WHY WE FOSTER: THE STORY OF BUDDY
The story of Buddy begins in far southern Missouri. He was a stray who made it to a family who took him in and cared for him, hoping to find his real home. When no one came to claim him, they got connected with CBBCR. Buddy's freedom ride to Minnesota was started by a friend of the rescue and transporter named Brigitte. She drove 2 hours south from St. Louis to rescue him. CBBCR's staff took care of getting him vetted and cared for until CBBCR volunteer Rhoda went to Illinois to transport him all the way to Minnesota over Labor Day weekend.
Buddy's special personality was noticed by Rhoda. It was clear that he would make an excellent therapy dog. Thankfully, she has a full house of Border Collie therapy dogs or she would not have completed the delivery. She had fallen in love with this very special dog.
I was the fortunate (blessed) foster to take in Buddy. We could see right away that he was an exceptional dog. After more vetting and care for a couple of weeks, we could see that he was meant for a very special life as a service dog. Dogs that have this unique gift are exceptionally rare and we started searching for the perfect home for him. I reached out to the CBBCR group to ask if anyone needed a service type of dog and Rosemary pointed out that CBBCR had an approved application last spring for someone in Illinois who was looking for a service dog for herself. This applicant was also part of a service dog training program at the University of Illinois at Champaign. Rosemary did the phone interview months ago for Annalea and suggested that I read her application.
That was the best advice I had ever received! I quickly downloaded her file and I am not embarrassed to admit that as I read her application that I was a little teary eyed. This was looking like the perfect home for the perfect young lady who needed a service dog as a support dog. I contacted her and told her about Buddy, and she was cautiously excited to learn more about him.
A week later, I drove him to Champaign, IL for the meet-and-greet. I arrived on a Sunday morning, thinking that this meeting might take 2 hours or more. WOW! 6 hours later we both realized how much time had passed during this wonderful day that felt like only 15 minutes had passed. Annalea was in love with Buddy. During the day, we walked through buildings and places where she would be during a normal day. She tested Buddy on several things such as meeting people in wheel chairs, dealing with a barking excited young dog, and meeting her kittens. It was clear that Buddy and Annalea were a match made in heaven, and for me it felt like a divine appointment for the day.
This was a truly inspiring foster experience. All of the foster dogs that get placed are great experiences as they bring joy to a new family, but the ability to place Buddy into a very special job was one of the best days of my life as I got to know Annalea and to understand how Buddy could become a central part of her life.
One of the special stories of Buddy must be shared. Rosemary dog sat Buddy recently as Annalea had to make a trip with a client. While he was there, Dair had a coughing episode and Buddy went into action as he rushed over and put his paw around Dair's neck and his chin on Dair’s head to comfort him until it stopped. He is a natural compassion dog who has also proved to be a great emotional support dog for Annalea.
I was told by a service dog trainer that these dogs are rare--about 1 in a thousand. What a blessing to have a small part in getting this exceptional dog into the life of a wonderful young lady to be her service dog.
We focus so much on the rescuing of dogs for the sake of the dog. When a dog is placed, we can be thankful that someone's life has become more fulfilled as they adopt the new family member. I know our dogs have changed our lives for the better.
It takes a lot of volunteers to make this all happen for each dog and adopter. Thanks to all the people who help in so many ways, at least 10 people were involved in this process! At times fostering and other volunteer activities can be frustrating, difficult, expensive, takes time away from family, and more, but, happy endings like this make it all worthwhile and can inspire us to keep going to save the next dog.
This awesome foster situation underscores the need for foster parents to understand their dogs and look for the best opportunities for the abilities of the dog and the needs of the potential adopters. Buddy would have made a great family companion dog, but his God given nature offered him the chance to be much more. The picture displays the joy of both Buddy with his service dog vest and Annalea as they are now a family.
Jerry and Dee.