DEAR DR.FOX: We wanted to write you and share an unfortunate experience we had fostering dogs, something we no longer do.
Our first few fosters were dogs that the rescue group had had for a while. We took them to the groomer (at our own expense), and when we took them to adoption events, they were the first ones to get adopted. We were thrilled to see these dogs get good homes.
Then one day, the rescue group brought us a dog straight from the shelter. We did the same things for her that we did for our previous foster dogs, but we noticed that she didn't seem to be healthy. Within hours of her being around our dogs, they caught an upper respiratory ailment from her. This meant vet visits for our dogs.
We called the people from the rescue group and told them that the foster had made our dogs sick. They vehemently denied it and said that their vet had examined her and found nothing wrong. Obviously, they were lying, because we know they brought her to us directly from the shelter. We told them that we would no longer be available to foster for them.
I tell this story to make the point that if people are going to foster (and they have pets of their own), they need to be very clear with the rescue group about the health of the animals they are asked to foster.
Our dogs recovered just fine, but it was an unnecessary illness for them and an added expense for us. We learned our lesson. If we choose to foster in the future, we will be more specific with the rescue folks. -- C.R., Tulsa, Oklahoma
DEAR C.R.: Your experience will help others who provide temporary foster homes for companion animals. I do encourage people to take up this very rewarding avocation, ideally coordinated with a well-run animal shelter (where the longer animals are incarcerated, the more they suffer and may become less adoptable).
Full veterinary needs are called for prior to an animal going into a foster home. Quarantine may be necessary. But in emergency situations, such as natural disasters, animal rescue and fostering networks across counties and states are needed immediately. In addition, community shelters are called on to handle displaced people's animals, with support from local and national emergency veterinary services.
I would like to hear from readers about how well prepared their communities are in this regard.
DEAR DR. FOX: We had a yellow Labrador for 15 1/2 years before we had to put him down due to cancer returning for the second time.
One night while in bed, before I had fallen asleep, I opened my eyes and saw him coming into our bedroom. He looked at me and continued down the hallway. (I don't take drugs and did not have any alcohol.) He was translucent, like stained glass.
He never was seen again. He was such an incredible dog and would have made an excellent guide dog or companion animal with professional training. I'm happy to say we had him as part of our family. -- M.A., Jupiter, Florida
DEAR M.A.: Your letter will be appreciated by many readers who share the view that the life we live is but one dimension of many realms we barely comprehend, but are, on occasion, blessed to glimpse through such experiences like yours.
I especially like what ecologist and nature writer Sigurd F. Olson writes in his book "Reflections From the North Country":
"The world of nature does no violence to faiths that speak of personal immortality or reincarnation, for a basic truth encompasses them both."
HYPERTHYROID DISEASE IN CATS AND HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL: POSSIBLE LINK
A recent study reports a possible connection between the fabric stain-repellant perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) with hyperactive thyroid disease, a common malady in felines today. The chemical was detected in the blood of cats with clinical signs of the disease.
This makes PFOA another household chemical to add to the endocrine-disrupting effects of bromide-based fire-retardants in fabrics, especially petrochemical-based carpets and sofas, where cats are in almost constant contact. (A cat may inhale the microparticles and swallow them when they get on the animal's fur and the cat grooms itself.)
Other chemicals, such as Bisphenol A in cat food can linings and phthalates on food packaging, are also endocrine disruptors. They have been implicated in thyroid disease in cats and may also contribute to thyroid diseases in dogs and humans. (From Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry via JAVMA News, Nov. 14.)
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)