Pet of the month club: animal fostering is fun!

Porcellino PigThis is a picture of Guinea Pig Porcellino (little pig in Italian) and her babies that we fostered for the Humane Society. She was pregnant when we first brought her home, and we fostered her through her pregnancy, birth, and 2 weeks afterwards so she could wean her babies.  What a lot of fun!

Some people choose to foster all animals, others choose just dogs, cats, or in our case just small rodents (rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs).  When you decide you want to foster, contact your local Humane Society or rescue organization to fill out forms. They’ll have you take some classes and give additional training if needed.

Fostering involves a lot of love.  Many times the foster animals are pregnant, sick, have been traumatized, or are too young to be adopted.  You’ll need the mental fortitude to return the animal when it’s well enough/old enough for adoption.  A bonus, at least with the Humane Society, is you’re allowed a discount for adoption once a year.  So if you fall in love with an animal the odds are you’ll get first dibs at adoption.

Since we already had Guinea pigs at home, we had food and bedding on hand.   Since we planned on fostering other pigs, we purchased an extra house, water bottle, food dish etc.   When we fostered a sick hamster, the Humane Society provided the house, dishes, food, bedding and medicine for us.  With the pregnant rabbit (followed by her 6 baby bunnnies) we fostered, we set up a pen on the cement floor in our basement.  We discovered how noisy a group of girl and boy rabbits can be.  We also discovered that teenage male rabbits ‘spray’ if other teenage male rabbits are around.  However, if teen boys are an ‘Only Bunny’, they display docile,  gentlemanly behavior.  You learn quite a bit as a foster parent.

Other benefits of fostering:  you can ‘try a pet out’ before making a commitment.  You can foster around your vacation schedule. You can experience a variety of animals:  dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, rats, birds, guinea pigs and more.  You may at times feel like you’re a member of the Pet-Of-The-Month Club.  You also may have the opportunity to witness the miracle of birth, to help animals heal through medication, and always to spend lots of time loving and knowing your love is appreciated.  Plus, the animals give back to us humans as well through the companionship they bring.

Fostering is a great way to make a positive difference in an animals life – as well as bring a whole lot of fun into your own life.  For example, our two resident guinea pigs and our foster pigs were all housed in my son’s room and were used as alarm clocks to help him wake up in the morning (we’d wrap a pig in a towel and put it next to him and she’d snuggle and squeak him awake) as well as help him get to sleep at night (same routine but she’d snuggle and squeak him to sleep). Being an animal foster parent has been a rewarding experience for our whole family.  Our kids have grown up learning how to be kind to those smaller and weaker than themselves.  And we as parents know we’ve made a small positive difference in the world.

For more information about fostering through the Oregon Humane society click here.

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