Fostering is a profound lesson in loving and letting-go.Megan Kendall
“After losing my canine soulmate in 2016, I wasn’t ready to permanently adopt another dog, but we love being a two-dog household, so we volunteered to foster through Best Friends of Baker. It was a great solution; all the love and companionship without the lifetime commitment. We’ve been fostering ever since!
Some fosters come with names, and some don’t. It’s fun to make up names for the ones who come in as “strays,” or are young enough to easily learn a new name. The foster dog we ended up adopting, Blaze, was already eight years old, so he’s still Blaze. Chevy was found at a truck stop. Cole was a teeny black kitten, like a little lump of coal. In cases where an animal suffered trauma, I feel they deserve a fresh start. I don’t want to address them with the name someone used unkindly toward them.
My youngest son, Ryan, is only two, so he’s a mostly passive participant so far. But my seven-year-old, Andrew, has been fostering for more than half his life; he doesn’t remember a time when we weren’t doing this as a family. He’s remarkably skilled for his age, and plays a major role in the care giving. We’re about to take in a pregnant mama cat; he’s over the moon about witnessing the birth. I’m very proud of his big, compassionate heart. I’m grateful for my husband’s support, too; there’s just no way I could foster so much without extensive help from him. He jokes that I’m into animal rescue and he’s into me, which is more or less true. He does have a kind heart for animals, but his participation really speaks my ‘love language.’ When I take a call at 10:30PM, talking about a sick kitten that needs somewhere to go for the night, I’ll hear him getting dressed, waiting for me to give him the pick-up address. *swoon*
While fostering is technically in service to animals, it actually includes a great deal of interaction with people; especially for those of us who also volunteer in other, non-foster capacities. Responding to a rescue call; accepting surrendered animals; screening adoption applicants; and introducing families to their new companion. There’s great need for empathy because there’s always a story behind these situations. Often, these are good people with legitimately extenuating circumstances; somebody lost a partner or a job; they’ve been evicted or become disabled, terminally ill, or homeless.
I encourage anyone who has ever considered fostering, to go for it. It doesn’t require a ton of free time; normal, busy families can do this. And you’re welcome to narrow-down the specific type(s) of animals that you’re able to foster. Maybe you can only take house trained adult dogs that are good with kids, or maybe you can offer a quiet laundry room to a nursing mama cat and her babies. We always need more foster volunteers.
Fostering is a profound lesson in loving and letting-go. Loving something—or someone—doesn’t make them ours to keep. We don’t have to cling. In fact, we can let go because we love them so much. It’s okay to feel sad… it’s okay to miss them. Letting go doesn’t end the love. I admit that this concept comes more naturally to my kids than it does to me. Maybe because they learned it so young. I think it will serve them well later in life.”
To learn more, visit bestfriendsofbaker.org