Home > Animal Rescue, Pet Adoption, Pet Topics, Puppy Mills > To Foster or Not to Foster. That is the Question.

To Foster or Not to Foster. That is the Question.



I’m thinking about volunteering again. Fostering. Haven’t quite made the steps to do it yet. Lots of things running through my mind about it right now.

Am I ready to foster again?

Are Daisy and Jasper ready to share their home with another dog that may be here a while?

Do I volunteer with a really great organization, where many of my former friends from the now-defunct Minnesota Valley Humane Society are volunteering, or go with another organization?

Could I turn down a face like this that needs a foster now? I love Bassetts. They always make me smile.

Should I volunteer with a rescue organization that rescues a particular breed of dog like Minnesota Sheltie Rescue? I love Shelties a lot and I know the breed well.

So much to ponder and no real answers yet, but I feel my heart pulling in a particular direction.
The question is what will I do?

Have you fostered before? What things did you consider before fostering?

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  1. August 9, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    I fostered, for about a year and a half straight, around 12 dogs in total. I loved it. I miss it. But my last foster was a dog that I just really didn’t click with, and he left me exhausted. It’s been a year now since I’ve fostered, and being in the middle of renovating/restoring a house isn’t exactly foster conducive. One day I’ll do it again, but definitely not with the same organization as before.

    Good luck with your decision!

    • Mel
      August 9, 2011 at 8:48 PM

      Holy cow Ashley! Admirable! I worry about that dog that I, or my dogs, don’t click with. I think I’m also leaning towards the breed rescue because of the size of the dogs as well. A little easier to handle any altercations that might happen. Although, my dogs are quite used to dogs coming to stay here. Decisions! Decisions!
      I totally admire you for saving 12 dogs. Amazing.

  2. August 9, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    I would love to be able to answer this question too. I’ve been thinking of fostering cats recently and stalled for a while as I’m not sure first how I would handle saying goodbye and also not knowing how Milly would take it. We’ve recently moved and she has become quite concerned about that…it might just be the thing to get her going again. Anyway, good luck with your decision!

    • Mel
      August 9, 2011 at 8:46 PM

      I can completely understand Cate. It is tough to say goodbye. I still think about the two I did let go, but I also know they are in great homes. That’s the part of the rescue process I like. With a shelter adoption you don’t always know how they are doing. Rescuing cats can be quite rewarding. I know many who do it and love it, but with a big move, perhaps waiting is good. I know my cats were quite out of sorts when we moved from an apartment to my house.

  3. August 9, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I have thought about it before, but I know myself too well, it would turn into an instant adoption. 🙂 So needless to say our home is tapped out at the moment. Maybe some day…

    • Mel
      August 9, 2011 at 8:43 PM

      24 Paws – That is indeed a worry for me! I love them all. And, you ARE tapped out right now! 🙂 Thank you for adding to my decision-making process.

  4. August 9, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Fostering is so tricky… We fostered four dogs, and the last two (they were a pair) were so difficult we needed a big break. And one week later, Our Best Friend popped into our lives.

    Good luck with the decision; I’m offering no opinions, ’cause I don’t want to blamed for bad advice. 🙂

    • Mel
      August 9, 2011 at 8:43 PM

      Thanks Lori. I have fostered 4 before too. Two of them became my “best friends” – Jasper and Daisy. 🙂
      I am leaning towards the Sheltie rescue. I know the breed, they are fairly easy dogs (unless a puppy mill) and I love them. But, with any foster situation, you never know until you get them.
      I’m a little worried about accepting transport dogs from down south because of all the things they tend to come with. But, the rescue is awesome and really connected. A hard decision to be sure.

  5. August 10, 2011 at 5:49 AM

    I’ve never fostered before so I am not really in a position to offer advice. But I have long been thinking about it. Like you, I am really not sure my household is right for a foster dog or cat. I am not sure I could dedicate the time required. While I really want to help, I am not sure that is the best way. Perhaps if I worked from home it would be a different story.

    Whatever you decide, I know you will succeed.

    • Mel
      August 10, 2011 at 10:45 PM

      Thanks Kristine. I have decided to move forward with fostering. I really love the idea of helping a new dog get his/her home. I think you help dogs (and dog owners) out in other ways. Not everyone can or should foster and that’s okay. I so appreciate your vote of confidence!

  6. August 10, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    we Foster one at a time. Its a win win situation for us and the Foster dog. Homeward Bound matches us up with a dog we can handle so I’ve gotten some easy ones. Also we only send north healthy adjusted dogs who are ready for adoption. We’re in Mississippi.

    • Mel
      August 10, 2011 at 10:43 PM

      Debby – Thank you for your suggestion of one dog at a time. I really like that idea and have decided to do the same thing. God bless you for helping these dogs along to their new homes. So many aren’t there?

  7. August 10, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    Like Debby and Kirby, we foster one at a time… until now. I was about to take a break from fostering when I got a call about 3 puppies who were starting to show signs of “sickness.” Nobody else was available to help. What could I say? Well, that was Saturday. Finally, today (Wednesday), the last of the puppies are back at my house from the ICU unit at the vet. They had parvo. I won’t even go into my rage about how preventable this was and how the woman, the “breeder,” should be put in jail, but the fact remains that her mistake has made my life “interesting” for the past few days.

    Do I regret saying I would help? No way! Am I tempted to keep one? Of course! However, I just keep in my head that it’s not fair for me to keep the more adoptable dogs because I don’t mind taking the mill dogs (in fact, I love them).

    So, now I’ve had 51 foster dogs through my home in the past three years, and I’ve loved both their coming and going. I only kept one out of all of them, so I’m doing pretty good, I think.

    I absolutely recommend fostering. If you work with a good rescue, they’ll be conscientious about your situation and the dogs that are appropriate for your home. If you foster an active, small-breed rescue, you probably won’t have your foster dogs for long. If you’re worried about long-term commitment, perhaps consider offering to serve as an emergency short-term foster. Rescues need them, too! The fact is, if you don’t do it, who will?

    • Mel
      August 10, 2011 at 10:38 PM

      Oh Kyla. You HAVE been busy! God Bless you for taking the parvo puppies in. It really is so preventable. I share your anger and frustration. I am glad all 3 made it through. My neighbor had a mom and 4 puppies. The mom was hit by a car and only 2 of the puppies survived. She kept them. Hard not to after all that huh?

      You have no idea how much your words and encouragement mean to me! I also don’t mind taking the mill dogs. I prefer them as well. They just inspire me to want to help them to be the dogs they were meant to be. The fact that Bill is the only one you have kept out of 51 dogs is more than amazing. Holy cow! You have heart bigger than an elephant! Both rescues are great rescues, but I think my heart is with Shelties.

      I am going to do what you and Debbie suggested and do one dog at a time. It will allow me to focus on helping them to be ready for adoption. I just heard about emergency fostering and may consider that down the road, but I’m good with working with one dog for a while.
      BTW – Just as I was submitting my application, I saw your Mill Og Manifesto on my desktop. How funny that I should then see a comment from you on my blog! Serendipity?
      Thank you for your help Kyla. Very much treasured. I hope the puppies all find good homes. They deserve it after what they’ve been through. 🙂

  8. August 10, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Glad you’re going to take the plunge, Mel! The fact is, you can always take a break. Fostering can be physically and emotionally draining, but it’s also very rewarding. I would think that Shelties go pretty fast since they’re not too big, but I don’t really know much about the breed.

    Funny you just saw the Manifesto on your desktop. I revised it fairly recently. Have you seen the best practices manual? It’s a free download at http://upforpups.org/best-practices-manual/. You may also be interested in some new advocacy handouts I made (you’re the first to know). I posted them at http://upforpups.org/educate-yourself/educational-hand-outs/.

    Glad to have another soldier in the fight, Mel! Maybe we can inspire a few more people, too. Sometimes I get upset, feeling like the things I do don’t matter. But then I think about every little life that is better because we opened our doors and hearts for them, and I know that at least I did something.

    • Mel
      August 10, 2011 at 11:07 PM

      Thanks Kyla. I am sure Shelties will go rather quickly since they are wonderful little dogs and a good size for many people. I am looking forward to helping.
      I did not know you had revised the manifesto or the best practices manual. Downloading now!

      Also going to check out the advocacy handouts. I always like it when I can hand people something to read. I know what you mean about feeling like sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter what we do, but then I look at Jasper and Daisy and think, where would they be of someone hadn’t stepped in? 🙂

  9. August 11, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    I’ve been thinking about fostering for a while, but knowing how attached I become I’m afraid to do so.

    I think it will be something I do, but not for a few years yet. Once I am sure that I can handle three dogs!

    Then I think maybe I won’t foster, just take in some seniors and help make their last years golden.

    Decisions…..decisions.

    Good luck with yours.

    • Mel
      August 11, 2011 at 10:01 PM

      Thanks Jodi. I know what you mean about getting attached – Daisy and Jasper are my two and they were fosters. It’s a hard thing to do. I completely understand the 3 dogs thing. I’ve had up to 6 in my house (all clients) and that was my max for sure! I think fostering one at a time or maybe two would be it for me. I want to be able to give them quality time and attention and not have my dogs suffer for it either. I actually love the idea of taking in some seniors. They really are my favorites. Senior dogs often get so overlooked because of their age, but they have been some of the best dogs I’ve had stay here. I so admire you for wanting to help them. That would be so worth it to me.

  10. August 11, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Several years ago I volunteered to foster for a local rescue organization that works predominantly with small breeds and I loved a whole lot about it.

    I loved the fact that I got to play an active role in saving the lives of these wonderful animals,
    I loved the adoration these animals give so willingly and I love them all. Except ….

    Except when it came time to give them up for permanent placement in an adoptive home because my heart would break each and every time I had to say good bye.

    The organization leaders would repeatedly warn me not to get attached but I just couldn’t help myself. There dogs were just too precious! So, I gave up fostering and started adopting instead.

    Today I have a home full of my own dogs but I continually applaud those selfless individuals who are able to handle fostering better than I was. Kudos to them all!

    By the way, I love your blog and I visit it frequently. I have also incorporated your link within my DogProducts.org site as a valuable resource for my visitors. Would you be willing to return the favor by placing my link right here on your blog?

    Hanna

  11. August 29, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    One of the biggest concerns when fostering, in my opinion, is the stress it places on my own dogs. I think many people disregard that ‘dog-shuffling’ is highly stressful for resident dogs and foster dogs alike. Sometimes, despite how noble fostering is, it may just not be appropriate for your given context, depending on the nature of your dogs.

    Then, even if you think your dogs can handle the stress, what happens if the dogs do not get along? How will your separate them, manage them, and still enable them to sufficient quality time?

    I think dog-dog interactions are one of the most complex problems with fostering. If I didn’t have to worry about my dogs, I would have a million foster dogs here constantly. But, alas, my dogs won’t get along with everyone, and fosters won’t get along with everyone here, so I need to be prepared to manage these situations. I also need to be able to give my dogs a sufficient ‘break period’ between fosters.

    This is in addition to considerations such as: foster dogs that destroy your garden, your doors, your crates, and your carpets. And those ‘bottomless pit’ foster dogs that can eat 4+ cups of high quality dry food a day, and still look like skin and bone. And those foster dogs that just can’t stay, for one reason or another, and having to guiltily call the coordinator to organise a pickup.

    Good luck. 🙂

    • Mel
      August 29, 2011 at 9:48 PM

      Tegan – You actually address one of my concerns. As a pet sitter I used to board quite frequently and both my dogs and I felt the stress after a while. When I closed down, it was almost a relief because we could just relax as a family. I think your advice about breaks between fosters is a great idea. I actually am used to the separation thing from boarding, so I don’t think that will be as big of an issue. I have extra crates and baby gates galore. But, I do worry about dog interactions. That’s why I am going with Sheltie rescue. The breed is smaller and I know what to expect in terms of behavior.

      Thank you so much for not only some great advice, but for giving more to think about. Clearly, you have experience in this area. Much appreciated advice!

      • August 29, 2011 at 11:28 PM

        It sounds like you have things organised, then. I another important thing is: Don’t be afraid to say no to a dog, or no to a situation.

        It’s not your fault that a dog is in rescue, and it’s not your fault if you refuse to accept a dog. It’s the fault of the past owner. You are not obligated in any way to help any particular dog. And you don’t have to feel bad about it, either.

        I ‘normally’ rescue with the Greyhound Adoption Program, because I feel like I know what I’m getting with the greys – and it’s been mostly good so far. So I completely understand where you’re coming from with Sheltie rescue.

      • Mel
        August 29, 2011 at 11:35 PM

        Thanks Tegan. I will definitely keep that advice in mind. Saying no to a dog is hard, but I completely agree that I am not obligated if it is not working out or stressed my dogs out too much. I would love to do Greyhound Rescue someday. I love that breed. But, I am sure there are good and bad things that comes with that too. You just re-affirmed my decision to go with Sheltie Rescue. Thank you so much!

  12. September 3, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    We are thrilled to have you join the MNSR “family”, Mel! Your first MNSR foster Sheltie holds a special place in my heart – we love her! I agree with the others who have commented how wonderful and informative your blog is.

    • Mel
      September 3, 2011 at 9:56 PM

      Thank you Estelle! I feel like my gut was telling me you were the right organization from the start. I have never felt anything but peace in my decision to work with MNSR and to help other shelties. It didn’t occur to me until your comment that the pic I posted was of Lady! What are the chances she would be the one Meghan would suggest to me as my first foster? Kismet?
      Thank you for your kind comments. Writing is another passion of mine. 🙂

  13. September 4, 2011 at 12:44 AM

    I had the same thought when I saw her pic on your blog-too funny! Sometimes dogs find their way to us for a reason, and it is good to know she will be in wonderful hands! I found her to be pretty easy to care for the times she stayed here. She’s a very sweet girl, and it’s so cute once she gets comfortable enough to start squeaking her toys.

  1. October 22, 2013 at 6:47 AM

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