Fostering Emotions

I was recently talking to a few volunteers about fostering, and it got me thinking about how we all handle it differently. One foster parent said she cries every time one of her dogs gets adopted. She asked how it is that I don’t get emotionally attached.

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That is hard for me to answer, and it might seem mean…but basically, I find the reasons of why the dog doesn’t fit in to my family. That doesn’t mean we don’t love the dog, because we do. We certainly treat her like she belongs here. But, my dogs are so perfectly in tune and set to our routines. My dogs don’t whine, or go to the bathroom in the house. They play together, without squabbling over what toy belongs to who. Oscar and Lucy are the perfect match. This is why I WAS able to adopt Oscar, because he fit in right away, as if he had been here all along.

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The foster dog however, usually does not fit in. It is a transition, sometimes a big one, depending on their past. Many times they aren’t potty trained, or crate trained. Some times they have anxiety, or health concerns. I have had fosters of all ages, breeds, and sizes…and the ones that are the most work, are the puppies! Why people over look adult dogs for puppies, is beyond me! I guess because puppies are oh so cute…but I’ve seen tons of adult dogs that are just as adorable, and they at least are usually potty and crate trained! Sometimes they even know tricks too! (Hint hint, adult dogs is where it’s at, so go adopt one and feel awesome-rrr than you already are!)

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Foster dogs are a lot of work. Work that I am happy and willing to do, but still, work none the less! Once the dog settles in, I begin working on the basics. Potty training and crate training…two things that all adopters can appreciate! If those are already accomplished, then I work on basic obedience. Basically, when this dog meets a potential adopter, what will help them seem like a perfect addition to the person’s family? If the dog has some basic obedience skills, like “Sit”, “off”, “kennel”, this is usually a big draw for adopters. These are reasons for people to come to rescues for their new furry friend. The dog has been in a home setting, learning how to live and behave inside as a family pet. April 2014 003

As the foster parent, we should do whatever we can to help the pup be prepared for life as a forever family companion. And, if we do our job well, the adopter just might recommend a rescue dog to friends and family, which means another dog’s life will be saved!

Don’t get me wrong…it is never EASY to say goodbye to a foster dog. When a dog is adopted though, I feel accomplished. I know I’ve done my job for that dog, and now it is time to help another. I get to have a little bit of “normalcy” being back down to just my two dogs, and then we look forward to the next pup that we will take in. And when it comes right down to it, I can say goodbye because I helped save a life. I helped put love back in a dog’s heart. I know I did a good thing by helping an adopter find their new furry friend. All of this combined, is how I can handle saying goodbye!

Share with me if you are a fellow foster. How do you say goodbye? Do you celebrate; do you cry? I think it’s good for us to talk about it, and share with each other…so, tell me your stories!

*PS-Don’t forget, Tooley is adoptable through Last Hope Rescue! Please consider sharing this post via your social media sites, in order to help her find the forever home she deserves! 

Goodnight, friends! 


12 thoughts on “Fostering Emotions”

  1. I have fostered somewhere around 13 dogs and I would agree it’s always hard to say goodbye… but it is usually a good feeling, especially when it allows me to bring another one in my house. I have fostered a few that have made me cry when they leave, and one I did end up adopting, but the rest I haven’t had that difficult of a time saying goodbye. Probably because I knew from the beginning that they were going to go to a better place then where they were at. It is a very rewarding experience.

  2. I would really like to foster but my husband is afraid we will keep them all! I believe that being that transitional home would be great. I’m still working on him.

  3. Thank you for this post! As an experienced foster parent and as the manager of the Foster Care Program at an animal shelter in Miami, FL, I find very few people talk about the emotional component of fostering homeless animals. Compassion fatigue and loss are not limited to staff members. I try hard to offer support to my foster parents but I wish the shelter and rescue community at-large would talk more openly about these issues.

  4. I really enjoyed this post, thank you for sharing! It’s always so tough to return my fosters. But it feels good to know I helped. I always cry and miss them afterward. The main reason I usually foster pups instead of adults: they probably won’t remember the “good life” I was giving them so their new home won’t feel inadequate like I think it may for adult dogs.

    1. Thank you, Jade! The wonderful thing about adoption is that they are going to a wonderful home, so while it’s not your home, it’s still a great one. Trust me, the adults handle the transition remarkably well! 🙂

  5. My third foster just went to his forever home. So far he was the most difficult, I REALLY loved him. Under different circumstances he would have forever laid his head on my couch, however two dogs is just not possible right now. That said, being so attached to him made the follow up emails and many pictures of him looking blissful so much more rewarding. It instant reversed any feelings of sadness I had about letting him go! My next little lost soul arrives in a week!

    1. Follow up emails and pictures definitely always helps, for sure! Thank you for reading, and commenting!

  6. I’ve been fostering for 2 months and am already on my 6th! There have been one or two tears she’s, but I find that letting my fosters go to new homes is like a reward for myself. I use all my efforts to help my fosters recover from whatever life they had before and the behavior or health issues that have followed them into my home, and I happily send them on their way to their new homes knowing that they are not the same dog as when they came trotting (or slinking) through my door. I’m sure someday I will stumble on that perfect dog who fits right into my life and could only belong to me (there have been a couple “almosts” already), but my own dog’s standards are what I look for in my rescues. She’s such a wonderful dog and actually does most of the fostering for me!! She is perfect, and she makes it easy to let my fosters go because she holds the highest place in my heart and could never be replaced.

    1. I feel the same way about my dogs! They really do most of the work for me, because they help the foster learn to trust, be confident, etc. Congrats on having so many successful fosters so far! Keep up the good work, and thank you for sharing!

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