Should I foster…or not?

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Hello, January 26th! When the hell did you get here already? It was *just* Christmas like, a week ago. I know I am not saying anything profound here, but it’s creepy how fast time goes as you get older. A month in kid-time is for-frickin’-ever.

I’m having a mini existential (?) crisis at the moment. I keep getting pulled to the rescues that take dogs off the euthanasia lists at the local pound– they all need foster homes. And I can’t stop wondering if I should step in an help as a foster. Even if I only ever do it once or twice, at least I’d be helping HANDS-ON. I do donate money, but I would like to make a direct impact if I can.

My sister thinks the timing on this is a little suspect, because she says that after I break up with someone, I seem to always want to adopt a new pet or do something similar to that. I think it’s totally possible that I do this, of course. She would know. She knows me better than almost anyone. However, I can say with all honesty that I am NOT hurting over the J situation. I accepted it and I’m fine with it now. I haven’t been thinking about it a lot, even. I don’t think I had time to really fall for him in a way that would devastate me if we broke up. This is a good thing. I love that I am OK with this turn of events.

Do I really jump into altruistic things after something like a break-up happens in my life? She has given me lots to think about. I don’t want to be a moron who has a kneejerk reaction to stuff. I sincerely want to be a person who is logical and sensible, not someone who is constantly rushing to ‘save’ something or someone to fill some kind of emptiness in my life.

I happen to think that sometimes, certain issues get put in front of me and I can’t ignore them for whatever reason. Like last year, when the Team in Training brochure arrived in the mail and I decided to sign up for the marathon. And in doing so, I ended up getting passionate about helping people with leukemia and blood disorders. I didn’t get to run the marathon, as you know, but I did raise over $1,300 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is pretty awesome!! And it also got me to become a regular blood donor. In fact, I’m already looking forward to my next donation. (I don’t have one scheduled yet.)

About a week ago, someone on Facebook posted about the 19 year old cattle dog that had been dropped at a shelter because her owner was terminally ill with cancer. I share a whole lot of animals in need of homes on Facebook, but this one dog stood out and made me stop and think. I wanted to DIRECTLY help THAT dog. Her face was heartbreaking, and knowing how old she was just about floored me. I happen to love old dogs, as it is. I know lots of people don’t want to take on a pet that they will likely only have limited time with, but that isn’t my concern. My concern is giving a living, breathing, loving creature a safe, warm home for the rest of its life. I want to help the animal no one else wants to help, because I CAN. I don’t want to help puppies. (I wouldn’t turn my back on a puppy in need, of course… I just mean I have a true preference!) I want to help the old ones. I know I am in the minority, to some extent. And that is why I feel like I am getting a call to help.

The wonderful thing about that 19 year old cattle dog was she was adopted, ultimately. Word spread and she found a home. I didn’t have to step in and help in that case. This was good, really. I wasn’t sure I was ready yet to do this and add another creature to my household. However…

…this incident did get me on the radar of two women who are the ones who actually go to the pound and save those dogs from the e-list each week. One asked me to consider filling out an application to foster. The other was just very encouraging and thanked me for my willingness to help. But now, I friended them and I do get updates on my page every day of dogs in dire need of rescuing.

I know I can’t save them all. But I could save a few, over time. Maybe.

I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of the pet overpopulation problem, every day. It’s hard to fathom sometimes that there are SO MANY irresponsible and careless pet ‘owners’ out there. You’d expect a few, because people are inherently a dumb species if you think about it… but not so many, not in 2012. You would think that by now, the word about spaying/neutering and adopting rather than purchasing pets would be catching on. I know it is getting better, but not nearly fast enough to make a big impact yet. And meanwhile, animals die. This kills me. This keeps me awake at night.

Anyway, my current dilemma is do I or don’t I. There are a lot of things that would make me an ideal foster for the dogs most in need, but there are other factors to consider. And those factors are named Hurley, Simon and Gremlin.

I wish I could ask them if they’d be cool with me helping a small parade of animals from time to time. I don’t know how bringing these strange dogs (I don’t know about fostering cats) into our home would play out. I wouldn’t want any of my boys to get injured, stressed or depressed. I’m reminded of an incident from my childhood…

When I was really little, my dad adopted Dobie from the pound to be a guard dog at his shop. But of course, he got attached to Dobie and couldn’t leave her there overnight. So he started bringing her home at night. I was super excited and I adored her. She was a huge Doberman/Shepherd mix and she was very good with me, even though I was about 3 or 4 years old.

Everything was cool, but not with Buffy.

Buffy was the dog my Mom and Dad had even before I was born. She was a complete and utter sweetheart. She even had a little heart pattern on top of her head! When I was born, the story goes that she became super vigilant and protective of me. She didn’t want anyone lifting me out of the bassinette without her permission (except for my parents and Granny). As I grew up, she was constantly with me. There weren’t any other toddlers around to play with, so she became my very best friend. [And this probably helps explain a LOT about my personality, doesn’t it? How I do better with dogs than with people…? Heh.]

Anyhow, Buffy was a total Daddy’s Girl with my Dad UNTIL Dobie came into the picture. Buffy started to seem sad and wouldn’t react to my Dad’s affection like she used to. Years and years later, long after Dobie was gone (she was hit by a car up at my Dad’s shop on the very day she was going to a new home– Dobie had developed a scary habit of growling at my baby sister and there was no way anyone could risk T getting injured), my Dad frequently lamented that, “Buffy was never the same with me after I brought Dobie home.”

It had done permanent damage to the bond between my Dad and Buffy.

I do NOT want to do something similar to Hurley. I already tried, with the Sandy debacle last year, and it was a mess. But he seemed to ‘forgive me,’ if he ever was actually upset at me. Anyway, that was so short-lived that maybe that’s why he didn’t hold a grudge. But what if I jeopardized my relationship with Hurley?! I couldn’t do that. I can’t do that. I love him so much it hurts sometimes. He is incredibly special and unique. I do not take him for granted.

And then there are the cats. Silly little dudes. But they are important now, too. They have preferences and things they don’t like. They may not like another dog in the midst much at all. I don’t want to upset them, I really don’t.

So, I guess it does come down to my guys. Not my finances or sanity or any of that. I do not want to stress them out. They don’t deserve that. Like most people make note of, we do have a solid dynamic and harmony in the house right now that probably shouldn’t be tampered with. (OK, well, to be fair, Simon and Gremlin have been playing so rough it ends in fights these days. I think it’s the battle of the adolescent boys, honestly… I think they will grow out of this. After all, Simon is only 2, and Grem is 1.)

As I write this, I think I know what I have to do. Or not do. See, blogging can really help sort out your thoughts!

I’m going to have to settle for networking and maybe even picking one of these rescues to spend some time volunteering at adoption events or as a transportation person to bring their animals to the vet, etc. There are a lot of ways I can help, hands-on, without physically bringing animals the into my home. There are simply so many rescues now, it is hard to choose which one to work with! (What a nice problem to have, actually.)

So anyway, yeah. My little internal crisis… maybe I have it sorted out more than I think I do.

I only know this: I am absolutely, totally wired to HELP ANIMALS. I can’t escape that desire. Ever. I will never stop caring this much. I know I won’t. And you know something? That makes me happy. I know lots of people who don’t even think of doing these kind of things (whether it’s for animals or people in need), and sometimes they do seem like they are searching for something to care about. They seem a little spiritually lost, if you want to know the best way I can describe it. I am not spiritually lost. Not at all. I get confused and overwhelmed, yes, but I always know where my true north is. I’m very grateful for that.

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5 responses »

  1. Help find them homes? Yes. Open your own home to them and risk mayhem and dysfunction? No. You’ve got great fur babies and seem to have a happy balance, stick with it.

  2. Yeah, it always seems like such a wonderful idea and I want to do it, but then reality sets in and I know why it’s not the right choice for me.

    Good news, though: On Sunday, February 5, I’ll be helping out at my first adoption event with the rescue group run by one of the women from Facebook. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone there and hopefully it will be a good match for me. (Sometimes, rescue people are odd and a little standoffish, which is weird and counterproductive, but sadly it is true. Hopefully this reascue has some normal people!) 🙂

  3. If not for your pets, I’d say go for it! But yeah, you don’t want to mess with a good thing. And as far as it being a kneejerk reaction … well, break-ups can push people into some destructive behavior. If the worst that comes out of it is you help some more animals, I’d say you’re lucky. Think about other hands-on ways you can help out: maybe volunteering at a shelter here and there?

  4. I agree with your sister. I’ve tended to struggle with the same issue, in the past. How else do you think I ended up with FOUR CATS?! Only one of them was ever specifically, consciously chosen by me. Still, they all came to live with us- one for each year that DH took a job out-of-state and was gone for 9 months out of the year. I had this “If I can’t have what I need for me, then I can at least be what it is I am seeking for something else” kind of mentality. I wanted stability, security, someone to take care of me. When I didn’t get it, I opted to provide it, instead.

    I’m really learning a lot about how amazing networking is, of late, and loving being a part of that. I’d love to foster, too, puppies, specifically, because they are very short-term and I can give them a good start by providing them with basic training, but DH keeps telling me “no”. I have no worries about wanting to keep every one of them. What I want is to do good and give back. And I think that Kansas would adore having puppies to nurture. She loves caring for puppies and it sure would give her a job to do (rather than chasing squirrels and trying to access the neighbor’s damn bunnies). Plus, after watching her raise one puppy at a time, I think it would be hysterical to see how she handles a litter of three or so… I think it would be a good experience for all of my dogs, and every time the TCDR folks specifically suggest/ask me to do it, I obligingly query DH again. He still says no. Usually his rationale is “too many dogs”, but, that’s TEMPORARY! Plus, they reimburse you for all vet care, so you only have to pay for food. It’s a win-win! And I still want to do it!

    I agree, however, that your pets and your situation are entirely different and that the experiences you’ve had in the past are indicators that it may not be the right thing for you to do. There are other ways you can help. Scout thrift shops and garage sales for used towels, blankets, bedding and even crates to purchase and donate. Volunteer to drive a leg of the journey whenever a rescue needs help transporting a dog (or cat) to its foster or adopters. Check the rescue/shelter “wish lists” for items you can donate. Have a “wish list” drive. Save old newspapers, which can be used to line crates. These days many rescues even have Etsy shops or Cafe Press stores where items purchased benefit the facility. Sometimes it’s also as simple as buying an extra bag of food or bottle of laundry detergent or cat litter when you’re doing your own shopping, then dropping that off at the appropriate location.

  5. I am glad you can to the decision to not foster or adopt. Because your furry family is pretty great! I am the same way, I want to help every stray animal I see or hear about. I have tried three times to integrate a new cat into our home and all three times our girls have swiftly informed us it was not going to happen. I ever have the scars to prove it. So for the sake of them and the fact I love how they are with us I couldn’t disrupt our family. I find other ways of helping. Volunteering at shelters donating food and blankets. I do all I can but I can’t take any more home.

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