I have been meaning to write a follow up to my post about the lows of fostering. I really hope I haven’t put any potential foster carers off with that post, there are many more great moments than there are sad. Some of my most cherished memories are those of the moments when my foster dogs have realised that life is worth living.

One of the moments that will always stay with me is when Murphy, a very neglected Pekingese, decided to stop lashing out and instead learnt to trust me. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I decided to sit in the sun for a few minutes to enjoy the day. To my surprise, Murphy approached me. Up until that point, he had been biting any person who would come close to him, he could only be tempted to come out from under the table by presenting him a large piece of ham, which he would snatch and quickly return to his safe place under the table. He had spent years in a shed as a discarded breeding machine, left to suffer in solitude. He came very underweight, with long hair that was covering a long term painful skin condition and with severe dry eye that had left him mostly blind at only 4 years of age. He had not known the soft touch of a loving hand or the way it feels to sit with the sun’s rays on your face. I don’t know what changed that day to make him take a chance with me, but it was the best thing he could have ever done.

I remember being shocked as I watched him approach me. His little legs walking surprisingly fast towards my spot in the sun, snuffling and snorting the whole way. I stretched my hand out to reach his fluffy head, there was no knee jerk bite reaction this time, instead he came closer. As he rolled around on his back, I began to scratch his red tummy. He rolled and snorted some more in a way that can only be described as pure joy. I have never seen anything so heart warming in my life. It was the moment that this little dog realised that life could be enjoyed. He was never going to go back to that shed or be forced to live in solitude. He was never going to go hungry, be sore, or forced to be in extreme heat. But most of all, he was always going to be loved. He will always occupy a piece of my heart, just as every one of my foster dogs does. Luckily for me, my mum adopted him, so I get my dose of snorty snuffly Murph hugs every week. He always greets me with a tail wag and trade mark rubbing of his face on my leg. I know we will always have a connection. There have been many similar moments since that day, and every time he wriggles on his back as I scratch his belly, I’m reminded of that first time. His pure, simple joy will be a cherished memory for the rest of my life. If it weren’t for my mum who took a chance on him, he would still be needlessly suffering, and die having never known what joy is. Murphy has been lucky, he will have a wonderful life now. He will be forever cherished and loved but there are so many more who have never felt that, and that is why I keep going. There are more dogs in sheds, in desolate yards, in puppy farms and in pounds who just need someone to give them a chance – a chance to feel joy. 

Murphy when he first came – a lot of matted fur
Murphy’s skin condition – originally covered by matted fur
Enjoying his very first belly scratch
Enjoying his very first belly scratch
Pure joy
A recent photo of Murphy, very loved now

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Alinta McMurdo