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Another furry friend, despite that run-in with Santa

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Like many folks this time of year I’m trying to find my sea legs after being on holiday break. The kids are starting back to school, and I’m diving head-first back into work.

So I have no business taking on any additional responsibilities. Naturally, knowing all this, I went ahead and volunteered to foster a scruffy dog.

Sir Patrick “Patch” Scruffypants is a cream-colored fluffy ball of love whose worst quality is that he loves too deeply and cares too much. Patch’s breed is a mystery. However, it seems his mother was a poodle and his father was a kitchen mop. He probably has a distant cousin who was a cocker spaniel, a golden retriever or a sage old therapist. His profile says cockapoo.

Patch happened because I was cleaning out my inbox and mistakenly read one of the weekly emails from the dog rescue that led us to our keeper girl, Daisy. I’d decided to start off the year by unsubscribing to all the junk email subscriptions I’ve collected over the years.

And as a side note, unsubscribing from those lists was incredibly freeing. I highly recommend.

But as I opened the email to hit unsubscribe I saw the goofiest furry face smiling into my heart. He looked like a bigger version of our Daisy girl, so without hesitation, and before my brain could catch up with my fingers, I texted the number and asked if he had a foster.

The girl on the other end of the line said he didn’t, and she could meet me at 7 p.m. Without consulting a single soul in my house, I agreed. I went downstairs and told my husband to grab the keys. We had a pup to pick up.

The man knew what he was getting into when he married me. And not very long ago he texted me to say he’d just picked up a boxer from the shelter because she was set to be put down that day.

There’s just an understanding in our house that if a pup is in trouble, we’re probably going to help. You can’t save them all, but we can try one at a time.

We picked up our human children from a friend’s house and told them we were headed to get a new foster pup. They went nuts trying to think of names for him on the way.

On the way to pick up Patch, the rescue called with just one more thing. He had kennel cough, and they wanted to make sure our dog had been vaccinated.

I probably should have told her the deal was off. She told us she’d totally understand if we couldn’t risk it. But our girl has had her shots, and she said kennel cough is basically a doggy cold. They’ll pay for antibiotics if Daisy catches it. So we said no problem.

She was relieved and told us to meet her at Target in about 20 minutes.

Oh and one more thing, he might have a little separation anxiety in the crate. Would that be a problem? Of course not. See you soon.

Well that’s good, oh, and maybe just one tiny little other thing. He’s a total lamb, she told us — a real snuggle bug — but he did have a bit of a sordid past. He’s not just a scruffy stray from the bad side of town. No. Patch has the most epic origin story of any foster we’ve had to date.

It seems this curly little lad was running with a pack of street dogs because his owner was a mean and abusive son of a gun. With daddy issues, it’s no wonder Patch fell in with a rough crowd.

So he was out with this gang one night around Christmas when they came upon the big jolly man himself. Patch, the sweet gentle pup with the heart of gold who literally shoves his head into your armpit begging for hugs, was involved with a pack of dogs who bit Santa Claus.

The report said one of Santa’s elves was also nipped in the attack, but they couldn’t definitively say it was Patch who did the nibbling. He was, however, guilty by association, and he was picked up and put in quarantine like a hardened criminal.

We’ve had him a few days now, and it’s pretty clear he’s never been invited inside a home before. It’s taken a while for him to realize not only do we love him, but he’s worthy of that love.

He’s the most grateful, gentle boy we’ve ever seen, and I don’t regret the hasty decision to bring him home. But as much as I know he’s only here until he’s adopted, I feel my foster heart growing three sizes with each warm snuggle.

I just hope I can channel my inner Grinch and harden myself against keeping this Claus-biting fur ball forever.