As the days went by with Keemo, Boca exhibited some pretty severe resource guarding - something she doesn't do with Ruby. She will grumble once in a while when she has settled down with a toy, but at both dog and human mealtimes she was charging vehemently at our visitor on the other side of the dog gate. This in itself was manageable, but as I saw Ruby becoming more and more shut-down, nervous about Boca's blustering, refusing to eat even in another room, hiding under the dining room table, and cowering when Keemo was near, I knew that I couldn't risk her hard-won confidence being shaken any more in her own home. It was no fault of Keemo's - he just needed a playmate his own size and a lot more space to play in. Keeping all of the dogs separated long-term was not tenable, either. My 19 year old cat was also expressing her displeasure with the situation - another surprise since she's lived boldly with dogs for most of her life. It was impossible to ignore the signs of stress in every member of the household.
I spent one whole afternoon with Keemo, taking him to my vet's office to refill my cat's medications, a big box pet store to get him some chew things, a crate mat and a harness, and Kriser's for some raw goat's milk. He was absolutely charming everywhere we went - obviously overwhelmed at the wonderland of sights of smells, bins of dehydrated delicacies within muzzle's reach. He approached strangers soliciting affection and wagging his tail, and I told the story of his journey and extolled the virtues of the potcake. In just a few days' time I was able to teach him "sit" and "down" with clicker training, and he was especially lovely to walk by himself. My dad was instrumental in being able to keep him as long as we did - there's no way I could have done it on my own with a full time job. I think it even brought my dad and I closer together and I know he was sad to see Keemo go as well. It didn't take long to become attached to his big silly face, and I felt heartsick as I drove him across town and handed him off to someone else.
Even though I know I made the right decision, I still feel awful about letting Keemo and the rescue down. I thought about how confused he must have felt being shuffled from one house to another, and hope he is successful in his new foster home and matched with that special someone soon. I know he will be an awesome dog with nothing but love to give. I am a fiercely loyal person who honors her commitments so this felt like a different kind of foster failure. I was looking forward to attending adoption events and becoming more involved with this rescue group. I dream of having a ranch someday with a conscientiously designed foster dog suite, and of having the time to devote to such a passion. In the meantime I will continue volunteering where I can, but more likely in a capacity other than fostering. I have a renewed appreciation for the tireless work of rescue, and for my own perfectly imperfect incredible dogs.