“Isn’t it hard to give them away?”
If you foster dogs, this is a question tossed at you on a regular basis. I hear it so often, that I thought I’d just take a moment to set the record straight.
Yes, it is hard to give them away. Every time. Sometimes it’s harder than others.
For instance, I won’t miss cleaning up after twelve puppies, but I will miss each of these precious pups who I’ve come to know and love. I will miss George’s impish ways and Zora’s constant need for hugs. I will miss Louisa May’s soft, soft coat and the quiet way Eudora leans in to me wanting my attention but not demanding it like the others. I will miss all these pups. Just like I miss all the dogs and puppies that came before them.
So, yes, it is very hard to give them away. But I know when they arrive at my house that the day is coming when I will watch them leave. I don’t ever think of these dogs as ‘mine.’ I think of the time they have with me as a sort of a grace period. It’s my gift to them- a safe place to get their feet underneath themselves and know love and security so they are ready to go to their forever homes.
In the beginning, fostering for us was about having fun with a new dog, we even flirted with keeping one or another.
But as I learned more, I realized that fostering is so much more than that. We have a job here. It’s to prepare the dogs in our care for their new home. If I do my job right and OPH’s adoption coordinator team does their job right, there’s a very good chance that the next home these dogs move to will be their last. That’s the goal. That’s always the goal.
When I spend time getting to know a dog it’s so that I can tell a potential adopter more about each dog. I know if he’s sensitive; if he chases cats; if he likes to chew shoes or can open a door. I certainly know if he’s housebroken (and work hard to make sure he is). I know if he’s a barker; if he gets on the furniture; if he is insecure; if he’s a picky eater; if he has funny quirks or likes to snuggle or already knows some tricks. I know if he’s good with kids or strangers or other dogs.
Knowing all these things makes the odds of an adoption sticking much higher. And that’s the goal that is never far from my mind.
So, yes, It is hard to see a dog go, but it’s also gratifying. It’s knowing I helped save one more dog. And it means my home is now available to save another.
I do worry and wonder about all my dogs. And I’m always happy when an adopter takes the time to update me or posts on the Another Good Dog page.
This past week we had a visit from a very special foster dog we hosted almost a year ago. Her OPH name was Momma Bear, but now she is Norah. Momma Bear was from Iraq.
Before she came to the US, she had been abandoned and living on the streets in Iraq. She’d had her ears and tail cut off causing her to look like a polar bear. After six months in foster care with OPH (moving between several homes), she was adopted. She came to us after her adopter returned her for reasons that seemed exaggerated at best and outright lies at worst. She had (and still has) allergy issues and a fear of enclosed areas where she can’t see a way out, but she is a gentle soul.
When she arrived at our house, she seemed lost and unsure and so very vulnerable. This was understandable considering the tumult she’d been through so far in her life. She had yet to experience any stability and she was truly in a foreign land. I wanted so badly to fix her, but in the end all we could do was love her and hope that her adopter would understand.
Seeing her happy face jump out of Paul’s car on Friday was a highlight of my fostering experience. She looks great and clearly, he adores her. Paul drove nearly two hours to bring her back for a visit. Momma Bear was my youngest son Ian’s all-time favorite foster and he still talks about her, so he grinned ear to ear when she arrived. It was such a treat to see her and know she is doing so well. Big shout out to Paul (and Cathy)– I hope you know how much it meant to see Norah and her health and happiness.
This weekend my puppies will be leaving. Eight weeks went by very quickly. They are all healthy and gorgeous and ready to start their new lives. Charlotte & Virginia and Harper & Louisa May are being adopted together, which will double the fun at two homes. I can’t wait to see how big they get and hear what kind of dogs they grow up to be. Their leave-taking can’t come soon enough as they have outgrown the space we have and all are well over ten pounds. Their adopters are excited and as prepared as they can be.
I’m ready to have a few poop-free days. I’m ready to reclaim my mudroom and for my hands not to be chapped from constant washing.
But, don’t ever think that it isn’t hard.
Because it is. Every. Time.
If you’d like to see more pictures and videos of the puppies or catch updates on previous fosters, join the Another Good Dog facebook group!
And if you’d like to donate to Edith’s Heart, the fundraiser I started to raise money to treat the pups’ mother Edith for heartworm and save other heartworm positive dogs like here, click here.
6 thoughts on “It’s Hard, Every Time (but that’s not the point)”
It’s your job to teach them how to love, how to trust and how to listen. I can’t think of a better job.
exactly – I’m not sure we can do all of that in the short period we have them, but hopefully we start them down that road. Thanks for reading!
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This is a beautiful piece Cara! You are so right – it is SO hard every time you have to say goodbye, I’ve shed many a tears but they are definitely a mixture of sadness and happiness. After every goodbye, there is a new hello to a pup or pups who are in dire need of your love and it just becomes the most rewarding, challenging and gratifying cycle. You’re doing an amazing thing and it is so great to see you raising awareness of foster caring and all of the ups and downs of the experience! J x
Thanks for reading and for commenting and for saving more dogs! I really feel like fostering is key to successful adoptions. And you are right – it is a rewarding, challenging, and gratifying cycle. Blessings to you and your pups!
Nice post. You do an important job for man’s best friend. What does OPH do with dogs who may be good with people, but not so good with other dogs? Just say in their profile that they’re best in a home where they’re the only dog? I guess a dog is only put down if they’re not good with either people or dogs or have health issues too serious to treat at a reasonable cost, right? It would be understandable why some dogs come into foster care so badly scarred from their past, and showing that through their behaviors. I try to remember that when I think of the few foster dogs I’ve encountered in the past from knowing a fosterer in NC. These dogs had their issues, be it anxiety or not being the best around other dogs, but to my knowledge they never hurt any people, and my friend foster-failed on one of them, I think, and adopted him. Nice.
We do run into dogs that are best as ‘only dogs’ and we are very upfront in the profile about that. It makes it much harder to get a dog adopted though. Daisy, my current foster, is listed as a dog who needs to be the only dog and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why she has hung around so long.