This series is intended to tell stories about fostering and our second foster dog Sarge. Wanted to share these stories over the next few days as we prepare our home for our third foster dog! If you haven’t read Sarge Stories - Day One, feel free to catch up here.
Fostering Tim came at the perfect time. He was our first foster from Pacific Northwest Cattle Dog Rescue (PNWCDR) and he arrived on January 14, 2020. The start of the year is quiet for most small businesses. The holiday insanity has come and gone. Customers are taking it easy on spending. Events and markets take a breather. Which meant I had more time on my hands to dedicate to this whole fostering adventure.
All that seemed to be working in our favor. I think both my spouse Justin and I were waiting to see if we could even pull this off when Tim arrived. We didn’t know whether we would succeed or maybe just “make it work” with Gus and his reactivity.
In the end we did. We did pull it off and Tim went to his new family on February 17th. After fostering Tim went so well, we had to sit down and chat about if we wanted to do it again. It was a lot of work to ease Gus into life with Tim. And Tim needed love, attention, and training. He was just a young little dude, only about a year old.
I remember when Tim’s new family came to the house to pick him up, I was a so nervous. Would I cry in front of these people? Would Tim not want to go? Would Gus and Sophie be sad? All newbie foster parent worries. But Tim remembered his new family from his two meet and greets and was so excited to see them. This huge wave of relief just washed over me. Tim was happy. We had done it. Tim got his new beginning. We had achieved foster success.
Turns out our dogs were fine too. Sophie and Gus weren’t sad. It was like their friend that had been sleeping over went home. And they were both like, cool what’s next? Classic me to worry and overthink. And I wasn’t sad. After I watched their car drive off down the road, I just felt… really really good. I felt like I had done the thing I had wanted to do. I had made my dream for Jack’s legacy come true.
So what next? Back to normal? At best it was a new normal. Having only two dogs in the house felt weird. We had only lost Jack in September. Even after three months of just Sophie and Gus - two dogs felt odd. It had felt good to have three dogs again for the six weeks we fostered Tim. The boys played and played in the back yard. Cuddled on the couch. All under the watchful supervision of Sophie. The house was warm and full.
It was a now mid-February and the quiet beginning of the year was supposed to be coming to an end. March meant lots of events and markets - more time dedicated to my growing little business. All Dog Kind is a big part of Jack’s legacy too. I didn’t want to lose that or not push it to grow. So I worried about my event schedule ramping up impacting my ability to foster. Would I have enough time? Tim was such a good friend and match for Gus. Would the next foster be the same? We also had our annual road trip coming up at the beginning of May. Would that be enough time to do another foster?
My gut said leap. So I did. Because when it comes to dogs and most things, my gut steers me right. After, of course, my brain organizes and overthinks everything. Now my heart, on the other hand, is a nut job. It says things like “sell the house, buy land and start a dog rescue.” Or things like “it is totally normal to have five dogs in a <500sqft single family home in the city.” You get the idea.
So I reached out and said we were ready for another foster. I had seen a photo of a dog named Dottie and inquired about her. Marie in all her wisdom matched us with Sarge. On February 23rd, six days after Tim went home, we drove up to Burlington to pick up Sarge. He had been transported from Texas along with another dog named Carter. We pulled up to a veterinary clinic. They had this fenced in yard right next to the parking lot where we could all meet. My heart fluttered when I saw them. Sarge and Carter were romping around with Marie and her amazing dog Percy. It felt special to get to pick him up the day he arrived in Washington. In my dazed excitement, I remember Marie saying something like “yeah he seems like a good one. Heather sent him to us. She always sends us good dogs.” I didn’t realize it at the time but that was going to be an important piece of information.
Sarge settled in perfectly. A few days in I realized I never really dug deep into the information we had on him. Just skimmed a few pieces of info. Mostly looked at pictures and videos that showed how sweet he seemed and dove in. I just remember reading he was a stray that people had seen around town in Balmorrhea, TX. Something about how he hung out by the grocery store, being cute and trying to get food. So I went back and dug deeper.
There was a document the Alpine Humane Society had put together on Sarge for Pacific Northwest Cattle Dog Rescue. You can see a picture of it below. It almost looks like a little flyer for him. The sentence that stopped me in my tracks was “We don’t know much about his history, as Sarge was rescued from a highway pullout after his dog partner had been hit by a car.” I was reading this with my computer in my lap and Sarge napping on the couch next to me. I just started to cry. He woke up like “lady what’s wrong?” And I looked him straight in the eyes and asked “why didn’t you tell me?” He just walked from his spot on the couch into my lap (as I quickly removed the computer) sat down and kissed my face.
This was the moment that solidified he was an old soul in my heart. He was far too young be that wise. It can be so easy to forget how far they have come by the time they get to you as a foster. As best I can tell Sarge had been picked up by animal control, brought to a local shelter, pulled from the shelter, placed in foster care in Texas for a month, then transported to Washington State. A lot of people had to give a crap to make that happen. A lot of people had to care whether Sarge made it.
A few weeks later, Marie shared an annual report with the rescue’s foster group. Saying it was from one of their independent rescue partners, Heather Hall. That Heather was located in Terlingua TX outside of Big Bend National Park. And so far, Heather had sent PNWCDR seven dogs - Venus, Serena, Panda, Tasmin, Timmie, Tango and Sarge. So naturally I was curious and opened up the document to read. Heather had reached on on Instagram after I had posted about Sarge and tagged PNWCDR. It was amazing to connect, we had chatted about how Sarge was doing, how wonderful he is, and how grateful I was she sent him to PNWCDR. I knew she helped get him to us but I no idea what else she was doing.
The annual report tells an incredible story and I highly recommend you read it. It is inspiring. Like make you jump up and down in your living room inspiring. Growing up in the south (SC & NC) and having half of my family be from El Paso, TX - I’m familiar with how the vast majority of our country simply doesn't have the rescue infrastructure built yet. So I have a soft spot for people who are trying to make that happen. And I’m a little biased because starting a project like this sounds like something my heart screams for me to do all the time.
And to be quite honest - this annual report and this project underlines everything important about this story so far. That when people connect and collaborate and help each other real magic happens for these animals.
Heather coordinates transports for all the area shelters and in 2019 started The Underground Dog: Project POOP. POOP is an amazing acronym for Pups Out Of Presidio, because the project is focused on the Presidio Animal Shelter. She is doing an incredible job of partnering with her local animal control officer, working with other rescues like One Tail At a Time-PDX, creating access to veterinary care, building a foster network, working with local government to change policies. And again, I’d like to emphasize, 2019 was her first year doing this project. And she did it with an annual budget of less than 15k. To put it plainly, Project POOP helped vaccinate, sterilize, foster, nurse back to health, transport and/or adopt 94 dogs and 10 cats from the Presidio Animal Shelter, and 7 more local dogs. When I read that statement it makes me feel powerful. Like change is possible.
You see Sarge’s journey cracked it all open for me. I felt like the rescue world just split open and unfolded before me. I saw it in a way I just had not before. I had touched pieces of the puzzle in the past. I helped transport dogs when I was in college. I’d pick up an hour or two of driving and we’d daisy chain these little babies to a foster home or a forever home. It was great. I’d volunteered with rescues at adoption events and with nonprofits building backyard fences. One time I held a puppy that was the last of his litter at an adoption event for hours. I had seen his mom and all his siblings get adopted. Then right as the event was ending helped him get adopted. Months later bumped into him and his new family at local dog event. All this to say, I had experienced bits of the magic.
This time it was different. I was only six weeks of Sarge’s story. But the amount of love I felt for him was on a new level. It made me feel this immense connection to everyone who had brought him to me. To everyone that made it possible for this dog to live and be happy - I felt deep gratitude. Falling in love with Sarge made me vividly see all the steps that could or could not have happened for him.
Next week I’m going to be launching some new items in the shop - and 100% of the profits from those items (not just our normal 20%) are going to go straight to Pacific Northwest Cattle Dog Rescue and to Project POOP in honor of Sarge. I'm really pumped to share with you what I've been inspired to create. And with your help raise some money for the organizations that helped make Sarge's journey possible.
Stay tuned for more Sarge Stories over the next few days! I’m excited to share more about him and our fostering journey as we get ready for our third foster to arrive.