I’ve always been an animal person. Growing up, my sister and I weren’t exposed to all things animals but obviously our parents instilled something in our hearts that led us both to wanting to do better for the animals in our community.
Let me start off by saying my sister, Leslie Harrelson, is the founder of P.E.T.S. Low Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic. I say that because obviously her impact in our community is much more profound than mine. I am so proud of her and all that she has done. Our community has come so far since she began PETS in 2007.
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist for Wichita Falls ISD and have been for the last 15 years. My husband and I both work full time. We have two crazy, busy kids who do everything! I mean everything! My husband and I coach my son’s soccer team. I am an assistant coach on my daughter’s soccer team. My husband and I are both very involved in managing our son’s competitive baseball team that takes us out of town most every weekend March through June. My daughter also is involved in our local theatre, volleyball and basketball. My son is also involved in basketball and football. Did I mention at any given time we have 4 dogs of our own? I say this because I know I can’t do everything my sister and her employees/volunteers do, but I felt like I could still make in impact.
Amongst all of our chaos, we are constantly trying to do what we can for the animals. Over the years, we have donated items to the annual PETS garage sale. We have worked that garage sale. We have volunteered at PETS Fest. In fact, we have volunteered at PETS as much as we can. We donate money any chance we get. My kids love seeing their name up on the sponsor board that hangs in the PETS clinic. We have served pancakes at Applebee’s for PETS fundraisers.
The kids hold an annual PETS Pantry Food Drive starting around Thanksgiving through Christmas and have been fortunate enough to donate over 10,000 lbs of of dog food to those in need. Just this year we collected 4,995 lbs of food!!! We have walked dogs at the Humane Society. We have taken tennis balls to the City of Animal Services. We have stuffed Christmas stockings for those dogs at the shelter, so they have new things when they get adopted. We have made videos of dogs and shared on Facebook to help with adoptions.
We also adopt special needs rescue dogs as often as we can. We will always adopt a rescue dog because we know that saves a life. But how could I save more?
PETS Underdog Express has been around for several years and as of July 2019, they have sent over 2,600 to New York where they find forever homes quickly. These are perfectly good dogs that sit in our shelters. They just happen to be dogs that are dumped on the side of the road. Dogs that are owner surrendered. Dogs that go overlooked here in Texas. The list goes on and on.
I want you to know that I am you. The one that looks at their pictures, the one that shares the posts, the one that donates money but at the same time wishing they could do more. I begged my husband for a solid two years to let me foster. Again, we have dogs that have special needs and take a little more time than other dogs.
I have a husband who thankfully loves animals as much as me. If a dog enters his house, that dog isn’t leaving. If I want a new dog, all I have to do is get him to hold the dog then I know he won’t want to let the pup go. But in March of this year, we had a dog in our home for 8 weeks and we let him go. After he was abandoned by his family, ran the streets for several weeks, hit by a car and left to die, he recovered in our home and we loved him with every fiber in our bodies.
Tears are pouring down my cheeks as I type this because Truman might have been one of the best dogs I’ve ever had. However, Truman was an 80 lb pittie mix and we have 4 much smaller dogs. It was not a match made in heaven for our current pack of dogs. We honestly tried. We even had a dog behavior specialist come out but Truman was meant to be either an only dog due to his anxiety or at least with a dog that is respectful of him. He is fearful of most dogs. We found him a wonderful home where he is currently the only dog with just his wonderful momma who I keep in touch with often. We even get to visit him whenever we want.
My husband told me he would never, ever do that again. Our hearts were truly broken when Truman left. I tried to explain to him that our intention was to keep Truman; it just didn’t work out. I knew then that if I could let Truman go, I could foster. These dogs enter your home for just a short period of time to prepare them for their trip and their new families waiting for them in New York. You love them for however long you have with them. You know going into it, you also have to love them enough to let them go. My friends say “How can you do it? I couldn’t let them go.” and I tell them my heartache is worth their happiness. I think that is what fostering honestly comes down to.
I asked to foster a dog for my Mother’s Day gift this year. My husband finally agreed and Noble came into our lives shortly after on May 19th and we were able to love that sweet puppy until we said good-bye to her on Wednesday July 3rd. She was the best first foster dog! She was adopted the first day she arrived in NY on Saturday July 6th. She has an amazing family who sends me pictures and videos and updates me whenever they can. Yes, I cry every time I hear from them but it’s tears of happiness. I feel like it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
The point of this whole post is to tell you again that I am you. I’ve sat there wondering if I could do it. Did I have the time? I know there are several of you that want to give fostering a try. Go for it!!! We desperately need more fosters to save more lives. Even if you decided to foster just once a year that is still amazing. If everyone I knew fostered one animal each year just think of how many animals that would save!
Fostering has brought my family so much happiness. We feel like we are really doing something; that we are making a difference. I know I’m making a difference in my kid’s lives to; by teaching them that they can always do something for the animals. Foster #2 was precious Kenan who we had for only 2.5 weeks and he was adopted recently on 8/28/19. Currently, foster #3 is Jake and he will head to NY on 9/18. I know I can’t foster back to back, but I plan on fostering when I can.
If you have any questions; if you have ever thought about it; if you are ready right now, please let me know! You fill out an application. You get approved. You pick a dog. You get them vetted.
You crate train them. You teach them things like walking on a leash or how to sit. You love them!! And guess what–they are forever grateful to you for giving them a chance.