Fostering can be one of the most rewarding ways to help homeless animals. Today it's vitally necessary because so many animals are entering shelters and rescue. The shelters are overburdened and without foster families, many of these animals wouldn't survive.
This is Winston on the left looking out the window with Monty. Winston was one of our fosters. He had both internal and external parasites and was badly in need of some good nourishing food. He came to us when he was about three months old and lived with us for four months until we placed him in a home with a couple who had lost their elderly dog and wanted a new companion. I have the opportunity to see him several times a year and he's a wonderful senior citizen now.
Just before placing Winston, I decided I wanted to keep him. I'd grown very attached to the little guy. The couple came to spend the weekend and meet Winston and when I saw how much they loved him and how well he accepted them, it was much easier for me to let him go.
Road Dog shared this experience:
" My husband was living in California and had two German Shepherds at the time. he decided to foster a third. By the time they got home, he called the German Shepherd rescue group and told them he was permanently adopting the foster dog."
Several of our blogging friends are currently fostering.
This is Ziggy. He lives with Dog Foster Mom while waiting for his forever family to come along and discover him. I enjoy reading about Ziggy's adventures as he learns to fit into family life. It's not always easy.
Rescued dogs can come with baggage, behavioral problems and sometimes emotional or personality problems. Part of the job of the foster family is to work on these problems and assess the type of home that the animal can best fit into.
Another blogger that is currently fostering is Barb and hubby Bill. They have a couple of large dogs of their own and over the past year have taken in several small foster dogs. Here are some of their temporary family members.
Roo, as you can see is a special needs dog. Having a deformed leg doesn't stop her from doing everything the other dogs do, but the foster family must be sure that she'll get the support that she needs in a permanent home.
Milli found her forever home.
Isn't Dove cute. She has also been adopted.
Edith was one of the lucky ones to find a permanent home.
Nicky now lives with her permanent family.
John is living with Barb and Bill and is waiting for a family to love him forever.
Chica found her forever home with Barb and Bill and her canine family members Ernie and Sasha. Foster families often adopt one of the animals they foster. They find that the new pet is a perfect fit with their family.
My friend Nicki has some fostering info to share.
Getting started - Pick a group or breed rescue you are interested in and that has a good reputation. Ask about their adoption requirements. Some groups don't have much in the way of screening and you don't want to invest time, money and emotion into a pet that will end up in a bad home. The ones I have worked with will only place a dog that fits into your household with you. For example, if the dog is not good with cats and you have a cat, they will choose a different dog for you. Make sure you choose a rescue that promotes the pets well - online, local paper, adoption events, etc. This will help make sure you don't get stuck with one a long time.
I have fostered anywhere from a week to several months. It just depends on the pet and who is looking at that time. Older, large breed dogs will be hardest to place. Puppies are usually quick.
The few rescues I have worked with paid all the vet bills, but asked that we buy the food. They either had an appointed vet for you to take them to, or reimbursed for the vet of your choice, if needed.
Trip is Nicki's most recent foster pup
Some will arrange for the potential homes to meet the pet and do all the talking to the adopters and transporting of the pet for you. Some will ask that you participate in this process.
We started fostering because it was something I really wanted to do. We got to experience a lot of different dogs and at the same time really help out a worthy organization and help save lives. We fostered for about a year for an all breed rescue and now intermittently for a Border Collie rescue. When we worked with the all breed rescue, they would call and tell us they had a dog and what it was. If it didn't work for us, we could swap for another, but we generally didn't get to choose. With Border Collie rescue, I offer to foster based on the need or the particular dog when I can work it into our lives! It's generally the job of the rescue to find the home, although it doesn't hurt to promote your foster dog to people you know!
The best thing about fostering is seeing the pet end up with a perfect forever home where they are spoiled and adored! The worst part is the sad stories they often come with.
We have adopted two of our fosters - mainly because they happened to be exactly the type of dog we were wanting next. They just came sooner than we anticipated! I would love to foster regularly, but it takes a true time commitment which I don't have right now, and the willingness of everyone in the family, which is not always present.
Peyton was a foster last year
As far as not getting attached - I never consider the pet to be mine. I always think of him or her as a dog I'm just pet-sitting for awhile. But it also helps that I have very specific criteria for each new dog we get and many of my fosters don't fit the bill. For most people, I think making a conscious effort to never consider that keeping the pet is even an option ( always pretend it already belongs to someone else) is the best way. Working with a rescue that has pretty high adoption criteria helps, because you know it's going to a really good home. Some rescues give the foster home the final say in who adopts the pet, since the foster family knows the pet best. This is nice as it really gives you peace of mind when you finally have to hand over the leash.
Lyric started out as a foster, but was adopted by Nicki
If you're interested in learning more about becoming a foster family there are a number of organization you can contact. here are a few to get you started: