When you take a look at how things started out for Billy when first rescued, to the Billy of today, the transformation is undeniable. He doesn’t even look like the same dog, and it’s thanks to the loving care of his foster mom, and the people that have adopted him. The Billy of today, is doing just amazing.
However, this story isn’t just about Billy’s rescue and transformation. While that certainly is a huge part of it all, a large part of this story is about why Billy’s foster mom knew that she couldn’t keep him once he was ready to be adopted. WARNING, you might shed a few tears watching the video and reading what the author had written, but the story is so worth it, and will restore your faith in humanity.
For all the people who keep asking me why didn’t I keep him, and for all of you who are reluctant about fostering, this is why we do it, and this is why we let go: http://theorphanpet.com/fostering-dogs/
I first saw his photo on a Facebook post. It looked like a scene from a horror movie. If you’re involved in Animal Welfare in Greece you see too much suffering every day, but that photo really broke my heart.
I had no idea what I was in for when I said “get him here and I’ll foster him” but the next day two of our volunteers travelled 70 kilometers to get to him. We all met at the vet the same evening. When we took him out of his box the sight of his suffering body and his absolute terror were so petrifying that we couldn’t even cry. We were pretty sure that we had taken him off the streets just to offer him the chance of a dignified death and that the vet would advise that we put him to sleep. But he didn’t. He examined him, took blood samples and send us home. He suffered from a very contagious type of mange so we put him in a small bathroom upstairs. He just laid there in the corner and was so obvious he just needed to be left alone. So we let him rest. Those first couple of weeks were so overwhelming for both of us. He must have been feeling so safe and secure in that small room that he slept for hours and hours. He would eat four times a day and then just go back to sleep. I felt like I had a tiny treasure to protect and nurture, and checked on him a dozen times per day. I never heard a sound coming from that room upstairs. Not barking, nor scratching not even the slightest movement. I’d simply open the door, change his water, put food on his plate and watch him go back to sleep. He must have felt so cozy in that bed that he’d only get up to pee every 24 hours.
When we shot the scenes for the “after” part of his rescue video it almost looked fake. It had taken Billy less than two months to become a gorgeous, trusting and loving dog.
And then this email arrived from 2000 kilometers away. It was the first and only adoption request we ever had for him, but we would have picked it anyway among a million others. Emma was Greek living in Switzerland and had followed Billy’s story since day one. We started exchanging emails and messages every day. I’d inform her on anything I knew or thought about what Billy was like, about what he loved or not and about how he’d behave in a new environment, I’d send her photos and videos of him playing with my dogs or taking walks or simply just sitting there being cute. Saying goodbye at the airport was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I came back home crying and waiting for his flight to arrive. It seemed like forever. We skyped once they were home. I missed him so much already and yet I was so happy to finally see him where he belonged.
And then the first e mails and messages starting arriving, with photos and videos of Billy’s new life and details on his daily routine and all the progress he was making. They allowed me to take a glimpse on his life and I felt so grateful. With every new detail and every new photo the memory of him would become so vivid and yet so distant. A lot of dogs came after him. Dogs I fostered and loved and helped. But as the months went by, Billy’s photos were still my desktop background and my mobile wallpapers and even my Facebook cover. It was like while his memory was drifting further away I’d try to keep him as close as possible anyway I could. And finally, the reunion happened. I had been preparing for it for months. But Billy was always too special for anything you could ever plan or imagine about him. He did recognize me of course, he recognized my dogs and they were so happy to be together again they run off playing and doing whatever it is dogs do when they get along. He was so happy. A dog that had absolutely nothing to do not only with that hairless bag of bones I had fostered those first weeks, but not even with the healthy gorgeous animal I had given for adoption ten months ago. I kept looking at him, and even though I knew it was him, in a way it felt that he wasn’t. He had been completely formed and shaped by those two amazing people who adopted him and he was most definitely 100% their dog. I could finally see it. And I was so relieved.
So this video is dedicated to Billy’s parents. For everything they’ve done, and for everything that they’ll do, but most of all for allowing me to let go the smoothest way possible.