What We Learn From Fostering...

Foster Bella 6-14-14
We're still fostering kittens for Animal Care and Protective Services pretty regularly here at the Happy Shack, and because of it, I've become very adept at doing laundry or cleaning up my studio with a kitten or two on my shoulders. It's such a good learning experience for the girls, and I admit, I love having those little fur balls around. They are the perfect stress relievers after a long day at work. But sometimes the learning hurts, and the stress is magnified rather than relieved. See that sweet little baby above? We named her Bella. And we lost her.

I picked up Bella and her sister Zoey (below), Wednesday, June 25. They were tiny, less than two weeks old and about five ounces, but they were eating wet food. But by Thursday evening, I was concerned they weren't eating enough, so I picked up some kitten formula and bottles from the shelter Friday morning, hopeful that three days of bottle feeding would get them over the hump. They both seemed to be doing well. I took this photo of Bella that Saturday. But Monday morning when I went downstairs to feed them, tiny Bella was curled up in a tiny little ball at the very back of their crate. I cuddled her and tried to get her to eat, but she wouldn't eat. Olivia came downstairs and had tears in her eyes the moment she saw her.

Foster Zoey 7-12-14
I wrapped her up in a little towel to keep her warm and went upstairs to get a bottle for her. Moments later Livvie came running up the stairs crying, telling me she was dying. We grabbed a syringe and some formula and, sitting on the bottom of the stairs side by side, tears running down our faces, Bella in my lap, we tried to get her to eat some. She seemed to be taking in the milk pretty well, so we gave her as much as we thought she could take and wrapped her back up.

I'm on the screening committee for a Cabinet level position at the College and had a full day of interviews ahead of me, so I emailed our Vice President to tell her I had an emergency at home and would be late for the interviews. Yes, I called in sick for a baby kitten. What else could I do? I got us all ready for the day, got everyone in the car, including Bella, and took the girls to camp. My next stop was the shelter vet. Unfortunately, tiny Bella died before I could get her to Dr. G. My heart broke. I made it to the interviews on time, but I was wiping away tears all the way there.

Bella wasn't our first foster kitten who died. Our very first fosters, Bobby and Teddy, both died of a URI after we took them back to the shelter. But Bella was the first kitten who died on our watch. You might wonder what my girls and I learn from having our hearts broken like this. But you do learn. You learn to love fully and give your heart completely, regardless of the sadness you know you'll feel when those babies (kittens or children) are ready to leave your nest. You learn to try your level best to help no matter how small your chances of succeeding might be. You learn that life does go on, and you learn to never give up because someone else will always need you. Tiny Zoey still needed us.

Foster Gracie 7-12-14
We picked up another foster so Zoey wouldn't be alone, and though bigger and fully ready for adoption, sweet Grace, above, has taken Zoey in as her own. She wraps her little paws around her and cleans her like her mama would. Both Zoey and Grace are rather taken with Sarah's hot pink blanket, so she's given it up for now, a lesson in learning to share. Will we foster again when Zoey is ready for adoption? Maybe not immediately as our hearts still need to mend, but there will absolutely be more fur balls sitting on my shoulders.  No doubt about it.


Melody said...

Great post. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

Kelly Warren said...

Thanks for stopping in Melody. Hearts get broken, but we keep moving forward!