I last saw him five months ago, when he was just three months old. The rescue where I volunteer adopted him out to a family who had never before owned a dog. They went through the evaluation process, provided good character references, and promised to love him and take care of him forever. I handed them the 12-pound bundle of joy, kissed him goodbye, and wished them a wonderful life together.
Yesterday, those same people brought the now eight-month-old, 65-pound puppy back to my house. He walked them down the driveway, not vice versa, in a telltale sign that he’s had minimal training. The 9-year-old daughter said nothing. The 11-year-old son handed me a bag containing one meal’s worth of food along with the original, tiny food bowls that they never bothered to replace as Hoss got bigger. The father handed me the leash and said, “Thank you, Kim.” Then they all turned and walked away, without even bothering to tell their puppy goodbye.
Hoss has been back here for about 24 hours now, and he’s essentially still that 3-month-old puppy inside of a much larger body. It’s obvious that his adopters failed to teach him a lot of basic things, and it’s clear to me that he didn’t get enough exercise. He did seemingly endless wind sprints in my back yard until he finally took a nap at my feet. He doesn’t want to leave my side, he seems so starved for attention.
Luckily, Hoss has retained his beautiful, friendly spirit—along with his handsome good looks. With a few weeks of proper care, exercise, and training, he should make an absolutely wonderful addition to just about any family.
Today is Thanksgiving, and I am most thankful that Hoss is safe back here with me as a foster until his true forever home can be found. The holiday season is now upon us, the time of year when lots of families decide they want a cute, little, adorable puppy. Come this spring, though, a lot of those puppies will be tossed out of their families just like Hoss was, all because they started to grow up and require time, training, and attention. Not all of the unwanted pups are lucky enough to end up back with their original fosters. Some of them end up back in the shelter, right on death row where they originally started.
I hope that everyone thinking about bringing a puppy home this season will keep Hoss’s story in mind. Understand that puppies grow up. Believe that you will need to spend time training them and giving them exercise. Know that they are depending on you, and that you are making a lifelong commitment when you adopt them.
And give thanks every day that you are lucky enough to have a great dog in your life. I sure do, not only for my own rescued pooches Blue and Ginger, but also for the many wonderful foster pups like Hoss who give me nothing but love and joy.