Every animal I’ve had through the years has found me in some way. From the dog I rescued off of the street to the black and white cat I found sitting on my desk with her babies in tow, each of the animals that shared my home has added such joy, love and laughter to my family. However, they were never the pet I had envisioned for myself.
I have always been attracted to floppy-eared, mix breed dogs that look at you with soulful eyes. So when a feisty, bug-eyed French bulldog needed foster care, I jumped at the chance to help. Lola, as she was ultimately named, was skin and bones and had pneumonia when she came into the shelter. She needed my help, so I let go of my desire for a Scooby Doo-like dog and Lola was by my side for 15 years.
My quest for the perfect orange tabby went out the window when the calico kitty, ultimately named Carmen, needed a foster home to help her gain weight. She stayed for 18 years. Or, the black kitty that needed shots for diabetes and was supposed to be with me for a few days and ended up my companion for 15 wonderful years.
The hamster instead of the guinea pig, the gold fish that I took from a friend when they were moving, the desert tortoise whose shell was cut with a scissor by a group of kids and was unable to be released, the list of animals that found me goes on and on.
If these weren’t my ideal pets, why didn’t I just hold out? Well, each of these animals had something in common. They all needed someone to care for and protect them. I first became their temporary foster parent, but I saw past the color of their fur or the floppiness of their ears. During their time of healing, I began to love them for what made them unique. Looks did not matter anymore, as I realized that caring for another living thing was most important.
Being a foster parent means that you care for animals in need for a short amount of time. When they are healthy, the pets are returned to the shelter and placed up for adoption. It’s a great volunteer job for someone who wants to experience having a pet, but cannot commit to one long term. It’s a perfect way for a family to volunteer together and know that they are saving an animal’s life. It’s also a great way to try out a pet and see if you are ready for the commitment.
Some might call me a foster failure as most animals I foster end up staying. So I was a bit nervous when I agreed to foster three kittens recently. “This time will be fine. There is no way I can adopt three cats,” I told myself. My 18-year-old cat Carmen passed away a month ago and I was once again holding out for that cat of my dreams. “I don’t want a kitten, so this would be perfect,” I thought.
Larry, Mo and Curly, a trio of eight-week-old tabbies came home and quickly melted my heart. My job during the two weeks was to make sure they gained enough weight so they could be neutered. Two weeks later they were healthy and ready to go back. As I pulled into the clinic parking lot, I felt a pit in my stomach as I didn’t want to return any of them. I started to justify a possible adoption. Maybe I will take one or two. Could I do three? Luckily, there was a wonderful family waiting at the shelter for two beautiful kitties to call their own. They swooped up Larry and Mo, leaving Curly without a home. So, yes, after he was neutered, I adopted him, once again becoming a foster failure. But, hey, he is orange so at least I got part of what I always wanted.
You can become a foster parent by attending a volunteer orientation or consider finding the pet of your dreams by visiting pasadenahumane.org. The Pasadena Humane Society is hosting a free adoption day on June 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. sponsored by Carol Kirby. The fees for all animals may be waived that day, but the adoption still includes age appropriate vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, a free medical assessment and more. All adoption policies apply.