Foster dog finds a home ‘close to home’

Alisha Soni | Staff Writer

Sometimes when you love something you have to set it free. That’s exactly what happened when Hope Conrad and her family decided to foster a rescued puppy; they eventually had to let her go. 

Through the organization Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART), senior Hope Conrad and her family were able to foster their first dog, a rescue puppy named Lacey. The volunteer-ran program gathers animals from mills or high-kill shelters and contacts approved fosters in order to provide temporary homes to animals in hopes that they can later be adopted. 

The Conrads had been wanting to foster for a couple of years, but had never believed it was the appropriate time. When they finally thought they were ready, they submitted their application to be fosters through HART. Almost immediately after, they were approved and contacted with news of a puppy needing to be fostered.

“Lacey and her sister were found on the side of the road somewhere in West Virginia or Virginia,” Conrad said. “When we got the dog, her eye was all messed up, so she had to stay at the vet’s for a little bit and get surgery. Then the [organization] asked us if we wanted to foster her, so of course we said yes.”

Besides right timing, Conrad said that her decision to foster was sparked by the idea of being a part of helping dogs, especially those previously neglected and abused. Conrad’s own dog, a yellow lab mix, Olive, has also helped foster Lacey. It took some time for Lacey to adjust to her surroundings. 

“She didn’t want to sleep in a crate, so she slept in my bed,” Conrad said. “It was an adjustment for me too because she kept me up the whole night. Then, we sort of got a routine down. Olive and Lacey figured out how to play together and would cuddle with each other on the couch. We were also able to potty train her and teach her tricks.”

In the month she fostered, Conrad experienced all of the struggles and joys that come with raising a new member of the family — until it came time to give her away. Luckily, Lacey was not going far.

Lacey was adopted by senior Ryan Caplinger and his family. Through HART’s Facebook account, Caplinger’s family had noticed Lacey’s posts and decided they were ready to add another dog to their family. So, they contacted the Conrads. Since the two families knew each other, it didn’t take long for the Caplingers to meet Lacey. 

“When we first met her, Lacey was a little hesitant to go up to anyone in my family,” Caplinger said. “She met my golden retriever, Payton, and that day they both went in our backyard and played around a bunch.”

Despite Lacey’s “closed personality”, she was immediately adopted. A week and a half later, Lacey has started to adjust to her new environment. Caplinger describes her as “food motivated” insisting training has not been too difficult, although at first housebreaking was a bit of a struggle. Occasionally Payton and Lacey break into fights, but, for the most part, they keep each other company and constantly play together.

“Lacey seems to like the girls a lot better than me and my dad, but she’s getting there,” Caplinger said. “A couple of days after we got her, I was laying down on the couch and she came up and laid right next to me. She’s starting to settle in and she’s really sweet.”

After growing close to Lacey, the Conrads faced the difficult reality of having to give up their foster dog. The memories that she and Lacey have created over the month led to an emotional goodbye. 

“Lacey was special to me because she was the first dog that we fostered and we had her for a month, which is usually way longer than you usually have them,” Conrad said. “I remember that she wanted to be held like a baby 24 seven. Every night at eight o’clock Lacey would pass out on the couch while [she was] asleep on top of me, so I’d have to carry her from the couch to my bed. I think my family had an easier time with the transition but I kind of got attached a little bit.”

Regardless, Conrad has already received another rescue dog to foster through HART. To her, fostering provides animals with a safe environment and a chance to recover their trust — an opportunity she encourages others to take advantage of as well.

“Fostering is a really good thing to do because you don’t know what these puppies have been through,” Conrad said. “Before we were thinking about getting our own puppy but we decided that we wanted to foster instead. It gives some puppies a chance at finding a forever home and HART really needs more people to get involved.”

Photos contributed by Hope Conrad

Graphics by Riley Johansen