The following article is a guest post from my good friend and granola extraordinaire, Ilene Evans. It was originally published on May 3, 2013. Her recent post about helping your neighbor, even if it’s not the easy thing, inspired me to share her past words today.
We stood on the grass as the van made its way over the gravel driveway. As it came to a stop, E. emerged with a brown cocker spaniel in her arms.
“This one’s yours!” she said as she handed the dog to me. “Isn’t he a beauty?”
The kids gathered around me as we said hello to our first foster dog Brock.
That was a year ago.
We’ve fostered fourteen dogs since.
For those of you unfamiliar with the role of dog foster parents, we are the bridge between the shelter and the permanent home for a dog, most of them narrowly escaping being euthanized at high kill facilities. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”), approximately 3 million to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters annually. This number translates to 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats entering shelters are “put down,” and never have the chance to find a home or return to the home they strayed from.
Animal rescue organizations around the country work with extensive networks of shelter workers, rescue drivers and rescue pilots to release dogs from shelters and transport them to families who are willing to care for them until they find permanent homes.
In my house, rescuing dogs is a family affair. Not only are my three children involved with the care of our foster dogs, they are also acutely aware that every time we take a dog, we are saving a life. Is it difficult to say goodbye to the dogs when they find their permanent homes? Absolutely. It’s not unusual for there to be tears on adoption day. We love these dogs. As a foster family, that’s part of our job.
I’ve had many people ask me questions such as these.
“Won’t the kids be sad when the dog is adopted?”
Of course the kids will be sad.
Some people have gone as far as to say this:
“How can you let your kids get attached to these dogs only to have them leave you?”
When we love something, we tend to want it to stay around forever, but nothing is forever. That’s not how life works. We will all have many goodbyes in our lifetime, and the farewell to our foster dogs is bittersweet. It’s that good kind of hurt, of knowing that our dog is moving on to an owner who will love that dog the way we did, creating room in our home to save yet another life.
With every goodbye, comes another hello.
With every goodbye, we give another shelter dog a second chance.
For more information on becoming a foster parent to shelter dogs, contact your local ASPCA.
Ilene Evans is a single mom, entrepreneur and owner of Hippie Chick Granola Co, a small batch granola co. that serves up delicious, fun, surprising flavors.
Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.