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Updates & uplifting tales

A day in the life of a DFL foster parent

by Mary Janak

Mamma mia! Who has cared for at least 200 “kids” before sending them out of the nest into the big world? DFL foster parent Amy Caswell! If Amy ever has a family reunion, it would be huge, counting her foster pets’ now forever families. Amy’s story:

“In March of 2013, I wanted a dog but couldn’t adopt. I got an email from DFL about a foster open house. I intended to foster dogs occasionally, and I’ve ended up fostering everything under the sun, including mostly cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats and bottle babies.”

Amy is very proud of her “kids.” She has three (and counting) photo albums. “I take pictures of every foster. They all have their distinct personality — most of the cats seem to be sassy.”

Amy has worked with fearful, depressed and anorexic cats who needed IVs and syringe feeding, bottle babies, orthopedic and eye issues, upper respiratory infections, moms and babies (guinea pigs, rabbits), home buddies, SMAMS on pregnancy watch and “regular ole” kittens, puppies, rabbits and cats who just needed love and attention.

Like many parents, Amy found “I can actually function on very little sleep with bottle babies.” Right now, she’s fostering two behavior kitties who were fearful in the shelter.

How did Amy learn to care for so many different animals? “My parents had two acres outside of Portland, Oregon, where I grew up. I had multiple animals including a horse, ducks, rabbits, a turtle, cats, dogs and birds.”

Amy’s tips for animal care include “trust your gut and have patience, especially when animals have multiple or behavior issues. Things are not going to change overnight.” For help, “other foster parents are great; we give each other advice, tips or are cheerleaders for each other, and if absolutely needed, I call Foster or Behavior.”

Amy’s favorite thing about fostering is “watching kitties overcome their fear and learn to trust people. The more difficult cases end up being the most rewarding because you watch their progress becoming healthier and more trusting, and reaching a point where they can be adopted.”

Amy has been a “foster fail” four times, all kitties – Sam and Charlie, bottle baby brothers, now 3-1/2; Clue (behavior; deceased) and Barkley, 6, who had broken hind legs and a broken jaw. Scrappy, another DFL alum cat, almost 11, completes her family. “Sam and Charlie like to show my long-term fosters around the house and play with them!”

Amy also volunteers in Volunteer Services, has cleaned cat kennels and done foster socialization. She works full-time at a high school, travels occasionally and enjoys hiking, white water rafting, reading and scrapbooking. She’s also learning to play the violin!

For more wonderful DFL foster stories, read about Walt, a Siberian husky and his foster mom, Alison Rorman in Pet Tales, Fall 2018, and the Bottle Baby Program and foster moms Ellen Hertzman and Kay Kelly at

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