David and I have fostered several Kerries. When asked to write about our experiences, we thought it might be good to talk of the Kerries themselves, because each was a unique spirit and each brought something special into our lives. In most cases, our home was a temporary stepping stone to their futures, a home for wayward souls. And we were delighted we could make such a difference for each of these unique beings.
Our first foster, Trooper, was only with us for a few days as he was in transit to another foster home. Trooper was the only foster we received in dreadlocks. We had a late evening rendezvous to get Trooper from a situation in NY thru NJ to PA, a journey begun by rescuer Shelley Kilcoyne. The first thing we learned from this was to have a cell phone-our designated meeting spot looked good on a map, but in reality, it was a disaster. We headed one way, Shelley headed another, and it took some time to get together. We met at a gas station, and will always remember Trooper getting out of the crate in Shelley's car, hardly recognizable as a Kerry. Trooper was a really sweet boy, though, and not fearful of us. He didn't want to walk on grass, probably never had, and it was funny to watch him place his feet as if stepping on eggs. By the next afternoon he walked then ran, and once he started to run, there was no stopping him! What a treat to watch him come alive with fast-forward timing!
Our second foster was Kirby, the oldster, whose family was leaving for England and only taking their German Shepherd. Kirby was a gentleman from the first and arrived with perfect timing. Our Kerry girl, Bowser (not known for her affection for other dogs), had just lost her mother, was alone for the first time in her life, and just mournful. She liked Kirby from the first, and after some consideration, and knowing that older dogs are harder to place, we adopted Kirby. It isn't unusual for the two of them to share a sleeping space. If you haven't given thought to adopting an older Kerry, you're missing out on a rewarding experience. And Kirby came fully housetrained! So that foster experience certainly changed our lives permanently!
Number three was Many and what a guy! Many could leap from one couch to another. David would go to sit down and Iviarly would be under him already. Many was rescued from a kill shelter with only days left, an apnarentl streetwise Kerry who had been on his own for a bit. Manly liked people and other dogs and went on to his wonderful forever family for a second chance, and that's his name now: Chance. His adopters are in the area and we sill remain in contact.
Foster number four was Brady, one of the Great Ohio Rescue puppies, and the first puppymill Kerry for us. Working with a fearful Kerry was a first also. Brady was most afraid of men and anyone new in our home sent him to hide behind the kitchen island where he could peek around. It took Brady three days to figure out that he could rununcoordinated, but still a real run. Once a rabbit ran along on the outside of the fence and Brady took off in the opposite direction as fast as his wobbly legs could take him. Brady came to trust David, who spent extra time getting down on ground with him to play. Every day with a puppymill survivor brings new challenges as well as new rewards. Brady, named for the Gaelic "man of spirit," is finding his spirit with his new forever family in California.
The "freedom run" of a Rescue Kerry
Our fifth foster was Maddy, another puppymill rescue from the April Surprise. Maddy showed the same fear of men and attached herself to me first. None of these Kerries has ever been afraid of children, though, and all have responded well to our little grandson, Jacob, who gets to love them all. Long after they're gone, Jacob still talks about them and enjoys the photos and emails from their adopters. Maddy was especially awkward trying to run, probably from lack of muscle. Of all the Kerries I've groomed, our own and our fosters, Maddy was the only one who seemed to enjoy it, from bath to grooming table. Maddy wanted only to sit with us at night (actually she was happiest sitting on us) as if to say that once she found out that not all humans were the hateful things she knew in the mill, she really enjoyed our company. Maddy found her forever home in Canada with the best of all for her: kids to play with.
Today David and I are fostering our sixth Rescue dog, effervescent little Gulliver, whose story is still to be written.
The Foundation can only rescue these needy Kerries if there are foster homes to shelter them temporarily. It may not be convenient or easy but every problem can be overcome with patience and common sense, and the rewards of fostering are incredible. For the relatively little we give them, they give back tenfold. With the mill rescues, it is especially satisfying to see the changes from fearful, abused, neglected animals to healthy, whole Kerries that can run, play, feel good, and love. And David likes to say that it's nice to see dogs actually eat their food, not just turn up their noses! Indeed, fostering is a real treat!
Try it. You'll like it!