Somebody’s Got to Do It

July 2, 2012  

A foster mom who cares for ‘fugitive’ dogs from Ontario’s breed-discriminatory legislation shares her reasons for fostering

By Allison Gregson

Fostering isn’t for everyone.

It’s hard work, and a full time job at that.

You get dogs that no one else wants, dogs that people have ignored and mistreated and thrown away – dogs who have no manners, no coping skills, no idea how to be a loving, family pet.

You get dogs who aren’t housetrained, aren’t leash trained, aren’t kid friendly, pet friendly or people friendly. Dogs who jump and bite and hump and bark and destroy your possessions.

You struggle and give your blood, sweat and tears, all in a very literal sense. You teach them, little by little, day by day, how to become an adoptable, lovable family member.

So why do we do it? My husband asks me this after I’ve cleaned up the upteenth urine puddle or iced my bruises.

I do it because I love these dogs that no one else wants. I see their potential. I know that there is a perfect family out there for each and every dog if I can just shape them into a lovable, well-mannered family pet.

I do it because there is nothing more rewarding to me than to see a little disaster of a dog make a breakthrough and offer a “down-stay” instead of jumping up and humping your leg. Because the first time that dog, who had never been outside on a leash before, asks to go for a walk, I can feel their joy. I do it because as I watch these dogs meet their potential families and see them begin to bond with one another, I know that I can move on to save another dog. My job will have been done well.

But not always does our story have a happy ending. There are times when the little lost souls who we welcome into our hearts and into our homes are beyond repair. They are simply too damaged to be trustworthy. And this is when I begin to ask myself why I foster.

And even through these hard times, the answer comes easy. Because even when the story doesn’t end well, one thing remains clear: That for those days or weeks or months, I loved that dog, that broken little soul. I loved that dog with all my heart and all my being, and I showed them every day that humans can be good and loving and kind.

I held them and kissed them and went on long walks. I bought them toys they might have never had in all their lives.

I taught them the joy of a Kong frozen with peanut butter. They curled up on a couch with us and became part of a family, no matter how briefly.

So those of you considering becoming a foster parent, be forewarned. These dogs will steal your heart and each one who leaves keeps a little piece. It’s only the knowledge that you can help yet another dog find his or her forever home that keeps you coming back for more.

This story originally appeared on the author’s Lessons Learned from Fostering Fugitives of BSL blog, where she writes about fostering fugitive dogs of Ontario’s breed-discriminatory legislation.

Editor’s Note: Allison also fostered Enzo, here’s her story
(photos by Melissa Lipani)

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21 Responses to “Somebody’s Got to Do It”
  1. Matt.S says:

    Hearts don’t come much bigger. Thank you for the lives you’ve saved.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you! 

  3. Renee L says:

    True words spoken from the heart of a true foster mom!  It brought me to tears Allison.  You have summed up what foster families feel and do everyday.  The rewards are very high when you see your once broken foster happily homed and living life as a beloved member of the family. 

  4. PitBullMommaX2 says:

    This story made me cry. We need more people like you. You give all you can to these dogs no matter what the outcome is. Most people would not do that. You are a wonderful person to do what you do everyday. Thank you for giving these dogs a chance at having a loving family no matter how long you have them. You are truely making a difference in their lives and the lives of the families who get to adopt them!!!

    • StubbyDog says:

      PitBullMommaX2 Allison is an amazing person, as are all people who foster and in her case and many others, the dogs’ lives depend on it. 

      • PitBullMommaX2 says:

        StubbyDog She really is an amazing person!!! It’s so hard to be a foster mom or dad. You want to do all you can to save that dog so they can have a great life. It’s sad when it doesn’t work out. But that’s what keeps you going. There are always more that have a chance and it seems like Allison is doing all she can to make sure these dogs get their chance at a happy home!

        • StubbyDog says:

          PitBullMommaX2 She sure is and she is doing in a place where pit bulls are banned, so her work is so very needed, as is the case every where. She knows she is keeping these dogs safe and giving them a chance at a happy home, like you said. 

        • PitBullMommaX2 says:

          StubbyDog It upsets me so bad when I hear of places that have banned Pit Bulls. All I have ever owned are Pit Bulls and I have never had any problems out of any of my dogs. As I always say “Punish the Deed, Not the Breed”. I feel like it is my mission to change the way people think about them. I have had so many people say horrible things to me about my dogs. I always tell them that they need to do some research and then come back and talk to me because they will never win that arguement with me. My husband just laughs when someone tries to tell me how bad Pit Bulls are. He knows I will die defending this breed and he feels the same way. Everyone that comes to our house end up leaving Pit Bull Lovers!!! I have had 4 different people adopt Pit Bulls after they came and spent time with mine. I will do whatever I can to protect and defend this breed!!!

  5. MimDewolde says:

    Thanks Allison, You are revealing the true emotions of a foster mom. Many don’t understand why we do what we do because it really hurts. Why would someone keep on hurting themselves over and over again. Why subject ourselves to such pain? Why? Because it is exactly as you have said it. We are there because someone needs to stand up for these poor souls and even the ones that we lose knew love at the end. Those are the ones that take the bigger chunk of your heart but also make us more determined to save one that perhaps can be helped. Everyone needs to put their footstep somewhere on this earth and it can’t all be in the same place. Animal rescuing just stamps its footprint really hard. You are a hero. My hat goes out to all of those trying in their own way to help. Thanks Allison for continuing to write about your joy and pain. You are making more people aware of the real problem.

    • StubbyDog says:

      MimDewolde Thank you for your comments, you eloquently said exactly how we all feel about Allison’s very personal story. 

  6. MimDewolde says:

    I am from Allison’s area and the rescue which she is involved in. People always seem to say that if a pittie bit you it wouldn’t let go and that is what is so terrifying. My response is that it is better than my German Shepherd Dog or Rottie mix will ripping you apart (like that would ever happen). At least the pittie eventually lets go. My dog will stop once you stop responding. Stupid people. They listen to the papers and they can be our biggest enemy or advocate. 

  7. This definitely bought tears to my eyes.  We want to save them all and the truth is as hard as we work not all will be saved by going to their furever home.  We find solace in knowing that they were shown love which makes it a little easier when they cross the rainbow bridge.

  8. JillianTerry says:

    Wow – beautifully written, heartfelt and true. Thanks for saying so perfectly what so many of us feel. Thanks for doing what you do.

  9. ReneeMKeller says:

    Bless your heart and thank you!!!!

  10. AlexandriaWeinbrecht says:

    Holy moly, that was beautiful to read. Thank you so much for what you do for these dogs.

  11. millermorgan says:

    Yes, a thousand times yes.

  12. MatinaVourgourakis says:

    Made me cry. I read recently that each dog gives us a piece of it’s heart as we give ours. So your heart must be almost all dog and we know how wonderful and loving dogs are.

  13. DianaJones says:

    So eloquent, and true. Pain and joy are opposite ends of the spectrum,  but when you bend it into a circle they are right next to each other. We endure the pain to give and share joy with our wee/enormous charges. And to me the most important part is knowing that you changed a life for the better. It gives life meaning.  

  14. AmotionDfs says:

    well said. well done.