Happy and Sad Go Together – Good for the Dog; Good for You

Layla the foster beagle looks like Snoopy the vulture.

Doesn’t she just break your heart?

Layla put her front paws on the glass and wagged fiercely as she watched her new adoptive family leave to fill out adoption paperwork.

She looked like a happy pup watching people she found interesting. But she was also bewildered by having a big dog and his people in “her” house. And not quite sure why our usual habits were being disturbed.

Layla was excited by the attention of her new people. But she was also worried. Happy and sad shared space in her little fuzzy body.

Sadness is Good

Despite writing cheerfully about how good it feels to see a foster dog go to her forever home, I always feel sad when a foster leaves.

Many people say they could never care for a dog or give and give him up. I won’t judge that.

But I know that sometimes sad is a good thing.

After all, what kind of foster experience would we have if every time a dog went to his home we said,”Wow, I’m sure glad he’s gone.”?

Sadness Makes Happiness Sweeter

My husband keeps threatening to move me south.

I struggle mightily with winter—the clouds, the cold, the darkness. And my husband, unfortunately, has to live with me. So no wonder he eyes Florida real estate despite hating humidity as much as I hate cold.

But once I get through the six month winter, I come alive. The three months of summer in Ithaca are pure bliss.

I work, play, and eat on the front porch. I stop wearing shoes unless I absolutely have to. I want to sleep outdoors.

I can’t imagine summer days being so joyous if I didn’t have a strong memory of struggling through winter.

And my friends born in raised in California suggest I’m right. They talk about taking good weather for granted. “Oh, it’s sunny and warm? Well, of course it is.”

So for now, I’ll make the most of the winter to enjoy my awesome summers.

Just like Layla will be a little uncomfortable fitting into a new house until she finds bliss in the love of her family.

Living in the Moment When You’re Happy

Dogs find change stressful. They can’t makes sense of what’s happening to them. They just know they’re uncomfortable.

Luckily, once they settle in to a new place, they are also fully present in their joy.

Layla is lucky.

Her new dog “brother” is much more polite than Honey and will let her roam the house without treating her like a toy. Her family likes exploring the wonderful parks and hiking spots in our state. And they’re caring and knowledgeable about dogs.

Hopefully she’s already getting comfortable in her new home and has put Ithaca and the Websters behind her.

Her brief sadness at making a change will be replaced with happiness every day. And she’ll experience that sadness combined with happiness isn’t bad, for dog or for people.

What do you think? Does sadness or discomfort have a place in our lives? Or should we try to wipe it out–for our dogs and ourselves?

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  1. I hate seeing my dogs unhappy and since we do foster and adopt rescues, there is always some of that. For Maggie – our latest rescue, our very fearful rescue, we are trying to do what we can to ease her fears and all signs of happiness are met with praise and rewards. I’d love to be able to eradicate all her bad and unhappy memories – if I only knew how!

  2. Haha, I think there’s always a bit of “wow, I’m sure glad he’s gone” for me, but then I also cry for three days when its a foster pup I was really attached to. So yes, I understand happy and sad together. The saddest thing is all the pups in the shelter who don’t have foster homes, so pushing back at that sadness is what keeps me going even when the fosters drive me crazy.

  3. That reminds me of the Paulo Coelho quote, “To enjoy the rainbow, first enjoy the rain.” There is nothing more joyful than those first spring days after a long, cold winter. I don’t think we can appreciate them as much without getting through the “rain” first. It’s tougher with dogs because, as you mentioned, they don’t understand what’s going on. Thankfully, they adjust and create a new normal pretty quickly, but it’s hard as the human to not be able to step in and explain what’s going on. Lucky Layla sounds like she got a great family! She’ll be happy and comfortable in no time!

  4. We think people who foster animals are great and deserve a high 5. We could do with being somewhere sunny right now. We have snow today which I suppose makes a change from rain. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  5. Fostering must be an emotional rollercoaster. All the time you’re getting the dog adjusted to you and happy, but the goal is to get the dog to leave. You obviously do a great job with your fosters and give them such a good start on their way to their forever home.

  6. I agree with the sweet is sweeter after the bad. I don’t like the bad however, but it’s part of life. I am all about chasing the good weather though. I hate being cold too.

  7. It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. ❤❤❤ It’s been a while since I’ve fostered, but I remember how bittersweet the emotions could be. It’s all worth it, though. Enjoy your new home, Layla!

  8. Sue at The Golden Life says:

    So happy for Layla to have her own “fur-ever” home! Her sadness at having to leave you will dissipate as she settles into her new home.
    Yes, I definitely agree that we must experience sad times to fully appreciate and enjoy the happy times. Hopefully, the sad times don’t last as long. And you’re right about dogs not caring much for change. While there are some — like Callie — who adapt more easily than others — like Shadow — change is stressful for them at first. Poor Shadow still doesn’t know what to make of Ducky. She plays too rough, and sometimes her growling and snapping is just too much for Shadow. And I completely understand, cuz I don’t adapt to change well either.

  9. Sadness and discomfort are a part of life. Without them how would we know what happiness was?

    I’m sure you will miss Layla, but as you mentioned in a previous post, you are constantly falling in love. And isn’t it wonderful to know that you’ve helped another one find their forever home? :-)

  10. Peaks and valleys, you can’t enjoy the peaks unless you know what the valleys are like.

    I am SO not a winter person either. Many years ago I moved to an area where it seldom gets below 50 in the daytime, but 50 feels really cold now while at one time in another place 20 felt balmy.

  11. I do think sadness and discomfort has its place…..it doesn’t mean I have to like it! 😉

    “I stop wearing shoes unless I absolutely have to. I want to sleep outdoors.”

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. I have dreams of retiring to a private beach island where there are no hurricanes and I need no shoes.

  12. Now I feel happy and sad too. Yes. Being a foster parent is hard sometimes, but you’re right, sadness is all part of the package. I hope Layla settles in quickly and enjoys her new life. Kudos to you for giving her that chance!

  13. I agree that sadness and discomfort is a part of life. I don’t necessarily like it, but without it I might not be the person I am today.
    I have never fostered a dog before, it’s just not something I think I could do but I admire those who do it!

  14. You can’t appreciate happiness without an understanding of sadness. Yin and yang, a universal truth. Where would we be without Judas, or winter? As a human, I think that. Not sure Georgia feels bad days are “necessary” though 😉

  15. I’m so happy for Layla and a little sad for her as well. She can’t possibly understand why she’s leaving the Websters behind and moving in with strangers – but they won’t be strangers for long and then they’ll be hers for the rest of her life. And that’s pretty cool. Hugs to you – this must be the hardest part of fostering.

  16. The bad/uncomfortable times sure do make the good times that much sweeter.

    Hooary for Layla and her new home! I hope she settles in quickly!

  17. The sadness of watching them go is always worth the knowledge that they went to a wonderful home. I totally agree with your California friends – I grew up in San Diego and I try to tell my husband all the time that you end up just taking the weather for granted. Oregon can be gray and dark – but give us one sunny day and everyone is outside taking advantage of the gorgeous day no matter what the temperature! Sometimes we need a little sad to make us appreciate the happy :) Hooray for Layla’s new home!!

  18. ”Wow, I’m sure glad he’s gone.”? LOL! I just pictured you fostering dogs like my Toby, day in and day out. I love him of course, but I also wonder how many other people would have. :-)

    I don’t know. I think if I lived in CA I would appreciate the warm weather. Every. Single. Day. But, like you, maybe that would come from living in a state where we have long dreary winters (and yours are much worse than mine).

    I love Florida and I think I could adjust to the hot summers, but I don’t think I could ever move there because of the venomous snakes and gators and fire ants. I’m not afraid of them personally, I actually love wildlife in all its forms, but I DO worry about my dogs sticking their heads where they don’t belong.