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Journey of Love – a foster story

I have been a foster with Anthem Pets for about three years. My family is comprised of two pre-teen boys, husband and me. We also have two adult kids, a boy, and a girl, who live in the area and pop in frequently and help in pet sitting duties.

We lived in Anthem for about fifteen years and discovered Anthem Pets when our family dog went missing from the back yard. McGillicutty trotted away and found a friendly neighbor to hang out with. We had neglected to update his collar tags, and so here is where Anthem Pets came in.  The finder had reported the found dog and we called to report him missing, and the match was made. It was a tearful reunion. And the tags were promptly updated.

A few months later we found a stray cat. Again, we called Anthem Pets and after a few hours we found out the lost cat, in fact, belonged to our neighbor. Another happy reunion.

At that point, I was sold and had to reach out to help. Because I have a social media business, I asked to help in that capacity and started posting for Anthem Pets on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (BTW follow them). Then one day a call for a foster came out for a cat that had gone through a horrible ordeal and had been left in a box with two other cats to die. That cat was called Homie, and we fostered him. He was incredibly stinky and dehydrated, the vet warned us that he may die. He was too dehydrated to even get an IV in for fluids. Homie survived and we were hooked.

The tears of joy were worth it. Pet after pet we loved, fed took care of and then passed them over to their forever homes. Cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies. Love, and happiness as they came out of their shells, and then tears when they left us. New forever moms and dads would send pictures of their new pets in their homes. We still talk to some even years later. We loved every foster pet just as deeply as our own. They slept in our beds, we held them when they were sick, cleaned up after them and gave them all the space and time they needed to be the best possible pets.

We were so fortunate to have great kids who gave of their time to these lost and found pets without expectation of reward. Many times, they would cry with us. In addition to our wonderful kids, we won the lottery with our dogs. Our big dog, Ziggy, loved every kitten and puppy (pictured with Iggy). He would teach them to love, to play and to love life as he did. The dog who has never had a bad day.

We accepted litters of kittens, puppies and dogs and cats. We especially loved the kittens. Kittens would first be a bit scared and their best defense was looking at you with big eyes and dropping cute bombs. Then over a few weeks, they would be adorable and hilarious. Funny and clumsy. They would explore and miss the litter box, a lot. We loved every stinky, funny, cute kitten.

We took a small break to move from Anthem, then stepped up during kitten season. Our first foster litter after moving was just two sisters, then two more siblings, and then a single kitten. Then we got our very first bottle babies. I remember saying, “No bottle babies”. And then here we are. What could I do, leave them? Never.

I learned how to bottle feed, and all that goes with it. This was the Poo litter; Roo, Tigger and Rabbit. I had no idea how to tell a boy from a girl, so we just named them, fed them and loved them.  Rabbit didn’t move off the heating pad one morning about three weeks after we had him. I know there was something wrong. I held him and kept him on my chest. We called the vet and rushed him in. Little Rabbit died a few hours later. We were all devastated. Yes, I know we lose a lot of small kittens. I know that. I know bottle babies had a harder time. Yes, we knew the risks. Nothing, no logic prepares you for this grief. I second-guessed every feeding, bath, litter change. I wondered if I should have known sooner. How can this beautiful little boy have died on my watch?

After a few days, crying at random times. Comforting my boys, getting comfort and all the great fosters and Board at Anthem Pets assured me that this happens. I and my family recovered. We had a gaggle of kittens at different ages and different personalities. And then they all got ringworm. Fun. Not a big deal, we dealt with it. Medicated baths, ointment, and droppers of medicine. Then, they were all cleared up. WHEW! Now, these funny, beautiful, full of life kittens were ready to be adopted.

Out of all the little ladies, one stood out, her name was Roo. She is the white kitty pictured. She was a Siamese mix and so friggin’ funny. She was still on the bottle weeks after her siblings ate food. We teased her about her big ears wiggling when she drank her bottle. Her loud, instant cries for food, standing on your foot were unmistakable. When eating she would walk right up to your face and yell, “meeeeowwwww” without fear. Roo decided that she had to be the center of attention and the center of cuddles and love. She would walk right up to our big dog and plant herself in the curve of his belly for a nap. Where it was warm. Something started happening. I thought, “uh oh” this may be a foster failure. Roo may just be my next cat. Her stunning blue eyes, hilarious personality and funny talks won me over.

This is a risk. As a foster, you never know who will win your heart. After all, they pick us.

But, I resisted. We have 3 dogs already, I did not need a cat. And I said, NO, we will adopt Roo out. And before I could change my mind, I put her online and she received a ton of applications. A wonderful family adopted Roo. They were awesome, she could not have done better.

Roo was scheduled for her spay and microchip on a Friday and that night her new forever home family would pick her up. We were excited. We took our seven foster kitties to the vet for their surgery.

Roo died that day.

We still don’t know why, but after this simple surgery, Roo gave up her fight and passed from our lives. We were just shocked. I was devastated. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe. It made no sense. What happened? What did I do wrong? Why? Why Roo? Why this bright point of light in our lives? Why did she leave us? No. . . .No.

We managed to get ourselves together and go get the rest of our fosters. One went to their forever home from the vet appointment, and she is doing great.

I look at Roo’s sister, the beautiful Tigger, and I cry.

I find a picture or video of Roo, and I cry again.

Logically, I know this happens. I know. But nothing heals the hurt. Calling the new forever family and telling them the news was one of the hardest things I have done. Telling my sons that our funny, loud spunky beautiful Roo was gone. . .that was horrible.

We have all lost pets. It is never easy.

So why share this? Because, contrary to what you may think, I want you to read this and make the life-changing decision to foster. Make the decision to love and get love, then let go. Make the decision to show your family how to give without recompense. Give with all your heart, don’t hold back. Love those animals, show them how to love and then let them go. Cry. Hurt. And keep loving.

There is nothing you can do for animals that will change your life like fostering will. I would not exchange a single tear, one moment of heartbreak, one night thinking of those precious pets I can no longer hold.  I know that from the moment I hand them over to their forever homes, their forever family THEIR lives are changed for the better. And that is what it means to be a foster.

For every Roo and Rabbit and other pets we will lose there are hundreds of lives changed for the better.

Become a foster. Laugh and cry. Feel love and loss. Hug close and give away.

Thank you Roo.

-Lori Moriarty

(a few of our fosters pictured)

          

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