Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fostering Creation

My household is fostering a puppy. A big, happy, goofy puppy. Here’s a photo:

His name is Presley, and he is about a year old. He has been with my family since March, when a local rescue worker found him wandering in a park. This was him when she coaxed him into her car and put out the call for a foster home.

He was skinny and insecure. It looked like he was abandoned, and had to spend too much of his puppy life walking outside. He hates the rain, and is terrified of the sound of traffic.

The deal with fostering is that the foster home cares for the dog until he gets adopted. He’s going to his new family on Saturday.

The funny thing about this is how much better a dog he is than our own dogs. Here are A.J. (left) and Xena (right). They are Shih Tzu rescues.

Our dogs have it great. But because they are our dogs, we don’t have to worry about making them adoptable. They're just good enough to bring to a friend's house, go to daycare, and ride in the car without any drama. We're stuck with each other.

Shih Tzus have attitudes and big personalities (so yes, they will try to attack the neighborhood Great Danes). Once Xena walked over to a ball thrown to her to fetch, peed on it, and then sat next to it and stared at the person who dared to ask her to do something so demeaning as fetch a ball. And now they’re middle-aged, so they mostly sleep, and growl at Presley when he gets too close.

We had to worry about making Presley adoptable. Presley is a pit bull mix, and because pit bulls face so much discrimination, particularly in this area of the country where they are very common, the task we faced as a foster home was to make him the best dog ever. The pit bull breed is friendly, cuddly, and very driven by treats, approval, and affection. Without proper training or care, pitties can act out just like any other dog or human that is mistreated. He’s a big strong boy, so we had to make sure he has good self-control and is responsive to commands. He got better training (obedience classes), more socialization (doggie daycare and socialization classes galore), firmer boundaries, more exercise than A.J. and Xena. He has gained almost 20 pounds, and has enough confidence to give him some swagger.

Here he is at obedience class, focusing on the treat in my hand.

At some point, tired out from dealing with all that puppy energy, I thought, “Well, can’t stop now. We are raising someone’s else’s dog.”

It’s funny that what is mine, I don’t worry too much about (and our dogs could totally use more training). I worry about what is not mine: I pick up campsites quite nicely, try to return borrowed kitchenware washed and dried (or return cast iron skillets nicely cured), don’t fold the corners of pages in borrowed books, and spend time and energy (and money) on a puppy who’s about to leave.

I consider it a responsibility and a privilege to foster creation. Isn’t that what we are all doing? We live here, on this planet, with these people and these animals. This place isn’t ours forever. We’re about to leave. Wouldn’t it be an amazing legacy to leave everything just a little bit better than it was when we arrived?

That might mean a big puppy who can sit, lay down, wait, come, catch, touch, heel, stop, crate up, and do his business. It might mean making sure we make a little bit of effort to wash and fill up the tank in a friend’s car. It could even mean we plant a little garden, so there is something fresh for neighbors to eat. Perhaps we might even work to end fracking so the groundwater in a community has safe drinking water for the future, or prevent politicians from slashing public benefits meant to help people through a rough patch until they can get back on their feet.

What was it that is said in the Scriptures? Care for the widow and the orphan.

Ok. I’ll do my best. Starting with a puppy named Presley.

1) Yes, I’m aware there are lots of people who could really benefit from homes, food, health care, etc. I am aware that fostering one dog at a time will never meet the vast needs of the world. I consider it my duty as a citizen of the planet to work for a world that treats its vulnerable members better. And when it comes to opening my home, I just do what I can.  
3) Yes, I know what really needs to happen for there to be no more need to foster animals or have animal shelters. One dog at a time won’t really solve anything. We’re talking cultural and legal shifts that ensure there are no more irresponsible breeders, careless or cruel owners, or people who refuse to spay/neuter their animals.
4) Please adopt. Quit buying dogs. If there were no more demand, maybe every dog and cat would have a home instead of getting dumped off in parks or kicked out of moving cars or abandoned in empty houses without food or water.
5) Fostering is a great option. The rescue paid for the food and medical care. The socialization and obedience classes were donated. And his doggie daycare in Decatur gave us a great deal.

Here are a few resources on creation. Are there others to post? Please add them in the comments.

Stewardship of Creation Study Participant’s Book and Leader’s Guide (Being Reformed Series)

Water: Precious Gift and Endangered Resource (The Thoughtful Christian downloadable study)

God’s Creation (Faith Questions Youth curriculum)

An Inconvenient Truth: Facts About Global Warming (The Thoughtful Christian downloadable study)


  1. Beautiful. We'll miss that big goofy boy but the love you've shown him will be the love he shows his new family.

  2. Fido to fracking to Faith - awesome Laura!! :)

  3. I love the way you summed up exactly what I feel about fostering. You didn't change the world, but you did change Presley's world, and that's enough. I'm so happy he found a home. Beth