What exactly does fostering mean? It means bringing a homeless dog into your home, caring for them, providing them with affection and socialization, until a permanent family comes along who will love them forever.
The benefits of fostering are numerous, and not only a wonderful thing for the dog and shelter or rescue, but can be beneficial to the one doing the fostering in so many ways!
Many times rescues who have no central facility, rely solely on foster homes to determine how many dogs they can pull from county shelters, who may be long term residents and/or at risk of euthanasia due to overcrowding. Shelters also rely on fosters to provide a change of environment for long term residents or those dogs who may be having a hard time adjusting to a kennel atmosphere. Fosters are crucial to shelters and rescues ability to help expectant female dogs, by affording them a quiet and comfortable atmosphere to deliver puppies and care for them in those first weeks of crucial development.
Shelters and rescues often look to fosters for those dogs who may have endured a difficult past such as abuse, cruelty, neglect, under socialization, etc. As a foster, you have the chance and opportunity to gain a dogs trust, show them human touch and love perhaps for the first time, provide an environment for them to feel safe, and watch them transform before your eyes.
If you have existing pets, introducing a dog can be a great experience for them as an additional companion, additional socialization, and an additional playmate! Children can benefit from fostering as a way to introduce responsibility, selflessness, a way to educate about animals, and is also a great way to "test" the idea of a permanent dog into the home in the future.
Fellow fosters from the same shelter or rescue will help guide you through the experience, give ideas, answer any questions, and may even become your friends! There is nothing quite like sharing experiences with those who do the same and being part of a community of people who have like passions.
When the day comes, that your foster finds that perfect home, the rewarding feeling you will experience is something very special. You will feel a sense of pride, in knowing what you helped that dog accomplish in his time with you. You will feel overjoyed, that he has found his forever family and his happy ending that all homeless dogs so desire. And while certainly, some goodbyes can be tough, knowing that a dog has found his happy ending and that another precious life awaits to be afforded your gifts, is as good of a feeling as there is!
I am the bridge
Between what was and what can be.
I am the pathway to a new life.
I am made of mush,
Because my heart melted when I saw you,
Matted and sore, limping, depressed,
Lonely, unwanted, afraid to love.
For one little time you are mine.
I will feed you with my own hand
I will love you with my whole heart
I will make you whole.
I am made of steel.
Because when the time comes,
When you are well, and sleek,
When your eyes shine,
And your tail wags with joy
Then comes the hard part.
I will let you go -- not without a tear,
But without a regret.
For you are safe forever—
A new dog needs me now.