Footprints on My Heart

adoptionAn Adoption Story: By Megan Pickard

I have always been an animal lover.  I believe animals teach us unconditional love, more so than any other life lesson. When the time came for me to find a volunteer position, there was no question it would be in the animal field. My family and I had adopted our dog from Wayside Waifs seven years ago, so my mother and I applied to become dog walkers. We took dogs from their kennels outside during the day, so they had a chance to run and socialize with humans beyond a glass door. But I wanted to do more to help animals in my community. So I applied to become a foster mom.

Foster moms bring animals out of the shelter when they need some extra TLC. Some animals are very sick, and some come from abusive homes, so they need to re-learn how to love. Others just don’t do well in the noisy environment of a shelter. I instantly fall in love with every animal that comes home with me, treating them like my own furry babies.

It isn’t easy to care for a sick or scared animal; but each day I care for them, I feel my confidence grow and my sense of purpose renew.

One of my favorite memories as a foster mom is taking my first litter of six lab puppies back to the shelter and meeting each family that came to adopt one. There is so much satisfaction knowing that you helped a family find their forever pet. However, not all experiences are pleasant. Last year, one of my foster kittens died in my care. Her body was taken back to Wayside Waifs, where an autopsy discovered an enlarged heart caused by a genetic disorder. I knew nothing I could have done would have prevented this and nothing I did could have caused it, but I still felt very sad. I took comfort knowing that I had given her the best last days any kitten could have had.

From this sadness, happiness was restored again. Since then, I have taken in seven puppies, many more extremely rambunctious kittens, and cats (one crazy pair climbed the Christmas tree and destroyed several ornaments – that’s when I knew they were well enough to go back to find their forever family).  I currently have an excitable 4-month-old puppy that was rescued from a dog-fighting ring.

What has my volunteer work taught me? My future plans include being a nurse, and I believe the special affection animals show us is teaching me how to be a compassionate nurse. I have taken in several dogs, rescued from abusive situations, which now bathe my face with kisses whenever I return home. The previously mentioned rambunctious cats came to my house extremely malnourished and ill and left with restored health. More than anything, these animals have taught me to love unconditionally, no matter what your past is, reminding me that each day is a gift that should be enjoyed to the fullest –especially if that day brings you Christmas trees to climb and ornaments to destroy!


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