Nine years ago we adopted two dogs from the Humane Society, Annie and Jessie. Every day since then we have showered them with love and cherished them with every fiber of our being.
I will never forget that Wednesday morning after the fire when I heard the tragic news. I left work and rushed to the site to see if there were any immediate fostering needs. I had never fostered a pet before but wanted to do as much as I could to help.
At the time all of the animals had been placed into foster care. So instead of reaching out to the animals, I reached out to the people who had dedicated their lives to saving them, the shelter staff. I gave hugs, and I cried, and I prayed with them.
When I got back to work I smelled of smoke and I couldn’t or didn’t want to shake it off. I felt compelled to do something, to reach out more. That Friday, my company, Old Dominion Freight Line, sponsored lunch for the staff and volunteers who were tirelessly working with foster parents, placing animals into foster care, continuing to make sure animals’ needs were met, and accepting donations, love, and prayer.
While sitting and comforting the staff a man drove up with a crate filled with two little puppies. I was shocked to see that there were still animals being dropped off in light of the tragedy. The staff had a list of fosters to call and plea for help; however, something within me said this was my chance to make a difference. So, before I left I was approved to be a foster and was the proud foster mom to the two 12-week-old puppies in the crate, Jenny and Sasha.
Jenny and Sasha acclimated immediately to their new home. Each time I would pick them up they would melt into my arms. They were generous with their puppy kisses and fell in love with cuddling on the couch. In no time they had melted into my family’s hearts. I was trying so hard to be a “good” foster mom. I took Jenny and Sasha to HSSET events, I interviewed potential adopters, taking them for walks and car rides, and showing them off. We also brought them to our lake house, taught them how to swim, we potty-trained them and taught them good manners towards other dogs and people. Fostering, I thought, was the greatest gift from God — to be able to provide a safe haven for Jenny and Sasha until the right parents came along.
One day, my sister and her husband came to visit. They took to Sasha and her playful personality, instantly falling in love with her. And then, they made Sasha a permanent part of their family through adoption! She is now known as Breezy. I was over the moon excited for Sasha, but slightly heart broken for Jenny.
Jenny had a different personality than her sister; we referred to it as grumpy. Some would even say that she didn’t have her sister’s good looks or charm. But, in my eyes she was special. We continued to talk with potential adopters but something did not feel right. One day I came home from work and there Jenny was, her little head poking up over the couch waiting for me to come home…her home. I could not stop thinking about the impact Jenny had had on our family – she had become our life. All three of our schedules – my husband’s, my daughter’s, and mine – revolved around our Jenny. She had brought our family closer than we had ever been. My daughter and I had hourly “Jen Jen” reports. She had stolen our hearts. She had truly become the part of our lives we didn’t know we needed.
Needless to say, I became a “foster failure” and Jenny became a forever member of our family. Jenny changed our lives, as did the whole fostering experience. To this day, Jenny and Breezy continuously see each other and pick up as if they have never been apart. Jenny enjoys swimming, playing in mud, napping on the couch, and of course playing with her fur-sisters. She is the light of our lives.
Fostering is an experience like no other. Knowing that you truly have given these babies a second chance at life is both humbling and rewarding. Sometimes I think, “What would have happened to them if I had not been there, if HSSET had not been there to help them. Would they be hungry somewhere, cold or stuck out in the rain? Would they still be alive?” I hope I can foster again and again. That is my goal because everyone deserves to have a second chance. Everyone deserves to have a Jenny and a Breezy in their lives, in their hearts.