Guest Post - Me and This Army
My friend Marianne Fraser was kind enough to write this post for me about her experience fostering. I met Marianne after volunteering to take photos of some of Red Collar Rescue’s dogs at their adoption events. My first experience doing these events was eye opening. It was a hot day and we would walk each dog to a grassy area, let them take care of their business, and attempt to get nice pictures to be used for online profiles and social media posts. By the end of the event, I was exhausted, hot and sweaty and completely drained (getting pictures of dogs is quite a workout), but in love with every dog I met and hoping they all found wonderful homes. Marianne did that twice a month for over three years. In addition, she has fostered 22 dogs, ensuring they have the tools they need to live happily in forever homes (with only 2 foster fails) and maintains Red Collar’s various social media outlets. I’m tired just thinking about it!
Working in rescue can be thankless and overwhelming at times. The problem is mind boggling and sad, but it can also be the most noble thing you do with your time. To see scared, abandoned and abused animals blossom under the care and love fosters give them, is an incredible privilege and to be any small part of that is proof that there is good in the world. Enjoy Marianne’s post. I hope it inspires at least a few of you to give it a try and see what part you can play. Marianne's current foster is Elroy, check him out on her Instagram page.
When I brought my first foster dog home, I pretty much knew what I was getting into in terms of having one more dog in my home (I had two, she made three), but I had no idea what else I would learn along the way. I knew I wanted to foster, and I knew I wanted it to be for Red Collar Rescue (in Houston, TX - because of the great experience my then boyfriend had adopting his dog), and I knew I wanted it to be Novella. Something about her just called to me. I didn’t even know her whole story, but I knew she had been waiting in boarding for a while. I later learned she had been part of a cruelty case, and had been confiscated from her prior owner. She had been tied up to a porch and neglected (and surely not treated very nice). She was half the weight that she should have been.
Prior to beginning this journey that started with Novella, I really had no idea about what rescues and shelters were dealing with, or the magnitude of the stray/homeless dog problem in Houston. And I had no idea about these people who were out there putting their whole hearts into trying to do something to help. I mean, I knew there were rescues, but hadn’t really thought much further than that. When you see how many would-be pets are abandoned, neglected, never loved, or even cruelly tortured, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and outnumbered. When you see people lined up at shelters before they are even open to give up on their dogs, it’s disheartening. (And if you look into the faces of those dogs after they are left, it will rip your heart out.) It seems there are more bad guys than good guys. But, I was struck by how many people took part in saying “No, you don’t win” to the horrible person who had mistreated Novella. This one pathetic, skinny, brown, mutt kind of a dog that an army of people helped in some way.
To her prior owner, the Police Officer and Animal Control officer said “No”.
Me and this Army… we said “No, you don’t win. Not this time.”
I can honestly say that getting involved in fostering and volunteering is the best thing I’ve done. I’ve met some pretty amazing people. People who bust their asses day in and day out saving dogs (and cats) – all while keeping up with their “paying” jobs. It’s not for the money (there is none) and it’s not for the glory (there is none)… but just to make a difference in at least some precious little lives. I’ve met people who I consider friends that I would not have otherwise known. I’ve also seen, but will never understand, what the worst side of humanity inflicts upon animals. I’ve seen the aftermath, and I’ve witnessed some recover from it and go on to find happy lives, and some who did not. I’ve laughed, cried happy tears, been pissed off and disappointed (in people), felt helpless, felt empowered, and bawled my eyes out until no tears were left. Sometimes all in one day! But it’s the good parts, and the difference that I can personally make, that I carry with me.
Those who truly understand the enormity of the problems will tell you “We can’t adopt our way out of this”. There just aren’t enough homes for the number of homeless dogs. The battle needs to be fought on many fronts… neuter/spay, education, legislation, even transporting out to states without such a massive stray issue. But, they also know that doing nothing is not an option either.
Intrigued? Good, because so many rescues and shelters need YOU! Don’t be intimidated by the superheroes who seem to have more hours in a day than anyone else. They really can’t do it all and need help. Just do what you can. Be realistic, and most of all, carry through! Know that if you are a person with an innate fear of dog hair touching your white carpet, then fostering may not be your thing. AND THAT IS OK! There are plenty of other things you can do. Rescues need money. They need people to show up to adoption events to help walk dogs. They need help getting dogs transported from the shelter, and to and from events. They need people who can help get crates to events and set them up/take them down after. They need good pictures taken, and bios written that will catch a potential adopter’s attention. They need people to get the word out that there are some really great dogs just waiting for families. They need people to adopt their pets. And they need money (yes, I know I said that twice).
If you are moved to do so, then GET INVOLVED! Be a part of this army. Find your superpower. Contact a rescue (or shelter) and see what they need. Get to doing it, and keep at it. You won’t regret it.
(In case you’re wondering what became of Novella, she is sitting beside me on the couch right now as I write this. After a year of fostering, I finally made her an official part of my little family. She has found her superpower, and has been an amazing big sister to 20 other fosters who have come through my house and gone on to awesome families. Her specialty is getting the shy ones to play… teaching them to “dog”. Once unwanted and unloved, she is now loved to the moon and back, and in her own way is making a difference every day! I love her so much!)
Love and dog kisses!
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