My home is under attack. Ants invaded the house last month. Thousands of them appeared from under a skirting board in the hall. The teenagers are on their mad three-month summer break and were no help whatsoever. They ran to their rooms screaming, leaving me to sort the problem out. I scratched at imaginary ants on my head, then my arms, then at my legs. I was turning into my own horror movie. I needed chemicals.
Ants greeted me at the front door when I returned empty handed from the shops. The chemical Ant Killing sprays and powders had sold out. The whole county must have been under ant attack too. So I Googled my problem and an eco friendlier solution came up: Cinnamon. Luckily I had loads of it left over from Christmas and the mulled wine that I never got around to making.
Two and a half tubs of the ground spice later and to my total and utter amazement, the ants disappeared. It turns out that they really do hate cinnamon. They are not the only ones. “What’s that smell?” my husband said when he came through the door. The house smelt like one big a Yankee candle. “Ants. We have an invasion,” I informed him with a peg on my nose. The cinnamon was making me sneeze.
I continued to shake cinnamon on the floor right by his feet when he dropped the bombshell. “Have you ever thought about fostering?” “You cannot be SERIOUS?” I replied, but he was serious. Fostering? That’s for compassionate grown ups that have time and emotional maturity in equal measures. That rules me out.
At that moment, we had a house full of ants, teenagers locked in their bedrooms and I have the menopause knocking at my door with a bag load of HRT. I have had never thought about fostering but have been dreaming about moving to Greece. I want to spend the last fifty years of my life ant-free, surrounded by sun, sea and cheap wine. Fostering had never, ever entered my mind.
“What about the kids?” I panicked. “They’ll get jealous. We’d have less time for them.” So, because he is emotionally mature and I am easily persuaded, we talked it through with the children “YES YES YES!” was the eldest response. “It will be so much fun” was the youngest. That was that. We had their approval. My husband made the phone call and started the ball rolling.
Very soon we were interviewed and home checked. It didn’t take long at all. Two days later they arrived and we became foster carers. We took in more than one; there were four of them in total. Four adorable little black and white puppies came to live with us for a fortnight.
When the KWWSPCA opened an animal rescue centre five minutes from our home it was only a matter of time before we got involved. We are doggy people. We have doggy mugs, doggy t-shirts a very generous doggy mad Granny.
Thanks to Super-Gran, our dogs have t-shirts, jumpers and winter coats and would not look out of place in Beverly Hills with their diamante leads and crystal collars. We even have a sign ‘Love Me Love My Dog’ at the door. People tell me that I am even beginning to look like one of my dogs. I take that as a compliment.
The KWWSPCA currently has over thirty dogs looking for new homes. To lighten their load, they foster out animals whilst new permanent homes are found. Too few people neuter their dogs despite calls to do so from animal welfare groups. The result is an overwhelming amount of unwanted dogs and puppies.
I am too soft and burst into tears when we first went along to the new premises in Athgarvan. A dog had just been handed into them, a cruelty case. A dog that had been in a puppy farm for years, in a crate and didn’t even know how to walk. His back legs were stiff and deformed and his face was filled with sorrow.
“Why are you crying?” the KWWSPCA manager, Laura, asked me. “Because it is so sad,” I sobbed into my sleeves. “But it’s not sad. He is here now and we’ll find him a lovely home” Laura replied. A few weeks of TLC from the volunteers at the animal sanctuary later his tail was up, he was walking and was a totally different dog. He found his spirit, his forever home and is now absolutely adored by his new owner.
The KWWSCPA relies on donations to rescue, treat and re-home the animals that arrive at their door. Temporary fostering is a win-win situation. It lightens the load at the sanctuary and means that foster carers get to play with puppies for a few weeks until they are found a permanent home.
“We need earplugs,” a very weary looking husband said the day after our fostered puppies arrived. Then smallest, the runt of the litter went missing. We found her hiding under a cupboard, asleep. Then the sparkiest one took a shine to my scarves. She found a whole box of them and chewed, pulled and dragged them around the house with me chasing after her.
Another puppy kept playing hide and seek in the hedge whilst another kept making a beeline for the pond. After an hour of chaos, the cuddled up together and slept, they slept for eighteen hours a day. Fostering puppies is just like having four hilarious, cuddly toddlers in the house. They have literally filled our hearts and house with joy. For two weeks, all of us have loved every minute, even the three times a day slopping out.
Thanks to the KWWSPA’s Facebook page, each puppy has been re-homed and we shall be taking more in soon. If you are thinking about getting a dog, don’t think twice. Get involved and foster or adopt one. To quote a wise woman, “Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend never had a dog”.
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