I will never forget my first week as a foster mommy. A few days into it, picture me, standing in the shower, crying and yelling to my boyfriend, Billy, to come into the bathroom! I had finally experienced it… my first tick. You would think that one wouldn’t normally cry over something as minuscule as a tick, but not I. We are talking about me, the same girl who had to wear my hair in a French braid if it was lice week at school. The same little girl that couldn’t lean her head back on the seat at the movie theater in case there was lice at the cinema. The same little girl that never had a story to tell about ringworm, scabies or pin-worm when growing up. My momma kept us CLEAN, and boy do I love her for it. Now here I was, 24 years old, standing naked in the shower, holding up my arm, and crying to my man about a tick on my skin. I felt as if a part of me had died at that moment. My skin was officially tainted, and I would mentally NEVER be the same.
Now obviously, after Google lurking the bejesus out of ticks and fleas, I discovered that they really weren’t that big of a deal (thank god for Google right?). In fact, they are quite common, and in the field I plan to spend my life in- saving animals- I am inevitably doomed to a life of ticks, and fleas, and pee, and poop, and kennel cough, and vomit. You name it, these animals have it…
Some may ask, “What the hell are you thinking Carisma? What are you doing it all for? You don’t get paid, these animals are sick, the smell, the death, what does it for you?” With pride, I will answer, “Because it is worth it.” For those of you who have fostered, or adopted, or have even walked into a pound, you understand. You have seen the look in their eye. You have felt their fear, seen their pain, and heard their cries. Through my experience I have learned;
- Ticks can be removed – good pair of tweezers, some alcohol (to sanitize, not to drink of course- unless the moment left you mentally scarred as it did with me) and a man with a steady hand to yank it out. A few showers later and some intense scalp scrubbing (just to be sure), you will feel human again- I promise.
- The smell? – I’m immune. Billy is doomed with the nose of a bloodhound. That man can detect poop from across the house. Opened windows and air freshener will do the trick.
- The Pee? – Tile home.. It wipes right up.. After a few damp socks or peed on shirts, you really learn to look down as your walking, and to keep a tidy room. It won’t get peed on if it’s not on the floor right?
- The Poop? – You will become amazed at the back muscles you can build from bending over to pick up a turd. Stock up on toilet paper my friends. Best method, grab some TP, pick it up, flush it, and mop. Some foster babies can be real sick.. That creates for a fun, messy time. You will undoubtedly step in a pile, smell a pile, or slip on a pile. It happens. Comes with the territory. Again, as with the pee, you learn to watch your step.
- The Vomit? – They are sick. They are scared. They were just about to lose their life.. I am pretty sure that would make me sick as well. Same as the poop and the pee, it wipes right up. You know you really love what you are doing when you will wake up in a pile of throw up- on three separate occasions in the night- and not even get mad. Stock up on extra blankets and laundry detergent because chances are, you are going to need them.
- The Cough? – Antibiotics. Simple cure to a huge epidemic in the animal kingdom. Kennel Cough is the K9 form of the human cold. Dogs are placed on the E-list just because of this sickness. Can you imagine killing off humans because they have a runny nose, or a persistent cough? It’s blasphemy.
No doubt, it takes a certain kind of person to be cool with this sort of stuff. But I am sorry, THIS is what makes us human. THIS is what we were put onto this planet for. Kindness of the heart is far more grand then a fancy car or mansion sized home. Hence the reason I probably don’t have that nice ride or gigantic house. My cars have been dumpy and my homes have been small. (While living on my own of course. Growing up, I was provided with a very nice home and living conditions. Thanks mom and dad.) My first fostering endeavor started at my two bedroom apartment in Chandler. We had no backyard nor a gated patio. Did that stop me? Absolutely not.
Fostering is rewarding. It is worth it all .