A writer’s account of how becoming a foster “dog parent” changed her life.
When a beloved hound Achterberg (Practicing Normal, 2017, etc.) had kept for 17 years died, the loss “left a gaping hole” in her family’s “collective heart.” Seeking to heal from loss, the author turned her home into a way station for canine rescues. In this heartwarming memoir, Achterberg lovingly describes the ups and downs of her first two years rehabilitating 50 dogs for new lives in “forever homes.” She begins with the story of Galina, a traumatized beagle who shrank from human touch. Under Achterberg's care, Galina soon grew into a “wonderful distraction” the author found difficult to give up. She continued to foster, knowing that another dog would only bring more challenges to a five-person household. Despite feeling unsure she had the “emotional and mental room” for more than one rescue, she brought home a puppy and, later, a large coonhound. Achterberg soon realized that her job was not only teaching her to look past former dog owners’ cruelties, but also to forgive inevitable doggie “accidents” like chewed shoes and bathroom mishaps. Other lessons followed. In fostering a pit bull, Achterberg learned to move beyond social prejudice and love dogs for their individual personalities. In fostering a dog who had just given birth to nine puppies, the author became aware that the process of weaning pups was much like weaning her own half-grown children from maternal care. The dogs tested both her and, at one point, the patience of a long-suffering husband who, in a moment of anger, told her to choose between him and the dogs. Yet fostering—and ultimately saving—rescues also gave her a renewed sense of purpose. Illustrated with photographs of some of Achterberg’s many fosters, this book blends insight and entertainment to tell an unforgettable story about seeking, and finding, life purpose through caring for abandoned dogs.
A compassionate and humane canine tale.