Whenever I adopt or foster a new dog, there is always a moment in time that makes my heart sing. It is the moment when he or she first acts excited to see me when I walk in the door after a few hours away.
Now some dogs will do this from the very first day. And some dogs will do it no matter who walks in the door. But some dogs are much more reserved, or sad, or scared, or simply upset at having their world turn upside down.
Sadie was one such dog. It took her a very long time to get over the loss of her family. For the ten days that Pepper has been with me, she has been an easy dog to care for but a sad dog - her tail often tucked between her legs or at least downward pointing. And while she has a smiley face, especially when there is food around, her face forgets to tell the rest of her body to smile. Only a very feeble wag in the morning showed me that she was okay with living here.
Until today. Today I had a shift at the theatre which took me out of the house for over five hours by the time I added in travel and 'searching for parking in Chemainus on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of summer' time onto the four hour shift. That's the longest I've ever left her. We've worked up to it gradually, but still it was a long afternoon for her.
Pepper was confined to the mudroom (immediately off the back porch) while I was out, and my own dogs to the middle part of the house. So Pepper is the first one to see me when I walk into the house.
Well! To say she was a happy dog is an understatement. I got straight-up-in-the-air-clear-the-coffee-table tail wags. I got leap-up-and-give-sloppy-kisses greetings. I got zoomies and playbows and even the coveted wiggle-butts!! And, of course, I got smiles. Miles and miles of happy dog smiles.
That moment of recognition, of being glad to see you, of letting the grin on the face reach the tip of the tail, that's what makes fostering an old dog worth every moment of worry, every puddle that needs to be mopped up, every adjustment of household routines, every extra trip outside in the middle of the night.
That's the magic moment.