From foster to forever

Volunteering her way from loss to love

A black dog with his head tilted and his tongue haning out of his mouth

Since the IDEXX Global IDEXX Volunteer Efforts (GiVE) program was established in late 2010, nearly 200 employees have spent time volunteering with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP). Projects at the shelter have included everything from exterior repairs and grounds and trail work to laundry, dog walking, and socializing with guest felines. One IDEXX employee in particular, Andrea Brackett, has capitalized on the volunteer program to create an incredibly rewarding relationship with the ARLGP that’s all her own.

Brackett, a passionate animal lover, joined IDEXX in 2012, drawn by its mission to enhance the well-being of pets around the globe. Shortly thereafter, Brackett had to say goodbye to her best friend and constant companion, Maddie, a German shepherd-rottweiler mix. Though always a pet parent, after the loss of Maddie, Brackett didn’t know if she would ever be able to love, and lose, another dog.

With a bit of encouragement from her manager, Brackett decided to look into the IDEXX GiVE program, thinking she might be able to spend some time with her beloved canines by walking dogs at the Animal Refuge League.

The road to healing

Brackett quickly became known for her love of large dogs—especially German shepherds and rottweilers. One morning, the kennel manager asked if Brackett would take home an older German shepherd that was not doing well in the kennel.

“I had not considered becoming a foster parent before that, but I was happy to help. It can be hard to find people willing to bring a 110-pound dog into their home for assessment,” explained Brackett.

The success of that foster led to other foster dogs, and being a foster mom helped Brackett heal from the loss of Maddie. She was able to give comfort and love to dogs in need, knowing she was providing a resting spot for the dogs on their way to their forever homes.

A place to call home

Brackett will be the first to tell you that being a foster mom to dogs in transition is extremely rewarding. “Dogs are not meant to live in shelter environments,” she noted, “and some of the best dogs get so anxious that they don’t show well. This keeps them in the shelter longer and can lead to bad habits that make them even more challenging to adopt.”

Providing a foster home allows animals to get the love they need, a little quiet, focused care, and relief from a very stressful period in their lives. It also allows the shelter to learn more about what the dog is really like in a home environment so they can make sure potential adopters are aware of individual animal’s needs.

“The very best feeling is when new owners send you a photo and information about their new pet, and you know you were part of saving that animal’s life and bringing such joy to a family,” Brackett added.

When forever finds you, you know

In April of this year, Brackett attended an adoption event held at IDEXX. She did not intend to adopt that day, but she happened to see a dog that looked just like Maddie had as a puppy. That dog was not available for adoption, but seeing those sweet, familiar eyes inspired Brackett to reconsider. She visited the ARLGP once more, specifically looking for a fur-friend with a few years under its belt and already house-trained. What caught her eye was something a little different.

Andrea Brackett with her horse, JJ, and her dog, Kobe

Andrea Brackett with her horse, JJ, and her dog, Kobe

Kobe was a German shepherd mix puppy and he stole her heart. “I knew he was meant to be my dog-child.” Brackett said. “After just a few months, Kobe, along with my horse JJ, has become the center of my world.”

According to his adoption papers, Kobe had been in a high-kill shelter in Georgia. Brackett never would have had the chance to meet him if the ARLGP had not stepped up to take him and several others—an outcome she can’t even imagine today.

Brackett has nothing but praise for IDEXX’s work with the Animal Refuge League. “I am so grateful that IDEXX helped make it possible for Kobe to be in my life! The IDEXX GiVE program exposed me to the great work that ARLGP does, and the IDEXX adoption program covered my adoption expenses for Kobe. I believe that the ARLGP will be able to bring in more dogs in the spring, and save more lives, knowing that IDEXXers will soon be adopting more animals through this program. How cool is that?”

Providing a foster home allows animals to get the love they need, a little quiet, focused care, and relief from a very stressful period in their lives.

Andrea Brackett
Account Specialist, Customer Support, IDEXX