Story and Photos by Sean-Patrick M. Hillman, Chairman & Co-Founder of Rock & Rawhide
It is that time of year…when the masses descend upon animal shelters and adoption events across the country in search of their new furrever friend. On a normal spring day, animal shelters across the region look forward to thousands of families coming through their doors whilst rescues spend their time traveling from adoption location and event to event in the hopes of finding homes for their populations. However, 2020 has presented anything but the norm, to say the very least.
It is ironic, and fortuitous, that many shelters and rescues were focused on promoting the notion of fostering just prior to the pandemic. Because of that hard work that had already been put in, shelters and rescues across the region experienced record-breaking inquiries about fostering and adopting at the very beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine orders. Today, much of the populations from these organizations are living in temporary homes…which we all hope will become permanent ones.
The importance of fostering cannot be overlooked. Kylie and myself, about two years after starting Rock & Rawhide, fostered a little pit-lab mix we called Rolo (our first dog is called Snickers who was adopted from the ASPCA). He was a four-month-old puppy that the NYPD rescued from a fight ring in the Bronx. As we were unsure if he and Snickers would get along, we opted to foster him to see how things worked out. Needless to say, we became foster-failures within milliseconds of cuddling this adorable little stinker…and Snickers began to mother Rolo almost immediately. That cemented the deal for us. Granted, years later we look at the two of them and laugh about all of the missteps we took (yes, even seasoned dog parents make mistakes!) including this picture of Rolo having eaten our couch. You’ll notice the dog bowl on the couch as an extra taunt because we were just about 30 minutes late in getting home to walk them. Ironically, Snickers had also eaten a couch years earlier, much for the same reason. Yet we still, to this day, could not imagine our lives without these two incredibly loving furrever ones!
My point in telling you Rolo’s story is to give you a better understanding as to why you might want to foster. It frees up space at a rescue or shelter for another animal to find a loving and responsible home. This is incredibly important as we head into a heavy birthing season for kittens and puppies when resources are strained at animal organizations across the country. While fostering has never gained true mass acceptance such as adoption has, the tide is beginning to turn, so to speak. If you could “test drive” a pet for you and your family, wouldn’t you want that opportunity? But bear one thing in mind…often fostering means that you cannot return the animal at any time for any reason. It means that you have a responsibility to that animal until the rescue or shelter can find a replacement foster home or an adopter. It is a small price to pay to save the life of a beautiful furrever one.