Fostering is not for everyone, but the benefits of fostering are immense. Its rewarding for the foster-parent and it can be life saving for the dog being fostered.
The most obvious benefit of fostering is the emotional reward – doing good makes you feel good, and fostering a dog as opposed to having them in shelters, dumped or given away “free to a good home” makes all the difference to them. We can’t save them all, but for the ones we can save, this chance at a lifeline means a new beginning and another chance at a fur-ever home. Many of the dogs that are in foster homes have a history of abuse or neglect, and the people who foster these dogs feel a great sense of accomplishment working with the dogs and seeing their personalities blossom as their fear melts away and witnessing the return of a happy, confident dog who knows that it is loved.
Although our SPCAs aren’t able to manage a fostering system, many private and often breed-specific Rescue Organisations do. Fostering is important because it helps to reduce overcrowding in shelters and opens up space for another animal to be saved. It also helps prepare dogs for adoption into a permanent home by giving them a chance to live in a home where their Foster family will work with them to overcome their fears or recover from trauma and with love, will encourage them to regain their confidence and trust, and fully express their personality.
It is, however, important to remember that fostering a dog can have its challenges. You are committing to taking in a dog – often an adult – whose history you don’t know, who has been in difficult or questionable circumstances, which means they might display erratic or “difficult” behaviour, at least initially… and then, after devoting your time to working with them, helping them heal from whatever came before and loving them unconditionally (because you will), you eventually have to give them up.
It’s not all bad news, though –
Fostering through a Rescue Organisation means that your journey with your foster dog will be a guided journey. The Rescue Org will have on hand access to professionals to deal with any kind of behavioural or medical issues and you’ll be part of a network of very special people all doing the same thing. The Rescue Org will cover expenses such as vet bills and food, as well sterilisation and vaccines if those need to be done.
They also take care of the vitally important home checks, meaning that when an application comes in for your foster dog, they have people experienced in assessing the potential new home and matching the foster dog to the perfect family and environment.
So, what is a “foster failure”? This is the light-hearted and affectionate term used when a foster family decides to officially adopt their foster dog, so in reality, its not a failure at all!