By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A western Nebraska couple recently celebrated taking in their 100th foster dog from a Cheyenne dog rescue — taking in one of the large dogs rescued from a hoarding situation in the city.
Amy Nelson told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that Bashful, a large mastiff, is hers and her husband’s 100th foster dog they have taken in from Black Dog Animal Rescue, a shelter in Cheyenne.
“The first night, he hid in his kennel,” she said. “Now, he’s really starting to come out and be playful. He’s crazy silly. It’s just the transformation you see, going from this scared dog to an actual, happy dog.”
Bashful was one of the 58 dogs discovered in what was described as a “hoarding” situation in a house in south Cheyenne in April. All of the dogs were surrendered to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, which works with BDAR to help foster and adopt out animals.
The Nelsons, who live in Kimball, Nebraska, have been working with BDAR since 2014 and take in around 12 to 15 dogs per year. They usually foster two dogs at a time, BDAR’s limit.
“It all started because I wanted to keep adopting dogs and my husband wouldn’t let me,” Nelson said. “Before we started fostering with Black Dog, I’d adopted a chocolate lab from another rescue and he was scared of his own shadow. If it wasn’t for us giving him a chance, he wouldn’t have made it out of the shelter he was in.”
The lab, Naz, inspired Amy and Steve Nelson to begin fostering dogs, gravitating toward the more “difficult” ones that need more time, patience and attention before they are adopted into a forever home.
They currently have three dogs of their own, all of whom are “foster fails,” meaning the foster situation worked out so well, the couple adopted the dogs. They also have Bashful and another foster dog, Rocky, who has been with the couple since September.
Nelson said BDAR was initially hesitant to work with the couple since they live in Nebraska, but the staffers let them go ahead with the training, just to see how things went.
“Now, we’re on our 100th foster,” Nelson said. “Sometimes, it can be really heartbreaking when they leave. Other times, you’re ready for them to get adopted. We have great relationships with the people that adopt our dogs and I get updates all the time from them.”
The couple will take in any dog, but Nelson did note she had a particular fondness for pitbulls.
Being involved in the adoption process from beginning to end helps ease some of the heartache when the dog leaves. By looking over adoption applications and interviewing potential pet parents, the Nelsons can ensure their foster dogs go to the best homes possible.
“I want to take these dogs that people don’t give a second look to and give them a chance, because we’ve had really good success with these dogs,” Nelson said.
She encouraged anyone considering fostering to do so, noting that by bringing an animal into a home even for a short time, a major difference can be made in their personalities.
“We treat them like they’re our own dogs,” she said. “That’s why we take the ones that are at the back of the kennel or the one that charges at people when they walk by. Can you imagine being in that kennel and watching people go by, day after day? What would that do to you as a person?”