Just shy of a year old, Alice takes her first steps. Is she walking to her mother? Her father? Maybe the family dog? No, Alice’s first steps are towards the four, 6 week old foster kittens, rolling, jumping and running through a cardboard structure her parents cut holes in and duct taped together for them. Nothing is as tempting to a child or adult animal lover as a fluffy little kitten. These kittens were born in a basement to a feral mother cat who went out one day through a broken basement window and never came home. They needed socialization before being adopted out at the age of 8 weeks. The fluffy gray kitten that tempted Alice’s first steps, was later named Frank, and became her first birthday present. Sometimes, in fostering, you just can’t let them go.
A year later, Alice’s parents got a call about two 24 hour old puppies, one injured by its mother, and both needing to be bottle fed. Having had some success raising such fragile pups in the past, the foster family decided to take them on. Round the clock feedings, stimulating them to go to the bathroom, daily weigh-ins, and keeping them warm, were all part of the routine. Alice would post up in her rocking chair by their crate with one of the family’s adult dogs, and watch them whine and squirm, “reading” them books. On day 5, the female puppy passed away, but the male was still going strong. Losing one is always hard, but watching others thrive is what helps a foster keep motivated through those long nights. It also teaches a valuable, though difficult, life lesson. Thankfully, the male puppy continued to grow, and grow, and grow. Now his physical health was no longer in jeopardy, but it was time to think about his behavioral health. A singleton puppy, even with adult dogs around, is at risk of not having proper social skills. So that Christmas, there were three foster puppies chewing on the Christmas tree branches instead of one.
The lights ended a few feet from the bottom of the tree as did the ornaments, and the puppies were often found dozing on the plaid Christmas tree skirt covered in pine needles. The two spare puppies were graciously loaned out from a local rescue group with a similarly aged and sized litter in their care. Sheltering and Rescue is about being part of a larger community that helps each other when the need arises. That tiny singleton puppy grew up to be quite large, last weighing in at a whopping 100lbs! His foster parents couldn’t be prouder of the adult dog he grew up to be and their part in his happy life.
A chihuahua puppy born without developed front limbs taught another life lesson. Not all of us are the same. We all face different challenges, and though we may not all look or function the same, we can live happy, full, lives. Alice learned how to be extremely gentle when handling the small puppy. Her giggles and his little huffing sounds as he hopped high speed on his two back legs through the house after her brought joy to the whole house. Though it was sad to watch “baby joey” go off with his new family, Alice enjoys seeing updates of him sent by text to this day. His dragon Halloween costume, him in his front end wheelchair, getting around easily for the first time in his life.
Animals need foster care for all different reasons and at different stages in their life. Some of them long term, some of them short term. Some go back to their original families after a hardship, or go on to be adopted by a new family. Some, stay right where they are, getting adopted by their fosters. No matter their outcome, fostering is a rewarding experience for all involved. Adults can snuggle up with a kitten recovering from surgery after a long day of work, or go home and destress by petting an elderly dog in need of medical care. Kids can learn about love, loss, kindness and caring. Every interaction goes toward helping the animal be its best self, and in the process, we often find our best selves.
Help Monadnock Humane Society make this world a better place for animals and the people who love them. Join our elite group of Hero foster families today! Please visit our website to fill out a foster application: https://monadnockhumanesociety.org/foster/ Monadnock Humane Society will provide you with all the supplies and medical care needed for your foster pet. All we ask of you is your time, love, and patience to help these animals through some of the most trying times of their little lives. You too, can make a difference by simply opening up your heart and your home.