My friend Michelle sent me this and I just had to share it. While it does make me sound smarter than I deserve, the message and lesson is so important in considering becoming involved in the world of fostering. Yes, its hard. Sometimes it is heartbreaking. Sometimes it easy to let them go. No matter what it is about sacrificing for the greater good. But I’ll let Michelle explain…she does it so much better than I.
So many times I hear “I would love to foster but I do not know how you do it.” Or “I could not foster because I would not want to give the animals up.” And each time I say “Well it is hard at times, but I have to remember that I could adopt a foster and save one life, or I could save that one life, let it go onto an adoptive home and save countless more.” I will admit at times this statement is rote as taught to me from my new friend Carrie Roe. But as I write this, I had my huge “aha” moment earlier today, actually talking to Carrie. You see, I have the most adorable, loving, and sweet-natured, loves to give puppy kisses foster in my home right now. Her name is Peggy (Anna calls her Honey) and she is a retriever mix. Soft puppy fur, little puppy noises when she dreams, and from the moment I picked her up I was in love.
She is not my first puppy, but the fourth puppy I have had over the past several weeks. And I will admit I have struggled with the thought of her leaving my home from the first hour she was in my life. I am a mutt girl, but I have a thing for labs. I just love them. And she even has the lab wiggle butt! Better than that- my husband loves her-and if you do not know him he is not exactly smitten for fostering as much as I am but he does at least tolerate it for me and even helps me! But so last night I had the thought I would adopt her. I would just adopt her and that would leave me room to foster at least one more. I thought about it all night. I would be strategic in the way I presented it to Mike. I would promise to not adopt another as if I am a six year old asking for a puppy. My birthday has just passed so I would say she is a birthday present to me! Yes! Yes! I am going to do it! I am going to adopt this loving pile of fur and I will name her Forty – no correlation to my current age.
And then it hits me as I am talking to Carrie. I cannot adopt her. It is not fair. It is not fair to the thousands of homeless animals out there who need me. If I adopt her sure I can foster a single here and there but I admit caring for 4 dogs in a 1,000 square foot house with no yard is a bit tedious even for a gal who requires little sleep. I would not be able to just run down to the shelter and pick up when needed. I would not be able to take a sibling group if needed. I would not be able to foster bottle babies which are something I do not hope for, but want to help when it is needed. So she will go on to her rescue and be adopted by a forever family and I will keep fostering. I start to imagine her with an older couple with an empty nest that she will fill a void. I imagine her being the best friend to a little child with few friends. I imagine her living with a single person and her being the center of their world. I can only imagine. And it makes me smile to think about her future life.
So now when people ask me how I give them up, since I really for the first time now am “getting it,” will not use the rote answer so engrained in my head. It will come from my heart and I will mean it. I am sure I will cry my eyes out when this girl leaves. But like Carrie said – we will hand you another (and I will love her just the same).
So I leave you with this thought. Whatever is holding you back from being a foster, or even being a volunteer – take a leap of faith and do it. And when you do it, know that you will fall in love. Know that you will want to keep one along the way (or all of them). But most importantly really know and understand what fostering and volunteering is about – saving lives. Once you really understand what that is about – it an overwhelming feeling of greatness. Not sadness.
Michelle Earl, Guest Blogger and Foster Mom