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From Part 1 of Gertie’s story: “Gertie had been rescued but wasn’t out of danger. She was in much worse shape than Polly knew…”
Polly knew Gertie’s obvious problems were alarming enough. Good nutrition would eventually rejuvenate her immune system and that would allow the wound on her cheek (that refused to heal) to heal itself. But her crooked snout could be a big problem. Was this a “beauty mark” that had healed and allowed Gertie to thrive or was this a pending surgical issue?
Fortunately, Gertie’s eating and breathing weren’t compromised by her bent face. She would soon become known as “the face only a mother could love.” Unfortunately, there really was a surgical issue lurking in the details.
Gertie had a dime-sized hole in her upper palate. The cavity impacted with food at every meal and that lead to incessant sneezing and relentless infections. This would have to be addressed and it would not be cheap.
Polly had performed the rescue and handled Gertie’s immediate health issues. During her time at Polly’s house, Gertie was fed, loved and eventually gained enough weight to move to a foster home. This is when, in the fated way of all things Rez Dog, the Universe reached out to an animal person in Denver who prepared Gertie’s way to her forever home.
An animal person named Bridget always liked the idea of cat rescue and now that she had the time and inclination, she went looking for a rescue group to support. Just about the time when Gertie was stabilized enough to move from Polly’s to a foster home, Bridget (coincidentally?) decided that rather than rescue a cat, she wanted to foster a Rez Dog for RezDawg. She and her husband had discussed their current two dogs many times and because of those conversations, Bridget knew she’d have to plan the fostering conversation with great care because, “Two dogs are enough.” Pffft.
Bridget approached her husband and despite her best efforts, he laser-focused on the crux of the matter. He said, as both a statement and question, “You’re not getting another dog.”
But he knew. Even then, he knew. She explained she wanted to try fostering a dog for a Rez Rescue and that while a new dog would be moving in, it wouldn’t be “moving in.” She went on to explain how important this was to her.
He ignored the semantics and like good men everywhere, he supported his partner despite genuine reservations. Then he forgot all about it. Until he met Gertie.
Bridget’s first foster was not a simple case. Gertie passed through the front door a Rez Dog but quickly became one of the pack. I’d imagine it was a drag to clean the hole in the roof of Gertie’s mouth every day but then, I’d imagine it sucked for Gertie too. According to Bridget, Gertie quickly understood the uncomfortable process was good and necessary and went with the flow. Gertie quickly made peace with Bridget’s other two dogs, deferentially went out of her way not to be a bother and seemed to rather enjoy a regular schedule.
Gertie and Bridget developed a habit of attending adoption events every weekend. Bridget set up a comfortable bed in a high traffic area and Gertie would lay, sit or walk around looking adoptable. Soon enough, Bridget, RezDawg and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) had raised enough for Gertie’s surgery. The two had formed a bond during those months. Bridget feared the next dog-conversation with her husband. She fantasized asking, “What if we kept Gertie?” Naw. Bridget would throw her shoulders back, stand straight and repeat, “I’m a foster, and we’re going to find Gertie a great home.” She didn’t really believe it either.
A few weeks ago, I sent Bridget an email that contained six words. “Isn’t Gertie’s surgery scheduled this week?”
The response arrived the same day:
Gertie had her surgery yesterday and came home at the end of the day. The Vet said the tissue around the hole was not very healthy and so he had to remove some of that before using some of the healthy tissue from parts of her mouth to close the hole. She is doing well and is on canned food that has to be hand fed to her in little meatballs for the next 3 weeks. This way she’ll gulp it down vs. need to chew the food and allow her mouth to heal better. She is taking pain meds and seems to be doing fine…she’s a real trouper! She has a bloody discharge from her nose and the vet said that’s normal for the first few days. All toys have been put away and low activity per the Vet orders. Today she’s hanging with me in my work from home office in her favorite chair.
My husband finally caved in, he’s fallen in love with that special girl and is so impressed at what a good girl she is, especially knowing what she’s been through…”
Did you catch it? Just now? That stuff I wrote a second ago…
That last paragraph represents the point of the story and exemplifies the strange powers wielded by Rez Dogs everywhere. Bridget’s husband acquiesced to a third dog and Bridget’s first foray into fostering Rez Dogs goes down in the record books as a “Foster Failure.” That’s when a Great Human opens their home to a dog in need and rather than put them up for adoption in a few months, the dog stays forever.
Gertie went from the Giant gas station to Polly’s to Bridget’s. During that time, she regained her health, focused on naps rather than survival and became the dog she was always meant to be. I have a hard time calling her a failure on any terms: how about we call Gertie a Forever Foster instead? Because she’s right where she was always meant to be…
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