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“What is Fostering?”, from the Foster Parent Perspective

Meet Maria Huff, animal lover and foster parent extraordinaire. She is a foster for Pawmetto Lifeline and shares some of her thoughts and experiences to give an inside look at what fostering REALLY is.

1.    How do you describe your fostering work?
Rewarding!! I really look at it as saving a life. If I have room to spare, then why not? All he or she needs is a bed, food, and some tender loving care. I like to think of myself as that stepping stone to his or her furever home! There’s one (a home) for every dog or cat out there, they just need that chance to find it.

2.    How long have you been fostering?

I’ve been fostering for a little over 2 years now. However, technically less, since I actually took about 10 months off when I adopted Elijah. Elijah and his brother were our first set of foster puppies, but our fourth time fostering. Since he was still a puppy, I had to take time off until he was about a year old. Puppies are more susceptible to illnesses so we wanted to make sure his immune system was built up in order to handle the many foster dogs coming through our house. The minute we got the “Okay.” from our vet, we started fostering again!

3.    What is the scope of the tasks involved?
It’s really not hard at all! It takes very little extra time out of my day and since I already have two dogs, the foster falls right in line with our household routine, which is sometimes the best thing. Most of the time, these fosters need that structure and don’t forget training too! Five minutes a day for training can make all the difference in the world. Baths may be necessary too and trust me, not only will they look better but they’ll feel better too!

But I think the most important task of all is to provide the love, attention, and socialization that he or she may need. While I am the stepping stone to their furever home, being able to socialize him or her and begin their training (if needed) will most certainly help them become more adoptable. We don’t always know the background and what has happened to them. Their lives may have been turned upside down and they may have experienced a lot of stress so just a little bit of love can go a long way.

One thing I’d also like to mention in addition to the tasks involved is that if anyone is thinking of fostering and are concerned about costs, don’t be! Pawmetto Lifeline provides crates, leashes, and any medications needed, so it has taken very little personal resources for me to foster. However, I enjoy going the extra mile with providing on my own toys and treats to make their stay with me much more enjoyable!

4.    How long do you typically have a foster pet?
The typical time frame is about 2-3 weeks for me. However, we have had a foster or two for longer than 3 weeks due to their medical condition.

5.    What made you decide to become a foster home?
I was volunteering at Pawmetto Lifeline for a few weeks before I thought about it. I believe someone brought up the idea and I decided to apply to be a foster. Once they explained how it would work, I knew I could do it. It really didn’t take much and we had the extra room!

6.    Can you share some of your best fostering memories?
Oh my gosh, there are just so many! From loving on the scared little poodle from the puppy mill, to snuggling with the blue tick hound, to the many play sessions with all the puppies we fostered…it’s so hard to choose!  There are a couple that really stick out in my mind though.

After we began fostering again when the vet gave us the “OK”, we got a set of two of the cutest pups ever (minus Elijah, of course)! Their names were Cupid and Vixen. The names suited them, that’s for sure. When Cupid’s ears perked, it truly looked like her head was heart shaped! They were the best and the smartest pups we had. Elijah played with them daily and they just ate up all the attention. I remember one specific time when all three were in the yard and they would run after Elijah as fast as their little legs would take them. And Elijah would tease them with a stick, always looking back to be sure they were still following him. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. They returned to Pawmetto Lifeline to be spayed and enter the adoption area. Needless to say, they were adopted within in a week!

I’ve spent countless hours cuddling with several fosters as well; Marley the aussie mix, Petey the pit bull mix, and Stanley the black lab. These were older fosters and mostly they just wanted the love. Many times I would come home after work and they would just want to cuddle with me. Those are the best moments.

7.    Can you tell me about a specific foster animal that left an impression on you?
We had one foster that we nicknamed Wheezy. She was a (Pawmetto Lifeline) HEART Rescue Collaboration foster, rescued from the municipal shelter and set to be transported to  Florida. When we got her, she had pneumonia and was wheezing all the time so that’s how we came to call her Wheezy. We were provided her medication (by Pawmetto Lifeline) and for the first week or so, she seemed to be getting better until she hit a plateau. I took her for vet visits and x-rays (provided by Pawmetto Lifeline) and she was provided more medication to help clear up to the pneumonia still stuck in her chest. We also were asked to do “Coupage therapy” twice daily.  It wasn’t even a question of if we could do it, it was a question of how my boyfriend and I would coordinate our schedules to make sure she got it twice a day. There was never a question of whether or not we could continue fostering her either. We just did it. During the time that we fostered her, we saw her grow and come out of her shell. As she got better, her personality began to emerge. She was a completely different dog by the time she left us; playful and energetic! It was then that I realized how much of a difference we could make as fosters. I don’t even like to think of what the outcome for her would have been had she not been rescued and put in our foster home. What matters is that she made a 100% recovery and was able to be adopted. She’s the reason I continued fostering. I still think about her to this day.

8.    How does it make you feel when you find out one of your fosters has gone to a good home?
I swear that my heart literally smiles. I do inquire about my fosters after they have left me and when I hear that he or she has been adopted, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I feel like it’s a relief because I only wish for every rescue pet to find their own forever home. It’s hard to find the words to describe the happiness I feel because I don’t think the word “happiness” is good enough.

If you are interested in becoming a foster for Pawmetto Lifeline, please email Amber King at aking@pawmettolifeline.org!

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