Everyday Heroes: Foster Families

July 3, 2012  

StubbyDog pays tribute to foster families

By Jessica Dolce, originally posted on Oct. 11, 2011

They don’t have room, but somehow they find the space. When a dog is stressed from kennel life, or in need a quiet place to heal or a family to teach them the ropes, or a rescue can’t take him unless a foster home is available – these families say, “We can take him home.”

They open their houses and hearts to fall in love with a dog that they know isn’t theirs for keeps. They go to work providing crate and leash training, socialization, medication and extra meals as needed. They separate resident pets from foster dogs if they have to, scoop extra poop, write blogs, take photos and spent their weekends at adoption events.

They take on all of the work that comes along with bringing home a new dog, and then some.

They do their best to balance holding tight and letting go. It is a tricky dance to care so deeply for a guest, since dogs stay forever in our hearts. But when people tell them, “I couldn’t foster because it would be too hard to give the dog up.” They say, “How can it be harder than knowing a dog died because no foster home stepped up?” And that is why they do it time and again.

And while they worry they might not be strong enough to let this one go, something special happens: The right adoption application arrives!

They lifted a single soul up, out of the crowd and floating on their hands, their foster dog arrived in the arms of the family that has been searching for him. It was all worthwhile.

They are the specialists, the deep sea divers, working the details of a dog’s life until he’s ready for prime time.

They bridge the gap to a new life.

They are foster families – true everyday heroes.

And sometimes, they are the bridge to somewhere deeper, a place to rest.

They understand that the troubled souls, the weak bodied, the ancient, are having a tough go of this world. And so they step up to the loneliest plate and say, “We can take her home until it’s time. We will be her final family.”

They give some very special dogs a loving home before they leave this earth.

They commit to walking alongside these dogs until the last moments. What some of us are not strong enough to do for our own pets, they choose to do for dogs they have only known for a month, a week, a day, an hour.

Fiercely they say, “I see you. I love you. You are not a number or a mistake or a victim anymore. You are mine and I will walk with you until the end.”

They are warriors of the heart.

They are compassion foster families. They are everyday heroes.

Photos by Melissa Lipani (of two of her former foster dogs)

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42 Responses to “Everyday Heroes: Foster Families”
  1. Funny how this is the topic this morning considering this weekend my family found out we will receive our first foster a 4 month old pit bull male who was found as a stray infested with fleas and been in shelter a month already this week. For the reasons you listed above was why I hadn’t fostered as well as worrying about what others would say etc. I’ve gotten over my fears (thanks to my son) completed the application and our first foster will arrive this week. Will keep Stubbydog posted!

    • StubbyDog says:

      @theprettychic Yes, please keep us posted and congrats on joining an elite group of unsung heroes…foster families!

      • @StubbyDog We are excited at the same time nervous. Sasha and Krusher need to be nice to our new “temporary” addition. What if any psychological/emotions do “pets” have when the foster leaves?

        • mac_naughton says:

          @theprettychic@StubbyDog Depends on the pet. My dog embraces them when they are here, but like a big sister, enjoys when they leave and she can be the only child for a little bit. They will adapt, and they will learn things with every new friend that comes to stay for a bit…just as you do!

        • StubbyDog says:

          @theprettychic Remember, dogs are very resilient and adaptable, as long as they have you leading the way, they will be fine with any changes. Dogs live in the now. Sasha and Krusher have each other, and more importantly, they have you. They will be wonderful foster siblings to any dog you bring into your home. Best of luck!

        • @StubbyDog Thanks for the support. We’re still waiting for the arrival of “Champ”

        • Melanie Curtis says:

          theprettychic..my advice to you is to take the introductions very, very slowly. Be thoughtful and intentional when they see each other. When I get a new foster, I always crate them in the same room as my pack. Therefore, they see, hear and smell them. But, they don’t actually meet for a week or so. I put my dogs out in the dog run, take foster out next to them on leash. Mine see the foster taken out for walks and returned and foster sees them. They hear me talking to all of them….When everyone seems calm and ready, I start by walking foster with one—side by side. Those two do that for a few days and then I let them play together. This process goes on with the entire pack. It takes time, but it is so worth it! If you ever have a question, please email me…melaniecurtis40@mac.com

          Also, there is a discussion tab @carolinacarebullies we are always willing to help!

          Good Luck!

          • Ang says:

            I am a foster Mom and I am here to tell you ~ giving that baby a home till they find their family is the MOST rewarding feeling EVER – I just did my first Foster to forever for a 3 legged boy – it was BEYOND worth it!!!

  2. laurapmooney says:

    Wonderful article, really explains we try to tell people why we take foster dogs in to our home 🙂 I do get attached the longer they stay, but also know after they go to their forever home, we can save another one.

  3. laurapmooney says:

    Wonderful article and will share with folks who ask us why we foster. I ( okay, we) get attached, but seeing them go to a great home and knowing we have room to save another, makes it worth my tears when they leave 🙂

    • StubbyDog says:

      @laurapmooney It must be so hard to say goodbye, yet you know they will be happy in their new homes and you can now do it all over again. 🙂

  4. mac_naughton says:

    WONDERFUL article! I am fairly new to fostering, but this verbalizes all the feelings I have had in the few months I have been helping. It also helps me understand why a simple “I can help” is SO appreciated by those around me. I don’t have thousands of dollars to help, but I have a little room and a lot of love and guidance, and that is really what these animals need most! I look forward to more fostering and more happy tails!

    • StubbyDog says:

      @mac_naughton You make a wonderful point, for those who want to help, but don’t have thousands to do so, can open their hearts and homes to foster a dog, it truly is a contribution worth millions!

  5. AdrienneClegg says:

    Sniff..sniff. You have done it again. Beautiful!

    Fosters are the life, literally of rescue. They give their hearts and homes willingly and lovingly and are repaid with the gift only a dog can give. Unconditional love and gratitude. We are better people for sharing our lives with dogs and these people reap the benefits ten fold because they are gifted with so many wonderful new friends. Thank you for sharing. I am right now.

  6. SharonMihalich-Smith says:

    This is amazing. I always thought the same thing, that I could not foster because it would be too hard to give them up. Excellent point that letting them go to their forever family may be hard but doing nothing and letting them die is unbearable.

  7. Vincey91 says:

    Im a 20 year university student who throughout my teenage years experienced homelessness and abandonment. I have always had a passion for animals and have always done what i can to help. I foster because every creature deserves love at all times and i know what it’s like to feel as though your alone with nothing. I am young with not alot of money, but as far as im concerned money and love have no connection. You can go without the superficial things but nothing can replace the feeling of knowing you are doing your part to help the world become a better place and to know you saved a life. I do cry when my fosters leave, it is hard, but at least you know that they are going somewhere to be cared for and loved forever when they could have otherwise died.

    • StubbyDog says:

      @Vincey91 You are a hero in our book, doing a great job, fostering and giving dogs the love they deserve. Way to go, you have an incredible future ahead and so many dogs will benefit because you are doing all that you do.

  8. FurKidFosters says:

    We foster Great Danes and love it. We currently have one that is undergoing heartworm treatment. It’s heartbreaking but worth it. These dogs grow into the most thankful, loving, and appreciative beings. They come to us broken and damaged and leave whole and changed. It’s gut wrenching and heart breaking at times. But, watching them leave with their perfect forever family, makes it all worth while. We want to keep them all but that would put a stop to our fostering and I will not close my door to dogs in need.

  9. MelF says:

    What a beautiful post and tribute to those of us who foster. It is not always easy, but it is so worth it. Thank you for writing about those if us who foster.

  10. Dina55 says:

    Thank you! This is great.. reminds me of my Ginger hospice foster that just passed 2 weeks ago tomorrow. If you go down the page you can read about her and see the life lesson I learned from her… http://WWW.facebook.com/pages/Ginger/197305970361208

  11. TheresaJohnson2 says:

    I just told my friend Tracie that her wings were strong enough to let her foster child fly! He’ll be flying to his furever home soon and she is sad. Strong woman. Good heart. Thank You all RESCUE ANGELS Love your wings!

    • StubbyDog says:

      @TheresaJohnson2 What a wonderful way to say exactly what foster families do! Thank you Theresa!

  12. LoriSchmidNanan says:

    We have our first foster dog and this perfectly sums up the experience. Thank you.

  13. ChrisBrady says:

    I haVe had my very first foster dog, a 4-month old pittie for a couple weeks now. He was saved from the euthanasia lst at the county shelter that euthanizes all pitts or pit mixes. I lve him so much and am glad he has a 2nd chance at life now!

  14. NaomiChan says:

    Kudos to the unsung heroes – Foster Families ! We love your sacrifice & timely help ! Without which many abandoned friends would have been put down and not given a second chance !




  15. CarrollLorenzMiller says:

    What a wonderful tribute. We have 4 rescue dogs and there are here because multiple families stepped up to foster and I can’t be more grateful for them!

  16. LisaLovesDogs15 says:

    What an awesome tribute that perfectly reflect the foster creed. I’ve successfully fostered 3 dogs and was a foster failure for 2 beautiful golden labs. They are so awesome and totally coming out of their shell. I am retiring in September 2012 and in addition to rescue and basic training would like to start Pit Bull education and awareness classes. Will be monitoring your website for tips and will be asking a lot of questions in the near future. “I love dogs better than most people I know.” Peace and love to animals and those who foster and care for them. Lisa Whitmire, Pensacola, FL

    • StubbyDog says:

      @LisaLovesDogs15 best of luck Lisa in your new venture. We are glad you will be using us for resources and thrilled that you will be spreading the good word about pit bulls.

  17. Daisystar1AK says:

    I have been fostering dogs for a few years now with our local rescue group. I have 3 dogs, one was a foster “fail” 😉 We HAD to keep Buddy! One of our girls is an APBT so we have to keep our foster Daisy (APBT) separate or watched very closely as they are both alpha females. We have had Daisy for almost a year. We love her dearly and the perfect person/people will come along some day, until then, she’s ours 😉

  18. LisaPereiraWatson says:

    This is such an amazing piece. Thank you! Exactly why I foster.

  19. ReneeMKeller says:

    They are warriors of the heart…….so very true

  20. ReneeMKeller says:

    They are warriors of the heart……so very true

  21. lrseydel says:

    Thank you so much for this article, we will share it with our rescue. Fostering can be such a challenge but I have received ten fold what I gave to the dogs in love and appreciation. Everyone should foster and experience that feeling!

  22. DianaJones says:

    Again with the bawling. These folks are gold. They are the only reason most rescues are alive. We love you!!!

  23. rn4pitbulls says:

    Yay for Foster Families!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Ang says:

    I am a foster Mom and I am here to tell you ~ giving that baby a home till they find their family is the MOST rewarding feeling EVER – I just did my first Foster to forever for a 3 legged boy – it was BEYOND worth it!!!

  25. KassidiG says:

    Fantastic read. When I offered to foster the 2 boys I have now, I said “I can’t take both, I have 1 dog already and am in a small duplex with not much of a yard”. “Okay I can take both but only for a few days until we find foster for one”. When they came to me, so sick with worms, one with pneumonia, one with severe kennel cough, fleas, ticks, ear mites and I saw that their little mouths had been tied shut and the little one with pneumonia had a broken rib, I knew they were not going anywhere until it was a permanent home and they were certainly not going to be seperated. Six months later, they are happy healthy boys, learning how to be social outside their safe zone. One day, when they are ready, they will go from my hands to anothers who will give them a loving life & a happy home, but they will ever ever leave my heart. And the next one that comes to me will get all the love he needs until it is his time for a family…and the circle will repeat itself for as long as I am physically able.


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