I first laid eyes on Marley during my sophomore year of college. Somewhere over the course of the next week, I decided that I had to have her. The next thing I knew, she was en route to San Francisco from a rescue in Arkansas, and I had to call my parents to ask them to pick up a puppy from the airport. My shellshocked mother and father were understandably livid that their child had the gall to adopt a dog without their knowledge; when Marley arrived, tiny and terrified, they were on the verge of telling my brother and me to find her a new home.
For the record, everything I did was an absolute adoption don’t.
I was nineteen and impulsive; if it weren’t for my parents’ eventual willingness to open their home and hearts to Marley, she could have ended up among the 3 to 4 million dogs in America’s shelters each year. She’s lucky, indeed — lucky that my parents understood the predicament she would have been in if they dropped her off at a shelter; that they were able to make the time, emotional, and financial commitments to her; and that they didn’t want her to bear the consequences of my irresponsibility.
The desire to have a dog is essentially universal. They’re loyal, loving, and endlessly devoted to you (and who doesn’t want that?) While it’s reassuring to know that a growing number of people are coming to understand the commitment required to be a good, responsible dog parent, others aren’t sure how those translate in real life. It’s easy to say you’ll take the dog out for a walk three times a day – but what if the first of those walks starts at 6:15 AM, and the last is at midnight? What about medical expenses? And how do you really feel about picking up poop?
Thus, the case for becoming a foster parent.
We’ve invited Danielle Maveal, rescue coordinator extraordinaire (and current foster mother!) at Badass Brooklyn, to share five witty reasons for housing pups in need:
- Foster parents help the rescue or shelter reallocate resources to save another life. You can brag about this to your friends at parties.
- Fostering allows the rescue to find out more about the dog’s personality, which helps them fit the dog in the right home. You become an important piece of the dog adoption puzzle and can interview potential adopters. Add this to your resume: Dog Matchmaker.
- The joy a foster dog can bring to your family greatly outweighs the sadness that comes when you say goodbye. You can also ask the adopter to stay in touch and send you updates. It’s so gratifying to watch a foster dog come into their own when they’re in their new, safe home.
- Check out the major health benefits of dog fostering!
- This selfless act of love generates some major good karma.
For additional reference, we love Waggytail Rescue’s overview of fostering. In their own words, “As wonderful as it is to adopt, adoption saves only one or two dogs. Fostering saves so many more!”
As for me, I approached my second adoption (of Scout!) with an adult sense of responsibility and patience — still imperfect and filled with mistakes, but worlds apart from the first time around. Foster parents played a big role by helping me through the process: they facilitated meetings with various dogs, gave their honest opinion about whether they thought the dog and I were a good fit, and answered a lot of questions. The process helped me narrow down which pup I wanted to take home; it also helped me figure out who I could be the best dog mother to. At the end of the day, that’s far more important.
We hope aspiring dog parents will give fostering serious consideration; as you well know, bringing a new dog home is a lifelong commitment, so both parent and pup should be fully ready! Our friends at Waggytail and Badass Brooklyn have wonderful dogs who could use some consistent love and stability — even in the short term.
If you’ve thought about adopting a best friend of your own, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a life together, won’t you apply to foster?
If you’ve had any experiences with wonderful foster parents, or have fostered a dog in need, we’d love to hear them!