The Sheehy Family!

Corrina (with Copper), Cullen, Shannon (with Buddha), and Chris Sheehy

Corrina (with Copper), Cullen, Shannon (with Buddha), and Chris Sheehy

Richmond Animal League (RAL), Richmond's oldest no-kill shelter, rescues and finds homes for more than 2,000 cats and dogs each year. With a shelter just over 4,000 sq ft, there is no way that would be possible without the help of foster families. The Sheehy Family--Shannon, Chris, Cullen and Corrina--have fostered almost 200 puppies for RAL! How do they do it? Listen up. They told us.

H5RVA: What made you think fostering hundreds of small, pooping, barking, barfing, occasionally hairless, sometimes social awkward and always active puppies was a good idea? 

The Sheehy Crew: We're a homeschooling, self-employed family and wanted a good hands-on volunteer opportunity for our kids. We couldn't find an organization that would let children volunteer so fostering was the perfect solution. It has become our new normal.

H5RVA: Is it true that when considering buying a house you viewed potential homes with one question in mind: "Will this house accommodate fostering puppies?"

The Sheehy Crew: That question was definitely at the forefront when looking for a new home. There were a few must haves in a new house and accommodating fostering was definitely one of them. having a large enough space for a large kennel was a priority as well as enough room in the back yard.

H5RVA: What's the easiest part of fostering? And the hardest?

The Sheehy Crew: The easiest part is falling in love with every puppy. The hardest part is probably always feeling like we could be doing more. No matter how much time we spend with the puppies we always feel like they deserve more attention.

H5RVA: Has there ever been a puppy you just could not give back?
**Full disclosure--I'm Amy, founder of High Five RVA and Executive Director of Richmond Animal League and I already know the answer to this question**

The Sheehy Crew: Yes! We have connected with several of our foster puppies, and one became a foster failure. Buddha, Blossom, and Indy came to us from a large hoarding situation. Everyone was healthy except for Buddha. Her stomach was huge (hence her name) due to fluid build up and she was struggling to breath. She spent a week at the emergency vet and they could not get the fluid build up under control. The doctors told us there was nothing else they could do when she was released to us to come home. They expected her to pass away from lack of oxygen. Once we got Buddha home she started getting better until she was healthy. After going through that ordeal with her there was no way we could let her go so we adopted her.

H5RVA: What do you love to do in Richmond?

The Sheehy Crew: Explore! There is so much to see and do in Richmond. We love spending time in Carytown, along the James, the farmer's markets, and all of the fun festivals throughout the year.

H5RVA: What are you going to do with your High Five?

The Sheehy Crew: We're going to proudly display it in our home office, up high, where the puppies can't get to it!

Buddha. One in two hundred. And one in a million.

Buddha. One in two hundred. And one in a million. After surviving a near-fatal condition during puppyhood, Buddha hurt her back. During risky surgery to fix her injury, her spinal cord was damaged--leaving Buddha unable to use her back legs. Despite all of her challenges, Buddha continues to be happy--and to bring happiness to her family and anyone who meets her.

Amy McCracken