I became an elementary teacher and thus began a long relationship with animals in my classroom.  Over those many years there were hamsters, fish, rabbits, rats, an occasional reptile of assorted varieties and eggs that hatched into fuzzy yellow chicks.   Sometimes we had a visiting calf, goat, turkey, lamb … even a horse.  Then there were the wonderful field trips to the dairy, the pig farms and the zoo.  So many children had little experience with animals.  These were the days when life-enriched experiences were a natural curriculum for every child.

On the home front there were the many cats and dogs over the years.  It seems like all of them had special needs or were found by my husband who just couldn’t turn away those special friends.   There was the one-eyed Scottie.  The wandering and fearful Whippet!  The sturdy lost puppy that eventually grew into his feet … and, by a sad accident, became our three-legged loyal friend who loved to backpack with us!  Changing bandages and giving medication was part of the job; but the long walks on a beautiful day brought so much pleasure.  There is so much joy in watching your dog swim in a creek or run with abandon through the waves at the beach.  Pets’ lives being shorter than ours, there were many tearful but courageous good-byes over the years.  Our pets blessed me with so much more than just a wet nose!

You could say that I’m pretty comfortable in my skin when it comes to animals.  So, the day I saw the photo of a little dog that needed special care at a booth in the park, I just stepped up and said, “I can take her.”  I’m so glad that I could help her heal physically and emotionally.  Day by day, my foster dog became confident and sure of herself.  She allowed her joyful personality to grow and shine.  I was privileged to see her become a silly, charming dog.  I knew she was becoming confident when she sought out my company and allowed me to hold her in my lap for long stretches of time stroking her soft, newly growing fur.  Day by day I knew she would be ready for her forever home where she could live out a safe and happy life with her new family.  I was passing on to her the love of all of the animals I had as part of my life.  I know she will pass it along to all who come to know her.

I have just given over my second foster to his forever home.  He is already bringing such delight to his new family.  Volunteering to be a foster for one animal at a time has a positive and enduring impact on you, your foster animal and the lives they will touch in the future.  Don’t hesitate to step up and say, “I can do that!”