If you move to Aiken, as foster parents Marcia and Dan did, because you confused eventing jumps with the name of a town, life after that has to be an adventure in happenstance.

They lived in Chicago and followed their serious event-riding daughter Sam to North Carolina. Then Sam was jumping “Aikens” in Blythewood and said they “just had to see it.” Confusing names, Marcia and Dan took a look at the town called Aiken and immediately fell in love. That was about 1999.

Preferring to board their horses, Marcia and Dan bought a townhouse. Sam and her then-fiancé followed and bought a small farm in the eventing district off Shaws Fork.

“He could be happy wherever there was a computer and pizza delivery,” Marcia said, “but out here there’s neither.” So the two couples swapped houses, and that is how Dan and Marcia ended up on Linger Longer Farm.

Visiting a local veterinarian’s office, the couple saw a picture on the wall of two lovely and very sad Labradors who needed a home. They had a farm and decided to add the dogs. They were told that the dogs had only just been taken to the county shelter. Dan and Marcia bee-lined it to the shelter only to be told in the most offensively officious manner that no such dogs were there. They weren’t even allowed to look.

Marcia said, “I was so upset that I vowed would never set foot in that place again.”

Ten years go by, a lot changes, and there was an article in the Aiken Standard about fostering puppies.

“What caught my attention, it said that if you foster puppies, they won’t be put down,” Marcia said.

That’s true, unless the animals are seriously sick, if you foster an adoptable animal, the County Shelter staff and FOTAS will see that it finds a home.

Marcia and Dan went immediately to the shelter to sign up to be an approved foster home. They started with two puppies.

“There were all these people at the house for a Super Bowl party that year, and I remember being so proud of those puppies,” Marcia said.

Since then, they figure that they have fostered about 100 dogs, puppies and mothers with puppies.

It isn’t always easy. Homeless, motherless puppies, especially if they have to stay in the current shelter because there aren’t enough foster homes, are so very vulnerable to disease, particularly Parvo.

Dan and Marcia were lucky with the first three or four litters, but eventually they had to learn the signs of trouble, how to intervene and to continue to try to save as many as they can. They love it. They even got their pastor and his family involved in fostering. And every so often, they take a break.

The Foster Care program understands. This is a commitment with emotional highs and lows. You do what you can when you are ready.

“We all have our gifts,” Marcia said.

Adoptions are half price until March 2.

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, email info@fotasaiken.org or visit www.fotasaiken.org.