot though, is becoming a foster fail. Like yourself, I know I will fall in love with the new furry friend and may not be able to give him or her up!

    1. Thank you DrMoney Tails, for the kind comments. To be totally honest, I would have gladly been a foster fail with this guy. I hope you do foster and that your “meanie” adjusts and enjoys the experience as well.

  9. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Mrs Gilbert. I always look forward to The Retirement Manifesto! ALWAYS.

    1. Sorry to make you cry! This was a very emotional journey. I still tear up when I see the pics of him. Glad you enjoy my husbands blog! He certainly enjoys writing it.

  10. A cat recently hitched a ride in the wheel well of the spare tire on my truck. We tried to find him another home, but as no one stepped up to the plate, we are keeping him.

    Fostering animals is rewarding. We have done it with both cats and dogs. We have 3 dogs and now 3 cats of our own.

    cd :O)

    1. Thanks CD for giving of yourself for the unfortunate critters among us! I think the “wheel well” cat saw a good opportunity! He is one lucky guy!!

    1. To be honest, I didn’t want to give him up. But by the time I realized that I really wanted to keep him, he was already adopted. He had to stay with us a bit longer to get neutered. It was tough, but I do keep in touch with his new mom and she says he has adjusted and is happy.

  11. Oh, Paco is such a cutie! Thank you for opening up your home and your hearts to help get the little guy transitioned to a good home (and to love him – sounds like he needed and deserved lots of love)! You are doing a wonderful thing. 🙂

    1. He sure was a joy to have around! We miss him! Paco will always have a place in my heart.

  12. Wow – what a beautiful story. It takes a big heart to foster and a huge one to let go. What a special transition you gave Paco! Thanks for sharing with all of us and for what you do for these wonderful animals.

  13. Isn’t it amazing how these little creatures can permanently implant themselves in our hearts? You are so kind for taking Paco in, and how great that “Meanie” took so well to him! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  14. Somehow I missed this post the first time around! Oh, Paco! What a cutie. I completely understand those tears because I, too, used to foster. I have pics of each of the 6 dogs that came in and out of my life. Some for a week, others a month, and one for 2 months! Each time I brought them back I cried and yet I continued to foster again and again. It’s amazing our capacity to love something that we know isn’t permanent. Wherever they are now, each of those pups have a piece of my heart and I know Paco has yours as well. 🙂

  15. I foster dogs. It’s very hard to give them up, I feel guilty for putting them through another abandonment. But, if I kept them, I’d have to stop fostering and wouldn’t be able to help the next one.
    Mary in Maryland

Comments are closed.