5 Insider Secrets Only Foster Dog Parents Know

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Shelters and rescues are always in need of foster parents for homeless pets. There are some lessons that can only be learned by someone who’s already been there and done that.

I’ve always been a pet lover. I grew up with cats and dogs, even though allergic as all get out, because the quality of life is so much greater with fur-babies.

As an adult, knowing that there are so many pets who need fostering and adoption to live their best lives, my husband and I decided we’d be foster parents within rescue organizations. Sounds great, right? Charitable and noble… and it totally, totally is.

But we learned some things as ‘foster parents,’ and they’re things that no one told us about before we began fostering within rescue organizations. Maybe they’re some things you didn’t know either.

For all of you potential dog foster parents out there, I’d like to share a few insider tips I had to learn the hard way:

1. There is so much abuse of animals in this world. It’s sad. I mean, heartbreakingly sad. When our rescue organizer would post about available foster dogs, there were times that I’d literally get sick to my stomach learning about the trauma and abuse so many animals go through. Situations I’d never dream in my wildest dreams actually happen all the time and it broke our hearts.

Related: Adventures In Fostering: A Day In the Life Of A Dog Foster Dad

2. Not all rescue organizations are created equally. We fostered Golden Retrievers for a great organization when we lived in Maryland. This allowed interaction with other organizations that we found to be, well… let’s just say we were concerned about their ‘rescue’ efforts as well. Many seemed to be hoarders, creating unrealistic and unnecessary regulations and requirements for the adopting out of their dogs. This often left good families who would be amazing pet parents out in the cold simply because there was a difference in opinion about something like how many walks a day a dog should have.

3. How expensive it is to be a pet owner.
We know it can cost a great deal of money to be a responsible pet owner. Our own family golden was a gift from the first-grade class I taught 10 years ago. Hardly a “free” gift, she required about $4000 of medical intervention within her first six months due to various tumors and other illnesses. Probably the exception, and still… we often think about what it would have been like if we could not have afforded her care. When you foster pets, most of their medical needs are covered by the shelter, but these amounts can be mind-boggling. It’s no wonder people will sadly give their pets up, and rescues are often begging for whatever donations they can get. Many families don’t budget the costs involved with pet ownership.

Related: Why You Should Consider Fostering A Dog

4. How Much You Love Them. You think since you’re a pet lover and/or owner, you’ll love any pet that crosses your doorstep. But when you are given the care of an innocent dog or cat, often one who has seen trauma and pain, your heart opens like you can’t believe. You think, “Maybe WE’RE the family for this dog; how can we ever give him or her up?” Knowing what they’ve gone through puts you in this uber Mama/Papa Bear mode and you want to do everything you can to make the rest of their life as good as it can be.

5. How easy it is to give them to their forever families.
At first you think, “There is no way we can give this dog to anyone else!” but what goes through your mind when you know you’ve found the forever family for them? It’s the easiest thing in the world to let them go. You can see what their life is going to be like and how happy their new family is to have them join them — your heart swells in ways you wouldn’t imagine. Redemption for your hard work comes pouring out, and you realize you could go through the whole process again because you know you’ve made an impact in a dog’s or cat’s (and their family’s) lives.

And let me tell you… no one can possibly tell you how great that feels!

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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