1. The crawler on the tv screen during the morning news said the humane society had a great need for fosters for cats and dogs.
2. Our three cats would not tolerate it very well if we brought in foster kittens, besides the fact that the fosters might bring a kitty illness in that ours could catch, even if we kept them in separate parts of the house.
3. It would be really hard to give up kittens that we had fostered, because we are cat people, but puppies? We could give up puppies. They're cute, but we don't want a dog, so we wouldn't have a problem when it was time to return puppies for adoption.
We got our puppies, two of them, shepherd/great pyrenees mixes from a litter of six, on August 2. We named them Audrey and Olivia, because we thought the names they got from the humane society were stupid.
You could have put the sum total of knowledge we had about taking care of a puppy (let alone TWO of them) on the head of a pin and still had room to etch War and Peace on the pinhead.
We tried our best to housebreak them. We gave them a reward every time they pottied outside. They rewarded us by pooping and peeing all over our family room floor.
They got sick. REALLY sick. They both had coccidiosis (a single-cell parasite that attacked their intestinal tract). They both had kennel cough. Olivia was sick enough that I thought she wouldn't make it. Twice.
They chewed any and everything.
They occasionally had accidents in their crate, requiring baths and cleaning of the crate first thing in the morning. In the early days of the coccidiosis, one of them pooped in the crate in the night. Squishy poop. They got it on themselves, of course. Then, taking it to another level, Audrey apparently dipped her tail in it and painted poop all over the inside of the crate.
And I asked for this.
But after four weeks of puppies, four weeks of alternating between enjoying them and wishing they were GONE, of cleaning up poop and pee off the floor, walking them at all hours, napping with them in our laps, playing with them, cursing them for chewing our flip flops, and worrying about their health, we fell in love.
Then it was time to return them to the humane society for transport to the rescue group that was going to find homes for them. A rescue group 500 miles away, where we would never see them again.
The manager of the humane society told us the name of the group where they were going, as we stood there crying, turning our babies over to them. She told us she cries every time she sends her own fosters off for adoption.
My daughter and I said one last goodbye to the puppies, gave them one last hug and kiss, then walked out the door and stood on the sidewalk in front, hugging each other and sobbing. On the drive home, we talked about how we could never do this again. It was too much mess. Too much heartbreak. Too much everything.
But the next day, I contacted the rescue group and asked if we could be kept informed about how the puppies were doing. I joined their Facebook page. And yesterday, their pictures turned up on the Facebook page, along with those of their siblings.
And now I get it. I get what fostering is all about.
Look at these six puppies. Four of them stayed in a kennel at the humane society, because there weren't enough foster families to take them in. Ours were loved and nurtured and maybe spoiled a little. Can you tell which were our puppies and which lived at the shelter?
#1 is Audrey, #6 is Olivia. Look how perky they are, how bright their eyes!
We did a good thing. It wasn't always easy, but we did it.
Will we foster again? Yes. (Shhhh! Don't tell my husband or the three cats.)
Are we sorry we didn't keep them? Nope. We are not dog people. Not entirely sure we are PUPPY people, but we are foster people.
Are we going to cry again next time? You betcha.
Help an overcrowded shelter in your area and be a foster parent to a dog or cat (or puppy or kitten or two or seven).
Want to read the rest of our adventures in fostering? Read Puppy Tails, Part 1, Puppy Tails, Part 2, and Puppy Tails, The Final Chapter.
This post is an entry for this week's Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop with the prompt:
Talk about one thing you learned last month.