What inspired you to start fostering?
There was a special cat, his name was Olaf. He was very ill living at the animal clinic I work at and he couldn’t be adopted out because of his medical handicaps. My boyfriend Andrew and I decided to see if he could handle living at home with us (he had a heart condition and any amount of stress could kill him immediately.) He ended up living out the rest of his life with us and we got to see him blossom from a sad cage cat that you couldn’t even touch, to a happy silly house cat that just wanted love and belly rubs and snuggles from our dog Koda. When Olaf passed away it was hard at first but we both agreed it was all worth it and we had to help other animals that have no other chance but us.
How long have you been a foster parent?
What are some of the challenges you have faced as a foster parent? And how have you worked through them?
Feeling like I’m not what an animal needs and that they’d do better somewhere else has been the biggest challenge for me with a few of our fosters. With support and guidance from the rescue I worked through it and everything worked out fine and I realized I WAS exactly what the animal needed..in fact, Andrew and I were all they had and with time everything was ok and I was proud of myself for just doing my best and not giving up on myself.
What is the most rewarding part of being a foster parent to homeless animals?
It’s obvious, when they get adopted and you see the happiness, excitement, and love on the new families faces and you know you made a difference and you helped save a life and get it to its forever home. The little things are pretty rewarding too, like when they learn a new trick, or when a scared animal learns to trust you and walks right up to you and gives you a big wet kiss after days/weeks of cowering just from your presence.
Is there a particular animal you fostered that stands out? Why?
The foster I have right now, Lenny. He was “returned” by two other foster families for being too much of a handful. He stands out because he’s everything fostering represents wrapped into one sweet silly crazy boy. He definitely drives us INSANE some days and he has a very low learning drive so he’s hard to train but he’s made so much progress and made us very proud, especially of ourselves.
I know you work at a vets office and at a doggy daycare. It seems you are always surrounded by animals! Have you always been an animal lover? When did you know you wanted to work with animals?
I’ve been an animal lover since I was a little girl. Working with animals is definitely my passion in life. Animals have so much love and gratitude and so much to teach us I just love to help them and give back and make sure they feel just as loved and as safe as they make me feel. I think a part of me has always known I wanted to work with animals I just was never sure in what capacity, I’m still not entirely sure!
You have fostered two animals for Sarama that had special needs. One with medical issues and one with behavioral issues. I know we didn’t realize Nikko would be so challenging but you stuck with it till his forever home was found. Why do you think its so important to foster animals with special needs?
Fostering animals with special needs can be scary and really challenging but in my opinion all animals deserve an equal chance at a happy and comfortable life. It may take a little more stress and a little more work but to save a life it is absolutely worth it. We didn’t see what happened with Nikko coming, but once we figured out how to manage his issues and helped him feel safe it was a breeze. Nikko truly had an army fighting for his life and his fairy tale ending, Andrew and I, our dog Koda who is an absolute saint sharing her home with him and giving him space and dealing with him better than I ever could, of course Sarama including Melissa, Laura, and Sonia who all were there as support with advice and always willing to show up at my door and make sure we were all safe and ok, and of course his new mom who is loving him just as he is!
Any advice or tips for people considering fostering for the first time?
Just do it! You will have lots of support from the rescue and other foster parents so you won’t have to go through it alone. Tell the rescue anything that is worrying you or making you uncomfortable, they will help you through it! You will learn so much about patience, unconditional love, animal behavior, and trust. You will likely have hard days where you feel you can’t do it or you feel like you need to give up but you CAN do it and you will be a stronger person for pushing through it. When the animal you’ve put time and effort into and shared your home with finally finds their forever family you will feel like a superhero! You will have saved a life and your own life will be changed forever.