Happy Foster Tails
Foster family success!
Being a foster parent to animals of all kinds, I have to tell you that each time I look into their eyes I ask, “What’s your story”.
Here’s Charlie. I have asked Charlie this question every day, multiple times. I’m just waiting…waiting for him to dig a hole in the backyard, pee inside, chew a shoe, bark, or do something completely normal in the doggie dog world, but no…not Charlie. Well he does bark, with excitement when I come home. But he doesn’t bark at the butterflies in the back yard, or the neighbor 5 houses down bringing their garbage can in, no he just barks to tell me, “HI!!! I’m happy your home now.” These are just a few of the reasons why many dogs are turned into the shelter.
Apparently Charlie sat in the shelter, for more than a month..waiting. Waiting for someone to take him home. No one did. He was scheduled to be euthanized, he went on death row. Death row in the shelter world is usually within 24 hours. He didn’t die. He was rescued. The only information given, he was a stray. As usual, with rescues, I go into robot mode…assess, learn, watch, and help train if training needs to be done. With any foster, I separate during feeding times (food aggression, right?!), I watch like a hawk for dominance, food aggression, toy aggression, peeing in the house, I mean he will mark territory inside eventually – i watch for how he reacts when woken up from a sleep, I watch to see how he holds his head and tail, his eyes and ears when he meets a new dog…i watch like a hawk.
My job as a animal foster and as a parent to a real human person is to make sure that everyone is safe, both animals and people, to feed, care, nourish, and love during the foster process until they find a new furever family. That’s why I go into hawk/robot mode during assessment and evaluations, that’s why we separate from feedings, that’s why I have to make sure that my little person knows the importance of respecting animals and their space as well.
On day 3, with a little more emphasis, I ask Charlie again, “What is your story?!!!”
Charlie is just awesome. I have fosters that I’m excited to push out the door..if you have fostered or cared for a litter of puppies,you know exactly what I’m talking about – , “Whewww, they are all gone!” I love them, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a lot of work cleaning, caring, chasing, and playing with a litter of pups. I have dogs that dig holes, chew on shoes and baseboards, and who poop/pee inside…and now we have Charlie.
I’m sure Charlie had a home. How does his family not miss him? I mean, who wouldn’t?!!!! Maybe they do. So I would ask, what’s their story? Have they been missing their dog? Are they heartbroken? Do they wonder where or what happened to him? Why didn’t they micro chip him? Why didn’t he have a collar with tags?
Charlie is a name given to him by the rescue, I love it. He looks like a Charlie. But no joke, I sat there one night, and felt like the dinosaurs on the movie The Good Dinosaur; Max! Shorty! Buck! Little man? Pete? Gus?….I laughed at myself. He stared at me the whole time. “Okay, Charlie it is”, I said.
They said Charlie was 8, we think he’s closer to 5 years old. He has pretty teeth. Charlie is a low rider, stocky, but a low rider. He likes people. He likes dogs. He likes cats. He’s not dominant, food aggressive, toy aggressive, he doesn’t dig holes, he potties outside, he’s great with the little human person, he loves to sleep on the couch, and he loves to sleep on the dog bed at night. He doesn’t bark at butterflies, he likes to lick your legs after a shower, and sit by you on the patio. He eats dry food, and he knows his bowl now, only after 2 days he has learned not to surf bowls and everyone has their designated eating spot and that’s all there is to it. I don’t have to be a robot hawk, I don’t have to asses, I don’t have to worry, he’s just Charlie, and with out a doubt he’s just perfect. He transitions smoothly and quickly, he doesn’t shy off, and he cuddles with the other dogs at night to sleep. I can see that Charlie doesn’t worry, so I don’t worry either. He’s just calm. He has a calm soul to him.
I didn’t intentionally start to foster. I had volunteered because I needed something to do that had a cathartic feel to it. I also work at PetSmart so it was a relative easy task for me. I had always wanted to just go in the adoption centers and play with the animals.
A few weeks later I was approached by the director to foster some cats, maybe a dog. At first it was fun, easy, but then my wife developed the Foster Fever and it usually entailed brining in stray kittens from our apartments. I knew it was coming and would protest at first but naturally gave in.
We had a litter of 3 or 4 and they were cute, most of them were spunky but this one had a bit of trouble coping with humans for some reason. We worked with him, like we do with all of our fosters, and eventually he came out of his shell and was adopted. But I would always remember him because of his unique coloring.
Flash forward to about 6 months later: he ended up being returned and I took him in to get him readjusted. Well….he was so affectionate when he got here and would always try and help me study or work without missing a beat. After a few days of having him in the adoption center I caved in and decided that HE was the cat I wanted to bring home. But really he chose me. Good thing too, later that day some other people had come to adopt him as well but adopted another kitty so that was pretty cool.
What people don’t realize, from an outsider’s perspective, is that fosters aren’t just feeding animals and taking care of them. We work with them if they have been abused, come from a rough background, were abandoned or surrendered. We bring them into our homes with the intentions of filling their hearts with love and kindness, to restore their faith in humanity as well as ours.
As a foster we spend time and money making sure that these beautiful creatures are care for and nurtured, they become part of the family. So when people want to adopt them it’s important that they go to loving homes. With each animal we foster a little piece of us will go with them where ever we go. It’s hard but well worth knowing that it can make a difference for us and for them.
-Jeremiah the Great
Sammi’s Story (Maternity Ward Program)
When we got our foster Sammi, we were told that she was in labor and we should expect babies very soon. Well, 2 months later we still had no babies! So we got her checked and she got a xray to make sure all the babies were okay.
That was when we got to see her 3 little skeleton babies. We were told within the next 48 hours we will have babies. A whole 48 hours went by and no babies. We were starting to think this girl is going to hold her babies in forever. So we went to bed.
When we woke up I went to check on Sammi and I saw a little tail! I was so excited to finally have her babies here. She had three gorgeous little babies: a girl orange tabby we named Daisy, a white little boy we named Colt, and a little tabby/calico girl we named Lilly. They grew so fast and just love to play with each other.
Three years ago I was looking for something to do during my summer break from work. Every time I would go into the 7th Ave and Bell Rd Petsmart, I would always go into then kitty room. One day I saw that volunteers were needed to spend time with the cats and with me being a “crazy cat lady” I knew I had found my calling. I didn’t care that it involved clean kennels all I knew is that I got to hold and kiss all the cats noses. The hardest part of is, I want to take them all home and since I’ve been volunteering, my husband and I have adopted 8 cats.
When these cats come into the adoptions center some of them are ready to play and go, go, go but then there are some who are scared and need some extra time to adjust. I’ll do whatever it takes to reassure the cats that they are safe and ok. I’ve been scratched more times than I can count by scared cats but I’m stubborn and will never give up. In time scared cats will come to trust me and then they come out and not be scared.
I want all the foster parents to know that when they drop their kitty’s off into the adoption center that they are well taken care of and loved by me. Each cat is held and kissed all the time. When an adopter comes in, I do all I can to make sure they are the right person for the cat and all the questions are acceptable to me without any “red flags”. It’s bittersweet when I do an adoption. Their time in the adoption center has given me a feeling that I’ve been their “foster parent”. When I place the cat into the carrier to go to their forever home the last thing I do is kiss them and tell them I love them, with a tear
of happiness in my eye. Every cat has stolen a small piece of my heart. I’m still working on my husband on fostering but he’s proven to be a bit harder then the cats. I love doing what I do and if I’m having a bad day or exhausted from work all I need to do is spend time with the cats in the adoption center and it’s the best day ever.