Annie had been a part of our family for exactly 8 months and we decided to visit her foster family.
I had been wrestling with this decision since we set the date. I was very concerned about how Annie would respond to being there again. I didn’t want her to think we were returning her but I know that when she was there she felt safe and loved. In addition, she had proven to me that as long as I was by her side, she was willing to try new places so I decided we should go ahead and visit them. If it was too scary for her or she didn’t respond well, we would cut it short and return home.
When we pulled into their driveway we were instantly greeted by Tracy, her foster dad. Annie hopped out of the car, and followed us straight through the front door with no hesitation. This was a big deal for all of us because when she lived here she didn’t like doorways and there was only one door in the house that she was comfortable using. She sniffed around, wandering throughout the house. She went into the kennel and said hello to the other dogs and then came back into the house. She was approached by Rio, their big Landseer that I have always suspected was Annie’s favorite. They kissed each other and then flopped down like no time had passed at all. She was completely at ease and made herself comfortable without any signs of concern!
They had recently had a big change in their house with arrival of their first litter of puppies. The puppies were 5 weeks old and Mama Briar was in the kennel having a break from her little ones. We all went outside. It was a beautiful day and the puppies were outside in their play area. I was invited to come into their area and Annie was watching from the other side of the fence. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking, but she did wander over and gave a couple of them a gentle sniff. She really didn’t show any other interest. She had done her time producing litters and had no intention of dealing with little puppy teeth again! To see these sweet puppies, that have been carefully bred and are so well cared for, made me wonder how poor Annie and her puppies had survived. I’m sure many of them didn’t and we continue to manage her health conditions that are a direct result of poor breeding and years of neglect. It was almost too much to consider and I kept reminding myself, that time is over. Annie is safe, Annie is loved and Annie will never be neglected again. I have no way of knowing how many puppies she had, or where they all are now, I just hope they are living happy, healthy lives.
Throughout the rest of our visit, Annie interacted with their other dogs, made herself comfortable inside and out and approached both Connie and Tracy to get their attention. When it was time for bed, she followed us upstairs (another thing she didn’t do when she lived here) and settled in for the night. Before we left the next morning we went for a walk around the property and Annie wanted to walk along side Rio. It was so sweet that she still had such a bond with this boy.
This visit was so much more than I ever expected. Annie had brought us all together and at this point, I feel like we all have a long-term connection. We have a lot in common and have an easy time being together. Most importantly, we love this breed and the way they enrich our lives. Connie and Tracy genuinely love Annie and they trusted us to take care of her which has turned out so well. I know our time with Annie is limited but when we are ready for our next dog we will return to them, either for a puppy or for one of their fosters since I’m sure they will continue to do that when they can.
Our departure was completely different from the last one. This time we were not tearing Annie away from a home that she loved. After a good-bye picture, Annie happily hopped into the car on her own. I think we were all remembering the difficulty we had getting her in the car and Connie exclaimed “she just got in the car…without pooping!”. She was so terrified the first time that she pooped as she was being lifted into the car. She had made her body into dead weight and it took a great effort from all of us to get her in the car and positioned so that we could close the hatch. This time, all of the tears were happy tears. Annie was calm and relaxed as she received good-bye hugs and kisses. She was ready to go home, to our home. Returning to this home had been good for all of us and now we were going home again.