Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, mother figures, pet moms and foster pet moms out there!
Mothering a human or an animal (or both!) is no easy feat, but moms are always there for those who need them most. This Mother’s Day, we wanted to hear from one of our foster moms, Shannon Von Eiff, about her “why.” Read more below about Shannon’s selfless acts #ForTheAnimals.
Foster – a small but powerful word. A word frequently used in the rescue community on a daily basis, but one that holds the key to life changing, and many times, lifesaving events. How amazing that one person, with the simple act of saying “yes,” can permanently alter the trajectory of a life, especially in an area where the animal overpopulation crisis seems overwhelming.
Fostering has changed me. It has become my passion and has been incorporated into every aspect of my life over the past decade.
When I felt powerless knowing animals were needlessly suffering or being euthanized, fostering gave me a specific, immediate action to affect change. But there are unexpected collateral benefits to fostering, besides the obvious goal of offering a safe haven to a creature in need.
I must admit, I acutely acknowledged the negatives that would surely come with taking in repeated fosters. The mess, the inconvenience, how my personal pets would be impacted by having to share their space and their people, how my children would be affected by having to say goodbye to beloved pets over and over again, the fear and worry about their health, how learning new habits and personality traits might become exhausting, how many names can a person reasonably come up within a year and what will the neighbors think? That I change out dogs every few weeks? That I just can’t commit? That I think kittens are a necessary part of bathroom décor and toilet paper needs to be locked up and protected? Would I lose friends over my canceled lunch dates when my tiny kittens needed to be syringe fed or I had to make an emergency run to the shelter to pick up a dog in need? How much of myself can I really give?
Here is what really happened – my dogs (and even my cats) although occasionally annoyed, embraced their new friends. They took on roles as playmates, mother figures, comforters, teachers and role models. I never knew all that my own crew was capable of and was pleasantly surprised by what they received – friendship, wrestle buddies, cuddle friends … it’s like summer camp with new bunkmates every few weeks.
I watched my children learn hard lessons and experience intense joy. I cried with them when the favorites left (there are always favorites) and we cheered together when we had room to welcome someone new. They learned the value of sacrifice as many days we had to leave activities early, keep odd hours, and configure our house in inventive ways to accommodate special needs.
It is a proud moment to overhear your teenage son tell his friends to never run over those cardboard boxes near the road, as you might be surprised what they contain. My kids learned that you don’t need great wealth, time or space to make a remarkable difference in the world. They are committed, they are wise. They are not damaged by saying goodbye, they are profoundly enriched by saying hello.
I have lost some friends, but I have gained an entire community who inspire me with their words and actions. They are driven, they understand the calling. They know I will issue them a roll of toilet paper when they enter my bathroom, that a kitten will undoubtedly crawl up their leg and that there is never room in my car due to dog crates. A puppy pen is probably in my den, I always want their newspapers, and that I will be at least a week late responding to texts during kitten season. They are solid, dependable and loyal friends. We are connected by something big.
I thought that fostering was all about giving. I was wrong. There is abundant receiving as well. And who doesn’t want a chance to name a cat Pimento?