A Thank You to Fosters Everywhere

guinea pig foster homeImage courtesy of Michiko Vartanian

Orange County Cavy Haven foster volunteer, Sue, with her foster guinea pig, Coco.

The day starts out like any other weekday for Joann, one of the fosters for Cavy Haven. She sits down with her cup of coffee to check her email before she has to get her kids ready for school. That’s when she realizes this is not going to be a typical day as she opens the email she has been both dreading and hoping to receive. There is an approved adopter for her foster piggy, Shiloh.

She’s been through this before. She knows the process. She will work with the Adoption Counselor and the adopter to coordinate a time and place for Shiloh to meet her new friend. If the intro goes well (and they typically do because we try to match up personality types of adopters’ pigs with the pigs we have in foster homes), she will watch Shiloh go off with her new friend and family, and she will go home to clean out Shiloh’s cage and prepare for a new pig to arrive. Although these moments, when she gets to see a pig who was abandoned by her former family, find a new family who is happy to welcome piggy into their home and shower her with love are the reason she fosters in the first place, there is always a sadness that comes with saying goodbye to a pig she has cared for and grown to love.

This story illustrates why I am constantly amazed at the strength and compassion of the people who foster animals. Fosters know going in that they will be saying goodbye to the animals they take in. And even though they know the animals are going to a loving forever home, they still have to cope with letting go.

…she reached into that reserve of strength, turned to us and said, “Okay. Let’s go save another one.”

At Orange County Cavy Haven, the pigs we take in have often been neglected and mistreated. The fosters nurse them back to health, and shower them with love so the pigs become re-socialized and ready to be adopted. Because we want the pigs to get as much attention and socialization as possible, we try to place only two pigs in each foster home, so there is ample opportunity to bond with their foster pigs. We have a wonderful family of volunteers, each pitching in to help pigs find new homes. As anyone who works in rescue knows, it takes a lot of dedicated and hard-working people willing to donate their time and efforts to keep the organization going. To me, though, our fosters deserve special recognition because the more fosters we have who are willing to love their foster pigs and then let them go to take in more, the more guinea pigs we can save.

The idea for this story came to me at our last adoption event, when I watched the joy mix with sadness on Joann’s face as she watched yet another of her beloved fosters go off with a new family to start her new life. And then she reached into that reserve of strength, turned to us and said, “Okay. Let’s go save another one.” So for Joann and all the fosters everywhere, in case no one has said it to you lately – thank you!

If you are in the Orange County or Los Angeles area and are interested in fostering with Cavy Haven, please contact cavyhaven_info@yahoo.com. We supply a cage and accessories, hay and pellets, and any necessary medical expenses. If you are not in the OC area, I hope that you will consider contacting your local foster network about fostering and/or volunteering.

If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.

Michiko Vartanian

Michiko has been a volunteer of Orange County Cavy Haven since she adopted her first guinea pigs five years ago. She currently cares for four adopted guinea pig boys and three fosters. She really enjoys being involved in rescue and associating with so many great people who care so much about these wonderful animals.

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3 Responses to “A Thank You to Fosters Everywhere”
  1. Sally says:

    Great story. I never really thought about what a foster goes through.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Working with OCCH, I can relate so much. It’s especially hard for me after babies are born in the house. The babies are easier to let go, but the mamas… You see them go through the pregnancy, birth, and nursing. You see how much they love and protect their little ones… and you want to love and protect them that much more. You worry about them night and day, and when the babies come and they’re all healthy and happy, you have so much joy. It makes me sad, though, that neglect from previous owners, or from shelters, leads to dangerous pregnancies for them…

    Anyway, sorry for the rant. Wonderful article, Michiko!

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June 2012
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