6 Signs You're More Ready To Foster A Dog Than You Think
In news that's going to completely bum you out, the ASPCA says that roughly 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters each year, 670,000 of which will eventually be euthanized. If you're a dog lover, you might be thinking of taking on the commitment of fostering. As someone who's done it, I'm giving you an internet hug right now. If you're still feeling hesitant, though, consider these six signs you're more ready to foster a dog than you think.
Foster parents are in serious demand. There are a number of reasons a dog might need to be fostered, including:
- A shelter might not have room.
- The rescue group might not even have a physical shelter.
- The dog is not doing well in the shelter, perhaps due to anxiety.
- The dog needs a place to recover from surgery or illness, until it's safe to adopt them out.
- The dog is too young to be adopted and needs a foster home until they're a little older.
Dogs really need us.
If you're a little intimidated by the idea, you're certainly not alone. That first moment the foster dog enters your home, you simultaneously think, "OMG it's so perfectly cute" and "What the heck did I just do?"
But if you can get beyond the initial shock, you'll quickly see that fostering a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you'll have — for the both of you.
So, are you ready for it? I can tell you with confidence that if these six signs apply to you, it might be about that time to ring up your local shelter and get the ball rolling.
1. You Have Some Extra Wiggle Room In Your Heart
This might sound corny, but if you have room in your heart and mind, you might be ready to foster.
All doggos are special in their own ways, but foster doggos might be even more special, if you can believe it. While every foster parent's experience is going to be different, foster dogs are often unique in specific ways.
Sometimes, they're senior dogs. They might have special needs. Maybe they have a rough history. The foster pup might need eye drops or pills to help keep them healthy and growing strong.
Some people might not be in a place emotionally where they can really take on this responsibility, and that's totally okay. It's not easy.
But if you're thinking something along the lines of, "Good LORD do I have SO much love to give and I want to give it to a DOG!" then it might be time to welcome a foster into your home and heart. Woof.
2. Other Areas Of Your Life Are Pretty Stable
Fostering can sometimes take up a lot of mental real estate and give you all sorts of feelings. That's part of the journey.
When you're dealing with high emotions in other areas of your life — work, health, relationships, money — adding a foster dog on top of this might, honestly, make things worse. Stress is stress is stress, and we all have our limits.
If, however, you can look at other areas of your life and think, "I'm pretty good!" then do consider fostering. It sounds like it might just be the perfect time for you.
3. You're Generally A Patient And Calm Person
Patience is everything with fostering, and in more ways than one. For starters, you have to accept that this dog might have zero training. Aside from being clueless, it might be downright rotten. Probably not, because all dogs are perfect, but you get the idea.
Second, if you already have a pet in the home, you can expect there to be a brief period where there is a ton of butt sniffing and yes, potentially two dogs (or a cat and a dog) who don't immediately get along. They need to get acclimated.
Third, if you get a dog who needs special medical help, bear in mind that it's not always easy prying a dog's mouth open to shove a pill down their throat. (Fun!)
And fourth, dogs get adopted out when the universe is good and ready for it to happen. It could be a week. It could be four months. There's no way of knowing, which means you can't be in a hurry.
Are you generally a patient person? Can you go with the flow? Are your feathers not easily ruffled? Congratulations, you might be ready to become a foster parent, and you're probably going to be pretty darn good at it.
4. You Know How To Find The Good In All Creatures
Shelters are full of all kinds of doggos — young, old, healthy, sick, pit bulls, chihuahuas, overweight puppers, underweight ones, happy, sad, energetic, mellow. The list goes on for days.
A foster dog might not understand that it was wrong to chew up your $300 pair of heels, especially considering the $10 flip flops were right next to them. It might fight you with everything it has when you try to give it its medicine. It could have zero interest in playing with you and just want to sleep on the couch all day, even though you bought it the most delicious of bones, and there's a tennis ball practically screaming to be played with.
Good news, though: If you're not picky and have the capacity to love any dog unconditionally, no matter what, you'll make a great foster parent.
5. You're Always Trying To Come Up With Ways To Give Back
Are you one of those people who lives to help others? You're always donating canned goods to the shelter or volunteering at the local retirement home. All you want to do is give back.
Fostering is yet another way to do good in this world, so if you're itching to help those who need it — especially when we're talking about creatures that really don't have a voice — fostering might be right up your alley.
It truly is an experience like no other. And although a dog can't thank you with words, you can go to bed at night knowing that they're eternally grateful for your noggin rubs and belly scratches and that piece of pancake you snuck into their dinner.
6. You Can Be Okay With A Potentially Sad Ending
Let's be frank here — saying goodbye sucks.
There. We got that out of the way.
You'll bring a foster dog into your home and swear you won't get attached, because you'll know it isn't yours to keep. Guess what?
You're going to get attached anyway.
Your foster dog will become your baby. You'll live for it. You'll do everything in your power to give them the best life possible, because that's just the kind of person you are.
And when they get adopted out and it's time to part ways, you might be doing the ugly cry, slobbering like a baby with mascara running down your cheeks.
No, it didn't happen to me.
OK, it happened to me.
Here's the thing: The pain sucks. That comes as no surprise. But if you're confident you can let the pain happen, and maybe even embrace it — after all, you did such a wonderful thing for that dog — then you're definitely ready to foster.
Side note: You might also decide to just keep the damn dog. That happened to someone I know. (Me.)