June 2017… this was a month that has changed our day-to-day lives forever. Number one, I completed a Transition to Teaching program, and got my teaching license! This was no easy task, with everything else we were going through at that time, but I did it! Number two, we began fostering cats.
That summer was rough. I had to quit my job as an instructional assistant in February that year to do my student teaching, so I had little to no income for months. We had a friend, his son, and his cat staying with us. I loved having them here, but let’s face it, five people in a three-bedroom house is kind of crowded, especially when everyone involved is fairly stressed … me with no money, him looking for a place to live, and the three kids having to share their space and toys all day every day.
I made one of my famously impulsive decisions to start fostering a mama cat and four kittens. My children and I went to pick them up, and my niece and nephew, in Terre Haute late one evening. Through some badgering from all four kids, I had agreed that we would adopt the mommy cat, but the four kittens must go, I said! We brought them home and we LOVED having so many little kitties to love! (By the way, the day after we got the cat and kittens home, I took all the kids back to Terre Haute to meet my newborn great-niece. What a beautiful and happy day for our family!)
If it has not become clear through these blogs, I seem to enjoy (positively charged) chaos. With the house full of people and animals for me to care for, my heart was also full. We named the mama cat Olive, after our sweet dog Ollie who had passed. She and my friend’s cat Jojo were not thrilled with each other’s existence, to say the least. It added to some of tenseness already in the air, but we dealt with it. As the kittens were weaned, they began being adopted out, one by one.
We took in another kitten, Agnes, and she too was adopted. Only one kitten was left, little Hatter. He had developed the most adorable friendship with our dog Ella. Convincing ourselves that Ella needed a buddy, and that she was missing our old pets as much as we were, we decided to keep Hatter as well. This is what those in the business call a “foster fail,” but whatever. My friend found a place of his own in August 2017, so we were settled in with myself, my kids, our dog, and our two cats.
This went on for a while. I needed a break from fostering. I was trying to find a “real” teaching job (which I did in October 2017, and I LOVE it!!). We were trying to get our house in order. But, eventually the fostering bug struck again. We decided to try out fostering a dog. In March of this year, we picked up a young, black German Shepherd mix named Araya. Sweet, but wild! We were used to laid-back Ella, and this was too much! We only had her a few weeks before she was adopted, but I wasn’t sure about the whole dog-fostering thing.
Then came Layla. For whatever reason, we decided to take a chance and foster her. The first week was HELL. She peed on my couch. We crated her, but she managed to chew up our couch through the small squares of the crate! She pulled trim off from around my front door. She chewed up my daughter’s winter coat. She totally freaked out every time we left. She had an injured leg, so she hadn’t been spayed yet. Misty Eyes was going to get her leg surgery and spay done at the same time, so we were waiting for the vet to decide the best course of action.
Layla eventually settled down some, and we grew to love her personality. But then she started getting fatter and acted hot and out of breath all the time. I didn’t know what was wrong with her. Then she started peeing on the floor frequently. Then she was pacing at night and couldn’t settle down. I wasn’t sure I could deal with it anymore, even though she was so sweet.
One weekend while the kids were at their dad’s, my mom came to spend the night and hang out with me. My mom put her hand on Layla’s belly, and said she felt movement… puppies? Layla continued to get worse with the panting and pacing so I texted Jennifer at Misty Eyes and said, “Is it possible she could be pregnant?” She said, “Yes, it’s possible!” Yikes!!! We were not prepared for this! Jennifer offered to try and find another foster, but we decided to stick it out, and I am so glad we did.
A couple days later, on Memorial Day, Layla was in labor. I spent the entire day shut in my son’s room with her while she struggled through the labor and birth. The kids were so excited, but I was trying to keep them from stressing her out, so they would pop in from time to time and I would tell them to be quiet. It ended up being an amazing experience for all of us. Layla had four beautiful (and huge) puppies, and we spent our entire summer caring for them.
Fostering is fun! Ask me about it! Email me at email@example.com.
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News Writer: Lucy Perry