To celebrate National Pet Month and recognise all the incredible benefits of pets in the foster home, we asked all of our foster children how their pets have helped them throughout their time in foster care.
In response to our campaign, one child has spoken out about how his pug, Mr Pugly McPugface, has helped him throughout his fostering journey.
R.K*, aged 14, wrote the following anecdote as part of the campaign:
“For the love of Pugly!
Pugly McPuface has been in my life for nearly 6 years. I travelled with my foster family to collect him.
I often feel down and judged by my peers and adults for my behaviour, which I often struggle with.
Pugly’s love is non-judgemental - he always shows his pleasure by wagging his tail, looking alert and is happy to see me.
He can be annoying sometimes when he wakes me up by jumping on my bed and licking my face to wake me but I know he loves me and I love him.
When your childhood isn't always easy, having a pet provides constant companionship through the ups and downs.
Having Pugly in my life is a great source of comfort, someone to hug and listen to whilst I’m coming to grips with difficult life lessons.
Sharon, R.K’s foster parent, has spoken out about the anecdote. She has fostered seven young people over 11 years and has provided several children with respite care too. When discussing their pug, Sharon explains; “Pugly McPugface came into our lives in July 2016. A birthday gift for our youngest daughter, to celebrate her 16th year. R.K came with us to collect the little fur baby.
“He was nine years old at the time and became smitten with the little puggle. This, I believe, is where their special bond began. Woodland walks, holidays to Cornwall, car journeys, trips to the vet, family outings and days at the park. Petting and gazing, spending hours in Pugly’s company - it all had a major influence on R.K, another sentient to interact with, helping to lower his stress levels.
“Pugly also gives R.K some ears to listen to and be able to confide in. Their relationship is natural and extremely beneficial for both parties.”
When discussing the positive impact that pets can have when considering foster children, Sharon explains: “Pets are great in any family unit, especially in a therapeutic environment to help both young and old people. The feelings of acceptance and comfort an animal can bring are wonderful, to say the least.”
She continues; “When our family support worker asked if any young people wanted to contribute something about their pets, R.K. originally declined, saying ‘It’s not my thing.’ An enthusiastic amateur rapper, he is used to writing ‘Drill’ lyrics, obviously known for its style of dark content.
“However, with some gentle persuasion, he began to write down some of his feelings on paper. I encouraged him to engage with some words that aren’t necessarily part of his vocabulary; I laughed saying ‘Haven’t you heard of a thesaurus?’, but the end result brought a tear to my eye. He is a funny, lovable, adaptable, resourceful individual who should not be defined by the label given to him by society.”
When discussing her own journey into fostering, Sharon said: “When I was nearing my 50th year, I looked at my life and how blessed I felt with a loving husband and three beautiful children and grandson around me. On reflection, I’d had my own challenges in life – I had been bullied for my hair colour throughout my formative years, alongside having to deal with challenging and neglectful familial relationships myself.
“As an adult, I realised I’d had the resilience, strength and the support to overcome these situations and wanted to use my knowledge to help others. I generally care about young people and whilst in my teens I had made several friends who had resided in residential settings, having been abused, neglected or abandoned. Inspired by my own childhood experience and the life stories of those around me, I felt being a foster parent would be a powerful way to help young people and show them that there is hope for their future.
“Fostering impacts on the whole family and affects children who live in the home and those that have flown the nest. We have found it can be a very positive experience for your own birth children who can benefit from the friendship of having a new foster sibling in their home. These relationships can often continue into adulthood.
“I believe if you feel you can make a difference in the life of a child, become a foster parent. Give back; share your experiences, time and good fortune with another human. You just have to care!”
*Different initials have been used to protect the identity of the foster child.
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