Foster Fail in the animal world is a real thing. It’s hard to pour so much of yourself into rehabilitating an animal and forming a special bond only to pass it off to someone else.
Fostering is difficult but necessary work, and every once in a while, a critter comes into your life that you just can’t shake.
That was certainly true for Seneca Krueger, a psychotherapist who has fostered 30 dogs over the past 12 years, according to the animal-lovers’ website The Dodo. The dog she grew so attached to was named Zelda, and Krueger — along with the help of her two dogs — was able to provide the time and healing that Zelda so desperately needed.
“She came with anti-anxiety medications,” Krueger told The Dodo. “Zelda paced. All day long, she was either pacing or hiding.”
“When I was home, she was attached to me. Over the course of two weeks of tether training, I had also weaned her off of her anti-anxiety medications, and the pacing had decreased. She was even willing to come out of hiding on her own for brief periods of time.”
After two months, Zelda wagged. After two more months, Zelda barked and played. Seeing the progress the pup had made, Kruger knew it was time for the next phase in her journey.
“As Zelda began to gain a little more confidence, I decided it was time for her to find her forever home,” Krueger told The Dodo. “This is what you are supposed to do as a dog foster — help them adjust and then happily say goodbye as they go and live their best lives.”
But the goodbye wasn’t happy. Krueger was torn as she drove Zelda to her new home outside Minneapolis.
“I had to pull over to the side of the road because I couldn’t see through my tears,” she told The Dodo. “For the first time in my 12 years of dog fostering, I felt like I had given away my dog.”
Less than two weeks later, Krueger got the news that Zelda had slipped her lead and was on the run. Skittish and alone, the dog was spotted here and there, but no one could catch her.
“My sweet Zelda is still missing!” Kruger posted on March 20. “It’s been over a month now, and no new sightings of her in three weeks. Zelda went missing from Chanhassen, and was last seen on lake Minnetonka, exiting near Orono and Minnetonka beach.”
“Zelda is very afraid of humans and should not be approached. Please share if you know people in this area. I am offering a $100 reward for any sighting that lead to her return.”
Tracking groups helped set up trail cameras and people kept their eyes open for Zelda. Krueger spent time out looking for the dog, too, desperate to find Zelda especially as the temperatures were running below zero.
Two months after Zelda first disappeared, she was seen in Minneapolis — halfway between where she’d been lost and Krueger’s home. The adoptive owners relinquished their ownership of the dog, and Krueger redoubled her efforts.
“She was mine again,” Krueger said, “and I was more determined than ever to find her.”
The dog kept getting closer and closer, until a couple near Krueger managed to trap a dog they thought looked like Zelda, three months after she’d had gone missing.
“Although I really wanted this dog to be my Zelda, I knew that if there was a lost, scared dog out there on the streets, we had to help it,” Krueger told The Dodo. “Even if it wasn’t the dog that I knew and loved, and missed so much.”
The dog that had been trapped looked similar, but she was nearly unrecognizable as Zelda. A microchip scan confirmed that the pup was indeed Zelda, and Krueger broke down.
“It was a miracle, and what else do you do in the face of a miracle? I sobbed,” she said. “I apologized to Zelda for not recognizing her. I touched her for the first time in 97 days. I assured her that she was going home forever and that I never stopped looking for her.”
“Zelda is officially my dog. But let’s be honest, it’s not like I had a choice. She is very persistent.”
A video that Krueger shared shows a very happy Zelda who only has eyes for her owner. Krueger may have eventually chosen Zelda, but it’s clear that Zelda had made up her mind long ago.
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