Do you know what fostering is? You might remember a time when you seen a sign or commercial about becoming a foster parent for a kid in need. Have you seen the television commercials about how abused animals need your help? About how much your donation will help? About how they get a new life with their adopted family? Have you heard about how much medical attention or money it takes to help them? I know I have. I haven’t seen a commercial or much advertising about animal fostering. Animals, meaning not just dogs. But dogs are the focus of my topic.
When you think about getting a dog, or decide a dog might be the right fit for you, what do think of? Animal shelters? Rescues? Breeders? The cute puppy in the window of a pet shop? How about a foster dog?
When you decide you want to help a dog by adopting it, that’s great. Some people want only purebreds of a certain breed. They’re rescues and shelters that lean toward one or even a few certain breeds. Some mainly take in small or big dogs, etc.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to adopt, actually it’s a great thing!
What have you heard about fostering a dog? I hadn’t heard much. I did know that, I could get a troubled dog dropped off at my house, and then love them before getting my heartbroken when they get adopted by someone else.
That’s not true!! I didn’t know what I know now! I also didn’t know that every life you save from a shelter is 2 lives you’re changing. One when you take the pup into your home temporarily(fostering), and another, because the spot you opened up will be another place for another dog in need.
So what is foster? That’s the question, right? Well I suppose everyone has their own opinion on what fostering is to them. To me fostering is yes, opening your home to a dog that you will fall in love with, and get heartbroken when they leave to their forever home. But it is so much more.
My first (and current) foster, Kitsumi, comes from animal control in Chicago. It isn’t a great place from what I’m told. It’s probably one of the worst, at least this is what I am told, in our area. I was informed by a senior foster mom, that it might take Kit a while to open up, and mellow out, that it’s “a rough shelter”.
Kitsumi has not been with me a month yet, and she is bouncing around with my lab mix, Zoey. They are the best of friends.
I have watched Kit come out of her shell. She isn’t all the way there but we’re getting there. So Fostering means when kitsumi finds a home (which I am even able to not only help find, but also be there to meet them and interview them) she will get just that, a home, a home forever. She isn’t going to get a few years home.
When you get a dog from a shelter kennel, you don’t know a lot about them. You don’t know if they are potty trained, if they are friendly with other animals, their moods, their energy levels, and so on. Sure a few of the kennel assistance could tell you that when they go for a walk all they do is pull, and when they go in to put their food bowl down the dog goes in the corner and shakes or on the opposite side, that they jump on them while trying to knock the bowl out of their hands. That doesn’t mean that the dog isn’t a “good” dog. Nor does it mean that the dog is a high strung speed racer with issues. The only people that dog gets to see daily is the ones that come into his house (or whatever enclosure he is in). So he might be jumping because he thinks you will think its cute, and stay longer to pet him because you do think that so he does get his reward of more of your time, therefore he is getting reinforced.
With kitsumi, she was dumped off at animal control allegedly because the owner had “too many dogs”. It was written down that the owner said “she sleeps on the porch with the rest of the dogs.” Kit was scared after everything she had ever known what ripped away. So she growled at some “nice” people at the shelter. They told her that they understood by removing her from the adoption floor and placing her in the back to sit on death row, you could go see her. She wasn’t one of the dogs you could even ask about, she was put under that only a rescue group could take her (which isn’t easy to find on their website, or anywhere for that matter).
I found kitsumi on a website that said she was in danger of being euthanized any day. I talked it over with my mom, and when we agreed, I took action immediately. I emailed the contact on the website (that was all the info I could get, the animal control in Chicago doesn’t have a phone number you can call or talk to someone). I received an email back later that day, and was directed to find a rescue to help, and then that’s when everything began.
I can tell a future owner that Kitsumi does have an off switch, but it’s after Significant play time. She would rather sleep with you in bed, but she will go in her crate. A plus is that she is crate trained, if you prefer to crate train, if not that’s okay too. Kit loves to train. She likes learning new things, and she picks them up fast. She doesn’t appear to like staying in the kitchen. She isn’t great with cats, but is bff’s with dogs. She likes to play rough, so if they have a dog, it needs to be the same energy level. She doesn’t pull hard on leash, but she could stand to do a little more training, as she doesn’t pay much attention to where your feet are and ends up trying to trip you. She is very destructive with toys. I could go on, and on.
A dog that comes from a foster family, is more likely to get a forever home versus a dog that comes from the shelter. Does that mean I don’t think you should get a shelter dog? No, shelter dogs are not bad, they don’t all get taken back, some dogs go from shelter to homes and get a forever home with a patient loving family.
It is just that you know what you’re getting with a foster pup. Therefore, it is easier to make a better match. It is also less frustrating for the owner and gives them more confidence.
If a dog cowers in the corner, for a few days, that makes an inexperienced dog owner nervous and unsure of themselves. If Kitsumi was the dog in this situation, she would growl if this person came too close. What do you think an inexperienced dog owner will do with a dog that they can’t get near (so it is going to the bathroom all over the place.) and now she is growling at said person. If I play this scenario in my head, I don’t like the conclusion I come to.
Fostering doesn’t cost anything, is what rescues say on their websites. That is true for the most part. It also depends on the rescue. With my rescue, and I think every other, the vetting is billed directly to the rescue. They provide the food, toys, crate, etc. But I free feed, and long story short, it’s easier to have everyone on the same thing, so I buy the food for her. They didn’t bring toys, I bought some of those because I wanted kit to stop chewing on everything else (they did bring some later though). I also borrowed a crate, because while they did bring one, it didn’t work right. They brought a thin crate mat and sheet. I donated blankets I had.
I know that it might hurt to give her to someone else, but I know that without my help, she would be put to sleep by now. I know that fostering her, helped make her chances at not only survival better, but the chance to have a long and happy life, with a family that will provide not only the basics (a warm and dry place to sleep, food, water, etc.) but love her, cuddle her, and give her a life that full of meaning, and happiness. I feel like if more people knew more about fostering, they could be better educated and know more about what fostering really is. Consider fostering, if you can’t give up your foster, that’s perfectly okay. Many people fall in love and decide to adopt them that they even have a name for it. It’s called foster fail.
What does fostering mean to you? Do you have a foster story? I do, and I am willing to share. Have questions? If I know the answer, I will be more than happy to pass it along, if not I might be able to find out from fellow moms.