Meet my newest foster dog, Captain Timon, who is an Italian Greyhound. Named after Timon of Timon and Pumba of The Lion King, you can easily see why where this little guy gets his name from. He can’t quite close his mouth all the way so he looks like he’s always smiling. What a character!
I started fostering dogs back in 2009 when I lived in South Carolina. I had the opportunity to give about 15 or so dogs a temporary home until they found their fur-ever homes. It was an extremely rewarding experience, and one I’m more than elated to start again now that I live in pet-friendly Austin. Boston, where I used to live, was unfortunately not known for its dog-friendliness. Finding an affordable place that accepted both cats (I have 2) and dogs was next to impossible.
One of the most common responses I get to fostering is, “I could never do that! I would just want to keep the dog!” Fostering is an amazing experience, and yes, sometimes you do keep the animals you foster. In the shelter and rescue community, we call this a “Foster Failure.” It’s a loving term of endearment. I’ve foster failed before and now have two little feline buddies that have traveled with me all over the country though the ups and downs of life.
I wanted to provide my perspective on why I foster in hopes that I can turn more people onto the opportunity. It is a truly amazing experience!
Reason One: You’re doing something great for an animal in need.
Many rescues and shelters operate in such a way that if volunteers didn’t foster dogs (and cats), less animals would be saved. This means you are truly doing something great for the dog you’re fostering as well as the animal who’s filled the spot that’s opened up in the shelter. When you foster, you give a dog a sense of normalcy. Chances are they were surrendered or found by whatever organization you’re working with. They need love and stability more than anything and fostering provides them with that experience before they transition into their forever home.
Reason Two: Every dog is great.
Foster dogs come with their own sets of issues for sure. Some pee on your furniture. Others chew it up. Some might try to murder your cats. Others might cuddle with them. Each little pup comes with their own unique personalty that makes them, well, great. Getting to know any dog, but especially a foster dog, is like getting to know a stranger. You get to teach the pups the rules of the house that will help them transition once they finally get adopted.
Reason Three: Every dog is great but isn’t necessarily a great fit for you.
This was the biggest lesson I learned from fostering over the years. Since each dog comes equipped with their own personality (obviously), it can be difficult to find one that fits with your dynamic. If you’re a single person living alone, this is probably less of an issue. But if you have even one cat or another human living with you, finding the “right” dog can be a challenge. Fostering is a great way to figure out if a dog fits into your lifestyle. If they work out and you love them, great, by all means, foster fail away! However, if it’s not a great fit for whatever reason, you can just love and support the dog until he or she gets adopted.
Reason Four: You always have support.
The most popular way fostering works is a shelter or rescue allows you to take care of the dog and treat it as your own until they find a permanent home. This means the dog belongs to the shelter or rescue community. You always have someone to call and ask for advice if you’re having an issue. It also means most rescues and shelters will take care of vet bills for routine medical exams and any accidents.
I hope you considering fostering! Without a doubt, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.