Since becoming the official laundry partner of Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS), we’ve met so many passionate animal advocates. These heroes exist in a variety of organizations—many affiliated with BFAS. To honor them for their efforts, we’ve gifted several special foster moms and dads a TR7/DR7 washer and dryer set to help simplify their laundry routines, allowing them to focus on providing the best possible care for their furry, foster friends.
Today, we’re introducing you to Tami Steinle from Jacksonville, Florida.
If you find yourself in Jacksonville, you’ll notice that you’re never far from a bridge because they are prominent pieces of the landscape. And as a city resident, Tami Steinle fittingly sees herself as the same when it comes to her role as an animal fosterer.
“I definitely consider myself the bridge from the past to their new home,” she said of the comparison.
Over the last decade, that bridge has delivered many pets to their forever homes. Tami estimates she’s cared for more than 115 dogs over the last decade that she’s been fostering. It was her fondness of papillons that led her to work with Papillon Pals Rescue in Jacksonville, but she’s eager to jump in and help any local shelters that need her.
Overcoming a Challenge Named ‘Ollie’
Tami’s journey started with two foster dogs and that was enough to get her hooked. Experiencing her first two fosters find their forever homes was a mix of excitement and a bit of sadness, but the seed was planted and would start to grow (and she’s even still in touch with the family who adopted them).
“I wanted to be able to give that and so much more,” she said of her passion to foster.
While all foster moms and dads are special, Tami is a rare breed even in that category. She specializes in the most challenging of dogs—those with medical issues and behavioral problems. This particular focus comes with its fair share of ups and downs, but amazing things can happen with great patience.
Who would have thought that a 15-pound beagle/Yorkie mix could be such a handful? But that’s what Tami found when she met Ollie. She quickly learned Ollie would pose a significant challenge in overcoming his issues. You see, Ollie could connect and bond with one human, but struggled with any more than that, even charging others at times.
Ollie had his issues, but he also had Tami—and she’s not one to give up.
“There’s no one way to train a dog, you have to find the best way,” she said, adding that patience and allowing the dogs to go at their pace help that plan materialize.
Fast forward three months into fostering Ollie and he’s doing fantastic—even taking the stand as one of Tami’s most memorable fosters. That’s not to say she hasn’t had her share of significant stories, from cleft palates and kidney issues to heart and eye problems, she has a soft spot for those that others might walk away from.
“The ones that aren’t the prettiest are almost always the sweetest,” she said.
That was the case with Mickey, one of Tami’s cleft palate cases, who she could only describe as a dog who “looked like a German shepherd and a papillon hooked up one night.” But Mickey’s snuggles soon won her over and he became Tami’s first foster “fail.”
No doubt that if you are a “challenging” dog, you’d count yourself quite lucky to be taken in by Tami. Because here you have a chance and someone who truly believes you still deserve a good home.
There’s Still Work to Do
It’s Tami’s patience and understanding, built upon years of experience, which give these fosters opportunity. She noted that most of the time, their behaviors are born out of fear. And that’s why she sees the importance of fostering, which gives animals experience living in a home versus a shelter cage. Combine that with proper training and they’ve got a new chance at a great life.
“As rescues, we can do better,” she said. “We need to give more applicants chances.”
She’s also a passionate advocate of fostering, citing that seemingly “small” numbers can make a big difference.
“If just 26 people fostered, that would clear a whole run in our shelter.”
But help can come in many forms—even those who can’t commit to fostering can have a significant impact. She suggests those who want to get involved can spend time with a shelter animal and then tap into the power of social media.
“Pick a dog at your shelter, meet it and give it a voice,” she recommended.
Hanging out with an animal will help reveal his or her true personality and when that happens, you take the dog from being just an available photo on the website and give a more insightful glimpse at the animals true self.
Tami is proof that with patience, understanding and love, we can all do more than we think to save animals in our communities.
The Speed Queen Experience
Sure, the addition of the TR7/DR7 washer and dryer helped Tami better manage the piles of laundry that accumulate when you’re fostering animals. But the Speed Queen set also did something unexpected—it increased her wardrobe options.
“I can actually add blacks and darks to my wardrobe,” she joked.
As any pet owner knows, dark clothing is a vast canvas for pet hair works of art. However, the DR7’s Pet Hair Remover has changed all that.
She admits she was skeptical that Speed Queen could deliver results. So early on, she gave it tests only a dog lover could. Her first test included multiple dog beds and fleece blankets. After only two cleanings of the lint trap, the items emerged hairless for the first time since they were new.
But could it get better than that? The steam refresh says yes.
“Towels for dog baths and bedding items,” Tami said, “are coming out not just fluffier but seem cleaner.” She joked that the steam refresh also delivered on wrinkly work clothes that she needed on the spot.
“I looked like I did my laundry like a real pro,” she said of the cycle removing unwanted wrinkles.
New wardrobe options, cleaner loads and doing laundry like a pro equals winning. To meet more of our foster heroes, visit https://speedqueen.com/foster-fur-challenge/