Whenever I’ve been out with a foster dog or I’m talking to someone about rescue, I’ve heard the same statement; “I could NEVER do that! I would love them too much to give them up!” My response to that is “If I can do it, so can YOU!”
When I first became active in rescue it wasn’t to foster. I didn’t feel the calling, I didn’t think I could foster. As it often happens, my first fostering experience was a bit of an emergency. I got the call, could I? Would I? I screwed up my courage and dove right into the deep end. That first step, as scary as it was, was the beginning of a journey that has been gratifying as no other rescue activity I can think of.
People ask me if I love my fosters. I can say, beyond a doubt that YES I do. I bring them to my home, to my pack and assess them and how I can best help them. I teach them how to live, how to love, how to behave and what they need to know to go to their forever homes. Some walk in and are part of the family from that first greeting.
Others need more time, love, patience and understanding. I’ve had the spectrum from the happy go lucky, outgoing dog to the terror stricken, abused emotional wrecks. I love them all.
There are some questions on fostering that only time and experience can answer and some are just dependent on the dog itself. There are certain basics common to each dog, the safety and happiness of the entire family, potty, crate and obedience training, good food, love and care. I’ve learned that there are no hard and fast rules beyond the basics. Each dog is a learning experience! As a rescue group, we are all here to help one another and network. We share resources, if one home needs a crate, another may have a spare to loan, questions on nutrition, grooming, training, we all pitch in. You find yourself part of a community!
Yes, I fall in love. Yes, I cry. Yes, I think of them long after they are gone and yes, I miss them. The satisfaction and joy I feel knowing that my foster has a home and family of their own far outweighs any sadness I feel. When I hear from a former foster’s family how well they are doing, how much they are loved and what that dog means to their family, it’s all worthwhile.
I resisted one foster in particular. Knowing I’d love him too much, I sent him to another foster home and he thrived there. He did come to me to foster and yes, I loved him. I still do, but, I knew deep down there was another family that NEEDED him. When the day came for him to leave I cried like a baby, I thought my heart was breaking. I absolutely made the right choice. He is in the perfect home and his life is so much more than I had ever envisioned. My faith that he could be more than wild and out of control, was the chance he needed. He would have never been able to find his family without me.
It’s easy to say no to fostering. It’s a huge leap of faith, a test of our strength a rare chance to make a difference. Say YES! It’s only through love that we forever change the life of the dogs that are entrusted to us. We matter. WE make the difference. People tell me that the dogs I’ve fostered are lucky to have stayed with me. I KNOW that I’m the lucky one.
– Carmen, Foster Mom