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The Beautiful Imperfections of Honey

30 May
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In early November 2012, I received a phone call from the Mount Olive Pet Smart Adoption Center. I had just recently fostered an animal and found his forever home, yet gave in almost immediately to foster again. A girl from Pet Smart informed me that there was a female hound mix that was underweight, not eating, extremely depressed, and experiencing a skin issue. I told her that I would come and see the dog, but could not promise her anything else. I only had experience fostering smaller dogs in the past, and questioned my ability to handle one of her size. After one look at the sad girl that was given the name Gonzales Girl by others, I knew it was time for me to take her home and fix her up.

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At home, she continued in her state of depression and was incapable of acknowledging any of the attention that she was given. She only weighed about 42 pounds when at her age she was expected to weigh at least 60. Although her current state at the time was fairly poor, she reacted fine to my dog and two cats. Her poor skin condition and the fact that she was already about 6-8 years old lessened her chances of adoption. My first tackle at her skin problems was a bath lavished in oatmeal shampoo and conditioner to soothe her itchy skin. Also, I changed her food to a grain free diet but unfortunately the itching still continued. The vets determined the cause of her itchy skin to be a yeast problem. Unknowingly, the oatmeal wash I believed to be helping the issue was making her skin worse.

After the yeast problem was controlled and she was fed a good quality grain free diet, things starting looking up for Gonzales Girl who I eventually renamed Honey. Why? Because she finally came out of her shell. She began playing with my little Dixie dog, ate her whole meals, and you could see life re-entering her eyes. One night I put her on my bed to sleep and she slept there every night there after.

Once the seventh week reached, Honey was a new and improved dog! She was well behaved, full of love and life, and her skin issue had been resolved. I took her to her first adoption event and spoke with a woman that had adopted a puppy with us two years earlier. She said that she wanted an older companion for her dog that would help to calm her down. I gave her my contact information in hopes of her calling. After leaving the event, I brought Honey to her new and forever home. She arrived in her beautiful home three days before Christmas. I was immediately brought to tears on Christmas morning after receiving a picture of her and her new sister relaxing on the couch. This is one of the many reasons why I foster these wonderful animals that are neglected and left behind.

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-Geneva Soule

If you are interested in fostering, please fill out a foster application at http://www.ehrdogs.org/info/display?PageID=10971

Foster Families: The World of Cat Fostering

23 May

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Most people are surprised when they enter my home.  I live with my boyfriend and our two very close friends in a three bedroom house, there are three personal cats who are there permanently.  Normally when people walk in they chuckle at the signs on the wall; “Home is where the cats are,”  “beware of the cat,” the standard kind of signs that garnish a home filled with fur-ball love, the only indications that there are kitties in our home.

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Out of the corner of their eye they see something dart across the living room, then look up at the bookshelf and see eyes peeking down.  Looking around the corner, they notice there are cats plopped here and there – two in the window, three on the couch, five in a pile on a tiny chair.

Wandering into the “dining room,” they realize the room isn’t meant for dining at all but is instead a cat paradise with toys, scratchers, food, chairs and beds galore.

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As they turn to me and say “how many cats do you have?” they continue to stare as I give them a number anywhere from 5 to 19.  Yes, 19, there have been three or four occasions where we have had 19 cats at once, more than our adoption facility holds.

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To answer some immediate questions:  No, my house actually doesn’t smell like cats.  Yes, I am out of my mind.  No, I am not some weird old woman who lives at the end of a cul-de-sac, I’m actually only 25 and no, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  We have saved 80 lives in 10 months – that’s 80 cats (and maybe 5-6 dogs) who would have died if we had not opened our home to them.  At times it is stressful but the majority of the time it is simply beautiful and fulfilling.

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Fostering cats has to be one of the easiest things possible to make a difference (unless you have 19.)  If any of the cats are sick, they are kept in large kitty condos in separate bedrooms as to not spread illness or infection.  Because of this, sometimes you’ll only actually see five cats, all the others are in quarantine.  I always tell people if you have a spare bedroom or small bathroom you can keep the door to closed, you can fosters cats.  All they require is some clean litter daily, some food and water and of course as much love as you’re willing to give them.  They repay you with purrs, tail swishes and leg rubs, the best forms of payment out there.

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There are so many stories I want to share with everyone.  The time we were given frightened, shaved Persians out of a hoarding situation and how good it felt the first time we got them to purr.  Or maybe the kittens that were taken from a meth lab who had been abused but immediately knew they were safe in our arms.  Perhaps I would tell you of another rescue that pulled a nursing mother and 9 seven week old babies from a high kill shelter right before they were going to be put to sleep, only to find out they had ringworm and thus wanted to take them back to be euthanized but instead we opened our hearts and our home to them.  I would tell you about the 9 month old cutie who was being given away on free website because he got too big, the playful girl abandoned at a local barn, the babies and moms we saved an hour before they were going to be put to sleep at a shelter in New York City, perhaps even the baby boy who was so sick and infected that he had to have his eye removed.  There are so many stories to tell but only so much time.  Each and every foster holds their own story and at the end of the day, when you say goodnight to each and every one of them, you can see the trust and love in their eyes and know that without you, they would no longer be alive.

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Fostering cats is the easiest thing in the world.  Yes, there are hardships, but that is expected when you’re making such a huge difference.  There is absolutely nothing better than watching them get adopted and getting updates, because more often than not, the adopters stay in touch.  Years later I still get updates from my first fosters, it shows me that not only did I make a difference in the cat’s life, I made a difference in the life of that family and the experience made a difference in me as well.

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If you’re interested in fostering cats or dogs with us, please fill out a foster application. To view our adoptable cats and kittens, please visit our website.