Date 02-26-2015
Byline: from the heart by Melissa Boatner

In animal rescue, fostering is a necessary part of saving the lives of shelter animals. Everyone will benefit from fostering an animal (dog, cat, puppy or kitten). Simply put, fostering saves lives.

Here is Sandy’s story.

Sandy is a wire-hair terrier that was picked up as a stray in Troy, AL. I don’t know anything about her past other than she had puppies at the time she was picked up. Sandy had probably had litter after litter in her life so far.
All of Sandy’s puppies were adopted or sent to no kill rescues through Troy Animal Rescue Project. This left Sandy all alone at the shelter. You see, Sandy was unadoptable and unable to go to rescue because she was terrified of everyone and everything. She was crouched on the shelter floor and was so afraid of human contact that she urinated and defecated on herself if anyone tried to approach her. She was being over looked by everyone. She was unwanted, unloved and really close to being euthanized.

That is where I stepped in to help. I met Tiffany Howington and Jacqueline Meeks at the shelter on a hot Saturday morning this past summer and I saw Sandy for the first time. She was really scared and crouched on the floor. She would not come to me. She would not walk on a leash. She just tried to melt into the floor and be invisible. I looked into her eyes and I knew I could help her. I knew that I could make a difference for her. So at that moment, Sandy became my first foster dog for T.A.R.P. As I picked her up in my arms and walked with her out of the shelter, I could feel the warmth of her urinating and the smell her defecation. That was okay because this was a new beginning for her. A life free from having puppies, a life free of living on the streets, a life free of being hungry, wet, cold, unwanted and unloved.

As I pushed open the door of the shelter and walked outside, the sun was shining on her. As the sun’s rays glimmered across her face, I saw a glimpse of hope in her eyes. I sat down with her on the grass just outside the shelter so she could have a moment to try to relax and so I could pet her and talk to her and let her know that her life was about to change. Little did I know at the time that she would change my life as much as I changed hers.

So off we went. I put Sandy in our backyard and she immediately went under the gardenia bush and stayed there for a couple of days. I did not try to pull her out from the bush. I just walked over to the bush, leaned down and talked to her every day. I would give her food and fresh water daily and she would eat and drink under the cover of night.

Then one day she was laying in the yard and I walked out to her and she crouched down and let me pet her without urinating and defecating on herself. Progress? I hoped so.
Days turned in weeks and weeks into months. Over this period of time I gave her all the love and attention she would allow me to give. I was determined to show her that there was a better life for her. Also during this time, Troy Animal Rescue Project made sure she was spayed and received all her vaccinations.

I kept working with Sandy. Finally I could get a collar on her, then a leash. The progress continued. She started transforming into the dog I knew she could be. I could walk into our backyard and call her and she would come running. She would run around me and jump up and beg for ear scratches and belly rubs. If I sat down on the back porch steps, she would come over and sit beside me and put her head on my arm. We were close, so close to her being ready to go to rescue.

Tiffany would come over and check Sandy’s progress. She was happy, healthy and playing with my other fosters. I would send video to Tiffany of Sandy running and playing and Tiffany would share Sandy’s progress with rescues to see if anyone was interested in taking her. Then the phone call came. The phone call that you are happy yet sad to receive. Sandy had been selected by a wonderful rescue and she would be leaving on the next transport.
My heart stopped at that moment. I was happy and sad at the same time. After a deep breath I expressed my need to go on this transport. I had, after all put in so much time and love with Sandy, I could not send her off without me being there.

I slept little the night before transport. I was excited as this was my first one (foster and transport), but anxious and sad because Sandy was leaving. How could anyone take better care of this beautiful dog? Tiffany assured me that she was going into another loving home and she would be fine. Tiffany does a wonderful job at placing animals. She puts the animal’s needs first and checks and rechecks adopters and rescues.

Let the water works begin. As soon as we loaded Sandy in the SUV, the tears came. I think Tiffany was ready to put me out beside the road because I cried almost the entire way up to the transfer point and almost all the way home.

As I said my good bye to Sandy, I whispered to her that I was so proud of her and I wanted her to continue her progress and that I would never forget her. She had left forever paw prints on my heart.

After all dogs and puppies were loaded, Tiffany and I went to get some lunch. As we were sitting there talking about the day, the wonderful lady who was transporting Sandy sent me a picture of Sandy. Sandy was sitting next to her beautiful daughter with a smile on her face as if to say “Thank You for believing in me”, “I understand now”.

Tiffany and I started back home and Sandy never completely left my mind. She is still a constant reminder of what is possible through love, patience and compassion. To this day I have the above picture of Sandy and that beautiful little girl on my desk.

Later that night, Tiffany let me know that all transports were completed and all dogs and puppies arrived at their destinations. I was relieved, but worried that Sandy may take steps back to being scared since I was the only home she had been in that had shown her love, trust and compassion.

Several days later Tiffany sent me a picture of Sandy at her new foster home and the tears came again. Except this time instead of happy and sad tears, they were only happy tears. Sandy was happy in her new home and had not lost any of her progress along the way. She was waiting on her forever home.

Look at that happy face. I was one proud foster mom. There she was, with her same collar on, walking on a leash with her head held high as if she was saying “Look at me now”, “I am ready for my forever home”.

A short while later, Tiffany sent me a picture of my beloved Sandy. She had been adopted. She had found her forever home at last. I had made this journey possible because I gave one scared dog a chance to know love and compassion and trust.

Sandy might not have been in this world today if I had not made the decision to foster, to get up that Saturday morning and meet T.A.R.P. at the shelter.

So if you are considering fostering, take a look at Sandy’s final picture. The one I hold near and dear to my heart. The picture of her in her forever home with her two new human sisters to play with. This was possible because I decided to become a foster mom.


                                                             FOSTERING SAVES LIVES!!!!


If you are interested in fostering for Troy Animal Rescue Project, please give Tiffany Howington a call at 1-334-508-2367.

Any Question?

Contact Us: (334)508-2367
Troy Animal Rescue Project was formed in March of 2014. Since this time, we have assisted in the placement of over 1,000 pets. We are completely run via public donations. We do not get any funding from our city, county, or state.