Baxter was the first one to show up. He had been found on the freeway in Gonzales and we adopted him from the shelter on Hitchcock. Shortly thereafter came our chi-pom Sophie “Halloween” Jensen (yes, she was dumped out of a car on Halloween night no less — right before our very eyes!). A short gap and then little stubby terrier Roscoe was found abandoned at the gate to our development. Then Queensland Dug showed up in our garage and no one claimed him either. Tucker — border collie/McNab — was being advertised in the Auto Shopper for $150 week after week and no one wanted him. Then Jaxxy was found abandoned and pregnant on the median of Castroville Boulevard.

Her puppy TJ was what we call a “foster fail” … when you intend to foster and adopt out, but, ultimately, you can’t let them go. And that is the sum total of the current canine round-up at Solace. Except that it isn’t; since we seem to have a forever revolving door of canine rescues always needing a warm bed for a night or two, or several.

South County Animal Rescue, which is now 18 months old, relies on a base of foster parents to hold abandoned or surrendered animals until we can either find their real owners or prepare them for homes. Since we have no facility, that is the best we can do. But fostering is a tough bag. I have a dear friend who was an official foster mother until she ended up adopting all of her foster children — all 6 or 7, I believe, and I totally get that. You fall in love with the needy little life, because you love them and, with a little bit of care, kindness and kibble, they love you right back. I have had to manage the love better though recently, because I cannot keep them all — and if I try and do that, then I will not be able to foster — and I will be absolutely no use to our rescue and our cause. Recently, I had three little feral kittens in my care. I was proud that, with regular handling, they were soon not feral, but completely adoptable and that is a marvelous thing to behold. In the feral world, that is truly called saving a life, since feral cats seem to be the most disposable of all animals in a very sad way. I have witnessed many times that feral cats, with a little love not to mention wet food, do not have to be feral.

My two current fosters will take some considerable rehab before they will be ready for a collar let alone adoption. My husband calls them “The Wilds” — they have no trust of human beings at all. They went from being abandoned to being pretty much crated in foster care and that helped their development not at all. Now I find just sitting with them with a small treat in my hand works to encourage them to approach, but it’s a slow process. I will likely have them for some time to come and then I will have fallen in love and it will be so hard to let them go. But let go I must. And their bonding is something to witness. They trust only one another. The smaller one takes the treat over to the larger one, because she is so wary herself. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. In this world, you only need one really good friend; the rest is a bonus. They have shown me that. And then I worry about them being separated down the road, which is highly likely, and I cannot worry about that, because it is very hard to adopt out two dogs together. I also have two fluffy white babies who are passing through for a few days, while their fosters are away. They were found abandoned in a vineyard and never claimed. I always ask myself “who does that” and have yet to come up with an answer that spares the folk who do. It is cruel and sickening, but then so can be the world. We can’t do anything about that, except for make our own corner less cruel and more loving.

Our world is a mixed one of difficult decisions and beautiful moments. We are a group of passionate animal lovers, who will do anything in our power to rescue a helpless life and make it better. Thanks to our supporters who give us money, food, kennels, leashes — you name it. It all makes a difference. Thanks to our local vet, to all our treasured fosters and Animal Champions.

Thanks to Pet Fun in Salinas for hosting our Adoption event this weekend, that was a huge success, and thanks to Manzoni Winery who will be hosting our “Paws and Pinot” event this coming Sunday at their winery from 1 to 4 p.m. This is a wonderful group of exceptional animal lovers to be a part of; one where we do good work, have lots of fun and witness some stunning views along the way.

Lucy Jensen is a local Realtor and President of South County Animal Rescue;

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