Twice now, I've experienced what I call "Home Invasions" where a caseworker comes to my home to examine every detail, to interview me and my family and to determine if I am deemed of the right material to merit caring for foster or adoptive children in my home. I find the process intimidating, to say the least.
Today I found out what it is like on the other side of the coin. Let me give a bit of history. For years I have volunteered for a Bichon Frise rescue group named Small Paws Rescue. Almost since its inception I have been involved in fostering and adopting small, fluffy white dogs. We don't have any at the moment because I don't feel that special needs foster dogs and small children mix very well, but I still receive their email newsletters and watch the local shelters and papers for needy dogs.
Last week I was contacted by a National Havanese Rescue group and informed that a woman in my town had applied to volunteer as a foster home but there was no other volunteer in our area who could do her home visit (imagine that!). She contacted Small Paws and wanted to "borrow" me to conduct the home visit and fill out an evaulation.
At first I hardly felt that I qualified. For one thing I had to Google what a Havanese is. For another, I have not been active in Small Paws for years, although I have had the dubious experience of fostering a number of dogs in the past. Apparently for our isolated area I would have to do and I finally agreed to do the visit.
Next came contacting the woman, which for a sociophobe like me was about as exciting as sceduling a dental exam. I prepared for our appointment today with a mixture of apprehension and curiosity.
Armed with a mental image of the map to her house that I'd gotten on MapQuest, I walked through the cool June afternoon, enjoying the sun and the flowers in everyone's yard. I wondered, would her house be clean? Messy? Perfect? Would she be nervous? Friendly?
When I got to her house, her perfectly groomed little dogs broke the ice and we found ourselves chatting amiably about dogs and breed rescue and fences and grooming. She consoled me on the loss of Piper and showed me her immaculate house and yard. If she was anxious, she needn't have been; her house was about as dog-friendly as could be and put me to shame. There was even a ramp leading to the bed so her teacup Yorkie could join the family there. Compared to my sometimes chaotic, dust-bunny-filled domicile, her house was a haven of tranquility. I reassured her of a glowing recommendation and headed back home where I found Sage hanging from the curtain and Curly Miss trying to force Stitch out the back door.
I had to laugh to myself as I remembered the frantic house cleaning and the nerve-wracking interview with the social worker that we'd endured back in November. Did she go home chuckling to herself as well? I remember she'd had a cold; she probably went home and had NyQuil for dinner then went to bed. We're all only human, after all.