The Fulfillment of Fostering
by Danielle Cookish
Jackie Fanning and Teresa Wright with former foster animals
In a typical year, one in four animals that come to Dakin will need foster care before becoming adopted. They go into foster for several reasons; medical, behavioral, or because space is very tight at our shelter. In each case, a loving home environment is ideal for these pets, and fostering often becomes an experience as transformative for the foster person as the animal.
Jackie Fanning fosters several types of Dakin pets, including sick kittens, and people frequently ask how she can take pets in, nurture them, then give them back. “Yes, I do get attached,” she said. “And at times I cry when those extra special ones go. There are always favorites who touch my heart a little deeper than imaginable.”
After having fostered a few Dakin cats, Teresa Wright and her wife, Nancy were asked to foster a rabbit, a first for them. The pair were surprised to find themselves totally charmed by their new friend, and have become avid rabbit fosters.
While most of the animals in Jackie’s care thrive and go on to bright futures, some of her charges have been very delicate. “One of the most touching experiences for me was fostering a litter of 3 ½ week-old kittens,” she recalled. “They were very weak, and two didn’t pull through. I was committed to fight alongside the remaining girls. I visited them on my lunch break to warm them with heating discs and fleece blankets.” The survivors, now healthy, full-grown cats, have a loving adopter who occasionally sends Jackie photos of the girls.
“Fostering isn’t always just snuggling and playing with adorable pets all day,” Jackie noted. “In some cases, it’s also providing daily care, medications, driving to and from Dakin vet appointments, monitoring their food intake, weight, activity, and more.”
Teresa and Nancy find their foster rabbits endlessly interesting. They have a variety of personalities; from shy to super-confident. “They’re each a part of our family, and we didn’t realize how friendly rabbits are,” Nancy said. “They will come greet you at the door and they enjoy your company.”
Dakin’s foster care program supports one of our basic values; keeping people and pets together. The part the foster plays in that animal’s journey is invaluable.
“Goodbye is the goal. That motto has been instilled in my brain from the get-go,” stated Jackie. “Animals have so much love and comfort to bring that I must allow them to go be with someone else who needs them when their foster time is over. I see how the power of love helps transform lives; taking them from being sickly to being healthy, happy, active kittens. It’s the absolute best feeling and gives me purpose.”
Teresa is fulfilled by the “sweetness” of a rabbit’s spirit. “When you’re petting them and you see their body melt, you can feel their trust. They also literally flop on their side when they’re contented.”
Dakin is currently seeking foster caregivers for a variety of animals, but especially sick kittens, some of whom may need fluid injections under their skin and daily weigh-ins. We’re happy to train any interested people to use needles to provide the fluids. Fosters are also needed for small (non-cat and non-dog) animals.
“Fostering isn’t easy, but it sure as heck is the best thing I have ever decided to try out,” said Jackie. “I cannot count how many times it has brought me to tears, but I can certainly say the smiles, laughs, great memories, and ‘graduation ceremonies’ when they go home greatly outweigh those tears.”
If you’d like to join a very special group of people who can open their homes and hearts to animals in need of a cozy, loving setting, please click here.