Fostering Helps Man Overcome Tragedy

By PetcoFoundation on Feb. 22, 2017


Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Bruce Cardwell won Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix, Arizona a 2016 Holiday Wishes award.

The first time I saw Sandy was in a photo that my daughter, Leanne, texted to me with the question: “Want to foster?” 

Leanne had succeeded several years ago in convincing my late wife, Kathy, to adopt Muffin, who we decided would be our retirement dog. But after Kathy and Muffin went out for their evening walk in December 2013 and were fatally struck by a truck while crossing the street, my world collapsed. For two years, I resisted Leanne’s ceaseless search for a four-legged companion to help remedy my pain.

After rejecting hundreds of Leanne’s suggested dogs, Sandy’s story gave me pause. She had been hit by a car and was found barely alive under a couch in a dry canal bed. Alone in the world, she was taken to the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) where she received emergency surgery to repair a pelvic fracture and, exhibiting extreme fearfulness, needed foster care to aid in her recovery. 


Knowing I would resist taking the full plunge of adoption, Leanne touted the silver lining of Sandy: if I wanted to foster her, I had to agree that I wouldn’t adopt her at the end of my foster term as she was scheduled to be adopted at Arizona Humane Society’s annual fundraiser. So, I could foster with a clear conscience, knowing I wouldn’t wind up with a dog for retirement.

“Fine.” I texted back my daughter.

The next three months my house became a dog convalescent home for a dog who didn’t seem to need convalescing. Sandy walked in and immediately sprawled on Kathy’s couch, in Kathy’s spot, breaking strict medical orders not climb and breaking Kathy’s longstanding house rules barring dogs from furniture. During my first night with Sandy, I woke up to find her comfortably asleep in Kathy’s place in bed. For the second time that day, I let her break the house rules set more than 30 years ago.


Soon, Sandy was back on four legs, running in the backyard in great leaps, complaining in poodle grunts and sharing my and Kathy’s favorite weekend breakfast treat: Sausage McMuffins.

As the deadline for my adoption-proof strategy neared, Sandy became a regular fixture on the furniture and in my heart. On our way to return Sandy to AHS, I made a detour to McDonald’s, where I purchased her a Sausage McMuffin to celebrate our time together that I no longer wanted to end. As I said goodbye, I thanked Sandy for helping ready me for dog ownership again.


What came next was a total shock. Friends and family surprised me with fundraiser and adoption raffle tickets. What had begun as an elaborate strategy to avoid adopting Sandy had become exactly the opposite. When they announced my name as Sandy’s adoption winner, I thought of Kathy and Muffin. On our way home, Sandy and I made a quick detour through the drive-thru for the first of many more Sausage McMuffins.

Learn more about the Petco Foundation by visiting www.petcofoundation.org.

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