A lot of families are considering fostering dogs during these “Stay-at-Home” times; so, as a past foster mom to over 14 beautiful pups, I thought I would try my best to answer a few of the most common asks I get. If you’re interested in becoming a dog foster parent, you should definitely research the individual rescue policies. But you can use these answers as general info to help you make an informed decision. (Unlike me, who just really wanted a dog, and jumped right into it)
Is it hard giving up a dog?
No, the truth is, giving up a foster dog is one of the easiest, most rewarding things a dog-lover can do. Because, no, it doesn’t mean you don’t love the puppy who has been sleeping on your couch for the last month. It means you really truly super do. You love that dog so much, you took them in when they were at their absolute worst. You worked with them to feel more confident, and less fearful of others. You began to build bridges so eventually they could trust again. You let them pee in your house for a week without yelling because you knew it would do more harm for them than good. That is love.
When the time comes, and a family wants to bring your little couch-surfer home for good, you will say yes. Because they absolutely deserve it, and the dog who can now take their spot deserves that chance as well. Because you know they have worked hard for it, and the next dog will work hard as well. Saying “yes” to an adoption application will be easy, because you have done your part.
What is the experience like?
I guess the biggest thing is to remember most of the dogs you’re going to foster have their own set of problems and you have to work with them and through them. Sometimes that means backing off and giving space. Other times it means constant training and attention. It just depends on the dog, really.
There’s no such thing as a foster failure either. In truth, the dog ends up exactly where they’re supposed to be and sometimes that’s with you and sometimes its with others. Its okay to miss a dog and it’s okay to be sad if they are surrendered again. They’re just trying to find where they belong.
What are vet checks like?
I didn’t have to spend hours at the vet. Comprehensive checks were done by the facility before the dog came to my house. The only times I had to make a trip to the vet was if the dog was displaying symptoms of illness. Mostly it was to get de-wormer. Once it was for a minor surgery. The individual rescues traditionally do a great job keeping the dog up-to-date on anything medical, so hopefully if you do have to pop in at the vets with your foster it is once in a blue moon! Plus, the bill won’t be coming out of your pocket.
What is provided by the rescue group?
My rescue always provided a crate, leash/harness, blankets, food and bowls when you picked up your first foster. After my first foster, I just held on to all of those items to reuse with the next pup. The only thing that ever got changed out was the crates and harnesses depending on the dog’s size. I never used dog beds since blankets work just as well and are much easier to keep clean in a hurry. If I did have to buy anything the group did not provide, I just made sure to keep a receipt for reimbursement.
Are shelters transparent about individual dogs needs?
They try to be, but in most cases you are the dogs first stable relationship. Most of the dogs I fostered came from the streets, lived in a shelter for a few days or weeks, went to the vet to get checked up on and then ended up on my door step. That doesn’t give a whole lot of time for getting to know the dog before you become their foster parent. Rescues often try to put a bio together before giving you your foster but it is primarily based on age and breed norms, more so than doggy personality. Oftentimes we would think a dog needed one thing and then find out they needed the exact opposite. Like I said before, everyone is trying their hardest- including the dog. You just have to work with the individual.
I hope some of this helps you make an informed decision about whether fostering is right for you (and I hope you decide that yes, it is!) Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other questions you think I can help with. I’m all ears.