Top five stupid things that people say to dog foster providers


I’ve been fostering dogs and puppies for my local shelter for 15 years. Wow! Time flies – until I thought about it, I didn’t realize it had been that long.

Recently I was talking to another long-time foster provider, Kathy Callahan, trainer and author of 101 Rescue Puppies. I shared with her that, on the day I brought my most recent litter of puppies that I had been fostering for my local shelter back to the shelter to get spayed/neutered and adopted, someone who had seen me crying my eyes out over bringing the puppies back to the shelter said to me, “I could NEVER go to a shelter, it’s too sad!” Well, this snapped me out of that crying spell; I whisked over to “furious” in just a few seconds!

“Sad?!” I snorted. “I’ll tell you what’s sad: The fact that too many people would rather ‘rehome’ their intact dogs or ‘accidental’ puppies to other individuals, who fail to spay, neuter, or contain THOSE dogs, so the cycle goes on. It’s not ‘sad’ if puppies in shelters ALL get vaccinated, neutered, microchipped, and placed in a screened home, it’s SUPER HAPPY NEWS.” Whew! I was seeing RED.

I got hot again when recounting this conversation to Kathy, and fortunately she laughed wryly, completely understanding my emotional whiplash. She said, “I’ll tell you what makes ME see red…” and within the space of a few minutes, we had a Top Five Stupid Things People Say to Foster Providers.

We agreed that number 1 is this: “That puppy/dog loves you so much! You HAVE to keep him/her!” (Rebuttal: One of our most important jobs as a foster provider is to help the dog or puppy/puppies learn to love and trust humans. If they love me and the other people in my fostering circle, they should be able to learn to love and trust other humans, too. Plus, if I keep this one, my fostering days are likely over. You see, I have only so much time, money, and energy for my dogs. One more dog at home will max out one or more of those limited resources, but if this dog gets placed in a loving home after growing to an adoptable age/recovering medically/improving behaviorally, then I can help several more dogs this year!)

A close second: #2 is, “Those two dogs/puppies love each other so much! They HAVE to get adopted together!” (Rebuttal: Usually, when two puppies or dogs are super tightly bonded, this affects their ability to bond to the humans in a household. Tightly bonded pairs tend to look to each other for support, comfort, and direction, and avoid the less-familiar attention of the humans they just met. Separating them may seem harsh for a day or two, but they will almost always start to pay more attention to and seek attention and comfort from humans once they are separated. Only then can real work begin to get them socialized and happy with humans – a prerequisite for finding “forever homes.” It’s far, far more difficult to find families who will take two dogs than one, and almost impossible to find families who want two dogs who want little to do with humans.)

Top five stupid things that people say to dog foster providers
One of my longest-term fosters was Odin, who was one of seven starved, mange-covered puppies brought into my local shelter. I fostered the whole litter (though two didn’t survive their serious conditions), but I had Odin for many months, and many trips to the veterinary ophthalmology department at UC Davis, trying to save his injured eye. I would have loved to keep him; he was a total sweetheart. Fortunately, he found a terrific family who ADORES him — and I have room to keep fostering.

Number 3 is the first one that Kathy first shared with me: “I love dogs too much to foster! I would want to keep every one!” (Rebuttal: Our love for dogs is exactly why I and Kathy foster: We want to help as many dogs and puppies as possible learn the social skills they need to succeed in homes and then find good homes. The idea that someone who doesn’t foster loves dogs more than us is ridiculous. We love dogs so much that we want to see as many of them in homes as possible.)

My trainer friend Sarah Richardson, owner of The Canine Connection in Chico, California, offered #4 and #5: “You’ve put so much work and training into that dog, don’t you just want to keep him/her?” and “It seems cruel to send that dog to another home, now that he/she is so comfortable with you!”

Sarah has had some very long-term foster dogs, including one that she took on from my local shelter following an environmental disaster (the collapse of the Oroville Dam spillways). This dog was on the list to be euthanized by the shelter, likely right after all the evacuated animals were returned to the shelter – but this particular dog (and about 15 others) happened to be taken in by Sarah, who had volunteered her facility as a temporary safe space while the shelter had evacuated due to the potentially collapsed dam. The dog had massive, serious health and behavior issues – and she also loved humans with a joyful spirit that just grabbed at Sarah’s heartstrings. Sarah dedicated herself to saving this foster dog’s life, and spent literal years and thousands of dollars solving the dog’s physical and behavioral issues – and keeping her either safely away from other animals (since predation and dog-aggression were her most serious issues) and happily engaged with enriching toys and activities, to maintain her mental health.

Since Sarah has several of her own dogs, keeping a dog-aggressive dog means neither her own dogs nor the foster dog can ever be completely relaxed and comfortable – or enjoy full, free access to Sarah’s entire home. But letting the dog-aggressive dog be placed in a home with other dogs (or other small animals) sets up that dog for inevitable failure. And so it took years to find a safe, suitable, only-dog home for that dog. Anyone else would have lost hope for finding that dog a home and given up; Sarah was a superhero for holding the line at finding the dog a genuinely qualified spot, and keeping her own dogs and the foster dog as safe and happy as possible until that happened – but she did it. That dog finally found a home with people who love and appreciate her affectionate, playful, joyful spirit and perfect leash manners.

Top five stupid things that people say to dog foster providers
I fostered this little guy for only a couple weeks. He had an irreparably broken leg – an old injury – and had to have the leg amputated. I kept him as quiet as you can keep a five-to six-month-old puppy until his surgery date, and wept over both his giant scar and his bravery at adapting to life with just three (albeit pain-free) legs. But he found a wonderful home with a family – and I was fostering again two weeks later.

(So, the rebuttal: “When I foster, my goal is not to just get rid of the dog as quickly as possible, it’s to equip the dog with the skills and health he/she needs to succeed for the rest of her life in a home, to help find a home that can meet the dog’s unique needs, and to help the dog and the family learn to love and trust each other. When I foster dogs with significant health and/or behavior problems, accomplishing these goals can take a long time – sometimes, much longer than I had planned or hoped. But it makes no sense to settle and rush the dog into a placement that is likely to fail. And when the right adopter comes along, someone who is ready and able and excited about providing everything the dog needs, it makes all the time and money and energy worth it. And then I can go back to enjoying my own dogs full time, without guilt over the one who was euthanized because no one cared enough to put in the work she needed.”)

Do you foster? What’s the stupidest thing someone ever said to you about fostering? Or, have you inadvertently said something stupid to a foster provider? Spill it, and we can likely rebut it for you. 😊


  1. This is a wonderful article and you are a true hero. I fostered puppies only once and the only thing my neighbors said to me was that it was a lot of work, which indeed it was. I became the typical failed foster parent because I kept one of the puppies.

    My real comment, however, is about Sarah Richardson and the work (and money) she put into one dog. I adopted my first dog decades ago and she had behavioral problems. (After being bounced around among four or five homes, I think anyone would develop problems). The dog bit everyone. I returned her to the shelter, thought better of it, and brought her home again. I worked with a number of trainers and it took a year-and-a-half for her behavior to improve. One trainer told me that the dog should be euthanized because I was spending too much time and money on her and there were plenty of good dogs waiting in shelters. I knew that was true, but I just couldn’t give up on the dog. I learned a tremendous amount about animal behavior in that time period and that dog became one of the best dogs I have ever known. Even though I ended up with a wonderful companion and I adored her, I remain conflicted about that trainer’s comment.

    • Peggie,
      I love your story!! Good for you hanging with your dog until she worked out her issues!! More people should do that. That’s wonderful!

  2. Stupid people tips:
    You should not foster that dog, it is too agressive and should be put down.
    Uhm ,hello, i am fostering this dog becuase people have let him/her down. She/he needs someone to give them a chance at a health happy life.

  3. I agree, but one needs to have what it takes.
    Time, patience’s, and the knowledge of the dog or it’s background.
    Knowing the breed is helpful and it’s antics.
    It’s now 40 years later just rescued another terrier a year ago. She is now a different dog, still curious bitchy and smart as terriers are.
    Didn’t want to break her spirit just worked with it .

  4. I have two comments:
    First, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all you do. We have two dogs that came from a shelter and we love them dearly. One is OK but the other sure would have benefited from a loving foster parent who knew how to handle his problems.

    Second, please stop viewing those comments as stupid. They are simply uneducated. People don’t mean to be ignorant, they just ARE, until someone teaches them better. Clearly you like dogs better than you like people (me, too), but even if we don’t like humans much, we should give them a chance to learn before dismissing them as stupid.

  5. I foster senior and hospice care giant dogs, from both shelter and private owners, and often hear: “oh I could never do that Knowing that they were dying or not going to be with me long” really? Because you’d rather see them in the shelter dying alone in a cage?? You could look into that pathetic animal s’ eyes and leave them?? I have a really hard time doing that. No matter how long I have them, they bring such joy and they appreciate so much, It is always worthwhile.

    • This is 100% something I really want to do if I’m allowed to work from home permanently (it’s on the table, I know). I love old dogs and I’d LOVE to give them a safe place to land for however much time they have.

    • Sheila,
      Once I get to quit work and own two hospice fur kids that is what I want to do. I am a true LOVER of senior dogs and nothing could make me happier in life than knowing I gave them love at the end of their lives.

  6. Thank you Nancy McDonald, from this onetime editor and now R+ trainer, for sifting out the important difference in word choice here. I agree that all these comments *seem* “stupid,” but they’re clearly just based in ignorance (and the long held, Hollywoody myths that perpetually complicate the human side of force-free training).

    I will probably spend the rest of my life trying (and not quite succeeding!) to find the right balance between stern wording aimed at helping propel a dog guardian’s thinking in the right direction and the understanding that humanity at large has been mostly misled about dogs and behavior. (Not to mention humans and their behavior.)

    Thanks also to the author/editor and their fostering comrades for doing what may be the hardest work, emotionally or otherwise, in the entire Dogosphere.

  7. In January 2021 one of my foster dogs (Lab/Pit mix 57 pounds) pulled me down and I broke my humerus and tore my rotator cuff. I was miserable and in pain and my neighbor said “you should get rid of that dog”. In her defense she did adopt my foster pony 7 years ago and has given her a great life….I told her I take responsibility for my own klutzy self. I am 71 years old and apparently it does not take much to knock me off balance these days. I will find a great home for Harper.

  8. Regarding fostering, I tell people that I get a lump in my throat when a foster gets a good home, then I get butterflies in my stomach going to pick up the next foster. It is worth it to see the animals out of the shelter, into a home and then into the loving arms of a family.

  9. I agree whole heartedly with Mike Wolf, and Nancy McDonald. Unfortunately, folks are uneducated about many things; I hike regularly and see dogs out in blazing heat with people who have no clue that the dog could collapse – their response to my pointing out the dog’s distress is “oh I have water for the dog.” In truth, I’m continually surprised that no one has punched me yet because I’m so upset by this behavior that I sometimes descend into name-calling, e.g. “you’re an idiot.” OK, so my bad. 🙂

    I too have an intensely reactive dog, but I bred him myself, so he’s my responsibility. Unfortunately, he was with a house sitter much of his really early puppy-hood because a serious family illness (cancer treatments) kept me away from home and kept him not very well socialized, except to his other dog siblings. I have worked tirelessly and with the help of wonderful vets and trainers to get him to a place where he can even tolerate going outside our house and seeing other dogs at a distance. He’s now almost 10 years old and when the day comes that he passes on to the Rainbow Bridge, I will be right there in line to foster other puppies and give them the best start possible so that none of them has to endure the same challenges he has.

  10. I spent 15 years fostering dogs for a service organization. Some of the dogs were from shelters.
    Many people asked how I could give these wonderful animals up. I told them it was not about me, but about the positive impact to the dogs and to the handicapped individuals that receive them. But of course, I did reap great rewards also. I really felt that I was giving back to my community in an important way. I also learned a lot about dog behavior and training from my mentors at Paws for a Cause.

  11. Awesome article, as we’ve come to expect from you.

    I have come to believe that animal fosters are superhuman and you have my wholehearted respect and thanks for all the little lives you nurture and prepare for the rest of us “normal” pet people ❤️

  12. The old adage `If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ applies here. People are frequently uncomfortable with certain topics, like death, suffering, poverty, etc. and blurt a comment designed more to reduce their own discomfort than to contribute anything positive. This phenomenon also happens to parents of disabled children, and the bereaved. It’s quite possible these people go home and kick themselves for 3 days straight over their thoughtlessness.

  13. My only add to the list is when people say they are “rescuing” a dog when they adopt from me. Um, NO!!!!

    We did the rescue part already. We went into the shelter where you won’t even step a foot, took a filthy, flea ridden, sick dog to the vet. We spent lots of money to get them healthy, free of parasites, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, probably treated for heartworms, through kennel cough, etc. Adopters get to take home a cute, clean, fully vetted, well socialized, healthy dog who is now house broken, crate and leash trained.

    • You deserve all the credit in the world for the work you do. Most people have no true understanding of how much work and money it takes to get a filthy, sick, flea ridden dog with behavior problems to a point where they are ready for them to take home. Yes, you’ve done the hardest part.

      But give them credit for adopting a shelter dog instead of from a pet store or puppy mill. When say they are “rescuing” a dog, they aren’t wrong, even if they don’t fully understand your part. They are finishing off the rescue process that you and the shelter started (and yes, did the hardest part on), and are making a long term commitment that enables rescues to happen. If there weren’t people “rescuing” by adopting from a shelter, there would be no place for the dogs to go to.

  14. I am so grateful for people like you who put dogs first over uneducated people. I know many people who think of dogs as “things” and not “beings” and therefore are disposable if they don’t fit the behavior that the people prefer. I have two siblings that I absolutely fell in love with when I adopted them from a woman who fosters. In hind sight I wouldn’t adopt siblings again but at the time it was adopt them or have them put down as our county is horrible about enticing spay/neuter clinics. They are wonderful dogs because of the fostering mom, with the exception of our male who is as sweet as sugar until he sees the little girl next door who, when she was 4 years old, threw rocks at him when he was only 6 months old. I have tried everything but he absolutely hates her even though it has been 5 years now. The most difficult thing I run into isn’t training and working with the dogs, it’s working with people who think dogs should just “get over it” when it comes to these kinds of traumatic events. The girl’s mother still blames the dog for reacting to her daughter. There are dog people, there are those who are NOT dog people and those who are indifferent. People are STILL more difficult to socialize than dogs. 🐾 And I still like my dogs more than them.

  15. I take behavioral fosters, adults only. Problem is I work at the shelter where the culture is “I have a little more room.” I cringe when I hear the word “only”.

    “You’ve *only* got 3.”

    Yeah, and at any point if I screw up my management, I’ve *only* got 3 dogs, all over 60#, resource guarding food, water, toys, treats, the couch, my fiancee, me, their crate, my bed… So no, 3 is *enough*.

    Then there’s the overworked fosters who “only” have a litter of puppies, a litter of kittens w/ mama cat, a medical/special needs long-term foster dog, and their own “foster fails”. Everyone’s tolerance and abilities are different, but where’s the line between “Not right now, my hands are full,” and caving in to peer pressure, and will people respect it?

  16. When people insist I am going to be a foster fail because I care so much for my charges.
    I have failed before and I have not failed. I don’t like the assumption I will fail. I am eager for the animals that come my way to find a great forever home — one I helped prepare them for.

  17. This email newsletter came at a curious time for me. I’m about to take in a foster who is extremely shy was dumped at a Walmart in the Central valley of California and sat in a corner outside the building for seven days. So I’m sure this girl needs consistency and learning to trust people again. And love. Everyone I’ve talked to has said “oh you’re going to be a foster fail.”

    This will be my third foster. My first foster went to a girlfriend of mine who the minute she met the dog announced she wanted the dog. Fortunately we were able to make a smooth transition after about a month and that dog is now 14 years old and living a fabulous life. My 2nd foster took a couple months to find the right home for him, but I did.

    It truly is sad how many people say they couldn’t possibly foster because they couldn’t let the dog go. While I enjoyed those two foster’s in my life while they were here, my job was to make them good citizens of the world and more easily adoptable.

    My husband and I have agreed that we really want to keep our dog family to two which is what we currently have. Both rescues that I fostered to adopt. The first rescue required a two week foster/trial period before adoption. I love that requirement. My second girl was so emotionally shut down and afraid of the world that when I offered to foster to adopt the group jumped at it. She then came home with kennel cough which she then gave to my other dog so we had about a 3 to 4 week period to really assess her and see how she was going to fit into our family. I personally didn’t consider I was fostering my two girls. When I met these dogs I knew they were the right fit for us and I was right.

    I meet Emma tomorrow and as Tina Frost so beautifully stated, I have butterflies.

    How lucky are we to get to foster! I’m grateful I have the time and resources and a supportive husband. Also grateful for the rescue group who is allowing me to foster Emma. I trust this woman completely and I know she has the dog’s best interest at heart and my best interest at heart.

  18. Okay, let me just start by saying right up front – some people are better at fostering and letting go than others. It makes no sense to get “red flaming angry” because another person stated what is true for them (though projected onto you) – they could not foster because they fear they might fail. Possibly because they know they would love too deeply to let go or maybe their own insecurities make them believe they would fail the dog. Whatever the reason, wouldn’t it be better to educate rather than get up on a soapbox and condeem?

    I have adopted most of my dogs from shelters in the past and taken in some sad cases over the years. Yet each dog, with proper care, understanding, training and love, became a wonderful companion. Now for the last 10 years, thanks to meeting a breeder by chance, I have adopted giant hounds.. At first I worried that the dog would not adjust to a new home, new family, new lifestyle, yet each one developed a close bond with me and my family despite being adults as old as five.

    I also know the basic reason that scares most people away from this breed and that is the short lifespan. Whenever I am out with one of my dogs, upon asking a few questions, such as “You must have a big house, They must eat you out of house and home, Do you have a saddle for the horse, Aren’t you afraid they’ll eat you, (seriously?) then people will often remark, “Oh, I could never have one, they live such a short time. I couldn’t stand the pain of losing it.” That’s okay, I understand, not everyone has the capacity to love a dog or human while knowing death is eminently close. My response is often, “Yes, I know it is hard on my heart but every minute of joy and love is worth the multitude of tears”. I still weep for those I lost when FB brings up a memory or I stumble upon a forgotten toy. In fact, I’ve known people who had just one of this breed and then never had another because their grief was too deep. Still, for me and many others who help this breed, life without one would be a far greater pain. I lost six of my dogs in the span of three years. They were as young as 5 and as old as 10, but I still jump at the opportunity to bring another into my home. The breed is not for the “faint of heart”, but it can be a wonderful experience for the brave of soul and spirit.

    So, when someone makes what you consider a “stupid” remark about fostering, try to remember that that person may be speaking from their own inner feelings about a fostering situation. Educate where you can and acknowledge his/her fears about foster failures and the dog’s ability to adapt to a new home. Explain that the next home, because of your work has a 99% chance of being that dog’s loving forever home’ Explain the work you put in is to guarantee the dog will be a healthy, well-behaved dog that brings joy and love to a new person/family/child.

  19. I’m not fostering nor was my recent dog fostered. But I can see it as a direction I may eventually take.

    My first dog, Diana pawPrints was rescued from a shelter along with her Mother and siblings and put into one of the rescue’s foster families. They did a great job. After weaning Mom was adopted out and at 8 weeks so were the puppies. They did a great job with Diana, she was socialized and up on all her vaccinations and spayed (although I now am more in favor of waiting for spaying regarding medical studies.) She was well on her way to house training, even at 8 weeks.

    Freyja was rescued from the same shelter directly by me purely by luck. If she had been fostered she would have been adopted out to an appropriate family. However she was not and was returned twice for destructive behavior, the second time within 24 hours, and was red carded to be euthanized when I spotted her on their website. Diana and I drove 3 hours to pick her up. She loves people and is fine with Diana. However, she has separation issues and was likely left alone all day, which is likely the root of her destructive behavior in her two previous adoptions. When she is bored or anxious she destroys things. She was originally picked up off the street so likely survived on garbage. I have to keep my cans lids secure or she will get into the trash. I am retired and home all day and when I go out it usually isn’t for more than 2-3 hours and usually not more than once or twice a week. Once Freyja learned the routine of the house she settled. There has been no more destruction except a few things in the yard; sticks, a few cardboard boxes she managed to get into. She has learned to play from Diana and both will spend time on their beds tearing their toys apart, which is perfectly acceptable behavior. That is what they are for. Or they will chew on sticks or revisit some bones. They are each given a raw bone once a week. I like to think between the raw bones, bully sticks, chicken strips and Milk Bones she has learned that this is a pretty cool place with a human always around and it has settled her.

    By adjusting to Freyja’s behaviors and preferences she has become a lovely companion. She has always been very affectionate but now she feels settled and confident. She has learned to wait until the alarm goes off before waking me up. Car rides are now fun instead of “I’m going back to the shelter.” Same with the once a month groomer. If she had been fostered so her personality and behaviors had been identified and then adopted out to a home that matched her needs she never would have been returned to the shelter or put on the short list for euthanasia. She was lucky I spotted her and was willing to drive the 3 hours to rescue her. She has no idea how lucky she is.

    I have no idea what mental damage those two failed adoptions may have on her in the long run, but had she been fostered and properly matched with a family, I wouldn’t have to be doing the extra work with her, but I am more than happy to do it. She is a wonderful dog and every time I look at her I am grateful I saw her in time. She is likely to be my last dog, outliving Diana pawPrints.

    I’ve thought about what I will do after Freyja is gone as I will be in my late 70s by then and a bit too old to be adopting a puppy. I have thought about fostering. I have a fenced and secure yard and while I don’t want to adopt a dog that might outlive me, fostering would allow me to still have dogs, work with them, enjoy them, until they find their forever homes. I don’t know how many years I would be fostering but I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving a dog behind after I pass. After close to 40 years living with dogs it would be difficult for me to live in such a quiet house alone. Fostering would allow me the companionship and interaction with dogs without having to make a commitment that might outlast my lifespan.

  20. I’ve been in rescue, volunteer Executive Director of a shelter, for twenty years. My concern is often as rescuers/fosters we forget other people are unable to draw from an experience. They base their opinions solely on emotion. What I perceived to be true twenty years ago is very different than what I see as truth today. My experiences have shaped me closer to reality.
    I’ve had the luxury of accumulating years of experience that has made me see the path to animal care different from those on the sidelines. I see my job as educator for those who don’t understand.
    Over the span of two decades I must say I’ve met and dealt with many angry and jaded rescue people who have done extreme damage to the world of adoption. They have alienated adopters and sent them into the waiting pockets of puppy mills or Craig’s list.
    Yes, the public can be frustrating and maddening but I find more often than not they can be educated. I say take those five items and turn them around. For the ones you cannot – let it go.

  21. Omg. Those are my top 5 as well. Drives me crazy. I’ve been fostering for 20 plus years, and yes, I have foster failed. And that’s ok. I loved those dog’s enough and felt my home was a good fit for them. But if I kept the hundreds of dogs I have fostered, I’d be a horder. One of the dumb questions I get it, “what, that foster is still with you?”. Yes, he/she is with me until we have gotten the dog to where we think they need to be to make someone a great family pet. And no, it is not first come, first served. We work super hard to find the right fit for the dog and for the new family. Many of my fosters stay up to a year with me. We have plenty of time to make sure we are giving the best example of that dog to the future forever family.

  22. I love this article (though I’m frustrated because it’s so accurate,) and I’m sure I have heard all of those comments (and maybe more that I have just chosen to remove from the cache of my brain as mental trash,) and I always try to make it very clear that the reason I have been fostering neonatal kittens, hoarding case and other undersocialized adult cats, and dogs and puppies with all manner of challenges (though mainly behavioral) almost nonstop for years, is because there are never enough people willing to give up their own lack of self-control of “needing” to keep every animal they come across, to make a Huge impact on the homeless pet problem in the US. The reasons of lack of time, experience, or interest are all fair and reasonable, but this one just kills me.
    I feel like it is one huge hurdle that, if we could get the public past it, so many more lives could be saved. I was truly hoping that he huge uptick in fostering during the COVID lockdowns would “stick,” at least somewhat, and that many of those new fosters would catch the foster bug, from all of the reinforcement they received during their journeys, but sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least in my area. City and county shelters are totally full, and the reality is that they need to make space, so they have to start killing the ones whose stays are too long, or who have medical or behavioral challenges they cannot or are unwilling to address.

    I volunteer for my local shelter and a large national private rescue group, and although the private organization has a much larger group of willing fosters (presumably because they are a no-kill group,) there are Tons of people I encounter every day at either location, and of course online, who are so disappointed about the current state of the homeless pet crisis but unwilling to do anything about it. When they ask how they can help, and the answer is, “The most efficient way is to foster a pet for even just a few weeks, or just a weekend; to get notes and videos about that animal’s personality and lifestyle needs, and to tremendously reduce their stress levels, which makes them more adoptable if/ when they return,” their reply is, “Oh, well I couldn’t do that because I wouldn’t have the heart to bring them back,” and it’s frustrating because:
    first, they asked how they could help but likely didn’t really intend to; second, because lowering, or resetting, the stress levels in the animal could be exactly what could save that animal’s life if they do return (and is better for their overall health either way;) and third, they could easily use their networks of friends, family, and colleagues to help market that pet to the public through any number of platforms these days, and get him or her adopted, thus negating the need to bring the pet back in the first place. You can tell them about the Cortisol studies, and all of the benefits of being in a home, and how rewarding the experience is, and they just don’t get it.
    They often have no pets at home but have never even TRIED fostering, so they really don’t know for sure that they would “need” to keep a pet. It’s entirely possible that they might actually come to realize what many of us have during our terms- the mutual benefit of fostering and need to actually make a difference in as many lives as possible, and decide going forward that they “need” to keep helping more and more animals, so Many get to live and thrive as a result of their kindness and love, not just one.
    I had one foster dog for almost five years, and during that time he went through two major surgeries and fairly extensive behavior modification, so the time, money, and effort were all significant, but the end result and the messages I still receive from his family regularly about how much they adore him and need him in their lives still makes every minute, every dollar, and every deep breath invested in him SO worth it! I would not trade that for the world!
    So there is my rant, and my soapbox, above all others regarding fostering.

    By the way, I have loved all of my fosters and temporary adoptions, but I am grateful that they all have their own loving, happy homes; that I can get updates, photos, and sometimes visits with them; and that I can be at the ready when the next animal needs help, and someone to advocate for them.
    Such gratitude for you and ALL who open their homes and hearts to pets in need! I salute you indeed!

  23. I have never ‘fostered’. But I have taken on unwanted dogs, and rehomed some of them later to hoes that I thought would suit them better, if there were problem with other dogs here.
    in my dotage, I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that I should NOT take on another puppy 🙁 .
    So I am thinking when my current dogs go, to try to take on an older dog or two from someone who is in need of surrendering an older dog.
    I just cannot imagine life without at l3east one dog, preferable two.

  24. Nancy- you and your fellow foster parents are angels and I just want to say thank you for all that all of you do to save these precious dogs that need help to save their lives.

  25. Loved the article. As a foster provider, I’ve heard all the same things and have (2) basic responses: Most of the people who advocate for the foster to keep the dog are usually thinking about how “giving up” a foster affects – them. “I could never, it’s too sad (for me), the poor dog is so attached (to me), etc. To those people I remind them that it’s not about you – it’s about what’s right for the dog – as in getting them into a good, permanent home where they can flourish.

    To the others who simply can’t understand how a foster deals with the emotion of the process, I tell them that fostering is a bridge from a stray dog/shelter dog/pound puppy to a beloved family pet. We’re just helping them on the journey. Of course I’ve missed plenty of our fosters, but seeing them weeks, months, or years later with their forever families is the most rewarding thing ever,

  26. I have started fostering my 1st dog. This article helped me in so many ways. It put things into perspective and helped validate why I wanted to go through this journey. It also had great tips. Thank you for putting this out there.


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