Fostering | Part One

I’ll get too attached.

It’s not the right time.

Yes, you probably will get attached. And, it might not seem like the right time. But isn’t that so true for so many things? We can be very good at protecting ourselves; but, in this situation, I think almost anyone who has fostered a rescue animal in need would say it’s time to open yourself to the idea. For these animals, time is of the essence and could be the difference between life and death. Committing to adopting is a lifelong commitment to the animal. But fostering? While it is temporary, it may be one of the most significant things you ever do.

Sizemore and Kim Dillen

Sizemore and Kim Dillen

Titan (R) rescued from the streets in Alabama. We named him Ranger, treated him for Heartworm and helped socialize him with other male dogs. Now he is Duke and living the life with a loving family, farm, and three other very happy dogs in South Carolina. 

Titan (R) rescued from the streets in Alabama. We named him Ranger, treated him for Heartworm and helped socialize him with other male dogs. Now he is Duke and living the life with a loving family, farm, and three other very happy dogs in South Carolina. 

The thing is, we would all be lying if we said fostering was always easy. Seriously, sometimes it actually is simply fun and shockingly easy. But more often than not, you will encounter some challenges whether it’s adapting to a new routine, waking up a little earlier, having to sweep a little more often, spending a little more money on food, or...getting attached and having to say good bye. If you ended up here reading this, chances are you’re not the type of person who typically chooses the easy way out, are you? You’ve experienced the deep sense of fulfillment and pride when you worked really hard on a project, trained really hard for a race, or took in an animal in need and transformed his/her life. Easy things don’t give us that fulfillment and satisfaction, challenges do.

The thing is, we have that option. We can choose to say yes or no. We can choose to offer help or turn our head. Animals who are neglected, abused, dumped, abandoned..they can’t choose. They need us. While fostering is no doubt a commitment, it’s not permanent unless you want it to be. The life of the animal you foster will be forever changed by love and trust because of you. And, whether you expect it or not, the effect that will have on you is profound.

We asked our friends on social media to share with us what they thought was “the most surprising thing” about fostering. After reading the responses, the general theme that emerged was that the experience of connecting with these animals and sensing their gratitude is actually a gift to us. When we go into a foster situation to help them, somehow we are always surprised at the degree to which the animal helps us, whether we thought we needed it or not.

We’ve included a selection of the comments received from our instagram and facebook pages below.

It’s amazing how quickly you can see a change in a scared, traumatized, neglected dog. Their hearts are so pure and they just want to know they are loved. The other surprising thing is how cruel some people can be...but I like to focus on the good that’s out there.
They can so quickly fall right in line and adapt to routine and love..like they’ve been with us their whole life.
It’s so much more about the adoption match than it is about their time with me. I stopped fostering for years because I thought I needed to have an ideal lifestyle first, then I finally got involved again when I started working from home. But why did I wait? I don’t have to be their perfect home, I just need to keep them safe and get to know them so I know if a home is a good fit.
That goodbye gets easier. And, if you’re fostering puppies, sometimes the goodbye is a huge relief - puppies can be high maintenance! Some fosters I could so easily see staying in our family but our role as a loving pitstop on the way to their forever-ever home makes me feel awesome and immensely fulfilled. When they go home, I take a few minutes to cry in my car, and then I know it’s on to the next one that needs our help! There is no shortage.
Fostering is one of the most gratifying gifts I’ve ever been the RECEIVER OF. Yes, I know I’m potentially saving that animal’s life but I feel like I’m the one who’s being fulfilled, uplifted and given the biggest gift! Fosters are needed so desperately to save these lives..I would strongly encourage everyone to give it a try because it just might rescue you.
They are so genuinely happy to be in an environment with love, you can see the gratitude in their little faces! I love how quickly they figure out how nice it is to sleep on a soft bed and how they come out of their shell and blossom physically and mentally. They are so appreciative of being well cared for.
I was actually surprised at how I was able to become attached without getting my heart broken. We rescued a dog before her and I think that made the entire fostering process a lot easier.
While it’s tough to say good-bye, the reminder that there’s always another dog/cat in need makes it a lot easier to let go as they move on to their fur-ever homes. At first I used to think I could never let go of my fosters, but experience has taught me otherwise.
Every foster has his/her own story. Getting to know each one and finding them the best possible home is the best feeling.

We’ll be posting our next question regarding some of the challenges and difficult situations you’ve had with fostering and how you dealt with it. Stay tuned for that on social media, we’d love you to chime in as a contributor.

Special thanks to Polly Johnson of Southeast GSP Rescue for assisting with this article.

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