Saturday, February 8, 2014

Less and More

In a cost/benefit analysis of fostering the benefits always outweigh the costs. ALWAYS.
We are very fortunate -we foster with a great organization, have great vets as support and our agency covers  medical and supply costs if asked with no hesitation. We have been able to have very expensive surgeries done for our foster animals that might have caused at least pause if they had been permanent additions to our home. Emma's eye ulcer surgery at $3000 and Gus's obstruction surgery at $4000 are two pretty classic examples of that. We have a wonderful support system and through it we have made some wonderful friends. We are able to save animals lives directly an d indirectly (when we foster an animal that would sit in a shelter for a long time sometimes that shelter is able to bring in and adopt out many many faces in the same time the foster animal resides with us).

But, and you knew there had to be a but, there are many costs to fostering. It would be unfair to ignore them. Costs come in many forms, and many people beyond the person on the foster contract pays the cost.

There is no doubt there has been an emotional cost to fostering. Losing foster animals through placement in forever homes  and through death is hard on the heart. I've reflected on that cost before. Give and give then it's done. Living with animals at all has an emotional cost of course, they simply don't live long enough. Fostering generally involves knowing your loss will come faster then normal - sometimes the tear is visceral and wounds deeply no matter if it is death or placement.

The other less recognized emotional cost can be the way it affects your view of people. People who give up animals are often in desperate times and were fabulous homes but there are also people who give up animals they should never have had in the first place or for what to me anyhow are somewhat ridiculous reasons. My new boy friend doesn't like cats, he won't get off the couch, she is getting old/sick and I don't want to have to kill her and the ever classic I'm moving. Fostering has made me a little more cynical and suspicious of people. I do not always think the best of everyone - though in my 20th year of doing this I am a little more patient and understanding than I was about 5 years in.

There is a time cost. Time spent caring for foster animals is time not spent blogging, going out for dinner, being with your own animals etc. Time spent waiting for them to arrive, and waiting for them to leave; hours at adoption events, hours of email with prospective homes, and follow up to placements. Time shopping for the extras they might need, or coordinating delivery of things they need. Minutes turn to hours easily but are hard to measure. We had a long run of animals in desperate need arriving on holidays and our family paid the time price. "Sure - we'll still come for dinner but we can only stay 2 hours as the kittens need to be fed" is a classic example of this cost.  Sometimes you wonder why family stops inviting you to things - then you realize it's been a long time since you could attend and be relaxed and present for the event.

There is a sleep cost ... new fosters often wake up in the middle of the night. Some fosters (the sick, infant and the old) need me to wake up as often as every other hour, sometimes for weeks on end. I have learned to be VERY grateful for 6 hours of solid sleep.

I would be remiss if I didn't consider the financial costs. Gas to drive foster animals to their forever homes, to  to the shelter/rescue to pick up supplies, to adoption events, to meet transports. Money to keep paper towel companies in business when you have puppies. Cash to have the litter you like best on hand. The best agencies do their best (and Project Jessie is one of the best!) to make sure they anticipate costs but, for us anyhow, the financial cost of fostering has been significant. (More new animals are simply harder on furniture and rugs even).

Yet fostering truly is priceless. It's such a meaningful way to  give back to the companion animals we care about. As we approach the twentieth anniversary of fostering we still find ourselves discussing many of the animals we have provided temporary shelter for. It truly is a good thing, despite the costs!

No comments: