A Life with Dogs

Chapter 5. Fostering a dog

Chapter 5. Fostering a dog

Chapter Five

“It came to me, that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” Unknown Author

So what is Fostering?

Rescue organisations often depend on foster homes, meaning that every dog in the rescue’s care lives in a home with a temporary family, as opposed to a kennel in a shelter. When possible, shelters also utilise foster families for sick or injured dogs, or animals that are not doing well in the chaotic shelter environment. 

What does Fostering Entail for your Family? 

A dog foster is responsible for providing the daily care for an animal, feeding, providing a nice warm bed and of course, a lot of love. All of the dog’s veterinary, transportation, and miscellaneous costs are usually covered by the rescue or shelter, including de-sexing, vaccines and any medications required.

In addition, the organisation will be responsible for marketing the dog in order to find a forever home as soon as possible. If fostering a sick or injured dog, the amount of time you care for the animal is predetermined. For other pets, such as those from a rescue, the amount of time the dog is in foster care can be as short as 1 – 2 weeks to as long as 1 – 2 years.

Let’s sniff out some of the benefits of Fostering.

Save a Life
Above all, when you foster a dog you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are directly saving a life. While many people avoid fostering saying, “I would bond too strongly with the dog,” the fact of the matter is -that lack of foster families often leads to an increase in euthanasia.

Remi - Rescued February 2019, Rural Australia
"My heart races each and every time I read a rescue story. Some of the circumstances can be quite horrific -dog lovers, and their communities feeling the pain and anguish to the core. I have recently been following Remi's story - an 18month old Kelpie puppy rescued in a remote rural area of Australia. Her injuries had been horrific and for the first few days it had been touch and go if she would survive. Knowing she was in the best of care and finally recovering from her vicious wounds, then fostered by a beautiful family in Brisbane, Queensland - I was overcome with relief. I had cried for this wee pup on several occasions - a softy like my father." Gayle Walker, UWDOGS Founder

If you are considering fostering, imagine what this might mean in the interim for a rescued or abandoned animal. 

No Long-Term Commitment
If you are unsure whether a dog is right for you, fostering is the perfect solution. You will enjoy all the perks of dog ownership while learning whether your lifestyle is compatible with having a pet (aka whether life just simply gets in the way). If the situation simply isn’t working out, that's OK - you can let the rescue group know and alternative arrangements will be made.

Fostering is perfect for the would-be dog owner who has an unpredictable or difficult schedule. For instance, if you travel for work but are home for extended periods of time, you can schedule fostering for when you aren’t moving around the country. This gives you the best of both worlds: having a dog in the house while not feeling guilty when you are gone.

Test Different Breeds
Another reason fostering is great for someone who is on the fence about first time dog ownership is that it gives you an opportunity to test different types of dogs. If you have other small pets, such as cats, fostering will also help you learn which dogs are most compatible.

Budget Friendly
If the reason you are balking on dog ownership is because you are not sure it's in your budget, fostering is also the perfect solution. As previously mentioned, shelters and rescues cover most, if not all of the costs the animal incurs, therefore leaving you solely responsible for play time, puppy cuddles, and poop-scooping. Ask the question of your local Rescue Shelter.

Try Before you Buy
Some rescues and shelters allow foster-to-adopt situations. If there is a certain dog you are considering but are unsure about specific aspects f ownership, this arrangement can make the transition easier. It is also far more responsible than purchasing or adopting a dog without being certain it will work out. If choosing to foster, make sure you are upfront with the rescue or shelter about your intention and be certain they allow foster-to-adopt scenarios.

So how do you become a Foster Parent?
The first step will be to visit your local rescue organisation, or follow some of the online charities that can help you with your choice. If you already know what you want, some organisations may point you to breed-specific shelters. When you’ve found the dog that you want, request an application for fostering. Make certain you read this document carefully and if you are unsure about anything, ask.

Questions like:

  • What are you ultimately responsible for? 
  • Will you be required to have a yard that is fenced in?
  • How much time will need to be devoted to your chosen animal?

The rescue organisation will more than likely require references, both personal and veterinary, and will no doubt want one or more interviews and a visit to your home.

“A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own.”  - Elizabeth Parker, Paw Prints in the Sand 

[Excerpt from Australian Nonprofit Organisation Pound Paws - February 2019] 

As mentioned in Chapter Three - 'Tips for Buying a Dog' - 
Pound Paws, an Australian based Charity has been designed to help re-home abandoned pets across Australia. An online search engine which fast tracks the overall adoption process allowing users to search by age, by breed, size or lifestyle match. Founder, Brittany Bloomer has recently addressed the overwhelming need for Foster Carers, offering the opportunity for those interested in helping with interim care for rescue animals, through the Pound Paws organisation. 

"Every week we se a range of homeless, rescued or abandoned animals, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. But, there is a solution! We are building our foster care network across Australia so we can physically go into shelters and place pets into a temporary home. This could be your home! If you think you can provide a loving home & some TLC to a homeless dog or cat, please email Pound Paws here now." Brittany Bloomer 

No matter whether you shop, adopt, or foster; dog ownership is special. The decision is personal, and one that comes after long and thoughtful consideration. Once you have made up your mind, the next step is to start preparations for your new lifestyle. Bring it on!

So you've made up your mind and there's going to be a new dog on the block!

You may be completely new to the puppy experience, or just need a refresher course. Get your Pre-Puppy Checklist next - the final chapter in BOOK ONE of our series, 'A Life with Dogs.'
Chapter Six - Coming Soon

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