To foster a pet or not – that was the question we posed in our November newsletter survey. Of those who responded, 32% are now fostering. Others said you would consider it (65%), but have never had a foster pet. The reasons? You have never thought of it (13%); you haven’t enough space or money (17%), or you need more information before you would foster (20%). The biggest deterrent to fostering is a fear of getting too attached to the fostered pet (25%).
You have had some amazing experiences, and it was hard to choose which comments to include – but here are some of our favorites.
Kathie: Taking a mill mama [a female dog kept continually pregnant in a puppy mill] and helping her to understand that she will never again have to compete for food or water or even heat, to help her understand that people are good and loving and will never hurt her again, to help her feel grass under her feet, maybe for the first time in her life, to give her a place to live that is not the size of the inside of a dishwasher, and on and on and on and on. The transformations are sometimes called miracles by others but all they are is a testament to the soul of the dog, a soul that is forgiving and loving and wanting to love and be loved in spite of what happened before. It is wonderful!
Whitney: I brought home a dog from the shelter, a beautiful Collie mix, who urinated and defecated when staff would get near him. I told them I would take him next time I came if they would try and pet him for a few days and as long as his instinct wasn’t to bite. I went back, got him home and couldn’t get him in the house for three days. The fourth day a huge storm was coming, and the rain started coming down. I went outside and looked at Gibbs and asked him if he thought now would be a good time to trust me. He took one look at me, the door and then flew inside the kitchen. Once there, I had him contained. I asked him if he knew sit. Not only did he sit but he offered his paw. At that moment a light went off in his head, and he remembered some past, where he must have been loved. He was still a little shy for a few weeks, but gained confidence walking with my other dog and watching him play with us. Eventually he became so smart, playful and fun — a far cry from the curled up ball at the pound!
Jennifer: I loved fostering. It was so incredibly rewarding for myself and for my family. My favorite was a foster named Romeo who was a puppy mill stud [a male dog kept in a puppy mill solely for the purpose of breeding]. His transformation was so amazing. You would have ever known the horrible kind of life he had before when it came time for his adoption.
Kim: Huck and Myrna were in my care as fosters for nine months each. Myrna, a senior girl, was adopted by an older couple since she was “their speed.” Huck was adopted and returned and now has the best owner ever because he lives close, I get to see him and I made a new friend, his mom!
Kristin: Helping racing Greyhounds overcome their past lives and transition into family homes, as their lives should have been all along.
Kitty: I never had a Polydactyl kitty [a cat with more than the normal number of toes on one or more of its paws] before until I got a cute brown-and-orange Torbie from a local shelter where she was in a tiny cage because she had feline leukemia. Tootsie came to my house, where this sweet, docile baby with big “catcher’s mitt” front paws lived 5+ years, and her Christmas postcard picture was chosen to be on The Animal Rescue Site! Please foster a terminal kitty – nobody else wants them and they have so much love to give you!
And for those who fear you would get too attached, we offer the following comment:
Kathy: Our primary foster care experience has been taking in newborn kittens that have either been taken from or abandoned by their mothers. As newborn kittens are not able to eat by themselves, a lot of effort is needed to keep them alive. One day, you will pick up the kitten for feeding (or cuddling) time and discover their eyes have opened! When they see you, they think you are their mother! Then their tiny little teddy bear ears will stand up and start to look like kitty ears. Eventually, the kittens will get big enough to climb out of the box. By then, they are almost ready for adoption. The best and worst day of the foster experience is when the kitten gets a new home. We love to see them off to their new families, but we get all choked up too because we know we will miss them. At least until the next one comes to us. Taking care of newborn kittens is a very special experience. Although it is not for everyone, if you can do it, the rewards of saving a tiny life are great.
Consider taking part in our Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays. It will make your holidays brighter.