When we move aboard a sail boat, I’ll be giving up some things—hot showers, always-on internet, refrigeration. But what I think I’ll miss most are the occasional visits from foster dogs.
Maybe I’ll feel better if I can convince someone else to take my place in fostering.
What Does It Mean To Foster A Dog?
Fostering a dog is simply bringing him or her into your home temporarily.
Most of the dogs I’ve fostered stayed with me for two weeks. A few stayed for several months.
I have friends who have fostered dogs with extreme issues (like dogs who were found in puppy mills) for more than a year.
There are many reasons dogs need foster homes. Here are just a few:
I fostered a particularly sweet beagle who was recovering from surgery after a car accident. She needed slow walks every day and simple exercises to help her leg to heal.
Some dogs just need a quiet place to recover or some specialized care they can’t get at a shelter.
Most of the dogs I’ve fostered were puppies.
When the shelter I fostered for received puppies, they vaccinated them immediately and sent them to homes where they would be safe from disease while their immunity kicked in.
The last place you want to have a newly vaccinated puppy is in a shelter that also accepts stray dogs who may be carrying deadly buggies.
Some dogs just don’t thrive in a shelter environment.
Blanche the beagle came to our home when she was recovering from surgery. She didn’t have any medical issues resulting from her operation. But the shelter staff and volunteers thought she seemed depressed.
From the first moment she came to our home, Blanche, (who I called “Sweetie”) was a perfect companion. She was a naturally happy girl who loved being in a home. She just didn’t like the shelter.
Cherie was afraid of everything: thunder, trash cans, strangers, trucks, cars.
She stayed with us for months. And Honey’s trainer helped us work with her extreme fear. By the time she left for her new home, she was calmly sitting on the porch during a neighborhood music festival, meeting strangers, and walking around the block on recycling day.
Some dogs just need a little one-on-one attention to be their best. And some dogs need a lot.
Rescues Without Buildings
Some rescues have no physical location. They exist simply as a network of people who take in dogs needing homes until they can be adopted.
These dogs don’t necessarily have any problems. Except, of course, for the problem of not having a permanent home.
What Are Good Foster Homes?
As you can see, there are lots of reasons dogs need foster homes. Which means that there are lots of homes that would be great for fostering dogs.
Homes With Other Dogs
I could not foster dogs without Honey’s help.
She exercises other dogs with games of chase and bitey face. She teaches puppies to sit for snacks. She holds back when dogs need their space.
And best of all, she’s there to keep me company when I’m sad from returning our latest foster.
Homes Without Other Dogs
Our shelter has expressed a strong desire for foster homes without other pets.
Some dogs just don’t like being around other dogs. And a quiet foster home where they can be an only dog for a while is perfect.
Homes Where People Are Home During The Day
Working from home has been great for house training foster puppies. Well, great for the foster puppies. Not so great for the amount of work I get done.
My flexible schedule has been excellent for some of our foster dogs.
Homes Where People Work During The Day
Some of the adult dogs I’ve fostered came to us perfectly house trained. They had no separation anxiety. All they wanted to do was go for a morning walk, sleep all day, and go for another walk at night.
Homes With Yards
My yard is small. But it’s been great to rely on for those early morning potty breaks.
And its big enough for a rousing game of chase or bitey face. As long as you keep saying to yourself, “They’re perennials; they’ll come back next year.”
Homes Without Yards
Some dogs I’ve fostered were restricted to leashed exercise. You don’t want to let a dog with stitches to run around like a fiend.
And some dogs (particularly the more ambitious puppies) were escape artists. A trailing leash and close supervision were necessary even in the yard.
Could You Foster Dogs?
Not everyone is made to foster dogs. And that’s okay. There are many ways to help animals without bringing new ones into your home all the time.
But if you think you just might want to foster dogs, I hope you see that partnering with the right shelter or rescue just might be good for you.
All kinds of dogs need all kinds of foster homes.
Maybe one of them is yours?
Your Turn: Have you ever fostered animals? Do you have any advice for someone just thinking about it? And why not share this post to spread the word that fostering works for lots of people in lots of different situations.
If you’re wondering what fostering is really like, read what I’ve written about it over the years here.