This week we’re introducing you to one of Wags and Walks amazing fosters, Brett Fielder. Here’s his story:
I'm 51 and I have lived and worked all over the U.S. with my career. I have lived a "city life" for most of adulthood, but I grew up on a working farm in Missouri with cattle, hogs, chickens, rabbits, an assortment of mutts and one very amazing Australian Shepherd named Abe, who was never far from my side. So my love of animals (and respect for how they should be treated) was instilled in me from childhood. I have been in Los Angeles since 2001 and I live in Marina Del Rey. My travel schedule (work) isn't conducive to dog ownership because I travel occasionally for long periods. But I have really enjoyed fostering these past several months and plan to integrate fostering into my schedule from now on.
I euthanized my 17yo cat, Lucy, last June. Lucy (a Devon Rex) had a great, long life and gave me a boatload of love and affection. But Lucy weighed 7lbs and she was not a fan of other cats, any animal that weighed more than her, or anything that diverted Daddy's attention from Lucy. Lucy was a true diva. But after Lucy passed, I decided that animal rescue was what I wanted to do next. I found Wags and Walks through NKLA, got in touch with Megan and the rest is history. I literally had my first dog within 48 hours (Megan works fast!). Since I work from home, I can foster dogs that have medical needs, or dogs that require more 1:1 attention. It's been amazing.
I have fostered 3 dogs since August 2015. Randy was the first (fluffy/white) and I only had him for 3 days.
Buddy (f/k/a Dolce) was next and he was with me 3 weeks, healing from an infection and learning to explore the outdoors after spending his early life in a hoarder house. We were on a walk in the park when Buddy met his new family and charmed them into adopting him.
Misty came next and she was with me for more than 4 months. Misty was a blue pit and she arrived under special circumstances with some special needs. I showered her with love and attention and she gave it back to me tenfold. After a long, long wait, Misty also found her new family at the park in my neighborhood. And I am fortunate that I can see her from time to time and continue to be part of her extended family. Misty showed me (and many of my friends) how misunderstood the pit/bully breed is. I became a huge fan.
My biggest challenge in fostering is that I never want to give them up, but I think many fosters feel that way. What keeps me going is the knowledge that I can save another dog as long as I'm willing to move each one along in the process. A foster's responsibility is to get them ready for their new family....then push them out the door. It's sort of like sending your kid off to college...regularly!
My biggest surprise as a foster parent is the degree to which animals have been mistreated, the degree of PTSD that some have. I remember when Buddy arrived and he simply wouldn't walk or leave his crate. We carried him outdoors to go to the bathroom for several days before we coaxed him into walking...little by little. Organizations like Wags and Walks make a huge difference in the lives of so many animals each year. The rescue is the first step in a long process. Many of them need medical care and they all crave love, affection, safety and stability.
If you're interested in fostering, my advice is simply to give it a try - there is no downside. If it doesn't work for you, the commitment is short. But the foster group is a community and everyone works together. I always know that someone in the group will take my foster dog if there is an emergency. And our foster Facebook group is an excellent resource - someone always responds with advice ASAP if you post a question. Fostering is about more than the dogs. It is about being part of a team with a common goal. I've met some great people through Wags and Walks and I highly recommend joining us as a volunteer or a foster.