Today’s story is about a Christmas miracle. It is about Hugo, a nine-year-old rescued Coton de Tuléar, and his journey from foster to forever home around this time a couple of years ago.
Coton de Tuléar is the national dog of Madagascar and is believed to have originated from a group of small white dogs who swam across the Malagasy channel following a shipwreck. Not a shipwreck, but our Hugo has survived abandonment. Hugo was around seven years when our dear friend Sari found him at a local shelter in Helsinki. She decided to foster and eventually found the right forever home for Hugo.
The boy had a rough start and suffered from multiple health issues, coupled with serious separation anxiety. He wasn’t house trained either but responded to some basic commands. A lot of engagement and effort were required to be able to rehome Hugo, and Sari wasn’t giving up. Especially after her experience with Heppu and Hani, who were also rescued, spent some beautiful years with Sari before crossing the rainbow bridge.
Every dog has an innate goodness and a loving nature, and Sari’s goal was to bring out these qualities in Hugo through positive reinforcement, making him “a good dog citizen” once again. No matter what his past may have been, Hugo’s future had to be happy. Six months were spent to potty train Hugo, who according to Sari is quite a “stickler for routine.” He was sure to have an accident if his walkies were delayed even by 15 minutes. This boy has a “grumpy clownish” side too – on some days he would refuse to step out for his walkies without a toy in mouth. Other days Hugo would leave his favourite toy at the door to be reunited with it as soon as he stepped home.
“You know every dog is beautiful but there is something deeper in senior – rescued – dogs. In Hugo, I have noticed wisdom in his every little step,” Sari said. “Hugo deserved a loving home that he could trust. As his foster human, I was keen to find the right family for Hugo – one that had some experience of the breed and were looking for a senior dog. When the time came, I saw an instant connection between Hugo and his beautiful forever family. Around Christmas eve in 2018, when Hugo met his forever humans for the first time, he walked right in through their doors without looking back and gave them sloppy kisses.”
That was a Christmas miracle, indeed! Sari felt as if different parts of a LEGO set fell into place perfectly. I was, however, curious to understand the heartbreak around fostering. Over the years, I have shied away from fostering thinking about the unimaginable pain one must have to go through when the dog that you have fostered has to go to their forever home. And Hugo spent almost two years with Sari.
“The most important thing is to carefully rationalise feelings while fostering, keeping the dog’s interest and wellbeing over everything else. Caring for an animal is a beautiful experience. Now when I meet Hugo, I can see happiness in his life,” Sari explained.
Hugo lives in Espoo, Finland – away from the city, near a forest – with his humans who are a retired couple. His home has a yard where he is often found playing and living his best life.