“I could never give them up” “I would grow too attached” “I wouldn’t know what to do!”
These are the excuses I have heard when I ask someone if they would like to foster for Camp Companion.
I used to think the same way. In fact, we all did!
Camp Companion fosters take in cats or dogs that are desperately in need of homes and human interaction. Some of these pets have been rescued from breeding mills, hoarding, or neglectful situations.
My journey started with Belle
Belle was my first foster. She showed up on our porch one sunny day and seemed friendly, but a little scared. When I was finally able to pet her, I noticed she was pregnant. She disappeared for a couple weeks and then came back to our property to give birth. She delivered five little boys in a rather muddy hole she dug out next to our house. We already had three indoor cats and I did not want anymore.
Camp Companion to the Rescue!
I called several groups and no one got back to me. Finally, someone recommended that I call Camp Companion. They returned my call the next day. I was told that all of the foster homes were full at the moment1, and asked if I could foster them until they were adopted. Seriously? Six cats?
I decided to go for it. We had a dog kennel and set it up in the unfinished basement. I was given advice from the very beginning on how to work with the babies and momma cat. It became a project from my three kids. They were a busy bunch! Full of energy and some mischief. It didn’t take long before Belle and her boys were weaned and ready for adoption events on Saturdays. Before that could happen, Camp Companion had them vaccinated, spayed, or neutered. Camp Companion is about ending the homeless pet cycle.
Falling in love
I will be the first to admit that I fell head over heels in love with Belle and her boys. The boys were soft, fluffy and fun. Belle was a character all by herself. Her beautiful eyes and silky fur were captivating, but her personality shined like a beacon. I couldn’t imagine that anyone could give this beautiful cat the same love and attention that we provided. She had become very friendly and trusted me with her boys. She would often drop them off into a pile on my lap and then climb to the top of the cat tree for some quiet mommy time. I think a lot moms can relate to that!
When the time came to bring them to adoption events2, I was scared that the wrong person would want Belle or one of the boys. I was reassured that Camp Companion has an excellent program that goes over applicants thoroughly to be sure the animal is going to the right home.
The personality, health, and age of the pet are all taken into consideration with placement.
Unsurprisingly, the kittens found homes faster than Belle3. I personally met each family that adopted one of the kittens. When you look into the eyes of a little girl who has saved her birthday money to adopt a cat, you feel a burst of happiness. She is holding the very kitten that you didn’t think you could part with. Each kitten seemed to have found just the right home. Belle stayed a bit longer and I didn’t mind. Camp Companion works with local pet centers to help in adoptions.
Working With Local Pet Stores
The cats that you see at Rochester Pet Smart’s and Petco’s are all part of the foster program for Camp Companion. We check on them daily and rotate them often so that no cat is there for long. We placed Belle at one of the Pet Smart’s. A young couple, who had lost their cat to illness, came in and saw Belle. The woman visited on a few occasions and played with her. It was a mutual love. I still get updates on Belle in her new home. One of my favorite parts of fostering is hearing those updates.
“Fostering may break your heart when they are adopted, but it keeps their heart beating”
Belle Finds a Home
The day Belle was adopted was bittersweet. I felt good about helping six cats find forever homes, but knew I would miss that sweet sassy mommy cat! Shortly after, two adult male cats came to Camp Companion. One cat had burns from trying to keep warm in a car engine and the other had frostbitten ears. Both needed love and tender care. I had saved six lives already, two more would be fine.
I cannot change the world we live in, but I can change my corner of it in some way. This is how I chose to change my corner of the world. I will be an advocate for animals that cannot speak for themselves.
The Journey Continues
So began my journey as a foster home for Camp Companion. Each animal in our program has a story. If you follow this blog, you will see those stories and the fosters who changed their lives.
Please consider helping an animal to find a forever home. Their hearts will thank you.
1 This particular year had been a big one for Camp Companion. Due to the lack of foster homes, some of our fosters took in multiple cats and could take no more. The more foster homes we have, the more lives we can save.
2 Adoption events are held on Saturdays at various pet stores in our area. You would bring the cats to the event and pick them up afterwards. If you unable to transport, often we can have someone assist you. We also list the pets online. The more exposure they get, the faster they find forever homes.
3 Everyone loves kittens! During kitten season in spring/summer, we have plenty to go around. People love to foster kittens too. However, we have many adult and senior cats and dogs that need foster homes. I truly believe these are the most rewarding. Kittens are easy to tame and place in homes, the older cats have stories that they cannot tell. Sometimes, we have to work a bit more to earn their trust. That is a post for another day.