November is Adoption Awareness Month
Fostering and Adopting (human children) is one of Dr. Katie’s passions. She works hard as a veterinarian during the day to provide care for hurting animals, and she works hard after work to provide a loving home for children…sometimes children who are scared and hurt. Ruby, her dog, has been very helpful in providing a comfortable, healing home for these children, and she wanted to share her experience as a dog of foster children.
It all started a couple of years ago. Dr. Katie and her husband started going somewhere one evening per month. They would stay for a couple of hours, and then come home and talk for another hour. They talked about what they had learned that night in “STARS” class. Then they started making many changes to the house. They installed magnetic safety locks on the cabinets, installed a huge fire extinguisher, tested all the fire alarms and installed more in the bedrooms, and purchased beds for the guest bedrooms. They bought numerous toys, which, I was told, were not for me. After a couple weeks of the evening classes, a stranger showed up at their door. She asked Dr. Katie and Chase questions about everything! She also asked about my vaccinations, which are up to date (of course). Dr. Katie and Chase soon started taking me to obedience school. There were so many changes! I wasn’t sure what was going on, but it seemed like more changes were on the way. After the classes were finished, and 3 more visits from the stranger, Dr. Katie told me we were waiting for “the call.”
One night, I was snuggling with Dr. Katie and Chase on the couch. She rubbed my ears while she watched the television. Just as she was about to go to bed, the phone rang. My people looked up at each other and started discussing something. Then they sprang into a flurry of activity. They put cookies in the oven, they started cleaning the house, and they changed from pajamas back into regular clothing. What in the world was going on? 30 minutes later someone rang the doorbell. They put me and Gary outside in the back before answering the door. I jumped up and looked through the window to see 2 boys following a tired looking woman into the living room. I barked to make sure we were remembered. The boys peered nervously over to the back door. I heard Dr. Katie ask “Do you like dogs?” Both boys vigorously nodded. They let Gary and me in and we immediately ran to the visitors. The littlest boy squatted down to pet me, and I licked him in the face! I love children! Dr. Katie promptly had us sit and then gave us bones to chew! While I chewed on my bone, I watched as the adults showed the children around. Then, as the kids sat at the table, the adults spoke together for a few more minutes. I heard things like “court in a week.” “The boys will need a place to stay only for the weekend.” The tired lady brought in a black trashbag full of clothing, which Dr. Katie promptly emptied into the washing machine.
Over the next couple months, I made a best friend. The oldest boy walked me every evening with Dr. Katie. He started working on new tricks with me. Sometimes, one of the boys would cry under the bed. I liked to crawl under there and lay my head on him. He always looked up and petted me. 2 months later, after many tears, a lot of laughter, more visits from adults with long discussions, I was really enjoying these 2 kids. Sometimes they would argue and yell, and sometimes the little one would lie on the floor and kick his feet, but I loved them.
Then one day, Dr. Katie and Chase went to something called “court.” Apparently court was a place where adults discussed what was best for the kids. Dr. Katie came home, and packed up all the clothing. She folded each child’s clothing and placed into a duffle bag. She also placed in the bag a few notebooks, a few new tooth brushes, toothpaste, and few prepackaged snacks. Then they took the bags out to their car. Dr. Katie and Chase returned a few hours later. They took me on a nice walk. The house was so quiet. We all sat on the couch in silence for a few hours. Dr. Katie sometimes wiped away a tear, and I nuzzled her hand. What happened? Where did the children go? They talked about how they hoped the children would be ok, and hoped that they would never have need of a foster family again. They were happy the children could go home, but sad that the children had left their home.
Since that first time the phone rang, there have been many more late night phone calls, and about a dozen children who have come and gone from our home. I licked away tears, played fetch, and learned many new tricks with all of them. Dr. Katie says I’ve been a great dog, and have helped many children feel comfortable in a new place. Dr. Katie says that someday there may be a child that stays, but right now we help children get back with their parents.
A note from Dr. Katie
-There are over 10,000 children in foster care in the state of Missouri.
-Reunification with the biological family is the primary goal of foster care, so it can be very heartbreaking (as well as rewarding).
Please feel free to ask me about being a foster parent or helping children in foster care if you want more information. – Dr. Katie