Part II: from Carole’s personal experience
Buster was my first foster turned “foster failure.” I was going through a tough time and needed a way to divert my attention and a place to shower my love (aka breakup therapy). I contacted a local foster-based rescue group, Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP). They brought Buster to my door and it was love at first sight. He was a 10-week old chocolate lab puppy that had a broken jaw. He needed a place to rest and heal before being ready for adoption. Well that two weeks has turned into three years! I couldn’t let him go. He was sweet, loveable and the most well behaved puppy ever!
Yes, I couldn’t give him up but even greater was how he taught me the joys associated with fostering. I didn’t stop fostering because I had failed at my first attempt – quite the opposite! I learned that fostering is a loving and natural way to help, and I can’t imagine not doing it now.
I work from home so have more flexibility than most and thus have become a notorious puppy foster. At times, I will have entire litters and have had a few mamas with litters, too. Puppies are fairly low maintenance for me. Personally I think it’s the best job in the world. I take my puppies out on field trips frequently and I’m always asked “so you mean you always have puppies?” Yep! That’s right. I always have puppies. What can possibly be greater than that?
Of all the hundred+ fosters I’ve had, one was better than the next. It’s amazing how fast they learn and become acclimated to your household. Buster is a big help with this as he shows them the ropes and teaches them basic rules. The transformation that takes place with a rescued dog literally happens right before your eyes. They start to hold their head higher, perk their ears, lift and wag their tail. Their eyes start to show signs of confidence. Within a day they are looking to you for guidance. They want to be good. They want to play. They want to love someone.
I like to think of my house as a puppy hostel. Buster is the cool, hippy guy that shows everyone around. We do some fun stuff like go hiking and go on outings. They have a really awesome experience and so do I. But then we chat and I explain this is just a short stop on their journey and I need to make way for the next group of visitors. So, is it difficult giving them up? Yes, of course. But there are so many more that need help that we must keep ‘em coming and going. One big bonus of adopting one of my fosters is that I provide free dog sitting. That way I get to see them again and they aren’t gone forever.
The small local foster rescue group that I work with (SAAP) saved over 1,000 dogs last year. This is the result of the wonderful foster families that volunteer their time and their hearts. And not a one of them would tell you they regret doing it. As a matter of fact, most of us continue to increase our loads as this job just gets easier and more rewarding.
So, please consider opening up your home and heart to foster an animal in need. You really will be saving a life! And I can assure you will not be disappointed with your decision.