My 24hrs as a Foster Mom: Lady Cookie Monster’s Story
One Sunday morning, I woke up and did what I do almost every morning…I went to my phone and checked to see what emails, texts and social media updates I missed overnight. After reading through personal and Pet Gotcha Day! emails, I opened up Facebook. As I scrolled down I saw the face of a boxer that I couldn’t ignore. The post was from Zoe, the founder of Newman Nation: Senior Pets United. Zoe featured a senior hospice boxer and mentioned that she was sick and needed an immediate foster. She was at risk of being euthanized in a shelter given her serious medical condition. I soon learned that she had a massive mammary tumor about the size of a cantaloupe and her cancer had spread throughout her body.
Having grown up with boxers, I knew that I was the person to provide the loving home for her to live out her remaining days. I immediately contacted Zoe. We then arranged a meeting so that I could take her home. This was my first foster experience, let alone with a hospice dog, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
When Lady Cookie Monster came home, my two dogs, Ashley & Einstein, immediately knew that she was now a part of our family. Rather than barking, like they typically do, they just sniffed her. Lady was uncomfortable so I wrapped up her tumor with a gauze wrap. Although I put out a pillow for her, she hopped up on my couch. Who was I to argue? She made herself at home. My daughter, June, and husband came home shortly after. June ran up to Lady (she was called Victoria at the time) and gave her a kiss on the head and Lady kissed her back. June asked if we could call her Lady Cookie Monster. I loved the idea as it felt like a family pet name and I wanted Lady to know that she was now our pet.
Although Lady was found in a Chicago park, she had been a house dog at some point. I could tell because she was housebroken and asked us to help her go outside. She couldn’t get herself off the couch so I had to lift and set her paws on the ground to help her off. We were so lucky that it was a beautiful, sunny & warm day in Chicago, so when we weren’t hanging out on the couch together, we enjoyed the sun in our backyard or went on a short walk. Lady let June put a leash on her and walk her around. Their relationship was so sweet.
By nighttime, it was clear that Lady was in pain despite the pain pills that I was giving her. Her tumor was oozing and she couldn’t get settled. I helped her get comfortable on a pillow in our bathroom so she could rest. Despite my efforts to make her comfortable, she cried…
The next morning, I had planned to take her to my vet for an evaluation. While I was getting June ready for school, Lady was in the back yard. When I went to check on her, she had found a spot in the very back corner of the yard covered in leaves, laid down and closed her eyes. Although she was awake, she did not want to get up. Although I wanted more time to love her, I knew what we needed to do.
On Monday, September 18th, my husband & I lifted Lady Cookie Monster into our car. We got her comfortable on a blanket and rested her head on the arm rest of the door. My 2yr old daughter, June, asked where Lady Cookie Monster was going and we told her that she was going to a new family. When she arrived the day before, we had explained that Lady didn’t have a family and she wasn’t feeling well. She needed a home for a few days. My daughter accepted this explanation, kissed Lady and waved goodbye.
As we headed to my vet, Family Pet, in Lincoln Park (Chicago) I wanted to make sure that although we only had Lady for 1 day, that she knew we were her ‘forever’ home and that she was loved. En route to the vet, we stopped at McDonalds for a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit and then headed into Lincoln Park. Before entering the vet, Lady and I went for brief stroll so she could see the beauty of Lincoln Park. It was difficult for her to walk with the massive mammary tumor hanging off of her chest, so we stopped so Lady could enjoy her Mc’D’s breakfast. Despite her tumor oozing and her back legs swollen from other tumors, she had a look of pure love in her eyes. Although it was heartbreaking, I walked her into the vet.
The vet tech walked us into a room with a soft blanket on the ground and I immediately fell apart in tears. Lady struggled to lay down due to the pain in her legs and the tumor, so I got down on the ground and let her rest her body against mine. As we waited for the vet to come in, I rehashed the fun we had together over the past 24hrs.
As the vet started the euthanasia process, I fed Lady turkey-flavored baby food as a distraction for both of us. Although she must have known what was happening, she alternated eating and kissing me. In between tears, I told her that she was going to her new forever family. I grew up with boxers and the love for boxers stemmed from my grandmother, Nommie. Nommie passed away about 2yrs ago and I told Lady that she would be waiting for her. I gave her a kiss and pet her head and face until she was at peace.
This experience was so meaningful for me. I grew up believing that purebreds from a breeder was the only way to go. Besides having boxers, we also had a cocker spaniel. As I grew into my 20’s, I became involved with PAWS Chicago and realized the wonderful qualities that shelter pets offer. In my 30’s, my husband and I adopted Einstein from The Anti-Cruelty Society.
I was constantly on the lookout for the right boxer to rescue. Well, I had my chance. My family and I had the opportunity to rescue her despite it being only for 1 day. Although losing her was one of the toughest things I’ve experienced in my life, I would go through this all over again if it meant that another pup could know what it was like to have a loving home.
Whether it be a day or 14 years, a family’s love can make all of the difference. I encourage anyone who can to foster or adopt and not just a young pet, but consider a senior pet. My 24hrs with Lady changed my life for the better and taught my daughter compassion that I hope will remain with her. If you have any questions about fostering or are interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider adopting or fostering a senior pet from Newman Nation: Senior Pets United. http://www.seniorpetsunited.org/