All my life has involved one, two, three and sometimes many more animals, either as pets, or working animals, or farm animals, or friends. And one or two (many) were the healers.
The dog who showed a young boy how it was safe to be touched (just a little, and with rules!), the cat who slept by the head of the young girl and purred and comforted until the restless and terrified mind could drift into sleep, the old horse who protected chickens because her friend in the wheelchair wanted it – it goes on and on and on.
The things they do for us, and only because it’s what we want or need.
At the same time I was a foster carer for humans, I was also a foster carer for non-humans: dogs, cats, pups, kittens, rabbits, horses, chickens, goats, sheep, snakes, birds (got the scars to prove the sulphur-crested – and so has the white cat), even some non-approved animals who decided to live in a burrow under our house [as an aside, when I got the builder in to strengthen the foundations without disturbing the wombats – he did it for cost only]. It’s possible I’ve missed some out. There were lots.
And there were times when we couldn’t save them – too much pain and harm and damage – but we did what we could to make their life feel as safe as possible. We didn’t give up on them – the foster humans saw the need in these abused animals and connected. Sometimes, this is what saved the human; sometimes, it was enough to also save the animal (I’m speaking mind here; we didn’t ever put an animal down or get rid of it for the sole reason of being difficult or afraid or unsocial).
Because if an animal has been through that and can learn to love again, learn to trust and hope – we all can, can’t we? And if it takes a long time, that’s what it takes, isn’t it?
And the issue of fostering – well, I didn’t get to give them back, did I? If one of the kids bonded with that animal – well, that’s pack, and pack doesn’t get booted out. Packs stays. Do you think there was ever a foster (animal) that didn’t bond to one of the fosters (there were a LOT of fosters)?
The fosters learned through contact with others who’d been through the same terror. They learned that the life they left behind wasn’t normal, even if it had become normalised while they were in it.
With the love of an animal who’d suffered, they learned how to heal, not only in themselves, but in the giving of healing to others.
They learned about pack, about family; that blood is only blood, and pack (family) is loyalty, protection, safety, and love without obligation. So they made their own pack family, and they made the rules of pack (some safe zone discussion involved in creating those rules).
That’s all it took to heal. Connection.
As an aside [another one] the short stories in dogs n cats n us is NOT from the foster times – I promised to never reveal any of their stories unless they approved, or the owner of the story was [ ], or I did it for myself only. The short stories I put into it are all from other areas, and semi-fictitious.