by Julia Kemper
It all started with one photograph one year ago. I had been browsing a lot of dog pages on Facebook lately because I missed having a dog but was too indecisive as to which I would choose. Suddenly one photo caught my eye. It was of a red dog with just the biggest smile on her face and her stomach was extended. The description said “foster desperately needed for this seven year old shep mix and her unborn pups.” The fate of her pups would be uncertain if a foster did not step up. I later learned that the dog would have been spay aborted.
I’m still not sure what pushed me to do it, I just remember looking at that happy little girl and wanting to meet her and help her. I contacted In the Arms of Angels and one day later Tiffany had dropped Coco off at my house. I was supposed to be creating a calm and easy environment for her to give birth in….but it being my first ever experience with birth I was freaking out. I probably contacted Karen (who volunteered to be my mentor) two times a day the weeks leading up to the big day which, in hindsight, is probably why Coco chose to wait until I worked late to deliver. By the time I got home seven babies were spread out around mommy and she was bracing for the last one.
I loved those puppies with all my heart and raised them as best I could. At this point I wasn’t just bothering Karen for advice but anyone in the rescue, I was so nervous. Coco was an amazing, seasoned mother. They grew up quickly and during the calm moments I would reflect and couldn’t imagine them not in the world. Eventually the time came to give them up, and I really didn’t know how I’d do it. I warned everyone I’d be balling my eyes out, but I never did.
I remember sitting at the adoption event, in a corner hoping nobody would notice or try to talk to this awkward 20 year old. Suddenly a woman and two children came up to the puppy pens and they walked over to where my puppies were. “I think that one is Moose right there, do you see him? There’s our puppy” she said. This family had never met him before, only read about him online and yet to them he was already “theirs.” The minute I picked him up and put him in her arms I saw her eyes light up and the delight in her voice as she spoke kind words to him. That’s when I knew I was hooked. As much as I loved all my puppies nothing could be better than seeing someone else fall in love, and seeing just how happy they made a person or family.
Sure fostering has its ups and downs. I cried just as much when I lost two puppies at two weeks as i did when I lost one at nine weeks. You can’t save them all, but the ones you do save…it makes it all worth it. Here I am one year later. Despite me complaining how hard it is, despite all the rough times I continue to foster because I love it and I made the best decision ever.
It’s funny when someone hears I foster they think I’m some great humanitarian. They praise me on how amazing I am, like I sacrifice so much for them but in reality I do it for me. I do it for selfish reasons, because fostering fills some void in myself. The animals help me just as much as I help them. If anyone is considering fostering I would just like to say give it a shot. It’s not for everyone, but you’ll never know until you try!
Sadly in March Coco had to move to a different foster home. On March 26th, 2015 she ran out the front door near 22nd and Craycroft. She ran too fast for the foster to catch her. We are still looking for Coco. If you see her or have any information about her please contact 520-873-8135.
Julia Kemper is a young woman from Pennsylvania who moved to Tucson to study cultural Anthropology at the U of A. She has always had a passion for animals and finally beat her indecisiveness and decided to foster fail a small chihuahua mix named Tidbit. Julia has fostered 27 animals in the last year.