At the crack of dawn on Monday September 19th I took one last look around the house to make sure I had all my foster fur kid’s medical records, toys, papers, medications and equipment packed and ready to go. I really hadn’t slept well the night before, and there was a bittersweet excitement in my attitude.

Deycon honestly knew that something was up. He was pouncing and barking and running around while I put all these things in the car. On Sunday night, I put on him the collar his mom and dad had sent him with. I had gotten him a bright orange one embroidered with his name and my phone number which he’d worn since he first came to stay with me. I couldn’t bear to take it off.

The gas tank had been filled the night before, and I’d had my water and snack already packed. I wandered around from room to room trying to find an excuse to call this day off. I had pondered soliciting a few of my friends to come with me because I didn’t want to say good-bye by myself. I’m glad I didn’t. In the end I needed to do this alone.

The two hour drive to the half way point where we’d agreed to meet was wonderful. The weather was perfect and every now and then there was a massive head on my shoulder just like the first ride to my home. We stopped along the way and I sat in a rest area with the big guy sitting in front of me. I hugged and snuggled and kissed my pal and told him to be good. I reminded him he would be back for Christmas but knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.

We got to the meeting place a little early and I was glad. I was able to have a few minutes with my friend and put on his red white and blue bow. (It’s the one he wore for Memorial Day when we discovered he doesn’t like marching bands!) Deycon got to stretch his legs and sniff around. I even tried out the video camera and I think I got it right this time.  (results to follow! LOL)

About 15 minutes after we arrived I looked across the parking lot and spotted Mike. I took a deep breath, held it for a second and said, “Deycon! Look! It’s Daddy!!” Deycon looked around and eventually spotted Mike. He brought his ears to attention and cocked his head as if to say, “I know this guy.”

All at once he realized who it was. He bounded off to Mike and ran around him a few times. He pranced back and forth and wagged that massive tail of his kept jumping up on his hind legs and I know he was smiling. When Mike got over to where I was, he kind of squatted down and Deycon almost knocked him over with kisses and nuzzles and whimpers. His tail didn’t stop wagging for a second. The meaning of the entire foster experience was thrust upon me when I heard Mike say, “Oh,Wow! It’s so good to see him.” That’s what this whole year has been about: this very moment. I managed not to cry.

I had been heartbroken on the entire ride there, but seeing Mike’s face and Deycon’s reaction changed that all. The colossal canine couldn’t keep still. We chatted for a bit and Mike said he had to move his truck over to us. As he walked to the other side of the parking lot, Deycon almost dislocated my shoulder pulling after his Dad. He let out those pathetic whimpering howls and watched every movement Dad made. When Mike pulled up, the joy started again. Dad opened the back of the truck and Deycon didn’t even have to be told what to do. He jumped right up and sat down so proudly.

I brought Mike up to date on vaccinations, medications, toys and made sure that Deycon was really coming back for the holidays (Otherwise, I might be wanted in 6 counties for dog-napping!!). I was humbled and actually left speechless (yes, believe it or not…) when Mike kept thanking me. No! No! It was I who needed to thank him.  I got the best part of this deal. I had Deycon! DJ has a lifelong pal, I was nurtured through the loss of Bear1 and “the D-man” made Bear2 feel like family. I cannot thank Mike and Sarah enough for picking my application and allowing me to do this. No military person should ever have to give up a fur baby, feather kid, or reptile rug rat. We owe them this small favor and Guardian Angels For Soldier’s Pet has done this for so many men and women of our armed services. I am so proud to have been part of this miracle.

I’m was further honored when Mike and Sarah asked me to foster their newest addition. The newly born sister, Dakota, who will be about 8 weeks when Deycon brings her back for Santa Paws. I laughed when I read a Facebook message that Deycon’s story was going to be put under “Mission Accomplished.” We’re not losing Deycon, we’re gaining a Dakota.

I couldn’t bear to watch them drive away so I left first. I didn’t want a gleeful Dad to see that he was leaving a hole in my world the size of ….. well, the size of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

I remember clearly the day my daughter, a Navy Corpsman stationed in Virginia announced she would be deployed to Kuwait.
“Mom, what do I do with my other babies? Where are they going to go?”

That was how this saga started and now I have finally been able to do put to rest the feeling of helplessness that has been lurking in the background for all these years. Thank  you Mike and Sarah and thank you Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.