Give a dog the gift of a foster home

As of Tuesday afternoon, my wife and I are foster parents.

For Kiku, we will do our best.

We brought her home with us from the Kauai Humane Society, where she had been about a month. KHS, overflowing with dogs and cats, recently made a public plea for people to foster pets to help alleviate the overcrowding. We decided it was time to add the love of a dog back into our lives, as it had been about eight months since we had to put our Ipo down because she had cancer.

Funny. In some ways, life without a dog is easier. No worries about rushing home when we’re gone. No dog hair all over the car. No vet bills. No wondering what to do with her when we’re gone on vacation. No listening to the dog wanting outside in the middle of the night.

In other ways, though, life with a dog is better. My wife and I go on more walks together. There’s a simple joy in seeing a smiling dog with its head out the back window of our car. Little beats coming home to a dog howling with delight when it sees you. And the wonders of a dog sitting with you on the beach, running with you, coming to you when you call, can be priceless.

We know this because we have owned seven dogs. Most were loving and loyal and protective. One was crazy. One was indifferent. All were our good friends.

So, we will again try life with a dog.

Kiku, which seems to be a mix of pit bull and blue heeler, was brought in as a stray and it was believed she had been used as a hunting dog. Loud noises, we were told, frighten her. While she is sweet, she is shy, uncertain around people and skittish. About 4 or 5 years old, she is not trusting. She will need time to be around a home, to be part of a family, to adjust to life outside of a kennel, where she apparently was kept most of the time. Some dog owners don’t allow their dogs inside the house. When we’re home, they belong there.

To be honest, she wasn’t my first choice for a foster dog. I was hoping for an older one. But the KHS staff member, Merenza, believed Kiku would be a good fit for us and, after meeting Kiku, we agreed. We wanted to give her a chance, and for her to give us a chance.

So far, so good.

She traveled well in the car, never barked and, when we got her home, she wanted to be with us. We don’t have a fenced yard, but we do have a large kennel, which we are told will likely give her comfort, as that is what she is used to. When we let her in the house, it seemed she had never been in one because and she wanted out, unsure what this environment was about. Later, she came in and even wagged her tail, a first. We’ll try to make life easy for her, go on walks, just let her hang out and get used to being with us. We think she’ll be good friend, perhaps even my running partner.

Kiku, by the way, was a name given to her by KHS staff when she came in. I am going to rename her Haile, after my hero, the great Ethiopian runner, Haile Gereselassie.

The response to the society’s request for foster homes for dogs has been wonderful, and more are needed. If you can, please let KHS know you would like to foster one and they will find the best match. Know there are many loving dogs that need you.

Dogs count on us to take care of them. But we can count on them for so much more.

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Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island. He can be reached at bbuley@thegardenisland.com

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