There is a saying in rescue that when you foster one dog, you save two lives; the dog you fostered, and for one more, by opening another space for one to be brought into the rescue system. None of this would have been possible without your participation as a foster home. Fostering is such an integral part of rescue, but it is also going to change your life in a way you can never imagine.
You will never forget your first foster.
Something just happens to you when you become part of the transformation from an animal’s previous life and the transition to its eager future. It is not really something that can easily be put into words though, and for each one of us who has fostered an animal, the experience is different for every one of us.
You will find yourself being a proud (temporary) pet-parent. Explaining the in’s and out’s of the process, bragging about how smart they are, and how amazing their transition has been to everyone you meet. Your friends will support and embrace you, and others may turn off social media notifications on your account as they can’t possibly take another ‘foster update’. It's okay. Its all part of the process when your heart swells so big, you can’t help but let it overflow. One thing is certain, you will build a strong connection with that animal, a bond so strong you can’t help but feel it could be the “right fit” to take this from temporary to permanent. You will be tempted to adopt and join the world of other foster failures.
Foster failure. While it has a negative connotation, it is not like it’s a bad thing, right? Well… rescues may or may not tell you, but they really want to discourage you from adopting your first foster. It is a success anytime a dog finds their forever home, except it is still a ‘failure’ (to some degree) when it was with a foster home.
We all have a limit as to how many pets we can have. For some, our spouses will put their foot down with a firm “no more”. Financial constraints or awareness for our own limitations as to the level of care we can provide. Or accommodation for the life our current pets have. Adding another creature to a household creates changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. These are all good reasons to weigh as to why you shouldn’t commit to taking on another life permanently. The biggest reason of all: you will likely stop fostering. It is a tried and tested fact that the large majority of foster homes who adopt their first dog stop fostering.
The rescues need you. More dogs need you. If you reach your limit after your first foster dog, you likely won’t continue to help temporarily house more animals in need.
If you foster, you must realize that the hardest part of your job will be to let go.
It can be heartbreaking, and you can almost guarantee that sooner or later, even the toughest of us will get a little misty-eyed saying good-bye. We even know they are going to a wonderful home, plenty of love, and a family to call their own, but yet, we still feel sad. It is another part of the process.
If you can find the courage to let the first one go, you will find the space again to open your home and your heart to another dog. Your foster dog family will continue to grow, even though they are no longer with you, and your inbox will receive happy updates. Your office cubicle or fridge will be plastered with pictures of smiling dogs and smiling families, and you will know that the heartbreak was worth it. It made another family whole and made the world of difference to that one dog, and the next, and the next.
…And one day, when you least expect it, you may just find one sweet little dog, that fits the missing piece, you never knew was missing, and you finally adopt a foster dog after all.
By Katie Shannon @Pet_IQ for Friendly Dog Collars