Fostering – what’s it all about?
From a fosterer, now partner in the rescue........
Since James, my husband and I started fostering about 7 months ago, we have fostered 8 dogs. All have gone off to their forever homes, well apart from our most current foster dog. The house since we started has not been without one or two foster dogs in our care. We have been very lucky as all the people we have re-homed to have kept in touch, with some become good friends and some have even started to foster themselves.
Not many people really know what fostering is about or the reason why people do it.
Most people ask the question ‘how do you not keep them all’. At first we didn’t really know the answer, but after fostering so many I think we have worked it out.
None of these dogs ‘belong to us’ they are never really ‘our dogs’, we never think of a foster dog as ‘our own’. They are with us until their forever family comes along to adopt them.
And most importantly if we keep any of our foster dogs, we wouldn’t have the room to take in anymore dogs who so desperately need our help.
This doesn’t mean that when a foster dog leaves us, we don’t feel sad, we don’t shed a few tears, we don’t miss them, we don’t worry. Of course, it’s hard; some have left a very special paw print on our heart.
Part of being a fosterer is assessing the dog, how they are with other dogs, cats, children, walking, sharing treats and toys. Assessing what you think the right family would be for them. Most dogs have had a hard start and need basic training, they need consistency and understanding. But mostly they need love and care and a point in the right direction. You may need to take your foster dog to vet appointments; sometimes you will need to administer drugs. Sometimes you will have people visit to meet their prospective dog.
** All medical bills are covered by the rescue either directly with the vets or payment to you upon receipt of the vet invoice. **
There are lots of people who would make fantastic fosterer's but often think they wouldn't be suitable. Here are some of the reasons that people think they couldn't.
We have children -
I live in a flat -
I live alone -
I would be turned down because I'm too old -
I live too far away from the rescue -
I've not much experience with difficult dogs -
I could only take a dog who is a puppy/ older and quieter / a certain breed -
To each question above the answer is the same YES YOU CAN!
What we do insist on with fosterers is that the dogs would not be left for more than 4 hours each day without company (or someone at home the majority of the time with puppies) .
A secure garden/area or adequate provisions for regular exercise and toilet break for the animal.
I’m going to be honest, fostering at times it can be incredibly stressful, it takes hard work, dedication and commitment, and not all dogs that come to us are happy go lucky dogs. Most dogs come from kennels or pounds. I have visited a pound and for me it was a terrifying experience, the noise of dogs barking, the size of the space the dogs have to sleep in, no comfy beds, no or limited exercise, a poor diet. Surrounded by concrete, no grass to smell or feel on their paws.
So imagine your dog right now, lying by your feet, or perhaps you are watching him play in the garden. Imagine he had to go through that, never know anything but love and affection, nice walks, a comfy bed, treats and a tasty meal every day. Take away all that you give him, imagine this, strangers feeding him, no quiet naps, bigger dogs barking at him, stuck in a concrete kennel with no love or affection. How would he feel - terrified, bewildered, confused, lost and scared?
These dogs start to shy away from normal things, they forget about training, they forget sometimes to eat, they don’t respond to people visiting them, they are not the dog they used to be.
Then, we, the foster family offer our home to them, we take them away from all that made them sad and we reintroduce them to a home, friendly dogs, a routine, walks, love, playtime. Some respond with total excitement that feels your heart with love, others shy into a corner and will take time to trust again, a different feeling fills my heart.
Most of you lovely doggy people have no idea what goes on in the rescue world, we know that in pounds all round the UK, healthy dogs and puppies are destroyed every day simply because there is nowhere for them to go. Rescuers work tirelessly against a tide of ever flowing dogs. They find places for them in any rescues that can offer them room, but still some die. This is the reality. You can spare a dog an experience like the one I just described, by fostering for a rescue you can clear a kennel space for one dog that otherwise may have died. Isn’t that something to be proud of?
As a fosterer it can hurt when a dog leaves, but to spare a dog an experience of kennel life, or to be put to sleep through no fault of their own, well its worth every tear.
If I had to sum up what fostering is all about – well is helping a dog that without you wouldn’t have a second chance of life. It’s one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
So, if after reading our story, you think you are ready to take the next step – then please complete the fostering application form, be as honest as you can about your situation, we want to know a bit about you and your family and animals. You need to have full back up of your family, as they need to be your support and encouragement.
The next step will be a home check where someone will come and visit you to see your home and meet your animals.
For more information about helping us by fostering, please drop me an email on
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