Last week, my wife and I were spending a most relaxing evening after supper on our screened-in-porch. The temperature outside was pleasant, as a cool front had just passed the previous day. On this occasion, we were joined by my son’s 11-month-old female boxer, “Macey.” She was going through her first heat cycle and my son planned a breeding next cycle, so “Macey” was under our watchful eyes. There would be no walks on the wild side for her if we could help it and no illegitimate offspring by some passing traveling (canine) salesman. Our son was where most teenagers were on a summer’s eve, out milling around with his buddies and there we were at home with the dog.
As I peered into Macey’s big brown eyes I was reminded of my many clients whose lives were interrupted, so to speak, by a child’s pet care. I mentioned this to my better-half, “You know honey, we’ve become foster parents now. Wonder how long the affair will last?” Our son had become unemployed and we had offered to put him up in his old room, as long as he could follow the old rules of the house. Macey came along, as always, for the ride. Besides, Lea and I thoroughly enjoyed this bouncy, drop-dead-cute, anyone-would-love, boxer dog. Now we are a three dog household again.
I decided to bring up the subject of fostering pets for a two-fold reason. Over the years in my practice of veterinary medicine, I have met many parents of college students who come home for summer break with a dog or cat they befriended while away at school. When the kids are ready to go back in the fall (now), invariably something occurs and moms and dads are left caring for the pet. This is a, sometimes begrudgingly, duty I hear about when I see these folks in the office. Many times, these dear pets become residents of the home for the rest of their lives.
To you parents in this position I say, please do not abandon these pets to the shelters. Currently our shelters are bearing a great burden of the lost, stray and wayside waifs, as these are full to the brim. Hopefully, your children will return to claim their pets in time and/or find appropriate accommodations for them.
The second reason for my ambling on about fostering pets comes truly from a dire need not to over crowd shelters but also because purebred groups have formed to find temporary homes for purebred dogs and cats rescued from raids on puppy mills. Recently, I had a women drop by who fostered greyhound dogs who were retired from the track. These dogs may face euthanasia at a young age but if placed in a foster home live a normal purposeful life with (maybe) you. Many purebred breed clubs have Web sites with lists of available animals for fostering. This can be a rewarding experience while waiting for a permanent home for a pet.
Both Lea and I would have to admit, Macey has truly gotten under our skin. We have seen her grow up from a puppy and even went to help our son puck her out from the start.
There are times when we get upset at her like all our pets. On a recent night while standing outside in our front yard enjoying yet another beautiful Kansas sunset, our other son came out to go for a jog. While we were preoccupied, Macey decided to race off and join Joel on his run, even though he was already a half a mile away. Macey got her chain jerked and was put promptly put in jail for the night as a punishment. (I let my wife take care of that. As I sat there looking at the humorous side of her diabolical escape.)
Foster parents? For the moment, full-time pet owners/caretakers, we may be. But, I think both my wife and I have hopelessly fallen for little miss Macey by now.
Whatever our son does in the future, Macey will always have two foster parents in reserve.