On Saturday little Polly will be heading off to her new home. I have been her Foster Mom for more than two weeks. I am having a hard time deciding if I should be happy or sad.
I am really good about telling potential foster homes all about the program, how rewarding it is, and just how much it matters. I am really bad about forgetting just how hard it is to give up a dog that has been part of your family. It is tough. Really Tough. But 100% worth it.
I will use Polly as an example because it is personal and I will hopefully be able to express to you the frustration, the joy and the rewards of fostering.
I was Pollys' second foster home. When we first got her she was a quivering mass of nervousness- wouldn't make eye contact, had NEVER been in a house before, didn't understand about people, and had no clue about how to just be a dog. You can't imagine how pitiful she was. So- her first foster home had the patience- they let her come out of her shell at her own pace, never forced her to do anything, and let her just be. They taught her the basics of housetraining, how to walk on a leash, and how to relax and be a dog. In the two weeks they had her the turn around was amazing!
And then Polly came to me for some serious socialising. I taught her basic obedience. How to greet people (properly) how to play nicely with other dogs, more general house manners and of course housetraining. In Polly's case she is a scrounger- any potential food source had to be secure or you could bet that Polly'd be into it. My cats taught her that not all cats will run from her, and my dogs taught her that bullying is not allowed. Polly taught me that things aren't always what they seem. This dog changed- right before my eyes into a loving, affectionate, high energy creature that some days I wanted to strangle...I love this dog. Truly, I do. And in the search for a home for her I turned down a few families, but am now allowing someone else the privilege of loving this dog.
Fostering is not an easy job- sure, the food and medical expense is covered, and sure there are people to support and help you if needed. But I won't lie to you- it is not all that easy. There are of course the ups and downs associated with any pet ownership- the dog isn't used to a crate so screams for the first two nights, the dog has an explosive "accident" in her crate- that is never fun to deal with, the dog chews the shoes you forgot to pick up, the list goes on and on. As a foster parent it is your job to help make this dog better. We rarely get a dog without issues- so there will always be something.
Despite all of that the rewards are tremendous. The bond that develops between you and the dog has to be the best thing. You know this dog isn't yours, but in some ways she is- and that bond is unbreakable. The feeling that you get knowing that with your help this dog is going to find the best possible home. And then there is always the experience you get when you foster dogs- all dogs are different, and of course have their different challenges. The experience you get working with, getting know all these great dogs is something that most people never get a chance to do. Fostering is a great way to help your family decide if they are ready for a dog of their own, or to help decided what kind of dog or traits would work best in their family.
Without Foster homes we would not be able to do what we do. Without Foster homes we'd have no where for these dogs to go. And without foster homes we wouldn't be able to save dogs like Polly.
To find out how you can become a foster home please contact Natalie