So what’s it like being a foster parent to cats and dogs you ask?
I started becoming very active in animal rescue and care in the days, weeks and months following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I volunteered with HOPE SAFEHOUSE; we pulled off a few miracles, transforming an old grocery store into a kennel with medical exam rooms, a quarantine area, areas for cats and dogs. It was the start of my journey that continues to this day.
Like many other rescue groups H.O.P.E. Safehouse doesn’t have a real facility for dogs. Our intakes are limited to “reasonable” numbers of cats and only as many dogs as we have foster families. Every day groups like us bombarded with pleas for rescue from numerous shelter facilities and we have to pick and choose which animals we actually have room for. This can really be heartbreaking. H.O.P.E doesn’t take just the cute little fluffy puppies, we take some of the ones other rescues don’t want, the infamous “black dogs” (they have one of the highest euthanasia rates), the old, the sick, the injured all get a chance to with us to becomes healthy, happy creatures that they deserve to be.
Even if we had hundred of fosters, we still couldn’t handle all the requests, but we always look for “just one more animal to save”. We hear all too often; “I can’t foster because it would hurt too much to give them up”. It does hurt sometimes; but we’re in this business of rescue because animals are dying for lack of homes. There are some great times with fostering, there are so many silly and whimsical Dogs in need of rescues come in all shapes and sizes, young, old, male and female dogs that need your help. H.O.P.E and the volunteers learn the dynamics of your particular family, and can easily find the critter that would fit best. Be warned you that you may indeed fall in love with your foster dog or cat and never want to give him/her up. After 6 plus years, it’s happened to me more times than I can remember. I’ve fostered and watched more dogs go to wonderful forever homes than I have kept. In reality, we just can’t keep them all, if we do there’s no room to help save that one more life.
I am a verified “foster failure” (one who adopts their foster dog). Gulliver Jacob was my first. He was on the first transport up from a parish in Louisiana after Katrina, they figured he was around 3-5, I fell in love with him and he’s best one of my best companions to this day. I do have others, believe me I could go on for days telling you about all the love I have in this house, but the passion I have to make sure that a dog dumped gets another chance outweighs me wanting to be the next “Dog Whisperer”.
Fostering animals can certainly be hard at times. Sometimes it’s their health that makes you worry. Illnesses, sores that won’t heal, pain that requires constant medication. But most of the time it will be their behavior that drives you a little crazy as most animals rescued have either been mishandled or they’ve been taught no manners at all. You can be assured of a few accidents in your home, an item or two that may end up chewed up if left laying around, a there’s a chance you may a hole dug in your yard and possibly a few sleepless nights from barking.
After a few days while you see them change, they’re calmer, they respond to commands; their tail wags more and no accidents in the house. It’s actually that for the first time in probably their entire lives, they’re in a stable loving environment. Their personality blossoms and they’ve become a joy to have around, just in time introduce them to their new forever families.
Quite a few times, I had a very bad lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and I was biting my cheek. I did not want to see my foster kids cry, I didn’t want them to worry and make them think something was wrong. You give those hugs and kisses; you hand over their leash and toys and know that they are going to be much loved.
A little time goes by and you realize that you are needed all over again to do the same thing. We in rescue understand its hard work, but we make a difference in the lives of those unwanted, abandoned, abused animals. I know when my days come to an end I will be able to think back and know that I did make a difference in this world, and the world was a little better because of it. I couldn’t save all the animals, but I save one at a time. I can sit here now and remember a good majority of the dogs I had with me (sometimes when you foster they are only there for a few days, sometimes it could be weeks or months), I will remember their antics, their sassiness, their love and devotion, the looks on their faces when they would look at you and realize that they were being loved and cared for.
When you foster with H.O.P.E. Safehouse you will be supplied with all the food, medications, leashes, crates or whatever you need. You will provide shelter; guidance, correction, love and anything that animal will need to become a well-adjusted four-legged family member. Your care and input will give them a better chance of finding a forever home not just another stop along the way.
If you are interested in fostering for H.O.P.E. Safehouse please visit their website to learn more and fill out a foster application, or call them at 262-634-4571
Countless others, just google it one time, so many groups that need help.
If you can open your home and family to help care for a dog or cat please do so.