dog rescue, emergency transport, fosterdogs, fostering, shelters

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Foster

Are you feeling as unsettled as I am?

I waffle between let’s-just-get-through-this-and-it’ll-all-be-fine-(different-but-fine) to OMG-what-if-what-if-what-if. It really depends on how much news I’ve been reading.

Last Thursday, Nick and I took Fanny and our foster pup, Shenanigans, and escaped to our little cabin-in-progress in the mountains of Virginia. It was much easier to breathe and relax there. I hiked in the nearly deserted Shenandoah River State park with Fanny for hours each morning and helped Nick with the work on the cabin and read a lot.

Ian stayed home with ‘his’ foster dog, Siobhan. By the time we got home Sunday he was absolutely smitten. Luckily, Siobhan has an approved adopter (and a list of back up adopters). That’s a good thing because the more time I spend with her, the more I fall in love too.

I’ve never been around a Husky and I don’t know if Siobhan is typical of her breed, but I don’t think I’ve met a more expressive dog. She communicates incredibly well even if she isn’t ‘talking,’ another Husky trait that is awfully endearing.

Siobhan isn’t a puppy. She is likely at least six years old and clearly has had puppies. She came from a rescue in Mississippi very close to the Ripley Market, an awful place we visited on our last shelter tour. It would be entirely possible that her puppies were sold at that market.

Siobhan is a little hesitant with men, needing a minute to be sure their touch is friendly, but she is ridiculously adoring of me even though I have been leaving the majority of her care to Ian. They are bonding and she is living up to all his expectations of a Husky.

Shenanigan is irrepressibly, unapologetically in love with Fanny. He goes where she goes and whenever she lays down, he snuggles up beside her. Outside he follows her and mimics her every move, even peeing or pooping when she does. For her part, Fanny tries to act like ‘the adult’ ignoring his pleas to play when we are on-leash walking, and occasionally sitting on him to still his relentless affection.

They have had endless games of chase and tug. He is goofy and fun and full of kisses. He will make his adoptive family very, very happy.

And that third foster dog we were supposed to get on Sunday? Thanks to Katie, another OPH foster, she was adopted before I had the chance to meet her. Because we were at the cabin, Katie had volunteered to pick Sun Salutation up from me at transport on Friday night and hold her until I could get her on Sunday when we returned.

Just this week, before she’d left her previous foster home to journey north to me, adopters had been approved for her. So, Katie agreed to handle the meet and greet just a few hours before we returned on Sunday. Now Sun Salutation is in her new forever home. Wow, I have to say that was the easiest foster I’ve ever had! (Thanks Katie!)

No worries, though, I’m sure we’ll find a new foster dog in no time.

In fact, OPH is bringing up another emergency transport this Friday. Southern Shelters are overwhelmed by the impact of the virus. Many have had to close to the public and some northern rescues have stopped their transports. Meanwhile, frightened people continue to drop off animals unable to afford to care for them or ignorantly certain that they can catch the virus from them. Open intake shelters have no choice but to take the animals.

You can see the problem – increased intake and decreased outtakes. All of the dogs coming on the Friday transport are currently in danger of being destroyed at their shelter.

The good news is that OPH has had an influx of new foster applications and plenty of adopters. It’s a great time to bring home a new pet when everyone is around to help. Fostering is also a great way to entertain homebound families and do something good at the same time. If you’ve been waiting for the nudge to try fostering, here it is – apply here.

None of us know how this pandemic will end, and likely it’s aftermath will be mighty in terms of our economy and the new normal. As is so often the case in situations of national or natural calamity, the animals suffer. We are working hard to keep that from happening and LOTS of good people are stepping up to help embody our motto – Together we rescue.

Cara Sue Achterberg with pupThanks for reading!


If you’d like regular updates of all my foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips from OPH training, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.

For information on me, my writing, and my upcoming book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One  Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, visit

And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit

Our family fosters through the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes, a network of foster homes in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and south-central PA.

If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs . It’s available anywhere books are sold.

I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at

Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact:

6 thoughts on “There’s Never Been a Better Time to Foster”

  1. HOnestly, the aftermath of this virus will probably be much worse than the virus itself, so I think you are wise to prepare for the rise in homeless dogs. Some people still think animals can give it to us, and so are dumping their pets. But I believe people will also step to the plate and help foster and adopt more than ever when this is over. Thanks for this post, Cara! As usual, you hit the nail on the head!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ann – the aftermath is what we’re all bracing for and the longer this goes on, the worse it will be. It has been AMAZING to see so many people stepping up to foster and adopt. OPH has been so inundated with applications, that I’ve actually been doing reference checks for the first time which is showing me a whole other side of the process that we can’t do without lots of volunteers. Hope your shelter is fairing well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’re doing okay. Had lots of adoptions in the past couple of weeks (by appointment only) and now that we’re in a “shelter at home” mode, they have moved to curbside adoptions, with the interview, application, etc. being conducted over the phone. I have no idea how that’s going to work out, but hopefully well. If any staff should test positive for the virus and it has to go into total lockdown, they do have staff members who have volunteered to live at the shelter to care for the animals during the quarantine, thank goodness.

        Liked by 1 person

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