Tales of a foster puppy. (Well, actually more like tales of a foster failure)
On February 14, 2015, I delivered my first foster puppy, now named Rosie, to her forever home. On the way home, I was in tears. I mean, seriously! I was devastated. In just two weeks I had become so attached to this little puppy and even though I knew she was going to an awesome home, I was crushed. I told myself I couldn’t foster EVER again and I meant it!
Fast-forward to later that very same evening. The rescue called to ask me if I would take Piper, who had arrived from California a few days earlier but was in need of a quieter foster situation away from her littermate.
The next day, Piper was dropped off at my house in the middle of a snowstorm. She was under the weather, scared and had the most worried, wrinkly expression on her face. She pretty much stayed on my lap for the next week. (I’m hoping you missed the part where my resolve to “never foster again” dissolved faster than the speed of sound)
Piper had a few health issues – an upper respiratory thing and some nasty stomach stuff for a couple of months so I had her longer than I might normally have had a foster. I kept telling myself that as soon as she was totally healthy she was off to a new home. I think everyone else knew long before I did that I had failed as a foster. Friends said things like, “You keep calling her your ‘foster puppy’. Is that her name? I think we all know she’s not going anywhere.” But, I insisted that I was not going to fail as a foster.
If I’m going to fail at anything, foster failing is just fine with me.
When I took her to her first adoption event, I finally had to admit to myself that Piper had found her forever home (probably about 4.2 seconds after she had arrived at my house). Everyone was in love with Piper – taking pictures and wanting to hold her. I could feel my hackles going up every time someone reached out to touch her or asked about filling out an adoption application. I knew I was in trouble when all I could think was, “Why is everyone touching my dog?!?”
I don’t want to scare you off from fostering a dog. Failure is NOT inevitable. My friend and fostering idol, Renee Bacher (Dog by Dog: Every Foster Dog has a Story) is truly an amazing foster. Seriously, check out her blog for some wonderful foster success stories. Renee has had more than 40 foster dogs in the past four years and she only failed once. ONCE. And, not until her 12th foster! When I think of the number of dogs she has saved through fostering, I am genuinely in awe.
Even though I foster failed my second time out, I know that I will foster again. Fostering a dog is, without question, is an incredibly rewarding experience. By offering an animal a reprieve from shelter life you are absolutely saving lives. Someday, I will resume fostering. In the meantime, you might want to consider becoming a foster.
When you foster:
[one_sixth] [/one_sixth][five_sixth_last]You dramatically increase the chances of that dog being adopted. Most dogs are stressed in a shelter setting so their real personalities don’t have a chance to shine. Shelters are noisy and scary and the resources rarely exist to provide each dog with the necessary exercise, socialization, training or direct one-on-one interaction to make a good assessment. Sadly, left in a shelter situation for too long, many dogs start to show psychological and behavioral issues.
When you open your home to a foster dog, you give that dog a chance to decompress and feel safe. You get to know that dog better than rescue or shelter staff because you have more daily direct contact with that dog. You can assess the dog’s personality, identify behavior challenges and you give that dog the opportunity to socialize, learn basic commands, master crate training and more.
A foster home helps to identify if a dog is good with other dogs, likes to chase cats or other small animals, learns quickly, is good with children etc. By helping the shelter or rescue to develop a really good profile of the dog, you are giving them the information they need to make the best possible forever placement for that dog.[/five_sixth_last][one_sixth] [/one_sixth][five_sixth_last]You really are saving lives. We know that shelters are often overflowing and sometimes have to make really tough decisions about how to use resources, which animals they can take in etc. When you foster a dog you are not only saving that dog’s life but you are opening a space at the shelter for another dog in need.[/five_sixth_last][one_sixth] [/one_sixth][five_sixth_last]Foster homes are desperately needed. Ask any rescue or shelter and they will tell you that good foster homes are one of the most needed resources. If you are unable to donate money to a rescue or shelter, consider the donation of time and love by fostering. The shelter or rescue generally provides all veterinary care, medicines (if required), food, a leash and collar and other supplies, if needed. Your monetary investment should be little or nothing.[/five_sixth_last][one_sixth] [/one_sixth][five_sixth_last]Puppy kisses! Enough said. Seriously, it’s fun and incredibly rewarding[/five_sixth_last]
I am fortunate to know some pretty AMAZING animal photographers. If you are in Colorado, I HIGHLY recommend Emily Tronetti from Heal to Howl who took the Piper & the Paparazzi photo and Ashley Deaner from Ashley Deaner Photography who took the picture of me and Piper celebrating Piper’s Gotcha Day.