Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Good-bye, sweet princes

The other day, my 14-year-old son, Graham, was sitting on the couch looking at one of our foster cats. Stroking the cat, he said, "I just love you so much, Dusty." I told Graham that while it was going to be difficult to give the Three Amigos up for adoption, we had done the most loving thing for them we could: give them seven weeks of food, shelter, attention and care, so they could be ready for lives with other families. Many of the kittens coming in to the shelter right now have to be euthanized for lack of space. It is figuratively raining kittens and puppies; the shelter does not have enough space or foster care for them all.

Thinking on it, I realize that taking responsibility for another being's welfare (cat, dog, child) leads to a strong emotional bond. These three kittens we picked up seven weeks ago needed us, but have given us so much in return. I follow the Dalai Lama on Facebook (of all places), and just this week he posted:

"Foolish, selfish people are always thinking of themselves and the result is always negative. Wise persons think of others, helping them as much as they can, and the result is happiness. Love and compassion are beneficial both for you and others. Through your kindness to others, your mind and heart will open to peace."


We watched Lucky, Dusty and Ned grow from tiny little orange balls of fur into happy, social, healthy and well-adjusted young cats. The first few weeks, the differences were apparent on a daily basis. Their personalities took hold, their looks became more distinct, their legs lengthened, their teeth came in, their ears became gigantic, and we all grew to love them.

But we can't keep them. We have four cats of our own, and more to foster, more to save from the needle. I told Graham that giving up the Amigos means we can love more cats, save more lives. He said, "But they're the FIRST ONES."

And I understand that completely -- there will be other kittens. And we will grow to love them all before we have to give them up. But Lucky, Dusty and Ned were the ones who taught us how to hold the bottle just so to help a little one nurse. They taught us that cleaning up little poops and pee-spots isn't the worst thing in the world. We learned about the amazing speed of development in a young animal, how to be patient during teething, how to tolerate dozens of tiny scratches on the backs of our hands (little claws can't retract, so every touch from little paws can leave a mark.) They napped on our laps. They licked our faces. They made us laugh. And they came running to the door every day when I came home from work.

Today they're in surgery; I'll pick them up this afternoon. They'll have an opportunity to recuperate, and in the next few days, I will take them to the pet store and say good-bye. It won't take long for them to find new homes -- kittens sometimes are only at the pet store a few hours before they find a new family. Won't I be sad? Of course. Will I cry? Definitely. But I am so proud and happy to have been a little part of an organization that helps orphaned, unwanted, and stray animals find their forever homes.

Adios, Amigos! I love you guys!

(P.S. Top to bottom are Lucky, Ned and Dusty.)

16 comments:

MoonBeam said...

Boo Hoo...I'd be crying my eyes out, but YOU ARE DOING GREAT WORK.

Thanks for caring for those that need it.

Bobbi

Jen said...

You are a sweet person. These guys will make wonderful pets for someone.

Jennifer said...

Will YOU cry? I hardly made it past the first sentence before the waterworks started here. Several people have suggested I foster cats, since I am such a cat person. I just don't think I could give them back. You are doing a wonderful thing and I admire you for it!

Terri said...

You are a beautiful person for doing this, Theresa.

marly said...

I can't imagine how difficult it will be to say goodbye. My friend has done this for years and said it gets easier and more rewarding with each batch. She has kept a few that were special to her. Thank you for taking care of these helpless little sweeties and giving them a chance for a good life.

mymarkdesigns said...

Good grief, I'm tearing up at your post! I don't know if I'd be good at fostering kittens... I'm sad to see these guys go and they were at YOUR home LOL

Ann at Beadlework. said...

Oh you are so right in what you say but it is so hard to give all that love and then say goodbye. They are little beauties and I hope they find loving owners.

Nancy said...

You are teaching your son how to be a compassionate, caring person by example. What a great gift you are giving him!

natalyK said...

Teresa, I have fostered 3 litters of kittens so far and everyone is more rewarding than the next. You have taught your son a very important lesson in compassion. Best wishes, I know the parting will be difficult but know in your heart you have saved them.

Gabi said...

You did a fantastic job with these little fur babies. They are looking happy and healthy. I would shed a tear too, but in the end it's better to let go. You gave them already the biggest gift imaginable. Life and a happy one at that. :)

Michelle H said...

They are so cute! I know it will be hard for you to give them up but you know there are many more out there that need your love and help. Bless you all for doing the amazing job you do for these sweet kitties.

Jacqueline Korteland Boller said...

I'd be crying too, but what lucky kitties to have had you to jump start a good life for them!! And luckier still will be the future owners of these adorable kittens!!

Giovanna said...

You've done a great job with these youngsters, and you are so right to be proud of it!

Lynn said...

I think that what you are doing and the lessons it teaches your children is an incredibly generous and wonderful deed. I know that I just couldn't do this myself because I would bond too much with the kittens. Having to part with them would just do me in.
Kudos to you!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I just returned my 4 foster kittens yesterday and have really been missing them. Your words here really helped! It was a great experience and one that I will definitely do again. I keep telling myself I loved them as best I could for the start of their life and now they will find their forever homes and bring as much love there as they brought to our home. I do miss them running to meet me when I walk in the door but they will bring someone else that joy soon!
Thank you!

Karri said...

Bless you for what you do. As my email address indicates (FelineFosterMom@yahoo.com), I do foster work for our local SPCA by taking in expecting mamas and giving them a safe, secure, and loving home throughout their pregnancy, through delivery and then raising the kittens. Each experience is very rewarding. Do I cry when I have to separate mama from babies and then when the babies are ready to go to the shelter? YOU BET I DO! Then I do it again, and again, and again. Your story had me blubbering from the start because I know exactly how you feel.