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Karen and Lucas Bean are foster parents, but of a different sort.  Karen volunteers as the foster cat coordinator for the Washing Humane Society near their home in Maryland.  She and her husband do lots of great things for local cats and kittens in need, but it’s what happens when the kittens get to meet their dog Conall that’s something really special.

“Lucas and I have fostered eight kittens so far.  Seven bottle babies and another current special needs cat,” said Karen.  “Yes, Con has gotten hugs from each and every one!”

Tommy is the couple’s latest feline visitor.  He had been found a few weeks ago, abandoned and lost, still unable to eat solid food, near our nation’s capital.  He was so tiny and in such a bad way, and considering the Bean household has many, many furry friends already, it was no surprise he ended up with the Bean family.

“When I saw this little guy all by his lonesome I just had to bring him home,” said Karen.

Conall has been a member for the Bean family for about five years now, and was originally adopted to be just another member of the family.  It didn’t take long to find out Conall also had a knack for sensing when Lucas, a retired Navy intelligence analyst, returned from deployment with PTSD.

“We got Conall originally just to be an addition to our family, but quickly realized he had a knack for sensing when Lucas was having problems,” said Karen.

With this in mind, the family found a good trainer, and Conall became a fully certified service dog for Lucas.

“Conall has been and continues to be a tremendous help not just to Lucas, but for me as a wife as well.  He can provide Lucas with help and support that I just can’t.  I really could just go on and on about how our wonderful little boy in a dog suit is,” said Karen.

All of the other animals in the Bean house are cats.  There’s five-year-old Harlowe, four-year-old Herbie, and two “foster failures,” or cats that were supposed to be there temporarily, but ended up adopted by the Beans.  They are Prudence and Calvin, and are both about a year old.

Other than Tommy there are two other foster cats at the Bean house.  One is a bottle baby named Louis, and the other is a special-needs cat named Chim.  Chim wears what looks like a little helmet, due to a rare condition called cerebellar hypoplasia.

“Basically the portion of his brain that controls balance and stability is under-developed.  He can’t walk and he wobbles around a lot.  Other than that, Chim is a perfectly healthy, awesome little guy,” said Karen.

The one thing all of these cats have in common, they all adore cuddling with Conall.

“Conall has always been patient and snuggled with all our foster kittens.  I really feel he recognizes them as babies and they need care,” Karen said.

These cats, no matter how loved by the Beans or Conall, are not permanent fixtures in the household.  Chim is already up on the Washington Humane Society website, and Tommy and Louis will be available for adoption in June.

“The best part about fostering is caring for an animal in need and sending them on to a loving home.  The last part can be difficult, though.”

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