Puppy love

Puppy love

Ken Foster brings new meaning to the phrase “man’s best friend.”

Experiencing September 11 and Hurricane Katrina firsthand, Foster, 41, relied on his dogs for support in the aftermath.

“It was a huge reversal [for me],” said the Northeastern alumnus. “I was trying to take care of [the dogs] and they were taking care of me.”

From his experiences, Foster wrote his latest book, “The Dogs who Found Me: What I’ve Learned from Pets Who Were Left Behind.” Partly a guidebook for dog owners, the work consists of stories about dogs he has rescued, tips on what to do with a stray dog and lessons dogs can teach people.

Overall, the book is about rescuing and the different forms it takes in people’s lives, Foster said.

“It’s about vulnerability and putting yourself out there,” he said.

Foster said people rescue animals because it gives them a sense of control. In this way, the dogs end up rescuing people, he said.

Foster received his Master’s degree in education and counseling in 1989.

“And then I applied everything I learned to dogs,” he said with a laugh.

While at Northeastern, he worked in the Student Activities Office.

“It was kind of amazing and intense,” he said of his years at Northeastern. “It was a great experience. It was my first time living in a big city and working in such a diverse environment.”

Foster previously completed his undergraduate studies at Lock Haven State College in Pennsylvania.

Although Foster knew he wanted to be writer, he said he was skeptical of the possibility of success in that field. However, this did not stop him.

“I really wanted to write,” he said. “I quit having a career and worked in coffee shops.”

Foster attended the Creative Writing Studies Program at Columbia University and ended up working in publishing.

After leaving the publishing world in 1999, Foster began teaching writing and doing freelance work in New York.

“I really like being lucky enough to do both,” he said. “Teaching is really great. You learn so much seeing what the students are trying to do.”

His dog days began in 2000 when he went to Costa Rica and saw how many dogs were on the streets. After adopting a couple of strays, he had to go back to the states and realized he couldn’t bring the dogs with him. Once back in New York, he adopted his first dog, Brando, from the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition. After that, Foster said dogs were drawn to him.

He wrote in his book, “They find me. It isn’t ever the other way around … they come up to me and sit at my feet.”

Cities are filled with stray dogs, but most people don’t notice them, Foster said.

“It was only after I adopted that I started recognizing how many stray dogs there were,” he said. “When you spend time with the dogs you become more aware of [such] things.”

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