Goodbye is the Goal – Do you know what this phrase is referring? When you foster an animal, the goal is not to keep the animal but to raise it to find a loving home of its own. Think about it, if every foster animal home kept the animals they fostered, we’d all live on farms! I know I wouldn’t be able to keep track of 24 cats and kittens. Goodbye is the goal refers to the idea that the foster home is not their forever home, but the space in which they become healthy, old enough, and learn manners for their forever home.
When I first started fostering animals, I thought to myself – “There is no way I am going to be able to give these animals up, I love them too much to say goodbye!” What I quickly realized is that I loved them too much to keep them. I knew that I was the person who could provide the care needed to get them healthy, but someone else was their person forever. If I kept every animal I fostered, I would quickly run out of space and therefore not be able to foster any more animals.
I cry every single time I say goodbye to a foster animal that was in my care. Whether I found them a home, or they are still looking for one, it makes me tear up. There have also been times I have had full-blown waterfall moments in the shelter parking lot after saying goodbye to an animal. It never gets easier but I think that is the beauty of fostering animals. We have so much love to give it creates really strong emotions.
If you are interested in fostering but don’t think that you could say goodbye to them once they find their forever home – you can. You’ll fall in love with the process of saving an animal’s life, finding them a home they will thrive in, and bringing in the next animal that needs you. It does get easier, but only once you realize the impact you have made on their life. These animals would have a chance if it wasn’t for the foster homes that take them in and care for them.
With the organization I foster for, it is not a requirement to find these animal homes, but it is encouraged. We can reach out to our network of family, friends, and acquaintances and find homes for all of these amazing animals. If I cannot find a home for the animal I am fostering, they go back to the Nevada Humane Society for their spay/neuter appointment and go out on the adoption floor. As hard as it is to know they go from the comfort of my home to a shelter kennel, I know they will still have the chance at life that they wouldn’t have had without foster care.
It may seem lame to some, but I keep a memory book of all of the animals I have fostered. I include a picture, their name, and a description of them so I always have a quick reminder if I am having a hard time saying goodbye. One example of an amazing ending to goodbye is a friend who adopted two kittens from my foster care, from different litters. She adopted a kitten from me in August 2019 and another in June 2020. The two girls are a year apart but they are now the best of friends. As hard as it was for me to say goodbye, it is so rewarding to see the amazing life they are living now. I know that they would not have had that chance if I had not fostered them.
If you take anything away from this, take this: You are saving lives. It may seem hard to notice at the moment, but these animals wouldn’t have a chance at life without foster care. Shelters do not have enough funding and resources to provide care for all of the neonatal animals that come into their care so you are quite literally saving them from euthanization.
If you have ever considered fostering animals but have not because you don’t think you could say goodbye, please reconsider. You have already proved you have the heart of gold to take care of these animals, so I know you can say goodbye to them as well. Follow along for more information on fostering and animal rescue. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would be happy to talk with you. Remember, goodbye is the goal!