Foster Mom’s *$^%# Panic

The thing about fostering is that people don’t like to talk about the mistakes.  We know the proper steps, the protocol, the right ways to do things; so when we do something wrong… well we have to blame ourselves!  But I don’t like to admit that I did something wrong!  OH MY GOSH.  I didn’t do it!  It’s Tofu’s fault!  GAAAAAAAAAA.


Anyway 🙂  It’s almost been two weeks since Tofu’s arrival and I’ve been trying to strictly follow a de-stress period for my new house guest.  Since we know that she was living outdoors and let’s say “roughin’ it” before coming here, I wanted to take things slow.  I felt a little out of the game because my last two fosters were puppies.  They were happy to be thrown right into the party as quickly as Leroy would say, “Let’s play!”  So I knew I needed to be a bit more patient and understanding with our girl Tofu.

Leroy and Tofu have been saying “Hi” through their crates, getting comfortable with each other’s presence while on tethers, and having a few brief meets- generally while Tofu was tethered and Leroy was leashed.  Leroy was being playful yet cautious while he got used to this new friend that I brought home for him.  However, we had a little incident that had me very panicked upset frustrated worried about these two white fluff balls ever getting along.  Basically this ‘incident’ was that Tofu reacted very poorly to Leroy trying to play with her.  Considering this and her past history (outside, chained, breeder dog), my heart sunk and I spiraled into all of these tragic thoughts (she’s aggressive, she’s never going to get adopted, she doesn’t like Leroy, I’ve ruined the chance for them to be friends, I took things too fast, I set them up for failure).

Now the reality is that some of those thoughts were true.  I pushed a little too hard.   It is a common, although potentially dangerous and very risky, mistake that fosters do.  We want to skip to the part where they play and cuddle and frolic.  I’m a full time Grad student and I have a part time job (and I volunteer a lot).  So I’ll admit it- I hate to follow the crate/ rotate.  I feel bad for the poor dogs, pathetically watching each other through wire.  Being crated for 8 hours, then again during dinner, then again while I shower, and again at night.  GOSH that’s hard.  Well the thing is, it’s harder for me than it is for them.  The dogs are adjusting during this period.  And that it something that you should not rush.  A few extra hours in a crate can make all the difference!

So as I said, I rushed them.  I rushed and I panicked because I made things more difficult for myself, for Tofu, and for Leroy.  And because of that, I certainly can admit that I was wrong and I made a mistake.  I was carefully supervising and it wasn’t the worst thing to ever happen to a foster; but it was a mistake.

So after another week of panic/ rotation/ tethering/ muzzling/ stress, I decided that they were ready to try again.  My conclusion is that Tofu has never had a canine “friend”.  She is Ok to be around Leroy, she is even pretty comfortable around him, she is not openly fearful or aggressive in any way.  However, she doesn’t know how to play.  This is really sad because it makes me assume that all she’s ever known is being mounted, used, and abused.  So when Leroy wanted to play, she didn’t understand how or why or what he was doing!  We will continue to take things slow.  Any type of excitement or play will cause panic be very closely monitored.  But for now, we’re doing a pretty good job of just hanging out.  🙂

Mom, I don’t know how I feel about this.

If you know a lot about dog body language, you can see that they are not completely relaxed.  Leroy is alert and very aware of his Tofutti friend to his right.  Tofu is actually a little more relaxed because Leroy is being very calm and not trying to play with her.  However, she is still aware and watching him.

I guess maybe she's OK.

I guess maybe she’s OK.

The two are a little more comfortable here.  Leroy is still alert but not as stressed about sharing his space.  Tofu is pretty relaxed because Leroy was calmly tip toeing around the bed.

If I don't look, she might go away.

If I don’t look, she might go away.

Leroy and Tofu decided to look at the same ‘noise’.  Well, Leroy heard a noise outside and then Tofu tried to find what he was looking at 🙂

This is exhausting.  Let's nap.

This is exhausting. Let’s nap.

Leroy and Tofu participated in their first nap together 🙂  Leroy was trying to sleep with one eye open for a little bit.  But he continued to get closer to Tofu and he is now happily sleeping.  So he did decided that he could trust her (and me) that it was Ok to let his guard down for a bit.  Tofu is doing great with Leroy mostly on, near, or up her butt.  She is currently snoozing as well.

So the point is that mistakes happen.  But with time, patience, perseverance and close observation, I was able to (mostly) repair the damage.  However, this will be a lesson to myself for next time.  Take things slow and do it right the first time! SERIOUSLY 🙂


If you have any questions about Tofu, Jora, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at 

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3 thoughts on “Foster Mom’s *$^%# Panic

  1. Good job, Casey! It’s so important to point ou thte trials of being a foster parent. I try to do that in my blog, too. When you described Tofu not knowing how to play, that reminds me so much of Yoshi. She spent years being a uterus for some awful person. Those scars take so long to heal. I am happy that Yoshi can even spend 10 minutes a day in the yard with Cole and Toby. It may be all she can ever tolerate. Good work!

  2. I think it is so great that you chose to share this! First of all, we are so much alike in that we totally overanalyze everything. Secondly, I think that sometimes these minor altercations have to happen between new pups, in order to set up the pecking order. The dogs need to learn one anothers’ boundaries. While it would be ideal to have them assimilate this way without drama, sometimes it is just unavoidable. Things between Georgia and our pups were SO similar at first… she took every action on our dogs’ part as a sign of intimidation or aggression. Now the three are all inseparable. You are an awesome foster mama, and I just love the photo of them cuddling… I can imagine how proud you felt when you saw them laying together like that! I think they will be great friends before you know it.

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