Tuesday, September 19, 2017

FOSTERING AND PETS



I've noticed down the years that a high proportion of prospective foster carers have pets.

The most recent induction Sunday I attended, there had to be a dog-break so people who'd brought their dogs and had to leave them in the car could get them out to stretch their dog's legs.

Perhaps people who appreciate pets are a bit more outgoing, or maybe they just respond well to having responsibility for others.

Dogs go really well in fostering, in my experience. A new foster child almost always gets a nice feeling knowing there's someone in the house they can be easily comfortable with. A dog isn't going to tell them off or worse. A dog will come and say hello without any agenda.

If you're thinking of fostering and you already have pets it's no problem. You'll need to take your dog to your vet to get a certificate that the dog is sane. It costs £30, I seem to remember Blue Sky pay for it, but check.

The sanity test for dogs is a bit simple, the vet lifts the dog onto the examining table and does a bit of rough(ish) play to see if the dog nips her. That's about it, apart from a quick physical - check teeth and claws.

Cats are famously disinclined but can be relied on to start conversations based on their aloofness/curiosities/tendency to bring 'presents' in from the garden. Don't ever ask me for my impression of a cat walking away from you, it'll put you off your tea.

Caged birds - I'm not keen myself - and fish are also fine. You just have to keep things hygienic around them.

The problems definitely begin when a foster child wants...

...A PET OF THEIR OWN!!!

...ARRGHH!!!

So here's what has just happened in our house and I'm still a bit jumpy-happy.

One of our looked-afters, who's been with us for a while now, and isn't going anywhere fast, started asking for a pet. 

At first it was a dog. The conversation was had 100 times, we usually managed to let the talk subside with end remarks like "let's see if we're still keen in a few weeks."

Then it was a cat. We hammered on that cats aren't ideal pets for 10 year-old bruiser-boys, and gradually wore him down.

Then it was a lizard. 

I know nothing about lizards. We had a newt in the pond when I was a child, that's it.

We were doing a great job deflecting buying a lizard when he suddenly played a master card;

"Actually, maybe a snake would be better."

That was that. We were off to the lizard shop the very next Sunday. 

We warned and warned that lizards need looking after; feeding, cleaning out, making sure the temperature in their tank is right. And the humidity. Plenty of water.

We warned that we'd probably end up doing the maintenance.

But it happened! And what an exciting day!

The lizard is an Australian blue-tongued skink. About as long as my forearm, and actually pretty cute. Except when it's live food time, you don't want me to go there.

Here's the big news; foster child is a great parent to his lizard. Supervises all our maintenance, is grateful for our clean-outs, bosses us about his pet's food. Takes him/her out and strokes her/him, talks to it, plays with it (carefully). Says goodnight every night and blows it a kiss, it warms the cockles.

Only one problemo...

Just discovered that blue-tongued skinks live for 15-20 years.

Still, as I always say in fostering; "We'll miss that bridge when we come to it"

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