I am a dog foster mommy. I began fostering puppies earlier this year when my boyfriend expressed interest in us getting a puppy. Being that both of us have big aspirations to travel, and that I'd like to live back home in Australia at some point in my life, bringing a dog into our family just seemed very inconvenient and irresponsible. So as a compromise, we decided to start fostering. Once I started doing the research and discovering more about New York's shelter and euthanasia processes, I was very sure that we'd made the right choice.
The first dog we fostered was quickly adopted and according to Instagram, he's very loved, goes to the dog park often, and is hence living in the lap of dog luxury. We now have our second foster, who's a bit more challenging (he needs house training!) but no less adorable. (If you want to adopt a 1-2 year old Dachshund mix, get at me!) If you're in the situation where you want a dog, to see what adoption would be like full time, or just to invite a temporary friend into your home, here's why you should foster, because it can be very rewarding (yes, even when you're cleaning poop out of the carpet):
1. You're literally saving a life
Pets that are surrendered to shelters can be euthanized as early as 96 hours after their arrival in the system. If they can be placed in care while a permanent adopter is sought, they get to keep breathing, playing and generally being adorable. It's not a dog's fault that someone took in a pet and then abandoned it. Humans can be really horrible, and some of the pets that are saved or surrendered have been tortured and abused and just need a little bit of love, not a lethal injection. There are more than enough people looking to adopt that your fostering a dog could be the difference between it being put down or finding a loving family.
2. You get to teach an old dog new tricks
Seriously! A lot of rescues either need to be re-trained or just plain old trained. And it's pretty fun to order a dog to sit repeatedly for days on end while giving or withholding treats in kind. When you finally make progress with dog training, the feeling is pretty neat too.
3. You'll become more patient
Sometimes, when I'm scrubbing poop or watching the dog tear a toy to smithereens, and I get annoyed, I think, this is what babies do, but worse, because you can't crate train a baby. Having a dog i your life, whether a foster or an adoption, will teach you patience, and anger/frustration management, which are all very important life skills.
4. You get to learn a lot about yourself
Having a dog to look after, especially one that's been through trauma, teaches you a lot about yourself you might not have known already. You'll learn your sensitivities and your limitations. Dogs require a lot of care, so your commitment and enthusiasm will be tested, as well as your ability to perform to your fullest extent, even after a long, grueling day. You might also get to see how instinctively mean or soft you are in your reactions to the dog's actions, which, believe it or not, might give you a good idea of what you can work on in your personal relationships.
5. It's a lovely bonding experience
You can't sit there are tell me cuddling a dog that loves you to pieces isn't the best.
6. You get to have all the joy of a pet without a lifetime commitment
As I already mentioned, you might be at the point in your life where you want a dog, but where you also want to go and travel around Europe for a year. Fostering is a short term solution that's not only helpful to dogs in need and families looking to adopt, it's convenient for you because there's an end date, and you're not tied down by the responsibility.
7. You'll make a forever family very happy!
If you're the kind of person that feels happy when other people are happy, then nothing can prepare you for having given someone the life time gift of love from a pet they'll treasure, hopefully, into very old age. It feels cheesy as hell to put down in words, but it really is a unique and kind thing to do for a stranger, and you'll be giving back to the community and in your small way, making the world a slightly better place to be.
Images: Getty Images; Giphy (7)