I wasn’t an only child, but I was spoiled. Unfortunately for my inner dog-lover, I was not spoiled rotten (my dad’s words). My parents gave me everything I needed and virtually everything my little heart desired, except a puppy. I pleaded, bawled, and reasoned with my parents to get me a ‘baby dog,’ as I called them. I went so far as to make an official PowerPoint presentation, detailing the pros and the cons of owning a dog, the costs associated, and the tasks involved. I also expressly mentioned what I would do to offset the costs and burden associated with having a dog (Mommy and Daddy, I promise I’ll walk it and feed it and love it, etc.). They were indeed were impressed with my earnest efforts, but even so, I was pup-less…
My parents were adamant about not taking on this additional responsibility. I guess they already knew what I would learn later: there is a lot involved with adopting a furry family member. Looking back on it, I think my family should have tried fostering. Now that I know about dog fostering, I’m thinking about it for my own life.
So, what’s the best way to go about fostering dogs? I wanted to get the facts, so I called upon the expertise of 3 fabulous doggy foster moms for great tips on how to foster dogs. They dished on all the joys and difficulties of temp dog-parenting.
1. Know Your Limits
Fostering a dog is no easy decision. It requires honest self-reflection and forethought. After all, you’re taking a life into your home and hands. This precious rescue animal will soak up all the care and love you are willing to give. It’s only normal that you will bond and that a very real attachment will form. Consider yourself cautioned – if you’re not careful, fostering can more often than not lead to adoption.
“Are you thinking fostering is a good way to dip your toe into the doggie adoption pool? You know, as a way to test out a few dogs before really committing to one? I’ve got one word for you: Congratulations! You’ll likely keep the first one that comes into your home,” says Molly, dog foster mom and blogger at Hey Eleanor.
Attachment is real, and even the dogs you don’t think you’ll fall in love with grow on you. – Molly, dog foster mom
If you’re truly not in a position to give a pup a forever home, perhaps fostering is not for you right now. You wouldn’t want to let your emotions persuade you to override practicality.
But if you’re sure fostering is the way you want to go, try writing a letter to your future puppy-smitten self, reminding yourself why a permanent pet is not in your best interests.
2. Manage Your Expectations
First thoughts about fostering generally include visions of late night cuddle sessions, leisurely strolls, and sweet puppy kisses. These are great perks, but there are some unpleasantries that are included with having a furry friend in your home.
Molly of Hey Eleanor explains that puppies are a mixed blessing. ”Puppies are sosososo cute and fun to have around … They learn quickly, and watching them progress can be incredibly gratifying. However, they have more accidents, whine at night (sometimes all night), need to go outside constantly and are more apt to destroy things in your home. It’s exhausting.”
There’s also something to be said for the breed of dogs you choose to foster. How they interact with other animals, children, and grooming needs all contribute to how easy it is to foster. The Anti Cruelty Society has resources that give you insight on breed-specific behaviors and dog personalities or temperaments to be alert to.
3. Research Adaptation Techniques
However temporary your foster’s stay may be, there will be a learning curve and adjustment period. After all, the dog is entering a new environment with new personalities to acclimate to. It’s so important to consider your method of introducing your foster to his/her new surroundings. Our blogger friends say: the slower and more deliberate, the better.
“Whenever we bring a new foster home, we do very controlled and systematic introductions. It’s so important for all animals who are going to live together to have a good first impression,” says Tara, of Our Gentle Giants. “We use the 5-second rule: introductions don’t last more than 5 seconds even if they are going well. After 5 seconds, we divert their attention. You never know if the situation is going to escalate. Yes, even when it looks like it’s going well!”
Slow and steady is key, especially when it comes to other animals. ”We were a little nervous about how [our foster dog would] interact with our cats, so we kept them in a separate room for around a week to let the puppy get adjusted to her new home, “ mentions Jessica, of Jess and the Rest.
4. Fostering is Free-ish
Nothing in life is completely free. There will always be a hidden catch. This is also true in the case of fostering.
Molly (of Hey Eleanor) notes that the rescue shelter will often provide foo and gear, and will cover the cost of vet visits and medication. In fact, when Jessica took her foster dog, Tegan, to get spayed, the shelter paid for it.
However, if you’d like to make a stellar success of fostering, you can expect to incur some costs. In some cases, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.
“Things you pay for: gas/mileage to and from events or appointments, poop bags, some treats and toys. I’ve also been known to pay for new dog food when my foster’s isn’t agreeing with them. I don’t have to do this, but sometimes I’m compelled to (read: fixing terrible farts). There’s also the cost of destroyed socks, shoes and rugs. It happens,” Molly explains.
If you think a few extra bills and a broken heart are a small price to pay for all the love and companionship you receive in return, this is the gig for you. Plus, you’ll get the feel-good satisfaction of saving a dog’s life.
If you’re still moved to foster, check out this search engine to help you find a shelter or rescue mission in your area!
And don’t forget to spoil your temporary friend. In fact, I recommend spoiling him or her rotten.