To the list of Kirk Cousins descriptors — “Lord of the Rings” devotee, conversion van driver, Chipotle fanatic, time-management expert, Starter jacket connoisseur, NFC offensive player of the month — add at least one more line: foster doggie parent.
“That’s all Julie,” Cousins said this week, referring to his wife, who fostered dogs while at the University of Georgia. “She just loves dogs. She can’t get enough of it. And so when we got married, it was kind of understood — she had warned me when we were dating, that was kind of an expectation. So we foster them, and we just get one at a time, and when it finds a home, we give it to that home and we take another one from the shelter.”
The couple prefers dogs that don’t shed, which hasn’t been a problem. Julie Cousins is particularly partial to Doodle- and -Oodle mixes. They’ve fostered dogs both from Doodle Rescue, and from Friends of Homeless Animals, an Aldie-based no-kill shelter “dedicated to saving abandoned and abused dogs and cats.”
The Cousins have fostered seven dogs in the last 18 months, including three this football season: a Shih Tzu that Julie briefly fostered over the summer, a German Shepherd-poodle mix in the early part of the season (“Cash” was adopted by a Redskins fan in Western Maryland the day before Cousins exploded for a career-high four touchdowns against the Saints), and a mutt named “Cajun”during the second half of this season. (“I couldn’t figure out what it was,” Cousins said. “A little puppy. A good dog.”)
They also fostered Carol Ann, a wheaten terrier/schnauzer, for the entire 2014 football season; Carol Ann was adopted on the day of the 2014 finale. And during spring practices, they fostered a labradoodle named Mac, who spent two months with the couple before getting adopted by a woman in Leesburg.
Why fostering? In addition to the obvious animal-loving reasons, it keeps them free of long-term responsibilities.
“Our lives are just so all over the place,” Cousins said, during a brief conversation while wearing his Redskins Starter jacket this week. “In the offseason, we’re coming and going, we’re traveling. During the season it’s busy. And to permanently commit to having a dog for the next 10 or 15 years is just unrealistic right now. So fostering gives us a chance to have a dog, but also to have the freedom to come and go as we want. That’s a really good fit for us.”
And for the shelter, as it turns out.
“I can’t say enough about Kirk Cousins and his wife Julie and how much we appreciate their willingness to foster animals in need,” FOHA President Laura Dove wrote in an e-mail. “FOHA’s foster program benefits greatly from having a popular local celebrity participate. Fostering animals as Kirk has done is a tremendous commitment of time and energy, so to have someone as busy as Kirk is demonstrate how ‘easy’ fostering really is encourages others to get involved, too.”
“Fostering and adopting helps those animals who can’t help themselves, which, of course, is FOHA’s mission,” she wrote. “When our shelter is at capacity, we rely on foster parents, like Kirk, to provide loving homes to animals in need.”
Dove added that the Cousins keep in touch with all the families who have adopted their foster dogs, and that the couple has a photo album of dogs they have fostered displayed on their coffee table.
“We are incredibly proud to say the Redskins starting quarterback is part of the FOHA family,” she wrote. “It has been really exciting for the volunteers and staff at the shelter to watch Kirk lead the team to the [playoffs]. Kirk is a shining example of an athlete who makes a difference in the lives of animals by donating his time, attention and loving home to animals in need…and we like that!”
But don’t expect to see a photo of any foster dogs helping Cousins prepare for the Packers. Their last dog, Cajun, was adopted three or four weeks ago, and they haven’t gotten one since. “We really miss it,” Cousins said.
And yes, there is probably a danger in local sports reporters too intensely covering the personal lives of star Redskins quarterbacks. That cult of personality stuff likely isn’t healthy for anyone. But c’mon, look at these doggies.
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) August 13, 2014
Our foster dog of four months found a permanent home this week…tough to say good-bye to such a great dog! pic.twitter.com/lcA98abhJO
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) December 30, 2014
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) August 21, 2015
— Julie Cousins (@juliehcousins) August 26, 2015