So the first days of our experience fostering Baxter have come and gone. They’ve been entirely consumed with him, as happens with a new addition more often than not, especially a puppy (they need so much more maintenance). It is bringing up a lot of memories for me.
I’ve surprised myself because I never thought having this pup around would stir up so many painful feelings along with the nice ones. It makes me miss Eppy more instead of less, which I find interesting and also rather challenging. I had thought because this new little charge would be so different in breed and type from my girl, it would be easier not to compare them. Instead I find myself wistful for all the ways she is different from him, and then feeling rather like a jerk. I’m not sure how to deal with those emotions.
He’s his own little character but definitely a lot like Sparky, Maddy, and Emma, the JRTs I grew up with. I’d almost (not quite, but almost) forgotten what goes into puppy rearing, but he’s reminding me very quickly. A lot of fun, a lot of worry, a lot of work, and a world of new discovery and cute. He’s certainly a terrier through and through. Has that personality of being lovable, cheeky, opinionated, clever, and more or less demanding that you should admire him because to do otherwise, in his eyes, wouldn’t really make much sense. My parents would be going gaga over him, I think.
We’ve been teaching him a lot of different things. It’s all very baffling when you’re young and small and in a new strange place, and suddenly people expect you to walk a certain way, relieve yourself only in certain areas, curb your urge to bark at new sounds, hold different positions on command, and basically be in control of all the enthusiasm and zest that feels very uncontrollable for a baby full of vim and vigor. I feel that for a dog of his age and breed (and not even neutered so he’s got raging teen hormones to contend with too!) he shows remarkable control. He does require training but is shockingly well-behaved in some ways. And I really can’t fault his temperament thus far, which is a blessing. No aggression. Loves everyone. Fine with being handled anywhere, even his feet.
So I tell myself all these things. Remind myself how much he is great for a terrier (they’ve never been “my type”), and how much I looked forward to rearing him, and how much I wanted to be involved with dogs again. And I still ache. Then feel guilty for aching.
Everyone’s been telling me how I’m doing a great job with him. Between handfeeding him, working with the clicker, playing, walking, and just generally trying to keep him busy, I suppose I should feel something of a sense of accomplishment, and I do as I see him start to behave more calmly about the house and begin to respond to situations with behaviors I taught him. It’s neat to see him blossom into a nice dog to have around and know that Davy and I played a role in that. Even so, this is a dog who, rather than fitting into our lives, I have kind of had to arrange my life to accommodate him instead. Even though I was aware that would be the case, and thought it would make things much easier, because I wouldn’t be attached and letting him go to his new home would then, I reasoned, not break our hearts… I guess part of me feels guilty for not being in love with him. That’s supposed to be the main ingredient, according to a little voice in the back of my head.
I like him. I recognize that he’s a great little dog, and that to other people with lives and personalities unlike mine, he’ll be perfect, a canine paragon, eighth doggie wonder of the world. But… I won’t be sorry to see him go. That was the plan and that was the aim and it should be a good thing right? But then he looks at me with eyes begging to be adored and I feel like the world’s biggest heel because that’s the one thing I can’t really give him.
I’m learning a lot from this experience! I mean to write a post about that as well, but it’s going to have to wait. Effective time management is still eluding us a bit with all the puppy newness. For now, I wanted to process some of the jumbled-up feelings as part of recording our journey. There’s plenty of rainbows and sunshine in fostering, but of course it’s never ALL that. 😉