Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Interview with a Fosterer - Jennifer Hawk



Introduce yourself and where do you hail from?

My name is Jennifer Hawk, I live in San Antonio, Texas.  I work for an insurance company.

What rescue group, shelter or sanctuary do you foster for?

I foster for The Animal Defense League, this year is their 80th anniversary as a NO-KILL shelter.

What kinds of animals do you normally foster? 

Kittens!  I'm a "Bottle Feeder".  I also take in older kittens that have not made their weight.  (2 pounds)  I have tried puppies, but I'm MUCH better with kittens.




How did your adventure being a fosterer begin? 

I read a newspaper article about a local shelter that was looking for people to foster and the article told a little about what they do, it really sounded great, but this shelter was too far away, so I started looking closer to my home, and I found The Animal Defense League.  I loved that they had been in the city for so long, and they have always been a no-kill shelter.

How do you keep yourself from becoming too attached to the fosters you help?

There is NO WAY to not be too attached!  The first few times I fostered, I cried when I took them back!  I thought that I couldn't keep doing this, that it was too painful.  But the more I fostered, the less it hurt to return them!  I made a friend in the Adoptions department, and she would tell me what kind of people adopted "my" kittens, and it was ALWAYS the perfect family for that kittens' personality!  

What is most frustrating for you as a foster? 
Losing a kitten!  You're up all night, trying to save it, you don't know what's wrong, how to fix it, how to make the poor baby feel better.  Its the most helpless feeling in the world!  Thankfully, it rarely happens, and the people at the shelter you volunteer with are VERY available to you with a shoulder to cry on, and kind words.  

What is most rewarding?

When you see a kitten THRIVING!  When you walk into a room and they come running toward you, when they curl up in your lap and purr all evening. When you see them no longer afraid of people!




What experience moved or inspired you the most?

There are 2 of them.  Larry, he was the shiz-su (can not spell that!!)  He was thrown out of a moving car in front of the ADL, he had a bad front leg. The ADL removed the leg, and he needed a quiet place to heal.  I brought him home, gave him a warm, quiet bed.  He got his medication every day, a little walking and a lot of HUGS!  My mother in law came over a few days later and met him.  It was LOVE!  Then my father in law met Larry, that was it!  Larry had a forever home!  Its been a year and Larry is the most well cared for dog I've ever seen!  He's walked 2-3 times a day, (But if he gets tired, my father in law carries him!) He has regular grooming appointments, Vet appointments, lots of chew toys.  He is NEVER alone unless he wants to be.  

There is also Peenalope.  (Not Penelope, but Peen-uh-lope) I got Peenalope when she was 3 weeks old.  She was the size of a wireless computer mouse.  The family taking care of her found her in their back yard.  Her mother had been scared off by a dog.  The family cared for her for a while, but the children were getting too attached to her, so they brought her to the ADL. I will admit it right now, she scared me to death!  She was the size of a 3 day old kitten, not a 3 week old!  She had no energy, and honestly, I didn't think she would last through the day, but she looked up at me with this look that I still can not put into words, I took her home and held her all day.  I tried feeding her formula every 15-30 minutes.  Even if it just a few drops.  I did this for the first 3 days she was with me.  If I needed a break, my husband would hold her.  By the 3rd day, she was bigger and stronger had more energy.  She gained almost 3 ounces those first few days and I was so happy!  I knew she was going to be just fine, though quite spoiled!!  She would not drink her bottle if it was too hot or too cold! Once she was off the bottle, she demanded that her food be warmed, but not too hot or too cold!  She was quite the little princess!  Of course I indulged her!  How could I not?  She was a miracle kitten!  Larry came to stay with us when Peenalope was about 6 weeks old, I swear to you, she thought we bought her a puppy!  Larry was "her" pet and only she could play with him-whether he liked it or not!  Larry likes cats, but did not know what to do with kittens, he avoided her.  When Peenalope was 12 weeks old, she had reached her 2 pounds and was returned to the ADL.  She was available for adoption in the kittery for less than 3 hours.  She was adopted right away by a very nice lady who had been looking for the "right" kitten for a long time.


Do you have pets of your own? How do they respond to the foster animals? 
I have 3 "permanent" cats; Fonzie, Fiona and Fergie.  Fergie was my first (and only-so far!) failed foster.  Fergie hates the kittens.  Period. Fonzie is much more tolerant, he jumps in to teach them how to play nicely and be good cats.  Fiona isn't too interested, but if they're really scared, she actually reaches out with her paw and "pets" them.  Once, I had 2 kittens, Elvis & Priscilla, who were NOT getting the hang of the litter box.  Fiona walked over and scratched in the litter box and that was that! No problems after that! 

What advice can you give to someone who might be wanting to become a foster?

GO FOR IT!!!  It is the most rewarding thing I've ever done.  People always tell me how "wonderful" I am to care for these animals, and I always feel guilty, because I actually feel very selfish!  I get to play with kittens ALL I WANT!!!  

When you are not saving animals what do you like to do? 

As little as possible!  I'm actually a very lazy person.

*** When someone asks me what its like to give up animals you've raised, I tell them its like the very first time you had your heart broken.  You swear you'll never fall in love again, that its too painful and you're done.  Then you realize that it was a lot of fun, and well, maybe.....Then it gets easier, and you start looking forward to the next batch.  And before you know it, you're a FOSTERER!








And now the questions from Inside the Actors Studio:

What is your favorite word? Gingivitis 
What is your least favorite word? Pupil
What turns you on? Anything happy, fun and with good friends.
What turns you off? Nasty, rude people.
What sound or noise do you love? Ocean, a purring kitten, the ice cream man
What sound or noise do you hate? Sirens, an animal in pain
What is your favorite curse word? (funny question!!) Shit
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Lawyer
What profession would you not like to do? Insurance Actuary
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You're finally here! Come and sit down, Stevie Ray is about to play and Elvis is up next. Your parents are waiting for you with some of your old friends; Birdbiter,Chubby, Fonzie and a whole bunch of animals that called you mommy!



28 comments:

  1. Yay!! Great interview....and bless her for taking the bottle babies

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    1. I LOOOOVE the bottle babies!! It never feels like work, even at 2am!!

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  2. My mom-person say´s it was fun to read about how it is to be a fosterer :)
    She say´s it´s to bad my dad-person is allergic :(
    Otherwise our home would be full with fostercat´s :)

    XOXO

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    1. Believe it or not, my husband has a slight cat allergy! He has trouble with the tiny kittens, so I never take in more than 3 bottle babies at a time. We have 3 air cleaners, and use those Filtrete Ultra Allergen filters in the air conditioning unit. It also helps that our home is all floors. Its a little more work, but so worth it!!

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  3. We're sending purrs to you because you sound like a wonderful person! Alice's cat-mom (and her 3 kittens) was fostered so Alice was born in a foster home. She only spent one day at the shelter before I adopted her.

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    1. And MANY purrs to you for adopting from a shelter!

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  4. What a great interview! I love bottle feeding kittens. Tutu is the only bottle fed baby who ended up staying. :)

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    1. Good for you for showing such great restraint!! I know how hard it is not to keep them ALL!!

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  5. Oh yeah, this series returns! I loved the story about Larry. :-)

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    1. Hi Rene! Yes, Larry is my greatest success story! Especially because I get to see him regularly! A few months ago, I took Larry to visit with my nephew who was afraid of dogs. By the end of the visit, he asked if he could have a "Larry dog"!! He was no longer afraid! That was pretty amazing!

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  6. Lovely interview! That's a nice way to describe giving up the foster babies. I still don't think I could do it! :)

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    1. I promise you, it CAN be done!! The trick is to take the love you have for your fosters and put it on hold until you get the next batch! It takes a few times, and a lot of tears, but it WILL happen, I PROMISE!!! Please try it, you will NEVER regret it!

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  7. Bless her for fostering those adorable babies.

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    1. You're very kind! The blessing belongs to The Animal Defense League, for ALLOWING me to foster babies.

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  8. I wish humans like Jennifer, and you could be cloned! We need more foster humans!

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    1. Good morning Sparkle! I promise I'm working to find more foster people!! I have convinced 2 people at work so far, and I continue everywhere I go, to anyone who will listen.

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  9. What a wonderful interview! Thank you, Jennifer, for fostering! We volunteer at a shelter, and our foster parents are so vital and awesome. :)

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    1. No, thank YOU for letting me play with kittens!!

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  10. What a wonderful lady and an inspiration. So many little ones have found their happy thanks to her love and care!

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    1. Brian, you're right! I work really hard to "teach" my babies to be good companions. I always do a looong write up about their personalities so that they find the right forever home, and I pray-A LOT! Thank you for your kind words!!

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  11. great interview,fosteres do a fab job,xx Rachel

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  12. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! And especially you, Connie! You have the kindest followers!! You all make me want to work harder toward my ultimate goal of making a living as a foster parent!! And when I do, I will tell each and every one of you EXACTLY how I did it!

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  13. Concatulations on all your pawsome work ! Purrs

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    1. Thank you! It's truly an honor to care for God's fuzzy children!! (And so much fun!!)

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  14. Love this post/series! It's so awesome to hear you as a foster parent, interview other foster parents about fostering and about themselves. I think it will really help "foster" {sorry about the pun} more people to foster!!!

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    1. Yes! I think Connie needs to find a literary agent, and make these stories into a book! Maybe a format like "Chicken Soup for the Fosterers soul". How 'bout it Connie???

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  15. What a fabulous post and love the stories of Larry and Peenalope. What a special person Jennifer is.

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    1. The last picture, the one with the pink carrier, is Peenalope! She was about 7-8 weeks here. Larry will always be one of my favorite success stories! After all that poor guy went through and he is the sweetest, most loving dog! And has the best "parents" EVER! Thank you so much for your wonderful compliment!

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