Six weeks after a disastrous experience with our second foster dog, Rebel, we had the opportunity to serve as temporary fosters to a dog who’s current foster was going on vacation. Patty was 6 years old and just under 80 pounds, and she had been living in a home with two other dogs. We would have her for five days.

I thought it would be a step in the right direction — one that would help us on our path to healing — but it wasn’t without its own challenges.


Patty was a happy, energetic girl with thick brown fur and beautiful green eyes, and she seemed to get along okay with Luna, our nine-year-old female dog. But Patty was big and strong and pulled hard on the leash. And, like Stevie, our first foster, she was an expert counter surfer.

The day Patty jumped up and put her huge paws on my wood top kitchen island and I was hesitant to correct her — afraid to push her down and tell her “no” or “off” — I knew the wounds Rebel had inflicted were more than skin deep. I still had some healing to do.

And Patty indeed helped me to heal and regain some confidence because she was, overall, a loveable, easy-going girl. With her humans.

Unfortunately, Patty preferred to be Queen Bee of her canine castle and she started to bully Luna, taking her toys and stealing her bed. The regular foster had joked about Patty being the “Queen” but seemed unwilling or unable to recognize the conflict this created with other dogs.

Despite having already been returned by an adopter who reported that Patty did not get along with the resident dog, Patty’s online profile continued to tout her as “good with other dogs.”

On our second day with Patty, Luna walked into our bedroom, where Patty had been sleeping at night, and Patty attacked her.

Chunks of Luna’s white fur were on the floor and she had a gash above her eye and under her jaw. I treated Luna’s wounds and took her to stay at my friend’s house for the rest of the week.

With Luna gone, Patty was perfectly behaved; the ideal dog. I knew she would make a great pet for some lucky family — provided she was an only dog.

I reported to Patty’s regular foster what had happened and was disappointed to learn that she and another rescue staffer initially laughed it off, joking that Queen Patty had gotten her way. But I continued to press the issue, strongly suggesting that the rescue change Patty’s profile to indicate that she would be happiest as an only dog.

Thankfully the rescue took my suggestion to heart, and I was thrilled to learn that Patty was successfully adopted three months ago.

Ultimately, fostering Patty served its purpose: we helped Patty and her foster, and Patty helped us on the path to healing. But I felt so guilty for having kicked Luna out of her own home that I decided our family should probably take a break from fostering for a while. Fostering is so necessary and worthwhile, but way more difficult and challenging than I’d ever anticipated.

We had done our best to help three dogs; perhaps it was time to move on from fostering multiple dogs and simply become a forever family for one dog.

Columnist’s Note: This column is the sixth in a multi-part ode to all the dogs I’ve loved.