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October 2, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Heart of a Foster Pet-Parent

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Being a foster pet-parent isn't for the faint of heart. Ask anyone that has fostered a dog before, and they will share their stories of tears and joy. I believe it takes a courageous individual to be a foster pet-parent.

What is Fostering?

Fostering is taking a dog from a shelter, usually through a shelter or rescue organization that provides guidance, medical and financial assistance, and bringing the dog into your home. Fostering is a great way to help modify unwanted behaviors, heal wounded "hearts" from abuse, nurse an injured pet back to health, and open up a much needed space at the shelter. A foster pet-parent provides a loving atmosphere that isn't so overwhelming and stressful like a shelter.

Many dogs go unadopted at shelters for displaying behaviors that are huge turn offs to potential adopters. For example, dogs will bark in their kennel, jump at the kennel door or on the person, pulling at the person once out of their kennel, and overall not listening. The environment of the shelter is so stressful that dogs just can't help themselves. Yes, many of these dogs are given up for such behaviors, but these can easily be modified. That is where fostering comes in.

A foster pet-parent takes the dog out of the shelter and the dog will live with the foster pet-parent until a permanent adoptive home is found.

What does the Foster-Parent provide?

Yes, LOVE is definitely provided. But, more importantly, rules and boundaries are set up to help the dog learn manners in a home-environment that would otherwise be missed in a shelter or, even made worse. Potty training, jumping, barking, socialization are all areas where a dog might need help with improvement before they can be adopted out.

A foster-parent provides the opportunity to modify those unwanted behaviors and enhance the possibility of a successful adoption.

Foster pet-parents provide a lot of their own personal time working with these dogs getting them ready for adoption. If you struggle with providing your own family and pets with your personal time, fostering a dog might not be an undertaking to consider.

Fostering a dog and just keeping it in a crate all day while you're at work is not the ideal situation a shelter or rescue group want for these dogs. However, if the foster pet-parent can provide a healthy exercise regimen, training time, and a safe environment, this is a better situation then sitting in a shelter.

How successful is Fostering?

Dogs that are fostered have a higher possibility of being adopted and not returned. Sadly, shelters are unable to provide the individual attention to each of their dogs like a foster home can.

Fostering is extremely successful with the right foster pet-parent. Patience, training know-how's, and consistency have to be part of the fostering experience.

Who can become a Foster Pet-Parent?

Anyone that has an open heart, is full of love, and has a dedication within their pet community to provide adoptable pets a second chance! As I mentioned above, fostering is not for the "faint of heart". It takes a strong heart, loving personality, giving attitude, and lots of personal time to do this very tough job. I would like to believe I have all those qualities (I am a dog trainer and lover), but I am also a realist and know that I would end up adopting each foster I take in (yes, I have sucker written on my forehead, and just wouldn't be able to help myself when those BIG BROWN EYES look up at me with nothing but LOVE). Therefore, I am not a good candidate for this very important job.

You possess these wonderful qualities too? Fantastic, but remember the idea behind fostering is to "let them go" to a new forever home after all your hard work. If you think you won't be able to do this (like me), best to leave this up to the individuals that can willingly do this each time and continue to take on another dog in need.

Many fosters do adopt a dog they take in with the full attention of finding them a forever home other then theirs. What helps the rescues and shelters most is the foster pet-parent still being able to provide a "spot" in their home if they end up adopting one of their fosters. Rescues and shelters count on these foster pet-parents to continue supporting them in this way. Foster pet-parents are one of the most important components in helping them be successful within the pet community.

Remember, fostering a pet in need is so much more then providing just hugs and kisses (although that is important too). Many of these animals have been physically, emotionally, and mentally wounded. They need your patience, time, and training to help them recover and go to a new forever home.

If you feel you have what it takes to be a foster pet-parent AWESOME! Your next step is to find a local shelter or rescue organization that is in need of fostering services. The reward of doing such a wonderful gesture will far out-weigh the heartbreak each time you say goodbye to your foster fur kid!

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