Back in May, Foster Shilo was adopted. I wrote about it HERE. The skies parted and the Universe aligned. Near and far there was rejoicing. I blogged about my happiness and it was shared by many. People from far away, who I never met, knew about Shilo.
Since Shilo has been in his new home, we haven’t heard anything. Well, we got some great reports the first two weeks and haven’t heard anything since. That’s pretty normal and so it didn’t bother us – we figured no news was good news. We ride our bikes by Shilo’s new house and always hope that we see him happily playing the yard (we never did). I thought about him all the time – wondering if he had gone camping yet or if the fireworks bothered him on July 4th. I have wanted to reach out many times, but didn’t want to be a pain – he is their dog now.
Last week I got a message from a friend. She wanted to know if I knew how Shilo was doing. She said that a friend in California had read Shilo’s blog months ago and it had touched her. The friend was looking for an update on Shilo. That got me thinking and it gave me a reason to email Shilo’s family. That was Tuesday .
Wednesday was a good day at our house. Asha had a great appointment with her Behavioral Vet and she had slept through the night two out of three nights. I was feeling so good about how things were going in our home. Finally we were getting some much needed peace. Our current foster, Poppy, is nearing the end of his life and we are showering our attention on him. Trevor had recently reached out to a local rescue and offered our home as a foster for some dogs they were bring in from a hoarding case. We were waiting to hear back from them.
I got home and around 7 saw an email from Shilo’s mom. It said “I’m glad you asked how things are going. They aren’t going well. Blah Blah Blah (my words). We are ready for him to come back”. WHAT? That was a shock. My heart, which had been happily beating in my chest all day, dropped to the bottom of my stomach. I wasn’t sure if I was going to shit it out or throw it up.
I told her that I could meet her whenever was best for her – figuring that would be the weekend. By 8:30 that night, Shilo was back at home with me. His dad brought him back. Once the decision was made, they wanted him to be gone as soon as possible. When Shilo got out of the car, he looked around and when he realized I was there, it was obvious that he remembered me. He jumped on me and licked my face, then he pulled towards the house.
I talked with his dad for a bit. Shilo had behaved with them the same way he had behaved with us. Shilo had behaved with them exactly the way we had told them that he would. I was trying to figure out where the communication breakdown had come. I thought we had been very clear about Shilo’s issues, about what to expect and about how they should proceed with him (offering training, suggesting a trainer, keeping him away from strangers because he bites). Shilo’s dad said he thought after 9 weeks that Shilo would be “over it”. But they didn’t do anything to help him get over it – no training – no asking for help. There were a list of reasons why it wasn’t working. Their schedule had changed and things were different. In the end, I think they just didn’t realize that a quiet home full of love wasn’t going to be enough to change a dog like Shilo.
I know they were sad. I have no doubt it was a difficult decision and I know there were many tears cried, many nights sleep lost over this. But here was Shilo, back at home with me.
I love Shilo with all my heart and he is a good boy, but he has issues that are not an easy fit in our home. When we chose Shilo to be our foster as part of a huge rescue operation in December, we did not know that his issues were so bad. We did not know that he was a biter. A dog like Shilo doesn’t do his best in a home with 5 other dogs, two of whom can’t see him. A dog like Shilo doesn’t do well in a home with a 6 foot 4 man. The majority of his aggression is directed at Trevor. I am getting ready to head into my heavy travel season and so Shilo will now be home alone with Trevor a lot. We have house sitters who come to the house and Shilo adds a whole nother level of concern with that. We can adjust, we can make it work. He just doesn’t make things easy.
All of this went through my mind as I stood in the kitchen and cried. I cried for Shilo – he was looking around confused about why he was back. They had played with him and walked him and surely he loved that. He won’t get as much of that here. I cried for the challenge ahead of him. Then I cried because our lives were getting easier….and in less than two hours, they had gotten more difficult. I was just so sad.
So here we are, right back where we started. We have this damaged little soul who needs someone to be his forever family, to commit to taking care of him, protecting him and giving him the space he needs to feel safe in this world that has been quite cruel to him. He trusts no one (except maybe me). I think of all the things I could do if he was my ONLY dog and I wonder if there is anyone else out there like me who doesn’t already have a dog!
I don’t want to judge his adoptive family. I am trying not to judge. Trevor said to me “you can’t expect everyone to do what we do” and I said “I don’t expect everyone to do what we do”. I didn’t expect them to take Shilo in addition to their blind/deaf Aussie with anxiety issues who hasn’t slept more than three full nights in 18 months and a 16 year old blind, mostly deaf, dying jack Russell, three other dogs and six other cats, including a 17 year old just diagnosed with thyroid tumors and another senior with one tooth, while both working jobs that take us away from home half of the time, owning a business, training groups of triathletes and marathon runners, etc, etc….I am asking them to take care of one dog with issues. To honor the commitment that they made when they agreed to take a dog with those specific issues. To not bring him back because he acted exactly the way we said he would act. I am not asking them to do what we do. We have chosen this and I am not sorry about that. What I am sorry about is that because Shilo is back home with us, another dog will not get to be here (we told the other rescue that we are all full again). I know…that all sounded very judgemental….I just don’t understand.
In all the hurt and sadness, I am also grateful that we were able to take him back, I am grateful that they asked us to take him back. From the very beginning we told them that if it didn’t work, no matter why or when or how, Shilo HAD to come back to us. They could not get rid of him any other way. They agreed. At first I wished I had never sent the email to follow up on how he was doing - but then they said that they had been struggling with what to do for a while and so I am very glad I sent that email so that he could come back to us.
Shilo broke my heart when he was here before and he breaks my heart still. There isn’t enough room in the world for a damaged little soul like him. We’ll make room and we’ll make room for as long as it takes, even if that means Shilo spends his entire life with us.
Happy Endings aren't always as happy as they first seem. Shilo is still looking for his happy ending…..