Dog fostering – it’s infectious!

We realized something remarkable the other day: we know six families who have taken in their first foster dog since we picked up our little blog last fall. Six. And considering we don’t know very many people, that’s a big number! As a break from the Stevie Wonder cuteness, we wanted to take one post to pay tribute to a few of the wonderful and inspiring people in our life who have recently joined the dog fostering ranks, choosing to take the same rewarding, emotional, difficult, beautiful, wondrous journey we’re on.

One of the most fascinating things about this juxtaposition of stories is that each person’s motivation and satisfaction in fostering come from such different places. For us, the goal is to help individual dogs find redemption and elevate the image of pit bull type dogs in our society by presenting them as normal, loving members of our family — but that’s just us. Read on to learn what makes these other amazing fosters tick.

Our friends Kelsey and Shaun stumbled upon fostering while attending an adoption event in Southern California, pondering their first dog. They were intrigued by the concept, and after a series of serendipitous occurences that they call signs (including an encouraging comment from us on their blog!), they decided to give it a try. Their first little darling, Buddy, was just as cute as can be, and now they are hooked — not only on the cuteness that fostering brings into their home, but the chance to learn and grow: “We welcomed our first pup at the end of May, and in a few weeks he’ll be living in Northern California with a loving and compassionate couple with a huge yard for him to play. He’s been the best part of our summer, and we can’t wait for more lessons and growth with each new dog we plan to foster in the future.” Check out Kelsey and Shaun’s beautiful photography, poignant writing, and yummy whole foods recipes on their blog, Happyolks.

We met Josh through our blog after he became a new foster dad to a sweet but fearful little mutt, Suzi. He reached out to us for advice on how to navigate the rescue world and how to do right by Suzi while staying sane (challenging at times to be sure). His reasons for fostering were totally different: “I initially chose to foster for mostly selfish reasons: I wanted a second dog, but couldn’t afford one – so fostering allowed me the second dog at no cost to myself. But during my first foster experience, I realized that a lot more comes with it than I initially expected – and now I do it to help give each dog every chance it truly deserves to have a happy and healthy life.”

Adoptable foster Suzi and Lucy

Our blogging buddy in Alaska, Alana, actually foster failed with her first foster dog Molly. Alana and her hunny had been planning to adopt a dog and thought they might foster a few in the meantime, but Miss Molly walked straight into their hearts and curled up into a little marshmallowy ball, never to leave again. There was no going back. And yet, they haven’t given up. Through a program at their local shelter that is meant to give dogs a break from shelter life by placing them into homes for a short period, they brought in GI Jane, a darling brindle puppy who looks a lot like our Stevie Wonder! In Alana’s words: “I started fostering because I saw what a great impact bringing a shelter dog into my home and loving them as my own had on the dog’s overall well being and on the people willing to adopt them.  I specifically seek out bullies to give them a better chance of finding their perfect forever home by teaching them manners and showing them how to be a part of a family.” Read more about the adventures of Miss Molly, her occasional foster siblings, and her dear parents here.

Adam, Alana, Molly, and foster Janie (courtesy http://adamandalanafriese.blogspot.com)

For another friend of ours, Emily, becoming a foster was kind of accidental:  “While volunteering with a local humane society, I met Ginger Rogers, a beautiful pit mix who was condemned to be euthanized if no one was able to foster her. Looking at her beautiful but nervous eyes, I knew that she deserved better than to spend her last days alone and scared in an overcrowded shelter. I brought her home that day and have watched in amazement as she has blossomed into this beautiful and confident creature.  I am so thankful to be a part of her story, which thankfully, is far from over.” Want to read more about little Ginger, her two canine siblings, and Emily’s adventures? Check out their blog.

Beautiful foster Ginger Rogers (courtesy http://waldobungie.wordpress.com/)

There are more — our friend Susan who rescued a stunning blue pit bull off the streets of Pasadena and agreed to take her home when she was deemed “unadoptable” just because she was shy (Susan is still trying to figure out which way is up. Is she fostering? Is beautiful Louise hers for good? Is she just harboring her until another stable solution comes along? Sue isn’t sure but Louise sure is pretty . . . ) The list goes on.

Fostering is hard work, but it pays off, and we’re proud to be in such good company. Thanks to each of you for reminding us every day that the reasons for doing this work are as diverse as the people and dogs who benefit from it.

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34 responses

  1. This post gets me excited. Makes me wonder if we’ll be able to foster at some point without “failing” :) Right now we can’t because we’re at the 3 dog limit for the county (any more than that and you have to have a kennel license). But….we certainly appreciate all you – and the new blogs I am about to bookmark for following! – do for these babies!

  2. What a great post! It was especially interesting to see the different paths people took to fostering.

    I’ve read some vitriolic comments about people who don’t provide “forever homes” to their dogs. And while I agree no one should bring a dog in his home without intending to provide for that dog for the rest of her life, it doesn’t always happen.

    Fostering is a great way to see that the most important thing is that a dog have a home where she can flourish and grow. And temporary homes along the way are so important until a dog finds her forever home.

    I’ve been thinking about how dogs might need godparents as well as foster parents–experienced dog people who help new dog families learn what they need to create a great relationship. Maybe the real answer to pet overpopulation and neglect is more community?

  3. I have so much respect for anyone who fosters. I’m wondering if I’m up to the challenge. I know that I will fall in love with each and every one of the pups I’d bring into my home and may not be able to let them go. So I need to give it serious thought. Today’s blog is very timely – I’ll be following the links you’ve provided to the blogs of the other foster families, too….thank you!! PS: you’re making a difference in the world – that must feel great!! :-)

  4. This was lovely. To anyone who is interested in fostering, but is scared that they couldn’t let their fosters go — don’t worry abut it! :) When you are fostering, you will be able to love the dog, but you soon realize that this is not YOUR dog, he or she clearly belongs to a different family, and it just takes time to figure out who that lucky family will be.

    We started fostering to help our adopted dog who was suffering from severe separation anxiety. Despite being on medication, he was still a mess when we left. The second dog helped right away! After our first foster got adopted, our dog was a terrible mess. Our second foster came into our life about a month ago and hasn’t left. She has done so much good for our other dog, that she will live all the rest of her days in our home. Sometimes, you realize that you are the family that wonderful foster has been looking for :)

  5. Pingback: Thoughts on fostering… « Our Waldo Bungie

  6. Great post! Fostering really is an amazing experience and it makes such a huge difference for the dogs. Amazing that you’ve been able to inspire so many!

  7. We are about to get our feet wet in the fostering program. While I would much rather foster a bully breed, we are taking our first foster in the form of a Jack Russell Terrier recently confiscated from a puppy mill. This as a favor to a close friend that works with the rescue. If this is successful, we surely will be looking for a bully to foster. Fingers crossed as this is all new to us. Hopefully we will be able to combine our new charge with our pitmix and corgi fur-babies.I have been reading your blog and learning-thank you!

    • How exciting! Do let us know how it works out! Puppy mill dogs tend to be very undersocialized, so your JRT might be very fearful at first — both of the humans and of the dogs. Be sure to give him/her plenty of space, as timid dogs can feel very easily suffocated by attention and affection. What seems like love to you can be scary to a puppy mill dog. Shoot me an email if you want to “talk” through it!

      • Thank you so much! I appreciate your thoughts and advice and will be sure to check in with you. I have been brought up to speed on the unusual needs of a puppy mill dog and have been advised that this sweet little mama is in a much better frame of mind than most mill dogs. Fortunately my friend who does evaluations picked her especially to fit in with my pack. Now we are just waiting to get her. she has to travel through 2 states to get here.

  8. Wonderful story. It’s funny because people that have never fostered, including myself several years ago, tend to focus on how much work it will be and if they can make that type of commitment. I’ve learned it’s almost a “selfish” act because you will get so much more out of it than you will EVER put in. It is one of the BEST things I have ever done with my life!!!

  9. i hope to join the ranks of you awesome people someday! although, i’m not sure we’ll go the pittie route as we’re partial to the ‘basils’ of the rescue world. you guys and all the foster people featured are doing great things!! (and ginger rogers is maybe the best name ever!)

  10. Great post, truly! I’ve long been interested in fostering but taking in another dog, even for a short period, isn’t doable at the moment. Our landlords are understanding but only to a point. We have, however, considered fostering cats, which are also always in need of homes. Shelters are constantly full of cats and kittens and if we could take some in to lighten the burden and create more space, it would make a big difference. But as with everything else I am nervous and worried I won’t do a good job.

    Reading all of these decriptions and stories is inspiring and makes me want to give it a shot.

    • Kristine!!

      It would be so awesome if you fostered a cat!! Kittens in particular don’t do well in shelters because they are so vulnerable to infections, so I know our shelters always need somebody to take in a nursing mom and her babies for a few weeks, just until the babies are healthy and big enough to survive. As I understand it, fostering cats is much less time-consuming; even if you can’t provide them tons of enrichment, you are giving them more space to explore, stretch their legs, and just relax. A shelter is a stressful place.

      I have thought of suggesting cat fostering to people I know who say they would love to foster but don’t have the time. It’s hard for dog people to take the leap sometimes, but if you challenge yourself intellectually, saving a companion animal is saving a companion animal, whether it be a cat or a dog. It’s still a beautiful, unique, precious life.

      Keep me updated! Aleksandra

  11. I apologize for not getting back to you last night! I feel asleep on the couch snuggling with my dog Izzy and our Foster Peeps!

    I had decided to foster when I first graduated college and moved away from home. I could not afford a dog nor did I have the time, but missed canine companions. I teamed up with a local rescue to be an intermediate foster for young puppies on the weekend before their full time foster could pick them up. Izzy was our 4th foster and our first foster failure. We fell in love with her calm demeanor and loving spirit. A week later, the honeymoon was over and she revealed her true, crazy, high-strung self but we were already hooked!

    Skinny Fat Kid kept bugging me for a second dog, one that would be his, since Izzy is so attached to me. He begged for a pittie, but we just can’t handle two dogs with our schedule. Enter Foster Peeps! The rescue sold me on this little guy and he has been an amazing first full-time foster. Going on 3 weeks this Saturday(!), he has managed to fit right in to our schedule and our way of living. If only Izzy could leave him alone for 10 minutes so he could nap! The amount of people who have stopped me while out with him in his “adopt-me” vest and asked about adopting him or are interested in fostering is inspiring! Waiting for him to find his forever home…we will certainly foster again. We may need a break in between but are more than willing to help save another life! We will miss Peeps but know he will be so happy in his forever home!

  12. I am absolutely over the moon to read this! This is the power of one. One family reaching out has now made a difference in the lives of at least 12 other families (the foster families and the adoptive families) plus so many dogs (the dogs who were adopted, the dogs who were granted an extra day in the shelter because there was now space available, the new dogs who were fostered).
    Ok, I’m getting teary eyed!
    This is my hope for SHINE too. :)

    • Hey now, not so fast. We didn’t inspire all of these good folks to foster, we just have been lucky to know them while they have launched their first fostering effort. Still — it is a beautiful thing, and we feel lucky to be involved in it.

  13. What a great post, I loved reading why others fosters and checking out their blogs, thank you for letting me be part of this post. Fostering truly has turned out to be much more rewarding than time-consuming, it took me awhile to take the leap thinking it would be SO much work but it was wonderful, Janie will always have a place in my heart and I eagerly await her adoption day. Until then we will be looking to foster at least one more pittie before our school and work schedules become to hectic ( I can only push my poor hubs so much, so out of respect for him we will be a one dog family in the winters and keep our fostering days in the summers). Thank you for all you do Aleksandra, Lollie was my biggest inspiration for wanting to foster, I just love her story and love her big broad chest just like Mollys :).

  14. We’ve fostered 3 dogs in the past 3 months and watched all of them go to great homes. What could be more rewarding than that!?! I believe fostering is what gets the dog adopted. Potential adopters want information, rather than surprises–and there’s no way of knowing what a dog is really like when it’s locked in a cage all day long. Bring the dog into a home, and the dog’s true self shines. We share our observations, and voila, a happy ending.

    You asked what I put into the CL post for Francie. Great photos, which I can see you know the power of, is a big component. But for Francie in particular, the clincher was that someone told me she looked like an American bulldog. I wouldn’t have known that myself, but when I googled images of American bulldogs, they looked exactly like her. Her new owner was searching for an American bulldog, so that’s how he found her. Hooray for small details.

  15. I miss fostering. :( Operation Convince-the-hubster-that-fostering-a-4th-dog-isn’t-bat-sh**-crazy needs to start soon so he’ll be properly convinced by the time Hurley’s out of puppy stage and I don’t think it’s crazy to take on a 4th.

  16. I’m so honored to be mentioned in your post. Thank you! And I’m proud to be, as you say, in such good company. I’ll check out everyone else’s sites later. Kudos to all! And kudos to all your readers who, though they may not foster, they are certainly good-hearted animal lovers.
    You summed up my situation well: I am still trying to figure out which way is up! Thank you for your support and guidance. One thing’s for sure: taking a pit bull into your life is a wild ride, an incredible journey. I’ve learned so much from these incredible dogs. Thanks for showing the world what amazing animals they are.

  17. My kids are begging to start fostering again– but I’m supposed to go back to school in the fall (we’ll see how long THAT lasts), and our permanent pet can be… unpredictable… and… and… and…

    Sigh. We all fall short of our own expectations, don’t we?

  18. Actually, make it seven. I don’t think I would have fostered any dog (certainly not the one I chose) if it hadn’t been for all of your hard work. Thanks. You make it seem like the obvious thing to do :)

  19. i’ve been fostering dogs pretty much non-stop (there’s so many dogs to save) since about 2005….and that’s in addition to my own pack. My pack are great as they aren’t territorial at all – so no one gets jealous when one comes up to me for attention, nor does anyone care if another eats out of a certain bowl…..I’ve probably fostered 7-12 a year. Only one was supposed to be a foster and I failed. Happily.
    My dogs are also great at showing a new dog how to trust.
    After the first foster, the emotions get easier to deal with – as someone else above stated, you go into it just knowing that you are not that dog’s destiny. And you know that he/she is meant for someone else. And…well….you just can’t keep them all (not in the city at least).
    I think it’s the BEST gift you can do – not only for the dog but also for the dog’s new family (forever home), once they are found. And as someone ELSE above said – it is a rather selfish thing to do – you get so much out of it ! There’s just NOTHING like seeing a scared & cowering canine become a confident, happy, toy-playing, ball-chasing, tail-wagging DOG.
    It makes my heart sing every.single.day ! :)

  20. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I agree fostering is very rewarding. I think in the last five years I have fostered 30 different dogs. I am part of the San Francisco Samoyed Rescue group.
    I have learned so much about myself, dogs, and how to love from the many fosters.
    I do have a question, how can we get more people to foster? What does it take? More education, more fostering? How about a reality show called ‘Foster this!’ If people knew more about fostering I’m sure we could save more animals.
    – Terri (aka mom of Vinyl, Tigger and Einstien, foster mom of Ohno)

    • Hi Terri,

      What a thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. I have battled with these same questions, and continue to do so. On my own small scale, I am getting more people to foster through this blog and a few other advocacy projects I work on. The scale is very small, but the effect can be exponential. By writing about it openly and displaying the beautiful and fetching nature of our dogs, I hope I am opening other people’s hearts to the possibility and making it more accessible. We are busy young(ish) professionals, and not stay-at-homes or dog trainers. Anybody can do it, and we do it just fine. These are just a few of the ideas I’m trying to get across.

      On a bigger scale, I think it would take some kind of a large-scale media campaign. So many people have not even ever been exposed to the idea of fostering, let alone considered whether to try it or not. Maybe a large animal advocacy org (Best Friends? ASPCA? HSUS?) will launch a campaign someday, just as HSUS recently has for shelter pets (“the shelter pet project”). It could be effective. But I actually love the idea of a reality show about dog fostering. How cool would that be, if there were a show featuring a number of foster families, highlighting the trials of their own fostering, the successes of their dogs, etc? I love it. Can we pitch it to Animal Planet?

      What ideas have you considered?

      Thanks for writing. It means a lot to me.

      Best, Aleksandra

  21. I’m so happy I found this blog! I’m working with my second foster who is fairly challenging in some ways, perfectly amazing in others. I’ve started to worry that we won’t be able to find his perfect match, so have considered adopting him… Reading your blog reminds me why I foster in the first place–to showcase this beautiful and misunderstood breed, and to be the necessary in between for shelter dogs who are not doing well or are being overlooked. Reading this gives me the desire to keep looking for Jefferson’s forever home, and someone who will love him as much as we do!!!

    • Hi Shirley, Thanks for coming by! We know the challenging/amazing combo. It can be exhausting, but we love it! Shoot me an email if you ever want to “talk” about it or if you need a pep talk about Jeffey’s home being out there somewhere. You sound like an awesome foster mom, and the pittie community would hate to lose you to adoption just yet! Send a photo when you get a chance too :) Aleksandra

      • Thanks Aleksandra! I appreciate your thoughts so much and really enjoy reading about your experiences fostering the breed I love most. Much like you, a beautiful pittie found me about 10 years ago, teaching me so many things about myself and the need for pit bull rescuers and fosters.

        I haven’t given up on finding Jefferson the perfect home, but he doesn’t show well in public due to some pretty extreme leash reactivity toward people and dogs. I have a great trainer who is going to volunteer her time in a few weeks, so I’m looking forward to taking the next step! In the meantime, here is an adorable video of Jefferson… (My camera broke right after he came to stay with us.)

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