BTRC Volunteer Profile – Brigitte Thompson
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My love affair with rescue began a little over ten years ago in 2007. About three years prior to that, I lost my “heart dog”, Rosie. You know what I mean… that one dog that somehow connects deep in your soul. That special dog that communicates with you with just a look… that knows when you need a cuddle and a kiss and is always at your side.
Losing Rosie plunged me into a dark place I had never been before. I could not think about her or look at pictures of Boston Terriers without tearing up. Of course the idea of adopting another dog was simply abhorrent to me. As much as I wanted another dog, I just could not bring myself to do it.
One day, purely by accident, I came across the BTRC website. The idea of fostering for rescue was a new one to me. Maybe this would prove to be the solution to my “dogless” existence.
I could bring a foster dog into my home and not commit to full time ownership. It would be a win-win situation… the dog would get the love and care they desperately needed and I could once again have a canine buddy without feeling that I had betrayed Rosie.
Well that lasted about five minutes. I’m sure that first foster dog was handpicked by Rosie. She sent us a sweet old gal that immediately stole our hearts. Needless to say our first foster was a failure. Probably the only time I have been happy to fail at anything.
We permanently adopted that first dog and have not looked back.
There have been so many foster dogs, each with its own unique quirks. One of our favourites was a spunky little male that loved the water, which is so unlike most Bostons. The only thing that this busy little guy liked more than the water was playing fetch. Much to our chagrin, his idea of fetch involved retrieving a mated pair of loons, innocently swimming past the dock during a visit to the cottage.
In the blink of an eye, the dog was in the water and paddling furiously toward the birds in the middle of the river. No amount of calling, cajoling or screaming would bring him back. And the loon of course was ready to do battle to protect his mate (who had wisely disappeared underwater).
Moving quicker than I have seen for many years, my husband was able to intervene by driving the boat between the dog and the loon and scooping that silly mutt out of the water. All future dockside visits were conducted at the end of a very strong leash.
We have received so much joy from our fostering experience and made some amazing friends. A foster placement to a lovely couple in southern Ontario bloomed into a friendship that has withstood the test of time. It has given me the added bonus of being “grandma” to our former foster dog and enjoy the benefits of an extended family.
People often ask why Boston Terriers. Of course these are always people that have never owned (or been owned by) a Boston.
When we moved into the city from several acres of isolated bush property I needed to find a dog that was small enough to adapt to our new lifestyle but that did not behave like a traditional small dog. It was a challenging requirement as our previous dogs were German Shepherds and Labs. I also wanted a dog that required minimal grooming. Bostons fit the bill to a tee. Big hearted, loving dogs with an adventurous spirit, these little guys will go anywhere and do anything provided they can share it with their human companion.
Our current dogs, Zowie and Beasley, have travelled from one end of Canada to another… all in the back of our van. They have walked the mountains and dipped their paws in the ocean. In the last few years, we have begun travelling to the East Coast on a regular basis. The dog’s love the ocean as much as we do… well maybe not as much as we do, but pretty darn close. Long walks on the beach and sharing a feed of shrimp or fish are high on their list of favourite vacation activities. Our dream is to make the move to Nova Scotia permanent in the not so distant future, but only time will tell.
Luckily our lifestyle is ideally suited to fostering. Although both my husband and I were cops in another life, we now import and distribute a line of art products, called Powertex. (www.powertex.ca)
My office is at home which means there is always at least one Boston sleeping beside my desk as I work. Because I work in the creative arts industry, I need to have hobbies away from my hobby business (did that make sense?) I take one day a week as a “mental health day” and enjoy a full day of drawing. My favourite medium is pyrography, the art of sketching on wood, paper, leather, bone, etc. Lately I have been exploring pencil and pastel portraits of animals… specifically … you guessed it… dogs. My current work in progress is a portrait of our male dog, Beasley. I’m not sure when, or even if it will ever get done, since it took me almost two hours to complete one eye, but I am sure having fun. I also dabble in traditional east coast rug hooking and felting.
My husband is a carver, sculptor and dabbles in cartooning. True to his Scottish roots, I have never received a store bought greeting card from him. It is always a hand drawn cartoon featuring a Boston Terrier.
I would highly recommend the fostering experience for anyone with a passion for dogs. Yes, you will shed some tears. And yes, it is hard to give up a foster dog that you have watched evolve from a frightened, sickly ball of fur into a happy healthy dog. But remember that every foster dog that moves into a wonderful new forever home means you have space to save another one… a chance to turn another dog’s life around…a dog that has lost hope of ever being loved or feeling secure again.
There are certainly highs and lows to fostering… but then isn’t that true of life in general? To appreciate the highs, you have to have also experienced the lows. Is it worth it? Darn tooting it is! These little guys steal your heart, make your day brighter and give you a reason to get up in the morning. Fostering and working with Rescue as a fundraiser or transport volunteer is one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life and with luck, I intend to continue for many more years to come.