Foster Stories: Vanessa Reid

My “when it clicked” foster story:

Like many fur fosters growing up, I brought any animal I could find home. I was convinced that every creature, wild or domestic, from a frog to dog, couldn’t survive without my nurturing hand. Most had four legs and fur but, a few (a few more than my mother liked) had scales.

I had thought about fostering for years. My hesitation was, the hard part, the letting go. I didn’t think I could handle the heart break of saying goodbye. I kept wondering how do people do it? How do you love, nurture, teach, nurse and rehabilitate and then one day, too quickly, you just let go? Even after I had finally decided to go for it, the little voice in the back of my mind told me I wasn’t strong enough to do it. This is a girl who couldn’t even watch Lassie or Benji as a child without crying. I have a few Disney movies to this day I won’t watch again (like Fox and the Hound, how could you just leave the poor fox behind?).

I had even thought about backing out but, I kept telling myself, I made a commitment and I’m sticking with it. Then the day came when I got my first foster. I was excited and scared, ready to embrace this precious fur baby (for once they really DID need my nurturing hand) but, I also wanted to run. It was a strange mix of emotions.

Once I got her home, something clicked, something in me knew I had done the right thing. I just knew I had found a new purpose, she immediately opened my eyes to just how much these babies need us. Her willingness to forgive humans for whatever they had done, from horrific abuse to tossing them away like trash, and still trust in US made me realize, it had nothing to do with how strong I was, she was the strong one.

All this time I thought I was going to have to be the strong one to have to say goodbye. I was wrong, all along they have been the strong ones to say hello. No heartache I ever go through or tearful goodbye will ever compare to what they have already overcome.

We worked hard together; learning basic commands, getting some meat on her bones (her favorite “training” by far), she went to day care with my own fur babies, her new friends, her new family. She nestled in nicely, just a sweet, sweet soul. I had her about three weeks before she was adopted.

Maybe because she went with a dear friend it made the first goodbye a little easier. It wasn’t a final goodbye at all, it was a different feeling. While I was so sad to see her go, the life that awaited her far outweighed any heartache. In fact, my heart didn’t ache. My heart was happy.

The questions I had before fostering the “How do you love, nurture, teach, nurse and rehabilitate and then one day, too quickly, you just let go?” The answer is you don’t. You don’t let go. A piece of your heart goes with them. But, if they can let go of all that has happened to them and give me a piece of their heart, I will gladly return the favor.

At the end of the whole process my only thought was “why didn’t I do this sooner??”