Foster Dogs

I wrote this column almost seven years ago. November 2010. ‘Henry” was one of my foster dogs that is now living with one of my clients. He turned 17 this month so in honor of him, I wanted to reprint this story. “Henry” is a one in a million Chihuahua. My daughter was 4 when he came to live with us and she had a spell of ear infections. I have pictures of ‘Henry” snuggled next to her while she was feverish and wilted. I hope you enjoy the story.

It was 5:30 when I left the clinic dreading what I had to do. I asked myself if it was really necessary, tried to find any excuse. I had two small dogs with me. Maybe I should skip it and take them home because I don’t like to leave them in the car, but it is a beautiful day and they should be fine for a few minutes. Besides, what kind of mother would I be if I ignored my responsibilities? I am resigned that I have to go. I am not looking forward to what I was in for but I brace myself and pulling into the HEB parking lot I wonder how there can be only one grocery store in this town. My worst fears were realized. Cars and people everywhere. Sidestepping through the crowd leaving the store, I try to remember the essentials I need. Would I like to try some wine? Sure. A gentleman is handing out samples of Cabernet, I think they should have a sofa for people to sit on, should I have another taste? Of course. On second thought, dogs in the car, I’ll just take a bottle. I get milk, bread and a rotisserie chicken and swing through the store quickly collecting things I need. Finally in the car, windows down a bit I am backing out and “Henry”, my Chihuahua, dives over the back seat into the sacks of groceries and I start yelling “Henry! Henry! NOOO! Leave my chicken alone!” I realize someone may hear me, they have no idea who I am yelling at, I can hear the 911 dispatch, “There is a woman weaving through the HEB parking lot yelling names and something about a chicken”. More rustling of the bags, I turn into the first empty space I see, a handicapped spot, I will only a be a second, I dash out of the car and open the back to see Henry’s little body half way into the grocery sack. “Henry!” his little face pops out with the loop of grocery sack around his neck. I place him in the front seat. On I-10 Henry likes to look out the window and he hits the window button down and narrowly escapes flying out of the car. As soon as I raise the windows, “Ruby”, my Cocker Spaniel, dives over the back seat. More yelling on I-10 to leave my chicken alone. Home at last. “Zeke! Get in here!” Kyle’s voice as Zeke bolts out the door to greet me in the driveway. “Where’s Boomer?” My daughter’s voice.

Finally four dogs and groceries are safe in the house. The aroma of rotisserie chicken is too tempting, dogs circling. “Boomer, out of the kitchen, OUT!” Boomer walks to the back door. “Boomer sit”, Boomer shakes. Poor dog. In 18 months he still doesn’t understand basic commands so Kyle for about the 400th time takes “Boomer” and puts him in a sit position “good boy”. Kyle informs me that when he got home the glass container of dog treats was shattered all over the floor and there was blood on the counter, floor, and water bowl and “Boomer” has a cut on top of his nose. We discuss how he could have been hurt, did the cats do something? Did the container fall on him? Kyle says he checked all of the dogs and only Boomer is bleeding but it is just a small scrape. Finally, dinner. My daughter is washing her hands and yells “Skyy, GET DOWN!!!” and turn to see one of our cats on the counter slinking toward the rotisserie chicken. Skyy jumps down and all four dogs chase her up the stairs. We sit down and Kyle says that he recently read in my column that pets are supposed to lower blood pressure and that people with pets live longer. He asks “were you talking about THESE pets?” I choose my words carefully and start to say: “It has been an unusually hectic day with the dogs…” Excuse me, mom” “Yes Honey?” “Remember you promised when I turn 7 that I get a Golden Retriever puppy” “Yes, of course, I promised”. Where did I put that bottle of wine?

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