I’ve been a volunteer and foster mom for BREW for nearly five years, and I’ve had many fosters. I already had four rescued beagles of my own when Gretchen came along. I’m not sure where she came from or how she got to me, but one day I came home from work, and there she was, in a rabbit trap on my porch. She was clearly untamed and very afraid. Her weary eyes were so sad, as though she’d seen little good from humans in her short life. I released her from the rabbit trap into the back yard, and she promptly hid under the shed. Even Hurricane Isabel could not budge her from her safe haven. I had to borrow a BREW humane trap to capture her so that I could get her vetted. She became a BREW beagle, and I began taking her to adoption days. I also started the process of taming her. I worked with her every day, earning her trust. Her eyes began to lose their world-weary look, and actually began to sparkle, as she reached each new milestone – coming inside under her own power, realizing that doors sometimes lead to other rooms - not always outside, the mailman isn’t the enemy, wearing a collar, walking on a leash, sitting still for the neighborhood children to pet her. It’s hard to say who was taming whom, looking back now. She took to the other dogs immediately, and as she got more and more confident about being an inside beagle, her personality blossomed. I admit that I felt much like the construction worker in the Warner Brothers cartoon who finds the frog who sings opera only for him. Slowly, Gretchen began showing us the best of her personality, but only here at home.
She began seeking out pets and attention, specifically, belly rubs. She easily found her place in the pack, and really settled in. She figured out what furniture is for and she claimed her place on the couch. I knew she was comfortable inside the day she ran down the hallway, up Buster’s ramp and planted herself firmly on my pillow. She’s slept in the big bed ever since, usually curled around my head or under my chin. For the first few months she had nightmares every night. They are fewer and further in between now, and hopefully soon, they will be firmly in her past.
It was obvious to every BREW volunteer but me that she’d ceased to be a foster dog fairly early on. She endured each adoption day she attended by acting like quite the lump and staying crated or hiding behind the table. After eleven adoption days, I finally caught on, (I’m a bit slow sometimes) and formally adopted her. Gretchen gains confidence every day. She has an established routine, she no longer hides from the pet sitter or company, she gets excited to go on walks, she barks at every meal and steals food and treats from her unsuspecting siblings. And at night she gets up on the big bed and sighs contentedly as she falls asleep. She has become a happy, well adjusted STUBBORN addition to the family, and we are thrilled to have her.