Wanda and Fern: A Fostering Love Story

June 28, 2012  

A couple fosters two wonderful pit bulls, becoming lifelong advocates for pit bull type dogs

By Jillian Terry

I had only been volunteering with the New York City rescue group Mighty Mutts for two months when I decided I wanted to become a foster parent. I had moved to New York from Kansas to be with my fiancé and was feeling severely dog deprived. I brought the subject up with my fiancé, who seemed OK with getting a dog, “as long as it’s not a pit bull.”

“Why?” I asked. At Mighty Mutts, many of our rescues were pit bulls, since the shelters are full of them, and they are not the easiest dogs to adopt out in a city where everyone lives in tiny apartments.

“I dunno, I’m a little scared of them I guess. Haven’t had much experience with them.”

His stance didn’t seem too firm, so when the first dog that came along needing a foster home was a female pit bull, dumped after having puppies, we agreed to take her. We knew nothing about her, except that she was found wandering in Brooklyn, was about 3 years old and was still lactating. We named her Wanda, and when we told the Brooklynite who rescued her, he said (in a true New York accent), “Oh, cuz she wanders around!”

Within a day we were smitten, which was difficult because we hadn’t taken her to vet yet and didn’t know if she was microchipped. It was possible (though unlikely) that she was a family pet that ran away. Not having owned a pit bull before, my fiancé and I were delighted with her silly personality, desire to cuddle constantly and easygoing nature – traits we now know are typical for pit bulls. Her one flaw was that she didn’t have very good dog manners – she wasn’t exactly aggressive, just a little too focused and overexcited about meeting other dogs (which can be very intimidating for a smaller dog).

Everyone that Wanda met fell in love with her, but we worried that she would be hard to adopt out because she had a hip problem (probably from being overbred too young) and tended to limp a bit. I was in Chicago for the weekend when my fiancé called and gave me some news: “They want to move Wanda to a foster home with other dogs so that she gets better socialized.” I surprised myself by bursting out in tears! Giving Wanda up to a new loving forever home would be one thing, but because we weren’t the right foster parents for her would be devastating!

It was only a couple of weeks later that my fiancé’s parents (who lived in Kansas) surprised us with text message: “We want to adopt Wanda, can you bring her home for Christmas?” A text message! They had met her while visiting us in New York and had loved her as much as we did. Arrangements were made, and my fiancé’s father and brother drove Wanda the 1,200 miles from New York City to her new home in Kansas. Now she has a big house, a bigger family to love, and lots of grass and sunlight. And since she is no longer in a fifth floor walk-up, her hip is doing better as well.

After Wanda, my fiancé and I agreed we’d hold off on fostering again until after we got married in September. “There’s just too much to worry about with the wedding planning; it’ll be nice to be just us for a while,” we thought. But it wasn’t long before I was getting the itch again. Dog after dog came through Mighty Mutts, and though they were all special to me, I tried to stick to our arrangement.

But then, a lovely little girl named Fern came along, and I couldn’t resist! She reminded me of Wanda, but had her own personality. A couple of weeks of cajoling, and Fern became our foster dog. Unlike Wanda, we do know Fern’s background, and it isn’t pleasant. She was kept as a junkyard dog, starved, beaten and came to the shelter with an embedded collar. For all she has been through, Fern is a treat to have. She loves everyone she meets and just wiggles with delight when someone pays any attention to her. She has perfect leash manners and is the ultimate lady. The fact that she can trust humans after what she has been through is a testament to just how wonderful pit bulls really are.

Fern will be a difficult girl to let go, but my fiancé and I are convinced that if the right forever home comes along – we will happily send Fern off. And if she doesn’t find a forever home anytime soon, we are more than pleased to have the privilege of such a great dog in our home.

PS – My unsure-about-pit bulls fiancé is now an absolute advocate for them and so am I. All it took was a few days with one of these wonderful pups in our home. He and I frequently ask one another, “Can we always have pit bulls?” and then just smile as we gaze upon our happy foster dog.

Editor’s Note: Jillian and her fiancé have officially adopted Fern.

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10 Responses to “Wanda and Fern: A Fostering Love Story”
  1. The last paragraph did it..bought tears to my eyes.  It’s amazing how these dogs love so much but are hated and discarded by those that barely know them.  Give Wanda a huge hug for us for opening your sweeties eyes.  Thank you for helping him to get over his fear and opening his heart!

  2. JillianTerry says:

    Thank you Stubby Dog for sharing our story. After only a few weeks, we decided to adopt Fern. We are foster failures twice over! 🙂

  3. Such a great story, thank you Jillian! Wanda and Fern are both beautiful. I have to say, I’m not too surprised by your fiancé’s change of heart about pit bulls! 🙂 

  4. honeyremedy says:

    Thank you Jillian for changing your fiances perception in a gentle and perfect manner! Enjoy your new member of the family!

  5. puppymomma says:

    This story made me cry. so beautiful.

  6. servalsquest says:

    Thank you so much for helping those wonderful dogs, Jillian.  <3

  7. NikkiKeating says:

    What a great story!