I can honestly say it was Marsha’s idea.
A few weeks after she was first left next door, I came home one afternoon to find a third dog in my back yard. It hadn’t been a difficult thing for her to do. No one knows when the fence between the two properties was built. Some say there’s a painting of it on the walls of Lascaux. Some say it’s obviously the work of trilobites. Some say the early Earth coalesced around it. Anyway, it’s old, it’s rotting, and it was easy for a determine young pup, or even one that wasn’t trying that hard, to get through.
The process of Marsha becoming (spoiler alert!) my dog was a gradual one. She came over to visit several times. As the man next door realized she was getting out, her escape routes started being patched up. I soon started loosening fence slats at the bottom so that she could have hatches to come through to my side when it was safe. Naturally I had to seal these hatches up during the day in case the man came over.
I gradually learned his schedule: He, and sometimes his family, would come over for an hour or two about three days a week. During that time he would putter around the house and yard, but paid little attention to the little dog who was so desperate for it. When Eris (before she was mine) had her kittens on his property he had had a bag of cheap cat food. My Marsha-To-Be warranted no such expenditures, and greedily ate whatever table scraps were thrown on the ground for her. If anyone HAD broken into that house again, she probably would have shown them where all the good stuff was, and then gone with them.
So visiting my side of the fence regularly became eating regularly, which became coming inside, which became staying the night. Part of the reason she got to stay was selfish. If I hadn’t she would be up all night barking. The other part was sympathy for a cold and lonely little dog who I was getting increasingly attached to.
I kept up this Stealth Fostering for many months, many nerve wracking months. I was worried that I would be found out, and get in legal trouble. I was worried that if I found a forever home for her the guy would just get another dog. I was worried she would be put on a chain, or taken away. Worry, worry, worry.
But there were some joys and milestones in there as well. She quickly became housebroken (yay!)
She had her first (and only) heat before I had her spayed, probably because she was finally getting enough to eat.
She was (and still is, every day) deliriously happy to see the cats.
She got her own pretty blue collar and leash and quickly learned the joys of taking her person for a drag.
She was a joyous, and playful little dog, and it was increasing awful to have to put her on the other side of the fence to keep up the illusion that she was anyone’s but mine. Then tragedy struck, and with it an opportunity.