This is our foster dog Brock.
Yes, he really is this adorable!
With Brock's arrival, came that "new dog" kind of chaos, which only added to the inherent chaos of our household, fueled by three high octane children under the age of nine. Brock is a Cocker Spaniel puppy. He jumps. He wants to play catch all day. He teethes. On everything. He gets into puppy mischief, yet all is forgiven quickly. When he pees on the carpet, I sigh and open up the back door to let him into the yard. When he ate through the leg of my "good" Under Armour running pants, I shrugged my shoulders and moved the laundry basket out of his reach. Brock has transformed our hearts into bowls of Jello.
As much as we love Brock, his time with us is finite. As foster parents, we are the bridge between an overcrowded shelter and a dog's permanent home. In Brock's case, he has adoption interest, and within the next three to four weeks, we will say good-bye.
When people hear that Brock is a foster dog, this is the reaction I get again and again:
"Won't the kids be sad when he's adopted?"
Of course the kids will be sad. They adore him.
Some people have gone as far as to say this:
"How could you do that to your kids?"
Do what? Teach my children that we have a collective responsibility to take care of all living creatures? Demonstrate compassion toward animals? Show them that action saves lives?
As parents, especially overly involved, "helicopter parents" of the twenty first century, we feel compelled to shelter our children from pain, or situations that could potentially lead to pain, whenever we can help it. Guess what Divas? Your kids are going to experience pain. All of the "risk aversion" in the world won't make a difference. Because, ultimately, you have very little control over the stressors they face in their day to day lives and the pain these stressors can cause. Much less control than you care to believe, anyway.
Restricting healthy, positive experiences in the name of risk aversion, especially experiences that can help our children grow into service oriented, compassionate human beings, only limits their development. I'm not suggesting you intentionally put a child in a situation for the sake of causing him pain. However, as parents, we have to realistically weigh these risks, instead of jumping in front of our kids as if a freight train is heading toward them, to shield them from the possibility that they might experience a negative emotion when the foster dog finds a permanent home.
Life is hard. Life is messy. And very unpredictable. We can jump in front of our kids all we want to try to spare them from negative emotions, but the mess will find them eventually. There is nothing we can do to prevent that. The only thing we can do is teach our kids to navigate the mess with as much dignity and poise as possible.
When Brock leaves us, I will have a mess to clean up here, because saying good-bye is difficult.
However, being afraid to love to avoid the hurt of having to say goodbye is not living.
Loving with all your heart, even knowing that one day, you will have to say good-bye, is living like a Fierce Diva.
© 2012 Ilene Evans