How to Safeguard against “Foster Failure” and Set Yourself Up for Foster Success
In our last blog entry, our guest blogger Steph related her “Foster Failure” story (well-played, Mr. Peabody!) so I thought I’d provide a counterpoint to reassure our readers that it is in fact possible to be a “Foster Success”. The truth is that I don’t think there is one of TRD’s founders who isn’t a “foster failure”, myself included, but more importantly, between us we have also had over a dozen foster successes, placing our beloved foster friends into their forever homes.
My first piece of advice for anyone thinking of fostering but afraid of falling in love and “accidentally” keeping a foster is to choose a foster dog who is not compatible with you and your situation in the long term. If you aren’t crazy about small dogs, for instance, fostering a small dog might be a good idea. My first foster dog was a 9-pound fox terrier mix. She had a great personality and was a lot of fun, but I am just not crazy about little dogs, so she was a perfect choice for me. If her personality had been in a 40-pound lab mix body, I would have been in trouble! But I knew that she was someone else’s perfect dog, and eventually she found herself a great family. If you know you prefer male dogs, choose a female. If you prefer active, high-energy dogs, foster a couch potato. Whatever you look for in a dog, choose something else. It’s not to say that you should choose a dog who will drive you nuts or you won’t like. Just steer away from dogs who you can picture being with you forever.
Another thing I find helpful is to think of myself as the foster dog’s agent. This involves bringing the dog out and talking the dog up to anyone who says “Aw!” or “Cute dog!” You are not only your foster dog’s caretaker, but also his or her top salesperson. Cute dogs usually do sell themselves, to some extent, but it will take some work on your part too. Think of the fostering gig as a part-time job, something you’ve taken on as a responsibility and an occupation. You are charged with getting this dog rehomed, and it is a duty you need to take seriously. Bringing the dog out into the world also ensures that your temporary pooch bonds with others, and doesn’t get stuck on you as the number one source of affection and attention.
Inevitably, you will have a foster who will just steal your heart. When I get attached to a foster dog, I remind myself that I do in fact already have two dogs all my own, and that there are other people out there who are looking for and deserve the same kind of love and contentment I have with Red and Thea. I also remind myself that once I get my current foster into his or her forever home, I am available to foster and save another dog. There are so many dogs waiting in the wings to be rescued.
If all else fails, I remind myself of a great piece of advice given to me by a friend and fellow foster: “Just tell yourself that you are dog-sitting for a friend–you just don’t know who the friend is yet.” It sounds goofy, but it reminds you that the dog, while lovable and sweet, really is the light of someone else’s life. You just don’t happen to know who that person is yet. You will when you see it though. Watching your foster dog find his or her forever home is one of the most rewarding experiences there is.
Co-Founder, The Rescued Dog
Mom to Thea and Foster Failure Red
Foster Mom Success for Espy, Krump, Hamlet, Lilly, and Porter (TBD for Lucille)