I had volunteered at shelters, adopted from shelters, and donated to shelters. One thing I had yet to do was foster.
I originally got the idea of fostering after having to euthanize our Great Dane. If anyone has ever had to euthenize their pet, you know it is one of the most heartbreaking things to endure. No one is ever prepared for the kind of sadness that losing a pet brings.
After some time had gone by, I found myself wanting another dog. It was at that time that my emotions began to ebb and flow.
One minute I was ready for a new hiking buddy, the next I was still too sad. I began to ask my friends to “borrow” their dog for the day. I would text and offer to pet-sit. Even if they weren’t planning on going anywhere! I noticed that I was spending more time with my family’s pets, than I was with my actual family; I realized I had a real issue. I realized as well that some of the rescue groups and shelters I had been scanning through; had a similar issue.
I was a home without a pet and they had pets without homes! It didn’t take long before I gave the fostering idea another ponder. Well, what would I have to lose? It would definitely carry me through my whimsical moments so that- eventually I would finally be ready for another hiking buddy. At the same time, I would be able to help out my community and animals that I love.
Fostering can last anywhere from a few weeks to 1 year. Most of the animals that need fostering are those that are being relocated from high kill shelters, young ones needing socialization, young and old that require medications and round the clock care (which no shelter or business is able to provide without some type of burden) and many other reasons.
I sought out my local animal shelter with two goals 1) spend time with puppies that I won’t adopt and 2) inquire about fostering.
It turned out that I had an underlying third goal, when I came home with “Bubba!” An adult male orange tabby cat.
I was amazed at how loving Bubba was. As I had said, I had done quite a bit with shelters in the past and although people may not intend to- it is easy to become dismissive of some animals because there are just so many to care for. Our shelters are overloaded. Yet, according to Bub’s paperwork- he had spent all 4 years of his life in one shelter and another, and yet there he was just as sweet as could be. It amazed me, as a realist, and had also made my mind up for me. I wanted to give back. I wanted to show my appreciation to the shelter, for having obviously provided continuous love to a strange animal such as Bubba.
So I went again to the shelter; having already initiated my fostering process, I left that day with two beautiful little kittens, “Fonzie” and “Saturn.”
Fonzie and Saturn were from two different litters of abandoned kittens. Both mothers stray and both mothers had been killed. The shelter provided food, medications, cat liter, toys, and even a cat liter box! All I had to do was give them love!
Fonzie and Saturn were called “spittens.” A term used to describe unsocialized kittens that “spit” and hiss when approached. They are very fearful. They run. They spit and hiss. Great precautions had to be taken when caring for them. I dedicated our music room to them, which became the “Kitten Room,” all doors had to remain shut, all nooks and crannies they may hide in had to be blocked. I would feed them, love them, fall asleep with them, give them their medications, etc. I definitely had tougher jobs in my life!
It was hard on my spouse and I to let them go. After caring for them for almost a full month, they had already become a part of the family. However, I had watched them grow by leaps and bounds. Fonzie had become a confident, strong, and loving kitty. Who would run right up to you when anyone entered the room. The second you picked him up, he would purr the loudest purr, and reach a tiny paw out to your face. I was so happy for him to be able to play with the big cats at the shelter. I knew that he would easily be adopted, and was humble to be a part of that process. Saturn as well was equally difficult to let go of. I felt, although he purred when he saw you and no longer spit and hissed, that I needed more time with him.
This is what is called a “Foster Fail.” When you fail at simply fostering and end up adopting the animal for your own.
As we returned to the shelter with Saturn, the last to be brought back, my spouse decided he wanted to go visit Fonzie.
All of a sudden we were headed home with Fonzie and a new kitten named “Bear” to foster, once again!
I had always had the impression that fostering was for- some type of “other” person. Other than me. A different, unknown type, but now I see how wonderful it is. It is truly hard to let each foster baby go, however I feel great joy in my heart knowing that through fostering efforts, they are finally “adoptable,” confident, and feeling safe in this crazy world, because I took a small amount of my time to dedicate elsewhere.
Thanks to all of the foster parents like Tyler and myself!
If you are considering fostering, check it out, you would be helping animals in such a cool and different way! And even if you planned on adopting a dog but leave with an abandoned liter of kittens, its okay!!