Fostering: How do you do it?
Two of my foster puppies are at the Loving Spay+Neuter Clinic today getting (you guessed it) spayed and neutered. Which means that they are ready to be adopted and no longer need to come home with me. I’ll go home and break down the puppy crates, pack up the baby gates, and stop clipping coupons for puppy pads.
I get asked the “how do you do it?” question a lot.
“I could never foster, I’d end up keeping them all!”
I’ll admit; the first time it was hard. Not the initial “bringing home the puppies” part - that part is easy. Sure, the potty training is a little rough, and the 2am i-hate-my-crate-and-want-to-get-out-NOWNOWNOW gets old pretty quickly. But the universe made puppies cute for a reason and you quickly adjust to the new normal - rolling up area rugs, hiding the bathroom trash can on top of the toilet tank, baby gates, daily mopping, etc.
Sometimes you’ll want to pull your hair out. One adult dog foster I brought home escaped from her crate, opened up the refrigerator, and helped herself to a head of broccoli. Another foster, Nugget, hid my phone under a bush in the backyard. And my wallet. And my car keys.
But teaching them manners is kid’s play compared to letting them go.
I promise you that it gets better. In the last year, I have fostered more than a dozen dogs. Once you let the first few go, it becomes easier and easier to see the big picture - each animal that you love, take care of, and then send to their forever home makes room for the next one that needs you.
Trout and Cora made room for Spike and Annie. Mikayla made room for Jovie. Koala made room for Nugget. Most recently, Pearl, Pewter, Porpoise and Pencil made room for Trout, Bo, and Spoon (pictured above - and still available!).
No one can adopt them all. But we can help them all find homes!
RAL is always looks for fosters - for puppies and kittens, but also for adult cats and dogs who need a break from shelter life, a chance to recover from an injury or illness, or simply the opportunity to learn that people are alright.
If you are interested in fostering, please email email@example.com.
What you should know about…
Art by Matt Machado, RAL volunteer
Wendy, a one year old beagle/basset hound mix, helps Executive Director Amy McCracken receive the BIG CHECK from ACAC
During the shortest month of the year, ACAC raised $22,925 for Richmond Animal League (RAL) – an amount that will make a difference in the lives of animals all year round.
Between February 1st and February 28th, ACAC locations in Midlothian and Short Pump offered 25 day memberships for $25 and donated all of the special membership fees to RAL. Current members were encouraged to invite their family and friends to check out the premier fitness centers and sample the variety of classes and amenities offered at both locations.
The goal of the campaign was to raise $10,000 for RAL – enough to cover one month’s worth of medical expenses. As word of the special spread around Richmond, the $25 memberships started adding up to the tune of $22,925, more than twice the starting goalACAC has joined with other non-profit organizations in the past for similar campaigns, but this year, rather than choose a national group, ACAC decided to pick a local charity to be the beneficiary of the funds. Every dollar raised will remain within the community that funded it, and go directly towards caring for animals here in Richmond who rely on RAL for help.
In a fitting tribute, the first animal to arrive at RAL after the announcement of the campaign total, a young shih tzu mix, was named ACAC and adopted almost immediately.
Have you met Nelly?
Nelly is one of the dogs in foster through our Gracie’s Guardians pit bull division. Nelly is the perfect companion dog - sweet, snuggly, potty-trained, and ready to come home with you! Nelly qualifies for our Seniors for Seniors program, which means her adoption fee is waived for adopters 55 years or older!
She’s not as spunky as she used to be, so she’d make a wonderful couch buddy in a laid-back household. She knows all about the comforts of dog beds, leisurely walks around the neighborhood, and the occasional treat snuck under the table.
For more information about Nelly, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put Your Head On My Shoulder
“Paul Anka? Who’s he?” A quick Google and we were listening to “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” and dancing a handsome new cat around the shelter.
Paul Anka is a new arrival in our Adult Cat Room. He’s a great snuggler - I suspect he may be part koala or sloth because he will hug you until he falls asleep.
Here, he and Adoption Coordinator Alissa Turchen are having a moment. Come visit Paul Anka and have your own moment!
The story of Abe
We here at RAL are probably about 90% volunteer-run. Without the dedication and hard work of our many volunteers, we simply wouldn’t be able to continue to operate as an organization. So it’s a good thing we have the most dedicated, hard-working volunteers in the whole wide world! These folks truly care about and even come to love the pets in our care; they talk their favorite pets up to their friends and neighbors, they check the “adoption pending” board every time they come in, and they rejoice right along with the staff when a long-timer finally goes home.
Lauren Brown, Friday night dog crew volunteer, was madly in love with Abe, a big, black, older lab mix with quite a story and the bodily scars to prove it. Lauren was determined to help him get adopted. When he finally went home with a family of his own this past week, Lauren sent us this:
“… Every Friday evening after work, I make the trek from Short Pump to Midlothian in rush hour traffic to the animal shelter where I volunteer. I walk, feed, bathe, and medicate the dogs, as well as clean their cages and do the laundry. Here, for 2 precious hours, I forget myself and find my purpose. I am present. I am content. I am useful. All of the worldly clamors of my life are a whisper compared to the desperate cries and persistent howls of these animals in need. I heard Abe’s. I answered.
…One would be blind not to see a gnarly past buried thick in the soul of this animal by his sad, pleading eyes and marred face. Tears welled up in my eyes and my incredible hurt for Abe produced a lump in my throat. Upon learning of the little bit of history that is known of him, I questioned humanity and wondered who could possibly have the capacity to harm this dog.
As the weeks went by, I looked more and more forward to Fridays. I knew I would get to see Abe! Although I eagerly looked forward to seeing him every week, my heart also ached for Abe to find a home. Not just any home, but a good home. Someone who understood how tender you must be with him. I prayed for it. Abe and I had formed an undeniable bond that had made me incredibly sensitive to his future and especially protective of him.
[Recently], a mother came in with her two little girls. They were interested in learning more about Abe. I was interested in learning more about them. Were they good enough for my Abe? They questioned me about him as I carefully and cautiously questioned them. The mother explained that she had brought her 2 youngest girls, but had left her oldest daughter at home, as well as her husband.
Tonight, as I walked into the shelter to start my shift and over to Abe’s cage, I found the mother with the little girls. She had brought her husband, along with her oldest daughter. I saw that her oldest is handicapped. She has never been able to walk or talk and is bound to a wheelchair. I greeted the family and then I looked at Abe’s cage. It read: “Pending Adoption”. Abe is going home.
Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get moments to appreciate how precious this life really is. Each of these moments can just pass us by in just an instant if we are not awake enough to grab them, hold them, savor them. I was given one of these moments today. I was given the chance to see a family’s lives completed. I was given the gift of seeing Abe’s new life start.”
Best volunteers in the world, no further proof needed.
The Best Party…Never?
Q: So what’s the deal with this “Best Party Never?” How does my staying in sweatpants and eating M&M’s straight out of a family size bag from Costco help animals?
A: Don’t question the power of M&M’s eaten straight out of the bag.
Fundraising is like sausage - the results are amazing but the process can be messy and complicated. Don’t get me wrong, fundraising events are an amazing source of reliable revenue for non-profits, but they require a lot of time, energy, and money.
Yes, money. The old adage “it takes money to make money” is true at RAL. We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by generous individuals and businesses, but catering bills, venue fees, decorating budgets and printing prices are tallied up, a big chunk of the money raised at a black tie event never makes it back to the nuts and bolts of running a shelter.
And energy and time? Shelter employees can spend MONTHS planning a big event - coordinating the necessary permits, arranging for the delivery of portapotties and ice, wrangling press coverage, interviewing bands…you get the picture.
So this year, we’re cutting out all of the fat. This year, ALL of the money raised by our non-event is going to save lives. It’s going to pay for T-Boz’s heartworm treatment. And Timber’s hip replacement. It’s paying to spay and neuter momma cats and their kittens. It’s also keeping the lights on, and the food bowls full, and making sure that we can keep our feral cat Callie’s favorite wet food on hand.
This fall, we’ll be right back at it. We’ve got an incredible plan in the works for our fall event that will knock your socks off (and lighten your wallets just a little).
But this spring, we’re throwing the Best Party Never and we hope you (won’t) attend.
How can you help?
Buy tickets to the Best Party Never
Fill out the RSVP card included in your invitation, and send it in with the amount you’d like to give. Haven’t received your invitation? You can donate today! Visit our donation page and be sure to write “Best Party Never” in the comment box.
Visit our website for details about our online auction during the month of February. New items are available for bid every week! Bid on a signed copy of Richmond’s own Young House Love: THE BOOK, or a 2 hour Segway tour from Segway of Richmond - check back often, and BID HIGH!
Invite your friends
Can’t stand to miss out on a party? Host a fundraising event in your home - invite your friends, neighbors, family and coworkers to a beer or wine tasting, Scrabble tournament, or Wii bowl-a-thon. Collect donations and save lives!
Puppy Play Time
If you are having a terrible day, please come visit. Fish and W.W. will do their best to cheer you up.
If you are having a wonderful day, please come visit. Fish and W.W. want to share in your good humor.
Fish (brown and white) and W.W. (black and tan) are available for adoption! Visit www.ral.org for more information about all of our available pets.
Sometimes it takes a little faith to see the “after” in all the “befores” that walk through our doors. While Noble Fir may have entered RAL looking like the poster child for animal neglect, she showed us that she had no interest in dwelling on her sad story, and was instead ready RIGHT NOW to have an awesome life.
We put a sweater on her to hide her bald patches. Took her on shorter walks so she wouldn’t get cold. Pointed her out to visiting girl scouts and made them cry (sorry, Emily).
What must she have been thinking the whole time?
When an awesome new volunteer expressed an interest in adopting Noble Fir, we were ecstatic.
And when this “after” picture landed in our inbox today, well, the ghost of every girl scout we ever made cry came back to haunt us.
Thank you, Karen McKenzie, for loving and adopting Noble Fir!
PS Thank you to RAL volunteer photographer Betsy Spath for snagging this “after” picture of Noble Fir!
Thomas the Tank
I was first introduced to Thomas in one of the RAL vans. He was one of half a dozen dogs that had just arrived at our shelter from a rural Virginia animal control facility. Despite my promises that I was a nice person, Thomas wasn’t quite ready to give up security of the kennel he knew for the big world outside of the van. Once I convinced him to leave his kennel, he hid under the van.
Not for love or money (or treats) was he coming out from under the van. I was sure that he was going to break his thin nylon leash at any minute and disappear into the pine trees. With the help of the clinic staff, we pried him out from beneath the van and I carried all 50 pounds of him into the shelter.
Where he hid in the back of his kennel.
That was a week ago. Today, people are among his top three favorite things (behind walks and dinner). I could hardly get far enough away from him to take a picture! He was too excited for ear rubs and back scratches to chase after a tennis ball.
I cannot wait to see Thomas in a home. The progress he’s made in our little shelter is only a glimpse of what he could be as a part of a family.