In a continuing effort to acknowledge May as National Foster Care Month, the following was written by a staff member here at 1-800-Charity Cars, Mercy, who shares her experience and passion for fostering animals.
As many of you may be aware by now, May is National Foster Care month. This seems an appropriate month for it, as Mother’s Day falls in May as well. At 1-800-Charity Cars, providers of donated vehicles to those in need, we try to encourage awareness of any and all charitable work, not just our own.
When you think about fostering, you probably think about caring for a little boy or girl that becomes part of your family, even if it’s just for a short time. However, I’d like to tell you about a different fostering opportunity that has enriched my life. For the last 15 years, I have opened my home to several foster “children” of the four-legged variety. I have fostered dogs, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, you name it! If it has four legs, it is welcome in my house.
You might be asking yourself “why does she do it?” The answer is very simple: Animals provide me with unconditional love, and in return all they wanted was a little attention. I provide food, shelter and as much love and attention as I can squeeze into the few weeks or months that they are with me. They give all of the love they have, without reservation or any strings attached, every single time they see you. When was the last time your spouse or children got so excited to see you when you got home, that they piddled on the floor? They have never done it for me either, but my animals, whether my own or my foster animals, are a different story. You might have just left for an hour, but to them it feels like an eternity.
The way I see it, when I foster an animal, I’m saving two lives at once. I’m saving my foster animal and, at the same time, saving another animal by making room for them at the shelter or rescue. Now think about that for just a moment…I just helped save the lives of two animals. How wonderful is that?
As I stated earlier, I have been fostering on and off for the last 15 years. I can’t remember every animal that I have fostered in that time frame, but let me tell you about a couple of the most recent ones:
I rescued Patches from the Orlando animal service, for my good friends at Helping Paws 22. I named her Patches because, instead of a full coat of fur, she had patches of fur. Now, her name was not to make fun of her, but to identify with her. This 8 month old Labrador was a broken little girl; not only was her skin and fur a mess, but her soul had been broken after eight months of neglect and abuse. She was taken to the vet for her skin problem and, after two months of tender loving care at my home, Patches was adopted and her new name became Ambur. Guess what? Ambur is now a service dog. As her foster mom, I was given the opportunity to see her go through her training and then I was able to attend her service dog graduation ceremony. I can tell you that I felt like a proud mom at the ceremony, talking to people, saying that’s my girl.
My latest fosters came from a hoarding situation in New York. The previous owner had 23 Chihuahuas. The Pixel Fund rescue group accepted 10 of them. I was asked if I could foster two bonded sisters for three weeks. “No problem”, I said “bring them over”. I met Minnie and Mona. After a week at my house, it was time for them to get spayed. I took them to the vet in the morning and about an hour after I dropped them off at the vet, I got a call from the rescue. The rescue says “Guess what? The vet said Minnie is pregnant and is ready to have her puppies any day now”. The rescue asked me if I was still interested in fostering them, since this meant that the three week commitment that I agreed to would now become a three month commitment. My response was “PUPPIES! OH MY GOSH, PUPPIES! YES, I WANT TO FOSTER THEM!”
On March 6, 2014, Minnie had seven puppies; unfortunately four of them did not make it past the second day. This still left me with three precious puppies, a new mom and Mona; a total of five fosters. Now add the six dogs I already own, plus my cats and that made for a very full house.
The puppies were growing normally; Minnie and Mona were getting use to being around new people, and new dogs. I was worse than a concerned new mom; I would weigh and measure them every week, and jot down their progress.
In April when the puppies were six weeks old, my husband and I decided to take a vacation for our six year wedding anniversary. The rescue agreed to take the puppies, Minnie and Mona while I was away for six days. When we returned, to my horror, one of the puppies (Leyden) had gotten injured while playing with her siblings, and she was in pain and unable to walk. We took her to the vet; X-rays were done, and she was prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain medication. The first week was awful, seeing this tiny little puppy in such pain was heart wrenching. Leyden has been on medicine for the past four weeks; however, she no longer needs the pain medicine, and is only taking the anti-inflammatory medicine once a day and only half of what was originally prescribed. She still can’t walk, but she is moving her legs a lot better now. I don’t know what the future holds for Leyden, whether she will ever walk again or not. But one thing I am sure of, Leyden has found her permanent family. Yes, I will be a foster failure when it comes to this little girl, no way can I give her up.
Speaking of giving her up, Leyden’s brother and sister, also known as Fin and Brie, were adopted together on Sunday to an amazing family. It was hard to leave them there, especially little Fin, since he had become a momma’s boy. However, at the same time, it was so rewarding to know that these two puppies had found a loving and permanent home. All this happened because I opened my home and heart to Minnie and Mona, whom by the way are heading to Maine to get adopted.
The rewards of fostering animals and seeing them placed in caring homes is why I enjoy being a foster parent to animals and I hope you will consider opening your home to help needy animals as well.