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Fostering & Rescue – a wicked double edge sword...

Monday, July 25, 2011

For anyone that knows me, they know I love my animals. I can be harsh as hell with humans, but a dog or cat will melt me in a heartbeat.

Tina got me started in the fostering and rescue work. I’m a smart girl. I know the animal is in this situation for a reason and not usually a good one. Abuse, mistreated, behavioral issue either of their own making or something a human has inflicted on them.

I know that the outcome is either joyous or heart wrenching.

Tina and I have covered both sides of that. We have lost a litter of kittens or two, along with a mama that either had physical or behavioral issues. It hurts, it really hurts. Maybe because I am a born “fixer.” I want to “fix it and make it better.”

The biggest most rewarding foster was Tyson . What a little man he was. www.sparkpeople.com/mypa

The ER vet ride with him will be with me until the day I leave this earth. Same for the day I watched him ride down the driveway with his forever mom! My heart was sad to see him go, but so joyous for such a wonderful outcome for such a great dog and loving human.

Sam came into our lives about two years ago.

His mama had been run over by a car and he was but a couple weeks old – eyes open, but not walking real strong. Tina and I (mostly Tina) sat up nights to bottle feed him every two hours. We watched him grow. We watched our other cat, Katie, try to kill him a time or two – not sure if it was intentional or a learning experience.

He was a beautiful, big male with large eyes and distinct markings. Rail thin, but weighed 14 lbs. All muscle.

Somewhere along the line, he took a dislike to Tina, regardless of all of her nurturing efforts. It was nothing for him to hiss or swat or try to bite her for no reason. For a while he had some issues with me as well, didn’t seem to like his back end touched, but I kept working on him.

The biggest issue we had, and one hard to take from a cat, was inappropriate urinating. He seemed to like textures, - bathmats, blankets, “brand new carpet”, the list goes on. Took him to the vet and he did have a slight urinary tract infection. Figured as soon as the meds kicked in – life would be good again.

Sam and I were very close. He was MY cat. Ya know, I am 50 something and have had a ton of animals in my life, but never one that was totally devoted to me as Sam was. He was MY boy. No one else’s. We would cuddle in the mornings of the quiet house. I discussed life issues with him on a regular basis.

The meds did not work. And the issue got worse. Talked with the vets and they told me – hard as it was to hear, that kittens that lose their mother’s usually have behavioral issues. Maybe we should think about crating him!! Are you crazy – in a house of 3 dogs and two other cats – crate him? What kind of life is that. Add to that he had been declawed, so putting him out was not an option (we have 3 other outside cats that have been steadfast or 10 years).

We tried everything. Play therapy. Toys out the wazoo to keep him busy. I bought a harness and took him out and sat in the yard with him. He had always been a really skitty cat. Everything frightened him – I believe now, part of the whole issue.

The urinating got worse and to be honest – a lot of personal property damage occured. It was suggested that we re-home him. Now this is a cat with a mean side – to everyone but me. He was “red-jacketed” at the vet office. How do you re-home a cat like that? Who wants a cat that will destroy their home. A cat with so many issues that is so unhappy with everything but me.

Bottom line, we decided to have Sam euthanized this past week. He was not a happy boy, and there was not a good solution for him.

Even aside from my broken heart, it feels like such a failure. It is a LAST resort for someone who believes in fostering and rescue work. I am tormented by the fact that we could not make him truly happy. I came to the point where I knew it was the most humane act for him and thankfully, while I could not do it myself, I was able to count on Tina. Not an easy task for her, I know, but I can always count on her.

With all the other stuff I have been faced with so far this summer (there is more news to come in the proper time) this was the straw that broke me. I have cried for days. The hurt and disappointment is overwhelming. Yeah, I hear some of you – it is just a cat. Not for me. It is a loss, a failure. Something I am struggling to come to grips with.

So, I am a little off my game and this is why. I am working hard to remember all the good we have done in rescue an fostering and acknowledge that I cannot always fix everything.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    3372 days ago
  • FABAT402009
    Jan!!! I am so sorry for the loss of Sam!! Everyone who knows you knew how much you loved that little guy. You aren't a failure, the work you and Tina do is so filled with love and compassion.

    I know things are fresh and the pain is over whelming right now but please know you did everything you could!

    I love you lady and praying for you and Tina!!
    3373 days ago
    Jan - I am so so sorry to hear your story. I know the pain you are feeling all to well. You are a brave and wonderful person and you did the right thing no matter what. I know it was one of the hardest decisions you ever had to make. Bless Tina for being there for you and for Sam. Bless you and Tina for doing what you do for all the animals that you have taken in. You are in my prayers. You will get through these adverse times and come out so much stronger. You have all the love and support at home and here on our team. God Bless.
    3373 days ago
  • WENDY27
    OH Jan, I am so sorry to hear about that. I had a cat that was similiar to Sam. My heart goes out to you because he was part of your family. I can only imagine how hard the decision was for you and Tina. Know that both of you are in my thoughts. emoticon
    3373 days ago
    Oh Jan, I had no idea. I am very sorry. I cannot imagine what an agonizing decision that was. No, Sam was not "just" a cat. Sam was a friend and you cared for him like a mother. It is certainly normal to grieve such a loss. You and your family (human & animal!) will be in my thoughts.

    You mean a great deal to me. Please do your best to take care and not be too hard on yourself.
    3374 days ago
  • ELIZ181
    Jan how sad. One more thing for you to deal with. No animal is just a dog or cat, they become part of you. Rescued animals come with their own little baggage as you said not created by them. Sometimes we can deal with the baggage sometimes we can’t over come it.

    Please try to remember you gave Sam 2 years that he would not have had. He just for whatever reason could not get over his beginning. You do such amazing work with Tina helping so many that have noone. emoticon
    3374 days ago
    Dear, dear Jan...........your summer HAS been he** and this most certainly has to have been just awful. We have 2 cats and a dog - none of them rescues but very dear to us just the same - and I can only imagine your pain right now. No, Sam was not "just a cat". Not even in the least.

    You gave Same a home. You gave him your love. You gave him a chance to live that he'd not have gotten back when he was 2 weeks old. He'd never have survived. He knew, Jan, that you loved him above everything else. And no, he was not a happy cat. He was, as you already know, a miserable one, and you tried your hearts out to try to help him. You DID end up helping him in the most loving and humane possible way, and whether people believe THIS or not, right now Sam is most likely happier than he's ever been. I believe that there is a special place for the souls of pets - there simply cannot be an end to creatures who so willingly give of themselves. And Sam DID give to you, my friend. In so very many ways. He may have been as mean as a snake to everyone but you - but he gave of himself to you. He's no longer mean, and he's being loved where he is just for himself, as you loved him here. He is now fixed...........it's just not the "fixing" you envisioned for him.

    It's now your heart that will need to mend. And we'll all be here to support you as it does.

    3374 days ago
    My heart aches for you Jan! I know what Sam meant to you and NO, he wasn't JUST a cat! He was a companion for you, as most of us who have animals know. They become a part of our families.

    I know that you did everything you could for him and that coming to your decision was most definitely not an easy one for you. There is only so much you can do. Doesn't help the hurt go away though.

    Everything you do for all those foster animals you should feel very proud about and not a failure at all. Some things are just beyond your control.

    This to shall pass and in the end, make you a stronger woman!

    3374 days ago
    Oh Jan, I am SO VERY SORRY for your loss. I have heard you talk about Sam often and I know how utterly devoted you have been to him. For you to come to this decision, I have no doubt it was the right decision for all of you.

    You know how I struggled with Sidney for some of the very same reasons and you know that I also had to relinquish him. Nothing can take away your pain but I need to tell you something you already know. You are NOT a failure. You gave Sam a happy life, a life he would never have had without you. It's tragic that he lost his Momma so young but that happened before your watch and you had no control over that. You did all you could to remedy his sad start at life and, by all indications, you did one heck of a great job.

    Bless you and Tina for your work with these precious kitties and dogs. Many would never have the heart to save and then say good bye. Love hurts sometimes. This is definitely one of those times. HUGS!!!
    3374 days ago
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