Should You Foster a Dog?
If it were up to Ron, he'd have 100 dogs here at the house. However, one (me) can handle only so much shedding, so we've found a way to add an extra dog to our home here and there by fostering rescue dogs.
Fostering a dog can be incredibly rewarding, but as with every decision, there are pros and cons to consider in figuring out if it's right for you. In this blog post, we'll share our top five pros and cons of fostering a dog, along with a checklist of essential items and some helpful tips for handling a foster pup.
5 Pros of Fostering a Dog:
1. Making a Difference: First and foremost, by fostering a dog, you are directly impacting that dog's life, providing them with a temporary home, love, and care — things they may have lacked until you took them in. It's amazing to witness their transformation, even in the first few days. Even a simple tail wag lets us know that you are playing a crucial role in their journey.
2. Flexible Commitment: Fostering offers a temporary commitment, and you get to decide when you have the time to take on a foster. We typically take in a foster when we have a month or two with no upcoming travel plans and not a lot of house guests coming and going.
3. Learning Opportunity: Fostering exposes you to different kinds of dogs, temperaments, and personalities. Maybe you've never had a dog and want to see if owning a dog is for you. Or maybe there is a specific breed of dog you've always been interested in. Fostering can give you an opportunity to learn about different breeds and, in the process, become a more knowledgeable dog lover.
4. Networking and Community: Fostering connects you with a supportive community of fellow foster caregivers, rescue organizations, and animal lovers. Many rescues have private social media sites and events where you can exchange advice, share experiences, and receive guidance from others who understand the fostering process.
5. Gateway to Adoption: Depending on the organization you are working with, fostering can serve as a "trial period" for both you and the dog. If you decide to adopt, you provide a forever home to a dog in need, making the transition incredibly rewarding.
5 Cons of Fostering a Dog:
1. Emotional Attachment: Fostering means forming deep emotional bonds with dogs who will eventually leave your care. Letting go can be challenging, but remember their happiness lies in finding their forever home.
2. Time and Commitment: Fostering requires dedicated time and effort. From feeding to training and exercise, you must be willing to do the work to meet the dog's needs and help prepare them for their new home. Rescued dogs come with little background information, so the rescue may also ask you to expose the dog to different kinds of experiences and situations. This helps the rescue get an idea of the dog's personality, behaviors, and any flashpoints. Also, there is no set time on how long a foster will be with you. We've had one dog with us for one week and another with us for over a month before heading to their forever home.
3. Potential Challenges: Foster dogs may come with behavioral issues, health concerns, or require specialized care. Being prepared for challenges and having patience is crucial in providing the best environment for them. One of our fosters had a lot of energy and liked to chew little holes in our blankets and pillows. Another foster assumed the Alpha role over one of our own dogs, but thankfully, Lewie was chill enough that he didn't care.
4. Financial Responsibility: While some supplies may be provided by shelters, additional costs like toys, treats, and bedding will be covered by you. Ensure you're financially prepared to provide these items.
5. Saying Goodbye: Saying goodbye to a foster dog can be difficult, especially if you've bonded. When the time comes, know that you've made a positive impact on the dog's life and celebrate the new life you've helped provide.
If fostering is for you, here are some things we found important to have in preparation for taking in a foster:
1. Supplies: A foster should have its own food and water bowl, collar and leash, toys, and crate/kennel. You may also want to buy some grooming supplies. Rescued dogs usually arrive really dirty and sometimes stinky.
2. Dog-proofing: Make your home safe by securing hazardous items, covering electrical cords, and removing plants that are toxic to dogs. Most rescues also ask that you have a crate/kennel to keep the dog in, at least for the first few days, for the dog's safety.
3. Research: You may want to learn about the specific breed or mix of your foster dog to better understand their needs and behaviors (Border Collies are very different from Labradors). Also, closely read the rules and regulations for the rescue you are working with prior to taking in a foster to learn about how they run their organization and the expectations they have for those who foster their dogs.
4. Support System: Stay in contact with your rescue organization or fellow foster caregivers for guidance, advice, and support. Make sure you have someone you can reach out to with questions, concerns, or advice.
5. Patience and Love: Each foster dog is unique and may require time to adjust... or not. Our latest foster was sleeping belly up on the couch after day two! Just show them patience, love, and consistent training.
Foster Jeff, Cozy and Comfortable on Day 2
Fostering a dog can be a truly rewarding experience. It allows you to make a positive impact on a dog's life, but it's important to consider both the pros and cons, ensuring you're prepared for the responsibilities and challenges that come with it. We have loved each foster that we've taken on and are so happy to be a small part of each of their rescue stories.
Amy and Foster Sunny/Sophie from New England Lab Rescue