I first met Josh when he emailed me about a tough fostering case he was dealing with. We had recently made the difficult decision to say goodbye to Baby Blue, and immediately bonded with Josh over the really heartbreaking parts of fostering. Since then, we have become good friends, sharing in the joys and triumphs of fostering rather than the sorrows. Josh is thoughtful, talented, and generous, and we are honored to bring you his perspective on fostering.
What can I really say about fostering that hasn’t already been said, and much more eloquently, by Aleksandra? After all, she’s the queen bee of fostering – a source of constant inspiration (and information!) for me. I’m just super honored she asked me to talk about my experiences being a foster parent in NYC!
When I first started thinking about fostering, I will admit, it was for purely selfish reasons: I wanted a second dog, but my budget simply wouldn’t allow for it. I had adopted my pittie Lucy over a year ago, and I so badly wanted another dog for the two of us to love. Fostering seemed like the perfect solution – I got the dog at none of the cost!
At about the same time, I read Jim Gorant’s The Lost Dogs, and I knew after that that fostering was for me. I wanted to be like the people I read about, saving lives and defying stereotypes. I thought I knew what I was getting into – what I didn’t know is what I’ve ended up getting out of it.
My fostering experience got off to a rocky start, to be honest. My first foster was very fearful and problematic. I’m not quite ready to delve into the details of that experience quite yet (maybe sometime in the future on my own blog), but let’s suffice it to say that I spent a lot of time after that first one contemplating whether I was foster parent material. I was angry, sad, disappointed, and more. But a few weeks later, an opportunity arose to foster a new dog – so I picked myself up off the floor (literally, where I’d been sitting and moping with Lucy), and took her in.
Lola Bird became favorite foster up until this point – an elderbull of immense class, resilience, and beauty. She had eyes that bore into you with compassion – making sure you knew that despite whatever she’d been through (which probably was a lot: breeding, violent abuse, neglect, abandonment) you were the one who needed the attention. She is destined to become a therapy dog – something I hope her new mom is pursuing.
In Lola Bird’s case, as with many others, fostering saved her life. At Animal Care & Control, she was a helper dog for SAFER evaluations, and because of that she met a lot of dogs – some healthy, some not so healthy. When she came down with kennel cough, she was put on the euthanasia list and we knew we had to act fast. Fostering is crucial for just this reason – it saves lives. Regardless of what kind of shelter you foster through, you will be directly impacting the lives of so many animals. You may only have one extra dog in your home, but think about all of the other animals that can now use that space in the shelter and consequently get forever homes, too! It’s a total win-win!
Becoming a foster parent, I’ve found, has sort of set an example for my friends, too. Since taking in my first foster, three of my friends have begun fostering as well. One more just emailed me to tell me she wanted to help, too! It’s also opened up a great working relationship with the shelter. I get to know their dogs very well, and stay updated on which dogs are coming and going. Because of this, I have proudly helped place ten dogs in their forever homes.
For all the pros fostering presents, it certainly has its cons, as well. The biggest one for me is seeing the dog leave. I’m thrilled to know that each dog goes to a great home that promises to love them for the rest of their life, but breaking that bond is hard for me. I’ve never been good at goodbyes, and it’s no easier saying goodbye to an animal than it is a human.
But most significantly to me, as a human, is that fostering has connected me to a whole new community of caring, supportive and helpful people. I never expected that my life would take this turn, and yet here I am, and here you are, with one thing in common. I may not have met most of you (and, despite how much I hope to, probably wont), but I do know that if I need help with one of my dogs that you all will be there. And I couldn’t thank you enough.
Josh lives, plays, and fosters dogs in New York City. You can follow his adventures in fostering and rescue on his blog and facebook page. He is currently fostering Bill, a special needs pit bull who is recovering from surgery and a hard life in Josh’s loving home. For more on Bill, click here. For info on Bill’s fundraiser featuring a fun raffle with lots of cool goodies, click here!