Foster life turned Fetching Tails Foundation

Written By:

Kristen Gottschalk
Co-Founder | Executive Director
Fetching Tails Foundation

Where do I even start with Wrigley? I adopted him with my now-husband 12 years ago so I was only 23 years old at the time. He was my first personal dog. I never had a breed preference when it came to owning a dog as I grew up with all large-breed dogs my entire life. But Chris wanted a lab and I wanted a male dog so we compromised. I still remember the day when we went to the foster family’s home and there were two lab brothers and we picked out our Wrigley.  Wrigley was a rescue from Hurricane Katrina and came up on a transport from Louisiana.

       

We started Wrigley in training and he went to doggie daycare when we were both at work. Since Chris is a firefighter he works 24 hours on, and 48 hours off so Wrigley only had to go to daycare twice a week, but it was perfect to socialize him at a young age. But when he was a little over a year old, we noticed Wrigley becoming protective of us. We had an incident once between him and a stranger and our perspective on being alert our surroundings changed forever.  We tried months and months of training but it was just his personality. We did a DNA test and it came back lab, Australian shepherd, chow and American Eskimo mix. So given the breeds, we now understand why he is protective of his people. Wrigley has a few people in his circle we trust him around including my parents, my husband’s dad, my brother and that’s about it. He also does not like dogs in his space. But we knew we always wanted to have another dog, so we adopted another puppy which we named Oliver. We took things so slow and, as a matter of fact, we didn’t even let them loose together for about two years until we fully trusted them together. Of course Wrigley put Oliver in his place a few times over the years and even still, but Oliver learned…It’s Wrigley’s world and we’re just living in it!

Over the years we have also managed to foster 76 dogs despite Wrigley’s shenanigans. I have learned to always be on my A-game and so has my husband. When people say they can’t foster, that’s just an excuse. Everyone can foster if they put their mind to it and make a plan to keep all animals safe. In our case, we purchased a house with space for fosters to stay separate from Wrigley so they can all peacefully and comfortably exist in our home. We all live crazy busy lives, but every time we know we saved a life it encourages us to keep going. Adopting Wrigley and Oliver and fostering 76 dogs inspired me so much that I even co-founded my own rescue, Fetching Tails Foundation. Fetching Tails started about 3.5 years ago, and we have already rescued more than 1,300 dogs! We focus our efforts mainly at Chicago Animal Care and Control and life threw another challenge when we started FTF. The canine flu broke the same month. But that didn’t stop or discourage our rescue. It only made us work harder for what we believe in.

Wrigley has inspired me to never take the easy way out. Life is full of challenges and he taught me that. He is a challenge. Whether dealing with him not liking almost all people, not liking other dogs and having to cross the street or turn around on our walks when we see someone, flipping the channel right away if we see an animal come on the TV, driving quickly to avoid the loud motorcycle that makes him go crazy, or when we have guests over putting him in our bedroom to snooze on our bed with the tv blasting so he can’t hear strangers in his home. Yep we do all this because he is our dog and he is part of our family, quirks and all!

Wrigley to me isn’t a “bad” dog, he has inspired me to save the misunderstood dogs. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in Chicago Animal Care & Control and I see a large-breed dog scared or growling and I’m like “Ohhhh I like you” when most would keep on walking. I know what is going on in their heads and I can only imagine what if this were Wrigley. He was so scared and wondering where his people are. So I am extremely patient with these types of dogs for them to come out of their cage and give them time to come to me and trust me.

I love the quirky dogs and really they are not bad dogs, they are just misunderstood, and if we were in their shoes don’t you think we would be scared and unsure of all these new people after we just lost our home and family?