By Christine Alvarez
Let’s face it. We’ve all wanted to adopt a dog or cat at one point or another in our lives. What could be better than having a furry little companion to cuddle or binge watch Netflix with? But then it hits us: commitment. Adopting an animal is almost like saying “I do.” Their wants and needs become your wants and needs, and sometimes this could be more than we bargained for.
Luckily, there’s a way to feel out the relationship – a test drive if you will – before you sign up to take care of another living being for life.
Fostering animals is a great way to understand the intense commitment that comes with most pets. Also, most animal shelters are overcrowded, and fostering helps give temporary homes to animals who really need it. It helps them more than you think, and it will probably end up helping you too.
Two years ago, as a sophomore at UF, my roommate Nicole and I decided to foster our first dog. We went to our local PetSmart and signed up to foster with Phoenix Animal Rescue. After they approved our application, they brought us to our new furry friend. Her name was Delilah and she was a beautiful black lab mix. We felt like new parents and spoiled her with toys and treats. She was energetic and loved to play, but she also loved to cuddle up next to you and relax on the couch.
However, it wasn’t always fun and games.
The first time we had to leave her alone in the apartment, we felt that she was trained enough to keep her out of her crate. When we got back, we found a crying Delilah who had chewed up our living room blinds. It was frustrating, but we knew it was a learning process. The second time we had to leave her alone (to go to class), we left her in her crate. When we returned, we found Delilah in a pool of her saliva and tears. She was shivering, whimpering and crying.
I’ve had dogs all my life and I knew this wasn’t normal. I called the rescue immediately and told them about what had been happening. The director of the rescue told me that Delilah had symptoms of separation anxiety. Hearing those words broke my heart. It made me wonder why she felt that way, and I realized that she must have gone through so much in her little life to feel such absolute terror when left alone.
After fostering Delilah for two weeks, I knew I didn’t want to stop helping. My roommate and I went on to foster more dogs throughout the year, and I even fostered a dog and her two puppies by myself in the summer. Whenever we have to return the dogs, I always make sure to check the rescue’s Facebook to see if they have been adopted. One of the happiest moments of my life was when I saw that Delilah had finally got adopted. These animals need us more than we need them, and it brings me great comfort to know that we could help them just by sharing our homes with them.