In truth, there are lots of happy moments in fostering. But when I tell someone I foster dogs, their reply is, “Oh I could never do that. It would be too hard to give them up.”
So I’m going to tell you about the happy side of fostering. And you tell me if you don’t think the happy comes out ahead of the sad.
The People That You Meet
Alright, if you’re an introvert maybe this is the least appealing part of fostering. But even introverts enjoy like-minded people as long as they don’t have to see them all the time.
Now that I think of it, fostering is especially good for introverts for just that reason. And it’s also good for extroverts like me. Because you meet some awesome people.
Some of the other volunteers at my local shelter are now my friends. And that doesn’t include foster families I “meet” online.
Shelter and rescue staff
Working full-time in a shelter or rescue is tough. You get paid little. You’re always understaffed. And not every animal you meet has a happy ending story. But I appreciate the how hard shelter workers I’ve met work.
People on the street
Neighbors who don’t know my name see me with different dogs all the time. They stop and ask me about “my” new dog and I get a chance to talk about this awesome pup looking for a new home.
One person I’ve fostered for became a good friend. Another person who adopted one of our foster dogs sends me occasional follow ups and pictures.
But even if I never hear from someone who adopts a dog I’ve fostered, I still have that happy image of seeing someone in love walking away with a wonderful dog.
Ginny’s new person is a proud papa. And her new dog mom can’t wait to spoil her rotten. I’m so excited for Ginny because I know she’ll live her life surrounded by love.
All About the Dogs
Goodness, how can I ever express how fabulous it is to meet so many different dogs?
We started fostering puppies who just needed socialization and a safe place to stay while their immunity developed after their vaccinations.
That means that for one week we get to experience puppy breath and puppy cuddles (along with shark teeth, accidents, and sporadic sleep). But you get to send them back before they make you certifiably insane.
Some dogs need work in a home situation before they’re adoptable.
Our foster dog Cherié was like that. She was so fearful she couldn’t cross the street without slinking to her belly. Thunderstorms terrified her. And Honey’s trainer, the gentlest man I’ve ever met, made her panic. At first.
And yet Cherié brought many gifts to our home.
She was not afraid of teeters, agility equipment, or bike carts. She served as a brave example for Honey who wanted nothing to do with such things. The two dogs learned from each other.
Ginny, our beagle foster, came to us because she was recovering from surgery after being hit by a car. She had no issues unrelated to her injuries.
She didn’t have accidents. She wasn’t fearful. She loved everybody. She was a joy every day she lived in our house.
Dogs who don’t like shelters
And some dogs are perfectly nice but they find the shelter environment stressful. Layla was like that. She hated being surrounded by so many dogs.
She did okay with Honey, mostly ignoring her. And she’s now living in a wonderful home with another dog she sometimes even plays with.
The only thing Layla needed was to get into a home.
Dogs who just need a room
Some rescues don’t have a building. They can take as many dogs out of high-kill shelters or bad living situations as they have foster homes to host them.
Some dogs have no problems except for being homeless.
Love the Ones You Love Even More
I never agree to take a foster dog without talking to my husband first. But he always says yes. Even when he knows it’s going to be more work or more stress or both.
His willingness to take on this volunteer project with me makes me love him more than ever.
And Honey? Oh, Honey. You’ve met every expectation I had for you and then some.
My previous dogs all reacted to other dogs. I could never have brought strange dogs into the house. But Honey was born and bred to do this.
She is tolerant and patient. She can body slam with the biggest dogs while laying down for bitey face with little dogs and puppies. She’s put up with sharing beds, toys, and our affection. And all without complaint.
I thought I loved my dog before I started fostering. But I’ve come to love her even more since.
Without Honey I couldn’t foster. I have her help in teaching the dogs who come into our lives. And I still have her when the foster dog goes to her new home.
Can You Foster?
Not everyone can foster. You may already have a special needs animal who needs your care and attention. Good for you!
Perhaps your schedule doesn’t give you the free time to take on extra dogs in the house. Or maybe your house is already full with dogs, cats, birds, rats, ferrets, guinea pigs etc.
But maybe you have room in your life for fostering. Here are a few questions I’d ask:
- Are you allowed to bring new animals into your home? Some tenants might not be.
- Do you have a consistent schedule that creates a low-stress environment for animals already under stress?
- Do you have a secure house or yard or the ability to exercise an animal safely?
- Can you find a nearby shelter or rescue that provides good training and support to its volunteer foster families?
- Will other members of your family, human or otherwise, tolerate bringing new animals into the house?
- Can you devote a set time to the extra responsibilities involved in fostering?
If you’re leaning toward fostering, you can do a great thing.
How Fostering Helps
By opening your home to foster animals, you’re helping to save lives and improve the lives of people and their animals.
Fostering takes stress off local shelters and rescues. It provides a place for a dog who might otherwise die for lack of room in a public shelter. Fostering prepares an untrained or undersocialized a dog to live well in a new home.
And fostering makes you happy. And who doesn’t want that?
Ginny’s Happy Ending
In the middle of writing this post, Ginny’s new person came to bring her home. She was excited to see him. She hopped around when he came to the door and wanted to jump up into his lap.
And he was just as happy to see her.
Ginny is a very lucky girl. Her new family already loves her and wants what’s best for her. I’m so thrilled to sending her to such a good home.
So there are no tears today. As I watched Ginny walk off with her new person, I had nothing but smiles.
And that’s the happy side of fostering.
Your Turn: Have you ever fostered? Did you find it a happy experience? Why or why not?