Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I got the call from Planned Pethood. Would I foster a seven year old yellow lab who was being returned? PPI always takes adopted dogs back, no questions asked. They want them to be SAFE. This return was exactly in my wheelhouse. I love labs and have always had my own lab companion and I enjoy older dogs. What could go wrong? They failed to mention the new dude weighed a whopping 138 lbs., and by the time I discovered this seemingly unimportant fact, it was too late to back out. To put this in perspective, this is the first foster dog who weighed more than me and my house is a tiny cracker box. If this beast needed a crate (actually unnecessary), where the hell would I put it?  My initial reaction when I met the big guy was holy sh..!

Probably on more than one occasion, my house has been called the Fat Farm. I love chubby dogs. It is a challenge for both them and me. Mac certainly fit the bill and I became his personal Richard Simmons. Diet and exercise was the order of the day for my new huge friend. It was Biggest Loser/Dog Edition. Green beans, green beans, green beans were on the menu daily. It took a while, but when he was finally adopted, he was a fatty no longer, he weighed a svelte 117 lbs. and looked stunning. People stopped us wherever we went, wanting to know what breed Mac was, they even stopped their cars to ask. I would always respond yellow lab and something big.

The big guy and I were together for six months, and truth be told, he would still be here if I didn’t already have two dogs. He is so chill, he goes with the flow no matter what situation is handed to him. His adoptions kept falling through for crazy reasons. One very nice couple fell in love with the Macster at an adoption event. They told me they had a golden retriever named Amber who could be ouchy with other dogs. So off Mac and I went on the home visit. Out walks a black shepherd mix who definitely had no use for Mac. I asked, where is Amber? That WAS Amber. Back to square one.

But you know things happen for a reason. Mac enjoyed the company of not only other dogs, but of the cats and kittens I foster as well. So it was a grand outing for him to go with me to the cat adoption events. He would hold court while being adored by Pet Smart customers. It was there his future forever mom fell in love with him. Cat fosters extraordinaire, Ron and Julie Brown, are two of the kindest and most compassionate people I have ever met. They heal sick kitties, they tend and shelter unadoptable kitties, they even bottle feed tiny abandoned kittens every two hours (sometimes with heartbreaking results). Julie took me under her wing when I began fostering kittens and showed me the ropes. I couldn’t have had a better teacher. She patiently explained the process to me. Well, I never in a million years figured them for dog people. But happily, I was wrong.

I thought it was a little strange that Julie acted concerned whenever it appeared that Mac would be adopted. In reality, she wanted to adopt him herself. Come to find out, Ron and Julie were dog people in a BIG way. Mac would become the second SMALLEST dog they ever owned. But there was a huge obstacle to overcome. Ron had fallen during the polar vortex and was badly injured. He had already had one grueling surgery and was scheduled for a second. They decided to throw caution to the wind and invited Mac for a “trial” stay. He never left. I knew he was a permanent member of the family when I heard about the litter of 5 week old kittens climbing him and playing on him like a jungle gym. He had become the nanny!

Mac bunked up with family members during Ron’s second surgery. I have to share 11 year old Isabelle’s email:

“Mac was so excited to see me. We became friends by me walking him everyday and me sleeping with him and how I played with him everyday he is sooooo cute.”

“Everyday I gave him his favorite snack a hot dog” (my favorite part). “I walked him everyday (at least 3 laps). Every night he snuggles up on my bed. I walk him around my house to go potty. I think I really bonded with Big Mac. I think I did a big favor of babysitting Big Mac J.”

Poor Isabelle shed tears when it came time for Mac to go home so, of course, that made Julie cry too. But this story has a silver lining. Isabelle and her family are now fostering senior mastiff Gus for Planned Pethood. Gus took right over where Mac left off in Isabelle’s heart.

And, for all the twists and turns of his story, the right dog ended up in the right home at the right time. It is Mac’s mission in life to brighten up peoples’ (and I guess cats too) lives. For all of us whose lives he has touched, we are fortunate.

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