Typically, when one hears the word “failure,” it is taken in a negative way. However, when those involved in rescue hear “foster failure,” eyes light up, mouths break into smiles, and an overall feeling of happiness is in the air.
When I first decided to start fostering, I promised myself I wouldn’t fail – I couldn’t possibly have TWO permanent dogs in my small condo (with no yard, mind you). Plus, if, by some miracle, I did end up failing, I wouldn’t have room to foster other dogs in need. So, it was in my best interest, as well as any future foster’s best interest, to NOT fail and to find the perfect forever home for each and every foster. So, I took in my first foster. He was a cute little terrier mix who needed to be shown love by humans. When he found his forever home, it was bittersweet – I was ecstatic he was going to be someone’s long loved pet for the rest of his life, but I was going to miss his silly little antics and I knew my dog would miss his new playmate. So, what better way to mend a broken heart than taking in another foster?!
Enter Mr. Peabody.
His shelter name was “Martin” (awful, I know) and because he was a volunteer favorite, he had multiple photos circulating of him. He was pretty underweight at 35lbs (he should’ve been around 50lbs) so his giant head looked even more out of place on his skinny body than normal. He was listed as a Boxer/German Shepherd mix and had a beautiful brindle coat with white on his feet and chest. He was bigger than I thought I wanted for a foster, but I knew I had to foster him. I wanted him to find his perfect forever home just like my first foster did. His name got changed to Mr. Peabody after he marked all the furniture in my condo the moment he walked through the door. Every. Single. Piece. I got him up to his ideal weight, he got along great with my dog, and, most importantly, he was eventually potty trained. When an adoption event came up and it was suggested that he make his debut appearance as an adoptable dog, I made every excuse in the book to not take him. It was then I came to the realization that he was here to stay. My first foster failure was only my second foster dog.
Naturally, my first thought was “well, I guess this means I’m done fostering.” Yeah, that thought lasted about a month until I saw another dog I just had to foster. She was so scared and terrified of everything, I knew she wouldn’t be adopted if she didn’t learn to trust humans and come out of her shell. So, in my house, she went to meet my two dogs. I was in awe at how my two boys were able to show this little, terrified girl that humans were good and life can be fun! It was then I knew I found my fostering niche. Fostering is one of the most rewarding things you will ever have the opportunity to do, but fostering terrified dogs and being able to watch them transform into confident, happy pups is 10 times more rewarding!
I’ve only been fostering for a few years, but in those few years, I have helped place 6 (7 if you include my current foster who will undoubtedly be adopted soon!) dogs that would’ve otherwise been euthanized. No matter how many fosters tell you what an amazing feeling it is to know you helped save a life, you won’t truly understand until you do it yourself. Yes, you will likely come across a foster that you just can’t bear to give up, but that’s perfectly okay! That just means you’ve given a great shelter dog an incredible home to live out the rest of his years – and that’s always the ultimate goal of any rescue! There’s ALWAYS room for one more dog in the pack… and failing isn’t always a bad thing! 😉