I started to write a short story on fostering animals in September when I picked up my foster pup from Capital Area Humane Society. I did not go there that day with any intent to foster as I have done that for many years for many dogs and I find one of the hardest things to do is to let them go when the time is right. Holly (Director of Operations at CAHS and a friend of mine) came up to me that day and said there is one that you could foster she is not a Black Lab nor a Pit Bull (both breeds very special to me and last to get adopted). There in the back of the kennel sat a cream colored puppy about four or five months old. She was all by herself and looked scared and sad. I texted my husband at work to make sure he was ok with fostering again. Within a couple hours she was at my house playing with my three dogs. Her history was she came from a hoarding situation of seventy dogs, and was one of the few to be saved; she was adopted out once but returned as she kept leaking urine. She was diagnosed with an ectopic ureter. She was going to be scheduled for laser surgery at MSU. I thought I can handle that I would have her a few days before surgery and a few days after to recoup, she is a medium size dog cream in color and she should get adopted. My job as a foster mom is to love, train, teach, guide her, and treat her as a member of this family. I need to keep her safe while I am at work. I need to expect to constantly watch her to avoid accidents and to watch for chewing on inappropriate items.
Things did not go as planned, she had a urinary tract infection so could not have surgery until running another coarse of antibiotics, when we finally got the all clear for surgery and got her scheduled, the laser surgery did not work. My options as a foster mom were bring her back to CAHS to be euthanized or I could pay for her to have another surgery done. CAHS does not have the extra money for such an expensive surgery, with no guarantees it will work. I thought long and hard, talked it over with my husband (who said it’s only money we can put it on our charge card and we will eventually get it paid for) and to the surgeons at MSU; I wanted odds for the surgeries as I just could not justify the money to not have high odds of a good outcome no matter what my heart was saying. Long story short Clover (my daughter named her) had a ureteroneocystostomy with a hydraulic urethral sphincter implanted at MSU the end of January and it still could be awhile before we know if everything went well. Not simple clear cut surgeries by any means. If the surgeries don’t work, she will be euthanized to be fair to her. Will I be heartbroken….yes, but I know in my heart I did what I could for her to give her the best chance possible. As I write this I have to say I have no regrets. I know Holly felt bad for asking me about fostering her but no one really knew the problem and all what it entailed. I don’t look at it as a bad experience, maybe a learning one. Just maybe Clover came my way for a reason. Clover makes me smile and laugh every day. Yes, she is a costly foster dog but my choice; I am the one who opted for surgery again to give her a chance at a normal healthy, happy, and loved life. Yes, at times very stressful going through everything with her. When she came here we started working on basic manners which at times she still forgets, she rides well in a car, does well for baths and nail trims, she gets along well with other dogs, she is intimated by children, food motivated, shares toys, does well in her kennel, takes medicine just fine, loves to play outside and now likes to have her teeth brushed every morning. She had fleas, roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, giardia, and a urinary tract infection. She was spayed at CAHS. With lots of love and of course medicine and good food, she looks and feels great and now weighs about thirty seven pounds. Hers was not a typical foster case. The doggie diapers alone cost almost twenty dollars for twelve which last between two and three days. She has worn diapers now for five months she keeps them on but can’t say she likes them. Her dog food (California Natural) is almost fifty dollars for a bag which lasts about a month. I strongly believe feed the best food you can afford as it does make a difference. With the surgeries, yes I have thousands into her. I look at it as my house is small and nothing fancy, my car old, I have never been on a vacation, it’s my choice to spend my money on what is most important to me.
I am not sure how all rescue groups, shelters, animal controls or humane societies handle their fostering programs but I do know they all could use some help. The length of time you have an animal depends on the reason why you have them. Some places that foster you can have a say as to who will adopt your foster animal, others you just return the animal back to them and they try to get them adopted. There are several reasons as to why animals get fostered. To give them a break from a shelter setting, medical reasons, overcrowded at the facility, to help work on issues they may be having. Fostering is a way to help an animal that really is in need. Being a foster mom is not all about you. It is about the animal. Yes, I have been a foster failure; that just means I have kept some of my foster dogs. I asked myself can I help this dog, can I make a difference in her life and as I watch Clover play with the other dogs and steal their ball in hopes they will chase her I laugh, it makes my heart happy to see her so happy. I also have to tell myself I cannot make a difference to all of them but to Clover I made all the difference. To know where she came from, her neglect, her medical problems and to see her silly antics and her personality it always amazes me to see how quickly they forgive and forget, how she truly enjoys the simple things in life, how she accepts change and gets on with her life, she lives and loves for today and she loves no matter what. I am thankful she came into my life and I feel I am a better human for it. She teaches me life lessons every day. I take it day by day with her and have high hopes all will work out for her. Only time will tell. Do you get attached when you foster….yes you do, is it difficult to give up a foster….yes very difficult. Every time I foster I think a piece of my heart goes with them. I keep telling myself there is another dog in need of a temporary home and some help. So, if you want to foster ask yourself do you have enough energy, love, patience and time. Can you handle it if something in your house gets destroyed as more often than not it will, even if you watch them closely. Dogs are fast, love to chew, and they have accidents. The pets you already have in your house are they ok with other animals? Can you afford the extra food and other items needed? I am a foster mom, my work is never done, my home is never quiet, my wallet is always empty but my heart is always full. It takes a special person to foster and be able to let them go, it is a much needed talent.
Clover our foster dog update…….
It has been almost three months since I wrote about Clover our foster dog and eight months since we brought her home so thought I would do a quick update.
The good news is Clover is no longer our foster dog, we adopted her.
As for her medical update, she continues to leak urine (not because of her ectopic ureter as that has been fixed but because of lack of control over her sphincter) she goes to MSU every two weeks and receives a urethral hydraulic sphincter injection. This coming week she will receive her seventh injection. They inject small increments of hetastarch to prevent complete obstruction. It has been a long and stressful road, we just continue to take it one day at a time and hope everything will work out for her.
Mike and Jyl