My friend Bobbie became a foster mom this year and she has not regretted her decision once. While she admits fostering has its challenges-- “even the cutest of pups comes with a lot of baggage and behaviors that can make hosting them in your home exhausting and stressful,” she also sings the praises of fostering. “By the time they leave your home and you see them looking at you lovingly, responding to commands, and most importantly, trusting people again, you will feel fulfilled beyond measure,” says Bobbie. She might have talked me into being a foster parent myself by the time our conversation was over.
Below are 7 reasons fostering may be right for you…
- Being fostered boosts an animal's chance of becoming adopted. As Bobbie mentioned, pets who have been surrendered to a shelter often struggle with behavioral issues. Living in a foster home allows a pet to learn manners and to socialize with other humans and pets, making him/her more appealing to potential adopters.
- Your pets can learn social skills by introducing a foster pet into your home. Bringing another animal into your house will encourage your pets to learn to get along with the newcomer, and to share your love, which is never a bad thing. Your current pets will have to learn to share toys, be patient at mealtime, and walk nicely during exercise sessions.
- Fostering allows your family to “test the waters.” Have you been considering bringing a pet into your home but you’re not sure about the responsibility of having a pet? Maybe you’re unsure about how a new pet will interact with your current pets? Fostering gives you a great opportunity to experiment with caring for multiple pets. The great news is, fostering is generally only for a short time (unless you fall in love), so if the foster pet isn’t a good fit, there is an end in sight.
- Fostering is temporary. A friend used to tell the story of how handing his kids over to their grandparents was like handing someone a coke, them shaking it up, then handing it back. The grandparents got to have all the fun with the grandkids, wearing them out and sugaring them up, then give them back to the parents where they would inevitably have a sugar-crash. It’s the same with a foster pup (minus the sugaring up part). You get all the joys of caring for a four-legged friend, without the long term commitment of taking care of the dog or cat forever.
- Fostering requires resources you already have available to you. According to Bobbie, “Fostering requires providing food and shelter to an animal in need, but more importantly it requires patience and love.” If you know you can provide that love to a pup or kitty in need, fostering is a no brainer. It’s easy to snap on an extra leash to a foster pup when you are already walking your dog. It might even make you more dedicated to exercising your pets (and yourself!). And giving out extra rubs may be as beneficial to you as it is to your foster (read our post, Improving Health by Getting a Dog). Of course, there are other resources such as food and vet expenses to think about which may be covered by certain shelters and rescue groups. The good news is, if you do fall in love, PetPartners shelter and rescue program is dedicated to helping with the well-being of each dog and cat for the first month of adoption. PetPartners provides 30 days of pet insurance for newly adopted dogs and cats in participating shelters and rescues.
- Fostering is flexible. You have choices--in whether you prefer a cat or a dog or a certain breed, or even a particular gender. Bobbie discovered through fostering that her own two female dogs do better with a male foster dog. Now that she knows that, she accepts only male dogs.
- You’re saving a life when you foster. Besides the fact that fostering can help make a pet more adoptable, fostering keeps pets out of shelters. Although shelters do their best to make animal’s experiences there positive, their attention cannot compare to the love and affection an individual or family can give inside a loving home.
If you are ready to foster, visit your local animal shelter’s website for information on how to get started. We adopted our sweet Hattie from the Golden Retriever Rescue Club of Charlotte. On their website, it was super easy to click on the button, Adoption/Fostering Application, and start the process. Who knows, maybe we’ll give fostering a try. Although I feel pretty certain I’d be one of the “foster fails” I’ve been reading about...