Give Me Shelter – Fostering Rescue Dogs

Many of us know the line: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, ” as a line from the Statue of Liberty. It’s actually part of a larger poem written by Emma Lazarus that adorns a plaque on the pedestal of the statue, and while it’s well suited for lady Liberty – it also speaks to the thousands of humans deeply entrenched in animal rescue. I’m now in my 15th year of volunteering with dog rescue, and it feels like it’s been 15 years of gathering the tired, the poor, the huddled masses and allowing them to breathe free. Fostering rescue dogs has been hard. It’s been heartbreaking. It has also been one of the greatest things I have ever done. Fostering dogs has changed the course of my life. For this blog – I’m sharing two things I didn’t write myself, but that I found really powerful. The first is a story from a foster dog mom and the second is the full poem by Emma Lazarus. 

To My Foster Dog – Author Unknown

“My foster dog stinks to high heaven. I don’t know for sure what breed he is. His eyes are blank and hard. He won’t let me pet him and growls when I reach for him. He has ragged scars and crusty sores on his skin. His nails are long and his teeth which he showed me are stained.

I sigh.

I drove two hours for this. I carefully maneuver him so that I can stuff him in the crate. Then I heft the crate and put it in the car. I am going home with my new foster dog.

At home I leave him in the crate till all the other dogs are in the yard. I get him out of the crate and ask him if he wants ‘outside.’ As I lead him to the door he hikes his leg on the wall and shows me his stained teeth again.

When we come in he goes to the crate because that’s the only safe place he sees. I offer him food but he won’t eat it if I look at him, so I turn my back. When I come back the food is gone. I ask again about ‘outside.’ When we come back I pat him before I let him in the crate, he jerks away and runs into the crate to show me his teeth.

The next day I decide I can’t stand the stink any longer. I lead him into the bath with cheese in my hand. His fear of me is not quite overcome by his wish for the cheese. And well he should fear me, for I will give him a bath.

After an attempt or two to bail out he is defeated and stands there. I have bathed four legged bath squirters for more dog years than he has been alive. His only defense was a show of his stained teeth that did not hold up to a face full of water.

As I wash him it is almost as if I wash not only the stink and dirt away but also some of his hardness. His eyes look full of sadness now. And he looks completely pitiful as only a soap covered dog can. I tell him that he will feel better when he is cleaned. After the soap the towels are not too bad so he lets me rub him dry. I take him outside. He runs for joy. The joy of not being in the tub and the joy of being clean. I, the bath giver, am allowed to share the joy. He comes to me and lets me pet him.

His skin is healing. He likes for me to pet him. I think I know what color he will be when his hair grows in. I have found out he is terrified of other dogs. So I carefully introduce him to my mildest four legged brat. It doesn’t go well.

Two weeks later a new vet bill for an infection that was missed on the first visit. He plays with the other dogs.

Three weeks later he asks to be petted. He chewed up part of the rug.

Eight weeks later his coat shines, he has gained weight. He shows his clean teeth when his tongue lolls out after he plays chase in the yard with the gang. His eyes are soft and filled with life. He loves hugs and likes to show off his tricks, if you have the cheese.

Someone adopted him today ….When they saw him the first time they said he was the most beautiful dog they had ever seen.

Six months later I got a call from his new family. He is wonderful, smart, well behaved and very loving. How could someone not want him? I told them I didn’t know. He is beautiful. They all are.”

Fosters change the world, so please consider opening your home to a dog in need. ‘



The New Colosus – A Poem by Emma Lazarus

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-Poem by Emma Lazarus

This blog is a part of a blog circle with pet photographers from across the globe! This week we’re talking about shelters and rescues as October is Adopt A Dog Month!

Next up Canberra Pet Photographer Ina Jalil of Ina J Photography shares the work of Hear No Evil Australian Deaf Dog Rescue and shares some photos of Stormy who is looking for a loving home.

Be sure to keep clicking the link at the bottom to complete the circle until you wind up back here!

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1 Comment

  1. Tracy Allard

    Two moving writings, thank you for sharing. Fostering has been quite a heartbreak for us as well, but still we do it because we must. Rescuing one dog doesn’t change the world, but it does change that dog’s world.


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