Five no-no rules for fostering animals
Rule 1. Your husband threatens to leave you – don’t blame the kids
Your husband, one-quarter of a decision tree, never had pets growing up; he likes a clean house. But you grew up with birds, dogs, turtles, anything you could rescue and adopt because your mom, like you, had no boundaries. He said he’d leave you when you brought home the dog, then when you got a rabbit, and again when you got the second rabbit.
So, when the kids got into animal foster care, frankly, he looked relieved. At least after two weeks the animals go back to the shelter.
Last Christmas, the son campaigned to foster puppies, promised to “take care of everything.”
You told Kate, the foster program coordinator, you’d pick up two 8-week-old puppies.
You got to the animal shelter and found it’d just acquired over 200 animals from a humane investigation case: cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens, pigs, guinea pigs, pigeons. Now the kids wanted dogs, rabbits, pigeons.
You reminded them that Dad will leave them if they don’t stick to the original plan. But that was before you – by sheer coincidence (you swear) – saw the rabbits.
You left the shelter with two pit-bull puppies and six baby bunnies.
Rule 2. Can’t rush love
Puppies just weaned from a young mother. You kangaroo-parent, but they cower from you. The next day, chasing her smaller sister, who can hairpin-turn, the bigger puppy rams into a fence. She runs to you for comfort. You’re surprised. You pet her, and when she doesn’t run away, you scoop her up and hug her. The whimpering stops; she sniffs your coffee breath.
The smaller one, sitting just beyond arm’s reach, won’t get close. Patience.
Rule 3. No group nap
Puppies, like babies, sleep a lot.
But don’t sleep with them. They paw your hair, lick your ears and finally one tucks her head under your armpit while the other wraps herself around your chin. You and puppies sleep, heartbeats and snoring all out of sync in a tangled mess of fleece, blankets and pillows – everybody gets too comfortable. No, never bend to the temptation.
When they leave, that’s the worst part.
Rule 4. No nicknames
You start nicknames; you start dreaming of a life with them. What if you adopt this one and that one and your husband starts saying things like he never signed up for a program that includes three dogs and eight rabbits.
In a dignified, injured tone, blame the kids.
Rule 5. Saying goodbye
Two weeks later, back at the APL – waiting. Puppies between your knees, you’re slumped in the chair like a deflated funhouse. Not only did you cry all the way here but will, in all probability, cry all the way back. You’re a sap.
No, you cannot do this again.
Kate takes the puppies, muses how big and playful they are. She thinks they’ll be adopted in a day or two.
“Thank you,” she says.
Yup, you’ll do this again, definitely. Preferably with a husband.