Growing up, I was that kid stuck in a family of non-dog lovers and very much alone in my desire to have a dog join our family unit. My mother, who could not fathom sharing her home with a four-legged creature, tried to pacify me with a parakeet. “Tippy”, which I named her, was friendly enough, but couldn’t snuggle with me at night.
Fast-forward 18 years. After getting married, I finally got that dog I had longed for as a kid, a shih tzu named “Mellie.” Since that very first day I brought her home, she was my little shadow. Together we weathered many storms housebreaking and her very discerning palette. (She would only eat her food if it was microwaved and served in small pieces on a bare kitchen floor.)
And yet when we adopted our shelter dog Lazer from The Staten Island-based rescue Louie’s Legacy as a family- I watched them fall deeply in love with our newest family member. The ways in which caring for him have helped them to stretch and grow in terms of their sense of responsibility towards him and the ripple effect it has had towards caring for other living creatures with whom we share our world have been hard to articulate. So of course we HAD to adopt another dog!( PARENTS… I cannot express what a gift it is to your kids to adopt a dog or cat.. it will transform them in ways that are hard to articulate and help shape their sense of compassion for others in the most healthiest of ways– I TOTALLY recommend it!)
Although our kids may not necessarily have the words to articulate their emotions, their actions can often speak volumes to us. Having Mellie in their lives, I know, has made them more sensitive to living, breathing creatures other than themselves and imbued them with a deeper understanding of their place in this world.
Whether your family already has a four-legged member or you’re considering opening your hearts and home to one, I encourage you to consider fostering a dog or Cat from Louie’s Legacy to help your kids bond with these “pawsome” creatures who share their world.
FOSTER A DOG, CAT from Louie’s Legacy
This temporary commitment, usually at least one month, is a wonderful opportunity to provide both healthy and special-needs shelter animals a break from the system and the undivided attention of a doting family.
Requirements: These differ from shelter to shelter; however, nearly all rescue groups will welcome a good foster person or family, as fostering helps to increase the group’s capacity to save lives. Families with very young children can start off by sponsoring a foster family and tracking the animal’s progress through photographs and then look into fostering an older, less delicate animal. Families with older children who can devote their time and attention to a fostered animal are great candidates.
What kids will go gaga for Taking a dog out for a walk, playing fetch in the yard or tending to a kitten.
Parent perks: Fostering an animal is a great way to teach children about the responsibility involved in owning an animal which involves daily walks (for dogs) and litter-box cleaning (for cats). It also allows families to gauge whether they’re able to care for a pet before opting for a permanent adoption.
Drawbacks: Giving the pet back after the foster period ends. Keep in mind children may have a very difficult time relinquishing this new family member, and therefore you’ll need to be prepared to deal with those issues.
Overall: Children will come away knowing they’ve improved the quality of life for an animal that otherwise may have spent its summer in a cage, or might have been put down. The fostered animal will also gain confidence and trust in humans which will ultimately help it once it’s placed in a permanent home.