Stories from one of our volunteers
I have been lucky enough to become a fosterer for the RSPCA. I have mostly cared for kittens and dogs and once I had some puppies. This is such a rewarding hobby as not only do these animals need a loving and supportive home which I try to give them, they help me too. I struggle with periods of low mood and being able to care for these animals is fantastic therapy and is so rewarding and brings me such joy. To see the change in adult animals from anxious and nervous when they arrive to playful and confident when they leave, and seeing baby animals grow safely and correctly and see them develop into friendly pets. To know that I have had a part in their lives and have helped them on their way to a better life is a very worthwhile accomplishment.
THEY MAY FORGET ME, BUT I WILL NEVER FORGET THEM.
And so it Begins…
The first time I looked after kittens I received 5, 3 week old kittens, Fluff, Spot, Spike, Gimpy and Lucy. I think this is one of the greatest things to have happened to me. These fluffy bundles of joy were not mistreated or abandoned, unfortunately their mother died and their owners could not look after them. They needed 4 hourly bottle feeds. Unfortunately for me, once you have fed 5 kittens they all fall asleep on your knee, making you immobile with cuteness for the next few hours, by which time it is time to feed them again and so the cycle continues.
I did not get a lot done with my life during this first batch. I raised these kittens, wiped their bottoms to encourage them to use the loo, litter trained them, weaned them. I was there for their first pounce and sly attack, taught them to climb when they were too nervous to leave the floor and caught them when they fell off their climbing frame and watched as they learned from each other and grew into 8 week old little cats who loved a cuddle.
Giving these Kittens up to their new homes was so hard but my RSPCA Inspector said he needed me as a foster more than an adopter and he would guarantee me a box of kittens a month if I wanted them.
THE START OF MY NEW HOBBY
Mistletoe the Christmas Kitten.
One of the Inspectors were called to a 3 week old kitten that was found wandering the streets missing two toes at Christmas. After an overnight stay at the vets the kitten came to me over Christmas time which was wonderful. Again bottle fed, feeding one kitten is a lot easier then 5, and easier to put down so you can get on with your life. This was a very relaxed kitten and fitted in with the family Christmas well. Playing with wrapping paper on Christmas morning then losing him in the Christmas tree was a joy and gave my Christmas a special twist. At 8 weeks old he found a home straight away.
Introducing Little Dog
Little Dog, or LD, was our first dog. He was a shitsu who was abandoned tied to a lamp post in winter. His hair was so matted he needed to be shaved bald by the vets to remove the matts. However they did leave him a moustache and eyebrows which made him look like a grumpy old man. When he arrived he was very anxious and did not like to be left alone as had separation anxiety, on the first night he was so stressed by his ordeal he chewed his own testicles to the point he needed to be taken to the vets and castrated.
He was a very nervous character, He would not come for a pet or sit down, choosing instead to stand at the opposite side of the room for hours and stare. He would not go for a walk nor would he eat food unless he was observed doing do.
We had LD for nearly 2 weeks. Over those two weeks we saw his personality change, from refusing to come to us he would now sit on the couch or the floor next to us and be stroked, and although he still did not like a walk, probably because he was bald and it was snowing he became much better at going outside to use the toilet and became a bit more playful. You could see his real personality starting to shine through as he became more relaxed and comfortable. He may not have been able to do this in kennels as the presence of other dogs could have increased his stress and he would not have had the 1:1 attention and comfortable environment we were able to give him. To see this change in his temperament was so rewarding, you feel such an achievement that you have helped someone who could not ask for it but who desperately needed help.
TO SEE THIS CHANGE IN HIS TEMPERAMENT WAS SO REWARDING
Little Dog found a home with a young girl who only worked part time and her parents would look after him when she didn’t so he found the attention and the love he needed.
She kindly sent me photos in his new home!
Puppies abandoned in a bin!
The Inspectors were called to 5 spaniel puppies that were thrown in a bin. Then came to me. They were so young they could not support their own body weight. They were the size of my hand. These little 2 week old bundles didn’t need bottle feeding as could just about lap milk from a bowl, however crawled over each other covering each other completely in the milk resulting in them needing cleaning and then all falling asleep on my knee. Still not strong willed enough to put them back into their basket. Especially when they suck your finger with no teeth.
Words cannot describe the feeling of walking down stairs on a morning to be greeted by a box of yipping puppies and seeing them all wagging their tiny tails and clambering over each other to get to me. Your world goes soft.
WITHOUT THE HELP AND SUPPORT OF FOSTERERS THESE ANIMALS WOULD HAVE NOWHERE TO GO.
I only had these puppies for 10 days until they went to a Labrador nursing mam who had just had a litter so she could raise them as proper dogs. Very had to give them up but this was for the best. Looking at my many photos it was amazing how fast they had grown and how much they had developed, and I helped them do that. Without the help and support of fosterers these animals would have nowhere to go.
I received some photographs from their new homes…
The Tuxedo Twins!
These were the only two surviving kittens found in a tied plastic bag, their siblings had suffocated. The Inspectors did a press release and checked CCTV but the previous owners were never found. The kittens came and stayed for 5 weeks until they were ready for rehoming. As a pair they learned together and played together and kept each other warm and comforted.
Isla the epileptic Staffordshire Bull Terrier
This was going to be a greater commitment, this dog needed a home for a month until she found her forever home and needed daily medication, and she had already been in kennels for 6 weeks and had lost a lot of weight. Before she could be rehomed the RSPCA needed to see if she could gain weight in a home environment to see if it was stress or an underlying illness. Isla settled in well, jumped straight on the couch and she was home. She suffered separation anxiety and became stressed when left alone, however the introduction of a cage helped her feel more settled and safe.
During our time with Isla she settled in and became comfortable around us and her separation anxiety became much less severe. We taught her tricks, to sit, fetch, and stand. When we first took her for a walk she would not go more than 2 metres away from us, as the weeks went on and her confidence grew with us and her environment she was comfortable to go and run and play in the park and played with other dogs. This was wonderful to see as it showed how her previous anxieties and worries were leaving her.
ISLA BECAME PART OF THE FAMILY AS SHE ENDED UP STAYING FOR 7 WEEKS.
We did experience her seizures which although I worried about her, were not as bad I had thought. And once we knew how to deal with her following them we managed her well. Isla became part of the family as she ended up staying for 7 weeks. Finding her new home was very difficult but the wait was worth it as she found the perfect one, mum only worked one day a week and could be with her all the time, they let her sleep on the bed and live on the couch. She was in heaven.
Sam, the elderly crossbreed
Sam was a 17 year old dog who had never left the house. We only had him for a weekend but enjoyed taking him for walks, and watching him light up. He could only manage 15 minutes as he was old and not used to walking but after an hours rest on his blanket at home he was raring to go again. Due to his extreme age he my Inspector found Sam a long term foster home where he could live out the remainder of his time.
Queen with Kittens
Having a mammy cat makes this joyful experience much easier as she does all the hard work and I just have to offer them a safe warm environment to grow up in, and give them cuddles for human socialisation or course.
The mother cat was very anxious when she arrived, protective of her kittens and nervous around people, this quickly changed within a few hours to the point where she was laid with her kittens on our couch and now uses it as her safe place over the cage and takes her kittens there when she feels they have gone too far.
It feels like we are a team, she will leave her kittens with me as a babysitter and will go and have a wander around, have her tea or clean herself, I feel there is a trust developing. However as soon as she hears one meow she is right back at their side.
I LOVE FOSTERING ANIMALS FOR THE RSPCA. IF YOU HAVE THE TIME AND THE ROOM IN YOUR HEART FOR FOSTERING I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. – LYNNE
If you are interested in fostering animals for the RSPCA please get in-touch with your local RSPCA branch or animal centre. If you do not know the details of your local branch please visit the RSPCA website and click on “Your local RSPCA“.