Connie Janzen shares her experience fostering dogs here in hopes of inspiring and encouraging others to consider being fosters . . .
“What if it’s too hard to let it go?”
That was my first thought before I decided to become a Foster Parent for the Humane Society. I’m so glad I put my concerns aside and set out on one of the most rewarding experiences ever.
I wanted to be an active supporter in my community and considered various avenues. Then I found out that fosters were needed for my local Humane Society. After being approved through their foster parent application process I was put on the list and waited for the call.
My First Fosters
Fostering needs vary depending on the demand. My first charges were two beagle/dachshund cross 8-week old puppies who had just been brought into the shelter. They were given their first set of shots and needed a foster home for two weeks. After that time they would be ready to go back, put into the shelter and ready to be adopted.
The Humane Society supplied the crate, blanket, a few toys, their collars and tags, and all of the food they would need for the time I would have them. If needed, they would also supply any necessary medicine. Pee pads were my expense.
They were wonderful little loves. Cute as could be, but no one told me how much work they would be. Loving, playing, and training were the easy things.
As with any other babies they never slept through the night, tore up the pee pads, got into everything and anything, and if I didn’t take them out fast enough – well, you can guess what happened.
I already had a fenced-in backyard and dog door for my dog, Annabelle, and her cousin, Chloe, but I made sure it was completely puppy proofed. On the inside of my house, I thought that a gate separating the kitchen from the rest of the house would be enough. Boy was I wrong. My first pups chewed off the bottom of my cupboards, and the tiles off my floor!
The Second Time Wiser
When I fostered my second set up of pups, I knew what to expect and was better prepared. I got smart and built a 4 foot by 6 foot box with 18 inch high walls. It was large enough for their crate, pee pad, a few toys and they had room to stretch out, play and were kept safe and out of trouble. I was able to get the materials from scraps at a local builder’s store and used laminate, sealing all the joints, so that I could easily clean it and keep it sanitized.
My first pups were healthy but socially undeveloped. They were scared of everything and were extremely shy. Their main need was love and attention. In the short time I had them, through lots of TLC, they became warm and friendly, were pretty much potty trained, and had mastered both stairs and coming and going through the doggy door.
My second set of pups were pretty much the same. Rescues from a puppy mill, but these pups were sick and took a lot more work. Thankfully we finally got the right medicine for them and they started to gain weight and were well on their way to being wonderful pets for some new family.
After two weeks of getting up every night, cleaning up mess after mess, I had had the time of my life snuggling and playing with these small treasures but I was ready for them to go back to the shelter and to their new homes. Everyone told me that, being the dog lover that I am, I wouldn’t be able to give them up when the time came. They were wrong.
I know that puppies don’t stay puppies. Also, I don’t know if it’s just my local Humane Society or all of them, but it’s not an option for me to adopt my fosters. I’m not sure exactly why, but if every foster adopted the dogs they bring into their homes there would be no fosters available for the new dogs that come in and need a safe place to live for a time.
These fosters, and the ones I’ve had since, have all been puppies but that’s not all that are needing homes. Older dogs, dogs that aren’t adjusting to the shelter, cats, kittens, sometimes momma cats with their litters, and so on are all frequently on the list. So what you accept into your home you can choose to fit you and your household.
The Greatest Reward
I encourage every pet lover to sign up today and become a foster, too. The Humane Society is always in need of more loving homes. Not only will you be rewarded by unconditional love in return, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that the ones you’ve loved will go on to be wonderful pets in someone else’s life.