Recently my foster dog, Clooney, got adopted. He is the 36th foster pup we’ve had in our home, and each and every time it’s tough to send them off even though it’s right. Despite the tears, my family keeps fostering dogs in need because it’s just so rewarding. It’s an amazing way to give back, to help make a pet whole and ready for a home. It’s also a fun way to get to know so many quirky and silly personalities! So when Clooney’s wonderful people presented themselves the other day, I should have been thrilled. I should have been jumping for joy. I should have been ready to say goodbye and move on to the next dog I could help save and bring home. But to be honest, as happy as I am for him and his happily ever after, I just miss having him around.

Clooney is a special dog. Aren’t they all? He was an easy foster, made fast friends with my own pups, and made my husband and I laugh all day long. Being an eight-year-old, 60-pound Pit Bull mix, I guess I assumed it would be hard to find him a home and that he’d be staying with us for a long time. Which was fine by me! But sometimes the world surprises you. Sometimes karma seals her deals quickly. Sometimes you have to say goodbye too soon.

So I packed up his goody bag a few days ago and off he went smiling. I will miss sitting with Clooney on his big ol’ dog bed in the pitch black, petting him softly, feeling his gratitude, and knowing that his tail was wagging even though I couldn’t see it. I will miss feeling him press into me, relief surrounding us in the dark night, just so happy to lay together and be warm and close. I will miss the funny, weird nosies he makes when I bring out the leash for a walk, so shamelessly excited about it as if I’m as cool as The Rolling Stones (which I’m not!)

Clooney, you’re so gentle it’s heartbreaking. Clooney, you’re home for the holidays. Clooney, on our last night together we snuggled for the last time, and I cried because I had that sinking feeling. You were leaving. Clooney, it’s bittersweet to let you go, you silly goofball, you good boy, you sweet heart. Clooney, I’m the lucky one because I got to know you.

Tomorrow our next foster comes. I know I will adore him and that my heart will mend even though today it still feels achy because Clooney isn’t here anymore. I will shift focus onto the new pooch and once again connect, spend time with, and learn to love. Until it’s his turn to go, and the cycle repeats. I will continue to get updates on Clooney, celebrating his progress, and remaining thankful that he is now a cherished member of his very own family. And you can help in this way as well, you can help dogs like Clooney stay safe until their forever home is found. I’m here to tell you that even though I opened my house and heart to him, he helped me so much more by being truly kind and generous with his affection.

It is always a privilege to get to be a part of a rescue story. Tomorrow a new chapter begins, but Clooney’s place in my book will forever be there. Please consider becoming a foster parent for a homeless pet this holiday season, or make it a New Year’s Resolution. Together we can show all animals that they count, that they matter, that they have friends. I promise you will get as much as you give and more. Clooney, I will never forget you.

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