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Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Toast to Foster Homes...

Foster homes.  They are a crucial part of animal rescue.  They take in a homeless animal and house it until a forever home and family is found for that animal. Fostering an animal opens a cage at a shelter and helps to save a life.  Foster families are extremely difficult to come by as few people believe they can handle housing an animal for an undetermined length of time, then watch it leave their home to go to another.  When we don't have enough fosters, sometimes our staff and volunteers that usually function in a different capacity, step up to foster.

A few years back, I fostered a dog, Emmie.  She was a Border Collie mix that came from a hoarder in another county.

Emmie

Emmie


I was hoping she would fit into my family on a permanent basis, but my son was young and she did not blend with an aggressive two year old very well.  She continued as our foster but I knew that a new home was still the best thing for her.  I fell deeply in love with her as she had the appearance AND the personality of my first dog, Immy, the Special One. 




Immy Yawning



Immy was that one dogin your life who gives you that feeling deep in your heart that you know you will likely never find again, that one dog that loves you in a way that seems human and nurturing.  I think to her dying day, she believed she was my caregiver rather than vice versa.  But the timing was wrong, so a new home was in the cards for her and the hand off would be difficult for me once this new home, the right home, reared its head.

My Adoption Coordinator at the time, Jill, had warned me that she was processing an adoption application for Emmie and this one seemed to be a great fit.  She had discussed previous applications with me, and oddly, I was able to find reason to hesitate on adopting Emmie to other applicants, as I just felt they were never quite the right fit for her.  Because I was her foster mom, I knew what her specific needs were, and was being quite picky about satisfying them.  But Jill said this application glowed.   The woman was perfect on paper, and her personal and veterinary references were outstanding.  I had to come to grips with the fact that this woman might be "The One" for Emmie.  But I was still hesitant to let her go.  I dreaded the thought of watching her walk out the door for the last time. The thought of letting Emmie go, made me feel as though I was losing Immy all over again...and it was heartbreaking.

Sometimes in rescue, it is the strangest thing that makes you realize that things are right.  Sometimes it is not a question on an application, or the kind words of a personal reference, or even a qualitative review of  previous veterinary records that let us know that a person is the one for our adoptable pet.  This was one of those times. 

Jill walked into the surgery room one day while I was spaying a cat.  She announced that she had a question for me and she wore an emotional yet knowing look on her face. 

"Oh boy.  What is it?" I responded, hesitant to hear the question.

Jill replied, "I was doing the phone interview with the woman who is interested in Emmie".  My heart sank a little with these words. "Everything went well as far as our questions for her.  When we were finished, she said she had a question for us."

Generally speaking, most of the applicant's questions are answered during the adoption process. These questions usually include, "Does she bark alot?  Is she housebroken? What does he eat?  Does he like dogs, cats or kids?"  So why Jill was standing before me with a tear in her eye, and a smirk on her face befuddled me.  What question needed to be addressed to me, and why this odd reaction?

Jill looked at me a moment longer.  When she did speak, the words were,

"Does she like toast?"

I stared at her and numbly said, "What?"

"She wants to know if Emmie likes toast.  She has toast every morning and is hoping that Emmie will sit with her and share it with her."

We both laughed and almost cried.  This question sold me on this woman as being "The One" for Emmie.  I looked down at the dog that was laying by my feet as I did surgery, knowing that my days with her were now numbered.

This question told me several things about Emmie's potential adopter.  It told me that she was looking for a pet with whom she could share her life.  It told me that she was not just looking for a pet, but was looking for a furry companion to share even the smallest of moments.  It also told me that she did not want just any dog, but was looking for the right one, The One that would appreciate those small moments.  This question told me that Emmie would have all the mental stimulation, physical stimulation, and emotional connection that I knew, as her foster mom, that she needed.  This question eased my sorrow about watching Emmie go to a new home because now I knew this was going to be a great match.

Every once in a while, I will smile as the words run through my brain, "Does she like toast".

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32 comments:

Einstein Long said...

Kuddos....I'm sure Immy just knew too. It's a hard thing to do but good foster parents wouldn't do it any other way.

Sheryl H said...

Hello,

Emmie and I just had toast......She is the greatest!

I came in the office to check e-mails and saw your blog....opened it up to see what was up and lo and behold.....Emmie's Story. Brought tear to my eyes.

We usually get up just at dawn she goes out and goes pee, then she comes in and has toast.....and her dog food then later she goes out and takes care of her big business and if the day is nice she prefers to stay out on the house lawn surveying 'her kingdom'. If it's too cold, or too warm, or raining she prefers to lay by the open door looking through the glass storm to keep an eye on her kingdom. The other day I didn't have toast made so I gave her wheat thins.....she looked at me...'are you kidding, I'm not eating this I need toast....she got her toast....I had yogurt....what a character.



She goes most everywhere with us if we are going to be gone any length of time. Otherwise she is at my side whatever I'm doing all day long....she is ok with being in the rain if I'm out there with her. She is so neat and tidy she doesn't like water AT ALL...she will walk a long way around a puddle....but she will walk right in her dog shower when I tell her she needs a bath....she isn't glad to but she does it without any pushing.



When we come in from working outdoors....I say let me check your feet and she holds her foot up...if they are dry we go in and if they are wet....she has to wait on the rug in the garage until her feet are dry and then she will bark and I let her in...she is so smart.



All I do is pat my leg and if she is within hearing distance from me she is at my side, ready for whatever we are about to do.



She makes many trips up and down the basement stairs...sometime if I'm doing a project of some kind I make many trips up and down and she makes everyone of them with me...then she will plop down and sigh.... it makes me laugh cause it's like she says....are we done running up and down.



Bottom line.....thanks for trusting me...don't know what I'd do without her.

Celeste in Bend, Oregon said...

goddess bless you a million times! Your posts can make me sob, especially if I read them first thing in the morning or last at night (for some reason I am more emotional then!) I was a foster home for years for the Humane Society and puppymill rescued dogs, I failed Fostering 101 several times, couldn't let them go...I loved your post on Emmie! Keep writing, there's a book in here somewhere...

Susan McCauley said...

this brought tears to my eyes...sharing

Jennifer Currie Rose Depp said...

Oh my gsh - you've hit the nail on the head once again. Love htis piece. I've been blessed to have had a few 'does she like toast' families adopt my foster dogs and the feeling is beyond words. It's one of the reasons I love fostering so much.

Donna Cervene said...

♥ ♥ ♥

Jacquie Holm-Smith said...

Great story ... *sniff*

Diana Gallegos Weber said...

Ahhh...

Deb Bremer said...

You hit the spot with this one! Thank you :)

Deb Bremer said...

You hit the spot with this one! Thank you :)

Betsey Butler said...

still giggling from reading it this morning!!!

Anonymous said...

This so eloquently puts into words the exact emotions involved in fostering. I have ended up with some of my fosters because "they liked toast" while others, though I loved them, needed what someone else had to offer. It is a privlige to foster and one I take very seriously. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kim Barr Hansen said...

Brought tears to my eyes! Thanks for sharing.

Maggie Hess said...

yep, as a foster parent, you get that gut feeling when the right person comes along

Sally Johnson said...

It is so good to hear that people take in these pets. I wish I had the capabilities to do so. I can barely handle the pets I have now. I'm currently searching for a new abbotsford vet.

Liam Manning said...

I am loving these dogs! I have a close friend who was looking for a great renton vet and come to find out they do a lot of rescuing too. I think it's a great cause. I used to have a dog and I really miss it.

jack goodman said...

i think it's so important to adopt a homeless dog. And i must say, Emmie looks so cute!
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maayan danino said...

i think it's so important to adopt a homeless dog. And i must say, Emmie looks so cute:)!
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Drew Slinger said...

Thanks for sharing this. We've been wanting to get a good dog vet in Carpentersville, il. Do you know the best way to find one?

Anonymous said...

Great story. It's good to know that there are still people out there that care. Do you do emergency veterinarian work? I would love to come visit your clinic.

Dexter Morgan said...

I love this post! I am trying to find a good veterinarian in Colorado springs. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks.

jake ostler said...

As a veterinarian in Scarborough I really enjoyed looking at your blog. I just so happened to stumble across it and I'm happy I did. Thanks for sharing.

jake ostler said...

As a veterinarian in Scarborough I really enjoyed looking at your blog. I just so happened to stumble across it and I'm happy I did. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I loved looking at these pics. You are what I love about the entire vet profession. Kind hearted and an animal lover. I have to move to edmonton in just a few months. Can you recommend a good vet in Edmonton? Thanks.

Charles Brawnyson said...

I think foster homes for pets are so great. All pets need a loving home. My vet in Abbotsford has a program like this, and it is great for the animals.

James said...

Your post was so moving! It must be really hard to part with Emmy but that once sentence "Does she like toast?" made it all work so perfectly. Bravo!

Nancy Jorden said...

This has been a great blog. Thanks for this. veterinarian scarborough

Jason Knight said...

This is an awesome blog, I have only read 2 of the articles so far, but they are really good, and give me something to think about. I have a friend that used to help out with a veterinarian in Jefferson City, MO. It is awesome seeing her give her weekends up to help out.

Wayne Parker said...

Emmie is an adorable dog. No wonder you got attached to that sweet heart. I am a huge fan of border collies. I wish you the best!

Wayne. | http://www.earlysvilleanimalhospital.com/veterinaryservices.html

John Howard said...

It is really nice to read your blog. I have a couple of dogs myself that I was able to get from the pound. To my kids those dogs are everything. http://osullivananimalhospital.com/

Elisa Jed said...

My family had a little foster home for animals for a while. We lived out of town and a lot of animals were abandoned by our house. At one point, we have several dogs, cats and a few other animals.

Elisa Jed | http://www.avah.on.ca/AboutUs/MeetTheDoctors.aspx

Claudia Rosenburg said...

Fostering dogs is a really good way to see if the dog will fit in at your home! My aunt has fostered two dogs, which she ended up adopting. One of them she's had for a few years, and the other one she got about a year ago. She had fostered some between the two but some of the dogs didn't get along with the first dog she adopted, luckily she found another dog that does.
Claudia Rosenburg | http://www.sunvalleyanimalhospitalnc.com/