A little over a year ago I decided I wanted to foster a dog. I wasn’t sure if it would match our lifestyle, and my heart was still aching from my past mistake of adopting a cat too soon (she’s happily living with Husband’s mum now).
Immediately after defending my Masters, I started hunting for the perfect foster dog. My preferences and living situation made it difficult because I lived in an apartment but didn’t want a small dog.
After a few weeks of searching, a posting caught my eye. It was a photo of this thin dog who looked skeptical about life in general. The thing that really caught my eye the most was that her name was Cricket – it rhymed so uncannily with our cat’s, Briskit. It’s cheesy, but it gave me that “it’s meant to be” feeling.
It just so happened that on mine and Husband’s 6th year dating anniversary, we unintentionally celebrated by welcoming Cricket into our lives. Husband rushed back from a semester-long stay in Toronto so that we could meet this dog together.
I remember my heart pounding as I stared at the closed door in the vet’s office. They were getting the dog. We were going to meet the dog. This was happening.
The door opened and a small black face curiously peered around the doorframe. As soon as she saw us though, she quickly pulled back, scared. But the vet pulled her in, and shut the door so that we could have our meet and greet.
There was no official diagnosis, but I’m sure that during her first many weeks with us, Cricket had depression. She moped in her [open] crate all day, laying still for hours and not even bothering to sniff the treat we gave her. The vet warned us that we might have to carry her on her walks, and they were absolutely right. Husband had to haul her out of her crate (sometimes she’d go right back in), and she’d randomly lie down during her walk. I remember one of the neighbours laughing at us as they watched Husband carry this black medium sized healthy-looking dog all the way home from the park (thank you, love).
She was a low energy dog that kept to herself so much, it was easy to forget she was there. So when she finally came to us for affection, it was a calm affair but in my mind, the celebration was intense. We were sitting on the floor after a walk (it became routine to try to make ourselves be as un-intimidating as possible) when she slowly walked over to us and stood. So I petted her cautiously, containing my excitement. When I stopped, she pivoted on the spot but made it clear that she was asking for Husband to pet her. He did. And when he stopped, she pivoted back to me. This happened a few more times until she was done and went back to her crate. She didn’t wag her tail once, and she never faced us directly, but we knew it was a HUGE step.
Fostering a heartworm positive dog is a trick. The night she got her big injection, she reacted very negatively. She kept vomiting, she was weak, she was restless. We were new dog owners, we didn’t know what to do. We carried her out into the grass and waited with her at 2 am in the morning. When she looked more stable, we cautiously took a short nap and brought her back outside at 4 am, just in case she needed it. I remember sleeping very poorly because I woke at any small sound, worried that it was her. First thing the next morning, we rushed her to the vet. And the trick is, once you worry so much for a living thing, that’s it, you’re attached for good. It doesn’t make sense to let anyone else worry for her. She’s YOURS to worry over.
It’s a trick I am so grateful to have fallen for, because I have no regrets and I would not have otherwise known my heart could be this full of love.
One year later, our Cricket has learned about 20 tricks, and we’ve started to move on to learning nouns. : ] When she wants attention now she will throw herself at our feet and beckon us with her crazy paw. She still stops wagging when we pet her, but will anxiously lick/nose our hand for more cuddles when we stop. She’s a silent dog except for when she plays (so much ferocious growling!), and she pays much more attention to humans than to other dogs. She is naturally well-behaved, and is only mischievous when she’s scheming for cuddles.
A little over a month ago, she was certified as a therapy dog. Every week we go to the library so that children can practice their reading to us. I am immensely proud of her, since every time we go, she has to face SO many things that scare her. A “busy” downtown street, automatic doors, a large echo-y building, a lot a lot of strangers at once… And never once have I had to carry her in.