Our experience fostering two beagles through Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© was the best! We had dogs all of our lives and two years after our last one died we were still missing having one around the house. However, we didn’t feel ready to begin another 15 year relationship. I looked into a fostering opportunity and found Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.
After several starts and stops with potential pups we were finally matched with the Beagle Boyz. Their owner supplied everything we needed for the Boyz to begin their deployment with us, crate, leashes, collars, pre-paid credit card, shot records, food, and snacks. I had been a school nurse for a dozen years so I appreciated receiving the immunizations and medical history which was so much better than ones I filed on school children. I was also humbled and moved by the thoroughness of Captain J with all that she had to do for her own deployment she fully applied her military precision to the resettlement of her Boyz. That’s when I realized how easy it would be to deal with the military, the I’s were dotted & the T’s were crossed.
My husband and I were the unknown variables in the equations. We had to tune into the Boyz’ personalities, establish our ranks, and give the fellows a sense of safety and security. A barrel of monkeys may have been more sedated than two excited beagles. But the Boyz were funny, affectionate, even grateful for the first seven days as we let them establish a routine. We felt so sorry for them since their lives were disrupted but that was our mistake, allowing the inmates to run the asylum.
The Boyz already had a pack order, Captain J., Lt. Tucker, and Private Clancy. However, after a week with us, Pvt. Clancy saw the opportunity for a coup seeking potentate status while Tucker promoted himself to Major and I was on mess hall duty. They got full of themselves with a new woman in the house and upset the whole order. One ferocious fight broke out in the living room, one that would have required a fire hose to suppress had they been outside. Wearing stove gloves for our protection and draping them in blankets, we separated them and retired them to neutral corners. They spent the night in different parts of the house while I stayed up watching the Dog Whisperer on Netflix.
Dawn came and so did their new world order. A “command voice” with an iron fist in the velvet glove declared to them just how the rest of their deployment would play out. With Caesar’s direction I took control. From that day on, the Boyz were greeted with my morning affirmation, “I’m the Leader of the Pack” (temporarily). Being overly indulgent, allowing them to neglect their manners, and not giving them clear leadership simply unleashed them. They got all fouled up and it was a real strain on us.
In no time at all, order was established and they knew what to expect and how to behave. The fault was ours so it was up to us to protect the Boyz from themselves. The next eight and a half months went very, very well. No more outbursts or confusion. Tucker did maintain his battlefield promotion to Major and in a matter of weeks Clancy was promoted to Sargent. They were a honor to the Army, although many former Marines speculated that Clancy had some Marine in him.
All dogs need structure and an obvious chain of command. The dogs from Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet already understand that by virtue of being the dogs of military families. But you can teach old dogs and old civilians new tricks.
-Written by Joanne, Foster Mom in Indiana