“Think of it as a decompression chamber between lives.”

One thing we old ladies can volunteer for is fostering for animal rescue groups.

(It’s not only dogs that require fostering. There are rescue groups for cats and other critters as well.)

Many families had at least one dog (or kitty). If we had good luck with these critters, meaning we treated them like family and took them to training classes and regular veterinary appointments, we could offer our services to a dog-rescue group for fostering.

NOTE: Foster homes are not the easiest for rescue groups to find so we must control ourselves and relinquish the wee adorable darlings when the time comes to surrender them to their forever homes. We must be strong. Another foster will come along.

Besides, we are now elderly.* What happens if we decide to keep this critter and we suddenly end up in long-term care? What happens to the critter? Off it goes to a foster home until a forever home comes along? The exact same reason, in some cases, we would be fostering this wee dolly in the first place?

When my kitty crossed the rainbow bridge a few years ago, friends were astonished that I didn’t try to replace him. Not that he could be replaced, Bixby was unique.

Here he is as Mieuw Heffner.

And here he is audition-posing in case somebody starts up a Playkitty Magazine.

Yes. Bixby was a ham, among other things. When I was showing and breeding Rottweilers in another life, he was my good-cop puppy trainer. (His Auntie Zest was bad cop.†) Bixby came from a show-cat home, so I think that’s why he liked dressing up and getting his picture taken. He was used to being handled and used to the limelight. I missed him like crazy, but…

My thinking was that if a “replacement” kitty lived for sixteen years as Bixby had done, that would put me very close to 90 by then. What if the “replacement” kitty lived until it was twenty? Twenty-one? Twenty-two? Would I still be alive? My sight is going, my hearing is going. Could I care properly for a by-then-aging-too kitty? Nope. It wouldn’t be fair to bring a new kitty into my life permanently.

Fostering is a noble act of love.

What’s Involved in Fostering?

How does this blog writer know about animal-rescue groups and fostering in the first place? I do volunteer administrative work for a local dog rescue group, and have done so for years.

A friend of mine fosters for another Ottawa area dog-rescue group.

To foster, we need to have sufficient knowledge and experience with said species. Many of these animals come from horrendous conditions and need compassionate, experienced, patient, knowledgeable people to help them transition from Hell to new home.

(When I say “horrendous conditions,” I will only tell you that I worked for an emergency veterinary hospital as a receptionist for four years in the early 1990s. I tell people, now, that I saw things there that I would not put into the head of my worst enemy. So don’t ask.)

Foster parents need the ability to evaluate the critters in their care to help the rescue group decide the kind of forever home it would be best suited for. Would this particular dog get along with other dogs, with cats, with children? What age could children be or not be? Same thing for cats.

The group I volunteer for provides food, veterinary care, toys, collars and leashes and beds and anything else a foster dog requires. All that would be required from you is your kindness and expertise.

Perhaps we’re in a situation where we would like to do something to help out critter-rescue groups but for whatever reason, we aren’t able to house one to foster it. (I’m in that situation.) Or perhaps our experience/knowledge is not vast enough for the rescue group to allow one of their charges to be fostered by us. (Yet?)

If we have a vehicle, we can do something else wonderful. We can offer to drive a rescued animal from one location to another.

These “drives” work on a “relay system” and are an amazing way to get an animal from point A to point Z without any individual driver spending more than perhaps an hour or two (including their trip back home), but the animal ends up being transported for perhaps hundreds of miles.

I sat shotgun when a friend did this several years ago. It feels good. Really good. Those who are less experienced with animal behavior might consider riding shotgun until they learn more.

NOTE: Be sure to do background research before you jump into contacting a local rescue group, though. Most are well-intentioned. Most. Almost all of them, in fact. Find someone who does volunteer work for each of the groups in your area, approach them and ask for their opinion of the other groups. Ask several. Then decide for yourself.

This week’s tip: Offer to help out animal rescue-groups.

Until next time.

*REMINDER: This blog is geared toward pre-Baby-Boomer gals. That is, “girls” born before 1946.

†I remember one particular “recess” for one of my litters when everybody was running around in the living room, raising hell (essentially learning how to go potty on the paper). Bixby was right in the middle of it all. Not so his Auntie Zest. Zest had disappeared into the kitchen. I noticed that one by one, the puppies seemed to go into the kitchen and go out of sight there. Within seconds, I would hear a yike, then the puppy would run full tilt back to his buddies, probably yelling, “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! I’m never going anywhere NEAR that thing again!”

Illustrations from https://www.needpix.com/

Photos by Sherrill Wark