Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How Do We Do It?

As a foster home I get asked all the time how I do it?  How do you let them into your home not knowing what baggage they bring?  How to you put up with the challenges?  How do you let them go to their forever home?

Let me tell you.  It's simple.  And sometimes it's a little difficult.  It's just little acts of love towards the dogs done day-after-day.  Think about that, little acts of love X as many days as necessary.

I say that with my feet still wet from giving our foster a medicated bath.  A small inconvenience for me and hopefully a huge comfort for Buddy. We take them to vet appointments.  Sometimes to work with us.  Just to keep an extra eye on them.  It's not mandatory to do that when fostering, but nice when a work situation allows that. We try as many cones as necessary to keep them from licking their booboo's.  If they need special food, we get it. It's easy to provide acts of love when you dedicate your time to their needs.

Many of the dogs have never experienced "the good life".  What a kick to be the first to lavish that on them.  We do this knowing the goal is for them to leave us. To find their forever home. It's easy, it's sometimes difficult.  

But if we don't do this who will? Someone has to step up to the loving plate. Foster homes do just this.  

Maybe you have thought of fostering. Perhaps it seemed like an overwhelming task. Trust me, it's not. It is just little acts of love, food, shelter, basic training, lots of gentle touch.  A sense of humor comes in darned handy too! And a willingness to love them enough to let them go when the time is right. We have a great support system for our foster homes. We have great dogs needing fosters. Maybe you'd like join the team. Ask us how!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fostering...An Open Door and Open Heart Process

Fostering is committing to allow an animal in a rescue program to live with you until his/her forever home is found.  That's it in a nutshell.  But there are many layers to that shell.  Much like the fosters who come to live with us. Some are a tough nut to crack. Some are easy, some are short term, some long term.  It is a commitment to take what you get and work with it. No two fosters are the same, ever.  

You put your love on the line with them, and sometimes your possessions. It's not for the meek of heart, but for those with hearts full of love, optimism and a sense of humor. It's for people who believe second chances are worth some puddles, piles, and/or a few teeth marks on the furniture. It's about letting an animal into your life and loving them enough to let them go.  

It is the joy of seeing an animal learn what it is to be safe, loved, socialized, well fed, healthy, able to play and to trust. It is saving a life. It's not all glory. There is plenty of trial and error.  There are accidents and incidents, hints and allegations.  No wait, that's from a Paul Simon song. But it applies! Those of us who have fostered have stories of great escapes, damaged crates, puppies who nibble, fosters in heat, illnesses, spay/neuter procedures, the dreaded cone of horror and surprise puddles in the night. We train them, exercise them, write their bios, run them to vet appointments.  We take them out on lead in the rain, the snow, the cold, the heat.    

But we balance those stories with the magic of an animal coming out of it's shell, feeling safe enough to be silly, getting healthy and eventually finding their forever home.  Some of those golden moments are the result of hundreds of baby steps.  Some come in leaps and bounds.  They learn sometimes that a couch is a terrible thing to waste and a cuddle is a blessing beyond measure.  They learn what a gentle hand feels like, what toys are for and what a treat is.  


Fostering, in a family setting, is a team effort.  A true commitment.  Even the resident pets needs to be on board.  Each day with a foster is a learning opportunity for the foster, and the foster home.

And yes, we struggle with letting go... We are the half-way house to their forever home.  We worry whether their new home will care for them as well as we do.  Will they be safe, will they be loved, did their bios tell exactly how great they are and what special needs they may have.  We wonder if we have done enough to prepare them.  

When the time is right we send them off with their new owners.  And we long for photos, updates and newsy notes telling how much they are loved. We laugh at the memories and begin the process again.  Because there is always another who needs a second chance.  It's who we are, it's why we foster.