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Foster fail Friday, edition #5: Leonidas

Leonidas rests on his big brother, William Wallace.
Leonidas rests on his big brother, William Wallace.
Rebecca Coleman

Foster fail: A term of endearment within the rescue community; the foster parent can’t imagine their lives without their foster animal, and adopt the animal themselves.

Kaizer, now Leonidas, plays with his toy.
Rebecca Coleman

After obtaining a house of their very own, complete with a fenced-in backyard, Rebecca and her husband decided to begin fostering. They fostered several dogs and each one left paw prints on their hears.

One day, Rebecca saw that the rescue group she volunteered for was going to save two Labrador/Great Dane mix puppies, which the rescue would call Kaizer and Khapone. Her husband had always wanted a mix such as these, so she suggested to him that they foster them. Before they could even volunteer to foster them, another foster had stepped up to take the pups. There was some brief disappointment, but they were relieved the puppies were safe.

It didn’t take long before the incredibly adorable Kaizer and Khapone were both adopted. However, as fate would have it, word soon reached Rebecca that Kaizer was going to be returned to the rescue; unfortunately, his adoptive family’s baby had allergies. Rebecca immediately jumped on the chance to foster the returning puppy.

When she told her husband, he was undeniably excited. “My husband was beside himself, knowing this puppy was coming to our house! I even looked him square in the eye and denied any intention of keeping this dog,” Rebecca said. She then added sarcastically, “Yeah, right.”

“The dad of the adoptive family brought Kaizer to me, and it really broke my heart,” Rebecca described of the day they began fostering Kaizer. “He hugged that boy so tight and apologized over and over, and barely said goodbye to me, he was almost in tears. And now I know why, because this wiggle worm won us over in about 24 hours. He is so much like our 8 year old Lab, it's unreal; incredibly smart, so cutely clumsy, and such a lover.”

Rebecca and her husband fostered Kaizer for a few weeks, until he was officially adoptable. By that point, there was no question in anyone’s mind that they would foster fail. They sent in their contract and Kaizer became a part of their family, with a new name: Leonidas, from the legendary Greek story about the 300 Spartans who fought bravely against the Persian invading force. Leonidas has a Labrador big brother named after Scottish hero William Wallace. “Now we have two matching sets of heroes,” Rebecca said fondly.

When asked to describe how rescue and fostering has impacted her life, Rebecca answered, “My husband and I have always loved dogs. I never really understood the damage that could be done by breeders/puppy mills, nor the sheer number of animals that were just abandoned and waiting in shelters. So when a friend asked for donations to a local rescue for their wedding gift instead of presents, I donated and started getting emails and updates on different ways to help the rescue. When we began fostering, I was really nervous as to how our dogs would handle it, and I wish I had a way to thank them for their patience and understanding – my husband, too! Even with the torn up carpet and broken blinds, I just feel so happy when I know that I helped save an animal from sadness and death and found them a safe home and a loving family to spend their lives with, and I can only hope they appreciate them and the joy they bring like we do. I know we can't save them all, but we'll do our darnedest to help the ones we can.”

Rebecca’s experience is a perfect example of how you can help, no matter what position you are in at the moment. If you are unable to foster, but still want to help, ask your local rescue what you can do to support them. Make a difference today, even if it feels small. The animals and the ones who save them are relying upon it.