What exactly does fostering mean? It means bringing a homeless dog into your home, caring for them, providing them with affection and socialization, until they are ready to go up for adoption at the SPCA.
Shelters rely on fosters to provide a change of environment for long term residents or those animals who may be having a hard time adjusting to a kennel atmosphere, including puppies, kittens, and seniors. Fosters are crucial to the shelter’s ability to help expectant female animals, by affording them a quiet and comfortable atmosphere to deliver puppies or kittens and care for them in those first weeks of crucial development.
Often times, certain dogs may not "show" well in a kennel environment due to excess energy, or jockeying for attention as potential adopters walk by. While fostering a dog, you are able to provide exercise and stimulation, which in turn creates a calmer dog in the kennel which in many cases may be closer to what their behavior will look like in a home environment. In addition, you can work with the dog on leash training, house training, or other basic command training, that potential adopters will find attractive when looking for the perfect dog for their family. Cats and kittens may come into the shelter semi-feral or unsocialized. You can help these cats to learn to trust humans and live in a home environment.
Shelters and rescues often look to fosters for those dogs and cats who may have endured a difficult past such as abuse, cruelty, neglect, under socialization, etc. As a foster, you have the chance and opportunity to gain a dog or cat’s trust, show them human touch and love perhaps for the first time, provide an environment for them to feel safe, and watch them transform before your eyes.
If you have existing pets, introducing a dog or cat can be a great experience for them as an additional companion, additional socialization, and an additional playmate! Children can benefit from fostering as a way to introduce responsibility, selflessness, a way to educate about animals, and is also a great way to "test" the idea of a permanent dog or cat into the home in the future.
SPCA staff and volunteers will help guide you through the experience, give ideas, and answer any questions! There is nothing quite like sharing experiences with those who do the same and being part of a community of people who have like passions.
When the day comes, that your foster finds that perfect home, the rewarding feeling you will experience is something very special. You will feel a sense of pride, in knowing what you helped that dog or cat accomplish in his time with you. You will feel overjoyed, that he has found his forever family and his happy ending that all homeless dogs and cats so desire. And while certainly, some goodbyes can be tough, knowing that a dog or cat has found his happy ending and that another precious life awaits to be afforded your gifts, is as good of a feeling as there is!
DEAR FOSTER MOM:
There I sat, alone and afraid,
You got a call and came right to my aid.
You bundled me up with blankets and love,
And, when I needed it most, you gave me a hug.
I learned that the world was not all that scary and cold,
That sometimes there is someone to have and to hold.
You taught me what love is, you helped me to mend,
You loved me and healed me and became my first friend.
And just when I thought you'd done all you do,
There came along not one new lesson, but two.
First you said, "Sweetheart, you're ready to go,
I've done all I can, and you've learned all I know."
Then you bundled me up with a blanket and kiss,
Along came a new family, they even have kids!
They took me to their home, forever to stay,
At first I thought you sent me away.
Then that second lesson became perfectly clear,
No matter how far, you will always be near.
And so, Foster Mom, you know I've moved on,
I have a new home, with toys and a lawn.
But I'll never forget what I learned that first day,
You never really give your fosters away.
You gave me these thoughts to remember you by,
We may never meet again, and now I know why.
You'll remember I lived with you for a time,
I may not be yours, but you'll always be mine.