Quarantine Snuggles: How fostering a dog during the pandemic can bring joy to your WFH schedule

In high school, Autumn Watt, an engineer at Intel’s Chandler site, spent her summers volunteering at the Houston Zoo where she trained and cared for animals. While working at the zoo she realized that she had a passion for wildlife and began seeking more ways to get involved with similar causes in her local community. In March, during the midst of the coronavirus, animal shelters began heavily advertising the opportunity for people to foster animals. Their urgent plea for help came after the pandemic caused a decrease in adoptions which lead to a significant amount of overcrowding in the shelters. As the spread of COVID-19 led to Intel employees working from home, Autumn realized she had more time on her hands to further pursue this passion and decided to “rescue a dog from the shelter and help them find a fur-ever home”.

Autumn and BrooklynAutumn decided to bring home Brooklyn, a Pit bull mix, from the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) which is currently one of the largest open-admission shelters in the nation. Bringing a new dog home is never an easy task, but Autumn wasn’t alone in her journey. Four Intel roommates including Autumn, Carlos Gonzalez, Christopher Kim, and Shreya Nayar created a fun, loving, and supportive environment for Brooklyn during her 3 months as their foster dog. Their makeshift family allowed everyone to contribute their skills as they trained Brooklyn. When she was first brought home, Autumn recalls she didn’t know how to maneuver stairs, play with toys, or locate the right place to go to the bathroom. After lots of loving and training, Brooklyn is a pro at stairs, loves playing with all her fun toys, and goes to the bathroom about 99.9% of the time in the correct spot. Autumn credits her patience, persistence, and supportive roommates for successfully being able to teach Brooklyn a variety of commands including how to high-five, bow, and play dead!

Throughout her time with Brooklyn, Autumn has gained confidence in her ability to train animals and care for larger dogs. Their fun experiences are documented on Brooklyn’s adoption Facebook page which showcases everything from her meet-and-greets to obedience trainings. Great news came on June 13th when Brooklyn finally found her fur-ever home. Autumn recalls “it was bittersweet. Fostering and seeing it through to the end was one of the truly most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in my life. It took 3 months for [Brooklyn’s] forever family to find her, so I’m glad that she was able to spend it in our home, and that we were blessed with such a sweet pup. Her new family sends me lots of pictures and updates and I am so grateful that we were able to find her a home that would truly love and cherish her”.

This experience has brought Autumn and her roommates closer to the dog-loving community in Phoenix whether it has been through speaking with potential adopters, dog lovers who are offering advice, or even kind souls trying to connect Brooklyn to her new home — it has brought so much light into their life during these rough, unprecedented times. The time and monetary donations from Autumn and Intel have a direct impact on MCACC and the amazing work they do for the animals in Maricopa County.

There are so many opportunities to get involved at your local animal shelter such as adopting or fostering an animal, volunteering your time, or even donating supplies. If you are interested in furry quarantine cuddles, or even want more experience training animals, visit the website of your local shelter or click here for opportunities at MCACC. There is never a shortage of organizations who are in serious need for help!