ALIVE STORIES (DETAILS)

Foster Story: Katherine & Tom

Updated: Mar 26

In order to support the local population of animals in need, ALIVE works closely with Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) to pull animals that may be at high risk for euthanasia. Mitchell, who came into CACC with a car-related injury, is one such animal.


Learn more about fostering Mitchell through his foster mom, Katherine below ...

“My partner Tom and I had the first half of January free, so when I saw Mitchell's photo I knew it was the perfect time to take in a little dog who had been hit by a car and needed some down time to recover. I had been a fundraising runner for ALIVE in the past but wanted to become more involved, and cuddling a scared dog was exactly what I needed. The timing was also perfect for me because I was (and still am) writing my dissertation and Mitchell became what I called my ‘dissertation support dog.’ 


When we took Mitchell in he had been hit by a car, left at CACC, was riddled with hookworms, tapeworm and fleas and was scared of most things, particularly of being left alone. Throughout the first few months, he struggled with being left home alone and would howl incessantly. However, he mended quickly and Tom remembers that it took about two weeks before Mitchell started to play with us. As soon as he felt safe enough, he was quick to run around the house with Tom, chasing toys, playing tug-of-war, balancing on his hind legs and jumping as high up as my chest! 


I remember the first time we left him alone for more than an hour, which was not common for us because he was not a quiet dog when home alone. It was late April, nearly four full months after we began fostering him, Tom was out of town and I had a work obligation. I set him up with some classical music, his ThunderShirt, plenty of toys and treats hidden throughout our place and I left for what I hoped was going to be a quick event. I had set up a monitor and listened to him howl (that was the Beagle in him) for the first 10 minutes, but then he settled down and napped on the couch for four hours before I came home and gave him way too much cheese as a reward. His separation anxiety got better as time went on, but we also began to embrace that his anxiety was rooted in love⁠—he just needed to be with his people. 


Being able to see Mitchell come out of his shell, learn to socialize with other dogs and begin to overcome his separation anxiety made fostering so rewarding. We really felt like we prepared him to live out the rest of his days more confidently.


ALIVE takes in the difficult cases, dogs like Mitchell who had been hit by a car but who also had severe separation anxiety and leash reactivity, and dogs, like Mitchell, who take nine months to get adopted. And even though my dissertation support dog is in his forever home and we miss him dearly, we wouldn't take back the experience of taking in a broken dog, making him whole again, and seeing him off to live a new life of love and comfort.”

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