As if you didn’t see this guest post coming from my friend Sarah as she cares for her first foster! She’s sarcastic, funny and a great writer, so I left the topic up to her. Check out what she’s got to say.
Hi all! Sarah, foster mother of Jack, stepping in for a guest blog. As Juliana has mentioned before, not only is this my first time fostering, it’s my first time taking care of a dog period. I grew up in a household obsessed with our cats; they were given complete lay of the land as we watched their little personalities with amusement. I’ve always loved any and all animals (I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with pigs, goats, monkeys, sloths and most of all, sea otters), but specifically have always envisioned myself with both cats and dogs when I moved out of home.
The decision to foster didn’t take much time or hemming and hawing. I knew I wasn’t quite settled enough in my life to adopt a dog and make that 15-year commitment, but I was settled enough to provide a loving temporary home for a little furball who needed it. I live in a clean, big apartment in the very dog-friendly area of Arlington, VA. My apartment building has multiple dog parks around it and even in our lobby there is a bowl of mints for humans and a bowl of dog treats next to it. I work as a journalist, which affords me a reasonably
flexible schedule, including working at home occasionally. With my schedule, living conditions and desire to take care of a little one, fostering was a no-brainer.
My experience with Jack has been interesting so far. I joked with Juliana the other day that fostering has taught me a lot I can apply to my dating life, but it’s surprisingly true. Being single-ish in a big city like Washington DC, you experience a lot and meet many
people. Here are some of the biggest dating/relationship tips fostering has taught me:
Actions don’t always reflect feelings
I fell in love with the little Jack Rabbit the minute I saw him. He’s such a handsome and sweet little guy, it’s impossible not to. It took a few hours for him to warm up to me, but once he did, I was his. He follows on my heels when I walk into another room and will happily jump up and curl his little body next to mine when I sit and watch hours of Law & Order:SVU…errr.. I mean when I’m researching political trends throughout history for my upcoming book.
However, if I had my druthers, I’d want him to be a snuggle monster 24/7 and that just isn’t the case. He likes to have his time to gnaw on his antler or repeatedly break the imaginary neck of his elephant. No matter how much I cajole, sometimes he just isn’t in the mood for the whole cozy thing. In similar situation with human males, I’ve been known to over-analyze, worrying that even though they seemed to like me the day before, this one instance clearly shows their feelings have changed. However, with Jack, I know he still adores me, he just wants his alone time.
Love really does mean letting go if it’s in their best interest
I think the most difficult part of fostering is inherent: you will eventually have to let them go. I came into this knowing that part of the fostermom description, but specifically it’s taught me that, like in relationships, you should cherish every moment with that other half. You never know when it will eventually come to its natural end, and when that time comes, instead of wallowing in the feeling of loss, it’s better to focus on the fact that it’s for their own good.
You all said it well in your tips you wrote on PL&F’s facebook page. There is an incredible amount of patience needed to take care of and love another living thing. Jack may be wonderful most of the time, but he doesn’t always do what I want him too, nor can I expect him to. I’m not a morning person (not as in I dislike getting up at 7, more along the lines of anytime before noon gets me extremely hostile), however for Jack’s well-being, I need to take him out much earlier than my normal wake up time.
Also being a dog, he doesn’t have as much control over situations, or his body. Can I get upset with him if he pees on my carpet because he’s nervous? Forgiveness is key when paired with patience. I can instruct him to not do so in the future and provide incentive and praise when he uses the bathroom outside, but I can’t get angry. This carries over to dating too. If a guy is wonderful most of the time and screws up once due to things out of his control, there’s no point in getting upset. Even the most wonderful guy, human or furry, sometimes pukes on your carpet, and love is what makes you clean it up at 4 am.