31 May 10K Lives Saved: Hospice Foster Program
Written by: Catherine N., LHK9 foster mom (currently fostering hospice dog, Dixie)
Oftentimes when I tell someone that I foster dogs, the first thing they say is “I could never do that. I would not be able to let the dog go.” But what they do not realize is that fostering is not about us, it is about the dogs. The dogs are what we love and we know letting them go means saving more lives, even if it is hard. Most people who foster dogs love to work with the puppies. Puppies are cute! How could you not want a puppy? I am one of the weird people who doesn’t like to work with puppies. They have way too much energy, are not house trained, and little puppy shark teeth for chewing on objects and humans. Instead I prefer to work with the older and special needs dogs. My first ever foster (not a LHK9 pup) was an 11 year old husky who I ended up foster failing (aka adopting) after two months. She had a lot of quirks, but was an amazing dog. She passed away four months after I adopted her, but in less than six months, she had managed to teach me that senior dogs are my favorite. There is something about their lazy, easy going attitude that makes me love seniors.
Almost a year after I picked up my first foster, I saw Dixie’s profile on LHK9’s foster page. She was 9 years old and her southern foster mom described the 9 year old English bulldog as a “lazy couch potato.” Deep down I knew that Dixie belonged with me. On January 4th, Dixie arrived at my house and it was love at first sight. Her transport hero had to lift her out of the car and I had to lift her into mine. Dixie was not interested in taking long walks or playing. She had the stinkiest farts on the way home which quickly turned into diarrhea. After a few days of diarrhea (and waking up every two hours to bring her outside), I started to suspect something was wrong. LHK9’s amazing medical team helped me through some at-home remedies for upset tummies and, when that did not work, they set us up for a vet appointment. It was at that fateful vet appointment that three lumps were discovered on Dixie’s mammary chain. After a biopsy and a couple days of waiting, it was determined that Dixie had mammary cancer. Due to the diagnosis and her age, surgery was not an option and the medical team decided to place Dixie in LHK9’s hospice foster program.
The hospice foster program is specifically for any LHK9 dog that is too sick to be adopted by the average adopter and, therefore, will stay in a loving foster home for the rest of their lives. LHK9 covers the costs of care (medical and other expenses) for the dogs in the program. There have been four other pups in the hospice program this year alone. These pups have a variety of different health problems ranging from cancer to heart defects.
As soon as I got the news that Dixie had cancer, I knew what needed to be done. I wanted to create a bucket list of everything I wanted Dixie to experience while she was with me. I had a lot of regrets about what I didn’t get to do when my husky passed away since I thought we had more time. I was determined not to let the same thing happen with Dixie. I have no control about what her life was like before she got to her southern foster home, but I knew for sure that our time together would be epic.
Dixie’s Bucket List (from Dixie’s POV)
- Tour a college campus. Who said you can’t get an education when you’re a senior? The University of Vermont has a very nice campus, although I was not allowed inside the buildings.
- Become a dogtor. Grandma works at a hospital in Boston and brought me in to provide emotional support to the human doctors. One of them dressed me up in her scrubs, so you can now refer to me as Dogtor Dixie.
- Take pictures with the Easter Bunny. He had lots of yummy treats, but was not as fun to chase as regular bunnies.
- Spend lots of time chasing real bunnies. I promise that one day I will get one!
- Have a foster sister. LHK9 alum Violet is living her best life with her furever family.
- Eat lots of yummy food. Mom wants me to eat the alphabet. Banana, cinnamon roll, dog food, eggs, fish, ice cream, pancakes, pupcake, sardines, (doggy) wine.
- Create a doggy painting. Mom has all her foster dogs paint a picture for her to hang on the wall. I think mine is the prettiest.
- Spend a week at a working dairy farm. There were really big animals that kind of looked like me, but made a moo sound. I stayed away from them since they were so big. I made a lot of two-legged, feathered friends since they were my size.
- Travel to Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
- Visit lots of dog friendly breweries and wineries. Shout out to Black Hat Brewing, Exhibit A Brewing, Nashoba Valley Winery, and Stone Cow Brewing.
- The most fun activity of all – A Dog Wedding Photoshoot Courtesy of Penny Souza Pet Photography. Penny allowed Dixie and her hospice boyfriend, Bogey, to come in for an epic photoshoot. Bogey is a 2 year old English bulldog who is part of the LHK9 hospice foster group due to a heart defect. The photographs are an amazing memory for two hospice foster moms and the experience with Penny and Bogey was priceless.
Do you have any ideas for my bucket list? My mom is always taking new suggestions.
Being a hospice mom has a lot of challenges and unknowns, but the support of the other hospice families and the medical team provides a lot of comfort as we navigate through Dixie’s final chapter.