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In the last piece, I told you about how I got involved with the Aussie rescue, but that wasn't the beginning of my love for animals. I truly believe that I was born with the desire to speak to animals with my heart, and what I found was that they seemed to sense back from me that I was a human they could trust. At an early age, we lived on a small farm in Oklahoma. We had chickens, pigs, cows, horses, rabbits, dogs, cats, geese, and I had a lamb named "Softie." I absolutely adored her, as well as all the other animals that lived on the property. Softie was orphaned and I remember bottle feeding her from just a few days old, until she was weened. Softie and I had the most meaningful conversations you could think of. Being alone often, I would lay out in the barn with her. That poor girl had to listen to me sing and talk for HOURS. Therapeutic for me, but must have been absolute torture for her. I am sure she went to heaven and was granted sainthood for that alone. It was some of the best memories I had of her and of the time. Not all animals loved me back however. I can think of one particular Ram that my father got because he thought my sheep needed a mate. I swear that wooly mammoth would stalk me and wait for me to walk out of the house so he could knock me into next week. He moved out to another farm shortly after he took my dad for a little trip. Funny how that worked actually.

Throughout my childhood, we travelled a lot with my fathers military career and having lots of animals during that time, was not something that was always possible. We had family dogs, which I somehow made into my own. I was the kid that didn't need to be told to walk the dogs. Walking dogs was my favorite chore. It allowed me the freedom to think and again..... talk to them. Come to think of it, my confidants of the world have always been a little on the furry side, and that was perfect for me because my secrets and personal thoughts were always safe and secure.

Throughout the years, I would find animals that were lost, or missing. My parents began to believe that I must be luring them to follow me, and the term "He followed me home," was on repeat. My desire to help these animals never faded, and my only regret was that I couldn't do more. I still feel that way actually.

My greatest love during this period of time (because trust me, I fall deeply in love with them all) arrived when I was 11 years old. My father came home with the most dorky looking German Shepherd, he got him from a market in Antwerp, Belgium. He had floppy ears, razor sharp teeth, and his big bear claws of feet. Turns out those big paws were leading up to one big German Shepherd. He would knock me down, chew my hair, sit on me and just basically torture me. We named him after the cartoon Hagar The Horrible. These crazy antics only lasted a short time before we discovered he was having severe pain, lethargy and signs of illness. What we didn't know is that the breeders/sellers would give the puppies something to constipate them so they didn't soil their pen. We spent the first few weeks of his life basically saving his life. He had intestinal problems due to the binding products he was given. I thought back then that I wanted to pursue a career as vet. I was always interested in the field of medicine but deep down I knew that it would be incredibly heartbreaking for me to have to euthanize an animal, to have their lives in my hands and know that the responsibility of this would be all too much for me and I really didn't know how I could separate my heart from the profession. I digress.... I remember how hard Hagar fought and how hard we fought to keep him alive. It worked. He lived 13 beautiful years and was my best friend for every single moment of those years. When he passed, I was in my early 20's, had moved out of the house living on my own with him. Just the two of us, much like it always had been. His loss was a tremendous blow to my heart. I grieved him like had never grieved anyone or anything in my life at that point and it took me couple years to get over that one. Hagar remains in my heart and soul. He taught me how to love, trust and advocate for those that couldn't advocate for themselves. He and I knew a thing or two about needing advocates to support and protect us.

It wasn't long after losing Hagar that I knew I needed another companion. A companion to go run with, to hike with, to be outdoors with. I had adopted Pepper, a senior Yorkshire Terrier, who was surrendered to me because of a living situation someone was having, but she wasn't the big dog type I was used to. She was precious just the same, and her last few years of life was spent being well cared for and loved.

After a few years of craving that energetic big dog, I heard of someone selling Aussie pups, and went to go check it out. At that time I had no idea what a backyard breeder was, and when I arrived the best way to describe what I encountered was basically a soft version of that; A backyard breeder. I won't go into to detail as this was a few decades ago, and things were a little different, plus let's just say this person is no longer doing "business." Upon arrival there were several outdoor dirt pens set up with about 3 different pens of puppies. She took me to the set of pens with the puppies that were up for adoption, and it was just the cutest small army of fluffballs coming at me, licking my face, pulling my shoe strings, and just being the adorable puppies they were. There was one particular puppy that stood out. He was the one staying back, being cautious and appearing to be the "black sheep" of the litter. He was the one. He was the one that would become the very next one tattooed on my heart. His name would come from a beer commercial he was FOSTER, Australian for beer... I mean dog.

Foster would go on to help me raise a family in the years to come and was a tremendous force of protection and love.

We will leave this here for now.

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In our first few blogs, I want to take the time to explain why we do what we do. I am very new to this so please be patient as you read through and know that I am an animal rescuer, not an English major.

In our pack of 5 (currently), we have a variety of personalities, breeds and past experiences. Before I introduce them all to you, it is important to know that every one of these dogs came from a rescue, and had already formed their personalities long before they came into our lives.

About 8 years ago, I adopted Frankie (formerly known as Dandy) from Australian Shepherds Furever, a 501c non profit. I had recently lost my 2 year old Australian Shepherd to cancer, and the decision to adopt again was agonizing, but hopeful at the same time. I was still grieving a tremendous loss, and fear of losing another dog loomed over me like a dark paralyzing cloud . My fears didn't stand a chance when I saw this sweet angel posted for adoption.

Although I had adopted from other rescues before, this rescue stood out to me. Maybe it was the breed that I was in love with since I was a child, maybe it was the friendships that formed after my first encounter with Frankie's foster mom, or the encounter with the late Joe Darlington that had me on the phone talking to him for 2 hours about deaf dogs, blind dogs, what a Double Merle is, and how they are unaware that they are any different than any hearing or seeing dog. We talked about more than just dogs that night and it was like talking to a friend I knew my whole life. This seemed to be the theme of my experiences with everyone in the ASF group. The rescue did a full investigation on me and after what seemed like the longest few days of my life, I was approved to adopt. From the moment Frankie was adopted into my home, I knew I had found a place amongst like-minded loving and caring rescue people as a bonus to my new found love in Frankie.

After about 6 months, someone from ASF approached me about becoming a foster. I just couldn't imagine how i would do that. How could I bring a beautiful sweet soul into my home, without falling completely in love and keeping him or her??? How could I even begin to imagine handing this dog over in the future to someone and breaking my heart and potentially theirs. It just seemed impossible to imagine. After a phone call with another foster and volunteer with the group, the only question I was actually left with, is "How could I allow any dog to be euthanized for no fault of his/her own, just because I was being selfish about how I would feel when the time came to adopt him/her out to a loving and deserving family who would allow them to live their best life?" And THIS my friends is how I became a foster mom.

In fostering, I have seen the grim side of rescue, the painful, dark and scary side of rescue. I have seen neglect, abuse, starvation, and uncaring humans. I have also seen how like-minded people band together to work hours on end networking, dealing with horrible, abusive humans, while being loving, caring, and supportive doing whatever they can, even when it almost always means sacrificing their human needs to support even just one animals life. I have seen dogs that are moments from death, shine bright when given a chance at life. I have seen the smiles that dogs have when they are on their freedom ride.

We will leave this here for now.

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