Could You Foster a Shelter Pet?

When shelters like this one in AL and this one in NV send out emergency pleas for foster homes, do you immediately think, “I couldn’t do that”?  I always did.  But now I’m reconsidering.

I get attached – as perhaps you could tell from the recent rescue of Jennie (thank you Jamie!).  In that case, all it took for me to feel a vested interest in the dog was a photo – no description even.  So the idea of taking a homeless pet into my home and making her part of my family temporarily never seemed all that feasible to me.

About 20 years ago, I worked in a veterinary clinic owned by a heartless vet.  A man abandoned his kitten at the clinic one Friday and the practice owner was determined to kill the cat immediately.  The associate vet asked me if I could take kitteh home for the weekend to save his life and by Monday we could figure something out.  Of course by Monday something had been figured out – the kitten would be living with me permanently.  Foster fail.

When APL rescued Scout’s puppies this summer, they offered to take her as well.  By that time, I’d spent so much time sitting out on the porch with Scout, I had fallen in love with her.  I knew it would be a challenge to introduce a new dog to our home because of Linus’s anxiety issues but I decided to give it a try and APL offered to take her at a later date if needed.  Ultimately it didn’t work out and we had to bring her to APL.  It was a sad day (and it happened to be my birthday which was definitely not good timing) but when I look back, I really feel good about the time we spent with Scout.

We got her fully vetted and spayed, house trained, fed her good food to get her to a normal weight and spent many nights cuddling with her on the couch and in bed.  We learned lots of useful things about her personality that will be helpful in matching her to the right owner.  Basically, I feel like we gave her a leg up on finding a permanent home.  And I know we allowed APL to spend resources on other pets in need during the time we had Scout with us.  When I think about it in those terms, it makes me want to consider fostering another dog.  I’m not sure I’m up to it right yet, but I’m keeping myself open to the idea.

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7 Comments

  1. I can and do foster! I love it. I don’t seem to have as much trouble allowing foster animals to go into other adoptive homes. I know that it is usually a very difficult thing for fosters to let go, but I must have a strong “let go” gene in my make-up. I don’t think it means I love them less, but I’ve found that there are others who can love them more, often because they only have one or two pets instead of a house full of them.
    Right now I have less than a dozen foster dogs…but if we move, I’ll need to place many of them.

    Reply
  2. Randy

     /  October 30, 2010

    Great article. I don’t foster as much as I used to but can say fostering was one of the few rewards in life that never stops giving. I can look back at all the wonderfulo fosters who made there way through here and came out much more confident.

    Fostering teaches pets how to trust again in many cases when a pet has never experienced the love of a human. Fostering is the critical difference between life and death for many of these wonderful creatures. If you haven’t fostered givre it a try under the watchful eye of a responsible rescue group.

    Reply
  3. In short, yes I can, and do, foster dogs.

    I’ve been through “the rescue system” and have found my niche by pulling dogs from shelters on my own, and fostering, on my own. On my own = not under any designated rescue group.

    My husband and I are far from financially comfortable, but we make what we have stretch to cover fostering. We have three of our own dogs and live in a townhouse with a fenced in courtyard. We homecook a lot of their food and supplement with stuff like Orijen kibble.
    By all accounts, it would be easier to not foster. But it calls me, compels me.

    I’ve tried to take breaks but they only last about a month until “12yr old blind dog to be euth’d tomorrow” ends up in my line of sight and I pull the dog and foster. For my brain, it feel like an impulse but for my heart, it feels like we’ve found our purpose.

    Fostering – just do it. Don’t think too much about it. It will never make sense to invest your emotion, sanity, home and finances to a dog in need.. but it is so worth it.

    Reply
  4. p.s. my male shiba is an incredibly anxious dog. I’m not sure what linus’s issues are, but over time he has gotten used to the fosters coming and going. It was like a long term counter conditioning for him.
    Now he’s fantastic after the 1-2 week adjustment period!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jen, that’s great to hear and gives me hope. I need a little more time before I might feel ready to take in another dog but I am open to the possibility now which is good I think.

      Reply
  5. Matt

     /  October 30, 2010

    You have to go into fostering with the mindset:

    “Okay, I am NOT KEEPING this cat or dog, I am fostering them to save their lives. Sure, they’ll be charming, loving, and all of those good things, but my mission is clear, I am NOT KEEPING them, I am letting them stay with me until they find a family who will keep them and love them. I am doing a great thing, saving their lives, so there will be no guilt,or sadness (and if there is, I’ll get over it) when they find their home….there will only be happiness in knowing that I helped to save their lives”.

    And if you keep reminding yourself of this through the fostering process, it can be useful.

    Happy Fostering! You are awesome!

    Reply
  6. Kristy

     /  October 31, 2010

    My second foster dog was adopted on Friday. I cried over both but that pain goes away and is replaced with overwhelming joy knowing you’re providing an essential service to continue saving homeless animals. The emotional anguish they would be subjected to if they did not have the opportunity to be fostered is far greater than the tears shed as they leave to their loving forever homes. What use to seem overwhelming to me is just a small sacrifice for the joy they bring to your life and you to theirs.

    Reply

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