Whenever people ask me how I can keep fostering after 22 animals and counting, I think of stories like Tuck and Cuda’s. Of course, fostering dogs can be sad and frustrating at times, but the happiness of their adoption day is worth all the hard work. As I’ve told many people before, shy dogs are the most rewarding, and Tuck was one of my first extremely shy foster dogs.
I fostered Tuck, a one-year-old Maltese, over a year ago now, but he still holds a special place in my heart. He was rescued from a puppy mill. Despite being there for only a short time, he was traumatized. Luckily, I had another foster dog who helped show him how wonderful life as a dog can be.
Tuck Meets Cuda
When I saw that the rescue I foster for (JRs Pups-N-Stuff in southeastern Wisconsin) was getting a puppy mill survivor, my heart melted. My first dog as a kid had been a Maltese saved from a puppy mill. So, I always dreamed of rescuing more dogs like her. However, when Tuck arrived, I was already fostering a 14-year-old Terrier named Cuda. I had never taken more than one foster dog at a time, but I knew I had to open my home to Tuck.
I had been fostering Cuda for a few weeks at the time. She had lived with the same family her whole life, but she was surrendered because they said she didn’t get along with their baby. Finding a home for a dog that age is difficult, but Cuda was more lively than my dog, who is several years younger. So, I knew she had plenty of good years left.
When Tuck arrived, he was the most terrified dog I’d ever seen. On his first day, he would nip or run away if anyone tried to come near him, and he sat in the corner of my yard trembling. Once I got him inside, he refused to leave his crate. But he wasn’t afraid of other dogs. Cuda didn’t pay much attention to him, but as soon as he saw her, I could tell he trusted her more than he might ever trust me. After all, humans had hurt him his whole life, but dogs never had.
Two “Less Adoptable” Dogs
Tuck and Cuda were my sixth and seventh foster dogs, and at the time, they were my hardest to find homes for. Everyone who saw Cuda loved her, but no one applied to meet her because of her age. I tried to show off how playful she was for a senior. Yet, people are scared to commit to a dog when they don’t know how many years they’ll have left.
As for Tuck, being a young, low-shedding dog gave him an advantage on paper. Yet, I had to make it very clear that he was going to be a difficult dog. He needed a lot of patience, and not all dog parents want to put up with a dog that they can’t even touch. I even thought about adopting him at first since he reminded me of my childhood dog, but I knew adopting a second dog would limit how often I could foster. I couldn’t give that up.
RELATED: After 11 Years In A Puppy Mill, Rescued Senior Dog Finally Rests In A Bed
Over time, Tuck came out of his shell a little bit. Around me, he never warmed up to being pet or walking on a leash, but he adapted to little things. He learned to go outside in my fenced-in yard and come back on his own. Also, he became a huge fan of toys. He didn’t want me to play with him, but he would throw the toys and chase them himself. These might seem like normal dog things, but even small changes can be huge victories for dogs who have been through what Tuck has.
Tuck grew closer to Cuda over time. He would always try to play with her even though she was uninterested. He would stand on his hind legs and make a begging motion with his paws when he wanted to play, even if Cuda was sitting on my lap. They’re two very different dogs, but around her, he seemed like the happiest he’d ever been.
Tuck Receives Interest
Once Tuck’s information was public, it didn’t take long for him to receive some interest. One family still wanted to meet him after hearing about his timid behaviors. I was worried he would hide in his crate the whole time they were there. So, I kept Cuda gated in the kitchen where he could see her. Sure enough, he came out and sat in a bed right next to the gate.
When the family arrived to meet Tuck, the pup stayed in the bed that was close to Cuda. Tuck was scared to see strangers, but Cuda craved the attention. Somehow, Cuda was so determined to introduce herself that she squeezed under the gate and rushed to meet the new people.
I was embarrassed by Cuda’s behavior, but the family saw it as a sign. They began asking about Cuda, which surprised me since she wasn’t anything like the dog they were there to see. At first, I thought they might adopt her instead. The idea excited me since she had been looking for a home much longer than Tuck had.
But the family decided something even better: they wanted to adopt both of them!
A Forever Home Together!
Tuck and Cuda’s adopters are some of the kindest people I’ve met while fostering. Not only were they willing to care for a terrified puppy mill survivor, but they also adopted the oldest dog at the rescue. They love both dogs, and they could tell that Tuck would benefit from having another dog around.
Now, Tuck and Cuda are both doing well in their forever home. Whenever I think about them, I’m overjoyed that they get to spend the rest of their lives in such a loving environment. Their family said that Tuck is more comfortable around them now. He likes being petted, but he’s still hesitant to go for walks. He learns a lot from Cuda.
So, even though many people find it hard to let go of foster animals, stories like this make it all worth it. Whenever I get updates on my past foster dogs, I always cry happy tears because I know I helped them transition from a sad past to the best home possible.
If you love dogs, consider fostering — it’s such a fulfilling and life-changing experience!