Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Illustrated Story Of Foster...A Good Boy. 2003 - 2014

Just wanted to put up a few words and memories of my buddy, my son... our dog, Foster.  Foster came to us around August of 2003, and left us in November 2014.  His life was a great one, and he gave as much as he took.  He was as unique in character as he was in appearance.  His story deserves to be told.  I have a ton of stories and memories, and could go on forever about him, but I think I will post a few pics that exemplify his life.  I have tons more pics than these...he was a frequent subject of my lens.  To his final days, I would still find myself staring at him, in awe of his markings and handsomeness.  

Foster came into our lives as a stray, abandoned puppy, at the Volusia Mall.  Lori was there and saw the puppy in the parking lot.  It is Lori's belief that the person abandoning the puppy was also there making sure that someone took it.  She took it back to work with her to figure out what to do.  Lori's sister took the dog home to care for it in the meantime until plans could be made, but since they already had dogs, keeping him was not in the plan.  We had Tiny at the time, and when Lori said that we would be fostering the pup for the weekend, I was apprehensive as to how that would work out.  I had no interest in training a puppy or figuring out how this was going to go over with my Tiny.  

We got him home and of course, everyone fell in love, including Tiny.  Tiny did a great job of taking on a motherly role for the little guy, and was very tolerant of his personality.  We had no idea what breed his was...thinking he was a mix of Labrador and Aussie Shepherd, based on his markings, eyes and webbed feet, coat, etc...  

He had a belly full of worms and needed some TLC, and we all rose to the challenge.  A big challenge was housebreaking.  We did not crate train, and of course accidents will happen.  I remember one episode that was particularly horrific, and I actually entertained the idea of giving up on the little guy...yes it was that bad.  BUT, right after that, we had a visit to the vets for shots and a check up, and miraculously, the accidents virtually stopped.  It was like a switch had been thrown, or like he picked up on how frustrated I was getting...and it just stopped. 

I had moved my Mom into the house next to ours, and she loved to visit with Tiny and the new Puppy.  We thought he was an Aussie, so we named him FOSTER, because he was our foster child, and Fosters is Australian for beer, HAHA!!

Thus began a great relationship between the two dogs, and us, that would only get stronger and better with time.  As my mother got sick, I would take both dogs to the assisted living facility and visit with her, and the other patients who liked dogs.  Foster has always been a rock star.  

We figured out that Foster was indeed a Catahoula, specifically a Blue Leopard Catahoula.  Most people have never heard of them, but after doing research, they are a great working breed with an interesting history.  Found a breeder in Oklahoma who had a stud that looked exactly like Foster.  He was definitely an exemplary specimen of the breed.  He also ran to the larger side of the breed, staying at about 95 lbs his entire adult life.  

He had a great talent of using his paws like hands.  He would reach out and grab things and bring them to his head.  He learned early to do this with water bottles, his favorite early toy of choice.  He would lay down and hold a water bottle with his paws, unscrew the cap, remove the plastic ring, then crunch the bottle flat and chew on it.  He was obsessed with water bottles.  One day on a walk, he found a tennis ball in a parking lot, and a new obsession was born.  He would also hold and bat a tennis ball with his hands.  When we would play catch in the living room, he would hold the ball in his paws and bat it to me.  

OK, he was an ok accountant too...at my Mom's house...poring over her books.  

There is also a ceramic dog around town that was made for a humane society fundraiser.  It was painted and dressed in biker gear and named Rosie Spokes.  Lori did the paintwork and used Foster as the template.  

He was such a unique dog.  When we would walk, people would stop their cars to ask what he was and if they could visit with him.  Foster generally liked people, was really great with kids, and smaller dogs.  I never would have dreamed I would have gotten him and a cat together after Tiny passed on.  

Foster and Yvette Mew Mew...who would have ever thought that he would accept a cat into the house...she accepted him from the get go.  

We never had to worry about him with the grandkids...his temperament was wonderful.  

Rex stayed with us for a little bit until we got him adopted.  He just showed up at the house one day.  Hopped in Lori's van like he owned it.  He was a catahoula as well.  

Foster took to often laying upside down on his back.  To the day he died it would always make me smile.  I always said out loud that I would NEVER get tired of coming home and finding him like that.  


Foster and Tiny were always regular fixtures at my bonfires as well, where they would mingle with the guests.  Foster would obnoxiously offer you a muddy tennis ball on your pant leg if you were lucky.  

I loved when my buddy would share bed space with me, especially on those lazier mornings.

There are a ton of things I will miss about him.  I loved when he would ride in the van or truck with me.  He loved to sit up on the front seat and observe and smell the world.  I loved our walks and adventures, and the people and dogs we would meet around the neighborhood.  I loved that he was in tune with me, and could pick up on my mood and avoid me when I was angry.  I loved the dopey look on his face with his tongue out just a bit.  It would always make me happy.  My favorite face.  

With that, I close my blog, in memory of Foster Smith.  Muh boy.  My son.  He would often hear me chanting "you da man" along our walks when he would do good on his obedience.   I did not speak to him like a dog.  I talked to him like a friend and he responded in kind.  If he had a speaking voice, he would have sounded like Tony The Tiger.  I would often taunt him by saying "theyre grrrrrrrrrreat" and he would bark back at me.  He had a unique style of saying "roooo roooo" as a puppy that continued into adult hood with that low deep voice of his.  I will miss him very much.  

As I said 10000 times walking into the house:  "Foster Smith...Foster motherf***** Smith...Mrs Smiths favorite son".  HAHA.  A paraphrased old line from the Richard Pryor movie Bustin Loose.  It always cracked Lori up that I would say that,.. but it was true.  Foster Smith was the man.  

That was my last pic with Foster.  Foster had great health overall.  He scared us years ago with a poisoning from eating lantana.  Figured that one out and he really had no issues.  As he got older he developed joint problems like big dogs do, and we got past that with a chondroitin regime.  

At the end, he developed symptoms of congestive heart failure (edema, anemia, etc...) and we began treatment with diuretics.  Over the course of a couple of days he was not getting better, and his kidneys seemed to shut down as he was not urinating.  He lost his ability to walk quickly and it was apparent his organs were failing him.  The blood work we had done on Monday did not show the obvious culprits, meaning it was a 90% chance that it was cancer.  We had removed malignant tumors from him back in February so that was on my mind this year anyway.  I am thankful he did not suffer a prolonged amount of time or totally lose his dignity and quality of life.  We got to the vet at just the right time.  Way too soon for me emotionally, but I know we did the right thing and that he was at peace with that too...he and I talked about it all the night before.

Foster (Foose, Fooey..Buuuud)  leaves behind many memories with those who loved him, all the kids that come to the house and the people and animals he encountered each week.  Life will not be the same without you boy.      

Good boy.  

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