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A Toast to Foster Homes...

By Immydog
Foster homes.  They are a crucial part of animal rescue.  They take in a homeless animal and house it until a forever home and family is found for that animal. Fostering an animal opens a cage at a shelter and helps to save a life.  Foster families are extremely difficult to come by as few people believe they can handling housing an animal then watching it leave their home to go to another.  When we don't have enough fosters, sometimes our staff and volunteers that usually function in a different capacity step up to foster.
A few years back, I fostered a dog, Emmie.  She was a Border Collie mix that came from a hoarder in another county.
A Toast to Foster Homes... Emmie
A Toast to Foster Homes... Emmie
I was hoping she would fit into my family on a permanent basis, but my son was young and she did not blend with an aggressive two year old very well.  She continued as our foster but I knew that a new home was still the best thing for her.  I fell deeply in love with her as she had the appearance AND the personality of my first dog, Immy, the Special One. 
A Toast to Foster Homes...
A Toast to Foster Homes... Immy Yawning
Immy was that one dog that gives you that feeling deep in your heart that you know you will likely never find again, that one dog that loved you in a way that seemed human and nurturing.  I think to her dying day, she believed she was my caregiver rather than vice versa.  But the timing was wrong, so a new home was in the cards for her and the hand off would be difficult for me once this new home, the right home, reared its head.
My Adoption Coordinator at the time, Jill, had warned me that she was processing an adoption application for Emmie and this one seemed to be a great fit.  She had discussed previous applications with me, and oddly, I was able to find reason to hesitate on adopting Emmie to other applicants, as I just felt they were never quite the right fit for her.  Because I was her foster mom, I knew what her specific needs were, and was being quite picky about satisfying them.  But Jill said this application glowed.   The woman was perfect on paper, and her personal and veterinary references were outstanding.  I had to come to grips with the fact that this woman might be "The One" for Emmie.  But I was still hesitant to let her go.  I dreaded the thought of watching her walk out the door for the last time. The thought of letting Emmie go, made me feel as though I was losing Immy all over again...and it was heartbreaking.
Sometimes in rescue, it is the strangest thing that makes you realize that things are right.  Sometimes it is not a question on an application, or the kind words of a personal reference, or even a qualitative review of  previous veterinary records that let us know that you are the one for our adoptable pet.  This was one of those times. 
Jill walked into the surgery room one day while I was spaying a cat.  She announced that she had a question for me and she wore an emotional yet knowing look on her face. 
"Oh boy.  What is it?" I responded, hesitant to hear the question.
Jill replied, "I was doing the phone interview with the woman who is interested in Emmie".  My heart sank a little with these words. "Everything went well as far as our questions for her.  When we were finished, she said she had a question for us."
Generally speaking, most of the applicant's questions are answered during the adoption process. These questions usually include, "Does she bark alot?  Is she housebroken? What does he eat?  Does he like dogs, cats or kids?"  So why Jill was standing before me with a tear in her eye, and a smirk on her face befuddled me.  What question needed to be addressed to me, and why this odd reaction?
Jill looked at me a moment longer.  When she did speak, the words were,
"Does she like toast?"
I stared at her and numbly said, "What?"
"She wants to know if Emmie likes toast.  She has toast every morning and is hoping that Emmie will sit with her and share it with her."
We both laughed and almost cried.  This question sold me on this woman as being "The One" for Emmie.  I looked down at the dog that was laying by my feet as I did surgery, knowing that my days with her were now numbered.
This question told me several things about Emmie's potential adopter.  It told me that she was looking for a pet with whom she could share her life.  It told me that she was not just looking for a pet, but was looking for a furry companion to share even the smallest of moments.  It also told me that she did not want just any dog, but was looking for the right one, The One that would appreciate those small moments.  This question told me that Emmie would have all the mental stimulation, physical stimulation, and emotional connection that I knew, as her foster mom, that she needed.  This question eased my sorrow about watching Emmie go to a new home because I knew this was going to be a great match.
Every once in a while, I will be standing there and smile as the words run through my brain, "Does she like toast".
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