It’s Memorial Day 2014, a day of considerable weight for me as I think of those who have given all of themselves for the U.S.  It’s a day for looking back and remembering. It was the week of Memorial Day 2013 that we met the our Beagle Boyz for the first time.

A few years ago I’d been thinking of a way to do something proactive for the military, perhaps even for an individual soldier. I wasn’t affiliated with any military organizations, didn’t live near a base and didn’t have any particular skill set…or did I?

Our family was still feeling the loss of our 16 year old Brittany, Shivas Irons, and didn’t want to get into another 16 year dog experience but we missed that canine contribution to our home. My husband and I are dog people and if I do say so myself I’m good with dogs, know basic commands, and scoop poop with polished discretion. I began looking for some sort of pet fostering opportunities when I came across Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet  and signed up online. It was a comprehensive application and eventually we were approved as a foster family.

Due to various travel commitments in the winter of 2012/2013 we had to turn down two Pit Bulls, a Boxer, and a Dalmatian. I was beginning to question my own commitment to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet by wondering if I was chickening out by being so unavailable. I’m sure the Indiana Foster Coordination Liaison, Carol, was about to give up on asking me to foster but I told her to call me at the end of April 2013 when my life would be getting into a more regular schedule. And call she did, on April 30.

Carol had an Army Captain who had two Beagles. Hmm, two Beagles sound easy enough, I thought. Carol put me in touch with the Captain so we could correspond and try to determine if her dogs could fit in well with us. The Captain and I e-mailed for a week or two learning about each other. We discovered we shared similar first names with a “Jo” prefix. She was just a bit older than our children. Her mom and I are nurses. She described her dogs with such tender affection and allowed that they were her children.

It was her passion for her babies that inspired her colleagues to give her a unique nickname, they called her Jo-Momma. When I learned that all my apprehension melted away, it was a SIGN. I had the same nickname of Jo-Momma given to me by the children of my friends as well as my niece and nephews. What are the odds of two Jo-Mommas finding each other? One Jo-Momma must GO serve while giving the other Jo-Momma the opportunity TO serve. It was a MATCH!

As it turned out, my husband, Bob, and I had a road trip over Memorial Day weekend 2013. As I unfolded the map (yes, we are THAT old) I noticed that we could make a two or three hour detour and cruise through Captain Jo’s town. It would be a chance to meet the dogs and the Captain and to see (and smell) her home. Was her furniture in tatters from compulsive chewers? Was her carpeting stained? Did the place have the aroma of a kennel? I called Jo the evening before our proposed surprise visit and she eagerly accepted our rude imposition.

In the early afternoon we arrived at Jo’s home. We were standing on the front porch when a lovely young woman opened the door. The activity behind her was revving up as some unrecognizable, high-speed blurred bodies shot by. However, one object was standing perfectly still as we entered the foyer. What in the world was that creature? “You said she had two Beagles. That’s not a Beagle, it’s a pony,” my husband HISSED in my ear.  Jo immediately read Bob’s panic and quickly assured us that the Mastiff/Great Dane mix belonged to a friend and was just visiting. Whoosh and the blur of Beagle bodies made another pass through the house. Jo led us into her cozy living room next to her neatly appointed dining room. Her home was immaculate and all the furniture was intact with no tell tale stains.

No sooner than we were seated, the Beagles swooped into the living room and screeched to a full stop right in front of us. With their high speed performance completed, it was time to turn on the charm and oh, are Beagles charming. Within a few minutes we were all in!  But would Captain Jo approve of us? Did she want this middle-aged couple in charge of her Boyz? These dogs would be a handful and could she trust us to care for them? They’re escape artists, noisy, frisky, did I mention noisy? I really wanted to offer our home to Captain Jo’s dogs. More importantly, I wanted to give her the security of knowing we would faithfully care for her pups. She had a tremendous responsibility with a sworn duty to serve the country. After our visit, we waited for her approval and once we received it we waited for the big day when the Boyz would come to stay with us.

To be continued…

-Written by Joanne, Foster Mom in Indiana