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Pet Wellness

Fostering A Dog: How Each Of Us Can Make A Difference

June 19, 2023 - 7 minute read by Dr. Julia Roach

Dr H Julias Kitchen 50 (1)

Over these last ten months, all my energy and free time has been consumed by one thing: fostering. In fact, my husband said to me the other night, “You are addicted to fostering dogs.” One definition of the word addicted is “Enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity,” so while it doesn’t happen often, my husband is right. I am addicted!

I can provide only a limited number of dogs with a permanent home (currently 5), but I can provide an unlimited number of dogs with a temporary home, one dog at a time. And in just 10 months, I have fostered 16, yes, SIXTEEN dogs, all of which have been adopted into incredible families and are now living their best lives.

A collage of a dog

The emotions that come with providing a temporary home to a seemingly hopeless dog are like no other. It can be heart-wrenching at first, especially when I get a dog who is too scared to even wag its tail. But then the magic happens. Each member of my family —my husband, my children, our five dogs, and myself— plays an integral role in nurturing our new foster and helping him or her feel safe, loved, and whole again.

Then, when the time is right for the foster to be adopted, there is no better feeling than when a family meets the dog and my gut instinct says, “Awww, this is a PERFECT MATCH.” If you have fostered before, you know these feelings. If you haven’t, I BEG you to try, even if it’s just once. These are some of the faces of my many fosters.

Some of the dogs whom I have fostered had lived at privately-run no-kill shelters their entire lives (one had been there for almost a decade). Others have been saved just hours before their deaths at county-run kill-shelters. Many were going to be euthanized simply due to overcrowding, or because of minimal medical reasons due to limited funding and resources at these shelters.

These faces are why I do what I do. These faces have helped give me purpose in life. And these faces have taught my children invaluable life skills such as empathy, patience, and unconditional love. In fact, my nine-year-old daughter insists on coming with me each time I return to the shelter to save another soul.

Shelters are full, rescues are full, and fosters are limited. Please consider fostering. I promise you that your heart won’t regret it.

In my upcoming articles, I will go into detail about each of the dog’s fostering circumstances, and how I helped each one heal mentally, emotionally, and physically. Spoiler alert, it involves a lot of TLC and plenty of Dr. Harvey’s meals and supplements, and some of my other favorite products!

A woman cutting vegetables with a cat

FAQ: How to Foster a Dog

** What does it mean to foster a dog?**

Fostering a dog means temporarily caring for a dog in your home until a permanent adoptive family is found. Fostering provides dogs with a safe and nurturing environment outside of a shelter, increasing their chances of finding a forever home.

Who can foster a dog?

Anyone can foster a dog, provided they have the time, space, and resources to care for the dog adequately. Most animal shelters and rescue organizations have specific requirements, such as being over 18 years old and having a stable living situation.

How do I choose the right dog to foster?

When selecting a foster dog, consider factors such as your living situation, available space, lifestyle, and experience with dogs. Speak with the shelter or rescue organization about your preferences, and they will help match you with a dog that fits your criteria.

What supplies do I need for fostering a dog?

Basic supplies include a crate, food and water bowls, collar and leash, toys, grooming tools, and appropriate dog food. The shelter or rescue organization may provide some of these items or offer reimbursement.

How long do dogs typically stay in foster care?

The duration of fostering can vary widely, ranging from a few days to several months, depending on the dog's age, health, and adoption demand. Some dogs may find permanent homes quickly, while others may need more time.

How do I introduce my foster dog to my home and existing pets?

Take things slowly and cautiously. Keep the foster dog on a leash during the initial introduction to other pets. Allow them to sniff each other from a distance and gradually increase their interaction under supervision. Always provide positive reinforcement and treats to promote positive associations.

How do I handle a nervous or scared foster dog?

Give the dog time to adjust to their new environment. Create a quiet and safe space where they can retreat if they feel overwhelmed. Speak softly and offer treats to build trust. Allow the dog to approach you on their terms.

What if my foster dog has medical needs?

If your foster dog requires medical attention, contact the shelter or rescue organization immediately. They will guide you on the necessary steps, and they often cover medical expenses for the foster animal.

Can I adopt my foster dog if I fall in love with them?

Yes, in many cases, foster parents have the option to adopt the dog if they form a strong bond and wish to make them a permanent part of their family. Discuss this possibility with the shelter or rescue organization.

What is my responsibility in finding the dog's forever home?

As a foster parent, you play a crucial role in getting to know the dog's personality, behavior, and any special requirements. Share this information with the shelter or rescue organization to help them find a suitable adoptive family.

Can I foster multiple dogs at once?

Fostering multiple dogs depends on your experience, time availability, and the requirements of the shelter or rescue organization. Always ensure you can provide adequate care and attention to each dog.

What if I have to travel or need a break from fostering? Inform the shelter or rescue organization in advance if you need a temporary break from fostering. They will make arrangements to transfer the dog to another foster home during your absence.

Remember, fostering a dog is a rewarding experience, but it also comes with responsibilities. By opening your home to a foster dog, you're making a significant difference in their life and increasing their chances of finding a loving forever home.