“Would love to foster but I work full-time.”
“I’d keep them all, otherwise I would.”
“We’re so busy with soccer and kid’s stuff, it wouldn’t be fair.”
“My husband won’t let me.”
“Oh they are so cute but I have a cranky cat.”
These are actual quotes I found on Facebook in response to rescues pleading for fosters.
I’ve heard these same reasons and others and have grown accustomed to maintaining a placid face and nodding my head rhythmically in the appearance of understanding as people explain to me in detail and earnest about why they just can’t foster.
Just for the record, I’d vastly prefer if people were really honest. You don’t want the additional work or responsibility. You don’t want to change your routine (a biggee for me in the early days as I’m such a creature of habit). You don’t want to risk having your heart broken when you have to give them up. You’re afraid they’ll never get adopted and you’ll be stuck with them. You don’t want the smell of puppy poop wafting through your house. It’s not like I haven’t thought the same things for crying out loud. Sometimes I still do.
But it’s sort of like saying you don’t like broccoli when you’ve never tasted it. You assume you know what’s it like when you haven’t even tried it.
Fostering is life-saving. For some organizations, like rescues who are simply a network of foster homes (as they have no brick and mortar building to speak of) it is the only means they have to do their rescue work. The degree to which they can pull animals out of shelters and help to find them homes is entirely dependent upon the availability and willingness of people to foster animals in their homes.
We use them as well but since we have so few, they are typically used for young puppies and kittens. It’s one more way we try to ensure the babies stay healthy. Not that adult animals aren’t also in need of foster homes, but we rarely have enough to go around for even the little ones that come streaming in our door.
I obviously am not a good salesperson (thankfully I haven’t had to make my living as one or I’d be starving) as convincing people that fostering is worth their time and energy has been a challenge. My obvious lacking is in selling the incredible satisfaction that comes with fostering as it truly gives each day more meaning that I feel immensely but cannot explain adequately.
The rarity of dedicated fosters makes meeting people like Melissa Binder extra special! Melissa is a foster for 2nd Chance 4 Life, the rescue that took in the four blind deaf puppies that I had fostered briefly and wrote about in an earlier blog. When I learned she had offered to foster them I knew she must be a very special person and that she was one of the few who really understood what fostering was about. Or maybe she just got emotionally caught up in their story and would live to regret offering to foster them. I hoped not the latter.
If I was worried about that possibility it was brief and for naught. So few people, even the most enthusiastic of seasoned fosters would be willing to accept the challenge so willingly of four young blind and deaf puppies. But Melissa did so with enthusiasm and optimism. Melissa’s status reports on the puppies that began almost immediately upon arrival quickly demonstrated her understanding and appreciation for this opportunity.
I knew from my own experience with the puppies that she soon would find herself amazed, inspired, entertained, and yes, challenged by these extraordinary puppies in ways she couldn’t imagine. Their undaunted curiosity, amazingly acute sense of smell and in so many ways ordinary puppiness despite their lack of sight and hearing makes just observing them like a NatGeo documentary. They are remarkably interesting, unbelievably amazing and hilariously entertaining all at the same time.
But what I couldn’t know was how special these puppies would turn out to be… not just because of how they are but because of what they are to Melissa.
I don’t say this simply because Melissa is such a doting, loving, thoughtful foster mom to these babies. She is all those things. When she prepared the puppies for their first adventure outside by opening up her doors so they could gain familiarity with the smells of the outside world before facing them head on (and nose up), I knew she was thinking conscientiously for them. But it is more her willingness to give of herself to ensure these puppies get the best preparation for their future lives that I just love!
Her care and compassion for these little beings is one thing. But her sheer enjoyment and glee in sharing in their adventures, their development and their growth is truly inspiring. Especially in light of the fact that Melissa has her own challenges to face that for most would be so daunting that to tackle more responsibility would be unthinkable. And I’m not talking about kids with soccer practice, or a stressful job, or a cranky cat.
You see, Melissa has Leukemia.
And yet, she doesn’t let that deter her from opening her heart and life to fostering. In part because she views helping them is helping her. There’s something tremendously special about someone with a heart that huge. Something unique about someone who says it’s important to give and help others no matter what. Melissa chose to foster these babies with their special needs as a way to help them AND herself. And while they can’t see or hear her, I know for certain they feel how special she is!
So when the days come when I feel overwhelmed or too tired or too stressed by my normal life to take on one more problem or challenge, I hope I always will remember her bravery and generosity. As Melissa Binder is an inspiration to me.
She should be an inspiration to us all.