I came right back with my best shoot-em-down disclaimers: I can only just afford ONE dog, I couldn't afford to look after TWO. Vet bills for two? Worming and flea treatments for two? Forgeddaboutit. Plus, who knew how much extra work an extra puppy would be? It would probably all end up on my plate, and my plate is already full.
But I wasn't prepared for their clincher: fostering.
We could foster a rescue puppy, the rescue people would pay for all the expenses, Clyde would have a friend for free... and when that puppy moved on to a new family, we'd get a new puppy. Endless puppies, endless cuteness. A win-win situation for all...
They caught me unawares with their clever logic and I caved.
I emailed the DC Rescue people (where we got Clyde from) and inquired about fostering. I honestly expected them to come back and say that we are too inexperienced/unsuitable/not needed - but no. We fit the bill and they are always desperate for new foster families. Before I knew it the kids were scouring the foster puppy page to find a new buddy for Clyde...
And we literally found a Buddy. This pup was in the pound after being rescued from a locked garage where he'd been for over four days without food or water while his owners went on holiday. Our hearts broke, Who would do such a thing??? Poor Buddy.
Knowing that Buddy's time at the pound was running out, we said we'd take him (after a certain time in the pound with no-one coming for them, the dogs get put down, waaaaah!)
Buddy was described as sweet and affectionate, and would love a family with children or another dog. That was us alright.
So we headed to Pukekohe pound to pick him up. That poor puppy, he was so relieved to be let out of jail, he bounced all over us and I was mighty afraid. Already I was thinking, what have I done?
The snuggles seemed to settle him down, though.
Then Buddy met Clyde - and Clyde did not appreciate this small interloper, stealing hugs from his mummy (Miss Fab), stealing bones from his backyard, and refusing to submit and take his place at the bottom of the pile. Clyde was top dog, dammit! Why couldn't Buddy see that?
There was immediate aggro from Clyde to Buddy, who slunk away and cowered inside. The aggro didn't let up. If Buddy came anywhere near Clyde, Clyde would round on him. How was I meant to go to work tomorrow and leave these two together? What was I thinking?
We were such noobs we didn't know there was a protocol we should have followed to introduce the new puppy to our Clyde. He just bowled in and woofed, Here I am!
Poor Clyde was in shock. Poor Buddy just wanted to be loved and adored to make up for lost time.
Poor mummy was panicking.
Then Moose arrived. Moose is a giant Rottweiler belonging to a family member, who I said I'd dog sit for a few days til his new house was ready. Those few days turned out to be the day after Buddy joined us.
I couldn't sleep the night before, for worrying. What was I thinking? Too late. I'd said yes, there was no other option.
Lucky that Moose is the sweetest dog you have ever met. He may be huge and scary-looking but he is a teddy bear, and so obedient he puts my naughty disobedient Clyde to shame.
When Moose turned up the other dogs took one look at him and surrendered immediately. there was no question that Moose was Top Dog. Dog psychology is all about the pack hierarchy - Moose was unquestionably King of the back yard for the next four days, but that just left Buddy and Clyde scrapping it out - neither of them wanting to be on the bottom of the heap.
When it appeared that agile Buddy could also leap over the middle gate (and potentially escape the property) it was the final straw. I couldn't keep him safe - our usually gentle Clyde was rumbling him at every turn, and now he could run away if he so chose?
I contacted the DC Rescue people and begged for help, this fostering lark was a total fail.
Except that it wasn't a TOTAL fail.
Buddy really was sweet and affectionate and we were all falling totally in love with him. It was such a pain having to keep him and Clyde separated at all times, especially since the whole idea was that Clyde would have a buddy (ha, see what I did there?) but as for Buddy himself? Totally adorable. Completely lovable. Just... we loved him already.
There was that one day, where Moose got tangled up in the soccer goal net and spent the afternoon howling and Buddy was tied up to the lemon tree (so he wouldn't escape and get hit by a car) and barking to be let off (while I was at work, my phone on silent, umpteen messages and missed calls from the neighbours)... that was the low point.
But then I found out that Buddy couldn't actually LEAP the gate - he was just so skinny he could squeeze through the bars.
Not long after that, someone else put up their hand to foster Buddy and we were counting down the days til normalcy resumed.
Actually it was just me doing that. the kids were counting down the hours they had left with Buddy, making the most of all his kisses and cuddles, the way he follows you everywhere and comes when you call. Ahhhhhh, Buddy. How could we not love you?
Clyde! If only you loved Buddy too! Now that I've fixed the gate and made it secure, if only you'd accept Buddy and stop attacking him, maybe we could keep fostering him?
The kids were so upset with Clyde.
"Why can't you two just get on?"
"Why can't you be nice, Clyde?"
"Clyde, I'm so disappointed in your attitude!"
"Clyde, be nice to Buddy!"
"Mum, it's so awful when they fight. It's so upsetting!"
Hmmmmm, yes it is. Maybe there's a talking point here?
"Guys, you know how it makes you feel so upset when Buddy and Clyde don't get on?" Nodding.
"Well that's how I feel when you guys don't get on..."
I can almost see the lightbulb going on over their heads. This is what she's always going on about.
The day dawned, Saturday morning - we'd had Buddy for only five days but it felt like so much longer. We drove to meet his new foster-mum and it was bittersweet.
There were tears, many many tears. Sobbing even. From more than one kid.
We may not have had him for very long, but the kids packed so much love into Buddy in the five days he was with us, hopefully he'll have forgotten that he was ever neglected and abandoned in a garage.
Here's the strange part. Clyde is lost without Buddy. He's lonely. He misses Buddy.
They hung out, they played, there was no fighting. They even lay down together.
Oh Clyde, Why couldn't you have done this sooner?
Now Buddy is gone, Moose has gone to his new home and you're lonely.
Things are back to normal and you miss the way things were for those few mad days.
You miss living in a Dog Zoo.
Me? Not so much.
Buddy is super happy in his new foster home and there's a chance they may even adopt him. Our short-lived fostering adventure wasn't a total fail, because we all learnt a LOT - not just about dogs but about each other. About how pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony.
Will we foster again? The kids all want to, of course. Me? Ummmmm, maybe when Clyde is a little older???
MORE DOG TAILS
DC Rescue Dogs. I highly recommend DC Rescue as a wonderful organisation to adopt a puppy from. TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT FOSTERING OR ADOPTING A RESCUE PUPPY CHECK OUT DC RESCUE DOGS.