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Foster A Dog! Open Your Home and Heart

Heartbreaking photo of sad dog left at shelter by his family.
“Why did my humans put me in a place like this?”

We’ve all seen the sappy commercials that show poor dogs in really bad conditions. Seeing what dogs go through with humans that don’t care about them. This is happening everywhere. There are many needs for foster families.

Dogs Get Surrendered To Shelters

Dog in a shelter waiting for a home.
“Will you please get me out of here?”

People surrender their dog because of different situations, but all the dog can think is “Why did you leave me here?”. Being in a shelter can change a dog’s personality. They are scared in being in a new environment with nobody they know and other dogs asking the same questions. “Are we ever getting out of here?” is what goes through their heads every time they see someone pass their cage.

I’ve Seen Personally Dogs Get Surrendered

A dog giving up hope in a shelter.
“I don’t know how much more I can take of this place.”

I’ve been a volunteer with shelters and have seen happy dogs come in to only wait for so long that they begin to break down and lose hope. These are the dogs that need a home even if it’s just for temporarily. That’s where fostering come in!

Opening your home and heart can help so many dogs that don’t do well in a shelter environment. This gives the dog a chance to relax in a home where it’s not so scary for them.

Fill Out the Foster Application

Dog with superman costume on saying "Even superman had foster parents".

Many shelters offer an application that you can fill out to become a foster home. The application mainly asks questions like do you have any other pets, do you have any children, do you leave frequently out of town, and if you have a yard. A person from the shelter usually does a home check to make sure it’s a right fit for a dog to be in your home.

What Type of Dog to Foster

The next step is determining what kind of dog you would like to foster. Would you like to take care of a sick dog that you have to give medications to? Or do you know how to train, so you might want a younger dog that doesn’t know commands? Nobody will pressure you in taking a dog that you don’t feel comfortable with in your home. If you do foster a dog that isn’t working out, you can always tell the shelter that it’s not a good fit and they will find another foster home for that dog.

Shelters Provide Everything For Foster Parents

Money is no issue when you want to foster. Everything is covered with the shelter.

All you need to provide is a loving home. The shelter/rescue covers all expenses from food to vet costs. They do not care how much you make. Anyone can become a foster!

You will never have to pay out of pocket for anything. (Unless you really spoil them!) Shelters pay for all care and feeding like:

  • Any food the dog should eat. Kibble, soft food, medicated foods.
  • Bedding. Beds and blankets are sometimes provided.
  • Toys. A variety of toys from squeaky to chewy toys.
  • Leashes and collar. Basic leash and collar, or if the dog needs a specific kind, they will provide them
  • Vet care. Veterinary care is all covered with the shelter. Shots that they need, checkups, surgeries like spay and neuters, and any medications. Also if they get sick, vet care is covered by the shelter.

Your First Foster Dog

Ok, now that you’ve filled out the application, you are ready for your first dog to foster. Your first foster should be an easy dog or puppy. You want your first experience to be a joyful one for you and the dog. You wouldn’t want to overwhelm yourself and have the dog transfer to another home.

When Foster Dog is in Your Home

When you get the dog to your house, you’ll want to keep them in a quiet room where they can decompress and settle down. They’ve just been through a whirlwind of places and seeing new people so they are probably scared and need to relax. After a couple days when they feel ready, they can start to come out and explore your house. Make sure to keep an eye on them!

Training and Socializing

Now you can start interacting with them by playing and training. Show them what is acceptable to chew on and basic training like Sit, Stay, and Come. These commands are great when someone is interested in adopting them. (Yes, you are doing all of this to get them adopted to a forever home. Most shelters/rescues won’t let you “foster fail” for the first 3 dogs you foster.) Just think, once they get adopted, you have room for another dog in need that you can foster.

Lots of adopters will share pictures of how the dog is doing in their home. This brings fostering it’s heartfelt feeling that you are supporting dogs to go to good loving homes.

But, what if you have to travel?

Shelters will provide a “vacation foster” that will take care of your dog either in your home or theirs for the time you are away. So no worries if you need to be out of town for a short time.

Traveling To The Vet

You take your foster dog to a shelter just like you would for your own dog, but with the shelter paying.

Shelters/Rescues want to make sure the veterinary clinic is within reasonable travel distance for you. They usually have preselected vets that they do business with and will let you pick which one you’d like to travel to. There are also volunteers that can take the dog to and from the vet if it’s not convenient for you. I’ve done this many times!

Fostering dogs from shelters and rescues can help save lives.

Contact your local shelter/rescue for questions and how they do the process of fostering.

Fostering is not a lifetime commitment, is is a commitment to saving a life. Consider fostering today!

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