Fostering dogs is an integral part of animal rescue. Not only does it help the foster dog learn the proper skills and behavior to be successfully adopted, it also allows more dogs to be saved. The need for foster parents is apparent as it seems that any shelter or rescue can always accept more foster homes.
Unfortunately, in the animal rescue community, it seems common to encounter those (especially online) who make comments about fostering that can actually be very hurtful to those who choose to foster.
To me, one of most hurtful comments that is made in regards to fostering and/or foster parents is insinuating that the foster parent should, or rather must, adopt their foster dog, because otherwise they may cause emotional harm to their foster dog.
If you yourself have made comments such as these – “Can’t his foster parents adopt him? I would hate for him to feel abandoned,” or “She’ll be so sad if you don’t adopt her” – I would like to sincerely tell you that this is in no way an attack on you. Rather, this is an opportunity to see how your comments can hurt those who use their home, heart and time to foster dogs. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Imagine someone telling you, about one of those who you love most in this world, that your decision in regards to their well–being will cause that person or animal strife. That your decision for this one who you love so much and care for so deeply will cause them to feel confused, sad or even worse, entirely abandoned.
These words do hurt and they can be extremely disheartening — and the last thing we need in a world full of homeless animals is for those who are foster parents, or potential foster parents, to be discouraged from helping to save lives.
As a former foster parent to one of the most wonderful dogs that I have ever known yet did not adopt her because I recognized that my home was not what was best for her long-term, I feel that I am able to speak to the experiences of other foster parents. What I, and other foster parents, want you to know is this:
We love our foster dogs just as much as we love our own dogs.
We will do anything in our capacity to ensure that our foster dogs are successfully prepared for life with and the transition to another family.
We cry, out of sadness – because we love them so – and joy – because we love them so – at the thought of our dogs moving onto their furever families.
We gladly accept the immense and deeply gratifying work – emotionally, physically, mentally and even sometimes financially – that comes with being a foster parent.
We understand and do not take lightly the incredible trust that is placed in us to prepare these dogs for their lives with another family.
We delight in our foster dogs blossoming in our own homes. We delight even more in their growth in their furever homes.
We celebrate our foster dogs’ journey with us with the awareness of what is best for them, which many times involves them being adopted out of our homes.
We do not ask for thanks nor recognition, just for people to be understanding and supportive of our decision to see our foster dogs adopted by another family.
We do not foster because it is easy.
We foster because we know that by doing so, these incredible dogs who we are so lucky to share in a part of their lives, are given a chance to not only live but to thrive and to know the joys of love and life with a family permanently.
We believe that it is an honor to be a foster parent – and it is.
Dogs are quite possibly the most pure form of love on this planet. I feel that it is one of the saddest facts of life that they live such short lives in comparison to ours. However, if we are lucky enough to know the love of a dog through fostering, then we should be lucky enough to be shown the same kind of compassion by others that our foster dogs continually and naturally show to us.
When you talk to or about a foster parent, please see us as our foster dogs see us. As a person who gives them love, security, a home, and as a person who teaches them how to be best dog they can be. But most importantly, please be mindful before commenting about foster parents and their foster dogs and what you believe should or should not be done. As foster parents, we will always act in the best interest of our beloved foster dogs.
When you see a foster dog who is so loved and happy and well-adjusted in our homes and think that is why we should keep them, that is the exact reason why we should facilitate them being adopted into their furever home. We have done our jobs and we have done them well and now our foster dogs are ready for the next step in their journey.
And as they are ready, we are ready, too. We are ready to let go, to allow them the happiness of a family that we always dreamed of for them and we are ready to foster another dog and do this all over again.
***The dog featured in these photos is Ellie, the author’s former foster dog, who was happily adopted into her furever family in April 2015 after sharing a home with Levity for seven months.***