Fostering Community Service

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“You get community service hours for keeping puppies in your house?!” is often the reaction I receive when I tell people of my family’s fostering. While not ill intentioned, the jealous tone of this remark shows that the speaker is very ill-informed of what fostering a litter of puppies actually entails.

My family already has three dogs, so when a litter of puppies (and often the mother of the litter) is thrown in, our home can be very hectic. Two full time workers and one full time student being sure to get the puppies fed, exercised, and their pen cleaned requires commitment. Often balancing this leaves the chores undone for a few hours, leaving our house with an unpleasant smell characteristic of an actual animal shelter.

In order to foster half a dozen non potty-trained animals you have to be an extreme animal lover. The constant cleaning and being chewed to death is worth helping out Operation Kindness in keeping these animals healthy before they can be adopted to a permanent home. The embarrassment over the smell that no amount of febreeze can cover when friends come over is worth keeping the puppies and their weak immune systems safe from the disease-rampant shelter. Community service hours are just the icing on the cake, but they cannot be the reason behind fostering or you will dread coming home every day.

I love coming home to the love of eight or nine overly excited and stinky animals. It only slightly bothers me when they chew up my shoelaces or the hems of my pants, when they claw small holes in my nice shirts, or when they step into their own filth before running in my lap. I love them. No matter how smelly they make my house or how many holes or stains they get in my clothes, I love them. After they leave it feels like part of my family is gone.

Another misinterpretation people have is that I get 24 service hours for every day the animals are at my house. If that were the case, I would have the most service hours the school has ever seen. We foster three or four litters a year, for an average of four weeks per litter. That would be a minimum of over 2,000 service hours in just one year. I usually enter in two or three hours for each day the puppies are at my house, which is an accurate representation of how much time per day I spend with them. In the end it still calculates to plenty of hours; I’ve never worried about making the graduation requirement.

Fostering for Operation Kindness is exhausting and frustrating, but it is also something I am passionate about doing. If you love animals as much as I do, I would highly recommend getting your community service hours through fostering animals.

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