Over the past weeks, we have written several times about the FOTAS foster program, where mama dogs and their puppies or dogs needing special attention are temporarily cared for in a loving home environment until they are ready for adoption. We’ve heard about fostering from dedicated volunteers, from one lucky dog who was being fostered, and from a happy family who adopted a fostered dog.

This week and next we want to celebrate some of the children of foster families. We asked Abby and Audrey Wiseman, Caroline Wolcott, Isabelle and Sean Igoe, Josh, Parker and Bailey Daniels and their parents to share how the experience has affected and shaped their lives. These are two of their stories.

“The children have learned the responsibility of having to feed and care for pets, but more significantly, they have learned about life,” said Heather Wiseman, who along with her husband, Grant, and two daughters, Audrey and Abby, have fostered more than 200 puppies. “Fostering has taught our family how to prioritize and think about what is most important in our lives.”

Her daughter Audrey said, “The puppies love us even though we are imperfect in so many ways.”

She said the love you see in their faces when they look at her melts her heart. “It’s an easy and fun way to help Aiken and the nice people at the shelter.” She also thinks the puppies are funny when they howl.

Audrey’s sister Abby likes animals because they are different, but very much like us. The puppies make her laugh because “they are so small that when they sneeze or shake their head, they fall over.”

Caroline Wolcott is the daughter of Randy and Girl Wolcott, who have sponsored close to 150 puppies and their mamas.

“The most fun about foster puppies is the age when they are just stumbling around and learning to walk. It’s fun to watch them take their first little steps,” said Caroline.

She thinks it’s really funny when they get the “crazies” and run around their kennel. “And then boom – they fall asleep.”

All of these children are active participants in the care of these animals. They pick up dirty newspapers, feed, give medications, bathe and hold for the dreaded toenail clipping. All have seen firsthand the miracle of birth.

The positive effect of the fostering experience on these children has been so much bigger than simply performing a kind act for an animal. It has taught them compassion, empathy, discipline and planning. It develops their self-esteem because they know their role in socializing these puppies is an important factor in getting them adopted. It brings them joy.

Sounds like a pretty good deal all around, doesn’t it? Bring your family together; join the FOTAS foster program. You and our many needful dogs and puppies will be glad you did.

Call the FOTAS hotline at 803-514-4313, or email info@FOTASAiken.org.

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

Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”

Oct. 28 to Nov. 2

Adopted: 15 dogs, 0 cats

Year to Date: 617