Over the past couple of years I have been a big brother to many dogs who we have fostered in our home. It is a great experience and I love having brothers and sisters “from another mother” … hehehe … to hang out at my home until the perfect forever home is found. Today I thought I would share some tips for first time pet foster parents on what to expect.
First, I want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU from all us cats and dogs for opening your heart and your home to homeless pets in need. You are literally saving the animals lives. You are giving them a safe home to live in for a while and you have opened up another spot at your local shelter or rescue so they can take in another homeless animal.
Ok, so here are my tips as a foster doggie brother:
- Plenty of patience – You will need it … and sometimes you will need lots of it. Some of my foster dogs have never been in a home before. This means they don’t know all the rules our parents have carefully taught us like no stealing food from the table, no marking the couch, no chasing the cats, etc. Ok, I admit, I don’t always follow the rules either, but I at least know them. The foster dogs will make messes, chew up your dog toys, your parents belongings, or in our case, a couch (yes we actually had a non-westie eat a couch cushion). Even us pets who live in the home have to have patience as well. For example, I can’t expect them to want to play right away. Some of them have never had toys before or they are kind of scared being in my home.
- Set aside extra time each day for your foster – Fostering will take extra time. There will be extra trips to the vet that your rents must plan into their day. Also, if the pet has a medical condition, then there is the time to give the medication or make up the special food or even medicated baths. My foster brother Charlie had an organ that didn’t work quite right so for every meal Mom had to make his food mushy and mix in special powder and then let it set. His meals ended up being a twenty minute process twice a day. Also, if you are fostering a dog, your rescue group may want you to take them to training class and that takes extra time out of your rents day. It is all worth it though because a dog who already knows basic commends such as sit, stay, and my Mom’s favorite, leave it, make that dog much more adoptable!
- Plan for extra expenses - Depending on the rescue group your family chooses to work with, there may be extra expenses. For example, your rents may buy the food the dog eats or need to purchase an extra kennel or bed for your home. However, I do admit, I probably spend too much on my foster brothers and sisters (yes I get an allowance). I also get them extras such as their own toys and blankets. I feel like they have led such a hard life the least I can do is to buy them their very own (and in many times first) collar, leash, toy, etc. I love to take them to a pet store and tell them you can pick out any toy and it is on me! However, the deal is, as long as they are staying with me, I can still play with their new toys … hehehe.
- It can be emotionally challenging – I will warn you now, you will have moments where you will want to keep them and make them a permanent part of your family. It is especially hard when they become attached to you and snuggle up beside your Dad, or give your Mom a doggie kiss. I also have to warn you that giving them to their new family is very emotionally draining. When it is time to actually say goodbye your mom may leak (cry) on the car ride there and it is so hard to see them walk out that door with a new family. With that said, it is an amazing experience as well. You get to see how happy the new owners are and they are so excited to welcome their new family member.
- You must be flexible – You and your rents have to go with the flow when it comes to fostering. You may have the animal at your house a day, a week, or in the case of my brother Elvis, five months (before we decided to keep him). You may have meet and greets with potential adopters that don’t work out and you can’t let your rents take it personally. Sometimes things just don’t work out so flexibility is key with fostering.
Part of the joy of fostering is knowing that the pet will get a great new family that will truly benefit from you and your family’s efforts. For that, we give you two great big paws up for fostering a homeless pet. It is an amazing and wonderful experience that you will never regret!
If you’re a proud foster family please comment below and tell us about your experience and any tips you may want to share with a first time foster family.
We am so excited and honored to be participating in this year’s 2012 Pet ‘Net Event! Organized by Petside, Pet ‘Net brings together pet-focused bloggers to write about a single topic. The next 5 days (November 26 to 30) will be dedicated to this year’s top of Pet adoption. Also please visit the Pet ‘Net hub page everyday this week to enter your zip code. After all the zips are tallied, a $5,000 donation from Petside will be given to a local animal shelter in the winning community. The winning shelter will be announced on December 17.