Lady Liberty, The pup who earned her freedom
Updated: Aug 11, 2019
This blog is a LONG time coming, but I wanted to make certain I could get all of my thoughts down cohesively, and it's a long story so it took some time and planning. This is Lady Liberty's story.
Some people like to settle down at night with a glass of wine and make various purchases off of Amazon while tuning into their latest binge show. I like to settle down with a glass of wine and look for potential fosters. Late one night, I saw an urgent post on Facebook from Fulton County Animal Services for a little dog in desperate need of a foster. She was emaciated, badly beaten up, and had become so stressed out from shelter life that she was spinning in her crate.
Her name was Starfish, and she was cute as a button! At only 35lbs, her ears made up most of her weight. And, in her eyes, there was something desperate and pleading that compelled me to give her a second glance. My husband, Alex, being the outstanding man that he is, didn't protest at all, but he supported my need to go and see her. The next day, we took our dogs to do a meet and greet with Starfish. She did well with them aside from a little affection based resource guarding, so we wrapped her up and took her home on July 4, 2017. On Independence Day, Miss Starfish, got her freedom.
We had no clue what we were in for.
We renamed her, as we do all of our fosters, Lady Liberty, Libby for short. She was not potty trained, not crate trained, terrified of literally everything, and her primary mode of transport was neurotically spinning in circles from room to room (picture a much cuter version of the Tazmanian Devil). She was quick to cuddle with me, but it took her four months to look me in the eyes.
Despite her lack of trust in me, I loved this dog, and she was SMART. We trained EVERY SINGLE day, day in and day out. Walking on a leash was our biggest challenge. It would take about 25 minutes on average to get from the car, though the parking lot, and into a store with her, and we would do this multiple times a day with little improvement. It took patience to say the least. But, that's generally what you sign on for.
As we spent more time together, I started to discover how in tune I felt with Libby's spirit. Her weaknesses were similar to mine, so as Libby was learning how to dog, I was also learning how to human. Little by little Libby was forcing me to grow and change with her.
Libby is a very smart dog with a lot of energy and a little anxiety which made it difficult for her to maintain focus. I too deal with social anxiety. It can make going out in public a challenge on a daily basis. I noticed that when I was out with Libby, I was so focused on her well being, that I didn't care anymore how funny we looked or what people thought. I was working to make her life better, to get her a perfect home. Libby was the buffer I needed in public, and I was the foster she needed to work with her so she could get better. I was forced to ask questions in training class, forced to speak to strangers on the street to keep her safe, and forced to put her well being in front of my own selfish anxieties.
After 6 long months of decompression, Libby was finally ready to start looking for her forever home. After multiple applications, we usually go through about 10-12 applicants before we find the perfect home, a friendly police officer, let's call him Fred, reached out to us about Libby. That was in February of 2018. Libby and I were initially stood up for our first meet and greet with Fred. Some people told me to just write him off as an potential adopter, but something in my gut told me not to. Plus, everyone deserves a second chance. So, Libby and I met the officer early one morning after his shift in a Pets Mart parking lot. The second he saw her, I knew my little foster lady had found her forever home. I tell adopters that I look for the "lighting bolt moment" when I do a meet and greet. It's that split second where you can just tell that there is a connection between the pup and the potential adopter. It's something hard to describe but easy to see. Fred was immediately enamored with Libby, and Libby with him! She was generally leary about men, but not him. She literally jumped into his arms as if to say, "Okay Dad, I found you and it's time to go home." Long story short, Fred and his wife were perfect for Libby. We dropped Libby off later that day for an overnight visit. We got a text later that weekend that said we were never getting her back, no matter what because they were in love with her. Libby was going to be a new addition to their family.
It's bittersweet when you adopt out a foster. You spend time with them and watch them grow. You see them overcome so many obstacles, and you want so badly to keep them forever. You fall in love with them, and then have to see them off to someone else. I wanted Libby to be my foster fail, but her new parents are able to give her an even better life than we can. This is what keeps me fostering. A lot of people say that they would just keep all the dogs that they foster and that it would be too hard to give them up. To that I say, try it anyway. Try it because it is so deeply rewarding to find a dog (or cat) a home. Try it because it will show you the good in humankind, but mostly try it because it will save a life that is undoubtedly worth saving.
A friend once told Alex and me "You keep the ones that you can't adopt out. You help them when no one else can. If you fall deeply in love with your foster because they are so good, then you know it's time to say goodbye. Send them out to homes where they can be loved by others and change the perception of the breed."
I still think about Libby and miss her every day, but pictures from her Mom and Dad suffice. She's spoiled rotten now, but most importantly, she's free. Free to live her live without fear, free to live her life with love, and she's also free to poop wherever she pleases (as long as it's outside).