Pamela K. Is Helping to Change the Course of These Dogs’ Lives
“The main reason I decided to become a foster caregiver is because dogs have literally saved me so many times in my long life, I wanted to do a little bit of trying to save back,” says Pamela Klos, an ASPCA foster caregiver at the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Weaverville, North Carolina.
Pamela has been around dogs her whole life. As a kid, her parents raised dogs and as she got older, she became a part-time adoption counselor at a shelter while living in Wisconsin. Now living in North Carolina, Pamela and her husband are the parents of a black schnauzer named Viper and have opened their hearts and home as foster caregivers to dogs in need at the BRC. Having the proper space, set-up, time and patience to be foster caregivers, Pamela knew this was the right path for them.
“We have a nice big fenced-in yard. We can make it smaller for those who are more afraid, and we can make it way bigger for those that love to run,” Pamela explains.
Since the BRC is a facility dedicated to rehabilitating extremely fearful dogs, each applicant must go through training to become a foster caregiver.
“I have to admit, that was part of my draw to fostering at the BRC, because I knew it would be regulated and I work better with that.”
Soon after Pamela finished the onboarding process, she met Smiley. Smiley came to the BRC after being rescued from a hoarding situation. During their time together, Pamela found that Smiley was very attached to her, and while he did like to spend time with Viper, always preferred being around his foster mother.
After their two months together came to an end as Smiley moved on to a partner shelter to be adopted, Pamela was ready for more.
In January, Pamela began fostering Teacup, who she lovingly refers to as Cuppy. Teacup came to the BRC as a transfer from a partner shelter after being rescued from a cruelty situation. Unlike Smiley, Teacup was very attached to Viper but had to work with Pamela to become comfortable in the home.
“Teacup struggles to get in and out of rooms because she can’t walk through doorways, she can only get low to the ground and run through them. She’s just so fearful going in and out of the house so we try to work with her to make her more comfortable,” says Pamela.
Though Teacup still struggles with doorways, she has come incredibly far since Pamela first met her.
“I have a standing desk that electronically raises and lowers. I thought she’d die the first time I touched that button. Now, she’s totally fine with it and with blow dryers and mixers. Our couch has the recliners and when you’d pull the lever, Teacup used to just about leave the room. Now, she’ll lay right by my husband’s feet when he does it.”
Pamela’s hard work and dedication for her foster dogs does not go unnoticed by the BRC staff.
“Pamela was instrumental in helping Smiley and Teacup generalize the new behaviors they learned at the BRC to a home environment with completely novel people,” says Tristan Rehner-Fleurant, Senior Director of Behavior Rehabilitation at the BRC. “Both dogs had a longer-than-average treatment time at the BRC. For dogs that spend a long time with us it seems to be especially beneficial to have that foster experience as a bridge. In foster they can experience being less fearful in a home environment and without any of their familiar people or dogs around before they go to another shelter and then into another home.”
The Good and the Bad
For many foster caregivers, bringing a dog into their home and knowing eventually they’d leave can be hard, but it never seems to outweigh the moment when they receive a photo of the animal in their new adoptive home.
“As soon as Smiley got adopted, I saw those pictures and that was by far the most rewarding part,” says Pamela. “But separately, the part I love most is the challenge. Watching the incremental changes and wondering, ‘How do we adjust to make it better for her or calmer for them? What things can we employ and use?’ That’s really the part I love because at least you know you’re getting someplace.”
Caring for an extremely fearful dog can also tug on the heartstrings, something Pamela knows all too well.
“It’s picking up on those little things, Cuppy has a spot on her back where if you ever touch it, she quivers. For me, that’s the hardest part of being a foster caregiver, thinking about what someone else probably did to cause those things. Smiley, too, you could set a pen down a little too loud and the poor girl just jumped.”
But our loving and devoted foster caregivers, especially those like Pamela, are forever changing the course of these kinds of dogs’ lives so that they’ll never have to be afraid again.
“Pamela has opened her home to various long stay foster dogs for the BRC,” says Deirdre Franklin, Senior Manager of Placement, Fosters and Volunteers at the BRC. “She has been patient, thorough in her communication and has been so attentive to the individual needs of our dogs. We are so grateful to have a volunteer like Pamela and her dog, Viper, both of whom have helped our dogs transition from an institutional setting to the magic of home life.”
This National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we at the ASPCA want to say a big thank you to our incredible volunteers across the country. We couldn’t do the impactful work we do without your help!
Teacup is still looking for a home to call her own! Adopt her today!