Why we foster: part 1 of 2

Our decision to start fostering was not rooted in one single reason, although I could most cleanly trace it back to this: I have always wanted to foster dogs. It’s an intangible and squishy reason, which makes it an utterly unsatisfying answer. So last week after our very first foster, Lollie Wonderdog / Lily Fireworks, moved into her new forever home, I thought it was time to search for better answers. I came up with a few. The first two are below. The next few to come.

Chick is a good mentor.

Our resident wonderdog, Chick, really is a model dog. He has impeccable manners, never says a peep, wouldn’t dream of asking for anything, is the best cuddler in the world, and has the most expressive ears and eyes. He has been an excellent tutor in good behavior to his rather uncivilized uncle Tex the black lab, who in his worse days is a slobbery, bouncing, yipping terrorist (though on his good days, thanks to Chick, he is sweet and quiet). I have always had a nagging feeling that it is a waste of Chick’s excellent dogness not to share his talents with other animals who are still learning how to behave. He may not have taught his foster sister Lollie/Lily much, but he did teach her how to pee outside, and that certainly counts for a lot.

teaching tex how to bounce

Pit bulls need all the advantages they can get.

It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a homeless pit bull to get out of a shelter alive. Is that how the old adage goes? I won’t depress you with statistics, but pit bulls really do have a hard time being adopted. They have an unreasonably bad reputation (although fabulous groups like BAD RAP and StubbyDog are working hard to turn this around), and with so many worthy dogs available in shelters, pit bulls are often overlooked. I have often said that people who don’t already adore the bully breed group are just people who haven’t really spent time with any bully types. Put simply, many people just don’t know what these dogs can be like, and can’t picture one in their lives. Fostering is a perfect way to counter this all-too-common lack of imagination. If we, a non-controversial young professional couple, bring a foster pit bull into our home and successfully demonstrate how perfectly a dog like Lollie/Lily can fit in, won’t that open some minds? It’s hard to make any sweeping generalizations, but since we took Lollie/Lily in, handfuls of people have written us to say that their eyes have been opened.

noncontroversial Chick and his somewhat controversial hand-knit sweater

14 responses

  1. I know so many people who are afraid of these wonderful dogs – educated, compassionate people. I often ask them why and the response is usually something like: they’re bred to be mean or they’re unpredictable. People tell me they know this because they see pitties in the media all the time so it must be true. (Interestingly if a golden retriever bites someone that never makes the 6:00 news.)

    I think it’s folks like you and Fosterdad who are helping to change this terrible stereotype. Not just telling people that pitties are wondeful dogs, but showing them.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments based on fact and truth. I began working in a luxury boarding kennel in 2002 which gave me exposure to all types of dogs. I currently work for a veterinarian, and have been involved in rescue work since 2005. Without this experience, I would not have become an animal activist, and my eyes would not have been opened to the influence of people like you working to change perceptions and prejudices.
    Thank you for all you do for the animals!

  3. I love the picture of Chick doing his Snow Bunnie impression. For some reason, Quizz goes bananas in the snow. He thinks he’s a malamute or something.

    You guys are doing wonderful things. So is Chick, he’s just more stoic about it. 🙂

  4. You guys are doing a great thing! And I love what you said is so true, “If we, a non-controversial young professional couple, bring a foster pit bull into our home and successfully demonstrate how perfectly a dog like Lollie/Lily can fit in, won’t that open some minds?” And I also agree with your bully breed statement. People who are afraid of bully breeds have never really been around them. They are such loving and willing to please dogs.

    And I love the picture.

  5. We started to foster because we wanted a dog, and we didn’t have money for vet bills. Then, when Our Best Friend came and didn’t leave, somehow the money was there. The only problem is, he’s a terrible role model for other dogs, territorial and anxious, so we don’t foster anymore. We hope he’ll settle down with age and we’ll be able to foster again.

  6. MayzieMom here. I was one of those people who had NO interest in a bully breed. NONE. And then I met Mayzie. So I think you’re absolutely right that it’s just because people haven’t had the opportunity to get to know them. I can’t imagine my life without a bully now.

    And that’s so wonderful that Chick can help with “rehabilitation.” In spite of his controversial hand-knit sweater.

    Thank you for fostering. I would love to but my husband absolutely refuses. He’s too afraid of getting too attached. 🙂

  7. Very well said. I’m with Mayzie, I never liked pitbulls and I made sure I wouldn’t adopt one with a trace of pitbull–until I did adopt a pitbull. I think it is so important to highlight these dogs and show people their true nature. Many people have this idea of a pitbull owner, which typically doesn’t include themselves. The other day one of my students was shocked to hear I owned pitbulls because he pinpointed me as having a little fluffy dog that I would carry around in a purse.

  8. Pingback: Chick’s position on fostering: still not impressed |

  9. Pingback: Why Strut? | confessions of a pitbull addict

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

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